Wh- what is this???
Mar 17, 2007 at 10:01 AM Post #31 of 82

Carl

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Quote:

Originally Posted by krmathis /img/forum/go_quote.gif
So they really are SR-SC1's?
If so, you have to let us in on how they sound compared to the SR-404.
lambda.gif



Yes, SC-1s. Give me a bit and I'll hammer out a comparison. I do warn you however that today is St Patrick's Day.
 
Mar 17, 2007 at 10:11 AM Post #32 of 82

krmathis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Carl /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Yes, SC-1s. Give me a bit and I'll hammer out a comparison. I do warn you however that today is St Patrick's Day.


Nice score. Congratulations!

Edit: Take your time with the comparison.
 
Mar 17, 2007 at 11:40 AM Post #34 of 82

Carl

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I'm sure many of you are just passing through this thread, you wish to talk about electrostatic headphones. How do they compare? What happens when they all come together? I can only but stare into your eyes and answer your question in horrifying detail. Don't Worry ma'am, I'm from the Internet.


So... its a cruisy Caturday, Ima chargin' mah headphones, the cable stretched like longcat out before me. I do a barrel roll over to my CDP, the volume flipped, turned upside down till my eardrums becomes an hero. So, Im in ur headphones having ur eargasms, right? Well, maybe. Today is special as I've been trying out two similar yet different headphones. The first one you all know and love (??), the Stax 404, the second shall be introduced in a moment. One I promised I would buy some time ago. And so, the prophecy came true. One does not simply post into Mordor, so plz, do not want to adjust your set.

Some really like the 404, even some people who don't generally like 'stats. Note: I don't agree on this. So, it may be able to divide the music by zero and exert all the macrodetail (OH SHI-), but I tell you this, Head-fi, because you already know the 404. It is an archetype, it exists everywhere: it is the token electrostatic that meets hard and thinks resolution is the "coolest damn thing" we've ever heard. It is the one to whom everyone gives a comforting smile before gracefully avoiding conversation. In short, Head-fi, it is the electrostatic headphone we all know, doomed to die as soon as a new model comes out.

If you were a headphone what would you be? An HE90 no doubt. Its power is maximum. But so is its pricetag. So that forces us to look at more affordable options to remain solvent, which is where the 404s popularity comes from. Sure, there is the Lambda Pro and Lambda Sig (and the original Lambda and Novas too, but who cares out them, hmm?), but they're all getting rare and expensive now. The 404 is the best Stax currently in production that doesn't cost megabucks, right?

A Challenger Appears! It may be labelled Airbow. Or Battletoads. Or fighting frogs. Or combat amphibians. But it's a true Stax. Open up the housing (protip: don't do this, you risk death. well, just surgery.), Stax Nood, and it's just a 404 with a different driver and cable.

Is it delicious headphone!? Must you listen to it!?

plug1lw0.jpg

Plug goes Where? I dunno, lol.

Well, if you can see where I'm coming from you might understand... I try to ply my friends into listening to electrostats almost every time I see them. It's a bit of a game. They initially refuse, but when they want to listen to music due to my sneaky humming tricks I can usually get them to listen to some extent. If I'm a electrostatic fanboy because of this, then being a fanboy is awesome. Yes, I am an electrostat fan. So? I don't see any problem. I embraced my electrostatic soul long ago and I am happy together with my headphones (which are cute high-bias circumaurals!). We have a f***ing lot of friends in and outside the audio world and I am pretty slim and good looking. But thanks anyway a**hole. Go listen to your stupid dynamic headphones while I have EARGASMS with my headphones. Excuse me, got a bit carried away there... But why did I decide to try the SC-1 despite there being cheaper, easier to get, better known headphones out there? Well, there are plenty of other, different sounding electrostatic headphones than just the obvious ones (aside from current production Stax), and I recommend the budding electrostatophile try as many as possible. Aside from the Airbows, a Koss is fine too, a lovely fun headphone. With the Sigmas you really got a sense that Stax was trying to recreate the presentation of Quads with headphones. It's okay to want to touch it, Stax, that's the natural response to a speaker so sexy. Whoops, forgot my HE60s! With them your mind has been transported back in time.......and to Mars. But that doesn't matter. Because it also presents a wonderful musical whole. But, alas, I'm not listening to any of the above tonight. Tonight we listen in hell. SPARRTTTTAAAAA! No, a Lambda v Lambda comparison it must be. 404 v Airbow and nothing else. Will it be surprise earsex, or epic failure?

plug2zm9.jpg

JAM IT IN!

