One Day Ticket for Stax Galaxy - The STAX Compendium

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by sorrodje, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    Image Intro.JPG


    We all know Stax headphones are somewhat pricey and rare but some hobbyists are devoted to that brand. @Ali Pacha a fellow frenchman is one of those hobbyists. Fortunately for me , his door his open for people who're interested to discover how is his stable of Stax headphones so I bought a train ticket and me and my measurements rig went to Paris to visit @Ali-Pacha.

    We made measurements for 10 headphones : SR009, SR007mkI, Lambda Signature, Lambda Nova Signature, Lambda Normal bias, Sigma pro, Gamma pro, SR5 Pro Gold Black, SR5, SRXmkIII. Some of those are really rare and never measured (?) . I brought my Sennheiser HE60 with me . @Ali-Pacha was interested to listen it proprely amped with his modded 727.

    We used a modded 727 and SRM1-mk2 to do measurements and listenings. DAC was a Schiit Yggdrasil and I listened mostly to my music through my personal Computer (Linux Ubuntu 16.04) .

    I added my SR007mkII measurements and I'll probably add later some other Stax when i'll be able to buy or borrow a few.

    Warnings About Measurements:

    They're all made all my personal rig explained here : http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...nt-setups-post-your-rig.141/page-3#post-16531

    I did choice when i decided to build it that way. My purpose was to ensure the best seal. so all measurements below should be read with that in mind. Good seal allows us to have a good measured FR down low but induces issue in the treble with significant artifacts so take it with the usual grain of salt.

    Difference with bad seal and good seal :

    [​IMG]

    Nowadays, I see a lot of people who look at measurements as if it was gospel. It's basically wrong. Measurements are not gospel and are all a result of choices from the man who measures. I choosed to show "raw" measurements even if I know some of what you're looking is not 100% accurate. it should help everybody to read measurements as datas and only datas. not the Truth delivered by god himself. Hope it makes sense for you.

    Measurements below show some oddities. Especially nulls in treble for few headphones and especially 007 and 009. Check CSD to see those are artifacts. I'm surprised to see distorsion in subs as well. Could be an issue with my coupler... huge grain of salt recommended. All distorsion plots should be handled with care. Real distorsion of those elecrostatic headphone is probabaly lower that what plots show. That been said, we're talking about levels beyond human audibility.

    By the way, all measurements below can be compared and I think they makes sense when I compare to my subjective impressions. Let me repeat that they shouldn't be compared to measurements from other sources. When I can and when they're available ,I give other sources for people who want to read other measurements.

    General thoughts:

    I have been super impressed by how the older headphones measures. Driver matching, extension, distorsion, overall Frequency response and technicalities are all Stellar and put to shame most of current TOTL headphones. Kudos to Stax engineers and workers. That's what I call serious engineering.

    Link for Full Stax History : http://www.stax.co.jp/Export/History.html

    Image Intro 2 .JPG

    List of Stax headphone measured :

    - SR5 Normal Bias
    - SRX mkIII pro
    - SR5 Gold Black
    - Gamma Pro
    - Sigma Pro
    - Lambda Normal Bias
    - Lambda Signature
    - Lambda Nova Signature
    - SR Omega , SR Omega (Marvey 2012 Changstar)
    - SR007 mkI
    - SR007 mkII
    - SR009 (Sorrodje), SR009 (Ultrabike)
    - SR Lambda Pro (JK47)
    - SR-507
    - SR-L700

    Other Stats :

    - Sennheiser HE60 "Baby Orpheus" (Sorrodje) , HE60 (Ultrabike)
    - Sennheiser HE90 "Orpheus"
    - @N3rdling's HE90-Clone (Ultrabike)

    ... To be continued :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2016
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  2. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    SR5 Normal Bias

    SR5NB1.JPG SR5NB2.JPG


    FR
    SR5 NB FR Right.jpg


    Distorsion Right
    SR5 NB Disto R.jpg

    Waterfall Right
    SR5 Waterfall R.jpg

    Spectro Right

    SR5 NB Spectro R.jpg


    Ali-Pacha's comments :

