Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Stax SRS-4040 Signature System 2

Source: Hi-Fi World August 2005

David Price reviewed a Stax "earspeakers" system comprising of the SR-404 classic electrostatic earspeakers and the SRM-006t valve energiser. If you are a newbie for earphones business, seeing the "latest" Stax offerings will most propably send you away from a dealer's showroom screaming. First, the looks. Price really nailed it by saying: ".. it feel like it is 1974 ... the colour is a dead ringer for the 'Nutmeg brown' vinyl interior of my 1977 Rover 3500." One cannot regard Stax's design as retro, it's just plain 1970 hifi appearance. Second, Stax's marketing communication. Instead of headphones and headphone amplifier they refer to Earspeakers and Energiser. Well, in all fairness Stax earspeakers actually are miniature electrostatic speakers with thin diaphragm of only 1.35 micron in thickness. Third, and most importantly, looks are deceiving. Although Stax's product lifecycles seems to be measured in decades, the fact is that over the years numerous revisions to both earspeakers and energisers have been implemented.

Price's review was interesting because he compared SRS-4040 system to his Sennheiser HD-650 with Stefan AudioArt's Equinox cable and Musical Fidelity's latest X-CAN v3 headphone amp. The verdict? Compared with Sennheiser/Equinox /MF combo "... don't come within a country mile." Furthermore, "... these are the cleanest sounding headphones I've ever heard ... so comprehensively better than anything else of its type I've heard ..." Price duly noted what all Stax owners know: the valve based Stax energisers require at least 2 hours of warming up before they really deliver; the affordable (everything is relative) Stax earspeakers are a bit shy in low bass; and while those 'Nutmeg brown' vinyl earspeakers are supremely confortable, they tend to get sweaty during the longish listening session.

Viewpoint: As a satisfied owner of Stax SRM-T1S / Lambda Nova combo I read with interest Price's review, but also felt that he should listen to Stax top-of-the-line SR-007 Omega earspeakers driven by SRM-007t
tube driver unit (see Stereophile review). I had some years ago a change to listen some 2 hours with my own reference disks that system, and have since tried to find all kind of excuses not to purchase them. In addition, Omega has more contemporary looks, if that matters to you.

BTW, a great site to learn about headphones is Headroom.

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