Nectar Pollinator headphones a $285 electrostat that might surprise you
Jun 1, 2020 at 7:48 PM Post #17 of 39

PolloLoco

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Geezer Rock,

Have you had a chance to compare the Kaldas and Nectar for micro detail?

I hooked my Koss and Kaldas up to my SRM 717 at the same time, so I could switch and compare in seconds. Arguably the most fun I've had with headphones.
 
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Jun 2, 2020 at 4:56 PM Post #18 of 39

SDBiotek

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FYI, there will be a different version of the headphones, which has a different headband, intended for those of us with larger noggins. I don't know when it will be available. Sajeev said it will cost more than the regular model.
 
Jun 2, 2020 at 8:50 PM Post #19 of 39

Geezer Rock 001

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My apologies for the delay pollo. Out of the box the RR1 is superior to the Pollenator. But from my Grado modding experience I knew that the Pollenator's drivers had some excellent potential. The driver cups were fine but the ear pads and the headband needed attention.

In my humble opinion both the RR1 and the modded Pollinators produce a listening experience WAY above their price point. Both are keepers in my collection.

Tonight they went head to head driven by a Stax 353X energizer. Music files were from Joe Bonamassa's " Ballad of John Henry" in high definition. No volume or eq adjustments were made between headphones.
They both have equal and excellent soundstage and definition.
Mids go to the RR1 s but not by much.
Lows go to the Pollenators. They hit hard and sustain a bit better.
Clarity ever so slightly to the RR1 s. But a couple of times they sounded a bit grainy.

My position would be that both of these headphones present music to me in a way that I appreciate and enjoy. With just a bit of adjustment and bending the RR1 s are excellent in their stock form. The Pollenators with a big head head band and more comfortable ear pads that give better distancing from the drivers, become a real contender as a top mid tier estat.

All imo and I hope that I answered your questions Pollo Loco.
 
Jun 2, 2020 at 8:53 PM Post #20 of 39

PolloLoco

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My apologies for the delay pollo. Out of the box the RR1 is superior to the Pollenator. But from my Grado modding experience I knew that the Pollenator's drivers had some excellent potential. The driver cups were fine but the ear pads and the headband needed attention.

In my humble opinion both the RR1 and the modded Pollinators produce a listening experience WAY above their price point. Both are keepers in my collection.

Tonight they went head to head driven by a Stax 353X energizer. Music files were from Joe Bonamassa's " Ballad of John Henry" in high definition. No volume or eq adjustments were made between headphones.
They both have equal and excellent soundstage and definition.
Mids go to the RR1 s but not by much.
Lows go to the Pollenators. They hit hard and sustain a bit better.
Clarity ever so slightly to the RR1 s. But a couple of times they sounded a bit grainy.

My position would be that both of these headphones present music to me in a way that I appreciate and enjoy. With just a bit of adjustment and bending the RR1 s are excellent in their stock form. The Pollenators with a big head head band and more comfortable ear pads that give better distancing from the drivers, become a real contender as a top mid tier estat.

All imo and I hope that I answered your questions Pollo Loco.

You had absolutely no need to apologize. That is a great review, thank you. If I can't fix my RR1'S I will consider the Nectars as a replacement.
 
Oct 18, 2020 at 11:41 AM Post #21 of 39

PolloLoco

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So I recently bit the bullet after seeing a deal on Nectar Pollenator headphones that I could not resist. The current price for regular Pollenators is $350 - but a special "brighter" pair was offered on EBAY for $215 shipped. After discussing with the creator, Sajeev - I found that these were either accidentally or experimentally tensioned differently so that the bass rolls off a bit more, but they also have more treble energy as well. Below is the chart I was given for my pair. Keep in mind that my review will be based on the "bright" Pollenator, and the regular one might sound a bit different. Mine prior to modifications (see below) roll off at 60 hz, where the regular ones on the Nectar site stay flat down to 20 Hz.

s-l1600.jpg

I knew before I received my pair - that my big head and ears could be a problem with Pollenators. My wife has frequently complained that my big head prevents her from buying me fun hats. That said, with the stock headband and pads - I could comfortably listen at the biggest extension setting. That said the stock pads are TERRIBLE. They can't seal because the surface they sit on is uneven, and they connect with 3 pieces of velcro. The stock pads are "snake skin" similar to the Stock Sony MDR V6 pads, and worse than the stock Koss ESP950. They don't seal on the outer diameter either because the fit is not snug enough. The sound was not pleasant in my opinion - it was not clear, and with strong bass I got weird vibrations which I believe came from the surrounding housing?

