Well. It has taken me quite some time to get around to this post. December 17 2011 exactly 5 months to this date. Wow never noticed that one.
Taking for granted you know about the infamous Peter Belt. If not look him up. I won't go into that here.
I'm sure many of you will be interested in a rare piece of electrostatic and general headphone ( oops earspeaker ) history.
In this case it's 2 pieces. My camera ran out of batteries so I dowsed my old pics and it should be enough for you to figure out the basic underlying construction involved with these incredible items.
I have a Phantom Power supply and mic test kit I just got in from BlueMonkeyFlyer for some orthos so as, or rather WHEN, I get that set up I can do a measurement compared to my Stax SR-5, S-001 MK2, NOS AT-705's and a few other planar types, orthos included.
May take a while so figured get this out there first and see if there may be an interest at all in that aspect.
I currently also have 2 of the next generation PWB earspeakers (as it says on the box) other than these two, which are black as opposed to the yellow here.( anyone selling some white ones???). Honestly I do not know what generation these yellow ones might be, perhaps the first (?). I will have to check on the construction of the known white versions of the stats he made. I do know however there are many versions of the adapter /transformer boxes.
[Thinking these are the first generation units due to all others seen using the newer wide double-row padding headbands ]
Earlier in the Orthodynamic Roundup thread I posted a pricelist scan that came with a pair of the black models here which shows various options on that.
Any of the listed ones with the double-row padded headband on the Wikiphonia site are obviously way more refined than these so I would hazard a guess as these being the protoype/first versions?
So for some reason I made a random search on fleabay.de one day out of the blue, and found these ones shown in this post. They happened to be owned by some audiophile feller in Switzerland who apparently was cleaning out his "cottage" and found these again. Yeah. EXACTLY...you should have seen his other stuff he had auctioned, that and these came in an extremely weak cardboard box from some ridiculous audio amp/component /speaker company that is out of the reach of most sane folks. So basically it looks like they were a one owner, and well taken care of over their lives. I can find no scuffs in any upholstery, looks like the stock pads without major blemishes ( simply some collapsed foam ), and no nicks in any cabling. Adapter box is in similar shape more or less.
For some reason the planar dimensional beings that oversee the audio frequency realms were smiling upon me that day:
Nobody else bid.
Here is a basic translation of the auction description using ImTranslator:
"War vor ca. 40 jahren der beste kopfhorer uberhaupt
Wenig gebraucht, guter zustand
Habe diese 2 kopfhorer beim aufraumen in meinem lager entdeckt und sofort angeschlossen gepruft und fur gut befunden.
Preis war fruher fur 2 PWB Kopfhorer inkl. anchluss - und umschalt-gerat ca. CHF 600.- im detailhandel
Es handelt sich um einen sehr musikalischen und raren artikel
Fur sammler, die gelegenheit
Viel vernugen beim bieten"
"About 40 years ago was the best headphones at all little used, good condition I have these 2 headphones when cleaning up in my camp and immediately discovered connected tested and found to be good. Price was formerly for 2 PWB headphones including data port - and shift-device approximately CHF 600.- in the retail trade it is a very musical and rare article for collectors, the opportunity to offer much just fun."
I don't know what inflation /USD to CHF was way back then, but 600 CHF (Swiss francs) in the early 70's (?edit if they ARE based on the SR-1 it puts them further back in time even) not cheap. Just doing a present day conversion puts that at $638 USD In 1960's/ early 70's USD! And that's ~40 years ago so add some inflation to that one!. Yikes.
The arrival that scared the absolute #!@# out of me. This was inside a plastic Canada Post bag with a large sticker on the front with an apology for the shipment being damaged in transit before it got to Canada.
Well what to do. It was a scary moment.
Then the inspection after a little hesitation. Nice box hey. Maybe I am spoiled from real Canadian cardboard.
A quick look to see what was smashed and luckily nothing. Was there some slight dampness to the box? I think there was.
The pads seemed slightly oversized around the perimeter that folds into the typical groove behind the baffle. They did have the oblongish earside opening typical of the later Stax Sr-5 I have so I assume these were stock pads. Below you can see the aluminum sheathed Stax-type 6 pin plug. Funny these are single entry and on the right side, English drivers do drive on the wrong side I guess
The very interesting guts and associated damping. Foams perfectly intact no decay. The driver is housed in a black rubbery-plastic enclosing surround. There is some black dense felt type material held tight to the rear, or at least inside the top opening there. Next is a greenish foam disc, and on the outer part at the rear vents there is a disc of some black fibreglassy/hairy/longstrand fibre stuff. As best as I can tell the rear vents are unique to PWB and are the same thing seen in the white, black, and Dyna-x orthos.
It appears on close inspection that these are custom molded backs that were somehow cleanly glued/bonded almost imperceptibly into place into what appears a basic Stax housing ( slight colour differential between the two ). Dig the padding on the metal headband which is actually extremely comfortable!
Shots of the adapter unit first two from the auction pics.
Very clean and perfectly functional. From what I can gather Peter W. Belt did not like the Stax adapter box designs, preferring to use his own for these boxes, for sure from what he saw as a safety standpoint with proximity of parts to housings and no doubt also from a possible TWEAKS view. ( Rainbow Foil sample yet to be applied to this, also the Creme Electret ).
I contacted Peter's wife May Belt directly a while ago about their headphones and any associated info/history, hoping she had a secret stash of things laying about somewhere she'd part with, but only got a very basic reply and nothing I couldn't find myself already on the net. Too bad. Doesn't anyone keep quadruples of their own products for the future ???
I have to say that these are far better overall than the SR-5's and NOS AT-705's ( decent bass on those 705's for sure ).
The overall tone of the things, as well as the elevated bass levels compared to the SR-5 is simply amazing. I would love to eventually get an SR-3 or SR-5NB/Gold to compare with. Sooner or later that will happen. In my mind I would expect this to compete with or best the Gold.
I find myself forgetting what I have on at times when listening for any length of time. Is it a higher tuned ortho? a dynamic? hmm nope the details, speed and soundstage are too grand.
This has happened more often than I can remember.
As there are two pairs I should probably keep them on rotation ( both work perfectly ) to keep them functional. At least plugged in together at the same time. these don't take much time to get up to speed if used occasionally. Maybe under 30 seconds. Currently I swapped a set of pads from the black PWB stats for these. I should really get around to stitching up some low profile leather ones to keep the original pads original.
I can post up pics of the Black E.S.2 models and interiors later and their basic model adapter , for now I would like to flesh out further insights and information this batch if anyone wants to bother contributing. For example :what's the deal with that black driver housing? I see that there's most likely damping on the earside in there too, but no idea how much, how far in the driver is recessed or what's in that. It is bonded to the baffle rear. Anyone seen something similar?
Oh yes here's the glamour shot.
Comments most welcome and don't expect me to be too accurate in sonic descriptions . Graphs will show a better objective display of the sound. As I get to it, after modding more orthos, after other things.
One other thing. On that price-list scan linked above they also had Dynamics = " Moving Coil" models of which I have only ever seen one picture in a movie prop site ( what a shame ) and specifically notated with " NOT FOR SALE ". This is also in the same housing and black.
Edited by nick n - 5/28/13 at 3:25pm