The Stax SR-L500 and SR-L700 Impressions Thread
Apr 6, 2021 at 1:41 PM Post #1,576 of 1,866
i am looking for a new headphone, to compliment my he-500.
I am looking for a headphone with a good soundstage, imaging and details. I find that my he-500, are lacking a bit in those areas.
Could that be a l500 or l700?
I have never head Stax before. I am interested in experience the resolution, clarity and speed of Stax.
Is it a big difference from planars?
I went from HE-500 to the L700, and I love my STAX. You can definitely expect better imaging and details (I think soundstage too but I sold the HE-500 a couple years ago so I don't remember). What you need to be aware of is that the HE-500 will have way more impactful bass. That can be partially addressed by doing the blu-tack mod on the L700, but there's just no way that they'll hit as hard.
 
Apr 6, 2021 at 1:57 PM Post #1,577 of 1,866
i am looking for a new headphone, to compliment my he-500.
I am looking for a headphone with a good soundstage, imaging and details. I find that my he-500, are lacking a bit in those areas.
Could that be a l500 or l700?
I have never head Stax before. I am interested in experience the resolution, clarity and speed of Stax.
Is it a big difference from planars?
I can't comment generally on Planars, however comparing it to for instance Audeze LCD 2, I can say the difference is quite big.

In my opinion, nothing comes even close to electrostatics when it comes to overall listening pleasure, imaging and details. Soundstage is such an abstract concept, but I would say most would find HD800 soundstage more impressive (bigger), but to say it is in any sense objectively "better" is wrong.

L500/L700 have incredible speed, detail, soundstage, realism of tone and so on. They are simply the best imo. They are however quite a bit "thinner" sounding than a planar like the LCD 2. The LCD 2 feels "thicker" and "heavier". Less quick. I can't say its objectively better or worse, it all comes down to taste.

As for the L500 vs the L700, in my view, unless you are 1) filthy rich and 2) prefer the slightly more dynamic (v-shaped) sound of the L700, I would say always go for the L500. Having owned the L300, L500, SR-007 mk1 and listened to many others stax including the L700 and 009, I have to say that in terms of "technical prowess", they are shockingly close in performance. The 009 and 007 are a bit in a league of their own in terms of serving up every last little detail of the recording, however the L300, L500, L700 are so close that for any practical purpose the difference is irrelevant. What is a lot more important is the overall sound signature and your own personal preference. For instance, I loved the O2s, however they are a bit too laid back for my taste. It makes them a lovely generalist headphone that can handle ANY genre with ease, though they lack the sheer intensity of the L series or 009's.

Comparing the L500 vs L700 (I am assuming you will be going for the Mk2s, which you should - plastic headband breaks a lot):

The L700 have a bit more lower end, and a bit more higher end, making them sound a bit more impressive during A/B. They are more dynamic, more "wow". The L500s are very similar, however their overall sound is more even tempered. In terms of resolution, I honestly don't think there is any difference at all. I may be biased, but I legitimately couldn't tell any difference in terms of detail / resolution. Sound stage appeared a smidgen wider on the L700s, likely because of the pads being thicker.

I think that for those of us who wants to end upgradeitis, have ONE headphone and call it a day, the L500 is the most intelligent purchase one can make. It sounds better than the HD800 or any other dynamic or planar I've heard, has one of the most even sounding FRs (to my ears), are great for basically all genres (except bass centric music, get a sub woofer), and never gets tiring or sibilant. On top of that, they are way cheaper than other headphones while sounding better.

The reality is that at this point, there is no "objectively better". I would say estats are objectively better than dynamic and planar headphones in certain regards (speed, clarity, detail) however in other regards they are not. Mostly it comes down to taste. I think the L500s are the perfect match of flat, real sound while being exceedingly exciting, and even affordable. You could pay double for the L700, however would I say you are getting objectively better sound? Definitely not. If you prefer the L700 sound however, then it might be worth it in the long run, depending on how hard it presses your budget and how much you prefer the L700.

