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The Headcase Stax thread


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2 hours ago, Kung said:

it seems very odd,do you mean that the sound of 007 is different after 717 modification? 

for all I know,only 727 negative feedback modification, never heard of 717's(CCS mod?),717 is pretty a kgss and should be no problem driving 007. 

Providing headphone frequency response or some amplifier tests should make it easy to find the cause of the problem.😶

I had never heard the 717 unmodified at all. This is my first experience with it, purchased about a year ago from Spritzer/MA and I’m pretty sure it’s not the amp itself. Frankly it is absolutely sublime on everything except those few remastered Vangelis albums but which sound ok on my other gear, in particular the album spiral, so I am a little perplexed. 

If I play them quietly on the 717 they sound fine but if I increase the volume (from my DAC, not the actual 717) to a level equivalent to other tracks that I listen to, the Vangelis albums start to sound hard, compressed, glassy.


I’m not sure why, it could be that they are excessively compressed as recordings, but then I don’t understand why they sound ok on other gear. Maybe it is because the 717/007 combo is so revealing that it is showing up potential over-compression of the recording which not even the kse1200s show. 

Just wondering if it was a known phenomenon that certain types of tracks can do that 🤷🏻‍♂️


Edited by Juansan2
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  • 2 weeks later...

So, finally time to replace the cable of my 007. Birgir and others have probably demonstrated this before, but I thought I'd show some pics for those who, like me, haven't done it before (and, sooner or later it will be necessary).

Off with pads and front plate, and the nylon piece covering solder terminals.


Solderer's best friend: electrical tape. Some sacrifices necessary too - had to buy and eat a bar of chocolate for the cardboard to protect driver from hot solder.


New cable in place.



Also adjusted the headband elastic and put on the pads correctly, wasn't done before.

Now the 007 sits tight on my head, sounds better and is more comfortable. Promised myself to fix the 007 when I finished my Carbon, so here goes. Build without major problems. MLA brought his variac for startup, and there were high voltages on the outputs. My mistake, had missed to solder one leg of a PZTA56, hanging in air. Fixed that and it works fine.


Wanted to keep it simple and clean. Might add a LED when I can afford it.




Edited by mdr30
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Now this X9000 thingy...

I am waiting in anxiety for Birgir's impression on it, as it might sound good with the types of music he is listening to. I have borrowed one (with a DAC, amp, cables, the whole shebang) from a lovely owner due to his lack of time to listen for a whole week now, and I have changed my mind like 5 times.

I think it is probably the fastest headphone I've heard with the best, ultra-precise spatial detail, very foot-tapping, this is the type of music where it is very impressive.

but also the one of the most unrealistic (in the second one, it just goes to the next slow-paced track and it starts to sound weird). Yes, it reproduces even more of what's in symphonic music, if there is more textural information that makes the sound become more natural, they are kind of "overwritten" by its new technical level that it is playing at.
Maybe I am clueless, but I think they have taken it too far regarding diaphragm thickness. They have managed to take the speed over 9000 (That's impossible!) I think it can be tuned to be better (waiting for the 'S' version...)

I don't know what's the slowest, lushest amp possible to make it somewhat more enjoyable for me. (Or use several amps and change the sound depending on the music) But I don't see the point of buying the fastest out there to make it slow.

Yes, it has mesh transducers like the SR-Omega with impeccable build, and you can actually buy one (with warranty), there are similarities, like big but lightweight, big stage, etc. but they sound nothing alike.
I can see 009 owners seeing this as a big upgrade, that was the previous one I tested (not like this, unfortunately, only with the amp...) and I think it sounded "very intense" (restraining myself here), but the speed wasn't taken to this extreme level.

I have also tested the L300 Limited and my impression of it is very much a love or hate thing.
Basically, an interesting new transducer technology, struggling to get out. Compared to older Lambdas it is badly built, uncomfortable, unsealed pads means bye bye deep bass, trades airiness for precision, uneven frequency response. Maybe deliberate product segmentation?

They have resources to do a Lambda that is miles better than these ones.

Good thing they still have the 007 Mk2 at least...and they realised the screw-up with the supposedly 009-style diaphragm - they just won't tell us the units affected...


For example, based on all the positive-negative thoughts about the Audeze CRBN, it seems that they have aimed to make it sound less ethereal (damped, weighty, not as ultra-fast) which I think is a good thing, but they have also lost some of the wow-factor. This is completely the other direction, and if it really has any resemblance to the HE90 I am all-in for it. In my very distant memory, that headphone still has the best reproduction of timbre and musical notes. They appear and disappear 'normally' with weight behind them. I couldn't care about blurry imaging, murky bass, upper register anomalies etc.
However, looking at the whole picture, the Omega is starting to be more and more competitive now, an emerging superpower, like China.
Kind of interesting to read the contemporary comparisons by darth nut, I think these newer, more advanced sources and amps can change the sound perception compared to way back then.

