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The Headcase Stax thread


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4 minutes ago, spritzer said:

The Paltauf is a bad joke... I mean look at it:

palatauf.thumb.jpg.84bbe5ee74faf5311696e2c4bffe527a.jpg

It's a speaker amp with the electrostatic signal taken off the plates through capacitors.  Yeah... all the issues of doing that. 

I don't know the difference (yet), but it's awesome to get this feedback to learn from.

I don't want to stir the opinion pot too much...but do you or anyone recommend an amp for the 007/009/9000s class that isn't BHSE or a Mjolnir Audio product?

I ask simply because I respect the opinions here, and I'm up against a wall, as Mjolnir doesn't have amps in stock for now, BHSE needs to be saved up for, and I have yet to find an amp that is positively reviewed on head-case that isn't one of the above.

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3 minutes ago, Aspirant Audiophile said:

I don't know the difference (yet), but it's awesome to get this feedback to learn from.

I don't want to stir the opinion pot too much...but do you or anyone recommend an amp for the 007/009/9000s class that isn't BHSE or a Mjolnir Audio product?

I ask simply because I respect the opinions here, and I'm up against a wall, as Mjolnir doesn't have amps in stock for now, BHSE needs to be saved up for, and I have yet to find an amp that is positively reviewed on head-case that isn't one of the above.

Soren Brix in Denmark and Dukei (Miroslav) are also reputable builders, you can either get a Carbon or a Grounded Grid, they are more or less similar, one is all-solid state, the latter is a hybrid, mostly solid-state with 6CA7 tube output.

I would also ditch the X9000 for a 007, as in my experience, the X9000 still sounded anemic on the KGSSHV.
The amp makes a big difference, but it's not going to fundamentally change the character you are hearing from the headphones. You can also read more and see, that it's not a universally-loved headphone just because it's the most expensive.


I've gone back to listening to the modded 727 with the 007 Mk1.
Yes, I really miss the control, precision and dynamics of the KGSSHV so I will intend to sell the 727 at some point, but I would not really call this combination unenjoyable, especially for the price. And the more prominent upper mid, more subdued treble, more diffused staging of the Stax amp seems to have a decent synergy with the headphones.
I definitely don't fancy the softness, lack of dynamics and bass control (this is the most annoying) but I think it is partly due to headphone itself (as I read it as still a little loose on the Carbon), but it's still the same character that is full, unoffensive and quite enjoyable.
Bending the arc assembly and fixing the headpad made just as much difference as the amp.

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2 hours ago, Aspirant Audiophile said:

Many thanks for this response--I understood about 75% of this message, which is better than my average. 

What you're describing sounds an awful lot like what I'm hearing in my current setup--along with my attempts to "improve" what I'm hearing, you just took the words out of my mouth. 

I guess I'm surprised, because I thought the 353x was one of the few "good"/decent Stax amps. 

I'm not averse to getting a BHSE, but I didn't want to make that jump immediately. And, Birgir does not appear to have his top amps available at this moment. I was/am kind of hoping I can find something in Europe that's comparable. Lots of builders with very, very few reviews. I'm reading a lot about Paltauf KHV-ES (not much available in English or German, but what is there is praiseful. 

I am also unclear on whether an external power supply is needed. The BHSE comes with one, the Paltauf offers one as an option. I am guessing that power-hungry headphones "need" an external supply?

the main reasons for an external supply are 

1. you are worried about induced hum from the transformer(s)

2. you simply can't fit the power supply in the same case as the amp

It is perfectly possible to build a complete blue hawaii with golden reference power supply boards, shielded transformer, high voltage delay etc into a single 400mm deep case saving money over buying two cases and the fiddle of creating a cable run between the psu and amp... I did this in my build.

building an amp (if you have the skills, time and test equipment) is considerably cheaper than buying one pre made...

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, Aspirant Audiophile said:

I don't know the difference (yet), but it's awesome to get this feedback to learn from.

I don't want to stir the opinion pot too much...but do you or anyone recommend an amp for the 007/009/9000s class that isn't BHSE or a Mjolnir Audio product?

