The Electrostatic Game

Has anybody had experience with this headphones?
(With the exception fo the SR1a which I know are well regarded here, still though I would like to know yalls input vs the rest)
If I am going Electrostatic @DarthPool I might go this route…

Sonoma Acoustics M1 Open Back

The footprint is small and I really like the design.

Than there is the SR1a:

The SR1a is such a niche piece that it actually scares me… I am not talking about performance nor signature, I am talking design… The question for me stands… Are they for me? :slight_smile:
For that matter, are they in the same category as the “other” Electrostatic?

Or how about the KingSound ?
KingSound H-03

I want to make the jump… I really do… BUT… :stuck_out_tongue:


If you want to give electrostatics a try, your best bet it to start off with the inexpensive Koss ESP/95X ($450 via That’ll give you a general idea of their nature, and are an excellent piece in and of themselves.

I’ve heard the Sonoma Acoustics M1 - I was not left particularly impressed. Tonality was good, so was transparency, but overall I just felt the experience was insubstantial - and even much more modest setups were preferable for actual musical enjoyment.

For the asking price, if going electrostatic, I’d find a mid-level KG-based amp and one of the SR series STAX headphones. Though I’d still start more simply to see if what they do well is what you care about.

The two most recent KingSound headphones I’ve heard (including the model 3) don’t measure up to the Koss setup, let alone the better stuff. Too bright. To ephemeral. Would rather listen to almost anything else.

As for how they relate to the SR1a … there’s only one electrostatic I’d take over the SR1a, and that’s the original Sennheiser HE90 with HEV90 amp. And even then the SR1a does a number of things better. No electrostatic system I’ve heard, so far, which includes the $50K+ HiFiMAN and Sennheiser setups does dynamics, impact, stage as well as the SR1a and at best the electrostatics were on par for resolution and detail (well, the Sennheiser and STAX units, anyway).

As ever … best to audition first … especially as its a very niche market and only the higher-end stuff really re-sells quickly.


Looks like Torq gave the best answer!

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Agreed on Sonoma, I auditioned one in home for 2 weeks in 2017 and I think this was the initial offering, don’t know if any changes since then. SR1a is my top pick since I got it and Jot R, eagerly awaiting HSa for my second HP rig. My notes at that time;

**Sonoma Acoustics Model 1

I spent a week with this in my home

Hardware Negatives

Clamping pressure a tiny bit too strong for the width of my head

Cable is stiff and noisy as it brushed against my clothing

Hardware Positives

Very light weight, and doesn’t build up a lot heat as many HP’s do

Compact amp/energizer with good feature set

At 5K a fair price if you like how it sounds

How it Sounded to Me

Smoother frequency response than many head phones I’ve heard over the past 2 years from say from 500Hz to 1Khz on up. Bass was not satisfying by comparison with my Utopia (or Senn HD800 orHD600 or Oppo PM-1). (I’m pretty sure the HP was properly seated). I’m not a bass head and listen at around 70db max peaks by measurement, on average 55 - 60db, per sound level meter, and that’s just short term bursts.

The coax input sounded much more transparent than the high level analog input. I did not test the low level analog or USB inputs as I’m CD only. Perhaps Hi-Rez downloads are best with this system.

Overall I preferred the sound of my Utopia with the cheapest HP amp I own ($400) to the Sonoma Model 1 driven directly from my CD player over coax.

Associated equipment: Emotiva ERC-3 CD player, Coax and analogue outs, CD’s only.

Worth a listen as I found it very alluring from that 500 to 1K area and up.

I would strongly suggest the SR1a at this point.


Thank you All for the reply’s and insight… I think @Torq is right, Is to audition one… As I am afraid that the SR1a are not going to be my “fit” Now to find a way to audition it. :confused:


This is on-point for everything, IMHO.


Looks like the Koss is the way to dip your toes. Or, you could wait on the circumaural RAAL.


Sounds like circumcision :rofl: :stuck_out_tongue:
But Yea, probably… I will probably pull the trigger this PM or wait… Who knows… LOL. :slight_smile:

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Well I don’t think you’ll need a mohel to get the RAAL’s. :laughing:

Taron and Andrew should be able to help you out with those when they become available. :+1:t4:


It’s kind of disappointing that Sonoma chose to make the analogue input signal go through additional ADC before going through the on-board Sabre DAC, which I believe is still the old Sabre 9018 unfortunately.
They are forced to do this because, as Sonoma themselves admit:
“Due to the need for DSP to achieve the target frequency response, all incoming analog signals must first be converted to digital. This is undertaken in a multi-channel 32-bit/384 kHz AKM Premium ADC chip.”

They do have some interesting innovations such as their “HPEL” diaphragm and the high 1350 V DC bias voltage system, and I wonder how much better their 'stat would sound if they are able to achieve a reasonable frequency response with acoustic tuning rather than DSP, allowing them to skip the on-board DAC and ADC.


007mk2.9 amirite @Resolve


So right. At the moment I’m most curious to hear how the SR-007 2.9 compares against the Shangri-la Jr. Those would be my two picks for most interesting estats I’ve heard so far.


Electrostatic headphones are great! The He-1 was so magical, lush and effortless when I listened with it. Too bad Sennheiser overkills it’s prices. They could probably sell it or a variation for $2-3k a pop and probably turn a profit.

:sleeping: = Sennheiser


I have the SR1a and they are fantastic and incredibly comfortable.
I have Stax SR-007mkii, and SR-009, as electrostatics running through a Woo WES.
I am running the SR1a through the Jonumet, to me there is no comparison.
The soundstage is amazing and adjustable, not fatiguing, first “headphones” I can wear for hours on end.
Highly recommend the SR1a.


The RAAL are not electrostatic but are ribbon drivers. I think the ribbon are much more like what magnapan uses and are a cousin of some sort to planarmagnetic. To be a bit more confusing all three ribbon, electrostatic (including electrostatic and electrets), planarmagetics are planar drivers this term refers to the way it emits sound waves as a plane unlike a traditional cone driver.


I don’t think anyone was suggesting the SR1a were electrostatic.


From the original post “For that matter, are they in the same category as the “other” Electrostatic?”

In any case I didn’t mean to pick a fight, I just read the above as maybe trying to say the raal was another electrostatic, and just wanted to chime in if anyone happen to stumble across this thread and might have mistook that message like did. regardless I think it’s better to be as clear as possible. Would be a shame for someone to get it and it’s not electrostatic at all when they thought it was.

If I have to choose only one headphone, I will take Sr1a with open exciting sound.

But I enjoy both Sr1a and 009s which sound more nuanced.

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That was meant as pun in comparison to others in category’s hence the “”.
Next to SR1a is Electrostatic headphones, the likes of STAX are usually put in comparison with SR1a.
Just as many like to compare the Susvara with the SR1a. They are not in the same category.

But I can see how it could be a confusing sentence.

I am trying to go a step further… I just dont know the direction… Well I know now. LOL.


ESP95x with a proper recabling for Stax :nerd_face: