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What are the Best Vintage Headphones? Pre-1980

post #1 of 95
Thread Starter 
As I have been searching for beautiful headphones for another thread of mine, I have been captivated by the looks of vintage headphones. My question is what are the best sounding headphones (pre-1980), and do any of them sound as good as modern headphones?
post #2 of 95
Some of my favourite cans are vintage; not only for the sound but the looks and design.
That said, pre-80s is a pretty early cut-off date for cans that stand up to today's offerings.
My fave vintage can in my collection has to be the Sansui SS100. It's gorgeous looking and sounds great with the right amp and music.
post #3 of 95
pre-1980 you can get the old, non-gold-tone AKGs, and many electrostatic and electret models that are worth hearing.

pre-1980 Beyer DT48's and DT100's are probably worth hearing, though you can still buy those new.
post #4 of 95
stats: all staxens pre 1980 are great, even by todays standard; some might even say better
i think the sr-sigma was TOTL.
also, the jecklin float and pmb stats are quite good (on par with the lambda), but rarer than the stax.

orthos: both yamaha and fostex made some great orthodynamics pre 1980, with the fostex t50 and yamaha yh/hp1000 as TOTL
the pmb100 also deserves a mention, but peoples opinion on this one varies; i like it a lot, but it is quite rolled off at the top and bottom.

not so sure about dynamics though, and i suspect the truly great ones started emerging during the 80s.
post #5 of 95
The AKG-k340 was released in '78 lots of people still use them and the design is fairly unique with the 2 drivers. The use of comb filtering to simulate open air response and the blending of dynamic and electret was super ambitious. At the time it was an assault on the high end of headphone design and still sounds good to my ears.
post #6 of 95
You simply can't go much wrong with a Stax SR-Lambda.
Even great for todays standards, 30 years later.

The Stax SR-X/MK3 is quite nice as well.
post #7 of 95
Thread Starter 
Well, maybe I should've said pre-1990 or 1985. I don't know what would constitute vintage in headphone design. But what I like about the older cans is the lack of cheap plastic parts. Instead, there is a plethora of solid metal surfaces shaped with severe Bauhaus styling.
post #8 of 95
Second the SR-Lambda! I'm enjoying that baby daily, but I wonder if I made a mistake in getting Ath-W1000 as a complementary headphone(it's on its way to me right now!).
post #9 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidhunternyc View Post
with severe Bauhaus styling.
How strange I was just thinking this morning about the Bauhaus t-shirt I bought as a teenager and my mom commenting on that it was cool to see that I was interested in design history, she didn't know it was a band.

Style wise AKG k-180 is excellent and from '68 unfortunately sound like it came from the time before bass was invented.
The akg-180 looks like hyper stylized robot boobs reminding me of the female robot in Fritz Langs 1927 film "Metropolis".
Check the AKG k140 for nice style as well.

post #10 of 95
1979- Koss Pro4AAAs Though they do have plastic, there is plenty of metal in the construction as well, making them quite heavy. The Pro4AAs share quite a few features with them.
post #11 of 95
I think the Sennheiser HD-414 is pre-1980. Might not have much metal, but I was pleasantly surprised by the sound. They're still pretty good. Same with the AKG K-340. The Beyereynamic DT48 has been in continuous production since 1959 - still one of the best for vocals and acoustic material. I don't know the year they were introduced, but I think the Sony MDR-V6 has been around since the 80s. They don't get a lot of love here, but I used them for years and still think they're decent.
post #12 of 95
More input please
I love vintage cans, especially closed ones...
post #13 of 95
Koss Pro\4 AAA.
post #14 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by JadeEast View Post
The akg-180 looks like hyper stylized robot boobs
AKG K-100 is similar

I bought mine in 1974 and they still work fine.
They needed a cable change long time ago,
and the plastic headband was replaced recently
with a hand made leather one.

Bass is lacking somewhat on these, too,
presumably due to insufficient sealing.

And there is no diffuse-field equalization either.
That makes them sound quite different to today's
headphones, but the difference diminishes after
applying the diffuse field equalization at the source.

I have no technical data for AKG K-100 (apart from
impedance being 2 x 600 Ohm) and would be very
grateful if someone could quote basic parameters.
LL
post #15 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
I think the Sennheiser HD-414 is pre-1980. Might not have much metal, but I was pleasantly surprised by the sound. They're still pretty good. Same with the AKG K-340. The Beyereynamic DT48 has been in continuous production since 1959 - still one of the best for vocals and acoustic material. I don't know the year they were introduced, but I think the Sony MDR-V6 has been around since the 80s. They don't get a lot of love here, but I used them for years and still think they're decent.
The HD-414 is pre-1970 and remains the best selling headphone of all time.

The original 2000-ohm version of it is pretty rare now, though.
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