The Stax SR-L500 and SR-L700 Impressions Thread
Apr 9, 2021 at 9:42 PM Post #1,606 of 1,728

AudioThief

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
Posts
580
Likes
380
(originally posted on reddit, thought I'd post it here too since it is my "real" community)

https://imgur.com/n3Xh1Wb

(wine bag to seem semi-sophisticated)

Greetings, everyone. Today, my pair of SR-L500mk2 arrived in the mail. I've already owned a pair of the original SR-L500 for about 1,5 years, however the yokes broke and so I am currently in a dispute with the seller regarding replacement. I decided I didn't have time to wait for all that, so I bought the MK2 edition, which solves the yoke issue.

First of all, I wanted to make this review to talk a bit about the differences between the original L500 vs the mk2 version. However since I'm already writing a post up, I might as well give a more general review type of these headphones, since I feel qualified to talk about them, and I think it is a very underestimated pair of headphones that to my ears are the most "bang for the buck" endgame headphones in existance right now - knowing full well that "end game" is subjective and needs to be seen in context of the buyer.



L500 vs L500mk2

The differences between the two models are:

- The MK2 has new earpads

- The MK2 has aluminium yokes

- The MK2 has detachable cables

The most important difference being the aluminium yokes, which ensures two things: 1) that the longevity of the headphones is greatly increased, as the plastic yokes break under normal use - beware potential buyers - this goes for both the L500 and L700 mk1, and the current L300 - and 2) that the wearing comfort and seal is greatly improved.

I always found the L500 to be very comfortable headphones to wear, however they always felt somewhat loose on my head compared to some other headphones. With the new aluminium yokes, the pressure is increased significantly, but it only increases wearing comfort, making them more stable. Further, since the fit is better, the overall sound is a bit more immersive to my ears.

When it comes to sound, I can't say there is any noticable difference other than that I feel the bass is maybe a tad bit more present, and the sound overall is more "focused" or "immersive". Likely because the increased seal ensures less sound is leaked.

Some general thoughts on the L500

To my ears, the L500 are the most even and natural sounding headphones I have heard to date. It might sound a bit strange - they aren't the most "flashy" sounding, nor do they have the widest soundstage or the heaviest bass. Yet I think they sound absolutely amazing. The soundstage isn't too wide nor too narrow. The treble sounds just perfect, so does the mids. The bass, while lacking compared to a planar or dynamic in terms of absolute weight, is very servicable and I never feel I'm missing anything except for in bass-centric music.

The L500s best genre is classical music. This goes for the lambdas and the SR-009. The older lambdas also does very well with classical. The newer lambdas (l300/l500/l700) does a great job in working with all genres of music however, and this is perhaps doubly true for the L500, with its even and balanced presentation. If you enjoy the HD600s, then the L500 to my ears are the perfect path to end the upgraditis. They sound very similar, with the L500 doing everything better to my ears. Since many users likely own the HD600 or HD650s, the question might be "is it worth it?". My personal belief is that going from dynamics/planars to estats is the single most impactful upgrade that can be done within the headphone world. The two things that make estats (and in turn, the L500) special are: 1) the realism of the sound and 2) the speed of the headphones. On top of that, modern Stax does everything else well too; the soundstage is wide, the imaging is extremely precise, and they are comfortable to wear. Further, the level of detail is unmatched. Nothing beats Stax - at least I haven't heard it yet, and I doubt I ever will.

L500 vs other interesting headphones

Disclaimer: All these are my subjective opinions based on memory.

I have owned and auditioned a wide array of headphones over the years. I came into this hobby in 2017, and quickly fell down the rabbit hole of "the holy grail". I moved quickly from the Fidelio x2s to Denon AH-D5000s, TH 900, JVC HPDX1000, HD650, LCD 2 - and then, Stax. Once I heard the Stax SR-L300 through a 252s, I was completely hooked. I was simply done with dynamics and planars, as this sound to me was perfect.

Since then, I've owned the SR-007 mk1, the 404s, the SR-L500, and auditioned a host of other headphones including the L700, SR-009, HD800 etc. The driver units have been the 252s, 727II and currently the 006t (the old version from 2001).

The headphones which I have enjoyed the most is in no particular order: L500, SR-007, SR-009, L700, L300

I view all these headphones as "roughly equal" over all, depending on personal taste.

In terms of "technicalities", i.e., soundstage, resolution, level of detail and so on, the SR-009 and SR-007 are a step above the lambdas. The lambdas again are about equal or a bit above the HD800, and behind them is the TH900, LCD 2 and HD650. A fraction behind them again I would put AH-D5000 and HPDX1000.

L500 vs L300:

I usually read that the L500 is simply a L300 with thicker pads. Now, I haven't actually attempted to blind test a L300 with thicker pads vs a L500, however I can comment on the differences in sound with the stock units:

- The level of detail is essentially the same, with the L300 in certain tracks edging out because of the intimate sound stage.

