The Stax thread (New)
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Jan 25, 2010 at 10:57 PM Post #12,571 of 24,807

brat

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Quote:

Originally Posted by The Monkey /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Not so. This just happens to be the main Stax thread. There are other threads re 'stats elsewhere. And, in my humble opinion, the debate about burn-in has been sufficiently beaten to death--regardless of dynamic or stat--that it does not warrant additional debate in this otherwise extremely informative thread.


It's just your humble opinion.
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Jan 25, 2010 at 11:00 PM Post #12,572 of 24,807

The Monkey

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Quote:

Originally Posted by brat /img/forum/go_quote.gif
It's just your humble opinion.
wink.gif



Absolutely. We all have a hand in how this community evolves. If you're happy with discussions about burn-in, so be it, you and others who think similarly (and who apparently make up the majority here) will continue to engage in such discussions. However, for those who don't care for it (an increasing minority it appears), I offer the simple observation that it doesn't have to be that way.
 
Jan 25, 2010 at 11:15 PM Post #12,573 of 24,807

HeadphoneAddict

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Dinan /img/forum/go_quote.gif
After running in for a day and a half now, the sonics differences between the "old" and new pair are closing rapidly.

Even if you can argue that there is burn-in differences in the transducers (I don't buy that but some do), the break-in of the cable alone should be significant ESPECIALLY as it is silver if my memory hasn't failed me.

My guess is that when the new pair has 75-100 hours, they will sound the same.



I don't know what needs more burn-in than something else, but I agree that at 100 hours they should sound the same because they'll have the same number of hours (not 10,000 hours as Monkey implies to make it look more ridiculous). It bugs the hell out of me that I have in the past compared a new and used headphone and found differences (HFI-780 and Grado HF-2), and now Dinan has found the same with the 404LE, yet people tell us it's all a pigment of our imagination.

I'm not saying all headphones need burn-in, because the HD600 hardly change at all with 200 hours. The O2 Mk2 only had a slight reduction in mids in relation to bass and treble after 200 hours. The HD800 only very slightly filled out, and both the HD800 and HE-5 slightly smoothed out with 200 hours.

But, I think that what Dinan is saying about his new SR-404LE sounding different out of the box, and now changing after 36 hours in relation to a 100 hour pair of 404LE is reasonable and likely true. (although I suspect the rating them a 3/10 vs 9/10 is a little exaggerated)
 
Jan 25, 2010 at 11:21 PM Post #12,574 of 24,807

brat

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Quote:

Originally Posted by The Monkey /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Absolutely. We all have a hand in how this community evolves. If you're happy with discussions about burn-in, so be it, you and others who think similarly (and who apparently make up the majority here) will continue to engage in such discussions. However, for those who don't care for it (an increasing minority it appears), I offer the simple observation that it doesn't have to be that way.


Let's finish the debate about the need of burn-in debates.
I think that we must share and discuss all our observations. This is constructive and usefull fot all beacuse many opinions and observations lead us to determine facts. Without opinions and a discussion about burn-in we'll never know if it's a fact
smily_headphones1.gif

beerchug.gif
 
Jan 25, 2010 at 11:52 PM Post #12,575 of 24,807

spritzer

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The mylar tension will not change with use, simply suggesting something like that shows an utter misunderstanding of the forces at work here and the material properties of mylar. I once thought that maybe there were minuscule wrinkles in the mylar which ironed out (which I had witnessed on scopes) but they were my own doing since at the time I didn't know how to properly heat treat the diaphragms.

Second bit, this is Stax we are talking about, not Sennheiser. There is zero variation from unit to unit if they haven't been tampered with and the earpads/damping is up to spec. You can take a Lambda Pro and compare one of the earliest units to one of the latest (which I've done a number of times as with many other models) and they sound identical. Same goes for the new phones.

As for the whole burn in crap, I started out a believer but as I've gained more experience I can see it for the crap it truly is. To think that a CDP needs 500 hours to charge the capacitors is just mad or that a headphone driver will need hundreds of hours to "loosen up". What is very real is how we perceive sound and the simple fact that a prolonged exposure is needed to truly gauge how a system sound. It simply can not be taken all in in a 5 minute listening session.

The other aspect is what bothers me most about HF and that is the absurd idea that price has any bearing on performance. Gear that looks impressive and has a lot of toobz must sound good. One has to only look at the SP fiasco and the multitude of vendors peddling inferior crap at exuberant prices heralded in reviews as the second coming. Hey, stick a V-cap in there and a stepped attenuator and it must be good.

