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Sony ECR-500 impressions

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 
First i would like to thank Wualta for writing up reviews and specifications about this electret headphone. Without it, i think i would have missed out on one of the best headphones ive ever listened to. And the great thing is that i only got it for some $30 odd dollars. This has got to be the best bang of a deal in my lifetime. Ive been listening to the ECR-500 for over 8 hours now through a technics reciever and i seriously can not keep it off my head. Im almost serious enough to say that the ECR-500 sounds better to me than my modded k340s and stock k340s. It has such a nice balance and effortless sound that is sooo intoxicating. To me, i feel that the ECR-500 is quite flat, although wualta in his review thinks otherwise. Maybe the amp has something to do with that. Im using a vintage technics amp/reciever that can drive a mean set of speakers and sounds great with the ECR-500s.

I definately agree with wualta about imaging on this headphone. It is wicked good. I just got done listening to dark side of the moon sacd and it gives me a spine chilling feeling hearing all the different sounds in space. I would even say it images better than my k340, which is a bold statement, but there is something about the ECR-500 that just makes me smile everytime i put it on. It just sounds correct to me. I will post pictures and a more in depth review tomorrow including a duel against its rival, the modded akg k340, stock k340 and k501. Is it just me or do older headphones sound better and built better than new ones? I think they just dont make them like they use to. So far, the sony ECR-500 is looking to be a great headphone in my collection and may take over usage time over my loved k340. More later...

Edit - Here are some pics, i just got back from Atlanta, so in depth impressions will have to wait till tommorrow. Thanks Yall.
Money Shot

Team AKG gangs up on lil old Sony

Some Equipment Love

Gotta Love the Tooobees
post #2 of 71
$30!!!
post #3 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by aznsensazian
First i would like to thank Wualta for writing up reviews and specifications about this electret headphone. Without it, i think i would have missed out on one of the best headphones ive ever listened to. And the great thing is that i only got it for some $30 odd dollars.
So you must be the fellow that outbid me by like a dollar. Damn you!

Chris
post #4 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by searchenabler
So you must be the fellow that outbid me by like a dollar. Damn you!

Chris
And me by 3. I was almost ready to stomach the $30+ shipping to this side of the pond and sounds like it would have been worth it too. I'll look forward to this full review as I may have found a pair over here.
post #5 of 71
I'm very glad indeed to read that the ECR-500 has worked its ancient magic here in the 21st century. Within their limitations they do one or two things that I've not heard bettered by modern 'phones, certainly not in their eBay price range. I haven't heard the now-legendary K340 and look forward to seeing it compared to the ECR-500.

The reason I'm a little hard on the 500's frequency response was that I traded a pair of Stax SR-X Mk 2s for them and was very, very spoiled by the Stax's flabbergasting ability to play cleanly at extremely high SPLs, an ability that would've been useless without an almost perfectly flat frequency response, which they of course had. The Sonys weren't in the same league with the $300 Staxen, but they did one thing the mighty Stax couldn't do to save its soul-- they could play a binaural recording with utterly seamless spatial realism. And they had bass, the first electrostat I'd ever heard that did, which is of literally fundamental importance to binaural realism.

And yes, $30 (less shipping) is just about what you should pay for an ECR-500, give or take ten bucks. Honest. They were only about $150 back in 1976.

Like any electrostats, you should give them the best amp you've got, preferably 30 watts per channel or greater. Enjoy.

For nostalgia's sake (since it's where my ECR-500s are from, the late Lee Kramer's High Fidelity SSS) I should add: Go Hotlanta! And of course, even though I'm not a sports fanatic, Go Dawgs!

Nota bene: HF member Tyre, self-sacrificing member of Team Electret, bought the service manual for the ECR-500 and posted it here.

--Walt Brand, UGa class of '73


.
post #6 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Comrade Penguin
And me by 3. I was almost ready to stomach the $30+ shipping to this side of the pond and sounds like it would have been worth it too. I'll look forward to this full review as I may have found a pair over here.
It should be easy for you to find a pair, since the UK seem to've kept the ECR-500 faith over the years. They've been gone for decades here in the US. Trouble is, UK bids have been known to go very high, so I wish you luck.
post #7 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl
$30!!!
I got quite lucky from that ebay sale. I thought it was going to be much more. Its in great condition too and both channels are balanced.
post #8 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wualta
I'm very glad indeed to read that the ECR-500 has worked its ancient magic here in the 21st century. Within their limitations they do one or two things that I've not heard bettered by modern 'phones, certainly not in their eBay price range. I haven't heard the now-legendary K340 and look forward to seeing it compared to the ECR-500.

