Author Topic: long term end goal  (Read 543 times)

Offline wilhelm

long term end goal
« on: March 10, 2021, 03:26:33 PM »
STAX SR-007 with MK2 SRM-727ll
I have a Sennheiser HD 650 which I enjoy very much, never listened to Stax before.
Stax combo above which can theoretically be had for around R80 000 seems review-wise to be the best value for money. Anything more expensive, specifically amp-wise is just never going to happen.
My questions: any comments, preferably people with experience of this or similar?
Secondly: current source of Tidal highest resolution package through PC, is this doing injustice to sound quality of this Stax combo? Reasonable cost alternatives? What , if anything else is needed in this set-up?

Offline kamikazi

Re: long term end goal
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2021, 05:28:25 PM »
I'm curious as to why you would suggest/state that Stax is theoretically the best to be had around that price?

I think at some point in the past that might have been true, but most headphone manufacturers have quite upped the game in recent years and there have many new entrants which are also really good at this. There are many dynamic headphones that are excellent as well as orthodynamic headphones which each have their own pros and cons. Same goes for electrostatic headphones. It has become a very competitive industry. Ten years ago, I would say your choices would have been more limited and the above would be more true.

FWIW, I've had an brief experience with a Stax headphone (very kindly by another member on this forum) before and in my opinion it is quite a very particular "house" sound signature which you will either love or not really be your thing. There are some things that it really shines with, but it also have drawbacks that would need to live with. I definitely think there is room for a Stax in every headphone collection, but I would not want it as my only headphone. Most headphone manufacturers follow this particular strategy of a house sound that nets you more quality at higher prices (Grado being a good example of that here as well), though of course there is also variation in between the ranges e.g. like HD600 and HD650 sounding different, where they try to diversify ranges, but there is still a house sound that is common. It is ties in closely with the values of each headphone manufacturer which results in quite a bit of variation. It is one aspect that makes this hobby exciting and arguably more exciting than speakers. Headphones therefore are also more prone to being good for a particular music genre or a particular mood. Stax to my mind would very much fall in this category. There are some headphone that I'd consider good all rounders such as the HD600, but nothing stops you from having a headphone that you like for a specific thing.

My advice would be before putting down a lot of money for the ultimate Stax route would be to either involve obtaining a demo of SR-007 somewhere or finding another owner on the forum here, or I'd suggest spending some money on the lower end of the scale like the SR-L300 or SR-L500 and seeing whether electrostatics are the thing for you. Of course there would be things that the SR-007 could do so much better compared to the entry level models that it is not really an apples to apples comparison, but there might be some valuable things you could learn out of the experience.

Another question, have you tried maxing out the performance out of your HD650 since you mention that you already like the headphone? You could potentially purchase an amazing DAC and amplifier for that money budget and your HD650 would scale it's performance with it. This of course unless you are really curious about obtaining another headphone that you would consider a higher quality reference headphone? I think if you ask around, many headphone enthusiasts would still consider the HD650 a reference headphone. This model came about before price inflation really hit this hobby hard, while Stax have always been priced a tier above, but in a way that kind of set the bar for other headphone manufacturers to later follow. Stax's reputation for quality and being like a collector's item also had a lot to do with this as well.

Alternatively, you could also consider an exploratory strategy by building a headphone collection across a couple of headphone manufacturers, based around a decent DAC + amp platform, with about three really good headphones at a sum of your budget. Thinking of something like the Audeze LCD2, Sennheisr HD800 and Focal Clear. You could even have a look at ZMF or the Grado Hemp. There would a be a ton of enjoyment to be found in this collection if you already own a decent DAC + amplifier.

Offline wilhelm

Re: long term end goal
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2021, 05:52:05 PM »
Thanks Kamikazi, I will definitely make a plan to listen first before I make decisions. Will see if Listening Room in Cape Town has stock, and/or other serious headphones. I was just pondering what alternatives there would be should a little money comes available. No pressing issue, not frustrated, really enjoying HD650 with Classe Audio DR-9 amp and Audiolab M-Dac dac.

Offline gavinbirss

Re: long term end goal
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2021, 07:51:51 PM »
RAAL SR1a?

https://raalrequisite.com/product/sr1a-earfield-monitors/

https://raalrequisite.com/product/sr1a-jotunheim-package/

A schiit amplifier with SR1a is going to be a whole lot cheaper than any other high-end electrostatic or headphone amp with "hi-end" cans? I think this would provide better overall value?

The Grado Hemp I own and the F-pad makes for a very close to ear driver, this makes for a magnifier on hum or noisy headphone amps especially with its 32ohm impedance.

>250ohms headphones may provide a far less noisy (potentially) experience just pair it with a good voltage swing capable amp.

Balanced cables and amp may just be the trick also.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2021, 08:10:25 PM by gavinbirss »

Offline Gnarls

Re: long term end goal
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2021, 08:10:21 PM »
Good advice already given. I can only add the following, I bought the Topping A90 off @Wolvebain recently. All I can say is WOW! They breathed new life into my 650's and my SR60's sound superb - so much so that I'm looking to upgrade. All of this is powered by the dac in my Essence STX.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that R80k is a lot of dosh to drop on a rig you've never heard. With regard to reviews, I think it pertinent to quote and old Russian proverb, "Trust, but verify." Reviewers may have very good reputations but only you have your ears.

