The Stax Thread III
Oct 16, 2015 at 5:13 AM Post #6,541 of 25,622
  About that weight/power to the sound, planars really have a LOT more driving force with those neodymium magnets. 

 
And that's the question: which is more accurate? We all know planar magnetics have more, but more could in fact be less, in terms of accuracy. Electrostats certainly sound more transparent overall, at least to most of us. But higher transparency doesn't necessarily mean the "weight" of the instruments is the most accurate too. I suppose at this point in time, all we have are various opinions. Don't know how to go about measuring such a thing in an objective manner.
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 5:25 AM Post #6,542 of 25,622
 
Both STAX and the planar manufacturers have/are experimenting with thinner diaphragms... but the planars still have metal conductors on them, which ups the weight a whole lot (relatively speaking) compared to the electrostatics. 

About that weight/power to the sound, planars really have a LOT more driving force with those neodymium magnets. 


Yes, I had heard that is the case. I have not heard myself the Abyss or the LCD-3s, but have heard the LCD-2s. I think IMO the 007 and 009 are above that phone, well above. It is the decay and transparency, the detail and smoothness. I get the impression the planars may be slower and more sluggish? Someone else who owns both the 009 and the Abyss (well amped of course) could tell you for sure. I have read the Stax way has always been transparency, it seems to be a Japanese trait (in a good way). I note the Kondo Audio Note high end amplifiers had a similar signature, it was all about delicacy and detail, with bass as a foundation but not overloading or slowing things down.
 
Coming from a DJ background in my distant past, I realised that in a club, after an hour or so, the loudness of the music, even in a great system begins to get lost as the ears start to get tired and shut down i.e the hairs in the inner ear start to lay flat. In other words, the frequency response tails of dramatically in the higher resters as a protection mechanism.
 
So IMO if a sound from any system has too much energy or is played to loud, your ears are going to take that out of the equation anyway. If Planars add bass impact bayond what I am hearing in my 009s right now, I wonder if it will kill the higher frequencies anyway, slow everything down and make it muddy. The only way to really test Planars against the 009s for example, is have a LONG session with both and swop between the same tracks you know really well. Then you will hear the differences.
 
I am all for speed and transparency number 1, as long as it has the bass foundation and texture (tuneful bass) to go with that. I don't want too much bass energy to flood the sound, or a 'one note' bass. I hope you can understand what I am trying to explain.
 
Regardless I would love to hear the Abyss, but to have any chance of making sense of that, it would need to be in my system, not at a show.
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 5:29 AM Post #6,543 of 25,622
  Yes, I had heard that is the case. I have not heard myself the Abyss or the LCD-3s, but have heard the LCD-2s. I think IMO the 007 and 009 are above that phone, well above. It is the decay and transparency, the detail and smoothness. I get the impression the planars may be slower and more sluggish? Someone else who owns both the 009 and the Abyss (well amped of course) could tell you for sure. I have read the Stax way has always been transparency, it seems to be a Japanese trait (in a good way). I note the Kondo Audio Note high end amplifiers had a similar signature, it was all about delicacy and detail, with bass as a foundation but not overloading or slowing things down.
 
Coming from a DJ background in my distant past, I realised that in a club, after an hour or so, the loudness of the music, even in a great system begins to get lost as the ears start to get tired and shut down i.e the hairs in the inner ear start to lay flat. In other words, the frequency response tails of dramatically in the higher resters as a protection mechanism.
 
So IMO if a sound from any system has too much energy or is played to loud, your ears are going to take that out of the equation anyway. If Planars add bass impact bayond what I am hearing in my 009s right now, I wonder if it will kill the higher frequencies anyway, slow everything down and make it muddy. The only way to really test Planars against the 009s for example, is have a LONG session with both and swop between the same tracks you know really well. Then you will hear the differences.
 
I am all for speed and transparency number 1, as long as it has the bass foundation and texture (tuneful bass) to go with that. I don't want too much bass energy to flood the sound, or a 'one note' bass. I hope you can understand what I am trying to explain.
 
