Stax Headphones

I’m looking to upgrade my Unitiqute to the Atom and also the Stax SR-L700 headphones and Energiser.
Are there enough inputs on the Atom to accommodate the energiser along with the head amp for my LP12 and speakers? There are no local Naim dealers to where I live that are also distributers for Stax. Just want to make sure before I buy online. Thanks for any advice/suggestions.

Which energiser do you use with the STAX?

Not bought the headphones yet but they seem to be paired with the Stax SRM-353X energiser.

OK thanks. Well, you have a problem adding the STAX to either the Uniti Qute or the Atom in that neither have a line level or tape loop OUT to feed a separate headphone amp. They do offer a pre-amp OUT, but this is not ideal - you end up juggling two volume controls, and of course you get the losses of routing the signal through two controls as well.

The STAX headphones and amp are super-revealing too, so really deserve the best source you can feed them. If they are a given, then instead of the Atom, you would probably be better off looking at separates such as the ND5xs2 and a NAIT - the latter would provide the necessary Tape OUT as well, and would keep your LP12 source chain completely analogue too.

Many thanks Richard, stopped me making an expensive mistake!

Hi Richard,
Thanks for your reply which got me thinking. Ignoring the headphones for the time being, I have a dilemma regarding upgrading so I’d be grateful if you could advise the benefits or pitfalls of the following. With a budget of between £4 and £5k (max without headphones)which would give me the best results.
Option 1 - Nova. One box solution, rave reviews etc.but unable to feed a separate headphone amp.
Option 2 - Your suggestion of ND5 XS2 and NAIT XS2 giving me the option of having the Stax, but no option of a power supply upgrade or
Option 3 - Keep the Unitiqute (6 years old) and buy the NAC202/NAP200 and hold the NAC202 back until I can afford the ND5 XS2.
Other components are Unitiserve, LP12 and Linn Majik 140 speakers.
Obviously, I would audition all options but I’d like to have your thoughts on whether I’m going down the right road (or not).
Thanks, Andrew


Option 1, the Nova, would be great, but you won’t be able to add a dedicated headphone amp like the Stax, nor will you be able to upgrade with a dedicated power supply.

Option 2, the ND5XS2 and NAIT XS2, will give you not just great sound, but you’ll be able to add a dedicated headphone amp, and the NAIT XS2 can be upgraded with a dedicated power supply. If the budget can take it, also consider an NDX2 with the NAIT. I have a hunch that I would likely prefer something like this over even an ND5XS2 with a NAC202/NAP200, but it would be an interesting dem, either way.

Thanks Richard.

Whilst the Nova looks to be the easiest solution I don’t think it’ll give me what I want. I’ll be using headphones probably about 50% of the time so it makes sense to go for the best I can get. I’m not saying I’ll go for the Stax but it’ll certainly be up there on the list to have a listen to.
The NDX2 I fear will be out of my budget so the ND5XS2 and the NAIT XS2 looks to be the way to go.
However, if I don’t like the Stax and prefer something easier to drive like the Focal Clear or even the Utopia, then that brings the Nova back in play.
It’s not easy upgrading is it?

Hi Richard,

If I were to tweak my budget a little and exluded the Nova, which combination do you think would work best :-

  1. NDX2 and Nait XS2 or
  2. NAC N 272 and NAP250 DR
    Pretty much similar spend but does option 2 give me the option of also having a Stax headphone amp?

Sorry to keep pestering you but there are so many options within the £4-7k range it’s trying to get the right combinations to audition that’s the hard part!

Also, because I’ve raised my budget there would be no option to add a power supply in the short term.


My view is that these decisions are really best made with the help of a good dealer, and even if you have to travel to find one, it is well worth the effort. Getting it wrong can be an expensive mistake, and a dealer can guide you through the choices.
My own preference would be to build a separates system unless you really need to limit yourself to one or two boxes, and I would also be wary of buying a 272 unless you only intend to stream from a local collection, as the new streamers have a wider and more reliable range of web streaming options.

