The Stax Thread III
Aug 15, 2016 at 12:08 PM Post #9,541 of 25,147
  Hi Mulveling
I am glad you like your BHSE. Another set of NOS tubes coming your way from me soon as well. Enjoy.
 
BTW would you say the tube upgrade from stock is worth the cost v SQ hike? I noticed quite a difference in smoothness especially in the treble on David's BHSE with the 009s. So I did prefer the sound with those NOS Mullards in. The amp with stock tubes to me sounded brighter.

Thanks Julian. Honestly I don't even care enough to even get a new-stock set for comparison (and re-bias twice, etc). I've done plenty of tube-rolling in various amps, and even with output & driver tubes slots that are supposed to be "not sensitive" to tube rolling, there is a substantial difference. There are exceptions when you have an amp build that forces such a strong voice of its own (e.g. VAC gear), but I don't think that applies to the BHSE design.
 
When possible, I've always preferred vintage tubes over new stock, and I almost always find the differences more than worthwhile (I run KT120 in my monoblocks because I need 12 and that's not realistic to get in vintage KT88; run EH 6N30pi in my preamp because there's no alternative there). So if I do any tube rolling in the BHSE it will be for British Mullard vs. my current Holland EL34.
 
Aug 15, 2016 at 12:26 PM Post #9,542 of 25,147
  Thanks Julian. Honestly I don't even care enough to even get a new-stock set for comparison (and re-bias twice, etc). I've done plenty of tube-rolling in various amps, and even with output & driver tubes slots that are supposed to be "not sensitive" to tube rolling, there is a substantial difference. There are exceptions when you have an amp build that forces such a strong voice of its own (e.g. VAC gear), but I don't think that applies to the BHSE design.
 
When possible, I've always preferred vintage tubes over new stock, and I almost always find the differences more than worthwhile (I run KT120 in my monoblocks because I need 12 and that's not realistic to get in vintage KT88; run EH 6N30pi in my preamp because there's no alternative there). So if I do any tube rolling in the BHSE it will be for British Mullard vs. my current Holland EL34.


Interesting and confirms my thoughts on this subject. I don't see the point in running stock tubes if the SQ is better with NOS Mullards (for example). The transparent nature of the 009s in particular almost demands that. I wonder how many with the BHSE and using the 009s stay on stock tubes?
 
Yes I agree on the KGSShv Sanyo being super warm. It was that nature that at that time suited my 009 based system. I have moved DACs (Audio Note DAC 5 Special) since and don't need such a warm push now. My Carbon also seems very neutral and smooth in the upper treble, so very happy with my pairing.
 
For those who have a tubed DAC there are ways to tweak the final sound signature besides tube rolling. For example Lampizator often uses various caps and cap combinations (piggy backing 2 types of cap) inc Duelunds in the top DACs. I changed the caps from AN Coppers to V-Cap Teflons in my DAC and it did move the sound signature further into the detailed and faster camp which I felt it needed in my system. The V-Caps are the most revealing cap I have ever heard, but not harsh or too sharp, just invisible. The caps were only 200 USD as low uFs and easy to fit. Something to consider for ones wanting to system tune. Duelunds are slightly warmer and a slightly lower treble energy but still very detailed and fast and very realistic. Possibly the best cap ever made IMO.
 
When I had the Audio Note DAC 4.1 Kit as I tweaked up the parts quality and tube rolled, I started with V-Caps and then tube rolled after I swopped the digital board for the better designed unit. Then changed the caps again after I finished tube rolling. I fitted 5687 NOS Tungsols in the line stage and a nice NOS Mullard ECL82 in the driver position on the PS board. Bendix 6X5 equivalent on the PS board as well. Then Duelund Caps on the PS board and line board as well. It was mixing and matching but in the end it was bang on for my system. The only way after that was get the much more expensive DAC 5.
 
The BHSE has no caps in the signal path, but the Woo Wes does, so they can be swopped out.
 
Aug 15, 2016 at 3:25 PM Post #9,543 of 25,147
Simple said, yes, but getting more in details, no...
 
404LE are great ear speakers, period, and I dont care what anybody says or find, just my own opinion and based on Stax SRM 600LE amp only, not talking about higher quality options, ok?
 