If you are purchasing blind (i.e can't compare them), go for the L500. I think they are essentially the safest purchase that can be made in the estat world. Oh and by the way, I used to run it through a 252s and I don't think it does it justice.

edit: Oh and just so its clear; I would never bother with a non estat headphone ever again. If I were to sell my estats, it would be because I was getting out of the audiophile hobby completely. I would never bother with audiophile headphones that weren't estat. That should tell you how much I prefer them.
 
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Apr 6, 2021 at 2:10 PM Post #1,578 of 1,866
i am looking for a new headphone, to compliment my he-500.
I am looking for a headphone with a good soundstage, imaging and details. I find that my he-500, are lacking a bit in those areas.
Could that be a l500 or l700?
I have never head Stax before. I am interested in experience the resolution, clarity and speed of Stax.
Is it a big difference from planars?

IMO there is a huge difference between stax and everything else. Nothing can compare to stax resolution, soundstage, imaging, clarity and life-like sound reproduction. Stax in this regards is ultimate winner.

It's worth checking it by yourself because not everyone likes that type of signature, for some it might be "too much" of that clarity. Also stax are not good for analog sound lovers imo.

I personally found l700 mk2 my end game for full size over ear headphones.
 
Apr 6, 2021 at 2:17 PM Post #1,579 of 1,866
<< said in part >>

I think that for those of us who wants to end upgradeitis, have ONE headphone and call it a day, the L500 is the most intelligent purchase one can make. It sounds better than the HD800 or any other dynamic or planar I've heard, has one of the most even sounding FRs (to my ears), are great for basically all genres (except bass centric music, get a sub woofer), and never gets tiring or sibilant. On top of that, they are way cheaper than other headphones while sounding better.

For those totally new to Stax or other estat headphones, it must be noted that they require a special kind of amplifier, different from what's used to drive conventional dynamic or planar headphones.

There are a variety of estat amplifiers (or adapters to be connected to an existing power amp) available, at various prices. However, even used, none in working condition fall into a range you could call "cheap."

So the initial entry price into the world of estats is more than just the price of an L500 or other h/p model.

Many people find Stax very special, however.
 
Apr 6, 2021 at 8:34 PM Post #1,580 of 1,866
I have the Ares II in my Stax system. It’s all I needed.
Others recommended me the RME ADI-2 DAC FS. Where I live there's an RME certified dealer that lets me pay 30% in advance to place the order and then the remaining 70% when it arrives (they don't have the ADI-2 in stock right now).
Sounds good, but I'm not 100% convinced of its sound signature and its rather fiddly onboard EQ. Some complain or noted that the soundstage on the ADI-2 is a bit flat or two-dimensional.
Regarless of which DAC I'm gonna get, the SRM-353X I ordered arrived today, but it's missing the step-down power converter that the dealer suppossedly included with the energizer so I can use it in my country. I couldn't find neither a 120V nor a 230V version of that unit, only 100V.
Most likely, the converter came with the SRM, but it was impounded or rejected at our customs due to some inane law of "electrical safety" that forbids the importation of some types of wall warts and power supplies. It happened to me already with the wall wart of the Magni 2 Uber I bought some years ago, even thou it was meant for 220-230V.
I complained to the importer, they will see if they can get a step down converter for me cost free. We'll see. The other importer I got the Magni 2U from gave me a generic wall wart that didn't work and dropped the ball afterwards.
Luckily I made contact with a local manufacturer of power converters, power supplies and transformers for industrial and home use. They agreed to manufacture a bespoke converter with the same specs as the japanese Nissyo DN-203 I was suppossed to get with my SRM. That is 220 to 100V 50/60hz 120W. On the plus side it will have a type I male plug (aka australian plug) instead of a type C one (aka Europlug).
I argued with the technician that made the tube amp I have, he said that the typical 240-220 to 110-120v converters widely available here will do just fine because the internal voltage frequency is 117V, but I said no because the input voltage is 100V and that pluging the energizer to a 110-120V outlet can either fry the components or reduce their lifespan considerably.
Why Stax doesn't make the energizers to be multivoltage, either automatic or with a manual switch? Denafrips does that with their DACs. The Ares II, for example, has a switch at the bottom for either 100-120v or 220-240v, 50/60hz in each case. We are not in the 90's or early 2000's anymore.
This really has become an ordeal.
 