I wish you well you on your journey.   
One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain - Robert Nesta Marley

Offline royj

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Re: long term end goal
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2021, 08:38:52 PM »
I recently decided to delve deeper into the headphone arena, having acquired a pair of HD 800,s and the Topping DX 7s amp. The headphone section on my integrated amp pushes out 32 ohms. All I can say is wow.

I was guided through this journey by Diveshan. I see that you are in Cape Town , it would be in your best interest to reach out to Diveshan. The Stax SR 009 is one of the cans in his collection.


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Offline Scubadude

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Re: long term end goal
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2021, 08:54:43 PM »
I love Stax! I own three sets, the most recent and expensive of which is the SRS5100 (L500 with SRM-353X driver), which offers a level of performance dangerously close to the best Stax has to offer for about a third of your budget. Actually, the diminutive SRS-2170 (SR207 with SRM-252S energiser) is incredibly impressive for about a tenth of your budget.  Perhaps it is even more impressive than the SRS5100 exactly because it is very much entry-level by modern standards. Would I drop R80k to move a couple of notches up the Stax tree? Not any time soon!

Which leads me to agree with kamikazi that R80k in head-fi is much better spent exploring diversity than hunting that one end game rig (which doesn't exist).  As an example, for that money and with careful buying, you can assemble the following rigs (all of which I happen to own):

- Stax SRS5100 (very fine electrostatic)
- Sennheiser HD800 & Bottlehead Mainline (very fine dynamic headphone on valves)
- Audeze LCD2 & SPL Phonitor (very fine planar magnetic on solid state)
- AKG K1000 (finest earspeaker ever made ... until recently that is)

If you are ever in Pretoria you are welcome to drop in for a chat and a listening session.
"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

Offline Scubadude

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Re: long term end goal
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2021, 09:08:37 PM »
RAAL SR1a?

https://raalrequisite.com/product/sr1a-earfield-monitors/

https://raalrequisite.com/product/sr1a-jotunheim-package/

A schiit amplifier with SR1a is going to be a whole lot cheaper than any other high-end electrostatic or headphone amp with "hi-end" cans? I think this would provide better overall value?


I'm very curious about this as well ... I find myself reading and re-reading threads on the Raal Requisite at least monthly.  The Raal & Jot sells for less than $3000 used now ... almost seems like an outright bargain!   
"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

Offline sajunky

Re: long term end goal
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2021, 12:58:49 AM »
If it measures good and sounds bad—it's bad. If it measures bad and sounds good, you've measured the wrong thing.
/ Daniel R. von Recklinghausen, Chief Engineer, H.H. Scott/

Offline dingeth

Re: long term end goal
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2021, 02:52:15 PM »
Would love to try an e-stat as well at some point, to experience the difference in presentation.

That RAAL SR1A looks futuristic as well and the reviews seem mostly positive as well. One day...lol
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Offline Wolvebain

Re: long term end goal
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2021, 10:53:45 PM »
I largely concur with @kamikazi ...  I'll add that it would also depend on your music pref.

FWIW, I still use a HD650/HD6XX as my daily-driver headie, on what I consider to be my long term end goal system: HDPlex Linear PSU + HDPlex Fanless case for my Roonserver, with HQPlayer » Holo May KTE DAC » Cayin HA-6A HPA » HD6XX
Tho, my LCD-4 is still my choice for focused and immersive listening sessions, the HD6XX is EPIC in that setup.

For context:
 - I have bought new and owned the HD800S and the HD820...
 - I've heard the Focal Utopia
 - I've heard some Electrostatics in the past , but not all... heard the SR-009; it was truly amazing, but felt that it lacked weight and body.
 - I've listened to the very varied and expansive collection from @Scubadude , including some of his Electrostatics; Wonderful for singer/songwriter music, but 80's music/synth-pop/Rock&Roll/Metal/Prog-Rock it was a tad... 'shouty'

I still want to listen to the Susvara & Meze Empyrean...
But my next headie would most likely be a Sundara (which I REALLY impressed with, when I listened to them in the past ) or the HE6SE (modded with the Honeycomb Grilles and upgraded sheepskin earpads, etc.)
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Offline Doge

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Re: long term end goal
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2021, 07:29:40 PM »
Also agree with Kamikazi but I'd add that phones like HD 800 S, Focal Clear and LCD-X might pretty much be endgame for some people anyway... e.g. a lot of people simply prefer the sound of the LCD-X over the 3/4 (myself included) or the Clear over the Utopia (I've not heard the Clear yet but the Utopia did not give me a good impression, and have still become a Focal owner since)

To put that into further perspective for the Clear and HD 800 S there's some 2nd hand Frankenstein or mod that will get you a very similar sounding headphone making even those start to look like bad VFM investments, there's certainly reward to be had at the higher echelons but I personally start to lose interest in any headphone I couldn't see being the only one in my collection.