 
Just an example. When I listened to Roger Waters "Amased to Death" through 404LE, my mind was in shock, nothing more or less, bass, that you are asking about, was most realistic that I ever heard. Its not hitting, but deep and tight, depth is what 404LE are, no wide head stage, no 3D or any other fancy tricks, just pure sound. I do believe that you need tube based amp for them and Stax guys are not crazy to have released that combo to begin with.
On the other hand, while L700 are warmer sounding, still they sound fantastic with tubes, love it very much ( you are right and thx for your open mind sharing mulveling !!! ) 
Crazy thing is, my whole system are tube based, from my CD player, DAC to amp, all of them using tubes, but nothing like tuby sounding I hear, but musical and realistic instead.
 
Dont worry about bass on L700, its just right there when its there, you see, and you will love them for sure. Classic hard rock live performances are amazing through L700, either modern electronic, Sting or Sade, they do them all with ease and I am not even start about Carmen McRae " As Time Goes By" or Charlie Haden & Antonio Facrione "Heartplay"
 
Buy and enjoy them
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Quote:
  Thanks...so the L700 seems to be the more "musical" option and the LE the more analytical and detailed.   Is the bass on the LE that much less present than on the L700?   The idea of an electrostatic earspeaker with a great bass response like they say the L700 has is very intriguing.  I am not a bass head by any means, but don't mind a little heft in that department without it being too colored. 

 
Aug 15, 2016 at 3:34 PM Post #9,544 of 25,147

For those who own BHSE.
 
Guys, if possible, try NOS TESLA EL34 please, just for the kick, if you like, as I am very surprised that nobody did so far.
 
Cheers.
 
Aug 15, 2016 at 5:51 PM Post #9,547 of 25,147
 
Welp, impulse won over reason, and against my better judgement there's a set of SR-L500s being delivered today. How much time does a new set need to charge up? How many hours until they reach their 'final form'?

If by "charge up" you mean burn in, I think that's a question some of the more experienced Stax owners might be best equiped to address.  The L700 was my first electrostat.  They did sound pretty damned great out of the box though.    
 
Aug 15, 2016 at 6:02 PM Post #9,548 of 25,147
 
Welp, impulse won over reason, and against my better judgement there's a set of SR-L500s being delivered today. How much time does a new set need to charge up? How many hours until they reach their 'final form'?


Um, they should "charge" right away and sound great right away. What amp are you using? Hope you got an e-Stat amp to drive your new earspeakers...
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Aug 15, 2016 at 6:34 PM Post #9,549 of 25,147
 
Um, they should "charge" right away and sound great right away. What map are you using? Hope you got an e-Stat amp to drive your new earspeakers...
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Several years ago, before I converted to a Stax fanatic, I recall there was a lot of discussion on electrostatic headphones not sounding great until they were fully "charged" by the amp. Usually this was in the context of head-fi meets, about how various Stax systems didn't have adequate time to charge in those scenarios. I remember reading this even about the Stax 007 paired with a Head-amp KGSS -- and I don't know why there would be a charge time in that case. I think maybe this was getting confused with the amp's warmup time towards optimal operation (which really is a thing). Personally, I remember hearing a 007 Mk I w/ KGSS at a couple meets and being pretty underwhelmed because the combo generally lacked impact (I did like the detail, refinement, and "air" of the system, though).
 
Modern, properly designed Stax amps may have a warmup time, but the bias "charge" time to the headphones is virtually instantaneous. Some electrostatic amps will require music to be playing through the headphones for a bit in order to charge up the headphones, but you don't want those amps. You don't have to worry about this with any of the KG-designed amps or Stax amps.
 
And as far as burn-in of the Stax headphones -- I've broken in 3 new Stax headphones now (two 009's and one L700), and never noticed much of a sonic difference from start to finish. If anything, pad conditioning (e.g. accumulation of oils and softening of the foam padding) will be the dominant factor in any sonic changes from new. 
 
Aug 15, 2016 at 6:55 PM Post #9,550 of 25,147
Burn in is almost always a discussion in the planar and dynamic headphones forum section. I am skeptical of the concept and it seems to me really just psychological adjustment period for buyers looking to convince themselves that they didn't throw away money on headphones.
 
Aug 15, 2016 at 8:20 PM Post #9,551 of 25,147
6 hours in I'm not really noticing any change from what the SR-L500 sounded like right out of the box. They'e paired with a STAX SRM-353X.
 
I can't remember where I heard about an extended charging time for the diaphragm. I'd love to see some real evidence behind opinions on burn in!
 