With the 404s; on a good song they can be great, baby. F*** it's awwwwww right. But much of the time the presentation really puts pay to that. Sometimes you'll think "this headphone is driving me CRAZY!" Sometimes you just want to say "excuse me What r u doin?", as if, when no one was looking Lex Luthor took the four hundred and four's air, delicacy and tone. That's as many as, no indeed over nine thousand headphones worldwide. And that's terrible. Of course, you could say that to truly love a headphone you need to accept it for what it is, to not dwell on its failings but on its strengths. 'How can you say you love her if you can't even eat her poop?' But ultimately I regard this as spurious. Truly capable headphones allow you to get lost in the music, to not keep reminding that you're listening through something.

I guess we should briefly touch on what it is that we're actually looking for in a headphone (electrostatic or otherwise) in the first place. In the interests of simplicity I shall break it down into what I see as the four main attributes:
  • Dynamism: the ability for the music to move you, to take you places
  • Ethereality: the ability for the music to flow around you
  • Spatiality: the ability to create an actual musical even, rather than something canned
  • Uninhibited presentation: the ability to listen to the music, not the speaker

Whether the headphone is capable of achieving a reasonable approximation of the above, or whether it needs more DESU is what separates the "good" class of headphones from the "great".

I've never been able to do a full differential diagnosis on what exactly the 404's problem is. I know it's not lupus at least, but... Well, I'll approach it this way; good music, like good food, is something to be savoured, to appreciate the flavour and texture of. For this to really happen, the timbre and harmonic texture needs to be pretty darn good. After all, we're not paying for the Big Mac KSC75 here, we're talking big money, at least by most of our standards'. We want proper restaurant cuisine, right? The 404s don't deliver (not as much as this thread does, anyway) a natural analogue experience. I wish. It's machine code. It's life's experiences created by a mainframe computer, rather than wind and grass and water. Well, that's the best analogy that comes to mind, at least.

The peculiarities of the drivers only have so much say, in my experience, and the tuning of the headphone has a seriously large effect on the sound. One area in particular I find fascinating is the presentation of speed with headphones, and it's one I don't really understand myself. Even two headphones with the same driver can have vastly different "speeds". For example, sometimes I wonder if the 4070 is still on Namek, whereas the HE60 goes straight for the pooper. (funfact: If the HE60 was human I could guarantee that it does cocaine. Too bad it's just a headphone.) These differing speeds result in some headphones behaving superiorly to different playing styles. The HE60's fondness for orchestral sweeps, for example. The 4070, by contrast, excels at slow, gentle plucking techniques. In spite of the shared driver, the 404s haet pizzicato; the sense of intimacy just collapses with it. The notes themselves are, of course, fully audible, but the subtle harmonic cues that make up that much of the satisfaction with that type of music needs to lurk more in the background rather than being whitewashed away. This is just one example of aspects to the 404 that leave a taste of dissatisfaction.

So... how does the SC-1 compare to this? Well, at the end of the day it's still a Lambda. The frequency response is still tilted and it still has a curious artificial timbre, but the sound is now more intimate, with more air. On the flipside, unfortunately, it has a thinner tonal body. Yet made of demure and soft spoken. Of bowing and bento. Or something. The 404s are more capable of going 'rawr I am a lion' (get in the car!), but the SC-1 is better at presenting subtle nuance. Still not as good as the big boys, mind, but better than the 404. A matter of taste maybe? It's hard to say, the differences are quite large when you're a/b/ing them. I can imagine that not everyone would prefer the SC-1 to the 404, especially those who would rather stay more peripheral to the music. And certainly, I still regard the 4070 as a leap over both of them, but they are pretty expensive.