Regardless I would love to hear the Abyss, but to have any chance of making sense of that, it would need to be in my system, not at a show.

 
For what it's worth, I've heard the Abyss, and although I enjoyed it, I thought it was nowhere near as transparent as any STAX I've heard.
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 5:51 AM Post #6,544 of 25,622
 
Yes, I had heard that is the case. I have not heard myself the Abyss or the LCD-3s, but have heard the LCD-2s. I think IMO the 007 and 009 are above that phone, well above. It is the decay and transparency, the detail and smoothness. I get the impression the planars may be slower and more sluggish? Someone else who owns both the 009 and the Abyss (well amped of course) could tell you for sure. I have read the Stax way has always been transparency, it seems to be a Japanese trait (in a good way). I note the Kondo Audio Note high end amplifiers had a similar signature, it was all about delicacy and detail, with bass as a foundation but not overloading or slowing things down.
 
Coming from a DJ background in my distant past, I realised that in a club, after an hour or so, the loudness of the music, even in a great system begins to get lost as the ears start to get tired and shut down i.e the hairs in the inner ear start to lay flat. In other words, the frequency response tails of dramatically in the higher resters as a protection mechanism.
 
So IMO if a sound from any system has too much energy or is played to loud, your ears are going to take that out of the equation anyway. If Planars add bass impact bayond what I am hearing in my 009s right now, I wonder if it will kill the higher frequencies anyway, slow everything down and make it muddy. The only way to really test Planars against the 009s for example, is have a LONG session with both and swop between the same tracks you know really well. Then you will hear the differences.
 
I am all for speed and transparency number 1, as long as it has the bass foundation and texture (tuneful bass) to go with that. I don't want too much bass energy to flood the sound, or a 'one note' bass. I hope you can understand what I am trying to explain.
 
Regardless I would love to hear the Abyss, but to have any chance of making sense of that, it would need to be in my system, not at a show.


Finally something we agree on 
smily_headphones1.gif


There is just something to the STAX sound... that effortlessness and transparency. To be fair, I think the LCD-2/3 play great bass, very much in proper tune with the midrange. A bit more weighty and powerful than the STAX 007/009 but not by a lot. 
 
My friend once took his HE500 with him and we compared it to the SR-009 with the Meridian Prime driving the Hifiman. The HE500 had fuller bass but impact were about the same and the SR-009 actually went lower. 

About that Abyss thingy, tried it once and didn't like it. It had some impressive qualities, soundstage was very wide and the bass had something special to it... it sounded very fast, firm and "bouncy", sort of like a great subwoofer in a great room. But midrange and treble sounded way off. And the fit/ergonomics are absolutely terrible. 
 
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 6:01 AM Post #6,545 of 25,622
   
And that's the question: which is more accurate? We all know planar magnetics have more, but more could in fact be less, in terms of accuracy. Electrostats certainly sound more transparent overall, at least to most of us. But higher transparency doesn't necessarily mean the "weight" of the instruments is the most accurate too. I suppose at this point in time, all we have are various opinions. Don't know how to go about measuring such a thing in an objective manner.


I suppose nothing is perfect. While the higher-end planars will always have way more headroom for heavy bass slammin' at extreme volumes, at normal volumes I think it's mostly a matter of the SR-007/009 simply having a couple of decibels less energy below 50hz than the LCD-2/3 have (you can see this in Tyll's measurements). Using a great EQ (like Equilibrium) to bring up those lowest octaves (or, rather, bring everything else down by a hair to safely avoid distortion), you can narrow the gap between the 007/009 and Audezes almost entirely, bass impact wise. 

