Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Review: Precide Ergo Model 2
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Review: Precide Ergo Model 2

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
Please note: An addendum now follows this initial review, based upon further experience over the course of the days following the initial review.



(technically those are model 1's, but as far as I can tell are the models are externally identical except for the labels)

Hi!

Today I got a pair of used Ergo Model 2 headphones ordered from my friend and yours, Duggeh. Also bought the Ergo Amp 1, but that's a different review!

I haven't tried Sennheisers or Beyerdynamics or AKGs or Koss's, so, sorry, I haven't a lot to compare the phones to. I've only tried ER-4Ss and Grado 225's, and my usual listening setup consists of two slightly-larger-than-watermelon-sized Bose speakers placed within three feet of my head, each set at ear-level and tilted so that their angles converge at the precise distance at which I sit. (Yes, I know Bose is overrated - but one can do worse...)

My source is either a cheap 5-disc Sony CD player, or my PC. Analog hookups every-which-way, no digital, sorry.

The fit of the phones is the strangest thing. Two big, flat panels extend on either side of your head, housing the drivers within them. Soft, foamy mesh material cushions between your ears and the drivers, while a less dense foam cushions your behind-the-ear-bones (what the heck are those bumps called?), and the top of your skullcap.
The whole thing is a bit prone to sliding and shifting - but with a comfortable posture, no head-banging/bobbing, you should need to readjust only every 15-30 minutes.
Apart from that, they're rather comfortable. My Grados inflict an awful ache on the top of my head, but the Ergo 2's are rather like wearing a kind of funky winter hat. A bit heavy - but it breathes, it's loose. Certainly it's not the kind of thing you forget you've got on, though.

Oh, but the sound's all that matters, isn't it?

In my first minute or two of listening, I was terribly disappointed. The sound seemed muffled, muddy and distant. Undaunted, I fiddled and fidgeted with the headset - and then the murky noise wrapped around my head, and became a surrounding membrane resonating with harmony. Proper placement is absolutely essential with these phones - and their unorthodox design makes it a bit more of a challenge than other phones I've used. There's very little to indicate where things are "supposed" to go, because everything is square and a touch oversized. You just have to get it right or it will never work - I thought my ER-4S were complicated, but oh-how-much-easier it is, now, in comparison, to wriggle those tips into your ears, than it is to get the perfect seat for this headset. But this is my first day with them still - maybe there's a trick to "get".

Anyway --

Soundstage:
I'm told that this is the phones strongpoint, and in comparison to the other phones I've tried, I must agree. The Grado is upfront - that's their "style", they can't be faulted for that, but in comparison to other headphones, yes, the soundstage is squashed up like crunched tin can (for the sake of detail, which has its merits). The ER-4S are like a vast, flat plain - everything is even and neutral. This, too, has its advantages, if your tastes run that way.
But the Ergo 2 is different. It's as if one is sitting in, oh, say, the second or third row of the theater, with all the bass and treble instruments in the orchestra box right before you, their sound rushing up and surrounding you from front to sides to back - from fore to top and then down the curve of your neck. But the mids -- the vocals, the tender reeds, they're in another place. They're further away, up on the stage itself - a bit more distant than everything else, but there's an acoustic magic to their placement.
I'm still getting used to the phones - but I think I prefer this kind of presentation to everything else I've heard, including speakers (with the exception of cinema speakers).

Bass: I've never heard bass like this before. The Grados were tight - but there was really no body, no depth, no impact, at least not in comparison to these phones. The ER-4S were super-detailed, and there was quite a bit of body to the bass - but, you know, it was all "in" your ears, and I just don't think bass can be all-that-bass-can-be like that. Bass is supposed to slap you around a bit, whether it's a plucked upright in jazzy frolick or the slam of a timpani with which a master classical composer is trying to tell you: pay attention, God's pissed off. The Model 2 "gets it", and it's hard to add much more to that.
Surely you've been to the cinema. You know what it's like to have the rumble run through you from those monster theater speakers, right? Well, the Model 2's aren't six feet tall, they can't quite manage that - but they do the same thing in miniature, and they do physically to your ears and sonically to the soundstage you're listening in. If I were a musician, I could describe this far more accurately - but there's something about the way that all the rest of the music "rides" on the bass from the Ergo 2, it's just...genuine. The bass is really there - it's not artificially to stomp your eardrums to make the DJ-types happy, it's not so tightened up that you get only the bare tonality but none of the essential strength -- it's "just right". Better than the porridge Goldie-Locks picked, because here it's not a matter of being "in-between" two other qualities, but achieving a supreme quality. It's quite remarkable.

Mids:
As much as I love these phones, I think that the mids are a touch dark, a little subdued. There's got to be something left for the AMT model to improve upon, I suppose.
That being said, the mids, at least, never fail to be smooth - vocals and reed instruments are seductive and sweeping, and the details of their tremors come through with near-palpable ripples in the air.
I mentioned, in the section on soundstage, that the mids seemed like they were up on the stage, farther away than the other instruments - and, well, maybe it's still an issue with the placement of the phones as I'm wearing them, but I have to say it's like listening with the curtain down over the stage - or, at least, partway down. Compared to what I've heard before, it's just a little muffled - but, strangely, a lot of detail seeps through. It's as if the tone is made slightly diffuse - the soundwaves disperesed by some membrane that, as it unfocuses them, also mellows them.
For most kinds of music, I imagine, the effect is not unpleasant. It's not precisely to my taste - but it has its charm.

