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The Headcase Stax thread

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So they managed to find a new box of these or something?  The SR-80 pads were out of stock for years and years... 

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The source seems to be in Japan, so there's some mom and pop

corner retailer that had them sitting on the shelf.

Modern distribution is not the norm in Japan.

They seem to be stuck in the 1950's. 

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I've been able to find a pair of L300L's for a good price and I am very tempted to buy it, but looking at measurements of the most recent lambda series it seems that they all roll off to some extent in the bass. Another comment I found said that this was due to the new pads mounting mechanism which makes the headphone ported/unsealed by default, I can't attest to this comment's legitimacy, but it left me with some questions.

1: Do the L300/500/700/300L roll off in the bass with stock pads?

2: If they do, and if this is indeed due to the new pads, would using the adhesive attached 507 pads work for creating the proper seal?

3:  Others say that the lambda series only rolls off with improper seal. If so, is there any trick to creating a good seal on your head?

It's crazy hard to find any information about stax headphones that is actually consistent, but you stax aficionados are probably the best bet.

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There are some people at SBAF (and Head-Fi) who have taped around the pad perimeter and at the small plastic-baffle through-holes and maybe, (I can't seem to remember) posted measurements at SBAF on sealing and sub-bass response and found the 25hz response to get even more flat, (less 'rolled off' in the 45hz and below region, not that the L300 Lambda is to be terribly concerned about to begin with imo)... --From what I've read as well as have heard by word of mouth (Alan Lin from/at The Source, and Miceblue who recently went to an AZ meet, and posted measurements at SuperBestAudioFriends -) the L300 measures the flattest of the Lambdas, flatter than L300Limited that 'clearly sounds recessed' in comparison. L300 is flattest of the entry Stax and I have been tempted to buy L300Limited to compare with the L300...

but by just about every account I heard through word of mouth and have read so far, L300Limited sounds, is peakier and bassier than the L300, more recessed by 2.75 or 4db between 275hz-850hz... 

I do not recall regarding Frequency response -as a sole parameter- whether L300 is flatter than the L700.

My two cents, I use the Stax 002/003mkii from desktop amps nearly as much or even more than the L300. Something about the L300 diaphragm sounds slightly thickish to me, but I suspect most people find L300 a good, fun headphone. The iems (003) can be had for $260 from a US dealer, such as The Source or Headamp, or less through Ebay resellers... The Stax iems don't have measured Lambda bass distortion which I believe that Spritzer alluded to briefly in the next post below for bass limitations one hears in the Lambda' models. That limitation Spritzer mentioned is measured consistently at Innerfidelity which Tyll's done, also through Marv and other posters on Super Best Audio Friends.. 

I have the L300 and I generally use the 003. A Key design feature the Stax iems have is a quite large iem canal opening, close to 4 by 6mm, so an unusually LARGE width, or "quantity" of sound makes it to the ear canal for an iem which is a Stax novelty, in an iem. You also don't have to keep a headphone on the head/jaw and they are cheaper, and light..

After Spritzer's post below I agree that sub bass in the Lambdas' will not roll off (to a concern or fault). If you're concerned, simply discreetly tape the perimeter of the open-baffle L300 if you're concerned and then rolloff lessens (a fair bit more) around 25hz 5db down or so.

003 mkii: I sometimes do still miss the over ear experience the that the 009 or even the that the Lambda' offers, but there is something that I just personally dislike about the L300 diaphragm which sounds 'thick' to me, compared to the 009 and S models as best as I can describe the diaphragm. To me the 2.1 micron Stax 003 mkii does not have that 'thick' way of sounding that the L300 does.

Start with L300 or whatever you like if you're trying electrostatics. People might give the 003 mkii or 002 from Headamp, Elusive Disk, or The Source, etc a try for a portable system unless they're in an office situation and enjoy the 009 as a portable solution from D10 (which honestly sounds a little bit grainy ..imo). The Stax iems when from a desktop energizer-amp give the impression that you don't really deal with compromises in them in terms of sound.. aside from the fact they are (well designed) :) *in earspeakers;* that term does quite very aptly describe them. 

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All of the Lambdas going back to the first set all have some bass limitations.  I wouldn't say they roll off all that much though... 

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The amount of fail in that one is strong.  It's clear that they are using an older version of the KGSSHV boards and it was suggested to me that they took apart one of my first mini's, which was in no way optimized for this role, and copied all the stuff I later revised to make it work better in this chassis.  That's the issue with a copycat, zero clue as to why things were done that way. 

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Well, the “build quality”* looks great, what could go wrong?

* otherwise known as the enclosure...


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  • Haha 1

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Where do you see L300 measurements in that thread? I only see L300LE. The only comparative measurements for the L300 I've seen are Tyll's and the ones here. As to whether or not they're more or less linear than previous Lambdas, see for yourself.

My L700 audibly rolls off in the bass but as spritzer said, not that much. There is still audible extension down to 20hz, but sub-bass is quieter than it should be. Not a big deal IMO. Also I wear glasses that break the seal.

The SR-003 I had and really liked how it sounded but the fit was awful to the point of actually causing pain after about 10 minutes, so I gave up on using them. That was with the old tips and the old drivers. Looking at the new tips, I'm still skeptical.