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Apr 6, 2021 at 10:29 PM Post #1,581 of 1,866
i am looking for a new headphone, to compliment my he-500.
I am looking for a headphone with a good soundstage, imaging and details. I find that my he-500, are lacking a bit in those areas.
Could that be a l500 or l700?
I have never head Stax before. I am interested in experience the resolution, clarity and speed of Stax.
Is it a big difference from planars?

Consider going with the L300 for cheaper, it has the same sound element as the L500 just thinner pads and a cheaper plastic headband assembly and cheaper cable. Of course this only works if you have ears that don't protrude out so much, as many people find the L300 to be uncomfortable as their ears touch the inside. You can buy L500 pads and they work for the L300 but they are rip off priced lol

For what you described you were looking for STAX is definitely a good way to go. Depends on what you mean by soundstage though, the Lambda series has a different "panoramic" sound space presentation as compared to the Omega (007/009 series).

Having had both the L500MK2 and the 009S, the L500MK2 is basically right there in terms of clarity and resolution with the 009S (well except for in the lowest bass notes but that can be modded). What you get with the 009S is a different sound presentation where there is better separation spread across a larger space which can be very interesting to listen to. Oh, and massively better build quality and a nicer looking pair of phones. I also found the tonality of the L500 to be a little too bright even compared the the 009S which was nicer, but not a big difference there.

Like mentioned above, you gotta get a driver unit though. STAX is phasing out the cheapest ones too lol but you can still find a 252S at a good price from Japan which is a nice small cheap amp that I enjoy/ed (well the 253S which is pretty much the same thing) with all my STAX phones including the harder to drive ones since I don't listen very loud. You will need a step down transformer though, or a compatible wall wart.

Of course, if you can audition, audition.
 
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Apr 6, 2021 at 10:48 PM Post #1,582 of 1,866
Consider going with the L300 for cheaper, it has the same sound element as the L500 just thinner pads and a cheaper plastic headband assembly and cheaper cable. Of course this only works if you have ears that don't protrude out so much, as many people find the L300 to be uncomfortable as their ears touch the inside. You can buy L500 pads and they work for the L300 but they are rip off priced lol

For what you described you were looking for STAX is definitely a good way to go. Depends on what you mean by soundstage though, the Lambda series has a different "panoramic" sound space presentation as compared to the Omega (007/009 series).

Having had both the L500MK2 and the 009S, the L500MK2 is basically right there in terms of clarity and resolution with the 009S (well except for in the lowest bass notes but that can be modded). What you get with the 009S is a different sound presentation where there is better separation spread across a larger space which can be very interesting to listen to. Oh, and massively better build quality and a nicer looking pair of phones. I also found the tonality of the L500 to be a little too bright even compared the the 009S which was nicer, but not a big difference there.

Like mentioned above, you gotta get a driver unit though. STAX is phasing out the cheapest ones too lol but you can still find a 252S at a good price from Japan which is a nice small cheap amp that I enjoy/ed (well the 253S which is pretty much the same thing) with all my STAX phones including the harder to drive ones since I don't listen very loud. You will need a step down transformer though, or a compatible wall wart.

Of course, if you can audition, audition.
Just to tack onto your comment regarding the L300 vs the L500:

Consider the fact that the L500 / L700 currently are sold as MK2 models with aluminium headbands - while the L300 is still being sold with plastic headbands. I had my regular L500 plastic headband break on me after 1,5 years of normal use.

As far as L500 vs L300 goes, I find that the difference in pad thickness results in two quite severe differences:

1) The L500 are to me very comfortable, while the L300 became uncomfortable as my ears touched the mesh on the inside, making them uncomfortable after only 30 minutes or so of wearing them.
2) The L300 have, to my ears, a more intimate setting, making them sound at times even clearer than the L500/L700, however this effect also makes them sound less "grandiose" in terms of soundstaging. This aspect is more down to what a person prefers, of course.

As for amplifier, I would also like to add that while I don't think the 252s does the L-series justice, they are probably the way to go to get started, as a L500 + 252s will beat any and all non estat rig to my ears!
 
