Stax SR-L300 Impressions Thread
May 30, 2020 at 5:28 PM Post #1,006 of 1,127

AudioThief

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Hey folks, I just picked up a pair of the L300 & SRM-252s and was wanting to give it a warmer sound. Would a setup like this seem okay? DAC > Tube-amp > SRM-252s. I know I'd be amplifying the signal twice, but I'm not sure if that's a bad idea or not. Anyone with any ideas?

Get a new pair of headphones. If you think the L300s are too bright, either A) get used to it or B) get another pair of phones :)
 
May 30, 2020 at 10:26 PM Post #1,008 of 1,127

ph03nixh0

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Or see my post on the previous page. These headphones have a lot of potential to change signature with earpad rolling or adapter spacers with specific vents.
Although an unpopular opinion, I actually quite like the stock pads, enough to leave them that way. It's surprisingly comfortable and fits my ears well. So, I might just have a look at some tube preamp options. Appreciate the input!
 
May 30, 2020 at 10:31 PM Post #1,009 of 1,127

ph03nixh0

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Get a new pair of headphones. If you think the L300s are too bright, either A) get used to it or B) get another pair of phones :)
I don't think it's bright actually. But I only thought that if the current sound had more warmth to it by source adjustments then to me it'd be my perfect headphone. It's probably more cost effective this way I believe. Thanks for the comment
 
May 31, 2020 at 8:08 AM Post #1,010 of 1,127

AudioThief

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I don't think it's bright actually. But I only thought that if the current sound had more warmth to it by source adjustments then to me it'd be my perfect headphone. It's probably more cost effective this way I believe. Thanks for the comment

Getting a new DAC won't change the sound to anything warmer. Getting a tube amp might. If I were you, I'd just sell it and spring for the L500 which is to my ears a tad bit fuller and warmer sounding (but still far from warm sounding in general). Of the Stax headphone, the 007 is the only one I'd call warm.
 
Jun 1, 2020 at 1:36 AM Post #1,011 of 1,127

DecentLevi

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Although an unpopular opinion, I actually quite like the stock pads, enough to leave them that way. It's surprisingly comfortable and fits my ears well. So, I might just have a look at some tube preamp options. Appreciate the input!
Hey I had an idea. since you want a little more bass and prefer the stock pads, why don't you be the first to try something: Add an approx. 50% fill of blu-tac between your earpads and the L300. It's the same as my main suggestion on the previous page involving a 6mm spacer from SoCas between the stock earpads and the L300, just without the spacer. (which I do think increases the soundstage a bit)

As mentioned the reason the L300's are somewhat bass light is because there's not enough of a path for the bass to breathe, as with most headphones that have a breathable section in the diaphragm that allows the air displaced from the bass to move back out of the earcups and out. This need for the bass to breathe more on these headphones is evident when you hear more bass by pulling them away from your head by about 1cm. So you could just put medium-thin strips of this blue or red putty type material between the earpad and headphones at about 1" intervals (I did 3 strips on each side including the top/bottom), making sure the putty is thick enough to allow for approx. 1-2mm vents under the earpads all around it. This should take less than 10 minutes and it's reversible. And the key is to experiment with the amount to see how much venting you prefer.
 
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Jul 7, 2020 at 1:09 PM Post #1,012 of 1,127

Makiah S

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The L300's respond only modestly (to a point) in to boosts in lower frequencies by conventional methods such as EQ'ing and source chain. To get proper bass response, unconventional methods are needed (see below).