What makes pad rolling with these a little difficult is that pads sit in a recess maybe 0.375 inch deep as shown below. So pads larger then 95 mm will only fit by forcing them. I also don't think that sitting pads directly on the stators is a good idea - so I used 3mm craft foam as shown to make a consistent rim around the edge. On other stats, I've created noise when my ears touch the stators through the pad mesh. This ring of foam prevents that. I found pads I already owned that were slightly oval - that I could force in, and the sound immediately improved - but between the now high clamp force and a hot spot on the top of my head I couldn't listen for more than a half hour due to discomfort. At that point, I thought I may have wasted my money. Thankfully I decided to try two other sets of pads which worked.

From Amazon, for $16 dollars I found 95mm pads with a 47mm Opening, cheap pleather but soft memory foam and soft velour interior. I normally don't like velour pads - but these were comfortable - I don't mind my ears touching the edge on the inside. These are 30mm thick versus the 20mm stock pads. Because of the softness, clamp is totally tolerable - I've listened for up to 3 hours at a time. The fit against the sides is snug even without adhesive, and the bass is MUCH stronger than with the original pads, which I believe were used for the measurements above.

Then through shear luck - I noticed that the pads of my Plantronics Backbeat Pro Gen 1's are the same diameter at 95mm. They're solid pleather, and 20mm thick so that the inner opening is 55mm - less contact for my big ears. I pulled them off and used the plastic ring to press into the Pollenators with a tight fit. To be honest, it's TOO tight so I'm going to use laser cut circles and speaker cloth to replace the rings long term, the outer diameter will be a couple mm's smaller than on the Backbeat Pro. The picture of this setup is below, and these are the pads I used for the comparative reviews with my Koss ESP95X and Kaldas RR1 Conquest.

The overall build quality is not great - they're obviously 3D printed and there's occasional imperfections visible in terms of surface texture and paint coverage. I don't mind that when I consider the great, and for stats, somewhat unique sound quality. That said - what bugs me is the complete lack of dust protection. Both my Koss ESP95X and Kaldas RR1's used to whine due to dust before I repaired them. I've found that speaker cloth on rings works well to provide decent dust protection, so I'm waiting for 3D printed rings to arrive so that I can put dust protection over the outside stators. Nectar provides foam plugs to protect the drivers when you're not listening, but if like me you're listening for hours at a time, that's not a reasonable protection strategy in my opinion. If it happens, the electrostatic whine is intolerable. I'll report back if my dust protection works - and if it's sonically transparent.

I'll provide a more detailed comparison to my other stats in a follow up post, but my initial review will be that these are the first Stats I've heard that sound like Planars. The notes are THICK and FULL, and my initial listening had me reminded of my Monoprice M1060C's. But with excellent stat speed, and no distortion. I sold my Stax L300's and kept my Koss ESP95X because the Koss had thicker notes - these are thicker yet. I was worried that it may mean a loss of microdetail but my eventual comparisons would prove that is not the case.

These stats are very mid forward, and have a very small soundstage. Earlier in my audiophile journey that would have been ideal for me, I only wanted to hear from the front row if not closer. Ever wanted to hear the voices of Brandi Carlile or Florence of Florence and the Machine more clearly? Then these are for you. My listening volume was limited by how much mids my ears could take. That said - the bass extends deep. I use an admittedly inaccurate tone test to figure out how deep my headphones go. I listen for a couple hours to make sure I'm listening at a reasonable volume. Then I pull up a tone generator at that volume to see how deep and high I can hear. I still hear reasonable bass at 20Hz, practically identical to my Kaldas RR1's. On the Koss ESP95X that reasonable value is 30Hz regardless of pads. The high end for the Pollenators maxes out my 42 year old ears at about 15.5 Khz.

