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High Rollers
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Everything posted by spritzer

  1. Some of the parts suppliers have the Mk2 headpad for sale and it should be direct replacement. Now if the old elastic has streched then I'd just cut a bit off it. Works a charm
  2. True... I did order a L500 Mk2 to I can swap the cable out for the older all copper one to see if that makes any difference. It won't but hey... any excuse to buy more headphones...
  3. Last I heard Phenomenon is gone, website and all.
  4. I’m going to post this in its own thread as so many people are asking me for X9000 impressions, and it makes sense to have them somewhere where they are easy to find. I was also going to take some pictures to add to this review but I’m just wiped. Might add some later if these ever present storms let up for some good light. I’ve now had the SR-X9000 here for over a week so time for a writeup... as my email inbox is full of people asking for just that. 🙂 First impressions were very promising, the build quality is superb, and those drivers are just a marvel to behold. I do like the new replaceable cables even, though it is a bit of a copy of the King Sound setup, and they really should include a 2.5m cable and a 5m one, the 1.5m makes no sense to me. The earpads might be a tad too big in terms of open area for their own good but they are well made and comfy. That new arc design is also excellent, far better than the 009 mess. The inspiration from the SR-Omega is clear but the build quality here is far, far better. Same loose feeling fit too; they mostly just hang off the head with minimal clamping. I really like how they drew inspiration from them, but I also have some issues with how that was executed… more about that later. The system I’ve been using them in is my main rig, Denafrips Terminator DAC feeding a Carbon CC all being fed from my main PC. Now for the sound, these are clearly voiced in the same direction as the 009/009S but not as horribly colored as those two. They sound open and lively with decent bass and the forward slant is there but far better than the predecessors. I remember thinking… “these are what the 009’s should have been 11 years ago” so yeah, not bad at all. For some recordings they really work but yeah… a few tracks in and the cracks began to show. A bit of a backstory, I’ve likened buying Stax to being in an “abusive relationship” for the last 15 years. Back in 2007 they brought us the 007Mk2’s with all of their issues. Sure, they could be fixed easily enough with some blutac but yeah it was a sign of things to come. At CanJam it was confirmed there was a new version of the 007Mk2’s out and they were even worse (the Mk2.5 as we called them), the blutac helped but could not fix the terrible voicing. Then it was announced a new flagship was incoming and the SR-009 landed in 2011. Now we all remember the clusterfuck that was, drivers failing left and right and forward sound with pitiful bass response… yeah, I’m not a fan. One bright spark was in 2014 when I got a new set of 007Mk2’s and they had clearly been changed for the better. The port finally kind of worked and the voicing was more like the Mk1’s. Then we got the limited edition 009BK (2016?) which I found to be a small improvement over the 009 but still that same sound and finally the 009S is 2018. Less said about them the better, quickest I’ve ever sold one of my flagship phones there… That brings us to the present and since the wait for the SR-X9000 was so long, I had time to bolster my collection to compare against them. I got a used set of 009S just to make sure I didn’t like them (that was still the case), a Voce (not arrived yet due to some shipping snafu’s) and finally the one I really wanted, a SR-Omega with early 007 Mk1 drivers. I had a set a decade or so ago and it’s really the only set of headphones I truly regret selling. I also got my final set of Audeze CRBN’s to compare against the new kid on the block. I had a lot of fun doing so and after a few hours I gravitated to a direct A-B test of the SR-Omega/007 against the X9000. Makes sense as they are a similar idea, put a more modern driver into that same basic housing design. That did reveal the two main issues with the X9000’s, the bright edge to everything which is just borderline annoying and more distracting than anything. Second are the imaging issues… First off, the brightness, with the 009’s they were really intolerable, and I’ve never been able to just sit down and enjoy a listening session with 009’s. It’s not that bad here but it’s always present. Some tracks it just blends in and becomes part