Treble: The treble is much like the bass - highly detailed, sweeping, intermingling sublimely with the rest of the music. It's not exactly neutral, because I'm used to the treble being more "forward" even in my neutral ER-4S -- but it does seem more "natural", sparkling where it ought to, and never overpowering. It could be a little clearer, certainly - but it's very "musical", very sonically comfortable.



Each of these areas of the headphone's performance, taken together, I think suggest this set as a must-have for those who seek in their equipment the quality of "musicality". It doesn't give you analytical detail, it doesn't give you unnatural boosts at any point in the spectrum -- and yet, neither would I say it gives you the music exactly as its mixers heard it or intended it. It's simply trying to convey the music through a compelling soundstage, while staying true in terms of tonality to the original music, and in this area doing wonders with its presentation of bass in particular; it is definitely better than the bass coming from my Bose speakers, I've only heard better in the cinema.
If it's the experience of the music you're after, you're likely to dig these. Granted, I've not heard Senn's, I've not heard Beyerdynamics, etc., etc., but unless someone else who enjoys the Ergo 2's as much as I have suggests me to do otherwise, sometime in the sadly-distant-future, my next headphone upgrade will be to the AMT model of the Ergo's.

ADDENDUM:

So, after hours and hours of testing, tweaking, tilting, tipping, turning - finally, with the headband thrust forward into the pit running along the half-way of my cranium, and the ear-panels tipped back and high to bring the drivers directly over my teeny-tiny-ears -- I hit the sweet spot.

Forget everything I said about that curtain. The minute you hit that magic angle on your ears, the soundstage inverts completely: whereas I previously heard main vocals as if they were up on a stage, now I heard them with such intimacy, fluidity, and spaciousness that it seemed as if I myself were the singer, standing in the center of the orchestra pit.
The mids are cream-smooth near the center, then slowly, as they pan out in stereo, sparkle to life with electric energy. While this is great in most musical situations, it can cause side-by-side duets to merge a bit.
But back to the gains of the sweet spot:
There are songs in my collection that, with my speakers, with my Grados, with my ER-4S -- I'd never heard things in them before. All sorts of echoes and bass-bellows just never sounded in an readily audible way before. I'm sure if I compared, listening for them consciously, I'd find them not completely absent: but you know it's a world of difference when the magic little details shine through all on their own, naturally.
Most notably, there's a song much favored by me, which features some very soulful accordion playing. I've listened to this song hundreds of times, with the accordion my special focus on every listening. And I'd never, ever noticed certain high notes being played by it before. I heard the middle notes, I heard the bass, I thought that was all it had - but I was hearing only two thirds of the harmony. Discovering the higher range was a delightful revelation.

Now that I've found the perfect position for these phones (for my misshapen skull, anyway), the music has become sublimely intimate. The details all seem to derive from good soundstaging, rather than artificial tinkering with frequency bumps. Centered mids are the only things that have any chance of bleeding together - everything else seems to split off on its own course.

If you've tried these before and weren't impressed, I'd really recommend spending a few days with them, searching out the proper way of wearing them. I was so enraptured by the newly-discovered soundbliss that I sat listening to music for three hours straight, holding my posture perfectly for fear of the set slipping and me losing the sound.

Wow. It's a shame the AMP1, by all accounts, doesn't seem capable of properly driving the AMT, otherwise my next upgrade would be quite a bit closer to realization. But at this point I can't imagine straying from Ergo - at least until I'm prepared to part with $10k for some tubecluster-laden electrostatic-shrine, a la Orpheus.
post #2 of 44
Very nice review...

As far as the mids and clarity go I'd say keep playing with the placement. I felt somewhat similar, though for me it was whatever vocal/instrument that was in the "center" of the recording that felt distanced.

I have a definite sweet spot that works best for me with them and it took me almost a week of playing around to find my preferred setup. I don't think I quite got the placement right until I opened them and saw the drivers weren't where I expected (centered) but rather toward the bottom/rear and started experimenting more in putting them closer to directly over the ear.

The relationship of the headband's position also makes a big difference for me and took a while to find the right spot. Since the headband foam is so thick it can be worn a number of ways and will stay (relatively) in place from fore to aft. Since moving that may change the drivers relations to your ears you may need to play with which notch the panels are in again too to keep the drivers in the same relative place.