Recess 1.jpgRecess 2.jpg

Pad 1.jpgPad 2.jpg
 
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Oct 18, 2020 at 12:04 PM Post #22 of 39

PolloLoco

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The last two days I spent several hours comparing to my Koss ESP95X and Kaldas RR1 Conquests. I have recently discovered that comparing via memory is deceptive, so I connected both to my Stax SRM 717 amp at the same time. I randomly cycled through my audio collection and if I heard something I liked, mid song I would switch between headphones to compare. The following are my opinions.

Koss ESP95X - I could listen to both at about the same volume, 25 out of 40 out of my Sabaj D5 Dac/Preamp going out to my SRM 717 in power amp mode. The Koss have an obviously larger sound stage and an ethereal, soft dreamy character. The Koss are the most comfortable headphones I've ever heard, while the Nectar's need work as mentioned. For this comparison I used the stock Koss Velour pads.

Bass - The Nectar's have a lot more bass, and it's slightly more richly textured. It goes deep and hits hard.

Mids - The Nectars are very forward, very detailed with thicker notes which may hide the micro detail unless you're really paying attention. It's all there. The Koss are a TINY step less clear, but could be a trade for a larger soundstage where you can better place instruments.

Treble - The Koss have more treble energy. On several sites I've seen the Koss ESP950 described as dark, and I wonder what the metric is? The Pollenators are clearly darker, and would be good for classical music but the Koss are better for both treble quantity and spacing. I did find some songs, like a particular Celtic track - where the upper mids of a female singer could get blurred against the high frequency instruments in the background using my Koss. The voice was perfectly clear and distinct with the Pollenators, the upper mids are distinct from the treble.

The Koss do nothing wrong. Since they include a basic amp I believe they are the perfect intro to stats. But I think that most people would prefer the Pollenators for most everything but classical music.

Kaldas RR1 Conquests - Mine use thicker Vesper pads. I don't plan on ever going back to the stock pads. I have not used blu-tack to cover the vents for more bass. The Kaldas RR1's require a bit more volume to drive, 27 out of 40 and the limit is based on how much bass I can handle. My RR1's are super comfortable, but I use a modded headband and cables made by Mjolnir audio.

Bass - Both go almost exactly to the same depth. But at my volume limit - the mid bass on the Kaldas RR1 is stronger and more richly textured. It is easy to feel and pick out bass detail. This is because the mids on the Nectar take center stage, push back the bass. The Kaldas RR1 are the darker of the 3 headphones by far.

Mids - The Nectars are more forward and pick up more detail. The Kaldas RR1 have a pleasant, larger soundstage though it's not huge. This comes down to a matter of personal taste.

Treble - The Nectars have more treble energy. Led Zeppelin and Classical tracks are more fun on the Nectar, and on the Nectar the treble never gets messy and congested the way it does on the Koss. I pick up more detail with the Nectars in the higher frequencies.

I'm torn as to which of these 2 I like more. I started my comparison this morning listening to the Conquests for an hour, and the transition was harsh. When my mind got readjusted to the Nectars - I started liking them more and more. By the end of the roughly 3 hour comparison I couldn't decide which I liked more - they complement each other well.

I still plan to try the Nectars with my Koss E90 amp, so I'll report back on that as well as my attempt at dust protection. It's funny that I initially disliked these headphones - but right now I think the Pollenators were an excellent bargain for me. Only my concerns about dust protection would prevent me from giving a definite recommendation.
 
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Oct 26, 2020 at 10:31 AM Post #23 of 39

PolloLoco

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So this weekend I got in 3D printed rings to try and create dust protection for the outside stators of the Pollenators. On the ID, I'm currently relying on the mesh of the pads I use. That may change if I get paranoid enough. The result is in the pictures below. In essence, I'm relying on speaker cloth to provide dust protection when I'm listening. I've used speaker cloth on my Koss ESP95X's and Koss ESP6 to good effect. My Koss ESP6 project has been sitting on my desk 24/7 and I've yet to have dust penetrate . . . For the Nectars, I'll keep them in a case when I'm not using them.