The reason I'm a little hard on the 500's frequency response was that I traded a pair of Stax SR-X Mk 2s for them and was very, very spoiled with the Stax's flabbergasting ability to play cleanly at extremely high SPLs, an ability that would've been useless without an almost perfectly flat frequency response, which they of course had. The Sonys weren't in the same league with the $300 Staxen, but they did one thing the mighty Stax couldn't do to save its soul-- they could play a binaural recording with utterly seamless spatial realism. And they had bass, the first electrostat I'd ever heard that did, which is of literally fundamental importance to binaural realism.

And yes, $30 (less shipping) is just about what you should pay for an ECR-500, give or take ten bucks. Honest. They were only about $150 back in 1976.

Like any electrostats, you should give them the best amp you've got, preferably 30 watts per channel or greater. Enjoy.

For nostalgia's sake (since it's where my ECR-500s are from, the late Lee Kramer's High Fidelity SSS) I should add: Go Hotlanta! And of course, even though I'm not a sports fanatic, Go Dawgs!

Nota bene: HF member Tyre, self-sacrificing member of Team Electret, bought the service manual for the ECR-500 and posted it here.

--Walt Brand, UGa class of '73
Thanks for the info. Im using a t-amp to power them now and at pretty good loud sound levels, i still feel they are quite flat. Though my measurement of flat is pretty subjective , and im sure objective measurements will be different otherwise. Ill try a benchmark spectrum analyzer later on to see what the measurements are. They sound quite bloody good though Oh, and i didnt know that you were a bull dawg. What did you get your degree in?
post #9 of 71
Flattish. They're simply not glassy-Finger-Lake flat like the Stax, that's all. Hated to give that up, but I gained spatial accuracy and bass. Not a bad trade.

Hated to give up Atlanta too, but that's another story. I'm a J-school grad, by the way.

The T-amp is a nice little piece, but its bass response is either lacking or better-controlled than "normal" amps, I'm not sure which. EDIT: The T-amp has a measurable and audible bass plunge-off, as opposed to a mere rolloff, so keep that in mind in any comparison you'll be reading.


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post #10 of 71
Thread Starter 
Okay, so here is my little attempt at reviewing this nice electret headphone. It's not the most comprehensive review out there, but i hope it will give you guys an idea of how it compares to my modded k340 and stock k340. The equipment i am using consists of two systems, my modded and stock k340 system and the Sony ECR-500 system connected through a switchbox so that i can do an adequate AB test. The stock and modded AKG K340 are hooked up to a darkvoice tha336 tube amp and Zhaolu D1.3 dac while the Sony ECR-500 is hooked up to a T-Amp and also the Zhoalu D1.3 dac. I'm going to try to break up the listening tests to different genres of music to better access each headphone's quailities. The genres will include rap, classical, rock, and trance. All recordings are of the 320kbps variety or lossless.

The build quality of the ECR-500 is quite nice, it is constructed of an all polished metal cup and headband. It comes with genuine leather pads and the headphone adjusts to your head by sliding the headband to the chosen circular posts and clicks into place. The headband has leather bindings around it and opens up for easy head adjustment. The cable is one sided and is covered with some type of mesh. The Energizer box is all wood with a metal face plate that shouts out vintage, but is really nice. The headphones are really comfortable to wear and i fell asleep many times putting them on. I was a little worried of the headphone's weight because of its all metal construction, but it wasn't that heavy on my head. It is a little bit lighter than my k340.

Genres include
Rock:
  • Radiohead - No Surprises and Karma Police, im using these songs because Radiohead imo does crazy imaging like no other rock bands. They just throw so much at you.
  • Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb, great song and the best guitar rift ever.
  • Limp Bizkit - Creamer(Radio is dead)
Classical:
  • Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto #1: Alegro con Fuoco, great complex piece
  • Mahler - Symphony #1 Titan: Sturmisch Bewegt, for fast and dynamic percussion
Rap:
  • Ying Yang Twins - Salt Shaker, gotta love the bass on this one
  • Ice Cube - You Know How We Do It
Trance:
  • ATB - Ecstasy, great right and left separation on this song
  • Lasgo - Surrender

An in depth review will soon follow cause im conducting them now, so stay tuned
-Minh
post #11 of 71
Tried the Sony out of your tube amp?
post #12 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl
Tried the Sony out of your tube amp?
Actually i did(well kinda), i hooked up the darkvoice to use as a preamp to the t-amp and the tubes added more warmth to sonys but at the expense of detail. I found the bass on the ECR-500 to be already abundant and fulfilling. The tubes made an already warm detailed sound even more warm, which i didnt like as much. Though, the darkvoice as preamp to my insignia bookshelves made them really sing.
post #13 of 71
Awright, another Insignia bookshelf with the carbonfiber coax driver owner. Good on you, mate. Remember, the Insignias like it rough during the breakin process.

