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History of headphones - a good article - Page 2

post #16 of 29

Do these companies have patents filed as to who was first or is it who is first to market is the winner?  

post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


Electrets have a permanent charge - electrostats do not (and rely on an external bias supply). They are similar but different. The HD 800 comparison isn't really related imho (ring radiators are a type of dome driver, and while they have different radiation and performance characteristics than conventional cones, they are still very much dynamic transducers).
More info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headphones#Electret
Sennheiser claims the Unipolar 2000 was the first open-back Electret headphone on the market. I believe Audio-Technica (and perhaps STAX) released models around the same time period, and just like the invention of the electrostatic headphone, there are competing claims to who got there first. redface.gif

 

The description on the wiki page for an electrostat is along these lines (if I got it right): charge on diaphragm, charge (audio signal) on metal plates that surround the diaphragm. The (covert) description on that page for an electret is the exact same: charge on diaphragm, charge on metal plates around the diaphragm. So electrets and electrostats operate on the very same principle, only differing in where the diaphragm charge comes from.

 

(But if one is to make a distinction that electrets aren't electrostats, they should maybe also start worrying about which amp an electrostat gets its charge from - whether they can be classed as true electrostats or not depending on the quality of the amp, since to me this dichotomy at its base seems a question of prestige, people wanting to separate cheaper electrets from the more expensive regular electrostats.)

 

I think you're right about the Unipolar claimed as being the first open electrets.


Edited by vid - 9/29/12 at 9:41am
post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nectar View Post

Do these companies have patents filed as to who was first or is it who is first to market is the winner?  

In different countries and for unique inventions - emgm Koss in the US and Sennheiser in Germany. They own their own tech for sure. But its like MartinLogan and Quad - both make stats but both hold unique related patents. Very confused issue.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vid View Post

The description on the wiki page for an electrostat is along these lines (if I got it right): charge on diaphragm, charge (audio signal) on metal plates that surround the diaphragm. The (covert) description on that page for an electret is the exact same: charge on diaphragm, charge on metal plates around the diaphragm. So electrets and electrostats operate on the very same principle, only differing in where the diaphragm charge comes from.

(But if one is to make a distinction that electrets aren't electrostats, they should maybe also start worrying about which amp an electrostat gets its charge from - whether they can be classed as true electrostats or not depending on the quality of the amp, since to me this dichotomy at its base seems a question of prestige, people wanting to separate cheaper electrets from the more expensive regular electrostats.)

I think you're right about the Unipolar claimed as being the first open electrets.

I don't see it as prestige; its just different operating modalities. They are separate albeit similar tech - even the manufacturers point this difference out. The biggest advantage of electrets in theory is being able to drive from "normal" amps (Look at the Rotel as an excample). I think the quality concerns are inflated - consider that electrets "died" in the 1980s - stats from that era aren't world-beaters either.

While the basic operating principle is similar, its like saying an isodynamic is a dynamic because it uses magnets - it grossly oversimplifies the discussion.
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

I don't see it as prestige; its just different operating modalities. They are separate albeit similar tech - even the manufacturers point this difference out. The biggest advantage of electrets in theory is being able to drive from "normal" amps (Look at the Rotel as an excample). I think the quality concerns are inflated - consider that electrets "died" in the 1980s - stats from that era aren't world-beaters either.
While the basic operating principle is similar, its like saying an isodynamic is a dynamic because it uses magnets - it grossly oversimplifies the discussion.

 

Though what's the difference in operating principle between regular electrostats and electrets - other than where the diaphragm gets its charge - which sets them apart so that it can be said that electrets aren't electrostats at all?

post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by vid View Post

Though what's the difference in operating principle between regular electrostats and electrets - other than where the diaphragm gets its charge - which sets them apart so that it can be said that electrets aren't electrostats at all?

The diaphragm is permanently charged, it isn't receiving a bias supply from an amplifier or step-up transformer (which is what makes the distinction - whether or not the diaphragm is permanently charged or externally biased). They are very similar, but not the same thing. I really don't see why it's such an issue that they're distinct from other designs.
Edited by obobskivich - 9/29/12 at 10:20pm
post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

The diaphragm is permanently charged, it isn't receiving a bias supply from an amplifier or step-up transformer (which is what makes the distinction - whether or not the diaphragm is permanently charged or externally biased). They are very similar, but not the same thing. I really don't see why it's such an issue that they're distinct from other designs.

 

To me it seems that the electrostatic principle is like this: a charged diaphragm responding to charged plates around it. Whether the charge comes from the factory or through a wire to me seems a question of subtype - electrostatic being the umbrella term.

 

And I do think this is a semantic issue then, because you agree that electrets and electrostats are similar but not the same; the Stax SR-009 and SR-007 are similar but not the same as well. It seems that you assign the name electrostat to those electrostatic headphones where the diaphragm is charged via the amp - but why so? What if I were to call electrets electret electrostats (as they have been) and regular electrostats needy electrostats - would they seem as different then as they do when called electrets and electrostats?

 

One can of course always hit the dictionaries for the term electrostatic as well.

post #22 of 29

The Absolute Sound has two nicely done volumes of the Illustrated History of High-End Audio. I got a discount on the first one on Loudspeakers, but they are quite expensive, and have not gotten the Electronics one yet. I wonder if there will be a Vol 3 and if they'll tackle headphones. I wouldn't hold my breath though. There are a lot of folks here who are very qualified to add to the Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headphones

 

Perhaps I'll do a little bit on my site if I get time to research, but I'm sure someone else would do it better!

 

post #23 of 29

Can't seem to find a few facts, perhaps someone can help.

 

1978 Yamaha YH-1000 flagship orthodynamic headphones: How much were they at the time? They were fairly expensive flagship, but I can't find any price info. Nor with the 1981 YH-100, which were cheaper and replaced the previous flagship.

 

Did any other orthodynamic from Audio-Technica, Radio Shack, Pacific Stereo, Lafayette, Bang & Olufsen, Burwen, Wharfedale or Stax rival those in that era?

 

In 1989 the Sony MDR-R10 was $2,500, the most expensive headphones ever, until the Orpheus a couple years later. I read the previously most expensive headphones were about $1,500. But WHAT WERE THEY?

post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fastnbulbous View Post

Can't seem to find a few facts, perhaps someone can help.

1978 Yamaha YH-1000 flagship orthodynamic headphones: How much were they at the time? They were fairly expensive flagship, but I can't find any price info. Nor with the 1981 YH-100, which were cheaper and replaced the previous flagship.

Did any other orthodynamic from Audio-Technica, Radio Shack, Pacific Stereo, Lafayette, Bang & Olufsen, Burwen, Wharfedale or Stax rival those in that era?

In 1989 the Sony MDR-R10 was $2,500, the most expensive headphones ever, until the Orpheus a couple years later. I read the previously most expensive headphones were about $1,500. But WHAT WERE THEY?

Guessing here: Probably either STAX (Lambda Nova something or other) or the original Grados. If memory serves the ESP/950 came out somewhat after the R10 so they're out (and ditto on the AKG K1000). I don't recall what Sony's flagship electret (the ECR-800) cost new, but they were probably "up there" and are reportedly very good sounding (as the legend goes, they were so good that the Sony engineers could tell the differences between colors on the wire insulation through listening to them), they're also probably one of the rarest headphones in the world to find.
post #25 of 29

Thanks. The Koss ESP-950 came out in 1990, and is still sold today for about a grand with the amp. Not sure what it was back then, but probably less. I believe the Stax SR-Omega was their first flagship level headphone in 1993. The Lambda Nova was 1995, and the SR-007 flagship came out in 1998 for about $1,800. There was the 1987 Stax SR-Lambda Signature in 1987, but I doubt it was $1,500.

 

http://staxusa.com/History.html

 

Grado HP 1 in 1991 was $595. Sony ECR-800 came out in 1981, don't know what it cost. 

post #26 of 29

I went ahead and posted what I have here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/821423/headphone-history-timeline

 

Feel free to contribute your expertise!

post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fastnbulbous View Post

Thanks. The Koss ESP-950 came out in 1990, and is still sold today for about a grand with the amp. Not sure what it was back then, but probably less. I believe the Stax SR-Omega was their first flagship level headphone in 1993. The Lambda Nova was 1995, and the SR-007 flagship came out in 1998 for about $1,800. There was the 1987 Stax SR-Lambda Signature in 1987, but I doubt it was $1,500.

http://staxusa.com/History.html

Grado HP 1 in 1991 was $595. Sony ECR-800 came out in 1981, don't know what it cost. 

ESP/950 was US $2000 at release per the 1990 Stereophile review (and lists for $999 today; Koss does not have strict MSRP enforcement (and afaik never has) so the street price varies); ECR-800 was ~75,000 Yen (in early 1980s Yen); Lambda Nova was the wrong name, it was the T1 system, which was considered a competitor for ESP/950, K1000, etc in the late 1980s and early 1990s (again see Stereophile's original review of the ESP/950). AKG has archived, and unfortunately abridged, reviews of the K1000 from late '89 on their site but I couldn't find the complete reviews so I don't know if those are pre-release or retail reviews (and most of the reviews are from 1990-1992 which leads me to believe they may be pre-release reviews).
post #28 of 29

That's very helpful, thanks!

 

So to nail down this T1 system, looking at the Stax timeline, here are the only references to T1 that I see:

 

1994 SRM-T1W Electrostatic Earspeaker System with Vacuum output stage Driver Unit/selector

 

Or this?

 

1995 SYSTEM W Electrostatic Earspeaker System with Vacuum output stage Driver Unit/selector
(SRM-T1W+Lambda Nova Signature)

 

There's also a 1987 Vacuum tube type Driver Unit and a 1999 version of the above. 

 

Edit: Googled the Stereophile review, and I see, "The headset is lightweight, seemingly a bit lighter than that of the similarly priced Stax SR-Lambda Signature T1." I wonder if that's from 1987 listed in the Stax timeline?


Edited by Fastnbulbous - Yesterday at 9:13 am
post #29 of 29
No idea honestly what to make of the STAX thing - but that'd probably make logical sense. They didn't list the price of the associated equipment though, so it's tough to say if that's even the headphone in question. Certainly the right age though.
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