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Article: Review | Stax SRS-3100 Electrostatic Headphone System


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Thanks, George!   As I PM'd a while back, I bought the SR-009S and SRM-700T on inspiration from your earlier review.  After eschewing headphones for years, I am completely addicted.  A good pair of Stax are captivating, revealing, ethereal in their presentation.  My only complaint is that my listening sessions often extend too damn long (haha).  

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Great stuff, George! 

 

I'm not so sure that plastic is a negative.  Back in the '70s, my wife bought me a pair of SRX-IIIs for a birthday present. They were truly spectacular and far ahead of anything I'd heard to that time - and they'd still be quite fine for true high end listening today.  But the real leather pads deteriorated in a few years, as did the foam beneath it. Replacements suffered the same fate, and I'm as far from a profuse perspirer as it gets.  After I replaced them for the third time in about 15 years, a friend offered me a ridiculous amount for them and I accepted it (with my wife's approval, of course). I'm not one to get buyer's or seller's remorse - I think this is the only deal I truly regret having done.

 

But no other headphones have deteriorated like this for me.  I finally replaced the pads on my good old Sony MDRs a few years ago after more than a decade of use.  I've had Sennheisers for many years without needing new pads, and my AKG 701s have remained in beautiful shape since I bought them in May 2012.

 

I have no doubt that these Stax are great - in fact, your review has me itching to check them out. At under a grand, they're great value.  Had I not just bought a new guitar in December, I'd probably get these tonight!  Thanks so much -

 

David

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9 hours ago, bluesman said:

Great stuff, George! 

 

I'm not so sure that plastic is a negative.  Back in the '70s, my wife bought me a pair of SRX-IIIs for a birthday present. They were truly spectacular and far ahead of anything I'd heard to that time - and they'd still be quite fine for true high end listening today.  But the real leather pads deteriorated in a few years, as did the foam beneath it. Replacements suffered the same fate, and I'm as far from a profuse perspirer as it gets.  After I replaced them for the third time in about 15 years, a friend offered me a ridiculous amount for them and I accepted it (with my wife's approval, of course). I'm not one to get buyer's or seller's remorse - I think this is the only deal I truly regret having done.

 

But no other headphones have deteriorated like this for me.  I finally replaced the pads on my good old Sony MDRs a few years ago after more than a decade of use.  I've had Sennheisers for many years without needing new pads, and my AKG 701s have remained in beautiful shape since I bought them in May 2012.

 

I have no doubt that these Stax are great - in fact, your review has me itching to check them out. At under a grand, they're great value.  Had I not just bought a new guitar in December, I'd probably get these tonight!  Thanks so much -

 

David

I didn’t say that plastic was negative, but I did say that it is more fragile, mechanically, than is, say, aluminum or steel.

George

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15 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Thanks George! As big of fan as I am of the RAAL-requisite SR1a, I'll always have a soft spot for Stax. I'll always listen to them at audio shows. Who knows, perhaps I need a pair of these as well :~)

You won’t be disappointed, I feel fairly certain.

George

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I write from Spain. I got the srs3100 in a store with a sale for € 876 (December 2020) They are connected to an RME adi2 fs (2020). They are the best headphones I have. I've done my research and as you say, George, the L's only differ in cosmetics. Maybe in the near future I will buy the L700 pads. My doubt is that such would handle the srm-252s some stax 007mkII. Although I like to have multiple headphones (HD600, rs1e grade, sr225e grade, hifiman sundara, akg371), I recognize that these are the best from any point of view.

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8 hours ago, gmgraves said:

I didn’t say that plastic was negative, but I did say that it is more fragile, mechanically, than is, say, aluminum or steel.

I wasn’t challenging you, George.  But you do make multiple references to a general perception that products made of plastic are often believed (rightly or wrongly) to be of lesser quality and durability than those made of metal, leather, and other materials for which plastic is substituted, eg “Just because the SR-L300s are made entirely of plastic, one shouldn’t concern oneself with quality issues” and “as with anything plastic, they probably require a bit more care in handling than the two more pricy models”.

 

FWIW, there are easily obtainable and readily usable plastics that far exceed aluminum and steel in strength.  For example, look at hemp plastics, from which Ford built a car in 1941 that was 30% lighter than the same car in steel. The plastic used is 25% stronger (compressive, tensile, and torsional as I recall) than the pressed sheet steel it replaced - the door panels could not be damaged with a sledgehammer.  Here’s a link to more info for those who are interested.