    SR-5 (normal bias = 230 V), aka the very first ones.
    Round drivers, evolution of the very first one (SR-1). 2.0 µm diaphragm, same driver on the SR-X/mk2.
    Bought by Ali's father around 1977, with an SRD-7/SB and SR-X/mk3...the latter have some crackling noise since 1998 (stored somewhere in a box). Pads are flattened and somehow solidified by skin oil, metal pins on cups are gone (with some plastic chips from the cups), so their headband was replaced with the SR-X one a long time ago.
    Ali's mind : no technicity, no real soundstage, but mids are flowing like a river. Easy, fun, well balanced, nice dynamics...they're no SR-009, but you won't be deceived.



    Comments about measurements and short Subjective impressions ( Sorrodje)

     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
  3. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    SRX mkIII PRO

    SRXmkIII1.JPG SRXmkIII2.JPG


    FR
    SRXmkIII_FR.jpg

    FR Left and Right
    SRXmkIII_FR left-Right.jpg

    Distorsion Left
    SRXmkIII Disto L.jpg

    Distorsion Right
    SRXmkIII Disto R.jpg

    Waterfall Left
    SRXmkIII Waterfall L.jpg

    Waterfall Right
    SRXmkIII Waterfall R.jpg

    Spectro Left
    SRXmkIII Spectro L.jpg


    Spectro Right
    SRXmkIII Spectro R.jpg


    Ali-Pacha's comments :

    The last evolution of the small round driver, 1.5 µm diaphragm, same drivers on the SR-Gamma Pro.
    Production started also in 1985, they're a real unobtainium.
    Bought used to a diplomat working in Venice, the price was absolutely stunning !! original box, I've only had to change the pads (thanks audiocubes). Oh, and I got rid of a tiny black particle on the right diaphragm which used to cause a very slight buzzing. They may be one of the most perfect shaped SR-X/mk3 Pro in the world by now.
    Ali's mind : very small soundstage, smaller than SR-5's one...They're on-ear after all. Aside from SR-Sigma Pro, they're probably the less 1-2 khz hyped of the bunch, and the 4 khz peak is perfect for their initial goal : monitoring. Bass kicks ass. Really.




    Comments about measurements and short Subjective impressions ( Sorrodje)

     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  4. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    SR5 Gold/Black


    FR
    SR5GoldBlack FR.jpg

    FR Left and Right
    SR5GoldBlack FR Left-Right.jpg

    Distorsion Left
    SR5Goldblack Disto L.jpg

    Distorsion Right
    SR5Goldblack Disto R.jpg

    Waterfall Left
    SR5Goldblack Waterfall L.jpg

    Waterfall Right
    SR5Goldblack Waterfall R.jpg

    Spectro Left
    SR5Goldblack Spectro L.jpg


    Spectro Right
    SR5Goldblack Spectro R.jpg


    Ali-Pacha's mind :

    Same basis as SR-5, 2.0 µm diaphragm, same drivers on the SR-X/mk3
    Production started in 1985 (for the black version, 1982 for early gold, white version), no idea when it was discontinued.
    Bought used 2 years ago in Netherlands, they developed imbalance in 2014, and were saved with some rinse aid. Almost mint on the other hand.
    Ali's mind : more neutral than SR-5, but not as sensitive, and sometimes a bit boring...Sorrodje won't agree, I've to dig it a bit further.


    Comments about measurements and short Subjective impressions ( Sorrodje)

     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  5. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    SR Gamma Pro

    Gammapro1.JPG


    FR
    Gamma Pro FR.jpg

    FR Left and Right
    Gamma pro Left and Right FR.jpg

    Distorsion Left
    Gamma Pro Disto L.jpg

    Distorsion Right
    Gamma Pro Disto R.jpg

    Waterfall Left
    Gamma Pro waterfall L.jpg

    Waterfall Right
    Gamma Pro waterfall R.jpg

    Spectro Left
    Gamma Pro Spectro L.jpg


    Spectro Right
    Gamma Pro Spectro R.jpg


    Ali-Pacha's mind :

    Same drivers as the latter, same production's start, but different enclosure. Oftenly butchered to make some DIY SR-X/mk3 pro.
    Bought in Denmark, inner foam (on the inside of the cups) replaced by HD-600 foam to protect the driver. Very good shape all around.
    Ali's mind : perfect for rock. Think something in between SR-5 (dynamics / fun) and SR-X/mk3 pro (technicity). A bit "raw" on some genres.



