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The Stax SR-L500 and SR-L700 Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by crazychile, Oct 27, 2015.
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  1. Michael T
    I'm just getting back into headphones after a hiatus for a few years, and haven't tried any of the headphones you've mentioned except for the HD650 with a Singlepower 6SN7 amp. Coming from a basic Stax system, the L500 and 353X will be a step up though inevitably I would go for a L700 paired with a SRM-353X. I was also initially thinking along the same lines with the L500 being 1/2 the price of the L700, however after testing, I would not consider the L500. It doesn't offer the value, refined sound and upgrade potential of the L700. I would just mention aside from the lower resolution, the L500 does sit lighter on the head, a non-issue for me. I prefer the ear pads on the L700. 
    Zoide likes this.
  2. edstrelow Contributor
    Welcome aboard.  I look forward to more comments on this topic.
  3. seaice
    After years with Senn HD-800 and one week with the SR-L700, I would say that the HD800 has wider and bigger soundstage and, to me, it is easier to identify instruments in space with the HD800. But the Staxes are still too new to me and I have no special amp for them, just the SRD-7 (fed from my Leben CS-600 with KT120 tubes). What I like on the Staxes most so far: effortless, natural, smooth but very detailed sound with no harshness, very enjoyable. But my HD800 are very capable with the Leben as well, also very enjoyable but a different frequency presentation. I have no more comparative conclusions to publish at the moment.
    Rhamnetin likes this.
  4. Rhamnetin
    Thank you.  That sounds about right, I wouldn't expect any Lambda to compete with the HD 800 in sound stage.
  5. edstrelow Contributor
    I wouldn't put much weight on that observation because the Stax was being run from a vintage transformer, not an amp.  Also I am not sure that we all agree on what a "soundstage" is.
  6. seaice

    That's a good comment. I am new in the Stax world and my question is: What is better for me to consider at the moment? Get a better transformer (eg. the last product on this site: http://www.mjolnir-audio.com/products/ ) or get a good headamp for the Stax SR-L700? I have more decent amps at home and would like to try them all with the SRD-7 (except for the Leben, Classé CA-2100 is the next I am going go try with the SRD-7). I like the sound with the SRD-7 transformer. Is there a real need of a Stax-specific headamp? Generally, is a better transformer with a decent amp enough to drive the SR-L700 to their (almost) full potential?
  7. edstrelow Contributor
      I don't know the newer transformers but certainly the older Stax ones are dated. I do know a few people who seem to like them but it always seems to me that you are paying to add an extra component in the chain with all its additional distortion. Also I have read several comments about the tendency to overdrive stats with transformers causing arcing and holes in the diaphragm.   My impression is that you may get better dynamics with a transformer/power amp combination, but details get lost compared to a dedicated headphone amp. 
    I run four Stax amp systems, one at work and 3 at home, using a SRM 717,  2 SRM1Mk2's and one SRM 3.  I particularly recommend the SRM1Mk2.  It has better voltage swing than many Stax amps,such as the SRM3 and can often be had fairly cheap. 
    Keithpgdrb and seaice like this.
  8. luvmusik
    edstrelow is spot on. At one time I was ready to buy a Woo Wee transformer, but now maybe not so interested, though it performs well per reviews. It can be done with a really hi-end transformer (there are better ones than my SR-7/SB, SR-6/SB and SRD-4), like the Wee or mjolnir's (from some SR-7 parts), or maybe Verto, Illusion ESC-1001,  and also some others...if you have really hi-end loudspeaker amplifiers, or a vintage loudspeaker amp that had proven spectacular headphone results wired to speaker terminals or possibly a very high-grade seperate headphone dedicated-stage within the speaker amplifier, like some high-end vintage speaker amps did.
    But, what the guru's point out (not me), is that those loudspeaker amp output terminals are designed to drive the loads of loudspeakers, and the signal is prepared to tailor to various loudspeaker demands, which are quite different than headphone demands. Not just impedance, but the actual signal requirements are different for headphones as the guru's point out. In head-fi threads, the issue is discussed and the specific factors are pointed out why stand-alone, dedicated headphone amps are designed to address the specific requirements of headphones (headphones vs what a loudspeaker needs from that signal during all phases of rigorous playback). I can't recall the intricate factors, but KG & Spritzer and others have detailed it out nicely and it really made sense. I've done it both ways - transformer and dedicated amps, but never got into a hi-end energizer because at that same used or new price you can get some wonderful dedicated headphone amps. Some energizers have circuitry (I think mjolnir's) that prevents overdriving phones. Really ancient basic simple boxes to tap loudspeaker out terminals on speaker-amps were even made by entry-level Lafayette & Calrad, some with volume controls, but I would be afraid to use those on expensive cans. Their purpose was usually only as the speaker amp lacked any headphone jack (those jacks most often inferior to use anyway), but not for higher-end gear as we discuss here.
    seaice likes this.
  9. Kiats

