Please find the excuses for me not to buy Stax 009S headphone

I may had got into rabbit hole of Headphone.

After getting Massdrop Empire Zeus IEm, I had been happy with its dynamics and nuanced details.

But after having gone back to my 2 channel system of Lansche 4.1 speaker driven by Line Magnetic 508 SET amplifier, I want more out of IEM.

My main system plays much more dynamic with deeper bass slam with deeper and more transparent soundstage.

After finding some good deal, I am about to pull the trigger for Stax 009 electrostatic headphone and KGSSHV Carbon amplifier for sizable sum of money.

Please find the excuses for me not to buy Stax 009S headphone.
7aeeb429 76a8 4040 a90e 93802cf27573shkong78

Bass Texture - Other than being a little less hefty than I'd like (just a little), the extension was very, very good, and the texture was simply breathtaking. Felt like I heard the spit on the lips of the tuba player. Spectacularly clear.

Bass Slam - Holy moly! These hit amazingly hard. Yes, the lowest two octaves are a bit shelved down, but my goodness they rock!

Midrange - Hey! How did these people get into my house! The realism with the SR-009 is incredible! (Hang on a sec, I've got to write a sentence without and exclamation point.) The seamless coherence between mids and highs deliver a stunningly realistic presentation I've simply not heard a voice so convincingly real on headphones before. Stunning! Simply stunning!

Treble - Damn! I'm running out of superlatives. I'm super sensitive to trouble in the treble, and I'm floored by being able to hear a strong sense of speed and treble energy without it sounding strident in the least. The sense of coherent high frequency sound is extraordinary; everything is more than natural and organic, it's simply sounds like you're there. Wow again!

Dynamics - Come on! When are these cans going to show a weakness? On the other headphones the Flamenco guitar strums are punchy, but here it's as if you can hear each string of the strum individually hit, and then add their voices together with a musicality of impact I've heard on no other can.

Imaging - Finally! (Still using exclamation marks, though.) The 009 is bested handily with regard to imaging by the HD 800. However, these are no slouch, and great depth and width are realized; separation and depth are very good. Without the HD 800 within arms reach for comparison, I would find these a spectacularly immersive listening experience.


I had got a fever after reading above article.
The issue with IEM's, in addition to soundstage, is they don't give the rest of your ear that feeling of airiness or deep bass that is perceived there.

Stax are very special indeed, but for a lot less, with the right amp, I like the top of the line Hifiman and ESS 422H a lot too.

Wow ESS 422H appears to be good value.

The problem is that I wish to get the end game product and be done with looking around it.

I sincerely want to have a break from hardware swapping binge and enjoy the music.
I pulled the trigger. It will be my end game headphone.

But I expect to receive it only after July 8th.

Carbon Amp Spec.

Notes about the build in no particular order: 450V supply, 20mA output current, TKD 4CP-601 volume pot, no servo, F&T 680uF PSU capacitors, german & japanese capacitors used throughout, XLR input & loopout, two pro bias stax outputs, same chassis as the DIYT2, dual primary toroid, heat blued steel knob. Weight is approx. 25lbs, LWH is about 16.5"x15.5"x4.5" (including the height of the caps).


Because you don't listen to headphones often enough to justify spending "...a whole lot of money..." on the Stax's. Heck, why would you even bother to listen to HPs when you've got that big rig at your disposal? Don't buckle to the temptation to buy "stuff" that'll spend most of its life just sitting there.
I feel the need for headphone during summertime.

With headphone, I could play music with windows open during daytime.

Here in Pacific NW, If I open the window, I do not need air conditioning even during daytime.

But I do not floor whole village with loud sound of my 2 channel system.

Also I can enjoy music with headphone while my wife is sleeping.

Thus I may split 60/40 between main 2 channel system and headphone.

I am getting old and deserve nice sound out of Stax 009S if I can afford.