As for cables, of course they are a factor. If they didn't then some cables wouldn't be able to make amps explode and roll off frequencies audibly. The real question here is, are the cables better or just different and why so. I've spent a fortune on cables over the years (Stealth Indra, Valhalla etc.), hell my first system was fully wired with silver, but now I own just a handful of cheap Kimber PC's and some old IC's which I never use. What happened to me was an understanding of electronics and just how absurd it is to buy cables for thousands when I could just as well build a beefier PSU or get rid of any and all electrolytic caps.
 
Jan 26, 2010 at 12:27 AM Post #12,576 of 24,807

n3rdling

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Great post, as usual, spritzer.

If anybody wants a pretty easy to follow primer on how our mind works with regards to audio, I think this video is really nice:
YouTube - Audio Myths Workshop
I wish everybody who registered here was forced to at least watch the first 10 minutes of this video. They don't have to agree with it, but I bet there'd be a ton less ridiculous "reviews" around here.
Also, saying that a silver cable "especially" needs time to "break in" might be the worst thing I've ever read on this site.
tongue.gif
 
Jan 26, 2010 at 12:55 AM Post #12,577 of 24,807

brat

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I'm far from audio alchemy BUT there are phenomenons that I can't deny and are obvious to me - the (good) cable direction, (some) component burn-in, (good) power cable significance...
Another widely discussed phenomenons I can't perceive such as absolute superiority of the tubes...
I don't know if the electrostats burn-in but I'm shure that my stax system has changed it's sound in the course of time. I see there is no explanation for now.
 
Jan 26, 2010 at 1:12 AM Post #12,578 of 24,807

HeadphoneAddict

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Quote:

Originally Posted by spritzer /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The mylar tension will not change with use, simply suggesting something like that shows an utter misunderstanding of the forces at work here and the material properties of mylar. I once thought that maybe there were minuscule wrinkles in the mylar which ironed out (which I had witnessed on scopes) but they were my own doing since at the time I didn't know how to properly heat treat the diaphragms.

Second bit, this is Stax we are talking about, not Sennheiser. There is zero variation from unit to unit if they haven't been tampered with and the earpads/damping is up to spec. You can take a Lambda Pro and compare one of the earliest units to one of the latest (which I've done a number of times as with many other models) and they sound identical. Same goes for the new phones.

As for the whole burn in crap, I started out a believer but as I've gained more experience I can see it for the crap it truly is. To think that a CDP needs 500 hours to charge the capacitors is just mad or that a headphone driver will need hundreds of hours to "loosen up". What is very real is how we perceive sound and the simple fact that a prolonged exposure is needed to truly gauge how a system sound. It simply can not be taken all in in a 5 minute listening session.

The other aspect is what bothers me most about HF and that is the absurd idea that price has any bearing on performance. Gear that looks impressive and has a lot of toobz must sound good. One has to only look at the SP fiasco and the multitude of vendors peddling inferior crap at exuberant prices heralded in reviews as the second coming. Hey, stick a V-cap in there and a stepped attenuator and it must be good.

As for cables, of course they are a factor. If they didn't then some cables wouldn't be able to make amps explode and roll off frequencies audibly. The real question here is, are the cables better or just different and why so. I've spent a fortune on cables over the years (Stealth Indra, Valhalla etc.), hell my first system was fully wired with silver, but now I own just a handful of cheap Kimber PC's and some old IC's which I never use. What happened to me was an understanding of electronics and just how absurd it is to buy cables for thousands when I could just as well build a beefier PSU or get rid of any and all electrolytic caps.



That does NOT explain the changes heard when comparing a new HF-2 to a used HF-2 (or SR-404LE), or the changes that occur when not taking the time to acclimate to a particular piece of gear from start to finish.

Also, I asked if tension changes were an issue, because of the postings you made about that. I forgot that it was in regards to you re-building your own drivers, and not about the stock Stax drivers. That's all I have to say on the matter.
 
Jan 26, 2010 at 4:26 AM Post #12,579 of 24,807

edstrelow

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Asr /img/forum/go_quote.gif
No offense to anyone intended but are folks seriously suggesting that electrostatic headphones burn in? You guys did go to school and learned about physics, right?


Neither my high-school nor college taught about electrostatic drivers. For that matter neither did the Dept. of Electrical Engineering I did a post-doc in although they did make these items for various purposes. What I did learn there was that the performance of such things was to be determined by emprical investigation, not on assumptions about how such things ought to work.
 
Jan 26, 2010 at 4:47 AM Post #12,580 of 24,807

edstrelow

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Quote:

Originally Posted by spritzer /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The mylar tension will not change with use, simply suggesting something like that shows an utter misunderstanding of the forces at work here and the material properties of mylar. I once thought that maybe there were minuscule wrinkles in the mylar which ironed out (which I had witnessed on scopes) but they were my own doing since at the time I didn't know how to properly heat treat the diaphragms.

