Not sure who were mentioned, but I had a very good success using ESW9 with Zana, at the time I had her. The biggest issue is the short cable, but also some limitations, such as soundstage & airiness. I didn't use them often enough with my Yoshino to make a statement, but just yesterday listen to them with some TRANCE and they were bass monsters. I think the nature of Yoshino to produce a great mids makes it happened, so maybe change of tubes or even IC will help a bit, will do one day, but for a portable use they are to expensive, meaning ESW9 and ESW10jpn as well, imo. I never took my ESW9 outside, not a single time, but at home they do not get much use, so, I am thinking of full size instead, cos they would give me more high end performance than either these to, I guess. I am not saying they are bad or what ever, just in my situation isn't that useful, that's all.
I remember how exiting people were, huge hype I would say, when ESW9 came out at the new price of USD 400 and now I see ESW10 for USD 100 more after a month only
I am quite suspicion about all this, not because I don't believe they are better, no, just that they would become some rare item, even with their limited production, just my opinion.
Back to the question, leaving the portable use behind, are they competitive to other USD 500 range closed back full size hp's? Not sure how many of such are there, W5000, Denon 5000 and...???