Ask any headphone fanatic to list the best headphones in the world, and 9 times out of 10 they will have Stax on the list. There are an ever growing number of headphones in the market, yet Stax have remained at the very top of the high-end market for over 50 years, with very little marketing and promotion. There is one big reason for their success – sound quality.
Stax invented the electrostatic headphone in 1960, hence their name which is a shortened version of ‘electrostatic’. Their first headphone, the SR1, was truly a ground breaking product. Since its introduction, many companies (Sony, Pioneer, Audiotechnica and more) have tried to produce similar electrostatic headphones, but nobody has ever been able to compete with the sensational sound that Stax can produce.
Electrostatic headphones work in the same way as electrostatic speakers like Martin Logans or Quads. They work using an ultra-light film. Without touching the film, a static electric charge is used and when an audio voltage is applied the static cling and repulsion causes the film to move. The real key advantage to this type of driver is that no energy is stored and there are no resonances, giving a far less distorted (and ultimately superior) sound.
Stax do not like to describe their products as headphones, they prefer to use the term ‘earspeakers’. T they believe the performance is more closely related to a set of speakers than the sound from most headphones. Having heard the range extensively, we believe this to be very true. The airy, detailed sound that you get has a phenomenal soundstage.
Instruments have a scary amount of realism which brings the music to life perfectly. The quality of Stax is so great that it is not uncommon for people to take out their entire hi-fi system and replace it with a reference pair of Stax.
The Stax philosophy has not changed for many years, they are not heavily marketed, they do not use the most advanced technology to manufacture their products but what they do is lovingly craft their time-tested products to a world class level.
Many headphone manufacturers will come and many will go, but Stax will always go down in headphone history as really being in a league of their own.