- The overall sense of scale is clearly better in the L500 because of the wider and deeper soundstage

- The low end to my ears are a bit more controlled in the L500, however for overall "boom" i.e the level of bass, L300 might edge it out

- The most important factor in considering one vs the other is imo wearing comfort and longevity. For me, the L300 was very uncomfortable to wear because my ear touched the mesh inside. Further, they only come with plasic yokes, which breaks. Beyond that, the deciding factor in terms of sound should be absolute level of detail retrieval (L300 wins by a hairstrand) vs soundstage depth and width (l500 wins by quite a wide margin). They are similar headphones, where I think L300 wins in acoustic guitar, certain classical performances (smaller scale), whereas the L500 wins overall to my ears.



L500 vs L700

Reading reviews, many people make it sound like there is a considerable difference between these two headphones. To my ears, the current lambda line is very similar in terms of overall sound, however the L500 and the L700 are closer than the L300 are to those in how they present themselves. In terms of detail, I actually think the L300 is the strongest headphone, however for overall listening, I believe it is a tossup between the L500 vs L700 depending on what sound you prefer. In an A/B, I think the L700s are more immediately impressive. They sound a bit more dynamic (v-shaped), a bit more thumping (more bass, more treble), and ultimately more exciting. As such, the L500 sound a bit duller in comparison. However as time went on, I found the L500 to be the more overall preferable option to me, as the L700 exceeded on some tracks, but fell behind on others. The L500 are kinda just "there". For a "one headphone guy" like I have become, they won out.



In deciding between which one to get, assuming price isn't an issue (in which case the L500 is clearly the better choice), the important thing to consider is exactly how many different genres you listen to. The more different genres you're listening to, the more I would generally nudge you in the way of the L500. As an analogy: If you're more of a TH900 kinda guy than a HD600 kinda guy, get the L700. If not, the L500 is likely the better option.



L500 vs SR-007

I went from owning the SR-007 to owning the L500. The reason this happened was initially spurred by me finding it economically and morally irresponsible to own the at the time setup because I didn't have time to use it. What I found was that while shopping for new headphones, I preferred the sound of the L500 to the SR-007. That is not to say they are "better", because in any objective terms, I would have to say the SR-007 is the better pair of headphones. However, at this level of fidelity, your personal taste in presentation is vastly more important than the overall technical advantages of one headphone over the other.

I listen to all kind of genres, and the SR-007 is the most well rounded Stax headphone to my ears. However, my preference is for a more forward leaning, intense sound. The SR-007 are more mellow sounding and bodied - more similar to a LCD 2 as such. Therefore, I found the L500 to be more engaging.

What I gave up by switching is that the 007s were perfect for most any genre, especially intense sounding music like death metal, and also hiphop/bass music as the sound was more full bodied and bassy. The SR-L500, while great for the same genres, doesn't quite live up to the 007s. What I gained, however, was more musical enjoyment in the genres I listen the most to; everything else. Classical, acoustic music, pop, rock, prog rock, post rock.

L500 vs SR-009

The SR-009 to my ears is the more clear cut "upgrade" from the lambdas. The soundstage is wider and deeper, the detail level especially microdetails are more apparant, the sound is "bigger". However it comes at a cost - I find the 009 to be more aggressive sounding than the L500 - more similar to the sound of the L700. As such, you could say that the L700 and the SR-009 are the most similar headphones in terms of overall sound, however to my ears that is at the cost of the balanced presentation the L500 provides.

L500 vs all non estats

I obviously haven't heard all non estats - far from it. However I've heard many of the heavy hitters.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to Stax is that they are thinner sounding than most dynamics and planars. This is a result of 1) the speed of the headphones and 2) the lack of bass weight.

The result of this is that Stax headphones are mostly bad for bass-centric music (the 007 are somewhat of an exception), but amazing for instrumental, classical, and honestly most other genres.

I find that overall, good planars and dynamics (long time favorites being the LCD 2 and the TH 900) do a servicable job with most genres, shining in music that requires dynamic punch and heft. For instance, comparing a LCD 2 vs a L300 while listening to Lamb of God, the L300 will sound a bit too thin, lacking heft and punch. The LCD 2 will however have loads of impact and what head-fiers would call PRaT.

With that being said, I would never bother purchasing a non estat headphone again, unless to compliment my current headphones. I've yet to feel the need to do just that, however I might just get a bassheavy headphone like the old Denon D5000 or D7000 if similar headphones exist (Seems they are exceedingly rare to find used in my country these days).

The reason is that to my ears, estats sound a lot better than any and all dynamics and planars. The Sennheiser HD800 are the non estats that I feel comes the closest, however the main issues there being 1) price (though they can be found used quite cheap these days) 2) lack of speed and 3) sibilance.

I also think that a 252s (or preferably a used older driver unit like the SRM mk1, 006t etc for cheap) + a L300/L500/L700 is amazingly cheap for the amount of performance you're getting. To my ears, it clearly beats the HD800 in all aspects except absolute sound stage size, while being either cheaper or fractionally more expensive.

I know this all reads like a huge fanboy post, and I guess that is true: I really, really love the L500, and I am quite amazed at its incredibly competitive pricing considering the cost of the other headphones mentioned, which to my ears are simply not as good. If I ever buy a new pair of headphones, it will be the rumoured remake of the Stax SR-Omega in the future. I am also somewhat interested in the SR-009 simply because of its impressive technicalities (detail is more similar to 007, maybe even better), however the cost is a bit absurd.



