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My first foray into vintage orthos.

Discussion in 'Currawong' started by currawong, Nov 12, 2011.
  1. Currawong Contributor
    I'm sitting in a Toyota dealership waiting for my car to be repaired. I have my iPad, an Apple wireless keyboard, my iPhone, a Pico Slim and these weird, ever so retro headphones: VectorScan VSH5 orthodynamics. Actually, they are Audio Technica ATH-2 under another name, but regardless, they sound lovely. A bit congested and the treble doesn't have much sparkle, but they have a sweetness that makes me wonder what the heck Japanese companies were thinking abandoning this technology. They don't do anything as well as most of the headphones I own or have owned (but then, I've only owned top-of-the-line models for the most part), but they have this relaxed and seductively detailed sound. And they have the weirdest adjustment mechanism where the headband has rails in which the earpieces click up and down.

    The Pico Slim is the wrong amp for these kinds of headphones, but they sound lovely, not much differently so from in my main rig, so it's good enough. They remind me much of vintage Stax -- not because of the sound, but because of the incredible value. For under $100 (the price of a cheap and possibly somewhat nasty pair of new headphones) these old things, with their clear and seductive sound, can be had.  

    I can't help wondering if we wont ever see new orthodynamic headphones from the big manufacturers. Maybe the question is not so much whether it is possible but whether or not they would consider investing the R&D required when they already have done a huge amount for regular dynamic models. But then, Audeze and Hifiman managed it and they are tiny companies. I do hope they consider it again for the future, as they don't have to be big and heavy to sound good, nor be expensive, as Fostex has demonstrated.
    We can only hope..
    Edit: I found wualta's mod thread for them here.
  2. wualta Contributor
    I have the same dream, as you may know. It's worth pointing out that the sibling Planar Voice Coil model in A-T's two-model lineup from the late '70s / early '80s was the ATH-1, which retailed for only about $20 and was my first ortho. So yes, using a smallish driver and older tech (ferrite discs) and by cranking those drivers out by the zillion and using automated testing jigs to separate the drivers into tolerance groups, it may indeed be possible to create an affordable Ortho For The Masses. Small companies were going to be the only ones to revive the ortho principle, and they have, with wonderful if mixed results, but only a big company with good distribution and marketing will be able to bring us the OFTM. How to put a bug in a youngish, ambitious product development engineer/manager's ear, that's the trick.
    The ATH-2 has some acoustic problems caused by its undeniably appealing now-retro style, but it's usually not expensive, it's very well built and easy to work on, and has a lot of cheeky charm. Glad to hear they're still on the job all these years later.
  3. KANA
    I also have the cloned ATH-2, KAWAI SH-5[​IMG].
    But, now I checked the original Box, It says "Dynamic Headphones"...[​IMG]
    Last year, audio-technica producted the cloned ATH-2 as "ATH-RE70".
    But they just copied the ATH-2's exterior, they don't used the original orthos thechnology of ATH-2.
    WTF!!!!! What the ***** japanese company! I apologize on behalf of such ****** Japanese company.
  4. Currawong Contributor
    Peel off the pads, unscrew them and see what is inside. Ortho drivers are dynamic, but according to the old threads I could dig up, there was a version that used a regular dynamic driver.
  5. wualta Contributor
    Yes, at least a couple were dynamic, so be careful out there. This headphone lived a strange quintuple (at least!) life, sold as several headphones. The Sansui SS-L55 version is arguably the most elegant in appearance and it's been verified as an ortho. Same thick baffle, though. KANA's mind and mine both went independently to the RE70 (see the Orthu Roundu thread), with the same #$%^! gut reaction to this fakeout by Audio-Technica.
    KANA, any chance we could get a look at the Kawai's box and the specifications thereon?
  6. Uncle Erik Contributor
    Very cool discovery!

    Reminds me that I have a pair of ATH-6 cans and a transformer box in the closet. I really should get them out and give them a listen.
  7. wualta Contributor
    You should! Don't expect a lot of bass, but apply some boost carefully and...
  8. scompton Contributor
    I'm listening to my Signet TK-44 our of the Kyocera R-851 and there's plenty of bass.  I just tried bass boost at every different frequency available, and I like it without better.
  9. wualta Contributor
    Well, there you are! Just more proof that MOSFET amps are bloody awesome. Despite what Jim Bongiorno says.

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