Although Massdrop Zeus Iem is excellent, it has some limitation of transparency compared with my 2 channel system.

I hope Stax 009S will match the transparency of my main system.
Enjoy the Stax!  

I own the Stax L700 and love the sound.

The 009s should be even better.
@ don_c55  

Thanks a lot for your kind word.

I have a lot of expectation about if after going through thread.

But I have to wait until July 9th for delivery.

I will give my impression of it.
The chord only goes so far, and gets tangled-up when dancing.
Let me clarify why I had pulled the trigger for Stax 009S.

I had marveled at the clarity of electrostatic speaker since 1989.

After listening to Martin Logan CLS, I had almost pulled the trigger, but the balance skewed to bright treble stopped me.

Stax 009 also got reputation of being bright.

But Stax 009S coupled with Carbon amplifier had got reputation of neutrality, transparency and bass slam.

Thus instead of buying electrostatic speakers, I had opted for electrostatic headphone.

I expect to receive them after July 9th.

After listening to it for 12 hours, I will leave brief impression.
009S with Carbon is a damn near perfect match. With tube/hybrid amps (BHSE, GroundedGrid, Megatron, T2) you can possibly make a better case for the original 009.

And that review you posted by Tyll is unfortunate in that he back-pedaled hard on 009 in the ensuing years. My take is that his initial rave-review was made with a borrowed Headamp BHSE amp (hybrid tube amp on the same quality level as your Carbon) - later on, he only used a very inferior KGSS amplifier (not even a 'hv' version), which surely had a substantial effect on his impressions. Amplifier quality is more important with Stax electrostatics than it is with dynamics. 

Anyways congrats - 009S with Carbon is an extremely fine system!
You shouldnt buy if any on this forum can talk you into or out of buying these phones. I never liked listening to headphones and havent missed them since I sold them years ago. This is not to say that I would have missed a different type of headphone.
@ mulveling 

 I had read your excellent posts in Head Fi.

It helped me to trigger Stax009S and Carbon amp.

After I receive them, I will leave impression here.
Innocent question: how long does it take Stax 009S headphones and carbon amp to burn in?
I am getting 2 month used one.

Thus it must had been burn in.

Usually amp take 200 hours of burn in.

Stax 009S take less than 100 hour’s burn in since it had been already burnt in in factory.

shkong78 OP
I am getting 2 month used one.

Thus it must had been burn in.

Usually amp take 200 hours of burn in.

Stax 009S take less than 100 hour’s burn in since it had been already burnt in in factory.

>>>>>If they’re already burned in at the factory why is any additional burn in required? 😳
I’ve had 4 different Stax headphones from brand-new, (2x 009, 009S, L700), and have heard a used 009 and two used 007. Also I was able to compare a brand-new 009 to burned in 009 examples. Unlike dynamic headphones, I’ve never noticed any discernible amount of burn-in effect with Stax. They should sound exactly "right", right out of the box from hour #1. Any minor differences in sound are likely to be from differences in pad conditioning over time (or different sub-versions in the case of 007, but not 009).

Also I didn’t pay too much attention to burn-in of my new Carbon when I got it; sounded great right out of the box though I concede there may be some subtle improvements over 200 hours. My DIY T2 also sounded 99.9% there right out of the box. Many builders will usually do some amp burn-in as part of their final testing.
But that doesn’t answer the question whether Stax burns in their headphones at the factory prior to shipping. Which I kind of doubt, actually. 
Yes, I have read Stax was claiming at least 150 hours of burn-in (SR-009 headphones) at the factory. This was said to be done not for sonic development, but for weeding out early-failure drivers, known by consumers as the infamous driver imbalance issue - which became problematic during early runs of the 009 several years ago. There was speculation the problem became worse with the new PEEK diaphragms used in the 009.