Hmm, not sure what more to add. This was a bit of a "stream of consciousness" type thing, so sorry if it is lacking. If you have any questions regarding the headphones mentioned, feel free to ask questions. I have been out of the hobby for a while, feels good to enjoy some wine and enjoy the music on a friday evening.
 
Apr 9, 2021 at 9:57 PM Post #1,607 of 1,728

GraveNoX

Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 29, 2016
Posts
81
Likes
60
Are the L700 MK.2s free from dust problems? Can I treat these like I treat dynamic headphones (e.g. hanging the headphones on a stand with dust covers)?
I use my L700 in a fabric bag on the table and is not a thick or bag with very small holes. Never had problems/imbalance problems. Used to put it in the plastic bag it came with but realized if I get sweat on the pads, it will create condensation in summer days and the humidity will get in every point of the bag so i stopped doing that.
 
Apr 10, 2021 at 3:16 PM Post #1,608 of 1,728

Zoide

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
May 2, 2004
Posts
3,026
Likes
106
(originally posted on reddit, thought I'd post it here too since it is my "real" community)

https://imgur.com/n3Xh1Wb

(wine bag to seem semi-sophisticated)

Greetings, everyone. Today, my pair of SR-L500mk2 arrived in the mail. I've already owned a pair of the original SR-L500 for about 1,5 years, however the yokes broke and so I am currently in a dispute with the seller regarding replacement. I decided I didn't have time to wait for all that, so I bought the MK2 edition, which solves the yoke issue.

First of all, I wanted to make this review to talk a bit about the differences between the original L500 vs the mk2 version. However since I'm already writing a post up, I might as well give a more general review type of these headphones, since I feel qualified to talk about them, and I think it is a very underestimated pair of headphones that to my ears are the most "bang for the buck" endgame headphones in existance right now - knowing full well that "end game" is subjective and needs to be seen in context of the buyer.



L500 vs L500mk2

The differences between the two models are:

- The MK2 has new earpads

- The MK2 has aluminium yokes

- The MK2 has detachable cables

The most important difference being the aluminium yokes, which ensures two things: 1) that the longevity of the headphones is greatly increased, as the plastic yokes break under normal use - beware potential buyers - this goes for both the L500 and L700 mk1, and the current L300 - and 2) that the wearing comfort and seal is greatly improved.

I always found the L500 to be very comfortable headphones to wear, however they always felt somewhat loose on my head compared to some other headphones. With the new aluminium yokes, the pressure is increased significantly, but it only increases wearing comfort, making them more stable. Further, since the fit is better, the overall sound is a bit more immersive to my ears.

When it comes to sound, I can't say there is any noticable difference other than that I feel the bass is maybe a tad bit more present, and the sound overall is more "focused" or "immersive". Likely because the increased seal ensures less sound is leaked.

Some general thoughts on the L500

To my ears, the L500 are the most even and natural sounding headphones I have heard to date. It might sound a bit strange - they aren't the most "flashy" sounding, nor do they have the widest soundstage or the heaviest bass. Yet I think they sound absolutely amazing. The soundstage isn't too wide nor too narrow. The treble sounds just perfect, so does the mids. The bass, while lacking compared to a planar or dynamic in terms of absolute weight, is very servicable and I never feel I'm missing anything except for in bass-centric music.

The L500s best genre is classical music. This goes for the lambdas and the SR-009. The older lambdas also does very well with classical. The newer lambdas (l300/l500/l700) does a great job in working with all genres of music however, and this is perhaps doubly true for the L500, with its even and balanced presentation. If you enjoy the HD600s, then the L500 to my ears are the perfect path to end the upgraditis. They sound very similar, with the L500 doing everything better to my ears. Since many users likely own the HD600 or HD650s, the question might be "is it worth it?". My personal belief is that going from dynamics/planars to estats is the single most impactful upgrade that can be done within the headphone world. The two things that make estats (and in turn, the L500) special are: 1) the realism of the sound and 2) the speed of the headphones. On top of that, modern Stax does everything else well too; the soundstage is wide, the imaging is extremely precise, and they are comfortable to wear. Further, the level of detail is unmatched. Nothing beats Stax - at least I haven't heard it yet, and I doubt I ever will.

L500 vs other interesting headphones

Disclaimer: All these are my subjective opinions based on memory.

I have owned and auditioned a wide array of headphones over the years. I came into this hobby in 2017, and quickly fell down the rabbit hole of "the holy grail". I moved quickly from the Fidelio x2s to Denon AH-D5000s, TH 900, JVC HPDX1000, HD650, LCD 2 - and then, Stax. Once I heard the Stax SR-L300 through a 252s, I was completely hooked. I was simply done with dynamics and planars, as this sound to me was perfect.

Since then, I've owned the SR-007 mk1, the 404s, the SR-L500, and auditioned a host of other headphones including the L700, SR-009, HD800 etc. The driver units have been the 252s, 727II and currently the 006t (the old version from 2001).