of the sound while on others it stands out and takes away from the immersion. What makes it worse is that there is no logic to which tracks have that edge to them, bright ones which I would expect to have it… well it just blends in while darker ones have it. Must be a resonance issue as there is so little damping here. Now with the imaging, I think Stax made a mistake having the outside screen angled like that. On the SR-Omega it is perfectly parallel with the drivers but on the X9K, it is maybe 3mm further out towards the front. This or some part of the driver structure might be the culprit for the odd imaging. Let me clarify, they throw a large soundstage but it’s very much a “three blob affair”. Nothing wrong with that really but it’s the front imaging which sounds off for me. It’s all a bit to distant and boxed in while not being as focused as the 007 soundstage. When you pick up on it, it becomes very apparent and distracting. As comparison, let’s take the SR-Omega and SR-007Mk2. The SR-Omega throws a wide soundstage but it’s all a bit loose and diffused. Now the 007’s (all of them really) have a much tighter, more focused soundstage which also does something unique, there are layers to it. With the SR-X9000 it’s more like the SR-Omega (which makes sense) but more localized to the three blobs and the middle one has that odd boxed in effect while being a bit distant. Now other than these two things, these are well made and high performing sets, but these two things annoy me enough for them to not make my top/best ever list. The SR-007’s are more laid back and “darker” but also more neutral and truer to the original sound. The SR-Omega/007 is a more fun and looser version of that sound but those slight deficiencies just make them a welcome change, doesn’t make them any less neutral. They simply act as a bridge bringing those two sounds together, absolute purity of the 007 with the more warm and loose nature of the SR-Omega. I feel I should also talk a bit about the new kid on the block, the Audeze CRBN. Now I’ve had a few of them here, prototype units to the final production version and it really is the antithesis of the SR-X9000 is terms of fit and sound. The CRBN is snug as it hugs your head with thick and supple earpads. The sound is far more damped so it is darker but still very open and expansive. Now they aren’t perfect, they have that slight issue with the midrange presence due to the heavy damping, but it is minor overall. They are really what the HE90 could have been back in the day, more diffused than the 007’s but with proper bass. Nice way to tie back the 007's were always being compared to the HE90 back in the day. Lastly, how are they to drive. Well… as one would expect with a driver this size, they need a lot of power to behave. That brightness will quickly get out of control, especially at higher volume levels when the headphones don’t have enough power behind them. I’ve only tried them on a couple of amps so far so I’ll need more time with that, but I’d say powerful and neutral amps will suit these just fine. Conclusion/TL; DR These are good but not as good as they could have been. They are too forward sounding though not as bad as the SR-009, 009BK or 009S. I crave neutrality over everything else, the headphones should just present the sound with as little an impact on it as is possible. If they fail to represent a part of the spectrum, that’s fine but if they add something… then I have a problem with it. The brightness and imaging issue does disqualify them due to that, but I will keep them around, nonetheless. With some material they work well and plus I’m in a collecting mood… 😉 I'll probably add to review later on as I spend some more time with them. Finally, I’m going to be a bit cynical and think Stax are doing this sound signature on purpose and not for the obvious reasons. This is exactly the type of sound which grabs you on a quick audition or impresses the useless audio reviewers out there who don’t know any better. Back in 2002 the 007’s got no love at all as they are the definition of “unimpressive at first audition”, let along not many amps around at that time which could drive them. Stax are clearly now trying to make money and not audio purist just trying to make the best product possible, nothing wrong with that, so I’m glad this wasn’t a complete hack job like the 009S.
  5. I've had them for a week now so a review is incoming.
  6. I agree, it just looks like unplated brass with some age on it.
  7. That thing is bizarre. 🙂 Rather odd too as Stax were so paranoid of using metal housing for these things, hence the ground reference in each cup using resistors off the audio line.