On the contrary. Double amping often results in very nominal loss in perceived signal purity, and even a more preferable sound depending on the configuration. 'Impedance mismatches', while may be a thing are more common connecting two outputs in parallel to another input (an amp with dual inputs) than an output to another input. You got the notion of 'introducing distortions' quite wrong as well. First off, distortions are often more of a blessing than a curse in this hobby. Innumerable headphones with fairly high measured distortions as well as DACs are actually preferable to many of us in this hobby. There are good and bad distortions and it is a subjective matter. It's one of those grey areas where science alone cannot explain why a sound can be more preferable to some even though it may not measure well on paper. And that's the whole concept of tube amps in general. The tubes introduce varying types of harmonic distortion, as do all old analog-era (eg 70's) stereo & recording equipment which are often regarded as superior in organic / natural sound than today's digital systems. But moreover I believe the above user was referring to using the tube amp as a tube-buffer / preamp (connected to his energiser via the line-out). THIS folks is THE WAY to go, and IMO the ONLY way to go with many electrostatic headphones such as the Lambda's. My years of owning several tube amps as well as multiple e-stat setups and dozens of comparisons even public exhibitions of said setups has always shown an unwavering favor towards the tube-buffer method with e-stats. Transforms what can often be a cold / dry / sterile sound into something more full of life with vibrant mids, weightier lows, sweeter treble, larger soundstage and more organic / lifelike overall. One can also consider that some of the best e-stat and conventional headphone amps alike are tube amps as well (WA-33, Blue Hawaii, Orpheus 1 & 2, etc.), because of the good type of controlled distortion.

The likely reason of the somewhat tame bass response on the Stax L300's
Lower frequencies move more air and are thus need to 'breathe' in order to be in full effect. Most headphones achieve this by way of perforation or breathable mesh sheets in the diaphragm around the driver inside the headphone, allowing this air to dissipate out of vent holes in the outer earcups. Headphones either without a perforation in the diaphragm or that don't have a diaphragm around the driver such as the L300's benefit when they don't 'seal' around your ear. This was something that me and a custom headphone modding hobbyist / designer had realized. Indeed you can see the effect of this increased breathing area when you pull the L300's 1-2cm away from your ear, often producing a more voluminous bass but uncontrolled.

My recommended solution
Below is a summarized copy of my post on this thread which discusses many excellent options for altering the sound of the L300 L.E.'s by way of earpad rolling, which to myself and others who have tried it, have noticed substantial and widely varying results dependent on chosen earpads. The one below actually not even requiring a different earpad, but an adapter and specially placed vents between it and the L300 L.E. earpad (said to be the same as L500 pads).

20200418_171650.jpg20200418_171457.jpg20200418_171428.jpg
Stax L300 LE pads (said to be the same as L500 pads) on SoCas PadMod 6mm spacer
Using blu-tac to fill 50% of the space between the spacer and adapter; three approx. 1" size pieces on each side resulting in good air ports as shown

20200418_173719.jpg

- Upper left: SoCas PadMod 6mm spacer attached to my original Stax L500 earpads (filled 50% with blu-tac between these for best bass definition)
- Upper middle: SoCas Padmod for Stax L300/500/700 XB Mount non-ported
- Upper right: Stax L300 limited edition, with Brainwavz oval black PU/Velour earpads compatible with ATH M50, (on) SoCas Padmod for Stax L300/500/700 83x108mm non-ported

- Lower left: SoCas PadMod 12mm spacer
- Lower center: SoCas Padmod for Stax L300/500/700 XB Mount ported

- Lower right: SoCas Padmod for Stax L300/500/700 83x108mm ported

By far the best soundstage, bass quality, technical proficiency in all areas. An absolutely uncanny ability to faithfully reproduce instrument separation / imaging, width, texture, detail and a bass that while maybe not the most powerful has real definition in droves.

The only difference between this and stock L300 limiteds is the spacer adapter and specifically placed port holes between the spacer and earpads, but somehow this really brings the bass into focus while retaining the best texture available, and even increases the soundstage by a little while not being overdone, and simultaneously seems to do a fairly good job fixing the somewhat off-kilter or hollow tonality of the original configuration. I also tried a 100% blu-tac seal which caused a void in bass, and 75% seal which was still bass light, but you just can't go wrong with the above 50% configuration!

I also tried the stock earpads with the 12mm spacers and got a phenomenal soundstage, but the fit was not practical.

Final comments / notes

Usage of all earpad adapters and spacers strains the headband horizontally which can shorten the height of the headband thereby increasing pressure points on both the top of the head and the upper section of the earpads, as well as increasing clamping force. For those with a large head size I would forgo this route unless you are able to find a way to replace the Stax headband with a larger one.