The headphones which I have enjoyed the most is in no particular order: L500, SR-007, SR-009, L700, L300

I view all these headphones as "roughly equal" over all, depending on personal taste.

In terms of "technicalities", i.e., soundstage, resolution, level of detail and so on, the SR-009 and SR-007 are a step above the lambdas. The lambdas again are about equal or a bit above the HD800, and behind them is the TH900, LCD 2 and HD650. A fraction behind them again I would put AH-D5000 and HPDX1000.

L500 vs L300:

I usually read that the L500 is simply a L300 with thicker pads. Now, I haven't actually attempted to blind test a L300 with thicker pads vs a L500, however I can comment on the differences in sound with the stock units:

- The level of detail is essentially the same, with the L300 in certain tracks edging out because of the intimate sound stage.

- The overall sense of scale is clearly better in the L500 because of the wider and deeper soundstage

- The low end to my ears are a bit more controlled in the L500, however for overall "boom" i.e the level of bass, L300 might edge it out

- The most important factor in considering one vs the other is imo wearing comfort and longevity. For me, the L300 was very uncomfortable to wear because my ear touched the mesh inside. Further, they only come with plasic yokes, which breaks. Beyond that, the deciding factor in terms of sound should be absolute level of detail retrieval (L300 wins by a hairstrand) vs soundstage depth and width (l500 wins by quite a wide margin). They are similar headphones, where I think L300 wins in acoustic guitar, certain classical performances (smaller scale), whereas the L500 wins overall to my ears.



L500 vs L700

Reading reviews, many people make it sound like there is a considerable difference between these two headphones. To my ears, the current lambda line is very similar in terms of overall sound, however the L500 and the L700 are closer than the L300 are to those in how they present themselves. In terms of detail, I actually think the L300 is the strongest headphone, however for overall listening, I believe it is a tossup between the L500 vs L700 depending on what sound you prefer. In an A/B, I think the L700s are more immediately impressive. They sound a bit more dynamic (v-shaped), a bit more thumping (more bass, more treble), and ultimately more exciting. As such, the L500 sound a bit duller in comparison. However as time went on, I found the L500 to be the more overall preferable option to me, as the L700 exceeded on some tracks, but fell behind on others. The L500 are kinda just "there". For a "one headphone guy" like I have become, they won out.



In deciding between which one to get, assuming price isn't an issue (in which case the L500 is clearly the better choice), the important thing to consider is exactly how many different genres you listen to. The more different genres you're listening to, the more I would generally nudge you in the way of the L500. As an analogy: If you're more of a TH900 kinda guy than a HD600 kinda guy, get the L700. If not, the L500 is likely the better option.



L500 vs SR-007

I went from owning the SR-007 to owning the L500. The reason this happened was initially spurred by me finding it economically and morally irresponsible to own the at the time setup because I didn't have time to use it. What I found was that while shopping for new headphones, I preferred the sound of the L500 to the SR-007. That is not to say they are "better", because in any objective terms, I would have to say the SR-007 is the better pair of headphones. However, at this level of fidelity, your personal taste in presentation is vastly more important than the overall technical advantages of one headphone over the other.

I listen to all kind of genres, and the SR-007 is the most well rounded Stax headphone to my ears. However, my preference is for a more forward leaning, intense sound. The SR-007 are more mellow sounding and bodied - more similar to a LCD 2 as such. Therefore, I found the L500 to be more engaging.

What I gave up by switching is that the 007s were perfect for most any genre, especially intense sounding music like death metal, and also hiphop/bass music as the sound was more full bodied and bassy. The SR-L500, while great for the same genres, doesn't quite live up to the 007s. What I gained, however, was more musical enjoyment in the genres I listen the most to; everything else. Classical, acoustic music, pop, rock, prog rock, post rock.

L500 vs SR-009

The SR-009 to my ears is the more clear cut "upgrade" from the lambdas. The soundstage is wider and deeper, the detail level especially microdetails are more apparant, the sound is "bigger". However it comes at a cost - I find the 009 to be more aggressive sounding than the L500 - more similar to the sound of the L700. As such, you could say that the L700 and the SR-009 are the most similar headphones in terms of overall sound, however to my ears that is at the cost of the balanced presentation the L500 provides.

L500 vs all non estats

I obviously haven't heard all non estats - far from it. However I've heard many of the heavy hitters.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to Stax is that they are thinner sounding than most dynamics and planars. This is a result of 1) the speed of the headphones and 2) the lack of bass weight.

The result of this is that Stax headphones are mostly bad for bass-centric music (the 007 are somewhat of an exception), but amazing for instrumental, classical, and honestly most other genres.

I find that overall, good planars and dynamics (long time favorites being the LCD 2 and the TH 900) do a servicable job with most genres, shining in music that requires dynamic punch and heft. For instance, comparing a LCD 2 vs a L300 while listening to Lamb of God, the L300 will sound a bit too thin, lacking heft and punch. The LCD 2 will however have loads of impact and what head-fiers would call PRaT.

