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zolkis

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  1. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    I am not an amp expert, but I've been using an overhauled SRM-1 Mk2 as backup (PSU improved and some capacitors/resistors changed) for quite some time. It sounds dynamic, powerful and neutral, but still has a "rough" or "raw" character compared to a finer amp like the BHSE (which costs 10+ times the price, so...). It can drive an SR-007 pretty well though, which smooths out things a bit, it's not a bad pairing. The 009 is definitely not a good pairing (since it takes up and even hyperboles the character of the amp driving it), neither are most of the Lambdas. The amp is not bright per se, it's just a bit more raw if you compare it with much better amps. I like it more (after mods) than the 323 and 353, at least it's not worse, and feels powerful and dynamic, so it survived both of them. In fact this is my only transistor energizer currently, for some reason I still prefer tubes, even in these rather exciting SiC and GaN HEMT times, out of personal preference or sheer bias, I don't know (don't war over this, please). So I agree the T1 would likely be better, at least smoother, especially after mods (IIRC JimL described some mods to it either on HF or here, I don't remember). Of course the best would be if you could compare them and figure out your own preference.
  2. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    The 009 ear pads are assembled so that the flap is between the housing and a metallic ring, using 6 screws. See these steps: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/stax-sr-009-and-sr-007-mk1-earpad-diy-mods.754839/#post-11347708 Copying them here: 1. Remove the inner dust grill through the ear pad opening (by gently bending it inwards and pulling out). This will leave the wire mesh visible, and the upper black metallic ring which is mounted with 6 screws. You will need to loosen the screws next. 2. By pushing the ear cushions aside with a finger to make space and reveal the screw heads, use a precision screwdriver and open 4 turns on each of the 6 screws, going round and in diagonal like with car wheel change. Calm, soft, careful movements. 3. Pull the internal black metallic ring outwards a bit, which will make space for getting the ear pads off, and by going around the edge with the finger, gently take off the pad. Assembly is in reverse order. FWIW, 2 comments: 1. The 009 are the only headphones so far that I could not considerably improve by pad mods. They are more invariant to pads than other headphones, which is a good thing. They can be made sound a bit more relaxed, with slightly more bass kick, but in the end I reverted the mods because I felt the original was more neutral in a good sense: instruments tonality sounded more like in reality. However, if you listen mainly to jazz, check it out. 2. The 009 pads are the most versatile and easiest to mod in order to improve other headphones. I have 3 headphones with the 009 pads, all with different stuffing inside. The best designed pads money can buy - it's just not worth modding for the 009 IMHO. I get them through my local Stax dealer. There may be other reasons to mod than sound: for instance someone had to make the pads thicker by inserting crescent shaped felt pieces under the foam because having too big ears. I was on the opposite side, I prefer thinner pads. If your anatomy permits, IMHO the best sound from the 009 pads is obtained by removing the white polyurethane ring and use only the upper foam part - check out the linked mods thread. It's reversible, there is enough adhesive left on the white ring that you can just stick them back and they stay together like before. IMHO the white ring is there for mechanical rigidity (which is not needed for the 009), but makes the sound dull; the foam alone sounds more relaxed and more direct - maybe too much of a good thing with the 009. In turn it suits very well the 007 (all versions). EDIT: the same mod goes with the 007 pads as well, with similar benefits. However, I like the 009 pads because they sound more open.
  3. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    Hifiman e-stats sound a bit too soft to me, but way better than their planars. Surely will have followers, but I can imagine they will upgrade soon. Buy yours then, if it's your type of sound, and if you trust Hifiman reliability.
  4. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    I must add that please don't overestimate the word "testing" here. The v3 got so much better that was 99.99% attributed to Dima's approach to listen to feedback, then rethink the whole problem and fix it at the root, rather than patching it over and over to please the crowd. In fact I consider myself just an early customer, offered a free upgrade path, asked for feedback.
  5. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    I've got the Libratum 2 in spring 2017, spent the summer trying to fix the perceived midrange emphasis I heard (in the end I managed doing it and sent back the result). It has been upgraded to the v3 driver in the end of 2017: the whole driver was changed IIUR, also the covering metallic grills, and the ear pads. Basically only the housing + cable stayed the same. A friend got the Canorum 3 and and we have compared them (see my previous post for that). In principle, I won't share the price, especially since it was an agreement for prototype testing and measurements. I am also guinea pig for longer term testing. Since the whole development is still moving, production pricing is not settled yet. It will likely depend on many things that possibly aren't even visible now. I guess if you order now, it's still a kind of prototype pricing, albeit the models have already moved up a bit towards production quality: you should ask. Most of the time he responded within a day, a few times it took a few days. If spam is what you fear, create e.g. a gmail address for high risk communications such as this :). Besides, gmail is excellent in filtering spam.
