Clearly I have some news for my fellow audio fanatics out there based on having had the opportunity to spend a day with all the top level Stax 'ear speakers' and most of the associated 'energisers’. I have only two further items to check to make my own final decision on which two Stax Stereo Sophia and I will finally settle on and that is the Trilogy and Stax SRM-T8000 Hybrid energisers which unfortunately were out on loan, but those aside, here is my take on back to back testing of Stax 500, 700, 007, 009 'ear speakers' with SRM-353X, SRM-006tS and Stax SRM-007tII, all 'Kimik' Edition energisers. ...I also got to test these back to back with Audeze LCD4, 3 and XC, also Focal Utopia and HD800s Ether Flow, among others pretty much covering all the bases of what people are calling the best of the best and all in one room against Trilogy headphone amps and Chord Dave, Hugo2 and Mojo. ...It's against that background that we feel that Stax beat all-comers to a pulp.
Let's talk about the top level Stax gear.
photo shows their excellent 'highend headphones' demo room.
Man On Fire had no prior connection to this cool enterprise.
The 009 work well with the SRM-353X where unlike the L500 they retain their emotional connection and the UK£3,500 SR-009 flagship 'ear speakers' are undeniable good all-rounders, working well with the other 'energisers'.
I don't see the point of the 007, let's just call them way too warm for me and that's keeping in mind that I usually have nothing against a touch of warmth. Cough Lampizator Big 6. ;)
Having said all that I would like to attempt to articulate my impression of these truly end game 'ear speakers' in terms of their sound within the Stax lineup. I feel there really is something for everyone here, well everyone whos only priority is the sound that is.
L500 are in my humble opinion the quintessential Stax sound with nothing added and nothing taken away. A deeper insight into the recording than we ever expect to hear from normal common run of the mill £4000 headphones like Focal Utopia or Audeze LCD4.
The important thing here is to get your preferred synergy with the right energiser, because here too one can tailor the sound to their preference. I would say the L500 showed up the shortcomings of the SRM-353X. Here the added I would say fake sparcle made this a non issue for the SR-009. Problem is the solid state energiser does trump the tubes in certain dynamic aspects, which is why I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the ultimate combo may be an 'energiser' that I missed, ...the L500 with the Stax SRM-T8000 Hybrid energiser. Don't get me wrong, I could have the L500 along with the SRM-007tII Kimik Edition energisers, a UK£3000 combination and live happily ever after.
If you look closely at the speaker design of the 009 and L700 you can immediately see the similarities. There's a sort of wheel spokes design going on in both those speakers as opposed to the perfectly flat L500 and it is clear that there is a family sound between those two. Here is the best way I can describe it.
L700 off the baseline of the L500 has added sparkle and double extra added bass. I would have to call the added bass too obvious and therefore too much for me, but perhaps perfect for the right bass head.
SR-009 in my opinion are not better [unless something extraordinary happens when I hear them with the UK£4000 SRM-T8000 Hybrid or UK£5000 Trilogy energisers] than the L500. I would say that like the L700 they have that added sparkle, but that they have kept a more balanced bass. In my mind it is an artificial sparkle just as I feel that the L700 have artificially added bass.
Choose your flavour, Stereo Sophia and I know what's pulling us. With a few tweaks and for a real bargain in today's money, keeping in mind the competition Stax truly are an end game item and we really don't need to spend closer to UK£10,000 for the most expensive Stax and energiser. I think by the reports on "the youth today", most will be over the moon with a L700 with the solid state SRM-353X, a less than UK£2,000 combination and many others will be over the moon about a pair of L500 with entry level tube energiser SRM-006tS for even less wonga.