After nearly 25 years of using a Stax SR-66, I bought nearly one year ago a pair of SR Lambda Pro with SRM-Prof. MK II .
It was phantastic sound, I was able to listen things I never heard before with my Equipment, although really not bad.
( If you have not too much money, this is a really damned good thing - available used for about 300-400 Euro)
A very precise bass, you can "feel physically" the deepest accustic bass and very precise highs.
And after some months, I wanted to get more - what about the newer types of Stax-Earspeakers ? Are they even more impressing?
Well - I can't afford the Omega II, but.... then I bought a used SRS-4040 Combination.
I connected it directly with the Rega Planar 2000 CD-Player
What is the difference?
Well - the tube amplifier SRM-t006 softens a little bit the bass ( what I don't like, I like very precise, "dry" basses), but it permits to hear really lots of things you didn't hear ever before on your CD or LPs.
The bass is very deep (but a little bit softed -> TUBE-Amplifier! ) and beside that, you hear very, really VERY precise mids and very analytic, but again a very little bit softed highs.
The Signature 404 is a sensational analytic instrument to get all information available on CD or LP, but it is in combination with a tube-Amp. If you like the soft, but nevertheless analytic "sound" of tube-amps, you will enjoy it very much.
By the way I heard also the combination of the "old" Lambda Pro with the SRM-006t and the combination of SRM Pro MK II with the SR-404 Signature.
The real progress is the amp, the difference between the earspeakers is nearly zero (the marketing manager of Stax will kill me for that, but it is true ! )
I don not want to miss my SRS-4040!
I spend some time comparing the old Lambda Pro/SRM Pro MK II with the Signature SR-404/SRM-t006 and the best FOR ME will be perhaps a combination of the Signature 404 with the Transistor-Amp of stax, the SRM-717.
That is, because I suggest, the Transistor-Amp will be as analytic, but more "dry" in bass and highs, this is a thesis, not proved.
But till now, I did not hear this combination.
If you like a little bit softed, but though very precise bass and highs ( most of the lovers of classic music do so) the SRS 4040 will be your paradise.
One day, I will try to hear the Combination of SRM-717 and the SRM-404 Signature.
perhaps that day I will have found my personal Paradise.
P.S. After buying this SRS-4040, you will be able to seperate a really good recording from the more worse ones. It is surprising and fascinating, how "brutal" the Signature will discover EVERY fault made by the Recording engineer.
And how you can enjoy the art of a really good recording engineer.
Perhaps you will not only hear the piano of a pianist, but also the fingers touching the piano , the feet moving and the breaths he takes.
Don not forget to compare the SRM-717 with the SRM-006t to make your decision concerning the sound you prefere:
The more softed or the more "dry" type of sound
In my search for the ultimate headphone some years back, the STAX Lambda signatures came out top! The Lambdas may not be the dearest headphone on the market today, but in my opioion it is the BEST! Why....Because of the rectangle shape of the phones you (the listener) get a more panarmaic sound. Have you ever noticed that this design by STAX has been around for a very long time (about 25 years) to me that says a lot! I had listened to the OMEGAS which to me have a slightly clearer midrange, but because of the circular style of the 'ear' cups, DO NOT sound as panamanic sounding as the Lambdas (which sound closer to loudspeakers
This is a superb Headphone, once you buy this one, you don't have to look for another one. It's a big investment, but knowing it's a onetime deal, it's reasonable. The Orpheus is even better I think, but the price was during the time I listen to it on a show about 11000 dolars, so price-competition was won by the Stax. I also have the Stax Equalizer (whats in a name, there're only 3 buttons, including the powerbutton) specially designed for the Signature in combination with the Tube amplifier). Sometimes I even prefer to listen to the Stax instead of the "normal" set. Cables are an important issue if you want the best sound. Both classical and pop music are no problem for the Stax, the air and natural sound is always there.