    Comments about measurements and short Subjective impressions ( Sorrodje)

     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  6. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    SR Sigma pro

    Sigma pro 1.JPG Sigma pro 2.JPG



    FR
    SigmaPro_ FR.jpg

    FR Left and Right
    SigmaPro_ FR_Right-left.jpg

    Distorsion Left
    SigmaPro_Disto_L.jpg

    Distorsion Right
    SigmaPro_Disto_R.jpg

    Waterfall Left
    SigmaPro_Waterfall_L.jpg

    Waterfall Right
    SigmaPro_Waterfall_R.jpg

    Spectro Left
    SigmaPro_Spectro_L.jpg


    Spectro Right
    SigmaPro_Spectro_R.jpg


    Ali-Pacha's mind :

    The monstruosity, with its cubic look matching perfectly some SciFi B-movies from the 70's (original one are from 1977), and drivers from SR-Lambda Signature (1.0 µm).
    Production started in 1987, these are quite rare, and around 4 figures pricetag is almost the rule.
    Bought from Russia at astonishingly low price, they do pretty well after some cleaning and a new headpad. Right channel takes around 30 seconds to fully sing.
    Ali's mind : the very (very) loudness one...some said "Beats by Stax", but you still have air and stat's liquidity. Soundstage is pretty large, but not as large as you might think...they're too dark to sound really open, HD800 are far ahead.



    Comments about measurements and short Subjective impressions ( Sorrodje)


    Third Party Measurements :

    - Innerfidelity : http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/StaxSRSigma07381.pdf
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  7. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    SR Lambda Normal Bias

    Lambda NB.JPG

    FR
    Lambda NB FR.jpg

    FR Left and Right
    Lambda NB FR Left Right.jpg

    Distorsion Left
    LambdaNB Distorsion L.jpg

    Distorsion Right
    LambdaNB Distorsion R.jpg

    Waterfall Left

    LambdaNB Waterfall L.jpg

    Waterfall Right
    Lambda NB waterfall R.jpg

    Spectro Left
    LambdaNB Spectro L.jpg


    Spectro Right
    LambdaNB Spectro R.jpg


    Ali-Pacha's mind :

    Father of all Lambda (they're still running today), oblong drivers from 1977's Sigma, 2.0 µm diaphragm.
    Production started in 1979, not that rare but difficult to find in good shape AND at a reasonable price (let's say 200-250 €).
    Second pair I bought, also from France, the first one (in less good shape...my OCD side [​IMG] ) was sold sometimes ago to...Sorrodje [​IMG]
    Ali's mind : the perfect all-rounder, the best Q/P factor of the bunch. You have soundstage (ok, no HE-60 / SR-009 level), you have technicity clearly above small round driver's level, you do have bass AND dynamics with this DAC/Amp setup, harshness and edginess are nowhere to find, they are a real treat.



    Comments about measurements and short Subjective impressions ( Sorrodje)


    Third Party measurements :

    - Innerfidelity : http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/StaxLambdaSBsnA19858.pdf

     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  8. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    SR Lambda Signature

    Lambda Sig 2.JPG

    FR
    Lambda Signature FR.jpg

    FR Left and Right
    Lambda Signature Left-Right FR.jpg

    Distorsion Left
    Lambda Sig Disto L.jpg

    Distorsion Right
    Lambda Sig Disto R.jpg

    Waterfall Left
    Lambda Sig Waterfall L.jpg

    Waterfall Right
    Lambda Sig Waterfall R.jpg

    Spectro Left
    Lambda Sig Spectro L.jpg


    Spectro Right
    Lambda Sig Spectro R.jpg


    Ali-Pacha's comments :

    Third Lambda in the history, the thinnest diaphragm to date (1.0 µm), same drivers on SR-Sigma Pro.
    Production started in 1987, they pop up regularly on the market, but please don't pay it above 400 €.
    Bought from a well-known korean head-fier who always does very good prices, they are mint, no less.
    Ali' mind : forget all this BS about harshness / etch. They are bright, for sure, but there is absolutely no agressivity. Bass does rock, oh yeah. All around very similar to SR-Lambda, but with a bit more soundstage / technicity / extension. Think fun, fun, and fun.



