As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm the proud new owner of AT ESW9 headphones. But at Christmas I'd gotten my oldest daughter a pair of SOL Tracks HD before starting this journey back into audiophilia. Just now was the first time we had the occasion to A/B compare the two. For good measure, we threw in my Sony MDR-7506 which is still my recording monitor.
Well, there definitely is a difference. With the ESW9 you get more of the "grain" of string bowing than the SOL. With the SOL you get more of a lush, thick sound without it seeming overly bassy. But here's the thing: We A/B'd two tracks. My daughter's contribution was a Beyonce track. Mine was a Zoe Keating one. (Forest) Our conclusion was the SOL sounded more appropriate for her music and the ESW9 for mine. The one factor that might have swayed me towards the ESW9 for general listening was that they seemed to have a better sound stage and placement. What would sway me to the SOLs is they are undeniably more rugged and would hold up better to a student's life. But the salient point here is the SOL really didn't seem markedly inferior to the ESW9. My daughter and I were in agreement that were we to listen to each other's music on an ongoing basis, we would prefer each other's headphones.
So my question is why do we hear so little here about SOLs? Or am I just following the wrong threads. As I think about the requests for recommendations I read over in that one thread, it seems to me that the SOLs might frequently be recommended as appropriate but I don't recall seeing it mentioned once.
Oh and the MDR-7506s? They represented themselves very well leaning more towards the SOLs. That made me very happy because I can get a very different listening experience between the two pairs of cans I presently own. But it was also a little unsettling. I see the MDR-7506 all the time on ebay for around $25 while I paid $170 for my ESW9s. Don't get me wrong; I'm still happy with my purchase but if it came down to it, I sure don't hear 7x the value in the ESW9s.