By the way, my ECR-500s are all plastic except for the headband and earcup yokes.

Eagerly awaiting your comparisons.
post #14 of 71
Thread Starter 

Modded AKG K340 vs. Sony ECR-500

Hello Yall, since school has been taking most of my time of late, i havent gotten the chance to finish up this review of these great headphones. Ive recently sold my Stock K340, but remember clearly its sonic characteristics. I wont compare them in this shootout because i believe the other headphones are more superior in imaging and detail. So i am going to just concentrate on comparing my modded K340 to the ECR-500. Again this all subjective and may not be a fair review due to the fact im comparing a tube setup to a solid state one, but bare with me. Okay here we go folks, hope yall enjoy it...

Modded AKG K340 versus Sony ECR-500 electret electrostatic headphones

For Rock:
Radiohead - No Surprises: The K340 portrayed this type of music beautifully imo. This song has a lot of bells and instruments floating in space and the k340 does a great job at placing instruments where they are suppose to be. Compared to the ECR-500, the k340 sounds brighter, but exhibits more detail. The ECR-500 is also good at imaging and are on the same level as that of the K340. I also notice the bass is more present on the K340 and the highs extend a little more, but the ECR-500 has a certain textural quality that i cant really describe when listening to it. Its like the instruments blend so well together without getting harsh or sibilant. The k340 while listening to this song was a little rough sounding compared to the sony, but it definately had more detail.
Radiohead - Karma Police: In this song, there is great mixture of instruments and synthesized music. I wanted to see how each headphone handle the radiohead ambience. Again the ECR-500 is so easy to listen to and never gets fatiguing. It sounds pretty dark in this song, where vocals are placed a little in the back row which helps the instruments shine. The K340 are more forward sounding, but the mids and vocals sound life like. Organic comes to mind. Also i feel the K340 is more mid/treble centric wheras the ECR-500 sounds more rounded to me. The ECR-500 doesnt extend to its lowest low or highest high, but it does a good job at portraying a pretty neutral sound with maybe a hint of darkness.
Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb: This song has a nice ambience of displaying instruments and the guitar rift by david gilmour is just absolutely amazing. Listening to this song on the K340 is incredible. The treble focus on the K340 makes this song come alive and imo makes for a more believable guitar solo. With the K340, this song sounds more 3D even moreso than the ECR-500. The ECR-500 in comparison, without the treble accent of that of the k340 sounds a little more in your head. However, imaging and instrument cohesion on the ECR-500 are excellent.
Limp Bizkit - Radio is dead: Just wanted to test more synthesizer action and a little metal-hiphop to see how they will handle this type of music. This song sounds pretty good with the ECR-500. Nothing is overly emphasized and makes for a very enjoyable listen. However, for this type of song, the ECR-500 is way too polite. It should rock more and make me want to head bang, but the sony just doesnt want to break loose and let go. Maybe too smooth for rock? I dont know, but it is an enjoyable listen nevertheless. This is where the K340 steps in and takes me by the soul. The k340 is more hard hitting and displays rock how it should be, head banging good! Again the treble focus on the K340 makes for a great rock experience. Its almost like being at a live concert. With the ECR-500, i get a nice polite neutral rock sound, but the modded K340 gives me a more fuller experience, making me want to get into the audience and do some pushing and punching, at least with this song

Ratings for Rock Genre:
Modded AKG K340 - 9/10
Sony ECR-500 - 7/10

More to come with other genre testing, gotta go back to reading now(hint: school sux)
-Minh
post #15 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by aznsensazian
...gotta go back to reading now(hint: school sux)
Thanks for the ongoing audition and comparison. Keep up the good work. And when even the idyll of U.Ga. starts suckin', there's a place on North Campus I can recommend-- the Founder's Memorial Garden. I used to perch on the wall just behind the lady's right shoulder:

http://www.uga.edu/gardenclub/61.html

Great place to unwind. Smells good too.
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