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CanJam Singapore 2023 | BoBo’s Review |

More Stars Picker's In-House Review |

Stax X9000
Stax latest TOTL, the X9000. The X9000 is the long anticipated successor for Stax previous flagships, the SR009 and SR009S. With such a long history and dedicated cult following, a new flagship from Stax is a big deal. Well at least for Stax addicts, like me :(

The new X9000 drivers were built upon technologies inherited by both the SR009/SR009s MLER (Multi-Layer-Elect-Rords) and the legendary SR-Ω (Mesh stators). More than 20 years have passed since the SR-Ω appeared, the new Evolution of "MLER-3" driver seeks to achieve both rigid stator characteristics that are more resistant to resonance as well as mesh electrodes that reduce the effects of air resistance and reflection to ensure high air permeability.

Enough of all that nerd talk, how do they perform? The X9000 at Canjam SG was paired with Stax's current TOTL driver unit (energizer) SRM-T8000, A Tube/semiconductor hybrid configuration energizer.

The result? Well. Stellar. 

The X9000 is Extremely well-balanced for a Stax headphone. Unlike the previous predecessor SR009/SR009s which is on the bright side of the spectrum, the X9000 is more relaxed and neutral-ish in tuning. Neither overly laid-back nor too forward in upper mids or trebles. The Bass is well articulated with great transients and texture that extends down deep.
Soundstage, Large in every axis; lateral, vertical, and depth. Neither distracting nor diffusing for its size. Great separation and layering. And of course, spectacular resolving qualities. Well detailed while not being offensive or harsh.
The midrange. Best way to describe it, Ethereal. Overall a Transparent presentation while still retaining body and texture to vocals and instruments. Most estat fail to achieve this quality which makes them sound "thin" as a result.

Unfortunately, the showroom was crowded so it was quite noisy so these are just some brief first impressions. I wished I was able to spend more time with it. I would definitely look forward to auditioning them again in a quiet environment if I ever had the chance again. Stax. You did great with this one. :)

Warwick Aperio
Well well well. Another estat. Coincidence? I think not-

Anyways, Warwick Aperio. The APERIO is used with their own proprietary driver unit (energizer) that runs the headphone on 1800VDC bias as a full reference headphone system, thus the electronics are optimized specifically for the APERIO headphone.
The APERIO utilizes a new Balanced-Drive HPEL Transducer (BD-HPEL) – a symmetrically-driven variant of Warwick Acoustics’ High Precision Electrostatic Laminate (HPEL) transducer, originally developed for the Sonoma Model One headphone system.

The Aperio bass presentation. It has volume, articulation and reach which are commonly heard only on planars, but with added speed and control. Great Dynamics, both micro and macro-dynamics. Fast, impactful, and controlled deep sub bass that can rumble with "oomph".

The most notable quality for me, the spatial presentation of these headphones.  The spatial presentation is a combination of maximum size of stage, and ability to place things convincingly in a particular location within it. The soundstage while being overall big, the ability to be intimate when needed and vary the distance and position of elements are done very well. Dare I say some of the best I've heard so far.

Timbre. A mixed bag for me. For instruments like percussion to piano, Aperio sounds 'correct', which for an estat it's quite a desired quality.The only slight drawback here regarding timbre is that on some vocals you can hear a tiny bit of 'honk' which can throw of the 'realism' on some songs.

Overall a non offensive, well resolving estat system without the common negative stereotype of estats being 'no bass', 'no slam', 'plasticky timbre' etc etc.

Crosszone CZ-10
Yeap. Crosszone. Japan always comes out with...well 'unique' stuff to say the least. Anyways. Crosszone, a company that gained popularity for their unique multi driver implementation in their headphones such as the Crosszone CZ-10.

Crosszone’s CZ-10 is a unique headphone that aims to achieve the 'External Sound Localization effect' different from conventional headphones that have a problem known as 'internal sound localization' (in which the sound sources seem to be located inside the head).

How do they sound in practice you might ask.
Let's start with how the technology was executed. 

The CZ-10 uses Acoustic Resonance Technology (ART) and Acoustic Delay Chambers (ADC) to achieve this natural and spatial sound field effect. This on paper, will help simulate the experience and sound pathway listening with stereo speakers.

In the CZ-10s, there are three drivers per side: a 23mm driver for high frequencies, a 35mm driver for low frequencies, and another 35mm driver that carries a filtered version of the opposite channel in reverse phase.
That 'ghost' driver output routes through the pipe which is visible in the outer layer of the housing. Routing the opposite channel's signal through a sound absorbent material along a precisely determined length creates the intended delay and cut before it joins the main chamber. The reflected and reverse sounds are used to create this delay. Sounds from the reverse and reflected chamber are mixed with the direct sounds, which on paper generates a spatial sound field and a wide soundstage aka (external sound localization).

