The Stax SR-009 is our "if you're alone on an deserted island and you can only have one Earspeaker" answer. Just provide purity of source, excellent amplification, and we'll bring our own lotion.
Founded in 1938, Stax is the inventor of the electrostatic Earspeaker, albeit some 21 years later. Stax is more than just venerable and respected. They have consistently made one of the finest, if not the
finest headphones on the market for 53 years. Prior to that time they came up with the condenser microphone, an electrostatic tweeter, and a diamond tipped cartridge, among other things. (see pics for a shot of their old tonearm and tweeter-now collectors gold.) They also made a full range loudspeaker system of which one of our StereoDesk members was a proud owner.
Those great products aside, Stax is headfi. For our part, their full line tends to temper the 'quick love response' often associated with the large proliferation of cans hitting the mid and entree level market, though there is much to be excited about if one is looks carefully. For many newcomers, we have old Stax in house that consistently take them to school and back. The SR-009 is levels upon levels above those. Like all of our headphones we feel they are the finest of their type, in that within their sonic signature they represent the pinnacle at present.
Here are just a few professional opinions regarding the SR-009,
"You believe, as does Mercedes-Benz, in a philosophy of “the best or nothing.” At this moment in time, we think the SR-009 is the finest headphone in the world. Period."
"Stax’s SR-009 is a reference headphone that sets a new benchmark for transparency, low distortion and dynamic accuracy while delivering a wide and balanced frequency response. This is the standard against which all other top-tier headphones must be compared."
-Chris Martens, www.avguide.com
"Only the more recent high-end orthos, such as the LCD-3s and Hifiman series and maybe the HD-800s, Sony R10s and my Symphones Magnums come anywhere close. Now the SR-009 takes all this to yet another level. In the same way the first time I tried Stax and compared them to my regular headphones everything was so much more clear and real, the 009s have achieved this over even the orthos, which I hold in the highest regard. Questions about resolution, harshness, distortion, ringing and other issues simply seem not to exist...
So, ultimately, we have our king. Long live it and its maker I reckon."
-Currawong administrator from Headfi.org
"Well, obviously, the SR-009 is off-the-chart good. If you've got a hearty wallet, and the inclination, go for it, you'll not be disappointed. Well, except you may not be able to listen to any thing else, ever again."-Inner Fidelity
"The Pros: Transparent sound, incredibly accurate and detailed. Electrostatic driver. Legitimate game changer....The most detailed headphones ever.
If you have a high budget, and you’re looking for the best headphones money can buy, then the Stax SR-009 is you’r go-to option. These are a legitimate game changer, and deserve to be the benchmark upon which future headphones will be measured. Expect to pay a pretty penny, but if you have the dough… it will be worth it."-Brendan Mace-Totuktuk.com