Ask an expert: Stax “The sound was pretty unimpressive, – dark, slow, and very uninvolving and not very transparent”

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Dear Howard, I hope you are well.

Yup - pretty good (but far from pretty!) all things considered.

I remember you shut down simply Stax in the late 1990s, and I can remember reading somewhere that one of the reasons for that might have been because the quality control of the Stax equipment you were receiving (and in particular the SR007 MK1 Headphone) was becoming poor. I might be wrong (and apologies if so), but I remember reading that somewhere a few years ago.

You are not wrong. You are 100% correct based on my own direct personal experience.

I bought a used set of SR007 MK1s (with SRM717 amp) a couple of years ago. They were a late set from about 2006.

My worst unreliability period, from memory.

The sound was pretty unimpressive, - dark, slow, and very uninvolving and not very transparent.

Then something is seriously wrong.

I just simply thought this headphone was not for me. However I then heard a friends set that were much earlier examples, - from about 1997-1998, and the sound was incredible, - musical, punchy, transparent, and with great layering and texturing.

Precisely right. When operating properly the 007 Omega earspeakers with my favourite solid state energiser produced some of the most entrancing and captivating sounds I have ever heard - anywhere and at any price.

I felt robbed that I had a mediocre set myself and had been forced to give up on them when this headphone had so much potential.

I can understand those feelings.

Many other people have had the same experience as me, and one particular poor fellow I know bought a used pair that sounded truly appalling. Far, far worse than even the set I owned. I would not have paid £50 for them. No joke.

Yes, agreed
 
I was wondering if you might have any info or advice on this issue at all.

Your only respite is to talk to Nigel Crump at the importers. 01727 865488.

I'm sorry to tell you that based on my direct personal experience you shouldn't automatically expect sympathy. You should expect big bills and long time delays - unless things have changed radically. Also if  your pair are a grey import i.e not imported by him then again based on my experience expect an indifferent response.

I can’t understand how Stax could have let this happen to their flagship product.

In my view, because they just don't care.

I am guessing it must mainly have been caused by poor quality control on the drivers.

Possibly. Not necessarily so though.

If you have any advice at all on which vintage of SR007 MK1 to go for it would be really appreciated.

Can't really help re this simply because it is from a distance impossible to ascertain what treatment any particular pair have had the hands of previous owners, by well-intentioned but inept tweekers - and so on.

I have heard that in general, very early examples are better than later ones.

My own pair of SRM Mk3 units and passive energiser are over 30 years old have never given a day's concern. Not even once. Hope this helps.

Good luck

HP

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