Can the music you play effect your electrostats?


It has been awhile since I have posted anything here...but I observed something rather interesting this weekend when listening to my new Stax ear speaker rig...

Just to let you know, the rig I am talking about is the Stax SRM-T1S and the Lambda Signature Pro's. This is fed by the Classe DAC-1 and MIT cables, with the source either being a Denon 2900 or Boulder Mod Squeezebox 3.

Here is what happened:

I have been enjoying these ear speakers for about a week. Having electrostats so close to your ears results in some of the most clear music reproduction I have ever heard. However, this system seems to be EXTREEMELY delicate. On Saturday evening I put in this old DVD conversion of a seventies movie. I don't know if you know it, but it is called 'The Black 6.' This movie sucks for the most part, and has some of the worst audio I have ever heard. The soundstage was almost completely in the left channel. Thus for 90 minutes or so there was a source created channel imbalance...

Here is where it gets interesting. After the completion of this movie, I insert another, newer now has a 'shifted' soundstage. Mind you, before watching 'The Black 6' I had NEVER had a problem with channel imbalance. I am FREAKING out here... I finally resolve myself to check the channel imbalance with my SPL. And here is what I discover:

Hz Level db Left db Right
40 Hz 78 76
250 Hz 84 81
2500 Hz 90 84

What could have caused this? After turning off my system and coming back to it the next day, there was no change. Why? Finally I resolved myself to try and play it out, so I put an album on repeat and left it yesterday. To my surprise, when I came home yesterday, after six hours, it seems as though this imbalance was gone! How did this happen?

It is possible for a bad recording to cause static buildup or something with electrostatic drivers? Does any one else have a plausible explanation of what happened here?

I left my system on again today, just to make sure I am not dealing with a reoccurring problem.

Thanks for your input,
I'm not a Stax maven, but I know tubes and stats, and my first guess is you might have a bad tube in your SRM-T1S. I think that unit uses at least one twin triode (two tubes in one bottle) and if the two sides don't match, you could get a channel imbalance.

A second possibility is that one of the ear speakers is not getting (or holding?) the same static charge as the other.

I'd replace the tube (or tubes?) and see if that doesn't help. If not, the whole rig needs checking.

You might also want to pose your question over on Head-Fi

Not sure if it is related, but I have an older pair of Stax Lambda Pro's (non-Signature) with an SRM1-MkII solid state amplifier. I've found that ever since they were new, 20+ years ago, they have needed to periodically (perhaps once a month) have a severe "workout," playing at least a full album at volume levels that are higher than I would want to have reproduced next to my ears. Otherwise they sound very thin. I presume that the diaphragm needs that periodic workout to maintain the flexibility it is supposed to have.

So perhaps the Black 6 movie loosened up the left diaphragm to the point it is supposed to be at, and the subsequent six hour repeat of more balanced material did the same for the right channel.

The thinness I've experienced seemed to be primarily in the upper mid-range and lower treble, approximately corresponding to the frequency at which you measured the greatest imbalance.

Bottom line: You may not have a problem, you may just need to periodically give the phones a good workout.

-- Al
Thanks for the responses guys...

I think that you are right Al about these headphones needing a workout. They just sound better after having been played for awhile anyway. We are gonig on two days of constant playing, and they sound wonderful.

I am going to post this question on Headfi and see what people think there too. It is just STRANGE!


I tried what you suggested with my Stax phones that had seen light usage for a while, and I think they opened up a good bit.

Thanks for the suggestion! That was a very cost effective tweak!