Apr 6, 2021 at 11:15 PM Post #1,583 of 1,866
Oh yeah pads can make a big change in sound, STAX just really did not create a good value with the L500 as compared to the L300, which is why I assume it got the MK2 treatment like the L700 (which understandably is distinguished in the product lineup due to using elements of the 009 sound element)

For amps, the L500 was the only STAX I had where I think I preferred the warmer tuned T1S amp to the more linear 353X/253S, probably as a function of the L500 brightness. I guess that's why STAX revved the venerable T1 circuit with the 500t and market it as the amp for Lambdas (couldn't get the 006tS in the US due to compliance issues before).
 
Apr 6, 2021 at 11:41 PM Post #1,584 of 1,866
Others recommended me the RME ADI-2 DAC FS. Where I live there's an RME certified dealer that lets me pay 30% in advance to place the order and then the remaining 70% when it arrives (they don't have the ADI-2 in stock right now).
Sounds good, but I'm not 100% convinced of its sound signature and its rather fiddly onboard EQ. Some complain or noted that the soundstage on the ADI-2 is a bit flat or two-dimensional.
Regarless of which DAC I'm gonna get, the SRM-353X I ordered arrived today, but it's missing the step-down power converter that the dealer suppossedly included with the energizer so I can use it in my country. I couldn't find neither a 120V nor a 230V version of that unit, only 100V.
Most likely, the converter came with the SRM, but it was impounded or rejected at our customs due to some inane law of "electrical safety" that forbids the importation of some types of wall warts and power supplies. It happened to me already with the wall wart of the Magni 2 Uber, even thou it was meant for 220-230V.
I complained to the importer, they will see if they can get a step down converter for me cost free. We'll see. The other importer I got the Magni 2U from gave me a generic wall wart that didn't work and dropped the ball afterwards.
Luckily I contacted a local manufacturer of power converters, power supplies, transformers for industrial and home use. The agreed to manufacture a bespoke converter with the same specs as the japanese Nissyo DN-203 I was suppossed to get with my SRM. That is 220 to 100V 50/60hz 120W. On the plus side it will have a type I male plug (aka australian plug) instead of a type C one (aka Europlug).
I argued with the technician that made the tube amp I have, he said that the typical 240-220 to 110-120v converters widely available here will do just fine because the internal voltage frequency is 117V, but I said no because the input voltage is 100V and that pluging the energizer to a 110-120V outlet can either fry the components or reduce their lifespan drastically.
Why Stax doesn't make the energizers to be multivoltage, either automatic or with a manual switch? Denafrips does that with their DACs. The Ares II, for example, has a switch at the bottom for either 100-120v or 220-240v, 50/60hz in each case. We are not in the 90's or early 2000's anymore.
This really has become an ordeal.
This most definitely is taken patients and endurance on your part. I have no good solutions or answers for you other than keep these dealers accountable and do not settle for less than what you have been promised. It will be worth it! Good luck
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 2:39 AM Post #1,585 of 1,866
Others recommended me the RME ADI-2 DAC FS. Where I live there's an RME certified dealer that lets me pay 30% in advance to place the order and then the remaining 70% when it arrives (they don't have the ADI-2 in stock right now).
Sounds good, but I'm not 100% convinced of its sound signature and its rather fiddly onboard EQ. Some complain or noted that the soundstage on the ADI-2 is a bit flat or two-dimensional.
Regarless of which DAC I'm gonna get, the SRM-353X I ordered arrived today, but it's missing the step-down power converter that the dealer suppossedly included with the energizer so I can use it in my country. I couldn't find neither a 120V nor a 230V version of that unit, only 100V.
Most likely, the converter came with the SRM, but it was impounded or rejected at our customs due to some inane law of "electrical safety" that forbids the importation of some types of wall warts and power supplies. It happened to me already with the wall wart of the Magni 2 Uber I bought some years ago, even thou it was meant for 220-230V.
I complained to the importer, they will see if they can get a step down converter for me cost free. We'll see. The other importer I got the Magni 2U from gave me a generic wall wart that didn't work and dropped the ball afterwards.
Luckily I made contact with a local manufacturer of power converters, power supplies and transformers for industrial and home use. They agreed to manufacture a bespoke converter with the same specs as the japanese Nissyo DN-203 I was suppossed to get with my SRM. That is 220 to 100V 50/60hz 120W. On the plus side it will have a type I male plug (aka australian plug) instead of a type C one (aka Europlug).
I argued with the technician that made the tube amp I have, he said that the typical 240-220 to 110-120v converters widely available here will do just fine because the internal voltage frequency is 117V, but I said no because the input voltage is 100V and that pluging the energizer to a 110-120V outlet can either fry the components or reduce their lifespan considerably.
Why Stax doesn't make the energizers to be multivoltage, either automatic or with a manual switch? Denafrips does that with their DACs. The Ares II, for example, has a switch at the bottom for either 100-120v or 220-240v, 50/60hz in each case. We are not in the 90's or early 2000's anymore.
This really has become an ordeal.

