One can only marvel at Stax's cleverness. This system is so perfectly conceived that one cannot resist words like "honest" and "competent" when dealing with it. The main sacrifice, as the name declares, is luxury. This is frills-free, but only in terms of facilities. Stax clearly chose to deliver the most sound for your pound. And in that respect, they did it by retaining the most important sonic qualities, especially openness and speed, at the cost of minor refinement.
Using open, extreme left-right material like the Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth," it was possible to listen into the music and detect minor coarseness, or a slight lack of detail. But what a small price to pay for the natural vocals, the smooth, well-extended bass, the vastness of the soundstage! If there's an analogy to be found, this system is a basic BMW 3-series that never saw the options list, while the dearer Staxes are loaded 5s and 7s.
You gotta love these. Speed, reasonable clarity, comfort - they even complemented the little Nokia. Whether it was vintage mono pop (Herman's Hermits) or freshly-recorded blues (Keb' Mo'), the Staxes simulated the material's virtues as if heard through a main system. The flow of the bass on the Keb' Mo sessions, the crisp treble of the 40-year-old-plus BritPop - it's all there.