It's a much easier thing to do (normally I'm against the concept of EQ but I am playing with it as we speak) than to bring out the same level of transparency from the planars that the STAXes have. Which is impossible.  
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 6:16 AM Post #6,546 of 25,622
  I suppose nothing is perfect. While the higher-end planars will always have way more headroom for heavy bass slammin' at extreme volumes, at normal volumes I think it's mostly a matter of the SR-007/009 simply having a couple of decibels less energy below 50hz than the LCD-2/3 have (you can see this in Tyll's measurements). Using a great EQ (like Equilibrium) to bring up those lowest octaves (or, rather, bring everything else down by a hair to safely avoid distortion), you can narrow the gap between the 007/009 and Audezes almost entirely, bass impact wise. 

It's a much easier thing to do (normally I'm against the concept of EQ but I am playing with it as we speak) than to bring out the same level of transparency from the planars that the STAXes have. Which is impossible.  


By the way, when I talk about the weight of instruments, I'm not referring to bass quantity/impact so much. For me, the mid-range is more important in this context. STAX is far more neutral in the upper frequencies than Audeze. I suspect this involves something other than frequency response.
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 9:10 AM Post #6,547 of 25,622
 
For what it's worth, I've heard the Abyss, and although I enjoyed it, I thought it was nowhere near as transparent as any STAX I've heard.

 
I agree. I've gotten to hear the Abyss on a few occasions. Maybe I'm just not getting a proper fit, but to me the only exceptional things about it are the lack of comfort and the price.
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 10:22 AM Post #6,548 of 25,622
As a former owner of both TOTL stax and planar headphones, I think I can add some value to the conversation at hand.
 
I have done extensive comparison between the 009s + BHSE vs WA5 + Abyss combo.  (  plus some HEK comparisons)
 
From here on, it is totally IMO.  
 
I have found that the treble on the 009s world class.  No headphone can touch it and yes it is better than the HEK treble. The Abyss treble is still quite good, but it can sometimes become alittle too lively and 'steely.'  I have combated this issue with various tubes and a felt mod, which does resolve some of the extra energy, but ends up not quite as refined as the Stax.
 
For the mids, the 009s have a very intimate sound. Vocal imaging is large and up close with a hint of warmth, where as the Abyss feels a little more distant which may end up sounding hollow on some recordings, but it does give a sense of space around the vocalist.
 
Bass is a no brainer, Abyss wins by a land slide, BUT only when adjusted and fitted on the head properly.  I have taken a good 2-3 weeks to perfect my technique of putting the abyss on to my head and getting that perfect light seal. Bass on the Abyss is punchier, meatier and to me feels like I can definitely hear the last few octaves in much better balance than the 009s.
 
For now you may think the 009s win 2 of 3, so therefore I would rate the 009s ahead of the abyss, but there are several other key areas which the abyss win it over for me.
 
Soundstage is larger (ie, more depth and width) and more precise on the Abyss.  The 009s on the other hand, is smaller and again more intimate, but alittle fuzzy by comparison.
 
Lastly, the most important attribute for me, speed.  The Abyss is quicker than the 009s on all accounts.  This is a trait that I picked up on almost immediately when comparing the two headphones.  The 009s have a ethereal quality which can make them slightly forgiving on recordings, however the abyss does not hide any truth, it is truly ruthless in extracting the tiniest details, much like the hd800s.  The 009s sound a little rounded by comparison, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your tastes.  The HEK is more rounded than both the Abyss and the 009s.
 
Both headphones will have their followers and haters. I would rate both headphones on the same league, but for difference reasons.
 
In the end, I sold the 009s and bhse and kept the Abyss combo. Hope this info helps garner some perspective on the two very different sounding headphones.
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 11:06 AM Post #6,549 of 25,622
I would agree 99% to that comparison.
Just for the Headphones a very good description which gives my personal experience more evidence. Thanks.
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 11:11 AM Post #6,550 of 25,622
  I have done extensive comparison between the 009s + BHSE vs WA5 + Abyss combo.  (  plus some HEK comparisons)
...
Bass on the Abyss is punchier, meatier and to me feels like I can definitely hear the last few octaves in much better balance than the 009s.
...
Soundstage is larger (ie, more depth and width) and more precise on the Abyss.  The 009s on the other hand, is smaller and again more intimate, but alittle fuzzy by comparison.
 