  • I highly recommend the Brainwavz oval black PU/Velour earpads compatible with ATH M50 on SoCas Padmod for Stax L300/500/700 83x108mm non-ported adapter for a very robust, weighty, balanced sound that's fantastic for rhythmic centric genres such as electronic music including EDM, pop and hip-hop.
  • And above all I recommend the (above) Stax L300 LE pads (said to be the same as L500 pads) on SoCas PadMod 6mm spacer with a 50% fill of blu-tac between spacer and earpad, especially for analogue era atmospheric / orchestral / classic rock material for a truly master-class experience.
Both of these pairings are so exceptionally great that I never want to take them off! In fact these both sound not only so fantastic but also distinctive that I just may order a 2nd pair of L300's so I can have one headphone for each sound signature... they're THAT good! :o2smile::L3000:

Sooooo amp wise I'm grabbin a Modded SRM 007tA from the Stax Mafia kingpin and I'm wondering which stax to get to compliment my ESP 95X [Going to roll Vesper pads]

I'm thinking this might be the way to go, L300 LTD with L700 Pads, with those Pads is the Blu Tak mod still recommended?Or how does the L700 Pad stack with the 4mm Spacer from Socas, and has any one combined all 3, 4mm Space from Socas with L700 Pad and BluTakc?

Hopefully by August I'll have everything and can weigh in my self, but for now I'll pick your brains! Also does any one have a good Blu Tack Mod guide? I've seen a few but they seem to lack where exactly the Tac is NOT going?
 
Jul 8, 2020 at 6:52 PM Post #1,013 of 1,127

Zoide

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Sooooo amp wise I'm grabbin a Modded SRM 007tA from the Stax Mafia kingpin and I'm wondering which stax to get to compliment my ESP 95X [Going to roll Vesper pads]

I'm thinking this might be the way to go, L300 LTD with L700 Pads, with those Pads is the Blu Tak mod still recommended?Or how does the L700 Pad stack with the 4mm Spacer from Socas, and has any one combined all 3, 4mm Space from Socas with L700 Pad and BluTakc?

Hopefully by August I'll have everything and can weigh in my self, but for now I'll pick your brains! Also does any one have a good Blu Tack Mod guide? I've seen a few but they seem to lack where exactly the Tac is NOT going?
There's a pretty good guide of the blu tack mode here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the-stax-thread-iii.677809/post-14929237
 
Jul 8, 2020 at 10:24 PM Post #1,014 of 1,127

DecentLevi

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Sooooo amp wise I'm grabbin a Modded SRM 007tA from the Stax Mafia kingpin and I'm wondering which stax to get to compliment my ESP 95X [Going to roll Vesper pads]

I'm thinking this might be the way to go, L300 LTD with L700 Pads, with those Pads is the Blu Tak mod still recommended?Or how does the L700 Pad stack with the 4mm Spacer from Socas, and has any one combined all 3, 4mm Space from Socas with L700 Pad and BluTakc?

Hopefully by August I'll have everything and can weigh in my self, but for now I'll pick your brains! Also does any one have a good Blu Tack Mod guide? I've seen a few but they seem to lack where exactly the Tac is NOT going?
AFAIK I may be the only one to have tried the spacers (Socas Padmod) with blu-tac mod and various earpads. I used the 6mm spacers with stock L.E. pads and it's borderlining uncomfortable. The soundstage and bass are improved, at the expense of a little extra clamping force and reduced headband height. The 12mm spacers sounded sublime, but were impractically wide. The L300 L.E.'s come with L500 pads which are a few millimeters thinner than L700 pads. If going with those pads I would advise the 4mm spacers (Socas Padmod), being that the thinner spacers make up for the extra thickness of the L700 pads. Better yet just skimp on buying the L700 pads and use the stock L300 L.E. pads with wider 6mm spacers (and blu-tac in between which I will go over below). Either way should yield an approximately similar width. In this case it's the total width of the earpads and vent holes that matter; the width increasing soundstage and holes improving bass response.

