The Entry Level Stax Thread
Oct 12, 2021 at 10:56 AM Post #3,288 of 3,298

BenF

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@BenF
Can you explain the difference in sound between AK and ESS?
I will soon publish a review of FIIO Q5S TC, where I will go into deeper analysis.

But if we are talking about "Home Audio" DACs - ES90xx vs AK44xx, then ESS DACs sound very lively and natural, while AK DACs sound like somebody has covered your ears with a thin piece of velvet - hence "Velvel Sound". :jecklinsmile:
Ironically, AK's "Portable Audio" DACs (AK43xx) sound much better than their "Home Audio" counterparts, and even better than ESS' "Portable Audio" (ES92xx) offerings.
 
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Oct 12, 2021 at 11:06 AM Post #3,289 of 3,298

salgado

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I will soon publish a review of FIIO Q5S TC, where I will go into deeper analysis.

But if we are talking about "Home Audio" DACs - ES90xx vs AK44xx, then ESS DACs sound very lively and natural, while AK DACs sound like somebody has covered your ears with a thin piece of velvet - hence "Velvel Sound". :jecklinsmile:
Ironically, AK's "Portable Audio" DACs (AK43xx) sound much better than their "Home Audio" counterparts, and even better than ESS' "Portable Audio" (ES92xx) offerings.

Generally I agree with this description.

But it's worth to mention that implementation can make "miracles" and change that general characteristics. For example some Astell &Kern daps which I own, sp1000m with akm4497 on board sounds very lively, energetic, while SE100 with sabre ES9038PRO sounds super/velvet smooth.

I would say that Implementation is equally important as the chip itself :wink:
 
Oct 13, 2021 at 9:23 AM Post #3,290 of 3,298

BenF

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Generally I agree with this description.

But it's worth to mention that implementation can make "miracles" and change that general characteristics. For example some Astell &Kern daps which I own, sp1000m with akm4497 on board sounds very lively, energetic, while SE100 with sabre ES9038PRO sounds super/velvet smooth.

I would say that Implementation is equally important as the chip itself :wink:
DAPs are different - sound depends not just on the DAC, but on the amp as well.
A&K could match the amps to change the DACs sound any way they want.
Or maybe they have a way to turn off the "Velvet" filter in the DAC.
 
Oct 13, 2021 at 11:24 AM Post #3,291 of 3,298

Terozzzz

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I wonder if you would still feel that way after a proper blind test :thinking:
https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/high-end-pc-audio,3733.html

Sure, some DACs are really easy to tell apart - it's way too easy to tell ESS-based DACs from AK-based "Velvet Sound" DACs, but if you have 2 DACs with the same presentation, good luck telling them apart without looking.
Amps make much more difference.
I have done it, with my wife and second time with friend. All of us did pass it, easily. Even one guitar picking reveals it. Thats why im now thinking DAC is the most important component in your system. IF your system can reveal enough. On my cheap THX AAA amp and Audeze SINE its impossible to do.
 
Oct 13, 2021 at 12:24 PM Post #3,292 of 3,298

Hubert481

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Which filter did you use, when comparing both DACs
there are a lot of different filters, and you should take the same on both DACs

just look at page 56
https://www.rme-audio.de/downloads/adi2dac_e.pdf

so you can choose your favorite filter on the same dac
 
Nov 11, 2021 at 12:27 AM Post #3,293 of 3,298

AudioCats

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a little review comparing sr-303 (with 404 pads) and L300

phones:
SR-303: this pair is well-used, pads were worn-out so I changed them to the 404 leather pads. Supposedly the 303 and 404 have the same drivers, the only difference are the pads and cable (404 has wide ribbon). So this pair is kind of "upgraded", half way between a 303 and 404.
L300: part of a SRS-3100 set. It was advertised to be " unused", and do appear to be unused.

amplification: initial comparison was done with a modded 313.

L300:
sharper more clear details, the overall sound signature is very warm with this amp (which was voiced to be warm sounding). Maybe too warm, at times sounds a little slurry.
more upfront, very live.
no glare/iritations, fatigue-free easy listening. engaging.

