Nice to see that the ES10 is finally getting some love here on head-fi. I've owned them for almost four and a half years now and never even once thought about selling them. I think that says allot.
It definitely needs an amp to shine IMO. But for people who want this great headphone to sound even better and open up even more, I would definitely recommend a cable upgrade. The ES10 has very large full sized headphone drivers that are paired with a very thin cable. This I believe leaves the driver not being able to perform to it's fullest potential. The original cable also has a little bit to much resistance. Upgrading this to a thicker lower resistance cable will definitely tighten everything up and widen the soundstage. You'll still have that great sounding bass but it is more airy and tighter which I like for this headphone. Definitely more detail and wider soundstage with details popping out from a sense of direction which makes it very enjoyable to listen to. The cable upgrade is a huge improvement for the ES10. You have some headphones that will benefit a little from cable upgrades and some that it has a huge effect on and almost makes it sound like you're listening to another headphone altogether. With the ES10 leaning towards the latter.
I personally used a cable intended for digital audio (AES/EBU) but came highly recommended as a good microphone cable. From what I understand microphone cables make excellent headphone cables as well. And having tried a couple of different mic cables I ended up with a pretty thick cable but it was the best sounding one IMO (I originally wanted a thinner cable).
Here are some pictures of the ES10 with the cable upgrade. I went with white shrink tubing and cable sock because I thought it looked really sexy on the ES10 with the titanium earcups :p.
Glad to say after more hours of research than I'm willing to admit, that I'll go with Audio Technica as my first audiophile cans. However, there's still so much more to learn and decide on...
I plan on switching the es10's 53mm driver into the a2000x to get the best of all three worlds-- warm drivers, circumaural isolation, and chrome rims! a neat titanium look .
Of course, sonic mishaps are expected and the new cans will probably need heavy tuning and further mods.
Speaking of which, I'd like to compensate for any overpowering bass/treble using custom cables such as the colored Dragons by Moon Audio.
Gotta dive into the DIY cable threads asap.
If you found any particular guide or tutorial helpful in working with your es10's, could you please recommend them?