Ant
post #3 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyface View Post
The fit of the phones is the strangest thing. Two big, flat panels extend on either side of your head, housing the drivers within them. Soft, foamy mesh material cushions between your ears and the drivers, while a less dense foam cushions your behind-the-ear-bones (what the heck are those bumps called?), and the top of your skullcap.
The whole thing is a bit prone to sliding and shifting - but with a comfortable posture, no head-banging/bobbing, you should need to readjust only every 15-30 minutes.
Apart from that, they're rather comfortable. My Grados inflict an awful ache on the top of my head, but the Ergo 2's are rather like wearing a kind of funky winter hat. A bit heavy - but it breathes, it's loose. Certainly it's not the kind of thing you forget you've got on, though.
So all considered, good ergonomics?
post #4 of 44
Thread Starter 
That's a good point, Ant - now that I think about it, it does seem like it's the center -- and not the midrange in general -- that's distant. As if the soundstage is that "orchestra pit and theatre stage" - regardless of mids, bass, or treble. Now that I listen with that interpretation in mind, it seems perfectly accurate.

I've tried tipping the set forwards or back, to get those drivers to come over my ears better. I'm slowly finding my way towards the right sound. When I first started using them, I wore them with my earlobes peeking out from the phones, into the open air - that was totally wrong placement, and Duggeh was good enough to suggest that the whole ear should be covered.
I'm slowly getting the hang of it! But I'm a little too afraid, yet, to open up the phones myself. I'll consider it!
post #5 of 44
Thread Starter 
Hi Carl -
I'd have to say it all depends on your patience. If you set them well, they're perfectly comfortable but a little unstable -- but it takes a lot of trial and error to get them to fit right and deliver their intended sound.

But it sure beats having my head in the Grado vice, or my earwax tickled by the Ety's.
post #6 of 44
Nice review! I've thought about getting floats, but they are just too big for me!
post #7 of 44
when do we see the obligatory "on your head" shots in true duggeh fashion?
post #8 of 44
Good to know that you are enjoying them. As pertains to them being loose, don't try bending the headband inwards. That works to an extent with the older Jecklins, but with the Ergos it leads to the snapping of the bars in the headband or the torsion of the housing screws. As pertains to position, I wore them 2 notches down from the shortest setting I think. 2 or 3.
post #9 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyface View Post
But I'm a little too afraid, yet, to open up the phones myself. I'll consider it!
Don't do it!!!. Those little screws are easy to strip and the headband makes it a little tough to get back together easily. I'll post a picture for you here in a couple of minutes of one opened up.

When I took this I didn't really mark it up much but you can see by where the hole for the cord enters the driver is in the bottom/rear quadrant (and also that I broke a small plastic pin that helped hold the cord in place opening them... no worries, super glue fixed it up).




since d-cee is looking for Ergo shots, here's mine Stupid allergies, I look like Rudolph.



Ant
post #10 of 44
Do we know where precide sources their drivers? It looks somewhat like a Koss driver to me, not far off from the one in an A250. How broad is the diaphragm?
post #11 of 44
Nice review. Wow, these look HUGE !! I may get one soon... **or should I get the Westone 3 ? Dilemma TT_____TT**
post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by facelvega View Post
Do we know where precide sources their drivers? It looks somewhat like a Koss driver to me, not far off from the one in an A250. How broad is the diaphragm?

My understanding is that Precide make all their own drivers, or if they don't, they have them manufactured to their specifications, ala Alessandro. The small resistors you see there are a little filter circuit which is probably also an impedance correction.

And yes taking them apart is risky, they are an arse to put back together because of the way that the headband locks in. And the screws and the screw threads are easy to damage. All of this is a very serious downgrade from the Floats, which simply had a removable back panel.
post #13 of 44
Thread Starter 
It's interesting to see a clear shot of the inside, Ant - thanks! Something came loose inside my left-side housing during shipping - smaller than a pea, it rolls around in there...but, thank goodness, doesn't seem to affect the sound, so I'll just leave it alone for now. I wonder if it was that little cord pin you were talking about? It doesn't look like there's much else in there that could come loose without causing a serious problem...

I've been wearing my set a lot higher on my head than you are in your picture! I've got mine adjusted so that two notches are showing on the headband adjuster - I suppose that means they're set to "3".

Thanks Duggeh, I'll stop tipping them forward and back*.


* Oh wait, or did you mean bending the plastic? No, I wouldn't do that. I just meant that I had tried moving the headband to sit farther forward and farther back on my head.
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyface View Post
It's interesting to see a clear shot of the inside, Ant - thanks!
I took it right after I opened the 2nd time figuring I'll never open it again. My set has a little bump under the fabric near the foam in the back that I was trying to find the source of. It appears it's just some of the adhesive (hot glue?) that spilled over the front of the silver mesh in the picture onto the front. Occasionally it puts a little pressure on one ear depending on how I have it adjusted..... Probably would have been better if I'd just left well enough alone but then I wouldn't have the picture

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyface View Post
I've been wearing my set a lot higher on my head than you are in your picture! I've got mine adjusted so that two notches are showing on the headband adjuster - I suppose that means they're set to "3".
In the picture I've got it one setting below that, with three notches showing. I tend to go back and forth between "3" and "4" periodically trying to figure out which one I like better.

Ant
post #15 of 44
Great review. This is still one of the weirdest headphones in my book. :/
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Review: Precide Ergo Model 2