  6. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    Imagine Stax would have an upgrade policy... it would be wonderful. When I assumed the risk for getting Phenomenon I didn't even know upgrades were going to be free. Definitely it was a nice gesture (from a guy who was very open about these being experimental prototypes). Yes, IIUR the v4 driver is imminent, but I am so happy with the v3 + my pads that I might skip one or two (so far it looks like 2 upgrades per year, might slow down to one). The next step for me would be to get the current (or better) sound with stock (thicker) Libratum pads in order to make it more comfortable. For costs, one should ask Phenomenon directly. Besides, what looked like @rico's irony was actually taken factually :). While I do understand that Spritzer's (and my similar) encounter with the v2 raised suspicion, I encourage people to try v3 or higher versions. I recommend the Libratum shape, since it can be used with the [reversibly modified] 009 pads (and others) as well. I am pretty sure people would like it. I am not saying it would obsolete the 009 or 007 for that matter, everyone should judge it on their own. IMHO even with the stock pads the sound is very competitive with the top Stax, and the modded 009 pads elevate it quite a bit above - also giving an opportunity to a fair driver-to-driver comparison with the 009, using the same pads (with or without the dust grill; the Libratum does not use dust cloth).
  7. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    I own a pilot prototype Libratum 2 that has been upgraded with v3 driver and new pads by Dima in the end of last year. Yes, they are kind of heavy, similar to the 009. The design is nice in the way that one can set the pressure of the headbands, but I don't like the esthetic of the headband design and the housing design (with the protruding screw heads). Also, the sliders are not very smooth to move. However, configurability is way better than any other headphone housing. They measure almost exactly like the Stax 009 except in the high mids and treble where the Libratum is more linear and smoother, slightly creamier but not slower. The sound of v3 is more dynamic and more fluid than the 009, about similar transparency and speed, no treble issues, about 6 dB lower sensitivity. The 009 is much higher execution quality, but my sample is basically a prototype in titanium like the one in the picture. The stock pads are of very high quality and comfortable but were not the optimal sounding ones. I modded a new pair of Stax 009 pads for them and it made a qualitative jump in realism and effortless dynamics. Driver stability is good so far (only 3 months though for v3). So far highly recommended. The Canorum 3 has similar sound character as the Libratum 3, with small differences, but harder to mod the pads. I liked both Phenomenon headphones more than the Perun, but the Perun held its ground well - they have a rather protruded midrange in a good sense, like old Sennheisers (but sound much better). I think many people will like them, I am not really among them, as I am sensitive to accentuated mids. I would choose nearly any non-bright Stax over them. BTW this (at lesser extent, paired with less bass) was the problem with the Libratum v2 driver + pads that Spritzer owned as well. If I understand right, new Phenomenon diaphragms are under development, plus some of the pilot feedback might be implemented as well, so Phenomenon will likely get even better with time. I am very much pleased how this exercise went so far. On the subjective part, I am prepared to be stoned, but I still say the Libratum 3 with the modded 009 pads are best transducers I have heard so far (including all major Stax models, and the old and new Orpheus). That's always a good experience :). They are also the only headphones that effortlessly beat my modded TH900 in the bass impact and depth department, without being overblown in the slightest way. Who thought that was possible. They are on a whole different level of resolving/playing music, bass included. Cello and saxophone are just more real and rich, wind instruments sound more natural, piano attack, sustain and decay have a lot of details, like one would slow down time during the playback and discover fluid texture details other headphones usually mask because they sound coarse. Even watching movies have a new dimension nowadays, since this level of dynamic resolution and bass transparency paired with effortless fluidity is simply not there in the movie theaters (this also applies to the 009+BHSE btw). Somehow even realistic rumble, rattle, after-waves and fine ripples of explosions come through, although not as physical but deeper and far more discerned than in theaters and that creates an effect like the sound just heard was more real and physical than it should be given the physical limitations of a headphone. This is an area the Libratum 3 bests even the Stax 009. Of course they still don't approach the sound of real instruments heard in a real concert hall, but nothing can. Longer term impressions might come later.
  8. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    I'd say it's a pretty good start, perhaps enough for most people. High-end people are just a too loud minority :). Take a bit of time with the new system, listen to a lot of music, and you will get to learn and grow your own preferences in the process. Later you could get in mods (or get them done by someone else, as they do matter), or eventually change the amp and/or the headphones altogether, but you will need to spend multiple times your current expenditure if you want to seriously move up (e.g. Mjolnir Carbon + 007/009). The question is, will you really want to do this, or will you be left satisfied with this system. It depends on one's music preferences, listening culture and preferences etc. So just relax, enjoy the music at least for a year, and compare other options to this system. Imagine you'd have a much better system now: you'd still enjoy the same music :). So don't let that spoiled by the itching thought there are even better systems out there :).