With that being said, I would never bother purchasing a non estat headphone again, unless to compliment my current headphones. I've yet to feel the need to do just that, however I might just get a bassheavy headphone like the old Denon D5000 or D7000 if similar headphones exist (Seems they are exceedingly rare to find used in my country these days).

The reason is that to my ears, estats sound a lot better than any and all dynamics and planars. The Sennheiser HD800 are the non estats that I feel comes the closest, however the main issues there being 1) price (though they can be found used quite cheap these days) 2) lack of speed and 3) sibilance.

I also think that a 252s (or preferably a used older driver unit like the SRM mk1, 006t etc for cheap) + a L300/L500/L700 is amazingly cheap for the amount of performance you're getting. To my ears, it clearly beats the HD800 in all aspects except absolute sound stage size, while being either cheaper or fractionally more expensive.

I know this all reads like a huge fanboy post, and I guess that is true: I really, really love the L500, and I am quite amazed at its incredibly competitive pricing considering the cost of the other headphones mentioned, which to my ears are simply not as good. If I ever buy a new pair of headphones, it will be the rumoured remake of the Stax SR-Omega in the future. I am also somewhat interested in the SR-009 simply because of its impressive technicalities (detail is more similar to 007, maybe even better), however the cost is a bit absurd.



Hmm, not sure what more to add. This was a bit of a "stream of consciousness" type thing, so sorry if it is lacking. If you have any questions regarding the headphones mentioned, feel free to ask questions. I have been out of the hobby for a while, feels good to enjoy some wine and enjoy the music on a friday evening.
Thanks for your detailed review! Have you considered the Perun Rock e-stats? I'm curious how they'd compare to my SR-L700... 🤔
 
Apr 10, 2021 at 4:39 PM Post #1,609 of 1,728

daytrader

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 3, 2020
Posts
436
Likes
291
Location
Paradise in Naples, FL
I use my L700 in a fabric bag on the table and is not a thick or bag with very small holes. Never had problems/imbalance problems. Used to put it in the plastic bag it came with but realized if I get sweat on the pads, it will create condensation in summer days and the humidity will get in every point of the bag so i stopped doing that.
Used with the appropriate Stax stand, the Stax cover placed over the ear speakers works as intended. The buttons below don’t need to be used and should be kept open for proper ventilation. Simple design gives a simple solution. 🎧
 
Last edited:
Apr 10, 2021 at 6:42 PM Post #1,610 of 1,728

mariopoli

Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 12, 2009
Posts
79
Likes
43
(originally posted on reddit, thought I'd post it here too since it is my "real" community)

https://imgur.com/n3Xh1Wb

(wine bag to seem semi-sophisticated)

Greetings, everyone. Today, my pair of SR-L500mk2 arrived in the mail. I've already owned a pair of the original SR-L500 for about 1,5 years, however the yokes broke and so I am currently in a dispute with the seller regarding replacement. I decided I didn't have time to wait for all that, so I bought the MK2 edition, which solves the yoke issue.

First of all, I wanted to make this review to talk a bit about the differences between the original L500 vs the mk2 version. However since I'm already writing a post up, I might as well give a more general review type of these headphones, since I feel qualified to talk about them, and I think it is a very underestimated pair of headphones that to my ears are the most "bang for the buck" endgame headphones in existance right now - knowing full well that "end game" is subjective and needs to be seen in context of the buyer.



L500 vs L500mk2

The differences between the two models are:

- The MK2 has new earpads

- The MK2 has aluminium yokes

- The MK2 has detachable cables

The most important difference being the aluminium yokes, which ensures two things: 1) that the longevity of the headphones is greatly increased, as the plastic yokes break under normal use - beware potential buyers - this goes for both the L500 and L700 mk1, and the current L300 - and 2) that the wearing comfort and seal is greatly improved.

I always found the L500 to be very comfortable headphones to wear, however they always felt somewhat loose on my head compared to some other headphones. With the new aluminium yokes, the pressure is increased significantly, but it only increases wearing comfort, making them more stable. Further, since the fit is better, the overall sound is a bit more immersive to my ears.

When it comes to sound, I can't say there is any noticable difference other than that I feel the bass is maybe a tad bit more present, and the sound overall is more "focused" or "immersive". Likely because the increased seal ensures less sound is leaked.

Some general thoughts on the L500

To my ears, the L500 are the most even and natural sounding headphones I have heard to date. It might sound a bit strange - they aren't the most "flashy" sounding, nor do they have the widest soundstage or the heaviest bass. Yet I think they sound absolutely amazing. The soundstage isn't too wide nor too narrow. The treble sounds just perfect, so does the mids. The bass, while lacking compared to a planar or dynamic in terms of absolute weight, is very servicable and I never feel I'm missing anything except for in bass-centric music.

The L500s best genre is classical music. This goes for the lambdas and the SR-009. The older lambdas also does very well with classical. The newer lambdas (l300/l500/l700) does a great job in working with all genres of music however, and this is perhaps doubly true for the L500, with its even and balanced presentation. If you enjoy the HD600s, then the L500 to my ears are the perfect path to end the upgraditis. They sound very similar, with the L500 doing everything better to my ears. Since many users likely own the HD600 or HD650s, the question might be "is it worth it?". My personal belief is that going from dynamics/planars to estats is the single most impactful upgrade that can be done within the headphone world. The two things that make estats (and in turn, the L500) special are: 1) the realism of the sound and 2) the speed of the headphones. On top of that, modern Stax does everything else well too; the soundstage is wide, the imaging is extremely precise, and they are comfortable to wear. Further, the level of detail is unmatched. Nothing beats Stax - at least I haven't heard it yet, and I doubt I ever will.