Second bit, this is Stax we are talking about, not Sennheiser. There is zero variation from unit to unit if they haven't been tampered with and the earpads/damping is up to spec. You can take a Lambda Pro and compare one of the earliest units to one of the latest (which I've done a number of times as with many other models) and they sound identical. Same goes for the new phones.

As for the whole burn in crap, I started out a believer but as I've gained more experience I can see it for the crap it truly is. To think that a CDP needs 500 hours to charge the capacitors is just mad or that a headphone driver will need hundreds of hours to "loosen up". What is very real is how we perceive sound and the simple fact that a prolonged exposure is needed to truly gauge how a system sound. It simply can not be taken all in in a 5 minute listening session.

The other aspect is what bothers me most about HF and that is the absurd idea that price has any bearing on performance. Gear that looks impressive and has a lot of toobz must sound good. One has to only look at the SP fiasco and the multitude of vendors peddling inferior crap at exuberant prices heralded in reviews as the second coming. Hey, stick a V-cap in there and a stepped attenuator and it must be good.

As for cables, of course they are a factor. If they didn't then some cables wouldn't be able to make amps explode and roll off frequencies audibly. The real question here is, are the cables better or just different and why so. I've spent a fortune on cables over the years (Stealth Indra, Valhalla etc.), hell my first system was fully wired with silver, but now I own just a handful of cheap Kimber PC's and some old IC's which I never use. What happened to me was an understanding of electronics and just how absurd it is to buy cables for thousands when I could just as well build a beefier PSU or get rid of any and all electrolytic caps.



I am glad to see that you can change your opinions. It seems like it was just yesterday that you were singing the praises of silver IC's. But if you acknowledge that your ears were wrong about that you should not be dogmatic about your current opinions.

My budget for ic's maxes out at about $100/pair and only in what seem to be sensitive applications.

Whether or not Stax phones break in over a long period, I cannot say. I have had some new phones, 003 and 007's which sounded bad right out of the box and which took about 1/2 hours or more to sound good. Why I don't know, contact problems, moisture?

However I do not find it implausible that some aspects of the drivers could change with use. Frankly the opposite seems inherently implausible, that mylar would not stretch with use or pull away from its glue over time.

Possibly someone will be able to put on a demonstration of an unbroken in and a well used set of Stax at a Canjam so that we can decide for ourselves?

That said, I agree that Stax drivers seem to hold up pretty well over time, even over 2-3 decades.
 
Jan 26, 2010 at 8:16 AM Post #12,581 of 24,807

spritzer

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Quote:

Originally Posted by edstrelow /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I am glad to see that you can change your opinions. It seems like it was just yesterday that you were singing the praises of silver IC's. But if you acknowledge that your ears were wrong about that you should not be dogmatic about your current opinions.

My budget for ic's maxes out at about $100/pair and only in what seem to be sensitive applications.



Ohh I still use silver and with wire expensive enough to make most cable makers cry, custom ordered PC-OCC 6N silver wire. I got it for next to nothing through a local friend though and it's a pain to use but makes for some truly transparent cables.

What got to me in the end, besides the lack of real any improvements high-end cables can offer, was just how unwieldy they are. I can easily wind my IC's around two fingers without damaging them so why can't all IC's be like that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by edstrelow /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Whether or not Stax phones break in over a long period, I cannot say. I have had some new phones, 003 and 007's which sounded bad right out of the box and which took about 1/2 hours or more to sound good. Why I don't know, contact problems, moisture?

However I do not find it implausible that some aspects of the drivers could change with use. Frankly the opposite seems inherently implausible, that mylar would not stretch with use or pull away from its glue over time.

Possibly someone will be able to put on a demonstration of an unbroken in and a well used set of Stax at a Canjam so that we can decide for ourselves?

That said, I agree that Stax drivers seem to hold up pretty well over time, even over 2-3 decades.



Why Stax headphones improve after plugging is simple, when they are shipped the resistive coating on the diaphragm attracts static electricity so it takes some time to break that down. This can also happen if the headphones are sitting around for a while. Back in the day when I had around 50 sets here my SR-007 didn't get much use and often sat for months unattended. One morning I reached for them and they sound like ****, no dynamics and just a mushy wall of sound. After running them for an hour or so they were back to normal. Was this burn in on a 4 year old set or just a parasitic charge sitting on the diaphragms because I didn't discharge them before putting the headphones away?