But keep in mind that all of these aftermarket pads, adapted pads and spacers effect the height & comfort. As the width of the Stax headphones increase, the height on top of your head is reduced and pressure points on the earcups change. I have only a medium size head but was unable to use a few of the best options just because the added width made it impractical becoming resultant tight / uneven clamping and short on the tip of my head. I'd say if you have a medium size head go with either of the above two options. If larger head then get either 4mm Padmod spacers with original L300 L.E. pads, or L700 pads alone but with intermittent sections of extra-thick blu-tac.

i-VnMfPj4.jpg

(image courtesy of @VRacer-111)

The blu-tac mod looks something like this (we used Loctite Fun-Tac which is also a putty), which as-shown is about half filled (what I call a 50% fill). I'm not sure the sound is different than the above photo shown but personally I used 6 pieces of about 1 inch going around with 6 empty spaces (3 pieces and 3 spaces on the right half of each earcup and same on the left half of each side). I'm happy with the way mine is so don't want to open it up for a photo and risk offsetting anything. Along with the 1" strips of blu-tac, I put mine between the spacer and earpads, which is where the vent holes have a bigger impact. If without a spacer I would recommend doubling up on the blu-tac thickness. I've also put a continuous medium amount of the putty between the spacer and the headphones themself.
 
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Jul 8, 2020 at 11:03 PM Post #1,015 of 1,127

Makiah S

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AFAIK I may be the only one to have tried the spacers (Socas Padmod) with blu-tac mod and various earpads. I used the 6mm spacers with stock L.E. pads and it's borderlining uncomfortable. The soundstage and bass are improved, at the expense of a little extra clamping force and reduced headband height. The 12mm spacers sounded sublime, but were impractically wide. The L300 L.E.'s come with L500 pads which are a few millimeters thinner than L700 pads. If going with those pads I would advise the 4mm spacers (Socas Padmod), being that the thinner spacers make up for the extra thickness of the L700 pads. Better yet just skimp on buying the L700 pads and use the stock L300 L.E. pads with wider 6mm spacers (and blu-tac in between which I will go over below). Either way should yield an approximately similar width. In this case it's the total width of the earpads and vent holes that matter; the width increasing soundstage and holes improving bass response.

But keep in mind that all of these aftermarket pads, adapted pads and spacers effect the height & comfort. As the width of the Stax headphones increase, the height on top of your head is reduced and pressure points on the earcups change. I have only a medium size head but was unable to use a few of the best options just because the added width made it impractical becoming resultant tight / uneven clamping and short on the tip of my head. I'd say if you have a medium size head go with either of the above two options. If larger head then get either 4mm Padmod spacers with original L300 L.E. pads, or L700 pads alone but with intermittent sections of extra-thick blu-tac.

i-VnMfPj4.jpg

(image courtesy of @VRacer-111)

The blu-tac mod looks something like this (we used Loctite Fun-Tac which is also a putty), which as-shown is about half filled (what I call a 50% fill). I'm not sure the sound is different than the above photo shown but personally I used 6 pieces of about 1 inch going around with 6 empty spaces (3 pieces and 3 spaces on the right half of each earcup and same on the left half of each side). I'm happy with the way mine is so don't want to open it up for a photo and risk offsetting anything. Along with the 1" strips of blu-tac, I put mine between the spacer and earpads, which is where the vent holes have a bigger impact. If without a spacer I would recommend doubling up on the blu-tac thickness. I've also put a continuous medium amount of the putty between the spacer and the headphones themself.

Yea good feedback thank you man, I'm thinking 4mm spacers just for comfort and slight added changes, and I may experiment with L700 an 4mm first then start to change up the Blu Tak after

I've modded dozens of my own headphones over the years so I'm no stranger to tuning and revising mods. So if I go that route I'll check back in, till then thank you for your thoughts and experience man!
 
Sep 4, 2020 at 1:10 AM Post #1,016 of 1,127

DecentLevi

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Hey @VRacer-111 I think it was you who introduced me to the idea of getting the SRD-7 from Mjölnir Audio as an electrostatic transformer box that's powered by a speaker amp, as an alternative to an e-stat energizer. I'm thinking to go that route very soon. After contacting them though he said he's experiencing a supply chain issue with Lundahl transformers, so I'd have to get the standard SRD-7 for the time being. Have you any 1st / 2nd hand knowledge of any difference between the Lundahl vs. standard versions sound-wise?
 
