Stax Sr-X Mark III Impressions
Mar 1, 2006 at 5:22 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 216

johnmatrix

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I just recently purchased the Stax off ebay. I had been interested in e-stats since hearing some at Thrice's meet last year. When I recieved these today, only the earpads were in bad condition. I have already ordered replacements from audiocubes. My Sr-X are powered by a SRD-7/SB from a Kenwood reciever in my sig. My source is the Denon DVD-2900.

They take 30-40 min to warm up, but after that they sound awesome. The separation of notes, claraity and soundstage are amazing. On Eric Clapton Unplugged, the acoustic guitars sound real. I can hear every note the two guitarists are playing over a nice broad soundstage. The highs seemed a little recessed, but that might be my POS kenwood reciever I am powering them from. I noticed the same problem with my speakers. The bass has enough impact for me and just for reference I found the er-6's I owned to be too thin and enjoy the bass from the um2. It however does not have the amount of bass of the um2. My only complaint with the comfort of the phone is the headband. Only some pleather separates my head from the metal band connecting the two cups. Does anyone have any suggestions for padding?

When I go home for Spring break, I am going to put a panny digital amp behind these and see what they can do. I will post some more impressions after some more music.
 
Mar 1, 2006 at 6:56 AM Post #3 of 216

edstrelow

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You may want to try a Stax amplifier instead of the transformer set-up employed by the SRD-7. There would be fewer amplifier stages so it could be a cleaner sound, although possibly with less dynamics.

By the way are these low bias (i.e.) with 6 pins or high bias (with 5 pins)?
 
Mar 1, 2006 at 1:15 PM Post #4 of 216

johnmatrix

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They are the 6 pin design.

What type of amps are available to me with the low bias ones?
 
Mar 1, 2006 at 1:38 PM Post #5 of 216

Carl

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Quote:

Originally Posted by johnmatrix
They are the 6 pin design.

What type of amps are available to me with the low bias ones?



You can simply ask the manufacturer to set the bias at 280v (?)

I think Peter McAlister is the only one to make amps that support low bias as standard. His amp is also one of the best value for money from the sounds of things.
 
Mar 1, 2006 at 2:00 PM Post #6 of 216

Canman

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Quote:

Originally Posted by johnmatrix
They are the 6 pin design.

What type of amps are available to me with the low bias ones?



Many of the Stax amps have a low bias output. My 007t has one.
 
Mar 1, 2006 at 9:51 PM Post #7 of 216

johnmatrix

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Thanks for the input all. Are their any vintage(ie. <$200) amps that would fit the bill. Although I think I will hold judgement until after I hear them with a digital amp powering them. This Kenwood was my brother's and only cost like $100. It is pretty cheap and the weak link in my system.
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 1:06 AM Post #8 of 216

wualta

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Don't poohpooh the Stax transformer box. In my experience, it can take nearly the full output of a 200w/ch amp and not break a sweat. You're correct that a direct-drive amp is more likely to sound smoother and maybe a bit more extended on both ends of the spectrum, but with a good powerful amp driving the transformer box you can get sound that is both amazingly loud and amazingly clean. If you're not already the owner of a topnotch highly-tuned speaker-based setup, the sound obtainable with these phones may make tears roll down your cheeks. They're that good.

And you're probably right that the receiver's preamp and amp are the weak link.

Looking for an affordable power amp suitable for driving a Stax transformer box? Aspire to a vintage Yamaha B-2. Your choice of preamp-- although with its level controls the B-2 could accept the output of a CD player directly. Best of all, you won't be out ridiculous amounts of money. A less expensive recommendation would be a vintage MOSFET amp like the one in the Kyocera R-851. Take a peek at Axel's Vintage Knob site.
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 2:12 AM Post #9 of 216

johnmatrix

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Thanks for the reciever tips, but I think I would go digitial. It is cooler and lighter and after I built my dad a system using a SA-XR70S with some paradigm studio 20 v3's, it made me a beleiver. Does anyone have any other headband tips? I tried looking on headphile but couldn't find anything to suit me.
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 5:50 AM Post #10 of 216

wualta

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Digital, if it sounds as good as it should, would be a great way to get lots of power (and the SRX-III and its SRD-7 box can absorb as much power as a speaker), and just as with speakers, power translates into effortless dynamics.

That's why I recommended vintage MOSFET and VFET amps-- they're less finicky than BJT amps about reactive loads like electrostatics and more likely to sound open and clear.

I haven't heard any high power (above say 10 watts/channel) digital amps yet, but thanks for the tip on the SA-XR70. I'll have to try to audition one through its headphone output. It couldn't be worse than the current crop of midpriced HT receivers, that's for sure!

On the other hand... it looks as if the rating of 100w/ch on the Panasonic is a bit optimistic, since it's rated at 0.9 % THD and at 1 KHz only rather than from 20--20,000 Hz. Still, the proof's in the listening, so please keep us posted on the mating of the Stax with the Panasonic.
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 7:04 AM Post #11 of 216

feckn_eejit

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Quote:

Originally Posted by wualta
Don't poohpooh the Stax transformer box. In my experience, it can take nearly the full output of a 200w/ch amp and not break a sweat. You're correct that a direct-drive amp is more likely to sound smoother and maybe a bit more extended on both ends of the spectrum, but with a good powerful amp driving the transformer box you can get sound that is both amazingly loud and amazingly clean. If you're not already the owner of a topnotch highly-tuned speaker-based setup, the sound obtainable with these phones may make tears roll down your cheeks. They're that good.


Agreed 100%. I borrowed a SR-Xmk3/SRD-7 setup a few years back, and it was really impressive. Beautiful, detailed, liquid midrange. The low end really was not punchy at all, but insanely resolving. I'll agree on the recessed extreme-highs, which could easily be accounted by the age of the things. I only wish I could try them again on my Pass Labs gear...
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 3:30 PM Post #13 of 216

johnmatrix

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tachikoma
stax will still repair these phones (at your cost of course), won't they?


Mine are in good condition and only the earpads are going. I have already ordered those from audiocubes. So i don't know.

Some further impressions. I have to disagree with the comments about the bass. There is plenty of impact and resultion. It is not as much as my um2's but there is enough. These things do depend on the source a good bit. From my Emu-0404 they lose some of their realism and sound is more 'flat'. The treble is not as crisp and generally sounds hasher. Out of my DVD-2900 the music is music. The voices are amazing. I was listen the Mahler's 8th symphony by Neumann and blown away by the singers. The SR-X ability to capture the music is just incredible. However, you need a good source to realize its full potential.
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 3:40 PM Post #14 of 216

wualta

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Quote:

Originally Posted by johnmatrix
...These things do depend on the source a good bit. .. The SR-X ability to capture the music is just incredible. However, you need a good source to realize its full potential.


Which is precisely why over the years these became the tool you used to differentiate between amps, preamps, CD players, DACs, etc. "Merciless" was a term often used to describe them.

As I told another owner: You may not love these 'phones. But you will respect them.
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 7:02 PM Post #15 of 216

johnmatrix

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Just some more impressions.

The soundstage of the phones is a little larger than my um2s. My guess this is smaller than most open phones. However, the instrument placement is precise and clearly defined unlike with my um2s where each instrument has a possible space. In 'One Sweet Day', the male and female leads in song run together on all my other audio equipment except for the Sr-X. The female is dead center and the male is slightly right of center. The one word to describe these phones is fun. They get the foot tapping no matter the music from Neon by John Mayer to Earth, Wind, and Fire.
 

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