  8. I somehow missed this reply completely. The issue with these is that they are in no way Stax compatible. Sure the bias supply might be 600V but for this driver design it should be far higher. Even with the Carbon CC (so more power than you can throw at any one set of headphones) it starts to compress and act up which are the tell tale signs of trying to compensate for a lower bias voltage with the drive voltages. It creates and odd effect so yeah... can't really recommend an amp for these. I need to do a follow up really as there is so much oddity here. I cracked open the supplied headphone cable and wow... it is so weird. Think Hifiman cable but worse... Then we have the energizer which I just rebuilt to my SRD-7 spec. It is just weird, channels swapped and the wiring made no sense at all. Nice transformers but the rest is just utter crap, also unsafe as only the back panel is actually earthed. All 6 panels which make up the chassis are tied to the corner posts, which are made out of plastic so non conductive.
  9. The diodes can go bad, especially the zeners on the output sockets but that's about it.
  10. Mmmmm pie...... Port modded I'd always pick the 007's as that unleashes their full potential but stock... well that puts the CRBN's on a more equal footing. The 007's are more honest over al but that can also be a detriment for some users and the CRBN would be a better fit with many music styles. They are more forgiving and warmer where the 007's will always be brutally honest. Also the CRBN's does things the 007's just don't do well, ease of fitment for one...
  11. I hope to get a set of the SR-X's soon as I've lined up pretty much everything that competes with it, including some oddballs like a SR-Omega with 007 drivers (probably my favorite headphones for just sitting down and listening) so it will be fun to compare. I even bought a second hand 009S, now that they are really coming down in price, and this thing is such a disappointment. How could Stax fuck this up so badly, I mean the drivers are a bloody work of art but the sound... ohhh the sound. Oddly thin and bright sounding with so little body to it as this was supposed to be the one that fixes the 009's issues. It's a combination which works for the Sennheiser HE60 but here it just falls flat, robbing music of vitality and life so you end up with a likeness which is not real at all. With the HE60's one adjusts to their sound signature quickly but this just makes me furious... Seriously, somebody at Stax should sit down with these and a 007Mk2 on any random track and honestly say which is better. Randomly Elvis Costello - Veronica came up while I'm typing this and it is just bright, lifeless and boring. I replayed with the CRBN's off the same amp and this is far, far better.
  12. I don't think you can delete all of your posts like that, back in the day we couldn't even edit them.
  13. Antek uses M8 bolts and the 50VA units are pretty heavy so a M4 would be pushing it.
  14. I'm way behind on posting pics off all the shit I've been buying recently but yeah... if it is available I can get my hands on it. Those portable amps out of China are utter crap though...
  15. I can't see where the bias is handled, looks to be missing the adjustment for the second stage plate and no output resistors. The bias supply is always where Woo amps have fallen flat without seeing it, hard to give it a clean bill of health.
  16. I've spent some more time with the headphones now (when I really should be testing out the new CRBN) but I like these a lot. They really do nothing wrong, soundstage is a bit flat (flat earpads though) and they aren't great with small detail retrieval but other than that they are neutral, honest sounding and I can spend hours listening to them. Now for the wanky things (besides that name, seriously... anus in your company name can never be a good idea ) such as the box these ship in: Almost Voce bad but at least it is well made, unlike the Mr. Speakers box. Here is the silly dual cable for these, male 3 pin XLR's on one end 3 pin mini XLR's on the other. It feels terrible and I'll rip it apart later. What truly bothers me is this shit, these are cheapest XLR's you can buy short of the knock off Neutriks and they are pushing 600V bias and 200Vrms through this? Yeah it's not ok... I'm thinking about what I'm going to do with that energizer as the transformers seem to be pretty decent. Probably just fit my own PSU to it and change it to three Stax sockets that the headphones actually fit into.
