Rather than gush over an excellent product, let me add some observations that might be of use...
I bought these when they cost around $300. I was bitterly disappointed, because the sound was badly unbalanced. (This surprised me, as I owned Lambda Signatures with an SRM-T1 amp and ED-1 equalizer.) The only way I could use the SR-001 was with a Sony Discman having a five-band equalizer. I put them aside, unhappy that I'm made such a serious buying error.
It later occurred to me to remove the earphones from the headband (it's easy -- they snap right out) and shove them directly in the ear canal. Like, WOW, man! THAT fixed the problem. I've never heard the Etymotics -- but it's hard to believe that a dynamic driver can equal, let alone exceed, the peformance of an elelctrostatic. (These are "true" 'stats, not electrets.)
My only real complaint (and it's minor) is that the earphone cables are long, tangly, and (as the Brits would say) "fiddly". The energizer is not that much of a problem, as you should be able to bind it to your jukebox with a Velcro strap (or rubber band). You'll also need a short cable with 3.5mm stereo plugs on each end, which is not supplied.
The energizer requires two AA cells. My experience has been that 2500mAh NiMH cells give about as much useful life as alkaline cells. So their cost will be amortized pretty quickly.
The energizer takes a 4.5V adapter, which, if STAX still supplies it, costs an arm and a leg. The Sony 4.5V adapter, which was supplied with hundreds of thousands of Discmans, fits and works perfectly. You can find these adapters on eBay for a few bucks. (Sony also made a switching version of this adapter, which works on 100V to 240V. It's less-common.)
If you want an accurate rendition of what's on the recording while you're away from home, the SR-001 system will give it to you.
I bought these baby stax over an year ago, and have held off writing a review on them, as I was, well, pretty underwhelmed.
I have a set of magnepan MC1s at home, powered by a jolida jd707a (an arcam delta 290 drove them for a while), along with an hsu-stf1, so I know good 'electrostatic' (magneplanar to be accurate) sound when I hear it.
So, when I hooked up these "portable" baby stax to my macbook air/iphone/ipod, I was pretty dissapointed. The midrange and upper bass were great, but it lacked extension at the ends of the spectrum - the lower bass was tight but recessed, and the upper highs were nonexistent.
Well, I recently hooked up a firestone audio fubar II usb DAC to the macbook air, and it *really* woke up the stax. Midrange is buttery smooth, the highs (though *slightly* recessed), improved a lot. Bass is tight and has good presence.
I'd love to replace the amp portion of my stax with a musical fidelity x-can v3 I have, but sadly due to the nature of the electrostatic earpieces, that just can't be done. I have a feeling the SRM unit on these stax are holding back the earpieces, but still - it is a rich, warm, and yet clear and detailed sound that I've only heard on my akg k702s. The grado SR225s I have can match the mids/highs and exceed them, but do not come close to the warmth of the lower mids and bass.
The Stax SRM-001 is without a doubt electrostatic to the core. I am a college student that music fortunatly plays a very important part in my life. My home system consists of Magnepan MMG's driven by Rotel equipment, great for the music that I love, such as Diana Krall, Boney James, Chris Botti, Sarah Brightman, Keiko Matsui, James Taylor, Candy Dulfer, Ottmar Liebert, Norah Jones, Loreena McKennitt, and the occasional Madonna. I know good sound reproduction when I hear it, and this headset does NOT turn tail.
I was looking for a small headset that gave me the lions share of the performance of my maggies, in a package that I could take to school with me, and sound flawless.
Those of you that are familiar with the electrostatic sound will know what you are in for, and that is a really rich, seductive, warm sound that is positivly orgasmic with well recorded material. However, unlike certain electrostatic speakers, this headset is DYNAMIC! You can play rock music on these babies, and it will sound great!
The midrange left me absolutly slack jawed. I am talking transparancy equivalent to my MMG's here! Diana Krall sounds totally dreamy through these things, AND THEY ARE SMALL ENOUGH TO TAKE WITH YOU!
Bass is full, fast, and super tight. It isnt the deepest I have ever heard, but it is deeper than my MMG's without a sub! The bass sounds CORRECT! that is the only way to explain it, no boom or overhang. A double bass sounds full and woody, while at the same time Madonna can pound. I have NEVER heard better bass performance at this price.
Treble... oh the treble...
With the proper cable (not the OEM stuff that comes with the CD player) I use monster interlink, soon to upgrade to Kimber, the highs are smooth and extended. You will be able to hear the trill of a flute, or a piano plink like never before from a small headset. Overtones will suddenly become more obvious, and as a result, the soundstage will become wider.
The only downside to this wonderful headset is: you feed it a poorly mastered recording and you will hear something you wish you didn't. All the artifacts of the processing will come out.
I can't reccomend this headset enough. I absolutly love mine. It is, IMHO, one of the best audio purchases I have ever made
Everybody that I lent these in the ear ear-speakers were unanimous about the cleanness, the clarity and the precision of the sound. Just that for a mobile solution it makes a lot of cables to carry with you. On top of that the earphones cost the same price as the i-pod.
For myself I can't figure out better Hi-Fi on the road. Even home, I can't listen to anything else. I figured out buying an Omega to get maybe even more presence (I'll do this when I can figure out the entire chain of sound, as for the way I'm listening to now I can't figure out better sound).
The comfort is another topic: once you get the proper pad (there are 3 sizes) the earphones stick gently in your ears. I can listen to them for hours without strain; the only danger is to play too loud as the sound is so nice. But this is a question of philosophy. The other sound that I'm listening to is my Yamaha C3 piano. I manage never to play my Stax louder than the C3 would.
I have been enjoying my Stax SR-001 MKII for almost two months now. I am quite satisfied with its sound. It is so defined and airy. Nothing sounds mushed up or muddied...
Other users at other review sites have commented that the sound was thin and that the high frequency roll-off was too steep. However, I found non of that a problem to my ears. I found the audio reproduction smooth and well balanced across the audible range...
I power the SR-001 MK II with a pair of PowerEx NiMH rechargable batteries by MAHA Energy, and I have been able to enjoy using the unit for almost 6 hours. I have even made myself a battery pack with 4 NiMH rechargable D cells to power the unit for almost 24 hours...
I would rate this product a five-star, BUT because of the comfort issue, I am rating it a four-star... (Sound = *****, Comfort = ***)