L500 vs other interesting headphones

Disclaimer: All these are my subjective opinions based on memory.

I have owned and auditioned a wide array of headphones over the years. I came into this hobby in 2017, and quickly fell down the rabbit hole of "the holy grail". I moved quickly from the Fidelio x2s to Denon AH-D5000s, TH 900, JVC HPDX1000, HD650, LCD 2 - and then, Stax. Once I heard the Stax SR-L300 through a 252s, I was completely hooked. I was simply done with dynamics and planars, as this sound to me was perfect.

Since then, I've owned the SR-007 mk1, the 404s, the SR-L500, and auditioned a host of other headphones including the L700, SR-009, HD800 etc. The driver units have been the 252s, 727II and currently the 006t (the old version from 2001).

The headphones which I have enjoyed the most is in no particular order: L500, SR-007, SR-009, L700, L300

I view all these headphones as "roughly equal" over all, depending on personal taste.

In terms of "technicalities", i.e., soundstage, resolution, level of detail and so on, the SR-009 and SR-007 are a step above the lambdas. The lambdas again are about equal or a bit above the HD800, and behind them is the TH900, LCD 2 and HD650. A fraction behind them again I would put AH-D5000 and HPDX1000.

L500 vs L300:

I usually read that the L500 is simply a L300 with thicker pads. Now, I haven't actually attempted to blind test a L300 with thicker pads vs a L500, however I can comment on the differences in sound with the stock units:

- The level of detail is essentially the same, with the L300 in certain tracks edging out because of the intimate sound stage.

- The overall sense of scale is clearly better in the L500 because of the wider and deeper soundstage

- The low end to my ears are a bit more controlled in the L500, however for overall "boom" i.e the level of bass, L300 might edge it out

- The most important factor in considering one vs the other is imo wearing comfort and longevity. For me, the L300 was very uncomfortable to wear because my ear touched the mesh inside. Further, they only come with plasic yokes, which breaks. Beyond that, the deciding factor in terms of sound should be absolute level of detail retrieval (L300 wins by a hairstrand) vs soundstage depth and width (l500 wins by quite a wide margin). They are similar headphones, where I think L300 wins in acoustic guitar, certain classical performances (smaller scale), whereas the L500 wins overall to my ears.



L500 vs L700

Reading reviews, many people make it sound like there is a considerable difference between these two headphones. To my ears, the current lambda line is very similar in terms of overall sound, however the L500 and the L700 are closer than the L300 are to those in how they present themselves. In terms of detail, I actually think the L300 is the strongest headphone, however for overall listening, I believe it is a tossup between the L500 vs L700 depending on what sound you prefer. In an A/B, I think the L700s are more immediately impressive. They sound a bit more dynamic (v-shaped), a bit more thumping (more bass, more treble), and ultimately more exciting. As such, the L500 sound a bit duller in comparison. However as time went on, I found the L500 to be the more overall preferable option to me, as the L700 exceeded on some tracks, but fell behind on others. The L500 are kinda just "there". For a "one headphone guy" like I have become, they won out.



In deciding between which one to get, assuming price isn't an issue (in which case the L500 is clearly the better choice), the important thing to consider is exactly how many different genres you listen to. The more different genres you're listening to, the more I would generally nudge you in the way of the L500. As an analogy: If you're more of a TH900 kinda guy than a HD600 kinda guy, get the L700. If not, the L500 is likely the better option.



L500 vs SR-007

I went from owning the SR-007 to owning the L500. The reason this happened was initially spurred by me finding it economically and morally irresponsible to own the at the time setup because I didn't have time to use it. What I found was that while shopping for new headphones, I preferred the sound of the L500 to the SR-007. That is not to say they are "better", because in any objective terms, I would have to say the SR-007 is the better pair of headphones. However, at this level of fidelity, your personal taste in presentation is vastly more important than the overall technical advantages of one headphone over the other.

I listen to all kind of genres, and the SR-007 is the most well rounded Stax headphone to my ears. However, my preference is for a more forward leaning, intense sound. The SR-007 are more mellow sounding and bodied - more similar to a LCD 2 as such. Therefore, I found the L500 to be more engaging.

What I gave up by switching is that the 007s were perfect for most any genre, especially intense sounding music like death metal, and also hiphop/bass music as the sound was more full bodied and bassy. The SR-L500, while great for the same genres, doesn't quite live up to the 007s. What I gained, however, was more musical enjoyment in the genres I listen the most to; everything else. Classical, acoustic music, pop, rock, prog rock, post rock.

