The STAX finally arrived...
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dj_mocok

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They're finally here, those 404 and 313... I was getting anxious about it and becoming paranoid, thinking something bad had happened...
(Actually it was just 8 days ago when Koji notified me that he already sent them, so maybe I was anxious..
)

Yeah, as in Head-fi culture, so I gotta post this "mandatory" first impression...


Actually I'd better start off with some stupid things I did first... When I took out the amp (energizer) from the box, I thought it didn't come with power cable, so I thought 'darn it, no cables??? What the heck were they thinking??' So I ran downstairs to the electronic shop and bought a power cable for the amp...

Went back, plugged them in, stripped off the cables from my headsave classic, plugged the stax in, and started listening to the headphones right away..
Halfway through, I realized that I actually plugged the RCAs into the LOOP OUT (the left hand side)


So then I reconnect them RCAs into the RIGHT hand side of the connection (just confirming, the correct one is the right hand side ones right?) And played a few CDs... Then halfway there, I though, hang on... what's that little brown box there ? Then I just realised I actually oversaw that little box, and inside were the power cable and RCA cables that come with the amp... Duh !
(again!)

So then I reconnect them with the proprietary power cable and now they're on my bed, my pillow is listening to them at the moment...



Okay, since it's not burned in yet, and according to you guys it needs 200hrs, I think I'm in no position to make any judgement about the sound at all.... So I'll just let you know something else about them...

Packaging
The packaging is similar to those Alessandro headphone ones, A.K.A "Minimum money will be spent on packaging". The headphones and the amp came with their own boxes. The box for the 404 is made from thin carton, with styrofoam box inside that stores the headphones. No fancy stuff.

Well, the box that come with the amp is even worse, It's pretty much a box made from brown cardboard with no artworks whatsoever, only descriptions on the rear and some other infos...and inside is the amp, covered with styrofoams. It's just like an OEM product.

Although nothing fancy, but they offer sufficient protection for the stuff inside, enough said. I actually prefer them like this. That means no money is spent on fancy box, and the money is spent on the important bit, the product itself.


Headphone Comfort, Smell, and Material
Before this, I THOUGHT Audio Technica Air series headphones were comfy, but this Stax is even much more comfortable than those. The 404 isn't heavy at all for me, and when you wear them, they just "sit" there on your head, no unnecessary clamping, and not loose you need to readjust them every 15 minutes or so... The upper headband is very soft, you can tell it's not made from cheap material at all.. Same goes with the headphone pads. The leather like materials are very soft to your ears, but maybe it might get a bit warm in summer... that's all.. Overall, although in the picture they look like a cheap plastic headphones, but once you see them and wear them, you'll know they are not cheaply made at all...
Oh, and they smell like a weird wet paint, right out of the box.

And the cables, when some say the improvement from 303 to 404 is only cable, but I can tell you that even it's only cable, it's worth it. The cable is wide, made from solid material but yet it's not stiff and annoying like MS2 cables.

Headphone Creaks
Now, I'm sure I read it somewhere, Stax headphones (maybe older ones?)creak and they make annoying sound when you move your head around. Well, I can confirm that the 404 DOES NOT creak, squeak, squeal, yelp, groan, etc... at all.
I tried to move my head to every direction possible, and after the point of risking dislocating my neck, I still haven't heard a single creak.

Sound?
Well, so how do them 404 + 313 combo sound, right out of the box, plugged in, and listened straight away? They actually sound quite good to me, but I only listened to a few songs briefly. I haven't experienced those magic of Stax... maybe after more burn ins... The problem is, I don't burn-in my headphones purposely, but just let them go as I listen to them, so this might take a loooong time, in my case.

I have been using my MS-2 almost all the time lately, and the main difference I can find, right out the box is:
If Grado (MS2) sounds like the musician and the band is playing around your head, the 404 is like shifting the musician and the band to the front of your face, separate and line them up together (depends on the CD?), and slightly elevated them.

Instrument separation is clearly more evident using 404 even though it's not burn in yet. And as everyone said, it does give you the impression that they create music effortlessly, everything sounds so easy to reproduce. I can hear clearer texture of decay of the instrument, compared to MS2. And this is right out of the box.

But they somehow still sound "stiff" to me, a bit cold..

Unforgiving you ask? Well, so far, I put them only even or not slightly more unforgiving than the MS2. The badly recorded CDs that I can't stand to hear still sounds like crap... and the one with slight audible hiss but still enjoyable with my MS2, remain the same using the 404.

