Here is my Stax experience:
I have been familiar with the brand for a long time but the first time I had the opportunity to try any Stax product was on the Frankfurt High End show in 1988. I listened to music thru a pair of Stax earspeakers (I do not remember the exact model) and this was a real ear opener for me. The sound reproduction was something I have never experienced before (although I was a long time Quad ESL owner).
The clarity and the soundstage they threw was simply amazing. The most amazing thing was that the soundstage was not inside my head, like with all other headphones I listened before, but in front of my head. The clarity of highs was also breathtaking. After that I followed Stax more closely especially the big Stax DAC since I owned, at that time, its greatest rival the Manley Reference DAC. I never did get a chance to compare them since no one had the big Stax DAC but the Manley Reference DAC is still a serious contender.
I was also impressed (and still am) with the Stax DMA X1 and X2 amps. They did the tower construction of the chassis long before anyone else did it! This is also my professional curiosity since I am also an amp manufacturer (my site www.korato.com ). I must say that Stax pioneering work in the field of audio reminds me of another favourite company of mine from Japan - Micro Seiki.
My recent Stax experience is tied to my eBay purchase of a pair of like new Lambda earspeakers and the small SRD-X energizer. The first impression was very good but the highs were quite hard. Now being an amp builder I took my spare time over the summer and made an all valve energizer, much like the famous STAX T2 (I can mail you some pictures if you want).
After some experimentation I have reached the level of performance that is more then satisfying. Now this is what everybody is talking about. The easy electrostatic sound was evident with every tone reproduced and everything fell into its place. I have a pair of Grado phones and a pair of good Sennheiser's but they are nowhere near the probably 30 year old Stax Lambdas. I do not know what new models sound like but this is really over the top. I am spending a lot of time enjoying them with a lot of my LP's.
Now that I have an energizer that I want maybe I will try the 404s, when I ran into a bargain at eBay. All I have to do is change the bias voltage which is not a problem. I also have to find the female connector because the one I stole of the SRD-X is a bit broken, but something will surface.
So, thumbs up for Stax and their products and your great site!
Kosta would love to correspond with other STAX enthusiasts. He can be contacted here: firstname.lastname@example.org