L500 vs SR-009

The SR-009 to my ears is the more clear cut "upgrade" from the lambdas. The soundstage is wider and deeper, the detail level especially microdetails are more apparant, the sound is "bigger". However it comes at a cost - I find the 009 to be more aggressive sounding than the L500 - more similar to the sound of the L700. As such, you could say that the L700 and the SR-009 are the most similar headphones in terms of overall sound, however to my ears that is at the cost of the balanced presentation the L500 provides.

L500 vs all non estats

I obviously haven't heard all non estats - far from it. However I've heard many of the heavy hitters.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to Stax is that they are thinner sounding than most dynamics and planars. This is a result of 1) the speed of the headphones and 2) the lack of bass weight.

The result of this is that Stax headphones are mostly bad for bass-centric music (the 007 are somewhat of an exception), but amazing for instrumental, classical, and honestly most other genres.

I find that overall, good planars and dynamics (long time favorites being the LCD 2 and the TH 900) do a servicable job with most genres, shining in music that requires dynamic punch and heft. For instance, comparing a LCD 2 vs a L300 while listening to Lamb of God, the L300 will sound a bit too thin, lacking heft and punch. The LCD 2 will however have loads of impact and what head-fiers would call PRaT.

With that being said, I would never bother purchasing a non estat headphone again, unless to compliment my current headphones. I've yet to feel the need to do just that, however I might just get a bassheavy headphone like the old Denon D5000 or D7000 if similar headphones exist (Seems they are exceedingly rare to find used in my country these days).

The reason is that to my ears, estats sound a lot better than any and all dynamics and planars. The Sennheiser HD800 are the non estats that I feel comes the closest, however the main issues there being 1) price (though they can be found used quite cheap these days) 2) lack of speed and 3) sibilance.

I also think that a 252s (or preferably a used older driver unit like the SRM mk1, 006t etc for cheap) + a L300/L500/L700 is amazingly cheap for the amount of performance you're getting. To my ears, it clearly beats the HD800 in all aspects except absolute sound stage size, while being either cheaper or fractionally more expensive.

I know this all reads like a huge fanboy post, and I guess that is true: I really, really love the L500, and I am quite amazed at its incredibly competitive pricing considering the cost of the other headphones mentioned, which to my ears are simply not as good. If I ever buy a new pair of headphones, it will be the rumoured remake of the Stax SR-Omega in the future. I am also somewhat interested in the SR-009 simply because of its impressive technicalities (detail is more similar to 007, maybe even better), however the cost is a bit absurd.



Hmm, not sure what more to add. This was a bit of a "stream of consciousness" type thing, so sorry if it is lacking. If you have any questions regarding the headphones mentioned, feel free to ask questions. I have been out of the hobby for a while, feels good to enjoy some wine and enjoy the music on a friday evening.
Excellent post. Very imformative. Enjoyed reading it.
 
Apr 10, 2021 at 7:59 PM Post #1,611 of 1,728

AudioThief

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Thanks for your detailed review! Have you considered the Perun Rock e-stats? I'm curious how they'd compare to my SR-L700... 🤔
I was originally considering the 009S or possibly the 009, as I enjoyed them a lot for their technical capabilities. The user @protoss linked a video with a stax official (?) mentioning they were working on a remake of the Stax SR-Omega for release maybe in 2023, so I am thinking I will stick to the L500 until at least once they are released. I guess I am a bit of a Stax fanboy since I am somewhat skeptical about non stax estats, however I have never heard any non stax estats!
 
Apr 22, 2021 at 3:53 AM Post #1,613 of 1,728

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(originally posted on reddit, thought I'd post it here too since it is my "real" community)

https://imgur.com/n3Xh1Wb

(wine bag to seem semi-sophisticated)

Greetings, everyone. Today, my pair of SR-L500mk2 arrived in the mail. I've already owned a pair of the original SR-L500 for about 1,5 years, however the yokes broke and so I am currently in a dispute with the seller regarding replacement. I decided I didn't have time to wait for all that, so I bought the MK2 edition, which solves the yoke issue.

First of all, I wanted to make this review to talk a bit about the differences between the original L500 vs the mk2 version. However since I'm already writing a post up, I might as well give a more general review type of these headphones, since I feel qualified to talk about them, and I think it is a very underestimated pair of headphones that to my ears are the most "bang for the buck" endgame headphones in existance right now - knowing full well that "end game" is subjective and needs to be seen in context of the buyer...

Hello Stax,

For several years I have had a 3030 Stax set (SR 303 + SRM 313) but which I have not used much.
I'm doing it more now and will be replacing this headset with a newer Lambda like the L500 MK2.

I have read all the pages in this section and I realize that little is said about the L500 or 500 MK2.
I obviously read your last post which I find very interesting, especially on the very broad comparison of the material that you were able to approach.

I have just ordered a 500 MK2 from INEXXON Audio Products and Mr. Schulze agrees to also take back my 303. The bill is a little less heavy ...

Unfortunately, I was unable to listen to these new headphones in my region where resellers are extremely rare ...

Do you think this 500 MK2 will be close to the sound signature of the 303 (I liked it ...)?

However, I will still keep my SRM 313 which has been little used and which is still in superb condition (the 252S does not attract me too much and the 353 is too expensive ...)

