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A re-acquaintance with the Audio Technica ATH-ESW10JPN

Discussion in 'Currawong' started by currawong, May 6, 2012.
  1. Currawong Contributor
    In 2008, Audio Technica release a beautiful limited edition headphone. While this is not new for them, what was unusual is that the headphones were supra-aural. They didn't spare the exotic wood, however, resulting in a portable version of their best efforts at design.
    A friend of mine still owns a pair, along with other limited edition AT headphones. While he purged most of his collection, he held on to these. It might be argued, in the face of the top-of-the-line headphones that have been released in the last few years that the Audio Technica limited edition "woodies" are more just for the Japanese fans, as, honestly, they don't compare either technologically or sonically to the best efforts from Sennheiser, Stax or Audeze. For a whlie I owned the most recent ones, the W3000s. Unfortunately the Stax SR-009s I also own were just too crushingly superior.
    However, it was with curiosity I decided to borrow the ESW10JPNs again to see how I felt about them in the face of newer offerings.
    Back when I first tried them, my main headphones were modified Denon D5000s. Their more recessed mids compared to the more forward mids of the ATs meant that the latter sounded unpleasant at first until I could get used to AT's particular "house sound". Having long passed on the Denons and moved to Grado and others, the more forward mids aren't an issue now, so I could look purely at sound quality and how resolving these headphones are, or aren't.
    First re-impressions are as I remembered -- punchy mid-bass with forward mids, but the highs aren't excessively bright, though there is definitely a treble peak in there. Perceived soundstage is somewhat constricted due to the supra-aural design. There's a little harshness and ringing in the highs, but if I don't listen too loud, it rarely makes its presence felt. Typical of ATs, vocals are most pleasant, and cymbals the least clear, most likely due to the frequency response in the treble being a touch down from the typical. This, however, makes modern mastered music with its spikey highs more pleasant to listen to.
    As for resolution, one feels they are quick cans, yet resolving the location of instruments is difficult, as the overall image is compressed. The full-size version of these headphones, the ESW11JPNs I recall as being pleasant-sounding, but not so highly resolving either, even after stuffing something under the pads to push the drivers further from my ears and reduce the congestion.
    Despite that, they rate in my book as one of the most pleasant pairs of headphones to listen to music with, helped by the fact that they sound good out of everything from a DAP/iDevice through to high-end gear, if the latter is arguably wasted on them. Of all Audio Technica's efforts at making limited edition headphones, these stand out as my favourites by far.
    The photos above and below I've borrowed from a classified posted years ago by 2deadeyes.


  2. ExpatinJapan
    Ooh nice, I love my ATH-EWS9, I wonder how they match up against each other.
  3. palestofwhite
    Time flies. I still keep my pair in the dry box.
  4. Chris J
    An interesting thread, I just purchased a pair of the ESW-10s, I should be receiving them in a few days, maybe I will post some impressions.
  5. froycat

  6. countolaf
    I have the ESW9 and I've been dying to get the ESW10jpn. So if you guys any time think about selling these, PM me! lol. [​IMG]
  7. Bones13 Contributor
    I have loved my ESW10JPN headphones since I got them way back when. (while they were available at audiocubes) I got the AT portable headphone case, and have used them when travelling for all these years.
    I tend to take the Momentums a bit more now, as they are a bit more comfortable, but always keep looking back at the ESW10s, and bring them some of the time.
    Very good headphone for Jazz, Guitar, and vocal performances.  Pairs up well with both the DragonFly and the Meridian Explorer.
  8. thread
    Randomly found this thread. Just wanted to say that I'm still using my ESW10JPN at the office almost every day. I got them when they were first introduced, and I always really enjoy them. Great form factor. Great sound. I am using the Intruder, but anything seems to drive them just peachy.
  9. petuloo1984
    Someone that compare sound  ATH-ESW10JPN to ATH-ES10?
    Specially bass? Is the same or that wood make quite a bit different..thinking to buy ATH-ESW10JPN , but I have got ES10s.
    But love JPN look...I listen mostly EDM....
  10. Currawong Contributor

    I used to compare in-store. All the supra-aural ATs I've tried had much the same amount of bass, with a few differences in the mids and treble, obviously a result of the different cup materials. Now they have the 950s out which add another flavour, but not anything radically new. 
  11. petuloo1984
    Ok...that what I was looking for..Someone who had heard 950s.What was your inpression with them?Was it similar sound to esw9?These headphones would be perfect..lamb skin,wood,replacabla cable...
  12. Currawong Contributor

    Yup, pretty similar -- nothing radically different at all. 

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