Since 3/23/99

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Electrostatic Headphone
Tube Amplifiers

This Issue

  First of all, I apologize for the tardiness of this issue. Almost two weeks of bronchitis slowed me down quite a bit. 
  I have been meaning to write about my OTL electrostatic headphone amplifier for over a decade, but I suppose I have preferred just listening to it. This amplifier and a pair of Stax Lambda Pros can ferret out more nuance than any speaker I have ever heard. And yes, I have heard plenty.
  Our first book review begins with Bruce Rozenblit's fine effort:
Audio Reality: Myths Debunked...Truths Revealed. If you know of a book that should be better known, drop us a line with its title.
  The unsinkable Circular / Balanced amplifier appears once again in the e-mail section. Here I have given a general purpose answer to a few hot e-mails.
  Remember, if you have a request or suggestion of your own for either an article topic or circuit, please e-mail:


   Electrostatic headphones excel. They reveal information from a recording that no speaker can reproduce, at least that I have ever heard. You hear a hiss appear in the music and then a saxophone plays a few bars, then the saxophone stops and with it the hiss. Until the hiss returns, you know you will not be hearing from the saxophone. Overdubs, bad cuttings, breathing, floor creaking, finger prints across guitar strings, car noise from outside, George Harrison's guitar flubs, Alfred Brendel's humming, page turnings--all can be heard. But along with the bad, the good shines through. The greatness which was Ella Fitzgerald's voice is made obvious. Many recordings that you thought were overloaded turn out not to be. It is just that your amplifiers and speakers cannot reproduce so huge a dynamic range.  No crossovers, no room acoustics, just the thinnest piece of plastic film moving in response to varying electrostatic fields.
    If electrostatic headphones are so wonderful, why are they so rare? Two reasons: expense and step-up devices. Quality electrostatic headphones from Sennheiser and Stax can cost up to $7000. Even budgets models go for several hundred dollars. Part of the expensive comes from the difficulty of making the film transducer. I understand that the more expensive models use handmade diaphragms   that require many laborious tries in the making. In addition, the headphones require a polarizing high voltage and a step-up transformer or a high voltage amplifier, all of which must be housed in an attractive, i.e. expensive box.

In This Issue


Electrostatic headphones Amplifiers
Book Review:
Audio Reality
E-mail: Class A Vs Advertising, again
Publishing Information
Glossary of Audio Terms   Copyright © 1999 GlassWare. All Rights Reserved