So far I'm really liking the clarity, speed and definition. The only thing I'm missing is the sub-bass from the planars.
 
Aug 15, 2016 at 8:26 PM Post #9,552 of 25,147
I personally don't buy into the concept of burn in simply for the question that if the mechanical behavior of the materials used can drift significantly enough to hear a difference over a short term "burn in" period then how is it that they don't continue to drift at a similar rate until eventual mechanical failure. The materials used in modern headphones should be mechanically stable enough to stay within a reasonable performance tolerance for decades of normal use, and if they can't then the manufacturer is doing something wrong.
 
With electrostatic headphones I think the argument against the concept of burn in is even stronger since they only have one moving part and it has almost no mass and very little excursion so it really isn't subjected to any meaningful mechanical wear. Amps do change sound as they warm up though, but after they hit operating temperature the sound should stay stable. 
 
  I can't remember where I heard about an extended charging time for the diaphragm. I'd love to see some real evidence behind opinions on burn in!
 

Maybe from Zeos' video on the SRS-2170 kit? A properly functioning diaphragm charges in about a second. You can test this yourself by unplugging the headphones from the amp and touching all of the pins on the cable with your finger to discharge the diaphragm (don't worry, it's not dangerous, there is so little current stored in the diaphragm that it doesn't even register as a shock). Plug the headphones back into the amp while music is playing and you will hear the volume quickly rise to full output in a matter of seconds.
 
Also keep in mind that though the diaphragm is statically charged, it's not even remotely a permanent charge. The diaphragms are constantly bleeding off some of their charge and are constantly being charged back up by the bias circuit. If you cut off the bias supply while music is playing the volume immediately starts to fall. The bias circuit and the diaphragm immediately reach a voltage equilibrium, there is no last bit of extra charge that gets in there over time, it's a myth started and spread by people who don't understand how this stuff works. 
 
Aug 16, 2016 at 1:42 AM Post #9,553 of 25,147
Interesting re charging up comments. I haven't noticed this on my Stax system after I moved to amps. Before that going back many years I used to use a Stax SRD-6 energiser, and that DID appear to need to charge itself. After 15 minutes of playing music through it the volume and dynamics seemed to go up. The system at that time was CD Player - Intergrated amp - Speaker Terminals - Stax SRD-6 - Lambda Nova Basic.
 
Once I moved to Sax amps this effect vanished.
 
Aug 16, 2016 at 2:51 AM Post #9,554 of 25,147
Was it an SRD-6sb? If so then what you described could definitely happen depending on how loud you normally listen. Self biasing adapters require the voltage of the music being played to peak over a certain threshold to generate the full bias voltage, and it needs to happen often enough to keep the capacitors in the bias circuit charged throughout a listening session. In contrast to that, powered bias adapters are continuously fed the correct voltage to generate the bias either through direct zener limited mains voltage like on SRD boxes or through a voltage divider off of the + high voltage dc line inside of an amp (how stax does it in their amps) and is not dependent on the music signal to generate that bias. That's why self bias adapters are looked down on compared to powered bias adapters.

Also sometimes if the anti static coating on the diaphragm of the headphone is compromised (by humidity for example) it can take longer to charge. My Sr-5 used to take a few minutes to reach full output before I recoated the diaphragms. With the new coat of anti static gel it charges instantly like it should.
 
Aug 16, 2016 at 4:16 AM Post #9,555 of 25,147
  I personally don't buy into the concept of burn in simply for the question that if the mechanical behavior of the materials used can drift significantly enough to hear a difference over a short term "burn in" period then how is it that they don't continue to drift at a similar rate until eventual mechanical failure. The materials used in modern headphones should be mechanically stable enough to stay within a reasonable performance tolerance for decades of normal use, and if they can't then the manufacturer is doing something wrong.
 
With electrostatic headphones I think the argument against the concept of burn in is even stronger since they only have one moving part and it has almost no mass and very little excursion so it really isn't subjected to any meaningful mechanical wear. Amps do change sound as they warm up though, but after they hit operating temperature the sound should stay stable. 

 
Agree with your comments regarding electrostatics, but remember that "burn-in" (= changes in electrical parameters after initial use) is very real and very measurable for loudspeaker drivers, so it stands to reason that a dynamic headphone transducer could well exhibit the same. HOWEVER, (in capitals!) whether this translates to any sonic difference and whether that difference is perceived as positive or negative by the listener is an entirely different kettle of fish...
 
/U.
 

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