But I don't know, maybe as the headpone gets more burn in, and the energizer gets more burn in and more warm up, they might become a CRUEL, EVIL, unforgiving system, LOL..
I'm not sure at this point yet...

About bass, I haven't played my "Bass" CDs yet, so I can't tell you much about that... plus they're not burned in, remember?

One thing I notice, lower frequency seems to sound "slowish" to me... maybe it's because the energizer is not warmed up yet, or the burn in issue, not sure...


Volume
I think for most CDs, I need to turn the volume knob to around 11 o'clock (maybe even 12 for loud stuff) to get the desired volume. Is this normal?
This fact has made me pretty much write off Eric's Nitrogen cables since they attenuate volume, and maybe a bit too stiff to fit into the cramped space in my shelf.


The Energizer, SR-313

Don't know how they smell like, I forgot to smell them.
They are solidly built, sturdy, and they actually look bigger in real life to me. It's a bit long, which is sometimes not shown in the pictures. Volume knob is very smooth. No complain here.

Anyway, so that's my earliest impression possible I can give about the system. Maybe I'll post some more later....

And thanks to all of you Stax owners for the information prior the purchase. Really helpful indeed. You just got yourself another team stax here.
 
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Gigabomber

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dj_mocok
They're finally here, those 404 and 313... I was getting anxious about it and becoming paranoid, thinking something bad had happened...
(Actually it was just 8 days ago when Koji notified me that he already sent them, so maybe I was anxious..



yeah, I get that feeling when I order too


so where did you order them from and what did they cost ya? I'm looking at ordering the same type of setup.
Oh, you're in australia, probably wouldn't be ordering from the same dealer anyway

BTW, would really appreciate if you eventually gave us a bit of a review on how well the Stax interact with each of your sources.
 
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setmenu

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Welcome to the Team Stax

I look forward to your impressions as you get used to them.
On the volume front, be careful as it is possible to play them at extreme volumes without realizing and ...wheeeee , ringing ears!
Maybe it's their lack of harshness or midbass 'thunk' but they can go louder than you think.


Have fun



Setmenu
 
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dj_mocok

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Giga,

I ordered them from EIFL. It's slightly cheaper than Audiocubes price.

Setmenu,

I'll post some impressions once I am more used to them. Maybe do some review if I am confident enough.

I'll remember your advise on volume though. I think when it's on 11 o'clock, the volume is not that loud yet, maybe on 12, but I can't see myself turning it to 12 so often... Maybe for 1 or 2 tracks once in awhile...


I just noticed something, I thought the headphone connections for SRM-313 are "Pro Only" and "Normal" aka. 5 pin and 6 pin ones.
But mine has 2 "Pro only", they both identical 5 pin connection ones.

Just wanna know whether the other owners of SRM-313 have 2 different ones or same like mine..

As far as I know, the 6 pins ones is included so that the owner of older stax headphones can use the 313 (alternately, not driving both old and new one at the same time)

So if I have two 5-pin connections, does that mean that this 313 can drive 2 headphones at the same time now ? Or else, I can't see any point in doing so...

Just read the manual, it says "input and output terminals can be used in reverse since they are connected in parallel", so that means it doesn't matter which side I connect them right?
 
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setmenu

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dj_mocok
Giga,

I ordered them from EIFL. It's slightly cheaper than Audiocubes price.

Setmenu,

I'll post some impressions once I am more used to them. Maybe do some review if I am confident enough.

I'll remember your advise on volume though. I think when it's on 11 o'clock, the volume is not that loud yet, maybe on 12, but I can't see myself turning it to 12 so often... Maybe for 1 or 2 tracks once in awhile...


I just noticed something, I thought the headphone connections for SRM-313 are "Pro Only" and "Normal" aka. 5 pin and 6 pin ones.
But mine has 2 "Pro only", they both identical 5 pin connection ones.

Just wanna know whether the other owners of SRM-313 have 2 different ones or same like mine..

As far as I know, the 6 pins ones is included so that the owner of older stax headphones can use the 313 (alternately, not driving both old and new one at the same time)

So if I have two 5-pin connections, does that mean that this 313 can drive 2 headphones at the same time now ? Or else, I can't see any point in doing so...



My normal listening position on the 006 amp is around 10 O'Clock depending on recording levels.
The above amp has 3 outputs, two 'pro' and one 'normal'.
The difference between the outputs is the bias voltage, the pro are higher biased.
The pro bias phones work fine on the normal bias [reduced volume, softer sound] but the phones used for the normals are prevented from connecting to the pro by the extra pin, as you have noticed.