    I've had almost a week on the L700 now. It is a very pleasant easy listening Stax. I suspect pretty forgiving in terms of amping requirements. As well as source music. I have run out of the Auralic Aries, connected by LAN cables to my NAS via an apple AirPort Extreme as well as via USB to an external HDD. Connected via USB to a Bricasti M1 DAC. And then balanced out to a Cavalli LL2 as well as a VAW 8PS through the balanced xlr pass through.

    First off, I'll say that tonality wise, it sits somewhere between the 009 and my two 007s. Hence, this can will find its place in my collection of choices of sigs.

    Secondly, whilst one can easily sit back, and get absorbed into the music, I would think it is a bridge too far to say that it exceeds the Omegas. In terms of detail retrieval, nuances and suppleness, the Omegas are some way ahead.

    I am not disappointed by the L700 at all. Don't get me wrong. It is what I expected: very musical and enjoyable Stax can. However, we should not get ahead of ourselves and start thinking that it is a 009 replacement. Or even 007 replacement, for that matter.

    However, if you want a thoroughly enjoyable can with great sound density and depth and yet with the quickness and response of an electrostatic, you won't be disappointed. It is nonetheless transparent enough to show through the differences between the Cavalli and VAW amps.

    Frankly with the L700, I'm looking at the LCD2.2 in askance and wondering if it really had a place in the range of sigs I like to have in my collection.

    I would say, at the end of the day, if you are looking for a musical Stax which is easy to power and yet forgiving and just plain enjoyable, I think that the L700 may be what you are looking for. :)
    Zoide, landroni, Pokemonn and 2 others like this.
  10. Rhamnetin
    Nice setup you have there!  Thanks for sharing, the impressions for the L700 seem rather consistent.  How do you figure its sound stage compares to the SR-007 or SR-009?
  11. Kiats

    Thanks! :) Hmmm... Frankly, I think the Omegas still take it. Of course, if you compare it with the LCDs, to which there are some similarity in terms of tonality, the L700 has much better soundstage. :)
    Zoide likes this.
  12. Rhamnetin
    That's good news.  I look forward to getting the L700, it will be quite the step up for me.  Will be used with a KGSS.
  13. JustinBieber
    Great impressions. Would you mind evaluating the L700 and HD800? As an HD800 owner, I'm very interested in how they compare. I'm looking to step it up to a 009, or maybe take a break half way at L700.
  14. grdlow
    I auditioned the L700 with a stock SRM-727ii amp fed by an iFi iDSD as source (min phase setting). Imo, the L700 was incredibly smooth but sounded flat and a bit thin. Compared to the L700, a HD800 (stock) driven by the HDVA600 amp would sound less bright, have a richer tone and better dynamics. The soundstage from the HD800 is also noticeably larger and deeper. I would think of the L700 as a side-grade rather than an upgrade from the HD800.
    Zoide and treebug like this.
  15. HiFiGuy528
    Woo Audio will have L700 in stock next week. We're getting a few with 2 available for purchase, the rest are already sold.
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