Stax amps used to be switchable in terms of input voltage, you'd have to swap some fuses around but it wasn't that hard. The issue is the Japanese grey market, and Stax's ongoing fight against it. Stax only want their stuff sold internationally through authorized dealers, which charge a premium. There are some grey market exporters in Japan that will sell you stuff internationally at Japanese street prices, which are a lot lower. And Stax have been perpetually trying, with no success, to shut them down. I think they've resorted at one point to cutting the windings on their own transformers (!!) to make sure they don't work outside of Japan. Absolutely asinine business decisions, but hey, it's Stax. The best engineers are rarely also good businessmen, and, well, they're very good engineers.

Re: Lambdas vs Omegas, there are definitely technical differences between them, but they're roughly in the same ballpark overall. My 007s outresolve my L700s by a noticeable margin, and have better bass. However the L700 Mk1 has a more realistic tembre (once you EQ it) and a more immediate and 3D presentation to it and I prefer it overall. Yes, the technicalities are better on the 007s but technicalities aren't everything.

I also prefer them over any dynamic or planar that I've heard thus far, though the Utopia could keep up in terms of treble detail and was certainly more physically tactile. However it couldn't do the 3D soundstage or the sense of openness or the same delicate dynamic nuance in the mids that the Stax have. So I would say that Stax are technically superior, but whether or not the things they are best at actually matter to how you enjoy sound, well, that's up to you. And they have their flaws too. Everything does.

I use Stax for immersive listening almost exclusively. But for casual all-round listening, HD650 > *.
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 1:50 PM Post #1,586 of 1,866
Thanks for all your answers :) I dont have an opportunity to try them, before i buy. I am going to buy new, the difference is 270 euro between l500 and l700.
I am going to buy 252s with them, does that change anything?

Have any of you tried to use an otl tube headamp, as an preamp in an stax setup?
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 2:13 PM Post #1,587 of 1,866
I used a DarkVoice 339 as an OTL preamp to an SRD-7SB, and that worked like a charm, but I have not used it with a full energizer/amp like the 252 - but I only have a tube-based Stax amp, so it would be doubly tubey - or even triple if you think the BF2 has a tube-like influence.
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 2:25 PM Post #1,588 of 1,866
Stax amps used to be switchable in terms of input voltage, you'd have to swap some fuses around but it wasn't that hard. The issue is the Japanese grey market, and Stax's ongoing fight against it. Stax only want their stuff sold internationally through authorized dealers, which charge a premium. There are some grey market exporters in Japan that will sell you stuff internationally at Japanese street prices, which are a lot lower. And Stax have been perpetually trying, with no success, to shut them down. I think they've resorted at one point to cutting the windings on their own transformers (!!) to make sure they don't work outside of Japan. Absolutely asinine business decisions, but hey, it's Stax. The best engineers are rarely also good businessmen, and, well, they're very good engineers.

Re: Lambdas vs Omegas, there are definitely technical differences between them, but they're roughly in the same ballpark overall. My 007s outresolve my L700s by a noticeable margin, and have better bass. However the L700 Mk1 has a more realistic tembre (once you EQ it) and a more immediate and 3D presentation to it and I prefer it overall. Yes, the technicalities are better on the 007s but technicalities aren't everything.