I ask simply because I respect the opinions here, and I'm up against a wall, as Mjolnir doesn't have amps in stock for now, BHSE needs to be saved up for, and I have yet to find an amp that is positively reviewed on head-case that isn't one of the above.

You could consider a modified SRM-717 or similar from Mjolnir Audio. Spritzer sometimes has these on his website and could be a suitable alternative to the more expensive and/or harder to source BHSE/Carbons. 

Edited by Juansan2
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17 hours ago, Aspirant Audiophile said:

 

I ask simply because I respect the opinions here, and I'm up against a wall, as Mjolnir doesn't have amps in stock for now, BHSE needs to be saved up for, and I have yet to find an amp that is positively reviewed on head-case that isn't one of the above.

Did you see the for sale section where there is a used BHSE offered for sale in England? 

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6 hours ago, mwl168 said:

Did you see the for sale section where there is a used BHSE offered for sale in England? 

I'm almost motivated enough to travel to England in order to test and purchase that amp! But I have four kids and a wife who is quickly losing patience with my new "hobby." So I need something shipped to the Netherlands. Likely I will need to contact a builder...I have searched online for ways to contact many of the builders recommended here, such as Soren, Kerry, Dukei, and a few others, but apparently I can only contact them via PM on this forum?

Recommended builders aside from Spritzer (who I have already been in contact with), and their contact information, would be warmly appreciated.

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On 5/4/2022 at 11:46 AM, spritzer said:

The Paltauf is a bad joke... I mean look at it:

palatauf.thumb.jpg.84bbe5ee74faf5311696e2c4bffe527a.jpg

It's a speaker amp with the electrostatic signal taken off the plates through capacitors.  Yeah... all the issues of doing that. 

 

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2 minutes ago, dynavit said:

 

@Spritzer: "The Paltauf is a bad joke... I mean look at it:"

I might not be the right person to discuss technical details. There are others, who know more - and I don't mean Spritzer only. 

But what I know is, that I have owned 2 KGSSHV , one from Mjönir and one from Ear In Heaven ( more detailed than the first) and both have been blown away with ease from the Paltauf with ease. And that was the Paltauf in its first version! In the  meantime it was upgraded to the 4th version. 

You might ask, what the difference was? In direct comparison the the KGSSHV sounded liveless and flat. Although it has a rather technical approach, it doesn't give you more punch in bass or more details at the highs. Sound is not involving. There was not on thing or one day I missed it. 

In the meantime I know 4 people who made the same step from Mjölnir to Paltauf. And don't forget, they enjoy their dynamic headphones from the same amp no matter how difficult they are to drive. ( By the way, I own about 20 Stax, 007, 009, Akg K1000, Abyss... )

The big difference to Spritzer is, that we here in Austria compare highend components with our ears and not by a photo. 

If Spritzer would have balls , he would send a Carbon ( which is same price) to https://kopfhoererboutique.com/ and leave the judgement to customers, comparing both with the same source. If not, his statment is nothing else than pure ignorance to everthing, which doesn't come from his kitchen. 

p.S.: I am just a normal HIFI consumer and don't have any financial connections to Paltauf or kopfhörerboutique. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So here in Austria, we don't use our brains at all and life is so much better?  Yeah, I don't buy that....  It's been the same shit for the last 20 years I've been active in this hobby, Single Power, RSA, Woo Audio and all those other crap amps, the fanboys when faced with actual circuit analysis, it's fingers in the ears and this stuff sounds amazing!! Shut UP!! 

What I don't get is that you like the crap amp, fine, that's your problem.  I'm not trying to sell you anything but because your bad tastes validate some crap design, that suddenly makes it good?  So the KGSSHV, which is a monitor amp - designed to be as neutral as is possible, sounds flat and lifeless... might that just be the source?  Just throwing that out there... 

Also, this has the be the lamest attempt to try a Carbon I've ever read... 

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12 minutes ago, spritzer said:

So here in Austria, we don't use our brains at all and life is so much better?  Yeah, I don't buy that....  It's been the same shit for the last 20 years I've been active in this hobby, Single Power, RSA, Woo Audio and all those other crap amps, the fanboys when faced with actual circuit analysis, it's fingers in the ears and this stuff sounds amazing!! Shut UP!! 

