Originally Posted by Graphicism
↑ The question is what's inside the R10 that creates this very unique sound, what material is used on the driver? How large is the diaphragm and what sensitivity are the phones? I'm struggling to find any specs online but feel free to link me. Recently I've been interested in these older headphones, more so Sony after receiving my DR-Z6; it similarly sounds like nothing I've heard before. I guess you could say they don't make them like this anymore.
To start off, thats exactly right, they dont make them like they used to.
As far as whats inside there are a few interesting things going on.
Start with the drivers because thats a good place to start. They are 50mm, I dont remember sensitivity (like most sony cans they are fairly sensitive). Thats borrrrring, could describe tons of headphones made in japan really. The neat thing about the R10 drivers (and CD3000 and MDR-e888) are that they are a biocelulose. Rather than a plastic which is injected into a mold or melted as a sheet and pressed into the mold these are GROWN on the mold. Microorganisms are made to grow in the shape of the driver. and they leave cellulose behind. what fun. it allows for silly-thin (and consequently lightweight) things which are still very rigid, BUT isnt the most repeatable process and sony apparently had many rejects.
Part 2 is the wooden bits. This is nifty too.
The shell of the headphone is filled with a woolly material. It felt like cotton. The overall shape of the shell was selected to break up and avoid the creation of standing waves. The walls of the shell are thin enough that a bright light can be seen through them. They also have a finely stepped pattern inside the shells. It is much coarser than what even a cheap CNC router can accomplish so I would assume they are deliberate, and probably function to both let the wood flex and vibrate a little bit like in a violin while contributing a little strength and being ripply to break up standing waves.
The frame is magnesium, which isnt too impressive really. The pads are leather. Something neat about the pads is that they FORCE you to put the headphones on within a small range of "the sweet spot". Go to a meet and watch how people put on headphones with big holes. Where do their ears go? Who cares! Throw expensive speakers in a room wherever they fit and sit wherever your seat has always been in there and it sounds great.... just like headphones.... right. I get it, speakers HAVE to work in the space people have. Headphones dont. Very few people take the time to put even common headphones on in their sweet spot. Just like how you put speakers in a room, headphones sound different depending how you wear them! There is room for improvement with the R10 with fine-tuning where you put them on with regards to where the ear-holes are, but there isnt a bad spot in the 6mm of play they give you.
Nicer than you may think. Considering the general trends in cables in the late 80's when these were being designed MUCH nicer than anything else at the time. I guess people fall into 2 camps: Cables dont matter or cables do matter. If they dont matter, great! If they do matter what are you going to do to the overall sound signature of these headphones by changing the cable?