 

Thanks again!

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5 hours ago, bluesman said:

I wasn’t challenging you, George.  But you do make multiple references to a general perception that products made of plastic are often believed (rightly or wrongly) to be of lesser quality and durability than those made of metal, leather, and other materials for which plastic is substituted, eg “Just because the SR-L300s are made entirely of plastic, one shouldn’t concern oneself with quality issues” and “as with anything plastic, they probably require a bit more care in handling than the two more pricy models”.

 

FWIW, there are easily obtainable and readily usable plastics that far exceed aluminum and steel in strength.  For example, look at hemp plastics, from which Ford built a car in 1941 that was 30% lighter than the same car in steel. The plastic used is 25% stronger (compressive, tensile, and torsional as I recall) than the pressed sheet steel it replaced - the door panels could not be damaged with a sledgehammer.  Here’s a link to more info for those who are interested.

 

Thanks again!

Guess I should have said that plastic was “generally” more fragile than metal. Certainly, the fact that the Stax SR-L300 phones are entirely made of plastic has not hampered my enjoyment of them one iota, and I suspect that the plastics chosen by Stax are of a type that will last if some modicum of care is used. Of course if you have male rug-rats about, all bets are off. Your average 2-4 year old boy could destroy these in a matter of seconds given access to them!😉

George

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7 hours ago, bluesman said:

But you do make multiple references to a general perception that products made of plastic are often believed (rightly or wrongly) to be of lesser quality and durability than those made of metal, leather, and other materials for which plastic is substituted, eg “Just because the SR-L300s are made entirely of plastic, one shouldn’t concern oneself with quality issues” and “as with anything plastic, they probably require a bit more care in handling than the two more pricy models”.

 

As always this is a matter of degrees.  Carbon fiber is plastic, acetate is plastic, a number of very cheap and fragile items are also plastic.  The inference of lacking material quality points directly at the weakest point no matter what part of the design or manufacturing was engineered to produce that failure.  Patina is also undesirable/nonexistent in plastic.  It chips, it shows scratches and can crack.  

 

Fake leather pads and (eco-)foam are certainly an interesting tack from hard molded surfaces.  I don't think they were being considered in the bolded text.  Much can determine decomposition of items in contact with or leaching oils from skin.  I can't say if this was a common problem with that vintage model and replacement wear items.  Honestly I'm surprised you didn't attempt making pads, but life and careers take their own toll.    

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On 1/28/2021 at 10:44 AM, bluesman said:

I wasn’t challenging you, George.  But you do make multiple references to a general perception that products made of plastic are often believed (rightly or wrongly) to be of lesser quality and durability than those made of metal, leather, and other materials for which plastic is substituted, eg “Just because the SR-L300s are made entirely of plastic, one shouldn’t concern oneself with quality issues” and “as with anything plastic, they probably require a bit more care in handling than the two more pricy models”.

 

FWIW, there are easily obtainable and readily usable plastics that far exceed aluminum and steel in strength.  For example, look at hemp plastics, from which Ford built a car in 1941 that was 30% lighter than the same car in steel. The plastic used is 25% stronger (compressive, tensile, and torsional as I recall) than the pressed sheet steel it replaced - the door panels could not be damaged with a sledgehammer.  Here’s a link to more info for those who are interested.

 

Thanks again!

 

Separate from the question of actual durability--Stax, like RAALs, give the definite sensation that they need to be handled with much more care than the more typical headphone design of, say, Focal Utopias and countless models from lower performance tiers.  I skip the recommended storage box, but I do cradle my Stax with two hands so they do not twist as I pick them up on the shelf.  The RAALs I demoed were even trickier.  I think this is a small sacrifice to get unparalleled sound quality--from either Stax or RAAL, depending on your taste--but it's a pretty obvious weakness.

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1 minute ago, PeterG said:

 

Separate from the question of actual durability--Stax, like RAALs, give the definite sensation that they need to be handled with much more care than the more typical headphone design of, say, Focal Utopias and countless models from lower performance tiers.  I skip the recommended storage box, but I do cradle my Stax with two hands so they do not twist as I pick them up on the shelf.  The RAALs I demoed were even trickier.  I think this is a small sacrifice to get unparalleled sound quality--from either Stax or RAAL, depending on your taste--but it's a pretty obvious weakness.

 

Speaking of the RAALs, you can handle them like a bull in a china shop. Check out this video.

 

 

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