What I don't get is that you like the crap amp, fine, that's your problem.  I'm not trying to sell you anything but because your bad tastes validate some crap design, that suddenly makes it good?  So the KGSSHV, which is a monitor amp - designed to be as neutral as is possible, sounds flat and lifeless... might that just be the source?  Just throwing that out there... 

Also, this has the be the lamest attempt to try a Carbon I've ever read... 

...just for the record, I have no opinion--I'm happy to learn. The exchange here is helpful and instructive.

Spritzer, I'm really curious because I'm planning a trip to try out the Paltauf in person--and I've read very, very little about Paltauf, while German sites say essentially what Dynavit says. Can you spell out (for me, an audio idiot) why a speaker amp with the electrostatic signal taken off the plates through capacitors is (for lack of a better term) "bad"? 

I get that this forum is specifically for people who know what they're talking about. So, I don't want to annoy anybody. I just want to make smart decisions. Commentary, however detailed or blunt (I see both above!), is welcome.

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22 minutes ago, spritzer said:

So here in Austria, we don't use our brains at all and life is so much better?  Yeah, I don't buy that....  It's been the same shit for the last 20 years I've been active in this hobby, Single Power, RSA, Woo Audio and all those other crap amps, the fanboys when faced with actual circuit analysis, it's fingers in the ears and this stuff sounds amazing!! Shut UP!! 

What I don't get is that you like the crap amp, fine, that's your problem.  I'm not trying to sell you anything but because your bad tastes validate some crap design, that suddenly makes it good?  So the KGSSHV, which is a monitor amp - designed to be as neutral as is possible, sounds flat and lifeless... might that just be the source?  Just throwing that out there... 

Also, this has the be the lamest attempt to try a Carbon I've ever read... 

Sometimes, when I read your comments like this, I ask myself if you trink being  frustrated because of just copiing Gillmore plans since 20 years. 

For your customers I hope your bread is better than your attidude.

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It has all the same issues as the Woo Audio WES, their absurdly expensive unit, probably the new ES8 (based on the tube choice) and the LTA unit.  The biggest issue is how the tubes are being driven, i.e. a center tapped inductor.  With a normal loudspeaker, this isn't an issue but with electrostatic loads, it creates a lot odd issues and they can be clearly heard, if you know what you are looking for.  It is not linear and neutral as it moves through the frequency range so to be simple, a high quality CCS, is pretty much utterly inert to what the amp is doing, a resistor far less so but here you add an inductor to the mix and a lot of weird stuff happens. 

Now why use inductors, well they are cheap all told.  Palatauf are using nice Lundahl units but compared to the cost of CCS's and cooling it, it is a cheap option.  Second reason, lot of voltage swing but that is problematic on its own.  I've been hearing through the grapevine that Stax are not happy about these amps and why they've come so hard down on warranty repairs for headphones.  A brief burst from one of these amps will kill the drivers at high volume levels

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the lta unit is something different entirely. and has 1% distortion and switching noise due to the square wave oscillator, diodes and high frequency transformer.

The eddie current electra is a center tapped inductor with capacitors on the output. No distortion specs ever published.

The original woo audio wes is a pair of inductors with capacitors on the output. No distortion specs ever published.

The malvalve has an output transformer and in electrostatic mode the headphones are run off the transformer primary.

The new es8 finally has a center tapped inductor and output capacitors. Low power output tubes. 

The palatauf is highly similar to the es8 with lundahl center tapped inductors ($100 each) and output capacitors.

None of these amps have enough voltage gain to have enough feedback to reduce the distortion to reasonable levels.

None of these amplifiers have inductors or transformers specifically designed to drive electrostatic headphones which result in various phase and frequency response issues.

if i knew of a company that would be willing to correctly wind me some transformers i might be willing to make an amp like this. Even if i wanted to wind my own transformers, availability of the cores i want and the rest of the parts are impossible to find. And there would be 1 more tube gain stage.

re: birgir's baked goods. seriously you people have no idea.

