Rossini player+Blue Hawaii SE+ Stax sr-x9000

Hi everyone,

I am new to this dCS community and dCS products (well, I do have a Network Bridge for years). Recently I purchased Rossini Apex Player mainly for my headphone set up. Little did know that the Rossini player have a lot of functions that completely overwhelmed me. I just wanted to have a good streamer/ DAC (I thought it was a fixed output)/ CD player to hook up to my Blue Hawaii SE (pre-amp/ amp) with Stax SR-X9000.

I was shocked to the sound I was getting… ear piercing music. Then I realized I have “two pre-amps” amplified against each other. I am wondering what is the best way to set up my Rossini player with Blue Hawaii SE.

Currently I have the Rossini player direct hook up to an amp that go to an energizer to drive the Stax with Roon Nucleus plus and Roon running . It sounds great. But I still want to hear from the Blue Hawaii…. Volume settings at both pieces are what I need from any of you. Can anyone help? Thank you in advance.

Initially, I had the Rossini volume set to 0.0db, line output at 2V and adjusted volume only on the Blue Hawaii…. Well that didn’t sound well. I have tried all different volume positions(from -80 (ha) to 0 db) on both pieces and all four output levels but still not able to get a great sound. What am I missing here…?

Congrats and welcome :slight_smile:

I have a similar setup (Rossini Apex DAC, Mjölnir Carbon CC amp, Stax SR-X9000) and control the volume through the Rossini, leaving the headphone amp set to max.

This allows me to control the volume remotely through Roon (or through the wireless SpaceMouse on my desk).

I’d start with the dCS set to a very low volume such as -75dB with the output level (as you say) at 2V and increase it to the right level. I ended up at around -30dB to -20dB. If max volume on the Blue Hawaii sounds bad, then I would see if reducing it helps.

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It might be worth testing all the components against known working equipment to check nothing is broken. Once you get it working, it should sound fantastic!

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Are you saying you have

Rossini > Amplifier > Energiser (BHSE) ?

If so eliminate the amp. It should be

Rossini > Energiser (BHSE)

(Rossini APEX or Linn KDS Organik > Energiser (T2))

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I assume that Rossini was connected directly to the headphone amp ? I ask this as I am a bit puzzled by your reference to an energiser . Anyway if the Rossini to Blue Hawaii connection is direct then what you are doing is correct. However as @jandersonhill says the output line level voltage has to be selected so that the volume that you listen to on average is found at a usable position on the Blue Horizon volume control ( probably between 9 and 3 o’clock). I will expand on this a little to point out that there are also voltage settings at 0.2v and 0.6v. There is no right and wrong it is down to what you listen to and how loud. However I do not agree with his reference to starting with a low volume on the Rossini. That advice is pertinent if you were using the type of direct connection which means that no preamp is involved and connection is direct to the power amp. However that is not the case with Blue Hawaii which can be thought of as a specialised integrated amp. AFAIK you cannot connect directly to the power section. So Rossini is set at 0.0dBfs ( which effectively takes the Rossini volume control out of circuit) and the Blue Horizon volume control is where volume is set. In that configuration you do not have one volume control affecting another in series.

Roon also has its own controls but I will not make any comment as I am not a user and know little of this application. Nevertheless I would think you may need to verify that the appropriate settings have been selected.

Good luck with this and let us know how you get on.


I have an extra YBA amp. So the Rossini is directly plugged into the YBA amp then the speaker wires go into an iFi Pro iESL energizer. Rossini acts as a pre-amp. Blue Hawaii SE is not in the picture for this set up.

The energiser is what Stax call a headphone amp, but with the higher voltages needed to drive electrostatic headphones


Thanks. I did set the Blue Hawaii to the max and go to like -35 db and sound just starting to get harsh. I will try to turn down the blue Hawaii…. Again, thanks for the suggestion.

I did try with my old DAC(fixed output) with blue Hawaii and sounds okay…. But I will try to again to see if Blue Hawaii is the problem here. I will even try to check the tubes and cabling as well. Thanks for the suggestion.

I had the Rossini connected directly to BHSE. I even tried to set the outputs voltage as you mentioned .2V and .6V. It’s like playing with two volume controls try to get the right sound. Some cuts sounded great (but not perfect) then others just plain “yikes” :hear_no_evil:

The current set up is Rossini connected to a YBA amp and the speaker cables connect to an iFi PRO iESL (energizer) then to my Stax. And it sounds wonderful.

Thanks for your suggestion!!

I am getting a bit confused following this now however I will confirm what Pete said as it is how I run my multiple Stax systems.

