REVOX RH 310 vintage from the 70s/80s
Revox is a well known swiss audio equipmement firm. I remember that my father was craving for there receivers, cd and tape players in the eighties. Today, you'll still find them for quite some money on auction sites. So, when I saw a cheap, used pair of their RH 310 headphones for around 20 dollars. I jumped on it and bought them. They arrived without the ear pads, and I had to buy a new pair for twice the price of the headphones at a Revox service provider.
According to a Revox price list from the year 1985, there were two headphone models in their lineup : the RH 310 and its bigger brother, the Revox 3100. The latter was in fact an OEM version of the Beyerdynamic DT880 600 Ohms. At the time, the RH 310 was listed as a street price of 95 swiss francs, around 150 francs of today, or 160 $. I read somewhere that all the Revox headphones were made by Beyerdynamic in Germany. That is also the case for the RH 310, and it's written on them, though I don't know if Beyerdynamic released a similar model. It looks like the RH 310 is close to the Beyerdynamic DT 220 (see first comment below).
According to a product sheet, the Revox RH 310 is an "Open-type stereophonic headphone, possessing exceptionally realistic tonal qualities. Anatomically perfect fit ensures fatigue free confortable wearing. Made of high impact proofplastic. Usable on any amplifier rated for loads from 4 to 600 ohms." Technical data shows that the headphones have a frequency range of 20 to 20'000 Hz, a nominal impedance of 600 ohms, an output level of 97 dB at 1 mW = 775 mV across 600 ohms.
Look and feel
The RH 310 look quite cheap at first sight. Even if the headband is made of metal, it is covered by a leather imitation that looks cheap but is quite enjoyable to wear. The enclosures are made of solid plastic and do not look used after 30 years, which is impressive.
These headphones realy define the idea of over- on-ears. They have no real earpads since the difference between edge and center is just 0.2 inches (5 mm) thick. And that gets your ears quite hot during long listening sessions! Apart from that, the foam is confortable, about the same kind of the inner foam of my Sennheiser HD 650. The headphones do not clamp the head so much.
Cable is cheap looking and 3 meters long (120 inches) with a 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) connector, old style.
Isolation is quite good for an open headphone, at least quite better than my HD 650.
I tested the headphones on a JDS Labs cMoyBB and briefly on my (brand) new Bottlehead Crack. Sources are a Thorens TD 320 turntable, Denon DL-110 cartridge and Lehmann Audio Black Cube SE 2 preamp or a mac with Decibel, flac files and a Halide DAC HD. With an impedance of 600 ohms, an iPhone 4 is able to drive these headphones but only at very average volume. I wouldn't recommend it.
This is not a bass head HP. The HD 650 goes quite deaper. The upper bass of the RH 310 (or lower mids) are also quite forward and loud. Still, hearing Bonobo's "Emkay" (The North Border, last album, LP), the bass has a nice impact and is well defined. I can live with it.
Mids are definitely forward. Something that many define as the sound from the seventies. Listening to Bonobo, there is a good vibe from the music that wants you hear more and more. With classical music, like Cypress String Quartet excellent interpretation of Beethoven Opus 132 (reviewed in Stereophile of May 2013), the RH 310 shine with very good energy but sometimes some harshness that could bring fatigue to long listen sessions. The lack of bass also keeps mids in the cold area of sound.
Not as extended as the treble of the HD 650. The RH 310's are still nicely defined, with a slight tendency to sibilance, especially at higher volumes. As with the mids, there is some harshness to the treble that can be fatiguing with time.
Soundstage is well defined. I would say quite close to the nice soundstage of the HD 650. Instruments are easy to spot in space.
Thirty years old and they still have teeth! The RH 310 are nice headphones, surely rivaling those of today in their price range. I wouldn't compare them directly to my HD 650, but there are a pleasure to wear and hear (for not too long). I'd keep them for accoustical music, especially if you like the "in your head" sound of forward mids and if your not a bass head.
Edited by ffivaz - 5/15/13 at 6:08am