I also prefer them over any dynamic or planar that I've heard thus far, though the Utopia could keep up in terms of treble detail and was certainly more physically tactile. However it couldn't do the 3D soundstage or the sense of openness or the same delicate dynamic nuance in the mids that the Stax have. So I would say that Stax are technically superior, but whether or not the things they are best at actually matter to how you enjoy sound, well, that's up to you. And they have their flaws too. Everything does.

I use Stax for immersive listening almost exclusively. But for casual all-round listening, HD650 > *.
They are shooting themselves in the foot with those foolish, anti-consumer decisions. No wonder why they went bankrupt and got their arses saved by Edifier (I heard that one of the Edifier CEOs is a huge fan of Stax).
I ordered the L700 Mk II with the 353X.
Once I get everything on working order, I want to see how the Stax combo stack up (pun very intended) against my Sennheiser HD800S and tube amp, specially when I upgrade my DAC to either the ADI-2 or the Ares II. The 353x is balanced and single ended, my tube amp is single ended, sort of balanced, with 4 pin XLR out.
Ah, for casual all-around listening, I use my good 'ol HD598, I generally plug them directly to my PC's front headphone out.
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 3:09 PM Post #1,589 of 1,866
Thanks for all your answers :) I dont have an opportunity to try them, before i buy. I am going to buy new, the difference is 270 euro between l500 and l700.
I am going to buy 252s with them, does that change anything?

Have any of you tried to use an otl tube headamp, as an preamp in an stax setup?
In terms of which one you would enjoy the most, I think it comes down to whether you prefer a more dynamic and lively sound (l700) vs a more flat, even tempered sound (l500). I do not think there is any objective difference in terms of sound quality.

With that being said, the differences are very small. They are very similar sounding.

Since there is only a 270 dollar price difference, there are a couple of things to consider:

The l700 in this case is the better deal. It is worth more than the l500 new, and so if you were to sell it used in the future, you could even make money.

If you were to never sell it, getting the l700 would likely hold you away from "upgraditis" since it is the more valuable product, and so the ich to hear the l700 if you went for the l500 wouldnt be there.

If how ever you know you want to keep the headphones, and you know you would enjoy the more even sounding l500, I would say get the l500. Chances are that you will be more happy with the l700 at that price point because it is more flashy, more "fun" and at a bargain price.
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 3:26 PM Post #1,590 of 1,866
Re: Lambdas vs Omegas, there are definitely technical differences between them, but they're roughly in the same ballpark overall. My 007s outresolve my L700s by a noticeable margin, and have better bass. However the L700 Mk1 has a more realistic tembre (once you EQ it) and a more immediate and 3D presentation to it and I prefer it overall. Yes, the technicalities are better on the 007s but technicalities aren't everything.

I think 007 and l700 are also quite different in terms of sound presentation. Omega 007mk2 ( I didn't have a chance to listen to mk1 version) is the closest to the "planar" type of sound from all stax headphones I've heard, and at the same time it has less "electrostatic feeling" to my ears. Few major differences that can be spotted immediately after you put them on:

1) bass - 007mk2 has it much bigger in quantity as well as it goes deeper than any lamda headphones. I mean the difference is pretty huge. Base in 007mk2 is impressive taking under account it's coming from estat headphones.

2) soundstage : 007mk2 has it significantly deeper, but l700 has the soundstage wider (it can come from the first plan positioning, pls see point below)

3) first plan is quite far away from you in 007mk2 hence there is an impression you hear sound from a little distance. while it is much closer to your face in L700.

4) music coming from 007mk2 is much more relaxed, it's a laid back presentation, however still very detailed, while lambda headphones (like l700 or l500) always try to "bring something to your attention " and keep you focused

I guess choosing between 007mk2 and l700 would be a matter of preferences. I can't speak about omegas in general because I don't have experience with 009, but from opinions I heard, it's very different than 007 in terms of sound.

It's worth to mention that stax headphones are generally sensitive to the source - so the setup and the 2 variables ( dac + Energizer) will also have strong impact on the final sound.
 

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