Rossini set at 0db (taking the internal volume out of the equation) with XLR out directly to a Carbon,T2, BHSE or any other Energiser of your choice. The only volume pot used will be the wonderful ALPS RK50 in the case of 2 of the 3 energizers mentioned above (well maybe also the Carbon if it is a CC😉)

The only variable on the Rossini should be the output voltage.

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I have been using both methods: one is DAC with fixed output directly to the BHSE and other is DAC to a pre-amp and then to a conventional stereo amp and the speaker cables go into the iFi PRO iESL (this unit does not have a volume control) as an energizer.

And Rossini player output is not fixed…. So BHSE is “fighting” with the Rossini.

I am so sorry that I confused most of you guys. I like to try new stuffs. With BHSE, I am limited to it to listen with estats. With an iFi Pro iESL, I can pair with many different amps (conventional stereo amps) as I wish. That’s what I am currently using a YBA amp plugged directly from Rossini. Then the speaker cables from the amp to the iESL. This set up sounds superb using Rossini’s volume knob.

Going back to your suggestion: That’s exactly what I did at the very beginning; setting the Rossini at 0.0 db and using BHSE’s volume control. The result was not good for me. I was very puzzled. And I did tried all four voltages. .2V and .6V just don’t have enough juice to make it sound right. Then 2V seemed okay but still not great. 6V with BHSE sounded really harsh with the Stax :hear_no_evil:.

Thank you, Jeremy, @glevethan and Pete, so much for your suggestions and helpful advices. I will try again with your suggestions.

If, once you’ve re-tested the Blue Hawaii, things still don’t sound right, knowing the Rossini and headphones work fine with your iFi would suggest the Blue Hawaii isn’t performing to spec (or, as you say, the cables or tubes connected to it).

If it sounds really bad, I wonder if it is one of the tubes (either the tube itself or the bias set incorrectly).

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Thank you for that suggestion on the tube bias. I forgot how to do it. Shame on me. For many months, I have tried to reach out to Justin at Headamp on how to bias the el34 tubes. No luck. He used to have a video on how to bias all four tubes. I can’t find it anywhere on his website nor YouTube anymore for many years. I have ordered a matched set of 4 Mullard just the other day…. Thank you.

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Certainly not shameful to forget how to do this - I wouldn’t know where to start! Although may have to learn if I buy a valve amp…

There is some discussion about doing this on the Blue Hawaii Special Edition here, though…

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I brought out my old Stax 009 & 009S for a listen with the Rossini player EITHER set to 0.0 dB and let the BHSE’s volume knob doing the control OR your way: set the BHSE to Max and let the Rossini player/ Roon control the volume. To my surprise, both units sounded awesome on both settings!! So the problem is not from the BHSE. Then right away, I plugged the X9000 back (without changing any of the volume settings) into the BHSE and noticed dramatic sound change. The volume is way lower and overall sound in general is just not right. I had to increase the volume then I get :hear_no_evil: sound. Now I am beginning to think it is the SR-X9000 doing.

But I am able to get “great” sound from connecting the Rossini to a conventional amp (YBA in my case) then to the iFi iSEL….This great sound (perhaps not so great) I get is based on comparing to the ear piercing high I got from Rossini to BHSE. I need to hook up the old 009 & 009S to this set up as well just to compare. Perhaps they would outperform the new SR-X9000 which make absolutely no sense. [30 minutes later]…. The 009 and 009S sounded just wonderful with this set up as well. As matter of fact, both kicked my SR-X9000 in every way. This SR-X9000 is fairly new (like 2 months) to me so I don’t really know the sound signature like I do with my old 009 & 009S. I have been letting it burn in for most of the time instead of critical listening that I am trying to do now. Perhaps I have a defective pair from the very beginning (chances are not likely but a possibility) or I have damaged the unit during the burn in process. But I have done so for all my cans without any problem for past 25+ year. This would be the first. May send the SR-X9000 back to the manufacturer for a check up…

I spoke to the dealer and he agreed to send the unit back for check up. Packing up the unit (X9000) as we speak.

I want to thank everyone who helped and gave me all the suggestions. I am very grateful!!:pray:t2:


Another suggestion - it might be worth reading the thread here about how the dCS volume controls work. If I recall correctly, there is some slight reduction of dynamic range (or something light that) when the volume gets below a certain threshold. When listening to my Luxman HP amp, I keep that volume at around 50% and the dCS volume between 0db and -10db.

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Not sure what to say HOWEVER the X9000 is similar to the 007 and needs more power. The volume knob is definitely pushed higher for it to wake up.

I own the X9000 along with 009, 009S and others and on my T2 the 009’s have the volume pot around 9-9:30 while the X9000 need it set to 11am. Other X9000 owners in Headfi have confirmed this as well.

Good luck

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