On top of sonic attributes, I'm sure some are wondering 'what is it like to hold a SC1 in your arms?' The SC1 comes in basically the exact same housing as the 404, complete with "SR-404" nameplate. Despite what pictures might suggest, it's actually quite strong and well built, with the plastic used being almost as hard as diamond, the hardest metal known to man. The only discernible external difference is the plastic ring saying "SC-1" on the plug. Can't say I'm a fan of that brown colour-scheme (that's not mud), but otherwise they're perfectly fine specimens physically, so no need to worry about her nanomachines.

So, want to get a pair? Hope you got 600bux. Or just find one at auction like I did... You may like them, or may not, ass or cake, it's up to you. Depending decidedly on your timbral tastes, the dastardly delicious silken smoothaciousness may get you as hot and bothered as a Saharan with a broken toe, or the topsy-turvy tone may leave you heaving like a hundred-pound weightlifter. But whatever may be, you'll know this curious contraption of an externally energised earspeaker is something unique all of itself. I guarantee it.

Me, I like them for what they are, but I do not want a relationship with them, really. Nevertheless, I am compelled to return to Head-fi and ask, what does this mean and how do I fix it??

Well then, time to get back to the music for me. So I cranked the volume dial up to about seven or eight and I yelled to the cabbie 'Yo homes smell ya later'. I looked at my kingdom I was finally there. To settle my throne as the Prince of Bel-Air.
 
Mar 17, 2007 at 12:17 PM Post #36 of 82

Duggeh

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Happy St Paddys day Carl, you electrostatic fiend. And congratulations on the purchase, I know you've been after them for a while, as soon as I saw them I knew what they had to be.

Next thing of course is to put those cryo drivers into the 4070 housing, for the best of both worlds.
very_evil_smiley.gif
 
Mar 17, 2007 at 12:42 PM Post #37 of 82

krmathis

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Repeat after me!
tongue.gif

* I don't want an SR-SC1
* I don't want an SR-SC1
* I don't want an SR-SC1
* ...
 
Mar 17, 2007 at 1:52 PM Post #38 of 82

M0T0XGUY

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Carl /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The drivers both look the same (the red kind, for those in the know about Lambda drivers). And yet the sound is very different. Most confuddling....


How did you get these, and why would Stax make an alternate version of the 404's in the first place?
 
Mar 17, 2007 at 2:00 PM Post #39 of 82

Duggeh

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He won them at an auction, and Stax dont make a different version. They are altered versions of the 404, sold by another company.
 
Mar 17, 2007 at 3:40 PM Post #42 of 82

Mrvile

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Quote:

Originally Posted by lackofcheese /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Yup, it's inconceivable that anyone but AKG could make good cans.


Don't listen to what Fitz says. He doesn't even listen to headphones anymore.

wink.gif
 
Mar 17, 2007 at 4:41 PM Post #44 of 82

krmathis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by M0T0XGUY /img/forum/go_quote.gif
How did you get these, and why would Stax make an alternate version of the 404's in the first place?


Well, Stax most probably made them as any regular SR-404 from the start on.
Then Ippinkan Corporation (another Japanese company) buy, cryo treat, and sell them under their own Airbow brand name.

The SR-404 can be yours for $365, while the SR-SC1 can be yours for $600.
Quite a price difference, but it might be worth it...
tongue.gif
 
Mar 17, 2007 at 5:48 PM Post #45 of 82

milkpowder

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Nice, lively review Carl and congrats on the SC-1s.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carl /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The frequency response is still tilted and it still has a curious artificial timbre, but the sound is now more intimate, with more air. On the flipside, unfortunately, it has a thinner tonal body. Yet made of demure and soft spoken. Of bowing and bento. Or something. The 404s are more capable of going 'rawr I am a lion' (get in the car!), but the SC-1 is better at presenting subtle nuance. Still not as good as the big boys, mind, but better than the 404.


Do you mean What do you mean by "more intimate, with more air'? Just from your description of the SC-1 ("it has a thinner tonal body...but better at presenting subtle nuance"), I feel like I probably won't like them. I think that the 404 already have enough detail, refinement and resolution to reproduce fine nuances. What I probably wouldn't prefer is for the sound to sound even thinner. That said, can something sound thinner, but more intimate at the same time?
 

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