Lastly, using aftermarket pads, especially non-Lambda ones, on Lambdas is something I'd be careful with. The driver/ear distance in an electrostat is important and changing it will change the sound.

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Might be going a little bit off topic here, but I picked up an SRD7 PRO a few weeks ago and just today I accidentally unplugged the AC, guess what, nothing happened! Even 3 minutes after the disconnection the music's still playing fine thru the headphone. And here I thought the SRD7 PRO's supposed to use AC for the 580V bias? 

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Indeed, the headphones are setup for constant charge so when you pull the power source the charge is still present.  It will then slowly dissipate over 20-30 minutes or so and the sound will become softer and softer. 

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On 10/29/2018 at 2:22 PM, catscratch said:

The SR-003 I had and really liked how it sounded but the fit was awful to the point of actually causing pain after about 10 minutes, so I gave up on using them. That was with the old tips and the old drivers. Looking at the new tips, I'm still skeptical.

I can't speak to 003 COMFORT[post!] for others, BUT so long as I am sure that weight of the iems are on top of the head rather than the ear canals, I find they don't fatigue the ear canals physically at all. I agree that they may be uncomfortable at the ear canal, whenever the weight of the headband is in the ear canal rather than on top of the head. And they're still not quite perfect even that way, but are more comfortable [I have small ear canals, but they are not uncomfortable when appropriately worn]: that is the exchange of not having a headphone around the ears on the jaw, and when worn appropriately (and in my case with small supplied eartips) they're pretty close to being called 'comfortable'.. :)

While on topic of comparing again I actually prefer the 003 to the L300 while iem vs headphone but that large 4 by 6mm canal opening continually helps steer preference to the 'In Earspeaker' 003. I find the l300 diaphragm is less transparent and I like the sound transparency about the low profile 003. I prefer the 009 to the 003 any day though, but the low profile factor of the iem (it isn't around your ear) is appreciated. 

Lyrics are much 'better,' as in easier to understand&hear with enough finesse from the 003 while l300 sounds rather 'thick' in comparison so 003 definitely wins (from a modded 727), While some spatial cues are naturally better from the Lambda. But I can't appreciate those as much as the somewhat more intimate and less thick sound of the iem. I think the 003 are great, if unfortunately not the most comfortable WHENever the weight of the assembly, including headband is not worn correctly and weighs directly on the ear canals, not that they're heavy; the canal opening is large enough that the weight becomes bothersome though. That has been my experience with the 003, is that the same you've experienced? 

I remember Kevin (Gilmore) posted that the 002[003] are "absolutely" the best thing in the world for female vocals in the Headfi Diy electrostatics thread. There's a great point! They sound close to as good as the 009'S' for female vocals to me, (although-beit only) in an iem! 

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10 hours ago, spritzer said:

Indeed, the headphones are setup for constant charge so when you pull the power source the charge is still present.  It will then slowly dissipate over 20-30 minutes or so and the sound will become softer and softer. 

Thanks a lot for the response. I tried unplugging the AC this morning and let the headphone sit for an hour, the music indeed has become much quieter. 

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3 hours ago, brazilnut79 said:

That has been my experience with the 003, is that the same you've experienced?

No. They needed a good fit or they would sound off, too dull with a big dip in the upper mids. With the headband, I couldn't get them positioned right, and without the headband, they wouldn't stay in my ears unless the tips were physically big enough to be wedged inside the ear firmly enough to stay put. Then they would cause pain after 15 minutes and my ears would literally swell shut for days. So I couldn't use them.

Yeah, they sounded great. What Kevin said is spot on. I preferred them over most things, especially for vocals.

I don't know if the new one has a different driver, and I haven't tried the new tips.

Sadly, as I get older, ergonomics only become more important.

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22 hours ago, catscratch said:

Yeah, they sounded great. What Kevin said is spot on. I preferred them over most things, especially for vocals. I don't know if the new one has a different driver, and I haven't tried the new tips. Sadly, as I get older, ergonomics only become more important.

I agree wholeheartedly~!, I have the 001 tips for the 001 and electrodes (driver) in the 001 and 003mkii are identical. I will mail you my large 003 eartips if you'd like, if you still have your 003(mki or mkii?). I put 003mkii medium sized tips on the 001 because that was an improvement in comfort too. The 002/mkii tips are an improvement because they enable/provide a larger inner canal opening diameter. I'll try to post pictures of the large opening with the 002/003 mkii tips for anybody interested.

Only the diaphragm -and the eartips differ. It would be interesting to know if other tips would be comfortable for you. *shrug* I don't need the 'large' tips I still have.

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Today I found out that my watermelon head does not fit in the l300 headband, the headband is simply not wide enough. I know the l700 headband is generally larger but how much wider is it? I really like how the headphone sounds but good grief is the headband a pain.

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On 11/12/2017 at 6:00 AM, spritzer said:

Yup it is 10nf/1kV so it sure looks like the fucktards put a cap after the ballast resistor.  Never, ever do that if you like the coating on the diaphragms...

Resurrecting a year-old post about the iESL. I've been thinking about this. What exactly is the problem of putting a cap after the ballast resistor? Is it just that having a capacitor as the last thing on the bias line would cause inrush current to surge while the cap is discharged and fry the diaphragm? If so, wouldn't the resistance still be set by the ballast resistors (5M or whatever) and so therefore still limit the current? Assuming voltage remains a constant 580V.

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