Edited by kevin gilmore
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6 minutes ago, kevin gilmore said:

the lta unit is something different entirely. and has 1% distortion and switching noise due to the square wave oscillator, diodes and high frequency transformer.

The eddie current electra is a center tapped inductor with capacitors on the output. No distortion specs ever published.

The original woo audio wes is a pair of inductors with capacitors on the output. No distortion specs ever published.

The malvalve has an output transformer and in electrostatic mode the headphones are run off the transformer primary.

The new es8 finally has a center tapped inductor and output capacitors. Low power output tubes. 

The palatauf is highly similar to the es8 with lundahl center tapped inductors ($100 each) and output capacitors.

None of these amps have enough voltage gain to have enough feedback to reduce the distortion to reasonable levels.

None of these amplifiers have inductors or transformers specifically designed to drive electrostatic headphones which result in various phase and frequency response issues.

if i knew of a company that would be willing to correctly wind me some transformers i might be willing to make an amp like this. Even if i wanted to wind my own transformers, availability of the cores i want and the rest of the parts are impossible to find. And there would be 1 more tube gain stage.

Thank you Kevin and Spritzer for these detailed responses. Definitely a red thread through the amps that you're pointing out, and which I wouldn't have noticed until well after purchase, if ever.

Incidentally, I've been in touch with Eddie Current, Malvalve, and Paltauf builders in the last week. No, we didn't discuss inductors or capacitators, but I wish we had!

I'm also in touch with folks who specifically build Kevin Gilmore designs...and basically every builder who uses KG designs and who has been recommended on Head-Case...sounds like that's the only direction to go...

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if you want an all tube amplifier with no output capacitors or inductors then get someone reputable to build you a megatron. large voltage swings, and thd < .02%. absolutely flat 20 to 20khz.  Bonus points for the all tube power supply. large and heavy to be sure.

when you talk to people ask for frequency response and thd #.

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https://www.inexxon.com/online-shop/paltauf-verstärker-amplifier/

Some specs are here, a full Carbon with GRLV+GRHV costs a lot less, maybe even a modded 727 is more than competitive against it...
 


And of course there is also this one, the Eksonic Aeras, which I am sure is also going to be excellent (was presented at CanJam and most people said it really wasn't far off the DIY T2) and distributed within the EU as well (with warranty, if you are worried about that).

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On 5/4/2022 at 11:46 AM, spritzer said:

The Paltauf is a bad joke... I mean look at it:

palatauf.thumb.jpg.84bbe5ee74faf5311696e2c4bffe527a.jpg

It's a speaker amp with the electrostatic signal taken off the plates through capacitors.  Yeah... all the issues of doing that. 

That's the answer from Paltauf to Spritzers Nd Gillmore critics:

This is for readers interested in a little broader view:

-3db at 5Hz and -1,5db at 100KHz, 0,04%thd at 100Vrms are the datas of our KHV-ES, without negative feedback! The KHV-ESD has about 8db feedback and the technical datas are even more impressive!

A tube amplifier that is constructed propperly does not need any feedback to work with very low distortion, wide bandwith and low noise - in contrast to amps with semiconductors. They depend on a very high amount of negative feedback with all the problems that come with it. Nelson Pass has written some very interesting articles about it.

Transformers or anode chokes do not ask what they are made for, speakers or headphones! We choose the parts that meet our requirements or have them modified to make them fit into our amps. In our first hv amplifiers we used CCS (cascoded mosfet -tube) in the output stage but we could not see any advantage over a very high quality anode choke, on the contrary, we lost the k2 cancellation of the pp triode class a output stage with a transformer.

Our amplifiers have an output voltage of a little more than 1000Vpp (up to 1100Vpp, with the 7189 tubes) so our transformer based amp will not destroys headphones! Step up transformers without amplitude limiting can do that very easily, I did some measurements recently, the voltage swing was a little less than 2,5 KV!!