    Comments about measurements and short Subjective impressions ( Sorrodje)

     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  9. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    SR Lambda Nova Signature

    LNS1.JPG LNS2.JPG

    FR
    LNS_FR.jpg

    FR Left and Right
    LNS_FR_Right-Left.jpg

    Distorsion Left
    LNS_Disto_L.jpg

    Distorsion Right
    LNS_Disto_R.jpg

    Waterfall Left
    LNS_Waterfall_L.jpg

    Waterfall Right
    LNS_Waterfall_R.jpg

    Spectro Left
    LNS_Spectro_L.jpg


    Spectro Right
    LNS_Spectro_R.jpg


    Ali-Pacha's comments :

    New diaphragm (1.5 µm), new arc, and new voicing, more neutral.
    Production started in 1994, along with the very first Omega. A bit harder to find, 350-400 € is the right pricetag.
    Bought in the US, perfectly mint with original box.
    Ali's mind : ok, they're are more neutral, more detailed, but they're a bit dull. The foot-tapping-factor you get with the older ones isn't quite there, and the tighter headband + thinner/softer pads reduce the soundstage. They're praised all around, supposed to be the more righteous Lambda out there, but I may let them ago if my BHSE (to come, of course, it's in its nature [​IMG] ) doesn't wake them up.




    Comments about measurements and short Subjective impressions ( Sorrodje)

     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  10. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    Omega SR007 mkI

    SR007mkI.JPG

    FR
    SR007mkI FR.jpg

    FR Left and Right
    SR007 mkI FR Left-Right.jpg

    Distorsion Left
    SR007 mkI Disto L.jpg

    Distorsion Right
    SR007 mkI Disto R.jpg

    Waterfall Left
    SR007 mkI Waterfall L.jpg

    Waterfall Right
    SR007 mkI Waterfall R.jpg

    Spectro Left
    SR007 mkI Spectro L.jpg


    Spectro Right

    SR007 mkI Spectro R.jpg

    Ali-Pacha's comments :

    The mafia-praised ones, not so much to say about them, they're well documented, 1.35µm drivers, very hard to drive, etc...
    Production started in 1998, dark voiced, they pop up very often on the market...be careful of the hype, some people are trying to make money with them, asking over 2000€.
    Bought at market price to a German head-fier, these are SZ-1 late unit, brown-coloured. And mint with case + box.
    Ali's mind : these are slippers. Comfy on the head, comfy by the sound, but clearly lacking excitment, and shy dynamics. The roll-off in the 1-3 khz region makes the soundstage a bit wider compared to their siblings, but David Malher's image about "music behind a tainted glass" is sooo true. Like the LNS, I might let them go if the BHSE doesn't kick their somehow fat ass



    Comments about measurements and short subjective impressions ( Sorrodje)


    Third Party Measurements:

    - Innerfidelity http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/StaxSR007.pdf

     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  11. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    SR007 mkII

    FR

    SR007mkII_FR.jpg

    FR Left and Right
    SR007mkII_FR_Left-Right.jpg

    Distorsion Left
    SR007mkII_Disto_L.jpg

    Distorsion Right
    SR007mkII_Disto_R.jpg

    Waterfall Left
    SR007mkII_Waterfall_L.jpg

    Waterfall Right
    SR007mkII_Waterfall_R.jpg

    Spectro Left
    SR007mkII_Spectrro_L.jpg


    Spectro Right
    SR007mkII_Spectro_R.jpg


    Ali-Pacha's Comments:

    None. This one belongs to Sorrodje. FU mate :D


    Comments about measurements and short Subjective impressions ( Sorrodje)