My original 009S (one of the very first) actually still developed the imbalance issue after several hours. It was immediately replaced by my dealer, and the 2nd pair has been perfect - it's possible they truncated the burn-in during the rush to fill pre-orders? I didn't have the issue with any other Stax headphone, but by the numbers the 009 production seems to have had the worst bout of it. 
Post removed 
I had been happy with my dynamic speaker Lansche 4.1 since 2007.

But I wish to try electrostatic one.

Stax 009S will not be played so loud as to hurt my hearing.

As former Apogee user, I am also attracted to  Raal Requisite SR1a ribbon headphone.
Empire Zeus IEM(earphone) sound pretty nice overall with nice dynamics and details.

Out of curiosity I pulled the trigger for Stax009s and Carbon amp last Saturday.

But the statement below got me a little bit upset.

Shall I have had tried Rall Sr1a instead of Stax on 14 days return guarantee?

I have to wait until July 9th to find out how Stax009s and Carbon amp will sound with Dave and Mscaler.



I got the SR1a on Friday along with the Vidar and the Performer s800 but did not have a lot of time to do a proper evaluation other than quickly running through @Torq‘s suggested songs. In a nutshell, the SR1a provide the very best sound that I’ve heard to date coming from headphones, period.

The bass response is the most detailed and well textured I’ve ever heard to date. None of the HPs that I own (009S, Utopia & Empyrean) can match its speed, attack, decay. As @Torq stated, the SR1a takes no prisoners, it reveals everything upstream as it is with unparalleled realism and accuracy without any coloration. Neutrality is one of its main personality traits, I guess that’s why it’s very highly regarded in the professional realm for music production.

In less than 2hrs of listening time, the SR1a made me reach a state of audio nirvana for the very first time, therefore I don’t want to go back to anything less than this. I’ll spare my other 3 headphones because I like the looks, comfort and still enjoy their capabilities.
I’m officially done with headphones for now…until the release of the SR2a!!!
I guess that Rall SR1a has tighter bass than Stax 009S.

But I am not sure whether SR1a has refined mid range as latter.

I have not got Stax yet.

Probably I will give Stax and Carbon amp more than one month to tune the sound using different power cable and interconnect.

After fully tuning 009S, I will order SR1a to compare with 009S.

Since I have excellent 2 channel system with powerful bass up to 20hz, refined midrange out of headphone is more important to me.

In the meantime I would like to collect information how to get the best sound of Stax 009S and Rall SR1a .

If I find Rall not to have as refined midrange as Stax, then I may return it in within 14 day's of grace period.
Sold lots of STAX stuff in the day.  I find headphones to be pretty uncomfortable after a while and my ears don't like the way they sound after a few songs even though I love LOUD music of any genre.

Even the "open air" lighter Sennheiser ones bothered me after a few songs, and it was not the quality of the sound.

By all means go ahead and get them, but unless you love listening to headphones, realize that you will use them less and less as time goes on unless that is the main way you listen today.

Either way, ENJOY THE MUSIC!


@ richopp

Hi Richard

I agree with your opinion that it is not easy to listen to headphone or earphone for long time.

Out of curiosity I had pulled trigger for Stax 009S but I do not want to go into rabbit hole.

Oh my god, this headphone and amplifier combination cost 70K$.

I have to stop pretty soon.

@shking78 Wow!  That is some price point.  A couple of people just bought $100,000,000+ houses--one here (Palm Beach) and one in CA somewhere.

My point is that there are customers for pretty much anything today, so while this is patently ridiculous in every possible dimension, if a person has the funds and wants and likes these, by all means go for them.  For some around here, that is simply lunch money.

For that price, I could probably fly in a couple of artists, record them live for myself, and be happy forever just to shake their hands and be in the same room with them.  (Thinking Yo- Yo Ma and Eric Clapton here...).

I still love quality headphones, but my Maggies sound so good, even with my junky front end, that they would only be something I would use every now and then.

Better get a grip, Thomas! (Ha!)  Hey, if you can afford it, go for it.  Just be sure to listen for a while before signing the check...