Okok. I know I know. Let's finally get to what really matters.
So. How do they sound?
This pairs best with nothing.
Jokes aside.
Soundstaging. The presentation is still far from what a stereo free-field speaker set up can do. Well it was certainly still different from what conventional headphones can do. Sounds are more out-of-head... kinda. I give it that. Let's put it this way. Sounds are less focused in your head, and more of all around your head. Like everywhere. At least to me.

Next, Reflective ambiance. If that's your type of thing, here you go.
These two qualities are fundamentally far more different from your typical conventional headphones. Crosszone sounded fuzzy, lots of uneven peaks and dips throughout, below average resolution, substandard layer definition and with less distinct and blurry image focus. 

Overall, the Crosszone CX-10 is not something I would recommend to the general consumers. But if you're looking for something with an unconventional and unique overall presentation. This will definitely be on the list.

Subtonic Storm
A quick introduction to Subtonic. Subtonic was founded by A team of four young enthusiasts that came together with the goal to create the best possible IEMs sparing no expense and in hopes to redefine how portable audio can sound like at its very best.

The way that Subtonic team designs their STORM is unconventional, bringing forth new technologies. STORM, short for Subtonic Opus Reference Monitor, is designed with 2 SLAM (SPLITWAVE LAYERED ARMATURE MANAGEMENT) Woofers, 5 Balanced Armature (BA) Drivers and 2 Electrostatic (EST) Drivers in an incredibly complex true 7-way CTRL crossover.

The Result?

Subtonic Storm had some of the best bass I’ve ever heard from an iem. I'm not much of an Iem person, but damn. There is zero compression in contrast here, it is amazingly done in this area. The Storm is undoubtedly the most dynamic Hybrid IEM I’ve heard. There’s so much physicality and sheer dynamism. While the Storm still doesn’t completely shed its BA nature, it easily outperforms the vast majority of DD IEMs.

Great impact, texture and macrodynamic. It hits you hard when your music demands it (you can really feel the impact of air). I was really impressed with how clean the bass delivery is without being overly rounded or bloated. Tho, there may be a certain sense that this level of dynamics isn’t quite right/almost overexaggerated in some ways.

Resolution/resolving ability. NO issues here. Great resolving capability that can reveal finer textures in for example drums and cymbals. Every sound has so much texture and air associated with it.

Overall presentation. Storm reproduces with huge images, when a track wants something to sound big, you get it.

Never thought I would say this. But damn, this iem really did impress me a good bit. Coming from a non iem guy, this speaks alot.

Spirit Torino CENTAURI
Spirit Torino, a small boutique maker from Italy that is famously known for their eye-catching 'Grado' like headphone design with uncommon implementation of 'technological
experimentation' such as isobaric driver system in the TWIN PULSE and external passive radiator in the RADIANT.
Back to the main star in their booth, the CENTAURI. Spirit Torino first planar headphones.
Now then, how do they perform?

This sounds the best when it is paired with nothing.


I'll make it more comprehensive.
Bass. My fav way to describe CENTAURI bass will be, well. They can make 'electronic music' sound 'analog'. Best I can put it really.
The bass has so. so much colouration and harmonics added to it that everything just sounds fundamentally wrong. One might say that the bass on CENTAURI sounds 'natural' and 'musical' in their own way. But to me. No. Just not my thing.

Mids. Vocals. Sounds. Honky, veiled, dull, grainy, hollow all at the same time. Just weird. Very uneven in the mids. Tho again, I can see why some like this as it has a unique quality of ambiance that can make vocals and instruments perceived as being 'Euphoric'/'musical'. But again. To me, It just sounds fundamentally incorrect.

To sum it all up. CENTAURI is a unique headphone that implements their in house VPS Pad ventilation system with pressure compensation holes that on paper, allows the membrane to move with a symmetrical resistance in both movement directions. Unique qualities like 'Euphoric' mids and ’harmonically complex’ low ends that some might find enjoyable and pleasant.
The headphones pads are made from premium fine leather for the side surfaces identical to that used for the headband, as well as Alcantara for the part that rests on the ear.

The CENTAURI. Well at least it is a Big Comfy headphone.
And also a Big let-down.

✒️ Author :  BoBo | 📷 Photo :  BoBo
👉 More Stars Picker's In-House Review |

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