Rest of the set: CD-Player: Wadia 23. Amplifier: Audio Analoque "Maestro" intergrated amplifier. Loudspeakers: Magnepan 3.5 Tuner: Revox B760 (old, but still going strong). Pre amplifier for driving the Stax sometimes is homebuild Tube-Pre with Jensen Oil capacitors. Cables: Cardas Hexlink.
Krell KAV-250cd/2 Kimber Select KS-1030 interconnect All powercords are stock and no power conditioning was employed.
Note that the following comprises the review I submitted previously at www.Headwize.com:
I've been a headphone fanatic for the last five years, and in that time I've owned a number of dynamic 'phones, finally settling on my reference system (and to my ears the best headphone system I'd ever experienced), the Sennheiser HD 600 driven by the McCormack Micro Integrated Drive.
However, ever since I first heard a couple of guys at a local high-end store speak in hushed, reverent terms about these wicked electrostatic cans called STAX, the itch to try 'em for myself has never quite left me. One recent call to Todd at Headroom later, and I am the proud owner of a STAX SRS-4040 system, comprising the SR-404 (Signature II) electrostatic headphone and the SRM-006t tube-driven headphone amp.
I'm reviewing the STAX as a combo, and as I have no access to other amps to drive the 404, or other STAX phones to connect to the 006t, I am not able to delineate which sonic characteristics can be ascribed to which component.
First off, these phones have huge planar transducers, much larger than the cones or domes that are utilized in dynamic cans. This makes for a sound that is more enveloping in feeling, a little closer in nature to listening to speakers, where the sound is more diffuse. I feel like the music is washing over my ears rather than being pinpointed directly into them.
The bass is very, very extended in nature and goes deeper than any phone I've ever heard (including my beloved HD 600's). And because of the way that the planar speakers (for lack of a better term) couple to my ear, the bass can sound immense in nature, as if it's originating from outside of me or the headphones. It is very accurate, without a trace of excess (unnatural) warmth. My HD 600's, in comparison, have a little more warmth in the mid and upper-bass (but are still very accurate - this difference is very subtle). The Sennheisers can sometimes impart a needed touch of chestiness to male vocals. The Stax, if there is no bass present in the recording, can sound just a touch thin (until bass does kick in, and then everything changes). I think, ultimately, that they are a little more true to the recording than the 600's, but will certainly not euphonically warm up thin-sounding recordings.
The treble is simply amazing. They have none of the zip or etch that has been attributed to the earlier STAX Signatures, and indeed, the treble is less forward than my HD 600's, at least in my system. Paradoxically, though, they are eminently more detailed. No matter how loud, compressed, or complex the recording, I can hear the slightest details, even if they are buried way back in the mix or soundstage. And the realism is perfect. Cymbals sound exactly like cymbals, with no splashy, hissy 'sss' sounds; they sound like metal, not like white noise. The 600's are one of the best dynamic phones I've heard in their portrayal of treble accuracy, but compared to the STAX, they are proven to be a rather distant second. Even poor recordings sound real on the STAX (if still poorer than good recordings). I can hear the air around instruments like it was occuring in a real space and not just between my ears.
The midrange is likewise incredible and may be their greatest strength (after a long break-in, that is). Voices and instruments hang in space and are portrayed so realistically it's as if they are actually occuring live, as opposed to being reproduced (this is on the best recordings - the lesser recordings still sound real, just less so, if that makes any sense). There's an almost holographic, 3-dimensional element to the sound that is lacking in my HD 600's. Again though, the HD 600's seem to portray voices with a bit more body and heft.
The detail and speed of the STAX is amazing. Sounds seem to start and stop as fast as they do in nature. There is no bloating or smearing of transients. I am able to pick out any sound from the background with incredible ease, but this detail and speed is not accompanied by any analytical (in a derogatory sense) qualities. This level of speed and resolution never becomes fatiguing. This speed must contribute in some fashion to the dynamic abilities of the system, which are also very good. They are at least the equal of my HD 600's, and in transient speed (the crash of cymbals, etc) they are clearly better. I would be curious to see if Grado lovers agree with me on my views. Grados are VERY dynamic, but not as resolving - I think it would come down to a matter of personal preference, I think.