Thanks Richard for your kind word.

After trying out Rall Sr1a, if I like it I may keep it in addition to Stax 009S.

But that is going to be the end of it.

I will not go into  Sennheiser He 1.

I also had been happy with Lansche 4.1 with plasma tweeter since 2007.

It will be speaker for my life.

Headphone is kind of side attraction and I will not spend too much money on it.
@richopp’s experience reminds me of when I heard 009 from a Stax 727 amp - yuck.The 009S with Carbon, or 009 with BHSE or T2 will be in a completely different zone - highly engaging, never boring, and probably the least fatiguing headphone setups I’ve heard. Dynamic headphones like Utopia are far more fatiguing than a well-amped Stax Omega.

Stax have an exceptionally flat and linear response from top to bottom - free of the peaks, aberrations, and ringing of dynamic drivers with their metal coils getting whacked about. I believe these issues of dynamic headphones contribute to hearing damage at higher levels, compared to Stax. 

The Raal headphones really do look awesome. They remind me of a futuristic version of the AKG K1000, which I once owned. Sadly I’ve not heard the Raal’s yet. Glad you’ve got your forever speakers too! It’s not fun upgrading two systems at once...
SHKong if you decide on the Stax let me refer you to Bob Katz recording engineer who highly recommends an amplifier designed and manufactured in IceLand of all places ,.
Theres a Worldwide following of Birgir Gunjonsson’s amplifier  design Mjölnir Audio. Amplifiers for electrostatic and dynamic headphones. I would also like add Birgir is a pleasant man to chat with .
However I don’t think you will find much about it on the main stream sites . 
My own interest in using headphones I couldn’t make much sense of of the members of headfi , I stumbled across Katz’s Corner , Bob Katz who knows what the heck he’s talking about and purchased a Mjölnir amplifier, fabulous.

Anyway after less then a year I realized headphones are not for me .
Good luck 

@ mulveling

Thanks for sharing your opinion on this.

Although I am also interested in Rall Sr1a, I will not be in a rush.

I will give enough time to tune Stax 009S and Carbon amplifier using different combination of Power cables and interconnects.

I had got delivery of Stax 009S and

KGSSHV Carbon made by loligagger.

I am using Jays Audio CDT2 MK2 to connect to Lyngdorf 2170 for digital equalization and then to Mscaler and Dave.

I am using Sablon Panatella BNC digital cables between Mscaler and Dave and Zenwave D4 from transport to Lyngdorf and Silnote Morpheus II from Lyngdorf to Mscaler.

From Dave to Carbon, I use Analysis Plus XLR cable.

After just 5 minute warmup, it sound dynamic with nuanced treble.

With orchestral music by Heitor Villa Lobos, I had tried soft eq set which lowers 1 db around 7khz and 2db around 15khz.

With Eva Cassidy's "Autumn Leaves", I use neutral setting(no eq) to get her full voice upwards.

It does not sound bright or closed in either.

It is perfect.

I had also tried "Time Warp" by Telarc.

With excellent dynamics and wide soundstage, it sounds surreal.

I am really happy to get this combination.

From other people's review, I had also considered Raal Sr1a.

But with this speed and full bloom out of Stax009s, I do not need to look around.

I will just enjoy music

Congrats shkong78! I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Not surprising with your top-notch sources. I wish I had such a setup for myself right now, as my T2 is down for repairs. Your love for the sound may grow even more with time. And I’ve previously owned two amps built by loligagger - a KGST and a 450V Sanyo KGSShv - he’s a good builder!

Thanks a lot for your kind word.

I also wish you to get better source in the future.

I had decided to have two years of break from changing major audio equipment.

If I pay too much attention to the sound, it is hard to enjoy music.

The sound out of Stax and Carbon amp is much better than my expectation with clarity and nuanced details.

The only missing thing is the bottom bass out of organ.

