Stax SR-Lambda Pro Classic headphones A Caution

Sidebar 1: A Caution

All of the headphones discussed here were comfortable to wear using eyeglasses—at least the eyeglasses I tried. But there are so many varieties of frames that I urge you to try before you buy with your glasses, if you plan to wear them with the headphones.

Similarly, all of these 'phones are of the open-back, circumaural variety: Circumaural means that they surround, rather than sit, on the external ear; open-back means that others sitting in the same general area as the headphone wearer will hear a rather scratchy, bassless rendition of whatever the listener is hearing, and the listener will hear what's going on in his or her vicinity—this can be irritating to one or both parties. Unfortunately, the best headphones known to me are all open-back—it's simply easier to reduce colorations with such a design. None of the headphones here have boxy midrange colorations of the sort that affect some (mostly box) loudspeakers.

Remember my opening comments about all those folks happily blasting away their personal stereos, oblivious to the outside world? Most of the el cheapo headphones used with these devices are also open-back—their wearers simply overcome the sound leakage by listening at rock-concert levels. They're also attempting—with sheer volume—to overcome that lack of "bass feel" inherent to headphone listening. Believe me, you can do this with the headphones discussed here, though hearing damage is a serious risk at real rock concerts and even with some home audio (and audio/video) systems when they're used without restraint. This is a constant concern with headphones that can be played at unconscionable levels without effective social restraint. Use caution and common sense here. Remember, the threshold of damage for hearing is well below the threshold of pain, and while duration of exposure is an important variable here, it's insane for audiophiles to take these kinds of risks.—Thomas J. Norton

Stax, Japan
US distributor: Yama's Enterprises, Inc.
206 E. Star of India Lane
Carson, CA 90746-1418
(310) 327-3913