There are many ways to design a good amplifier, some do it with ss, others with tubes, we use the best of the two worlds and go our own way. And what is very important for me after 3 and a half decades in this business: I respect others, see the beauty and the drawbacks of other designs and what I really know is: there is no "best amplifier", it can only be my! favorite amp, nothing else!

Readers who are interested in more detailed information can contact us directly, we will be happy to answer your questions!

kind regards to all forum members - Wolfgang Paltauf

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Quote

Transformers or anode chokes do not ask what they are made for, speakers or headphones!

Just this line shows the utter lack of knowledge at play here... speaker or headphones sure... but dynamic vs. electrostatic is sure as shit matters.  Wow... just wow... 

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2 hours ago, padam said:

https://www.inexxon.com/online-shop/paltauf-verstärker-amplifier/

Some specs are here, a full Carbon with GRLV+GRHV costs a lot less, maybe even a modded 727 is more than competitive against it...
 


And of course there is also this one, the Eksonic Aeras, which I am sure is also going to be excellent (was presented at CanJam and most people said it really wasn't far off the DIY T2) and distributed within the EU as well (with warranty, if you are worried about that).

In fact I had an excellent phone call with Kerry about the Areas yesterday--I'm very hopeful that I can listen to it in person soon!

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2 hours ago, padam said:

https://www.inexxon.com/online-shop/paltauf-verstärker-amplifier/

Some specs are here, a full Carbon with GRLV+GRHV costs a lot less, maybe even a modded 727 is more than competitive against it...
 

Please let as know, where to get a Carbon for much less than a Paltauf! 

Mjölnir is sold out. I could find one from Singapur for USD 4 888.-. Please add taxes! 4200.- ebay for a used one.

And don't forget the money for a similar amp for your dynamic headphones plus cables!

And in contrast to you, I did have a modded Stax 007t, so I don' t have to make speculations like, maybe....
And of course there is also this one, the Eksonic Aeras, which I am sure is also going to be excellent (was presented at CanJam and most people said it really wasn't far off the DIY T2) and distributed within the EU as well (with warranty, if you are worried about that).

 

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12 minutes ago, dynavit said:

 

I have listed two builders already, who will do it for a lot less.

You already wrote people switching to this from Gilmore designs which is BS, because there is literally nothing on the used market (maybe once a year maximum, and it gets sold very quickly).
As far as I'm aware, nobody is switching from a properly-built (Carbon).
If you are happy to waste your money on this and try to promote it, just because it is Austrian and drives dynamic headphones, knock yourself out (and continue to be embarrassed).

I have a local contact with a CCS modded SRM-T1S, so I have a decent idea of what that sounds like.

I don't even understand how's that in relation to any of this, the Aeras uses the 6S4A tubes, but it is a different design altogether.

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aeras is a fully dc coupled design similar to blue hawaii with no caps in the signal path and no output iron. for those people that want a smaller single box design. beautifully built with custom chassis and quality parts.

does anyone really want an inductor based design?

take a megatron, remove 4 of the output tubes and add lundahl center tapped inductors and output capacitors.

or if you want something physically smaller, pick your favorite 5 watt pentode and do the same thing point to point.

i can certainly whip up a circuit board, people just have to decide which is their favorite tubes. maybe $800 in parts total of which $200 is the inductors.

Edited by kevin gilmore
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Right now there are 4 KGSHV on the second hand market, if you look at hifishark.

Bought  my 2 KGSSHV second hand. So BS is, what you are writting.

BS is to compare prices of privat builders with prices of an official company.  

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32 minutes ago, dynavit said:

Right now there are 4 KGSHV on the second hand market, if you look at hifishark.

Bought  my 2 KGSSHV second hand. So BS is, what you are writting.

BS is to compare prices of privat builders with prices of an official company.  

Trading up from a standard KGSSHV to a Carbon is logical. None of them are from those reputable builders, or in the EU. So no, I haven't seen anybody switching to this shitbox just yet, but one never knows based on how some people think.

I can only say I am really surprised (saddened) that some people just willingly refuse to use any of their senses, when everything is laid out quite clearly for them to see - if they want to, but that's their choice.
Unfortunately, at this place, BS comes out as what it is, which is BS.

Edited by padam
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