303: much more layback and distant; slightly softer and colder sound. Has glare at certain highs frequencies. Not as enjoyable for long sessions.

bass quality is about the same. L300 have stronger bass slam. But.... I have a feeling that the L300 probably needs more juice, it feels under-driven (same feeling I got when using sr007 with this amp).


update 11-11-2021:
** amplification= srm-007t, stock condition, no modification done, with factory tubes (no markings other than "6CG7 6FQ7 USA" etched in glass).
differences are similar to the ones listed above, except the L300's bass is now obviously stronger than 303's, but also obviously "not as clean" as 303's bass.

** amplification= srm-727, in non-global-feedback mode (stock configuration)
bass of L300 lacks definition, very loose. There is some kind of glare at very high frequency (maybe 11~12kHz or so?), shows up once in a while depending on the music.
303 sounds colder but doesn't seem to have this treble glare. 303's bass is less but no obvious problems.

** amplification= srm-727, in global-feedback mode ("spritzer-mod")
L300 bass cleans up a bit, about as clean as when driven by 007t, still not as clean as I hoped for. Maybe the loose (and strong) bass really is part of the L300 sound signature. It is no sr-007 after all.
Treble glare still shows up in certain spots.


So far the most enjoyable combo is "L300 + 007t". I feel this setup can satisfy most of my listening needs without feeling any urge to upgrade. Warm and pleasant sound that I can listen all day.

(somehow the "L300 + 007t" combo is more usable than the "sr-007 + 007t" combo. With the sr007 I hear more micro details and the sound is more realistic, but I also hear more problems which irritates me after a while. )


yahoo.jp auction prices (via Buyee):
L300 in new/like-new condition: about $300 (add $50 shipping to US)
007t (the older version with champagne front panel and 3 output sockets) in used, good working condition: about $450 (add $85 shipping to US)
 
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Jan 14, 2022 at 6:51 AM Post #3,294 of 3,298

AKGman

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Hi, i got STAX lambda pro classics (with pad mod) and T1 amp with new tubes. What do you thing would be best option for upgrading from it to: L-300, L-500 or L-700?
I would recommend the L700, as it has drivers that are similar to those of the SR-009 (Omega). But the price is higher compared to the L300 and L500, so you may want to look for a second-hand pair.
 
Jan 14, 2022 at 7:10 AM Post #3,295 of 3,298

Terozzzz

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I would recommend the L700, as it has drivers that are similar to those of the SR-009 (Omega). But the price is higher compared to the L300 and L500, so you may want to look for a second-hand pair.
I did get L700. Damn :D With T1 modded tube amd and specially with denafrips ares II DAC. blew my mind.
 
Jan 15, 2022 at 3:06 AM Post #3,297 of 3,298

Terozzzz

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How does the L700 compare to the old Lambda's (Pro, Signature, Nova Signature)- does it have more detail in the sound (more transparency)?
I would imagine it would sound like a cross between a Lambda, and an SR-009.
Ofc it is just better headphone in every way. Its like going from low tier sennheiser to HD800. WAY more detail, soundstage is bigger and the instrument separation too is better. But the bass is kinds same, its there but it needs EQ:ing. For sure.
 
Jan 15, 2022 at 1:06 PM Post #3,298 of 3,298

JimL11

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Dominic Stritt is "firschi" on Head-Fi.

The CCS mod is what I published in AudioXpress, July 2017. This substitutes a cascode MOSFET constant current source (AC impedance > 170 megohm) for the plate resistors that are used in all the Stax tube output amps (SRM-T1/T1S, T1w, 006 and can be adapted to 007), and more than doubles the signal current available to drive the headphones, because the plate resistors are no longer burning up signal current. The maximum output increases from the stock 300VRMS at 1 kHz to close to the 450VRMS of the solid state Stax amps (all of which have CCS outputs). This is the major objective improvement, and has a parts cost around $50 if you DIY.

Those who have done the mod report firming up of the bass, improved highs and detail, midrange unchanged, and a sense of increased power.

The other mods are substituting ECC99 for 6CG7/6FQ7 in the T1/006 series, or 6S4A for 6CG7/6FQ7 in 007 only (the 6S4A is a single triode so requires 4 tube sockets for the substitution). These give different tube flavors which some may prefer. The ECC99 and 6S4A can take a modestly higher standing current. If you want to try substituting 6SN7 for the 6CG7/6FQ7 with an adapter, remember that the 6CG7 was designed as a 9 pin substitute for the basic 6SN7. The stock 6SN7 has about the same voltage and power limits as the 6CG7, however the 6SN77GTA or GTB tubes have higher voltage and power limits.
 
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