But I can live without it.
After playing Stax009S and Carbon amp for 6 hours with various music genre, I am convinced that I can live with it until it stop working.

It sounds musical with clarity, nuanced details and decent dynamics.

I am listening to "As time goes by" sung by "Julie London".

Her voice sounds so natural and snappy that I would like to toss the drink to her.

I do not want to be greedy.

This is going to be my endgame on headphone.
To close the loop on my experience with the HIFIMAN RE-600S V2 Songbird earphones, the ones with the long crystal copper cable, after around 300 hours of near continuous burn-in, including about 140 hours of continuous burn-in using the XLO Test CD, my final thought is, to paraphrase what another reviewer said, this Songbird is a Frog 🐸
Hi Geoff


Your patience pay off.
Is that dark humor? 🙀
I've bought most of my headphones "pre-owned" so most were already burned in.  Of the new ones I've bought, my Massdrop Fostex T-XO didn't sound very good at first.  I didn't keep track of the time, but after maybe 30-40 hours, they sounded much better and are now one of my favorites, especially for bass heavy music.  I've always let new headphones "burn in" for a day or two playing Pandora or something before doing any critical listening, but 300 hours seems ridiculous, especially if they don't improve. 

That frog is definitely not worth kissing!
Impression after spending 30 hours on tax 009S and KGSSHV Carbon made by loligagger.

I am using Jays Audio CDT2 MK2 to connect to Lyngdorf 2170 for digital equalization and then to Mscaler and Dave.

I am using Sablon Panatella BNC digital cables between Mscaler and Dave and Zenwave D4 from transport to Lyngdorf and Silnote Morpheus II from Lyngdorf to Mscaler.

From Dave to Carbon, I use Analysis Plus XLR cable.

After 20 hours of use and I had Stax009S and Carbon amp compared with my 2 channel system Lansche 4.1(plasma tweeter) driven by Line Magnetic 508 SET (Amperex 6SL7, 1944 Sylvania vt231 Nos tubes, Psavne Acme 805 and 300B tubes).

My 2 channel system go deeper to 20Hz with better dynamics and deeper soundstage.
Also my 2 channel system presents slightly more transparency and details.

Stax and Carbon sounds more intimate but with more realistic focus while the soundstage width are comparable.

With no eq, Stax and Carbon sounds very dynamic and no weakness of bass except sub 30Hz bass of organ.
It has a round texture with nuanced details neither hot or bright.
It is very musical and enjoyable.

I had done some experiment on equalization with Lyngdorf 2170.
With gradual eq of 2db up at 7khz and 3 db at 15khz, Stax and Carbon sounds more open and transparent.

I had paid 60K$ for my speaker and SET amplifier including the cost of tube rolling.

Stax009S and Carbon costs me 6500$ used ( Stax009S were 4 months old and Carbon amp is less than one month old, they looks like new one 9-10 condition).

I prefer my 2 channel system to Stax009S and Carbon on overall dynamics and more 3 D holographic soundstage.

But Stax009S and Carbon sounds so musical and nuanced with decent dynamics that I can enjoy music with windows open during summer time not to disturb my neighbors.

If I had got KGSSHV Carbon Ground Grid amplifier, there would be more room to tune the sound through tube rolling, but I am happy as is.
I expect to spend 60/40 time  between my 2 channel and headphone system.

Thus after equalization using Lyngdorf 2170, Stax009S and KGSSHV Carbon headphone system perfectly fit my needs.
Although I had enjoyed the sound from Stax 009S and Carbon amplifier with Dave and Mscaler for five days,

it is much better to use Empire Zeus IEM during hot summer days.

I am listening to "Come Away with me" by Norah Jones.

It reached 80 degree today in Pacific Northwest, maybe not so bad compared with other parts of US.

Stax 009S driven by Carbon amp sounds neutral with more deeper bass than Empire Zeus IEM.

But Empire Zeus IEM sounds lively going well with Pop music.