  17. I've had my eye on these for the last year or so but waiting for a cheap set to come up. There are three versions they sell and I found the cheapest one for sale, brand new in the box with the transformer adapter. I'll take some pics of the system tomorrow (shortest day of the year here so... yeah not great for photos) but I've at least a pic of the headphones and the internals of the transformer box. Here they are and I quite like the looks and the build quality. They are using mini XLR's which is not ok but questionable connector choices are a theme here. The stock cable is beyond crap (more on that tomorrow) so I'm using a Stax PC-OCC off my RR-1's. They feel substantial but also light and fit my head snugly at the largest extension. Carbon Fiber headband and the leather is nice. On their site they claim the Minima is supposed to have pleather earpads but these are clearly genuine leather. These look very similar to earpads I've bought from China in the past and nothing wrong with the quality. I shone flashlight through the driver to you all could see the structure, very unusual drivers here. Now onto the adapter box... yeah this is not good. That's it... and yeah there are so many issues here. Let's start with this gem: It's hard to capture on "film" but the IEC input and the fuse holder are completely uninsulated and mere millimeters from the metal frame of the transformers. Thankfully the chassis is earthed but yeah, this is not to code and an instant CE violation there. In the first picture you can also see there is no protection for the transformers at all and we will get to why that is an issue. Now the active parts: The bias supply is driven directly off the mains, no isolation between you and the wall. Now this was commonplace in the 70's but now... I'm not sure this meets any modern standards. The bias supply is a simple voltage doubler and for 117V they just add another doubler on top. There is then a 600V zener clamp to make sure the bias doesn't rise above that threshold. None of this has the elegance of the Stax bias supplies and frankly this is just sad. For instance the LED for power indication is driven directly off the mains, through one tiny resistor. Now you might notice those 3 pin XLR's there and yup, they are the stock outputs for the Euridiche, the Stax output is just for convenience. One of my biggest gripes is with using XLR's as they are in no way rated for these voltages, especially the cheap, no-name, units they are using. Also check out the clerances on that PCB.. bias and high voltage signals less than 1mm apart. Then we have what scares me the most, see those traces which go right to the edge of the board and into pin 3 of the XLR's...? Yeah that is the bias so 600V is sitting there, pressed right up against the chassis with exposed solder connections. Sure this is after the ballast resistors (one 4m7 for the Stax and separate 10M units for each side of the XLR's) but still... They have a lot of faith in the powder coating on the chassis. Finally the Stax socket, 3D printed and fed directly off the XLR sockets. Almost no way to actually cram a Stax plug in there but you know, I almost had to use a hammer. 😉 Then we come to the final issue, on paper these appear to be Stax compatible despite the stupid XLR connectors and similar bias supply but nope... they are so inefficient that my usual test amp (Icepower 50 module with a preamp tacked onto it) was at max volume to get these to my normal listening level. I plugged in my test SR-207's as well and they were at half volume using this transformer box. As seen in the first pic, I've fitted them with a Stax plug but they make the Carbon CC work for its pay so yeah, you need a very powerful amp to drive them. Now finally, how do they sound... pretty damn nice actually. 🙂 This is off the Carbon CC prototype in my rig right now and they are very balanced sounding, slightly dark sounding but very mellow and open. They are not overly forward or bright, unless when called to be and I can listen for a few hours with nothing bad to say really. Bass is plentiful and deep, midrange has a nice presence to it and the soundstage is pretty good. Top end is a tad dark but it is very mild and they make for a relaxing and pleasant package. So TL;DR... great headphones that are let down by being too inefficient, frankly unsafe transformer box and stupid cable/connector choices. Change the cable to Stax and drive them off a powerful amp and the sound is great.
  18. There are far simpler ways of making that bias supply, a simple voltage divider off the B+ would work just fine. For the pro bias, I'd put an adjustable voltage doubler off the main transformer, see something like the original KGSS article on Headwise memorial.
  19. Feel free to post pics and we'd be happy to take a look at them. You open up the top panel and there are cans inside of there you need to open up as well.
  20. See the Megatron thread to read about everything Felista Audio... its about par with Jr audio in build quality.
  21. Yup, never solder close to electrostatic drivers without covering them with something solid as any flux splatter with go right through them.
  22. It is likely due to dust or some other debris inside the driver which is shorting between the film and the stator.
  23. Here is the code: 1,3,6 is 100 volts 2,4,6 is 120 volts 3,5 is 220 volts 2,5 is 240 volts
  24. I agree, if this isn't a loose wire then somehow a charge got stuck on the diaphragm. That should get back to normal over use so I'd just leave them sitting and playing music.
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