i just picked up the blue model (cheaper cables) at e-earphone.jp in oksaka. i got it "upstairs." (they have over 100 used cans upstairs and you can try them all.) the better cabled version was also available for the same price (had a "scar" (scratch)). but i preferred blue, i prefer the flat cable (just because), and i could not hear a difference via A/B, even after trying 3 difference musics. i also happen to have shure e315's, so i can swap the cable if im ever dying to do so. yes i tried it. both units work fine with cables swapped. but weirdly, they dont fit into each as precisely. the shure plugs are not as snug in the onkyo, and the onkyo plugs snap more easily into place in the shure IEMs than do their own shure mate plugs. so the plug type is the same, and you could get away replacing one with another, but not milled in the same factory or whatever.
these weird aluminum blue onkyos were $89 :)) (8900 yen).
i was leaning heavily toward those great small on-ear One's (the brand escapes me suddenly- they are a very successful unit, black with inline controller, and a followup unit was produced which is available in white. the original black is intentionally bassy and the white a tad even moreso) which were available for $79 in great condition (all the stuff is no less than B+. it all looks A to me.) and i liked the inline control because i was looking specifically for high-comfort portable's with low leakage for all-day cafe use. anyway i was leaning toward these One's whose name i cant recall, last used unit available, and then the guy pointed me toward the onkyo's. my initial reaction was cold because they look too cool. but i was surprised! i soon realized that the bass of the One's would soon become overly apparent (annoying) unless i EQd them down all the time, whereas the bass of these onkyo's is very present but doesnt stand out too far, which is what i prefer (i dont even need the "very").
for the inline control i bought a cute 6inch $9 audio technical extension with buttons on it.
so i started A/Bing them over other models i had noted down on my previous visit as liking (soundwise):
- denon AHD600EM - a tiny bit bassy for me but handsome, comfy, and great detail not too smothered by bass. i think they were $150 used. the sound certainly compares and the comfort is great, but not as portable, kinda bulky in comparison, and $60 more.
- ultrasone HFI580 was my 2nd choice when i bought my in-home cans, and they had them used for i think $130. as above, the things i like about the onkyo sound were also present in the 580's, but my reasoning was the same- not as portable, and ttytt, the styling lost a point in the end :). btw, this was the 2nd time i was able to compare the 580s with the 680s. both times the 580s sounded better, clearer.
- i liked the akg 550, but too similar to what i already have.
- i did NOT compare them directly against the new vmoda XS, but i A/B'd the XS with the One's and preferred both the sound and comfort of the One's. the One sound is more enveloping, certainly in part due to the cups angling back flush with my ears, whereas the XS cups didnt seal on the forward part of my ears as well, as though they didnt pivot on a vertical axis. they sure are sexy though, and portable. gotta love the vmoda build and materials. i really wanted to like them but the $200 (new) tag helped me not to.
- i did not compare them to m50's but i should have. i only thought of it on the way home... anyone try?
also compared to some random units on the shelves-
losing out were: nuforce 800s, a roland pair (way too sibilant!), a fancy brown shure model with extremely firm pads (meh), griffin "woodtones" (blech). there's a maestro model i liked that are super ugly, almost attractively so, but it was $100 more than the new price, and they dont sound very nice at all unless amped. so i didnt even compare them.
i didnt compare the momentums. even used, the momentums were double the price. i have heard the momentums a couple times before and i like them but the signature is a bit neutral for me (if thats the right word). i think most sennheisers are like that? so figured even if they sound better, they wont sound twice as good. also theyre handsome... i try (TRY) not to bring up styling in my judging process until the end. it's tough to block it out when you are handling them during listening, but i try...
i didnt A/B to m100's because my wife took them to zurich yesterday, but i know the sound, which i would describe as so great that it's ultimately a shame because that great spectrum gets smothered over by that m100 pronounced bass. i love listening to them occasionally but cant own them because bass. this is my sole criticism of the m100s, and a personal one at that, so if i was a basshead (like my wife), they would be perfect.
then i brought them back home and compared to my "personal reference" ATH-AD900X. well, whoa! that soundstage im used to i can ride a bicycle around it :) ... glad to be home! maybe it's not fair to compare with open-back. but apart from that gaping difference the onkyo still sound good. and sometimes you want the cozier space anyway.
i agree they are slightly clampy. not sure if i can take them for 8hrs straight... will find out soon enough. (comfort-wise they dont even compare the ath-ad900x, of course, and they are not supposed to.) not sure if i can stretch them out. anyone know? im afraid to just violently pry them out.
also they are not as insulative as others. because aluminum? but definitely acceptable. fine for cafe.
i like to test with acousticky sound and some Lemon Jelly. they must pass both. and then i hope they pass the Far More Blue test...
for the first cut, i like to test initially with mostly only one control-sound: the Gomez song, Options [1:07 to 2:03](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coW-I8_Vldw#t=69) (no i dont stream youtube for testing :). it has a lot of types of details layered in (electronic, snary, voice sibilants, bells, fading, pronounced use of stereo) that either come through or don't on different models. (i even heard a few in which a lyric was muffled beyond distinction.) it also has some silence, and better, the silence is bookended with varying types of sound jumping in or cutting off suddenly, so you can judge the "attack" and "relax".