Andrew, the NAC-N272 does offer the required line out for use with a STAX energiser. However, I can only echo Chris’s post above - best to make this sort of decision with the help of a good dealer who can demo the available options.

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your reply. I do intend to seek the help of a good dealer I just thought I could narrow down the options a bit as there do seem to be a number of combinations within my budget range. At present, most of my streaming comes from my CD collection ripped to my Unitiserve.

I found a good dealer with a wide range of headphones and I found that the long drive was well worth the effort. I went in with my narrowed down list with fairly firm ideas of what i was looking for and came away with something completely different, Stax L700 headphones and a tube energiser.

Make a day of it! happy headphone hunting.

Hi Roog,

Thanks for your reply. How do you find the L700’s? They are the number one I want to listen to but the trouble is that there are not many Stax dealers around.
However, I’ve been talking to Hi-Fi Lounge which is about an hour and a half’s drive from where I live so that’s not too bad. The good thing about them is that not only are they Naim dealers but it incorporates HighEnd Headphones too which will let me have a listen to many including Stax. I’ve just got to make sure I get the amp right to take the energiser.

HiFi Lounge, that’s the place! and about 3.0 hours drive from me, but still worth the drive.

I wanted a closed back design, Audeze LCD-X, I tried a few closed back headphones, I liked the Fostex TH-900, then moved onto open back, including the Audeze range, Sennheiser 800 series, and the Focals. Then onto the Stax range which to my ear improve through the L300, 500 to the L700 which have better bass performance, which isnt one of the Stax strong points**. For me the key difference between the others and Stax is the resolution and speed of the Stax. Focal Utopia are dam good too, probably have a better overall balance but I think Stax have the edge on resolution. I tried the solid state energiser and the 006 and 007 tube energisers, I felt it was worth going with the 006ts Kimik 2. Even in my modest system, becuase of the Stax I hear stuff in music I never knew was there.

Break out from the Stax is significant and I can see why some wouldn’t want them for this reason alone.

** I should qualify this, the bass may not have quite the slam as ‘dynamic’ and ‘planner magnetic’ designs, but it is there and my goodness it starts and stops so fast without adding artefacts caused by relatively ‘heavy’ moving parts that some other designs exhibit. I found bass played through electrostatics a revelation.

Ultimately, comfort, practicality and the sound your prefer, are all important and only you can decide. Trial is well worth/essential if you are spending this kind of money on headphones. Best wishes.

Looks like I’m following your route, also with the 006ts energiser. It’s nice to hear a good independent view of the Staxes.
I am also looking at the Focal - Clear, Stelia and the Utopia mainly because of the excellent reviews and the fact that they’re easier to drive.
I’ve not heard any so it’ll be interesting to see if I hear what you did!
I’ll be spending at least 50% of my time listening this way so it makes sense to get the best I can afford.
Presumably, you were happy with Hi-Fi Lounge - my previous dealer was Nottingham Hi-Fi but they were owned by the same people as Superfi and closed down - so it’ll be good to find a good dealer again.

I used to do quite a lot of late-night headphone listening and really thought I would love Staxs from everything I heard - in the end I hated them - beguiling but anaemic. Ended up with the big Grado phones and loved them with a Headline+Supercap. I hardly ever use headphones now…

Also got the 006ts Kimik energiser with L700 headset
That brilliant as in extremely good, not brilliant as in too bright !!!

HiFi lounge were great, a colleague and i had many hours there to listen freely. They had a wider range of high end headphones than any other dealer i have visited, and having the Audeze, Focal, Sennheisers, Stax and others all in one place is so helpful.

That said, Stax are so distinctive that hearing them in isolation might be enough for you decide.

Can’t wait to be honest. I heard a pair some years ago - can’t remember the model - and swore that one day I’d get a pair when I could afford it. Looking forward to visiting Hi-Fi Lounge.
Trouble is you build them up in your mind and when you finally try them they turn out to be a disappointment. I’m sure it’ll not be like that with the L700’s though!