Ask an expert: STAX DA 100, CA-X, SRA 12s, servicing, attitude towards end-users, Audio Research REF75 and 5SE as possible alternatives

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Hi. I have à pair of Stax da 100  with ca-x after  having the da80 vwith sra12s I had some problems with the ça-x but none up to now with the  da100 and i had them  for almost  30 years  I like them how ever vu the age and the difficulty to repair if something happens, i was thinking to change for audio research ref75 and ref5se. Cd is wadia and speakers sonus faber guarneri. I was wondeing if you expériences some problèmes with the da100? and if they série d'asile réparable i havé the diagrams. Thanks for answerring

I had a CA-X which was utterly reliable and I should not have sold it. I have no direct personal experience of their power amps. I still own and use the 12s. The 12s caught fire and had to be returned to Japan for servicing some years back. I founded simply-STAX which for some years was the global #1 STAX retailer, but only for their earspeakers and headphones. I closed that business down because the unreliability of their state-of-the-art Omega 007 earspeakers was unacceptable and generally these units had to be returned to Japan which greatly annoyed some owners.

As far as I am aware, STAX JP does not provide service manuals to anyone under any circumstances, although there may be exceptions that I'm unaware of. I doubt it though.

There are two issues you need to be aware of. First, despite the vast amount of business I did with STAX via their UK importer I never found anyone who could or would speak English over the phone in Japan. My belief then was that they had no desire to talk directly to any end-users. Some of the emails I saw coming back out of Japan were so poorly constructed that would, under other circumstances, be laughable. Additionally I formed the distinct impression that in terms of their approach to 1980 amplification rather than the earspeakers business they had little if any interest in helping owners of vintage units. It was as if that era no longer existed; it certainly didn’t seem to interest them

Should you change to Audio Research? I really don’t know as I've not had an opportunity to compare state-of-the-art STAX amps to state-of-the-art AR amps. However I have heard those two AR pieces you mention, driving Vandersteen Model #7 speakers. It was one of the most engaging, compelling and emotional music reproduction experience of my entire life. From that point alone I guess they are worth considering.

If you are thinking of changing purely for the hope of increased reliability and/or serviceability in the event of a failure then again I'm unsure inasmuch as I have no idea if AR equipment is reliable or not. On the other hand though it seems, from what I read, that AR are prepared to politely and efficiently engage with the end-users whereas the STAX JP I knew wanted to hide behind the twin masks of inscrutability and refusal to have any customer-facing staff prepared to speak English.

I would like to have been more helpful but under the circumstances find that I can’t be. In conclusion, from what I can recall from corresponding with other STAX power amp owners, a fully working DA100 may well be one of the most musically credible designs of all time.

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  • Bazdah

    Hi Mr Popeck
    I didn’t realize that you were the owner of Simply Stax, I have been reading and exchanging mails on your site regarding the Stax products.
    At that time I was having with the da100 the Quad esl 63 ,that I replaced 18 months ago with the Guarneri memento
    Actually I feed the DA100 directly from the Wadia 27ix by passing the CA-X
    Thanks for your answer ,you reassure me regarding my choice for the AR ref75 and SE 5 as a musical ensemble
    I will be keeping the Stax,however after 30 years I wanted eventually try something else in the same league and I was wondering that my capacitor 30 years old,which are not leaking,might have to be be change in the near future and where to go.
    Stax has been sold and it looks that distributors are not to keen on making efforts for the vintage products
    That’s also a reason that make me think that it could be time to change but I try to stay with the same type of musical ensemble ,Stax are very transparent and reproduce music so beautifully with delicacy that’s why I though of AR.
    I must also say that I have the smr1 mk2 with the sra3x and lambda and that products prior of 1996 are at my opinion more reliable
    Thanks you again for having taking the time to answer me and please accept my best wishes for2014
    Best regards
    Nebil