The soundstaging is almost too good to be true. On distantly-miked, diffuse recordings, they sound almost binaural, with the soundstage extending way outside of my head (to the sides, as well as behind and above). On close-miked (rock) recordings, they are the equal of my HD 600's, and are slightly better at portrayal of depth. When I look at the earpieces with my peripheral vision while listening, it seems impossible that the sound is coming from these little boxes and not from the space around my head. It's pretty amazing. I'll never go back after this.
Lastly, I just want to say that from a subjective point of view, no component I've ever owned has succeeded as well as the STAX at connecting me emotionally to the music. Even very poorly recorded material draws me in. I focus less on the technical sound and instead move beyond to the music. I am more successful at viewing the musical event and less reminded of having to do so via the equipment reproducing it.
There are a couple of weaknesses:
1) Very long burn-in time. I don't know if it's the amp, the headphones, the headphone cable or what, but it all needs to cook for a couple of hundred hours to sound right.
2) Warm-up time. 15 minutes for the amp. Not terrible, but I thought I'd mention it.
3) Here's the biggie. The STAX are the prima-donnas of the audio world. They are so revealing of related components that it is almost offensive. If I removed either the Krell CD player or the (ridiculously expensive) Kimber Select interconnect and replaced them with lower level stuff (Rotel 971, old Sony and Denon CD players; Kimber PBJ, Silver Audio Hyacinth, AudioQuest Ruby interconnects), much of the magic disappeared. Depending on the combination, they sounded hard/metallic in the treble or mushy in the bass, midrange realism and soundstaging disappeared, etc. It really kind of sucks, but they need the best equipment you can find. To me, that's a real shortcoming, but I guess it's commensurate with their level of resoulution and articulation.
Here I write some lines about the latest STAX System: System SRS - 4040 SR - 404 Lambda Signature Earspeakers with the SRM - 006t Vacuum Tube Output Driver unit.
This Set ( Signature + Tube amp ) is in my opinion a real classic. It is really able to show you the room and area where the musicians are. You have a socalled ' black background' which is totally quiet, so it is very easy to follow each instruments. The music does not loose its beauty under the power of this sonic microscope, it transforms the listener i n s i d e of a song. The music moves with perfect timing and absolutely no smear or haze. The built quality is excellent and I feel comfortable when using, but I must say I don't use them for hours. I like them to check my record player's adjustments and when my regular system is off, because my Horn speakers with the Pass amps are really super fast and dynamic, then I like to use the STAX. What is amazing: When I replaced the power cord to something better ( here XLO ), there was a H U G E increase in 'Gestalt', dynamic, feeling the vibrations coming out from the instruments and a much better see-through-ability. It is not cheap, but it is nice to have. I like it.
Turntable: Basis Debut Vacuum Mk.V Arm: Graham 2.0 Deluxe Cartridge: Takeda ' Miyabi ' CD Transport: Goldmund Mimesis D/A Converter: DCS ' Delius ' D/D Converter: DCS ' Purcell ' Phono Preamp: Stan Klyne 7 PX 3.5 Line Preamp: Stan Klyne 7 LX 3.5 Power Amps : 2 x Pass Aleph 0 ( Mono ) 2 x QUAD II ( GEC, Mullard ) Speakers : Kochel ( Horns ) Tuner : Magnum Dynalab ' MD 108 ' Magnum Dynalab ' Signal Sleuth 205 ' Headphone : Stax SR-404 Sign. + SRM-006t Interconnects: XLO Ltd. Edition Phono Cable : XLO Signature Speaker Cables: XLO Signature Digital Cables: XLO Signature AES/EBU Power Cables: XLO Ultra Record Cleaner: VPI HW 16.5
Power Conditioner: Burmester 948 Rack : Solid Steel