Sep 4, 2020 at 4:07 AM Post #1,017 of 1,127

Tugbars

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Hey @VRacer-111 I think it was you who introduced me to the idea of getting the SRD-7 from Mjölnir Audio as an electrostatic transformer box that's powered by a speaker amp, as an alternative to an e-stat energizer. I'm thinking to go that route very soon. After contacting them though he said he's experiencing a supply chain issue with Lundahl transformers, so I'd have to get the standard SRD-7 for the time being. Have you any 1st / 2nd hand knowledge of any difference between the Lundahl vs. standard versions sound-wise?

Transformers ideally should have very low winding rate. In SRD7 boxes, relatively the winding rate is higher than lundahl transformers. What does that mean? That means, due to parasitic capacitance and other factors, treble extension and treble clarity of SRD7 boxes are seriously worse than lundahl transformers. Lundahl transformers can deliver absurd amount of current too, 45ma if i remember right.(can result in better dynamics in theory) Stax energizers can't even come close. If you have the budget, SRD7 boxes are just waste of money compared to lundahl energizers. I tested both and compared to my KGSSHV Carbon too.(a Krell KSA 200 class A amp used in the tests)
 
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Sep 4, 2020 at 4:25 AM Post #1,018 of 1,127

ahmedie

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Hey @VRacer-111 I think it was you who introduced me to the idea of getting the SRD-7 from Mjölnir Audio as an electrostatic transformer box that's powered by a speaker amp, as an alternative to an e-stat energizer. I'm thinking to go that route very soon. After contacting them though he said he's experiencing a supply chain issue with Lundahl transformers, so I'd have to get the standard SRD-7 for the time being. Have you any 1st / 2nd hand knowledge of any difference between the Lundahl vs. standard versions sound-wise?

Oh, I had a 3-month experience with the transformer (Mjolnir srd-7) route, you need to try many amps to get the sound you are looking for, as more amp match poorly with srd-7 than good amps. I have tested over 10 amps ranging from 1000$~3000$ but only 2 matched well. The transformer could not drive 007. In terms of sound, you get a huge dynamic punch and rumbling bass, with very little details loss, and transparency, but the soundstage was really smaller than a standard amp, you feel you are listening to a speaker further away from you and the sound is not intimate as a standard amp. Lundahl is more transparent than srd-7 as Mjolnir himself told me, which is a very good thing! Overall srd-7 + 1400$ dollar amp was equal or just a little better than 323s. If you already own a high-end with allot of wattage speaker amp or want higher dynamics or want to match and try different sounds then the transformer is the way to go. If you already own a standard Stax amp, it is not worth buying srd-7 for an upgrade and kgsshv route is better ...
 
Sep 4, 2020 at 5:03 AM Post #1,019 of 1,127

DecentLevi

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Thanks for your input guys. I have what's probably a bottom-of-the-barrel energizer, a good condition but very old SRM-1 MK2. Soundstage and details are decent, but dynamics and bass just suck. I've recently acquired a very powerful speaker amp, it's actually a 5.1 channel A/V receiver with a great headphone amp too, Kenwood VR-406 putting out 500W; 100W per channel. I'm looking for much improved dynamics and maybe bass, or I could boost by EQ - so would you still recommend the SRD-7 transformer?

The owner of Mjolnir doesn't seem to be able to get any Lundahl transformers now, probably why he didn't answer when asking him twice about any differences in sound. Is there any Lundahl energisers I can find from another company?
 
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Sep 4, 2020 at 5:10 AM Post #1,020 of 1,127

ahmedie

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Thanks for your input guys. I have what's probably a bottom-of-the-barrel energizer, a good condition but very old SRM-1 MK2. Soundstage and details are decent, but dynamics and bass just suck. I've recently acquired a very powerful speaker amp, it's actually a 5.1 channel A/V receiver with a great headphone amp too, Kenwood VR-406 putting out 500W; 100W per channel. I'm looking for much improved dynamics and maybe bass, or I could boost by EQ - so would you still recommend the SRD-7 transformer?

The owner of Mjolnir doesn't seem to be able to get any Lundahl transformers now, probably why he didn't answer when asking him twice about any differences in sound. Is there any Lundahl energisers I can find from another company?

My finding is that class D amp (up to 3000$) matches poorly with energizer cheapo A/V from yamaha was even worst. While class AB high current offering from Denon worked really well. Class D sound super fast and with Stax it sounded very thin and lacking grip in bass...

Lundahl was a DIY project as far as I know ...
 

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