Jump to content

The Headcase Stax thread


thrice
 Share

Recommended Posts

I figured it was time to say a few words about the KGSSHV since I've finally been able to live with a "fully built" unit for a while now. It's always hard to comment on that pile of parts over there... laugh.png Now I'm a bit biased when it comes to the HV given my involvement in the project but I'm also very hard to please so it should balance out. :) I also constructed the HV to be as close to my KGSS as is possible and vital parts such as the volume control are the same.

The goal with the HV design was to eliminate the slight bloom and the ever so slightly warm nature of the KGSS and I must say this was accomplished without going too far away from what made the KGSS great. The KGSS was always very revealing while being forgiving of less than stellar material and the HV is still like that but now even cleaner sounding when the going gets tough. Even with the 007Mk1 at silly levels it never runs out of steam. This was a particular concern of mine since the onboard heatsinks limit the standing current of the output stage but I'm glad it wasn't a problem. Anybody who thinks the LCD-2's are the bass kings really needs to hear the HV/007 setup. Even in sheer output the Stax wins... grin.gif

What has really stood out for me is the layering and detail retrieval of the HV. Feed it something good and it can dig out miniscule details and revealing slight mic differences. Not sure why this is the case compared to my old KGSS but this is BHSE territory. The extra power and extended frequency response seem to be doing wonders to open up the top end of the 007mk1. Color me very impressed. even if this can be a bit scary at times.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I figured it was time to say a few words about the KGSSHV since I've finally been able to live with a "fully built" unit for a while now. It's always hard to comment on that pile of parts over there... laugh.png Now I'm a bit biased when it comes to the HV given my involvement in the project but I'm also very hard to please so it should balance out. smile.png I also constructed the HV to be as close to my KGSS as is possible and vital parts such as the volume control are the same.

The goal with the HV design was to eliminate the slight bloom and the ever so slightly warm nature of the KGSS and I must say this was accomplished without going too far away from what made the KGSS great. The KGSS was always very revealing while being forgiving of less than stellar material and the HV is still like that but now even cleaner sounding when the going gets tough. Even with the 007Mk1 at silly levels it never runs out of steam. This was a particular concern of mine since the onboard heatsinks limit the standing current of the output stage but I'm glad it wasn't a problem. Anybody who thinks the LCD-2's are the bass kings really needs to hear the HV/007 setup. Even in sheer output the Stax wins... grin.gif

What has really stood out for me is the layering and detail retrieval of the HV. Feed it something good and it can dig out miniscule details and revealing slight mic differences. Not sure why this is the case compared to my old KGSS but this is BHSE territory. The extra power and extended frequency response seem to be doing wonders to open up the top end of the 007mk1. Color me very impressed. even if this can be a bit scary at times.

Good to know about the HV grin.gif

The earth rumbling bass on my BH/007 mk1 was quite addictive, but still so controlled and only called for when the recording had massive bass.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe not that curious then!

I've decided to go for the 009 instead of the R10 and thought having someone build a KGSSHV for me would be the best option, but your statement made me think twice about this, because, as I said before, I'm sort of treble sensitive. Something like the HE90 with the Aristaeus is at the very limit of my liking in that sense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has anyone tried any sort of transformer-box based rigs with the 009? I know it's probably quite silly to match up one of the most revealing transducers ever with one of the least resolving ways to drive electrostatics, but for team Euphonic Mush there don't seem to be too many 'stat amp options.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I

Has anyone tried any sort of transformer-box based rigs with the 009? I know it's probably quite silly to match up one of the most revealing transducers ever with one of the least resolving ways to drive electrostatics, but for team Euphonic Mush there don't seem to be too many 'stat amp options.

My stock SRD-7 Pro and SRD-7 Mk2 don't sound nearly as transparent or detailed as the WEE, WES or KGSS. But even the ZDT>WEE holds back the micro-detail, layering and transparency a good bit. So, based on how easy the 009 are to drive, I imagine they'd sound better with any vintage Stax amp or budget new model, rather than a transformer with speaker amp.

With the WEE the 009 sound closer to a well driven HD800 or or an HE-60, so it's still fun to listen to but you don't get your money's worth out of the 009 that way. But with the KGSS (or WES) it's like the heavens opened up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do have a new transformer box that needs to be tested so I'll probably report back soon. Now where did I put that T-amp... :)

Maybe not that curious then!

I've decided to go for the 009 instead of the R10 and thought having someone build a KGSSHV for me would be the best option, but your statement made me think twice about this, because, as I said before, I'm sort of treble sensitive. Something like the HE90 with the Aristaeus is at the very limit of my liking in that sense.

Let's just put it this way, I know the 009's traits well enough now to know what works for them and what doesn't. Super transparent amps are not an ideal match in my book.