If the glue failed over time then the film would loose its tension and you'd just get a garbled mess of distortion from the phones so this isn't the case. Mylar in speakers does tend to age but direct exposure to sunlight is a major contributing factor here plus dust and other environmental factors.
 
Jan 26, 2010 at 10:21 AM Post #12,582 of 24,807
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Quote:

Originally Posted by spritzer /img/forum/go_quote.gif
As for the whole burn in crap, I started out a believer but as I've gained more experience I can see it for the crap it truly is. To think that a CDP needs 500 hours to charge the capacitors is just mad or that a headphone driver will need hundreds of hours to "loosen up". What is very real is how we perceive sound and the simple fact that a prolonged exposure is needed to truly gauge how a system sound. It simply can not be taken all in in a 5 minute listening session.


I have had gear go through distinctly weird tonal changes, briefly at least, during periods of use. Some experimentation and cross-referencing with others and it seems to be the heat generated with use, but other people heard the same things as I was at the same hours. Some components have sound a bit better after they have been on a while and are nice and warm, compared to when they are cold.

What's most useful is, when, as you have done, a proper explanation for what is going on is provided. Troublesome though is when multiple reasons are possibly responsible. When I discussed my experience with HF-2s changing with use, it was suggested that the changes were in my head only. While I have found myself adapting to sound signatures, I've also been able to compare a new and well-used pair and the sonic differences, as well as the changes in my feeling about them. Overall, if the term "burn-in" was abolished and replaced with the individual factors that affect gear from new (if any at all) then that would be best IMO.

I guess we're lucky that Stax are very consistent in their manufacturing, if what you said about Lamdas is true across all their 'stats. My $0.02 anyway.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Jan 26, 2010 at 11:01 AM Post #12,583 of 24,807

Elephas

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Regarding gear burn-in, I don't think it's a big deal. If it is there, it will take care of itself sooner or later. Anyway, I myself experience variability in my listening experiences. Try relaxing and enjoying some nice jazz after you've just had a big fight with the wife, I bet it won't be as enjoyable as after a good session under the sheets! Even the SR-007 can sound like crap!

Quote:

Originally Posted by spritzer /img/forum/go_quote.gif
...they sound like ****, no dynamics and just a mushy wall of sound.


Ah-ha, gotcha! So you finally admit that the SR-007 can sound like ****!

Now we need a poll about what **** means.
tongue.gif


Quote:

Originally Posted by n3rdling /img/forum/go_quote.gif
If anybody wants a pretty easy to follow primer on how our mind works with regards to audio, I think this video is really nice:
YouTube - Audio Myths Workshop



This thread isn't really the place for discussion about this video, so I'll just mention a few thoughts after watching the first 10 minutes.

I agree with a lot of what they're saying about our brains, audio memory, expectations/placebo, malleability and fallibility of recall, the power of suggestion, etc.

But there were at least a couple of points I disagreed with. First, most or all of us listen with headphones, so the explanation about different listening positions and room acoustic effects is not really relevant.

Second, not all changes (to more expensive cables, installing a tweak, etc.) are positive or for the "better." Making evaluations and comparisons over a long period of time also reduces the chances of our being influenced by various factors, and not just succumbing placebo, wishful thinking, hearing what we want to hear, etc. And even if it is only psychological, it is a real belief that there is a difference. If I believe something, by definition it is "the truth" to me. But even so, I'm not about to buy a jar of pebbles for $$$.
smile.gif


I think that listening to music is an experience that mainly involves the brain, and as such it will be an emotional and subjective one that will affect our choice of and the way we use our audio gear.
 
Jan 26, 2010 at 3:18 PM Post #12,584 of 24,807

Dinan

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Quote:

Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict /img/forum/go_quote.gif
But, I think that what Dinan is saying about his new SR-404LE sounding different out of the box, and now changing after 36 hours in relation to a 100 hour pair of 404LE is reasonable and likely true. (although I suspect the rating them a 3/10 vs 9/10 is a little exaggerated)


I'm not getting sucked too far into any break-in argument because I know what 20 years of experience has taught me and I don't need to argue that. People are free to believe what they wish as it is a free world. It was not my intent to start a debate or discussion, just point out the considerable differences between a new and run-in pair.

The 3/10 v. 9/10 comment was FRESH out of the box and just delivered. Based on what I heard from the fresh pair, I would never have recommended them, bought them, or touched them with a 10' pole if that was my first and final experience with them. They were very rough and not very pleasant to listen to, especially up top. Now at 48 hours, they are turning into the 404LE that I know and love. No big surprise to me here, just typical break-in on any piece of audio gear and some require it more than others.
 
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