    Third Party Measurements :

    - Innerfidelity http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/StaxSR007SZ31576.pdf
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  12. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    SR009

    SR009.JPG

    FR
    SR009_FR.jpg

    FR Left and Right
    SR009_FR_left-Right.jpg

    Distorsion Left
    SR009_Disto_L.jpg

    Distorsion Right
    SR009_Disto_R.jpg

    Waterfall Left
    SR009_Waterfall_L.jpg

    Waterfall Right
    SR009_Waterfall_R.jpg

    Spectro Left

    SR009_Spectro_L.jpg

    Spectro Righ
    SR009_Spectro_R.jpg


    Ali-Pacha's Comments :

    The flagship, not so much to say about them neither...except I love them [​IMG]
    Production started in late 2010, from the C32 prototype, they are pricey, but not so much when buying in Japan. And the Audeze / HiFiman race to level up the prices makes them look "reasonable".
    Bought from pricejapan in 2013, they are the only Stax I bought new.
    Ali's mind : neutrality, dynamics, details, medium to die for, bass from outer space, fastest of the bunch...superlatives everywhere. You may dislike the slightly hyped 1-2 khz region, which constricts a little bit the soundstage compared to some HE60/SR-007, but they are the top of the hill for me.



    Comments about measurements & short subjective impressions ( Sorrodje)



    Third party measurements :

    - Innerfidelity : http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/StaxSR009.pdf

     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
  13. 3X0

    3X0 Friend

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    Exciting!
    I agree completely. Most headphones released after the 90s have been regressions.

    You should measure a few more when you visit CA. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  14. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    That's a promise ? :drool:
     
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  15. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    OK Done for now. Will add short impressions and comment later. :drunk:
     
  16. Ali-Pacha

    Ali-Pacha Friend

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    Many many thanks to Sorrodje :bow:
    Hopefully this hobby has some serious dudes like him, and the lazy ones like me strongly benefit from their efforts :bow:

    [​IMG] :p

    Ali
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  17. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Friend

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    Incredible post for Staxen, thank you for all the hard work!

    IME it is not mentioned much but with the Lambdas, the inner facing foam and pads (older ones are thicker) have an impact on overall SQ as well, I preferred the older stuff. It looks like the Lambdas here are using the cloth grill inserts and no more foam.

    I think the 727ii feedback modded is a decent amp, especially in the Stax line, but I believe the branded amps do not compare as well to the mafia ones. Even a regular KGSS should be a noticeable step up I would think!
     
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  18. Ali-Pacha

    Ali-Pacha Friend

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    The old inner foam is somehow gritty, and its disintegration could cause some particles problems within the driver. But this foam (as well as modern cloth pieces) also plays a role in preventing dust or skin oil or humidity to enter the driver, even if there is a plastic dust cover on outer sides of the stators.

    On LNS and Lambda Sig, it was already cleaned up and replaced with cloth when I bought them. I did the same thing on Lambda NB, and also replaced the outer foam (the yellow one surrounded by very light black foam) with some foam for train modelism. Aesthetics more than sound, really.

    I'll tell when I receive my BHSE |\/|

    Ali
     
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  19. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    Thanks so much for this, both of you :bow:

    Not only helps (me) to put your measurements into context (I still don't like the creatology foam as a coupling material), it is also always very interesting to see the old stax headphones.

    That SR009 distortion :eek:. I wouldn't be suprised if part of that is limited by the microphone and measurement rig. Actually, now that I've taken a second look at all of them it seems that most of them are limited by microphone noise (distortion changing with FR changes).
    Can we get HE60 plots in the same visualization? Also, could you please update the plots so that all of them are on the same scale? Makes comparing the FRs hard. Only the SR007MkII has a different scale.


    This. Every time I heard the SR009 (most of the time with the SRM-007tII or the SRM-727II, at meets), I always left with the feeling that voices weren't the most natural sounding.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
  20. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Friend

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    Yes unfortunately the foam never lasts :(

    There's so many great deals on second hand Stax amps and gear right now, snag an interim amp while you await the bhse!!
     

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