For your requirements I'd get a mint 007Mk1 and never look back. Perfect amount of top end and the reward every upgrade to the signal chain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do have a new transformer box that needs to be tested so I'll probably report back soon. Now where did I put that T-amp... smile.png

Let's just put it this way, I know the 009's traits well enough now to know what works for them and what doesn't. Super transparent amps are not an ideal match in my book.

For your requirements I'd get a mint 007Mk1 and never look back. Perfect amount of top end and the reward every upgrade to the signal chain.

That was actually among my first options, Birgir. Particularly convenient given Justin's upcoming BHSE batch! There's something to think about... by the way, do you think the BHSE is worth the extra over a well built KGSSHV?

Edited by Leonardo Drummond
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yup. One could push the bias on the KGSSHV to ultra high levels and then they could be closer but the BHSE is a tough one to beat. It may not be cheap but given the build quality it is a bargain. One of the reasons why I keep mine is to have a benchmark which to aspire to when building my own amps... :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do have a new transformer box that needs to be tested so I'll probably report back soon. Now where did I put that T-amp... smile.png

...

Let's just put it this way, I know the 009's traits well enough now to know what works for them and what doesn't. Super transparent amps are not an ideal match in my book.

For your requirements I'd get a mint 007Mk1 and never look back. Perfect amount of top end and the reward every upgrade to the signal chain.

I also think the two different phones perform their best with different kinds of amps. The 007 are a perfect match for the BHSE. On the other hand, I thought the 009 sounded a little fatiguing and bright with the BHSE, and sounded better to me when used with my KGSS or WES. But I wouldn't go to the other extreme and try to dull them down. It's just not worth the cost of the 009 to listen with a transformer, as that glosses over too much of the micro-detail that makes the 009 so exceptional.

If Leo goes for the O2 Mk1 instead, he might end up in a continuous path of upgrades unless he goes directly for the KGSSHV or BHSE right out of the gate. Out of what I've heard, I think the SRM-717 or DIY KGSS are the minimum that I would be happy with to drive the O2 Mk1, but I wouldn't rest until I had a BHSE (or hot-rodded KGBH or KGSSHV).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One could push the bias on the KGSSHV to ultra high levels and then they could be closer but the BHSE is a tough one to beat.

That'll be an interesting experiment, for sure.

I've sat down with both amps and both the 007mk1s and 9s and while I agree with Spritzer that the BH beats out the "stock" 500V HV, they both sound amazing. To these ears the differences between them are pretty small. Its nowhere near the difference you hear when you go from a production level Stax amp to either the BH or HV.

You really can't go wrong either way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That'll be an interesting experiment, for sure.

I've sat down with both amps and both the 007mk1s and 9s and while I agree with Spritzer that the BH beats out the "stock" 500V HV, they both sound amazing. To these ears the differences between them are pretty small. Its nowhere near the difference you hear when you go from a production level Stax amp to either the BH or HV.

You really can't go wrong either way.

Indeed, the difference is subtle and the HV clearly delivers on it's design goal, make an amp that can keep up with anything out there and yet only costs a fraction to build. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm really curious to read more about what attributes you guys think the ideal amp for the 09s should have. Spritzer, do you really think overall transparency should be restrained, or would a slightly darker than neutral signature (but otherwise transparent) fit the bill? From what I've read thus far, the 09s have been said to be as close to perfect as headphones in 2012 get, but too bright for many. If this is so, wouldn't a BHSE with a darker signature be the perfect fit? Or do the 09s suffer from additional faults?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stax have never aimed for the euphonic mess which is the Orpheus setup but the 717 and 727 both employ circuit topologies aimed to make them sound a bit thicker while sacrificing as little resolution as is possible. With the 727 this is partially linked to higher distortion but some of it is just down to how the circuit is voiced. I'm not a fan of this any more than I'd cram an amp full of cheap polyester caps just to dull the sound.

My way of thinking was sparked by the whole misplaced SS vs. tube debates out there and people not fully understanding any of it. Back in the day Stax were designing state of the art amps with the technology available at the time and that meant very low distortion amps but fitted with fully singled ended output stages AC coupled to the output. The rest of it is all DC coupled with current sources and a rather nice PSU so perhaps this would mean just the right amount of tradeoff... It certainly works for me but I have to find time to finish and test my version of this will all modern parts and report back.

As a darker BHSE, I think part of the issue is adding some color to the amp, not having an "endless" current reserve available at a moments notice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In defense of the 9's on the Gilmore amps, I've found their transparent character really lets the source shine through. I've got a couple of sources around all they all sound very different when played through my 9-KGSSHV combo. If you are interested in lushing them, one possible method might beto keep the Gilmore amp and instead look for a lusher source.

Edited by TMoney
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So it's basically what NXT were doing 10-15 years ago? Way to go ML for inventing something... facepalm.png Reminds me of their great advances such as Clearspar™ technology which are just transparent spacers inside the electrostatic element. Yay for transparent plastic...

Edited by spritzer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.