Lastly, the most important attribute for me, speed.  The Abyss is quicker than the 009s on all accounts.  This is a trait that I picked up on almost immediately when comparing the two headphones.  The 009s have a ethereal quality which can make them slightly forgiving on recordings, however the abyss does not hide any truth, it is truly ruthless in extracting the tiniest details, much like the hd800s.  The 009s sound a little rounded by comparison, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your tastes.  The HEK is more rounded than both the Abyss and the 009s.

 
I think the last point about speed tells that the Abyss is the better headphone. How is it possible it sounds faster than the 009, I don't know, but it's a good thing.
I hope I will be able to hear the Abyss once in this forgotten corner of the world.
 
But the rest of the sentence (ethereal and forgiving vs being ruthless) may be a good or bad thing, depending on what did you mean.
When you wrote about the Abyss, it was like you described my modded 007 Mk1, only that it never sounds ruthless - however, it has better micro and macrodynamics than the 009, and bigger sound stage as well, with more bones to the sound. It's also more explosive in the bass than my TH900 with an extension to match.
 
However, all things may be change if the Abyss doesn't sound as true to instruments timbre as the 009. Everyone pick their flowers. :)
 
Then, a headphone sounding more rounded and soft is not necessarily a bad thing, quite the contrary, if it has the extension and dynamic range to match it. Natural sound is round and soft (not spongy, but opposite of being hard), yet much more dynamic and resolved than transducers. My problem with the HE1000 is that dynamic properties are somehow too much frequency dependent: the lower end feels extended but compressed on attacks, and the highs as well, losing from lifelike dynamics, whereas the mids are too hard when compared to Stax. Splitting hairs perhaps, and likely missing a good amp for the HE1000.
 
I have high hopes with the new Stax L700. Does anyone know when they become available in Japan?
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 11:26 AM Post #6,552 of 25,622
  Lastly, the most important attribute for me, speed.  The Abyss is quicker than the 009s on all accounts.  This is a trait that I picked up on almost immediately when comparing the two headphones.  T 

This.
 
They don't get enough credit for what they do in this department. I think it's incredible for electronic music and is the fastest headphone on the market.
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 1:04 PM Post #6,554 of 25,622
 
Bass is a no brainer, Abyss wins by a land slide, BUT only when adjusted and fitted on the head properly.

Key point. Every single person at Tyll's Bigsound2015 hated the Abyss. Although, every single one of them tried to create a tight seal around there head with them, like you normally would with any other headphones.
 
You have to wear them like speakers on your head, I've heard. Light seal like you said.
In the same vain, they're specifically designed to wear like that. More space between the driver and your ear = more soundstage, obviously.
I wouldn't be surprised if other manufacturers created a similar design (in terms of spacing between ears and how you wear them) they could create something very similar.
 
For me, headphones like this would never work, even though I'm quite intrigued by your review of them.
I USE my headphones, when I listen to my HD800s I wear them to sleep.... 
 
Using my 009s I've had to give up some usability with them, what I can do. Idk if this is just planar headphones in general, but they seem hyper subjected to where they are placed on your head.
Yea with dynamics it's important, but if my HD800s moved a bit here or there, swiveling my head, it's w/e. The 009s have a big difference (in comparison) in sound relative to where they are placed on your head. A few minutes of micro adjustments to make them sound best. Swivel my head to talk to somebody, or really anything, boom they're off again.
 
In addition, as anybody in this thread knows, you lose pressure on your ear, and they pop. I can't even eat with my 009s on without them doing this -_-
 
The 009s are at my limit of being finicky, I think if I had to live with the Abyss I would get annoyed quick.
 
Oct 16, 2015 at 1:28 PM Post #6,555 of 25,622
StaxUSA said there would be information on the webpage today but..... no.   Disappointing, I'm really interested in the price on the new models.   I've pretty much decided to either get the SR-L700's or the Ether C's.   It's a hard choice when you can't hear either. 
 

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