  9. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    Thanks for sharing all those experiences, I really enjoyed reading about e-stat DIY, but somehow didn't get the courage to get into it (and into making drivers in general). I have some background in speaker design, but using off the shelf drivers. There are a lot of people who can do them much better than I could and I have very little time to spare. It's interesting what you say about sensitivity and makes sense. Taking it forward, I would be willing to sacrifice a bit from the 009 sensitivity if that made easier for Stax to achieve a sound signature closer to the 007 Mk1 and original Omega - or even smoother. At the moment I am perfectly satisfied with the Libratum 3 that has nailed the sound signature between the 007 Mk1 and the 009 (well, with modified pads), sounding more musical than both to my ears, but that might change when new contenders arrive. If Stax has that superior knowledge level (and surely they have), I very much wish they would choose to make a smoother/warmer/fleshier/more relaxed sounding version of the 009, even is less sensitive - actually more or less what the Libratum 3 is -, but then with Stax quality and fame .
  10. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    Looks like e-stats are getting new and new competition. Not bad per se. Of course a lot of sub-optimal designs may come out first, especially long-term durability may be an issue. The question - as always - is not as much how good they are now, but how fast will they improve (well, change). For instance, Phenomenon made a rather big jump in quality between membrane v2 (that AFAIK only Spritzer and I had) and v3 (I don't know who else than me has it). The v3 measures almost exactly as the 009 except in the upper mids/treble where it's smoother and sounds even better. Compared to v2, there is more bass impact and more relaxed sound. However, the designer hasn't stopped and has bold plans on what to do next. Looks like a complete driver redesign every few months or a year, while even v2 was very good (with different than stock pads). Quality of execution may not be as high as Stax, but there seems to be a lot of competence in chemistry and physics. Don't underestimate things for granted. Of course, also don't take things for granted. Nobody knows yet how durable these new products will be. I don't know anything about Perun, but I might be interested 2-3 iterations later... at least they compare it to the 009. Well, one area where the 009 is hard to catch is sensitivity: they sound much louder than MrSpeakers or Phenomenon. Even more so, I'd be interested in commercial headphones Wachara would make... Also, it would be nice to see a new Stax Omega range... not even a rumour out there?
  11. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    Nah, you heard an upper harmonic of the 3 Hz tone (probably distorted at that, probably by your source). (arghh... reacted too soon, without reading the rest of the thread; consider this deleted)
  12. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    Now that would be interesting. I've heard the HE-1 in their booth, but no chance for comparisons. From memory, subjectively not much better than a well driven 007, or any better than a 009 (slightly smaller sound stage on the HE1 and no hint of treble hash) - but as usual, there is a chance memory fails me :). The price definitely doesn't justify performance. Hopefully in the future Sennheiser will make a more regular e-stat with similar driver tech (but without amp part built in the headphones), possible to drive from 3rd party amps. In my short experience the gain from cutting cable length to near-zero is not that much, but they've likely done their homework on this.
  13. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    They are a few (2-3) mm smaller in diameter, and 2-3 mm thicker both in front and back side. You can install them on the 009 by some stretch, but I am not sure they will sound in optimal way. The inner opening of the 009 pads is larger, and the air volume between the ear and driver is slightly larger. But IME the 009 is the most invariant Stax vs pad changes, so there is hope. There are some slight chances one would even prefer the sound with the 007 pads, but IME the 009 sounds best (= most natural and neutral) with the stock 009 pads. With the 007 pads it was more relaxed, but not as neutral any more. If you already have 007 pads to try, just try and see, otherwise better spend the money on 009 pads. > https://www.staxaudio.com/earpad/stax-sr-009-earpad These pads look very similar to the 009 pads, but synthetic leather? The originals are mostly leather, with only some flaps from synthetic leather (AFAIK). Maybe the description is misleading? I've got my 009 replacement pads from the local Stax distributor for 140 euros (IIRC), but I waited 6 months until they arrived. Stax surely should provide replacement pads to 009 owners, maybe they ask the serial number nowadays, I don't know - my dealer managed it.
  14. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    I see... what kind of (foam?) inlay did you spec, density/structure?
  15. zolkis

    The Headcase Stax thread

    I am doing that, but so far haven't found anything good for the Omegas. Speaking about SR Omega pads, I definitely like how the inner opening is done, with one stitching line that goes in a slant plane from front to back, rather than the common two stitching lines. I agree the opening is a bit too large on the originals. In my experience the 009 pads oval opening is quite optimal size and shape, for all Omega series. There are similar bass distortion figures for the 009 sized and smaller openings, but they increase above that opening size. Too bad it's so hard to get 009 pads. Also, Stax nailed pretty well the foam type and density they are using in their current pads. It makes a lot of sound difference when you change the foam inlay in pads. Memory foam (most pad makers use similar foam densities) tends to attenuate bass below 40 Hz and make a small bump around 60 Hz. That is consistent behaviour across all the Stax Omega series. Anyway, so far the 009 pads sound the best, and it's possible to further improve with additional small carbon foam inlays. I tried to convince Chinese pad makers on ebay to make 009 pad clones, with no success. I guess the problem is sourcing the right material for the special inlay Stax uses. That said, on a buy and try basis it's possible that a random pad performs well. Spritzer, it would be valuable if you could remember/share what's your source for the SR Omega replacement pads :). [edit] need to check out these next: http://www.zmfheadphones.com/pads-and-cables/eikon-pads http://www.zmfheadphones.com/pads-and-cables/omni-pads
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