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STAX - using a Japanese STAX amp in the UK?

Discussion in 'audio' started by albireo, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. albireo

    albireo pfm Member

    Hi

    While at the Bristol show last year I had the opportunity to quickly demo a Stax headphone + amplifier set-up (I cannot remember the actual model - the headphones had rectangular-shaped pads and looked like the current 207/307/407 models). I was impressed. I have experience with middle-tier dynamic headphones (AKG, Beyerdynamic, Grado) but what I was hearing was on a completely different level, especially in terms of the spatial quality of the sound.

    I am now seriously considering the purchase of a Stax bundle (headphones + dedicated Stax amplifier). I would like to know if people have experience with using Japanese Stax kit in the UK.

    I'm referring mainly to the Stax amplifier: is a direct Japanese import usable in the UK given the differences in voltage and frequency? I would imagine in theory suitable converters exist, but how hard are they to source in practice? Would a converter impact the sound and/or damage the Stax amplifier in any way?
     
  2. Zombie

    Zombie pfm Member

    Stax usually handle 110-240 V. Check the item specs or ask the seller...
     
  3. Michael J

    Michael J pfm Member

    If it has a transformer designed for 60Hz mains then running it on a 50Hz supply is potentially trouble. Even if it has a selector or can be rewired internally for voltage difference, the frequency matters (the core can saturate if the frequency is lower than designed). Conversely, a transformer designed for 50Hz can operate at 60Hz with no bother. If it has a switch mode psu then there probably won't be any problems. As posted by Zombie: check the specifications.
     
  4. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    Considering Japan has both 50 and 60 Hz, most japanese gear is OK running on both.
     
  5. lennyw

    lennyw Still throwing Eephus pitches

  6. albireo

    albireo pfm Member

    Apparently modern Stax amps are 100V. There is no switch in the back to choose between 100V and UK/EU voltage. I see several US-to-UK step down transformers for sale on amazon etc, however these seem to convert the UK tension to 110V, not 100V.

    Would they be suitable for Japanese equipment I wonder.
     
  7. albireo

    albireo pfm Member

    Thanks, what current model does the 4040 correspond to? Which one would you recommend to start "sampling" the Stax sound?
     
  8. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Arkless

    You would probably be fine with the step down options in practice. I would not expect a high end product like this to have a transformer built down to the minimum requirements (famous last words...) so the 60 versus 50Hz is probably nothing to worry about. A cheap variac will allow setting it to 100V no problem.
     
  9. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

    Julf is correct, that Japan has both 50Hz and 60Hz in different areas
     
  10. a.palfreyman

    a.palfreyman pfm Member

    I bought one off this site:
    http://www.airlinktransformers.com/japanese_voltage_converters/japan_uk_voltage_converters/
    The model I bought was the JA100. I did have a 230-110V which was supplied with the head-phone amp but found that the reservoir caps were running right at their limit of voltage because it was giving about 115V from the 240V supply. With the JA100, which is a 230-100V step-down, this gave about 104V from 240V supply, giving more head-room on these supply caps.

    HTH

    AP
     
  11. lennyw

    lennyw Still throwing Eephus pitches

    For me it was important to have the valve energiser/amp. I don't know enough about Stax to be sure, but seeing as all the upper level sets use valve amps, it seemed to me that this was an integral part of the set up if one wanted to have a Stax system.

    I think as a set the 4040 is now the 4170 http://www.stax.co.jp/Export/SRS4170e.html , though there may have been another system released between them. The Stax website isn't exactly "modern", and the US version offers little more help.

    With regards to using secondary transformers, I can't advise as I know very little about electronics. I do know that companies like Naim place great importance on the quality of the PSU, so it would seem to me to be a bad idea to buy a setup that's not suited to your supply, and then try and add something to it (of perhaps questionable quality) to make amends for the incompatibility. Not only that, but if importing new and something doesn't work, then you're saved money will be lost in return shipping. Also, by the time you've paid import duty and VAT are you saving that much (unless you can bring it in yourself if you happen to be in Japan)?
     
  12. Wolfmancatsup

    Wolfmancatsup Empire State Human

    I had the Signature 'Earspeakers' and the 006t energiser. Sold (on pfm) several years back as I was listening more to the main 'speakers, but the sound was wonderful.
    If I ever get another set of headphones it will definitely be a set from STAX.

    Mick
     
  13. albireo

    albireo pfm Member

    Extremely useful replies, thanks a lot chaps
     
  14. JayM481

    JayM481 pfm Member

    I have an SRM-006t that's Japanese 100v, but I used a 110v-100v step-down as I already have a 240-110 step down setup for my US kit. That said, looking at the guts of it, and at some stuff from the Head-Fi formu it seems the Japanese stuff can be converted - the transformer has all of the wiring. You may also be able to get an SRM-T1S from EBay, which should have a voltage switch. It's the older version of the two-valve amp like the 006t, but it seems to be well-regarded.

    Stax amp/energizers are valve hybrids though, and though they may smooth out some of the harsher artifacts in the newer "Lambda" headphones, the full SS amps can have more grunt. The "Lambdas" are the rectangular cup types.
     
  15. a.palfreyman

    a.palfreyman pfm Member

    As an aside, I have some Lambdas which have an intermittent fault (drop out on one side) which I think is either in the wire at the ear-speaker end or in the connection to the driver. Anyone any experience, and is this difficult to sort out?

    Thanks,
    AP
     
  16. hifi_dave

    hifi_dave Hi-Fi Retailer

    Very easy to repair - return to the distributor.
     
  17. Joco

    Joco pfm Member

  18. Bill Colledge

    Bill Colledge pfm Member

    You have PM.
     

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