Also, just a side note: some people not hearing certain things about KGSSHV etc. aftermarket amps not being that much better to a standard Stax amps may need to change sources(I wish some things would not take a step backwards in this earlier iteration, but overall more impressive and transforms some headphones and does not cost that much more than my modded 727), the two work together effectively as a combination. When I heard an expensive DAC last time, the amp and circumstances weren't that good. You can't just save on one and ignore the other because this review says it is the greatest value jada, jada... And you don't even need the SR007 etc. to be in need of this change. But some headphones definitely do a damn good job in a cheap system, it is just hard to back when they can sound similar, yet 100% better.
Giving these back won't be comfortable one bit.
I mean the amp & DAC (maybe cables), not the headphones.
So, basically, he has one side covered and I have the other side covered... :)

And of course, another new problem I have now, is that I have accumulated so many of these, and when the system is good, they just all become better at what they do best, a lot of them being too cheap to just ignore compared to the price of certain elements in the chain. I expected to play the elimination game a whole lot easier, it doesn't really work, but I need to change things at some point...
But then again, there will be a time where we might be back to the normal universe from this alternative one, and there will only be precious little time left to actually sit down & listen to music (in a completely dark and silent environment, some headphones really need this, even the X9K becomes more impressive/less annoying with this mismatched system).

Happy listening!

Edited by padam
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Thanks for the impressions. Since you mentioned the new Lambdas - I would very much agree and reiterate that the new Lambdas have issues with design, build quality, and frequency response. They needs mods to achieve a good seal and they need EQ. Without it they're a mess, but a technically interesting mess that does a number of things quite well. The midrange resolution with these new drivers is really impressive. With mods and EQ you can fix at least some of the issues and make them a much more compelling.

Edited by catscratch
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Yes, after finding out the traits of these new drivers, I think about using them in a Sigma shell, if it is better than my best Sigma Pro, then it must be something special (the Sigma Pro already is, but the KGSSHV is still unable to control it, the sort of thing that measures poorly, sounds a bit unclear at first with wooly bass, then you recalibrate and works (again, the system made any Sigma more interesting)

Thoroughly agree, but I have spent (wasted) time with EQ many times. I personally find it detrimental, so I wouldn't want to use it on anything. I probably have no idea how to do it well. I observed oddities, like if I slightly "miss" the target I would want to change, it sounds a bit more natural. And I would probably have to constantly switch it back and forth depending on the material.

The only one where I might use EQ is the Lambda Pro. Quite like this one (for the price as mentioned and I think it is also holding its hands for a Carbon - at least...) sounds good with things like Dave Brubeck Quartet (excellent impact, no mid emphasis). Damped like the NB (maybe even better without it), good weight, over the top deep bass and stage- But the upper treble peak is ear-piercing for most of the time. I only take it down very slightly, any more and it looses character. The other EQ I tried is the normal bias SR-X Mk3, seems quite flat with not quite enough bass (rolled-off treble, can't be cured) but in the end, I switched back.  So, the solution seems to be: KGSSHV Carbon + SR-X Mk3 Pro (possibly custom pads as well).

The X9000 needs no EQ (unless you are a basshead), sounds drier than others, but it just picks up whatever is in the system. I am unfamiliar about tuning speed, I don't hear a major shift with that characteristic with Stax amps vs KGSSHV.
I am also not saying that the Omega is realistic (it can also sound too fast). I am just saying, at some point this becomes bothersome to me, with a consequence: the shorter duration of the notes hit with more of a 'hard' quality, with the slightly longer duration on the Omega it becomes easier on the ears and I think less unrealistic and not in bothersome territory. There is a sweet spot, where the whole "show" becomes an otherworldly experience, that's what I expect at this level, and with many types of different materials. The Omega is always dialled back to 9.5 instead of 11 on the X9000, and it is fine like that to me, it has several issues (chief among is the amp requirements - the X9000 seems somewhat easier to drive but still benefits from it - since that is even more $$$ and living on water + rice for another year) and just like the HE90, it sounds pleasing with all of those faults (as a biased owner, I might even say character traits, if the bass is "too perfect" on an estat, it can rock less).

Edited by padam
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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.  :palm:  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. 

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