Do you think my 313 is not too old to properly sound this 500 MK2?

I thank you in advance.

Guytou
 
Apr 22, 2021 at 4:09 AM Post #1,614 of 1,728

AudioThief

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Do you think this 500 MK2 will be close to the sound signature of the 303 (I liked it ...)?

However, I will still keep my SRM 313 which has been little used and which is still in superb condition (the 252S does not attract me too much and the 353 is too expensive ...)

Do you think my 313 is not too old to properly sound this 500 MK2?

I thank you in advance.

Guytou
I've never heard the 303, so I cannot compare the two headphones.

What I will say is that when comparing older lambdas like the 404 to modern lambdas such as the L500, the most obvious difference to me is that they have managed to create a more full bodied and less harsh sound. The sound is more well rounded and more well bodied, and to my ears less harsh and fatiguing.

The 313 amplifier will sound great with the L500 mk2. I use an old 006t.
 
Apr 22, 2021 at 4:48 AM Post #1,615 of 1,728

GuyM82

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I've never heard the 303, so I cannot compare the two headphones.

What I will say is that when comparing older lambdas like the 404 to modern lambdas such as the L500, the most obvious difference to me is that they have managed to create a more full bodied and less harsh sound. The sound is more well rounded and more well bodied, and to my ears less harsh and fatiguing.

The 313 amplifier will sound great with the L500 mk2. I use an old 006t.

OK Stax and thank you very much for your precise answer.
I should receive this 500 MK2 next week and, from all your observations, I will certainly be very happy...

Guytou
 
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Apr 22, 2021 at 4:55 AM Post #1,616 of 1,728

AudioThief

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OK Stax and thank you very much for your precise answer.
I should receive this 500 MK2 next week and, from all your observations, I will certainly be very happy...

Guytou
I have listened to many headphones including the top end 009 and 007 and to my ears, L500 are the most balanced sounding if you want forward yet balanced sound. At the price point it is impossible to beat. I also think L500mk2 offer some clear benefits over the mk1 version, and so it is now even a better value proposition. I have been happy with my L500 as my sole headphones for soon to be 2 years and I don't think I will exchange it except for maybe the remake of SR-Omega in the future by Stax. So at least to my ears, L500mk2 is simply the best.
 
Apr 22, 2021 at 5:13 AM Post #1,617 of 1,728

GuyM82

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On the other hand, if the earphone brackets are made of aluminum, is the upper arched arch also made of aluminum or plastic ?
I have not been able to find this information.

I agree that the novelties brought to this L500 MK2 are interesting compared to the L500 MK1.

A few days ago, reading many comments (https://www.head-fi.org/threads/stax-sr-l300-impressions-thread.813511/), I was rather interested in the L300, especially for its price and the few differences compared to the L500.

Now that I have just discovered this 500 MK2, I did not hesitate to order it.

Guytou
 
Apr 22, 2021 at 5:21 AM Post #1,618 of 1,728

AudioThief

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On the other hand, if the earphone brackets are made of aluminum, is the upper arched arch also made of aluminum or plastic ?
I have not been able to find this information.

I agree that the novelties brought to this L500 MK2 are interesting compared to the L500 MK1.

A few days ago, reading many comments (https://www.head-fi.org/threads/stax-sr-l300-impressions-thread.813511/), I was rather interested in the L300, especially for its price and the few differences compared to the L500.

Now that I have just discovered this 500 MK2, I did not hesitate to order it.

Guytou
I believe the upper arch is made of plastic. It feels solid and is not a weak part like the plastic yokes. So don't worry about that.

The L300 is certaintly an amazing headphone for the price. If it had better pads and aluminium yokes, I think it would make it closer between it and the L500. As it stands, the L500 simply has way too many benefits in terms of wearing comfort (which is very important, of course) and build quality.
 
Apr 29, 2021 at 9:48 AM Post #1,620 of 1,728

GuyM82

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I finally received my new Stax L500 MK2 helmet this morning.

It is superb, offers a beautiful aesthetic and above all better comfort than my previous SR 303. The port is very pleasant and it fits perfectly on the head without moving.
The new step adjustment is excellent and as soon as the right position is found, it does not go out of place.

I don't have a lot of experience with Stax headphones since I only owned the 3030 set (since 2008) consisting of the SR 303 and the SRM 313 amplifier.
In the past I also used Sony CD 3000 electodynamic headphones for many years before switching to the Stax.

The 303 is almost identical to the more famous 404 and I liked its sound. But it is obvious that this new 500 MK2 is making a big leap forward !

I find it a very pleasant soft and fluid sound, especially in the treble because the 303 seemed colder to me in this register.
It has a very good base in the bass and with dynamics. I was a little worried about a withdrawal in this register, but that is not the case at all.
The soundstage is much wider than my old 303 with excellent depth.

I only listened for about two hours today, after letting the 313 amp warm up.
For the moment I am really won over by the sound rendering of this 500 MK2 and I think it will stay with me for a long time !

If I have to make a new change, it will be on the amplifier and maybe direct me to a recent model. But nothing is certain because I find that the 313 still has resources ...


Guytou
 
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