My amp happily drives two pairs of phones so I would assume yours does too.


Setmenu
 
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Dj,
Congratulations with your purchase!
I consider to buy a Stax system and have a question concerning your purchase.

What about import taxes and insurance?
Did you asked Koji for a lower price than his initial quotes?

Lieven
 
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dj_mocok

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I didn't ask for a lower price, since I think the price is reasonable already. About the tax, I'm not sure how strict is your country in terms of import duty, but I think if you buy from him, you can talk to him and work out what's best to do..
 
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Quote:

I think for most CDs, I need to turn the volume knob to around 11 o'clock (maybe even 12 for loud stuff) to get the desired volume. Is this normal?


This is dependent on the output of your source, even modern sources are not identical in this regard and especially TT preamps cover a wide range.
Given a standard 2V source and music replaygained at 89 dB (that's quite low, many original CDs nowadays are mastered way "hotter") I listen at an imagined 11 o'clock position.12 o'clock might be suitable for the wide dynamic range of classical music, you'll get some very loud, but relatively short peaks like in a real concert.
Listening to compressed modern metal for more than a few minutes per day at 12 o'clock is clearly deafening.
Please don't try to compensate for the lacking "punch" of electrostats by cranking up the volume.There's music your Alessandros are better suited for.
 
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cosmopragma

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Quote:

Just wanna know whether the other owners of SRM-313 have 2 different ones or same like mine..


My SRM-313 has one "pro only" and one "normal" jack.
Quote:

So if I have two 5-pin connections, does that mean that this 313 can drive 2 headphones at the same time now ?


Most probably yes, my amp drives a Lambda and a SR 5 simultanously without any problems .
 
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dj_mocok

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Quote:

Please don't try to compensate for the lacking "punch" of electrostats by cranking up the volume.There's music your Alessandros are better suited for.


No, I won't do that. I still need my ears...
That's why I'm still keeping my dynamic setup, because I know I will need those and listen to both type alternately.

I'm not sure if this is the characteristics of the stax or not, but at this point I feel like Stax is more neutral, and polite headphones. Everything seems to be flat, not in a bad way, but more like very well balanced. This is maybe good for more relaxed, laid back type of music. Eg. Jazz, accoustic, classical...

But for some pops and rock songs, I think it will be more enjoyable using MS2.

If I were to characterise it, (at this point), I'd say MS-2 is like a "bad boy" with attitude, whereas Stax is more elegant and smooth.

Now about bass, I'm not sure why some people mentioned that Stax is lacking bass. Even at this point I can tell you that there is bass. I don't even think that "loss of impact of dynamic headphone" effect is that noticeable in Stax. Some people are too overreacted in this matter.. Now before you jump into conclusion that it's because I don't know bass, I can assure you I have tons of bass heavy stuff. And I still think that it still give you bass.
 
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congrats on your new purchase and welcome to Team Stax
 
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The bass is there and goes way down, but its impact, its "touch" is lacking compared to dynamics.
The first day when I received the Stax, I listened for 5 hours straight, the next day too. Listening fatigue none! That's what I like about the Stax, I can LISTEN for long time. OTOH dynamics have a touch too much (which is good for short rock sessions) and are a too "involving" to enjoy quieter kinds of music and long, relaxed sessions.
Stax are gentle, smooth, articulate, effortless.
I guess Solid State Staxes would pair well with "tube" sources (warm) (I've never tried).

My SRM-313 has two PRO ONLY.
 
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What I've noticed is, the highs is sometimes too harsh. But then again, I only used this thing for around 1hr. How much will it change later on? I was thinking it's either burn-in or the cables (silver)...
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by dj_mocok
What I've noticed is, the highs is sometimes too harsh. But then again, I only used this thing for around 1hr. How much will it change later on? I was thinking it's either burn-in or the cables (silver)...


Big change. That's what I noticed, in comparison to my (ancient, well broken-in) Lambda Pros. The first 200 hours is a biggie.

If it's still there beyond that cables or source (hopefully)
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by dj_mocok
What I've noticed is, the highs is sometimes too harsh.


Absolutely no harsh treble here with decent source and interconnects unless the recording is totally crap. In fact the treble is way smoother than with my Grados.
At first listen I would have been disappointed if I didn't knew already about the burn-in phenomenon.I had an old Stax Basic System for direct comparison at hand, and for the first xxx hours the Basic sounded way better.
 
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