Here are the steps:

1) Create a 3D printed ring, mine was made out of nylon with a 6.5cm inner diameter, 7.5cm inner diameter.
2) Glue the ring to speaker cloth, stretching it as needed. Let it dry depending on the glue you're using. I've used elmers before, this time I used super glue.
3) Use a compass cutter to closely match the ring to double sided tape - or in my case, Sewell Micro Suction tape. The Micro Suction tape would be permanently attached to the cloth side, and would use micro suction to connect to the headphones. This is the hardest part, just to make sure the tape doesn't block the center, and also doesn't show around the outer diameter. It's still pretty easy.

I've been using micro suction tape to replace adhesive on headphone pads lately. It creates a very solid seal. If dust ever gets through these screens I can just pop the screens off and reattach them. Supposedly if the tape gets dirty you can just wipe it off with a damp cloth. I've only listened to these for about 3 hours - but I'm convinced the solution is sonically transparent. I've blown dust off the surface, so I'm convinced it's blocking some dust - hopefully all of the damaging stuff. I'm very pleased with the finished look - though I'll have to touch up a couple spots where the glue showed.

Another thing I tried this weekend was using the Koss E90 energizer. I created a Stax-To-Koss adapter by using the extension cable, a Stax female adapter, and a 4M7 resistor to prevent arcing. I'm terrible at soldering and it was very easy.

Overall it works, and would allow a Koss ESP950 owner or ESP95X owner to "cheaply" try a very different electrostat sound. Even using the E90, the Pollenators have much more and deeper bass. The sound is much more mid forward and concrete. Not ethereal or "easy listening".

With the E90 - compared to my SRM 717 - the bass is muddier, and highs are sharper with the Nectars. There's even less soundstage. Would I use the E90 as my only amp with the Pollenator's, no. Would I use it as a backup or secondary amp at work? Yes. A Koss owner would get an inexpensive intro to other stats, but would probably eventually want to upgrade.

Dust Protection.jpg
Dust 1.jpg
Dust 2.jpg
 
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Nov 12, 2020 at 9:32 AM Post #24 of 39

PolloLoco

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So my latest modification of these headphones involved making a baffle to allow larger pads. I don't own a 3D printer, but I drew up what I wanted and had it printed by Jawstec at Craftcloud. The pair of baffles cost me $22 for a pair printed out of black, bead blasted nylon. I bought $20 100mm lambskin angled pads and stretched them over my baffles. I added a rubber band for tight fit, to the "pilot" in my baffle. Then the pads and baffles simply slide into the nectar opening. They can be swapped in seconds. The fit is firm enough that you can't rotate the pads once in, and I get a solid seal.

This increases the soundstage by recessing the mids slightly. I think most people will prefer the Pollenators this way. The soundstage is better, more logical - and easier to place the instruments. I see myself occasionally wanting to swap pads for the more intimate soundstage of the Plantronics pads. Below are the pictures of the pads. Contact me if you want the 100mm baffle STL file, but if you want a modification to allow for larger pads like the Eikon pads in the first post - contact me. I'd be happy to modify the original file, though I'll guess at the logical largest diameter to use.

The fit is tighter than before, not as comfortable. If I get bored again, I may print headband adapters so I can use a more comfortable hifiman headband. I have to say, overall I love these headphones. I now have a collection of 5 electrostats, and if I could only keep 2 it would be the Stax L700 and these Pollenators. Not because the Pollenators are better than the other 3, but because they complement the Stax so well - and are so tunable via pad changes.

Baffle Front.jpgBaffle Back.jpg
 
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Dec 17, 2020 at 9:46 AM Post #25 of 39

PolloLoco

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Except for tweaking these adapters, this will be my final mod. I created 4 of these adapters out of black nylon as before so I can use a more comfortable hifiman headband for my big head. Unfortunately, I was looking for a tight fit on the pins - but I still made them too big and I had to cut and sand them down. I would also make the parts that connect with the headband thicker for robustness, so they don't bend. As it is, with rework they still work fine - the result is super comfortable and I can dial in the clamp by bending the headbands. I will probably eventually get these adapters reprinted to be more robust and fit better without grinding - I used a dremel.

The only thing with the headband is that all adjustment is done by bending the metal. It's important to do so to get a good fit with angled pads. Without the adapters, the headband won't work because the clamp is severe - and you can't bend the band out without killing the ability to adjust for length. Also - every time you adjust for length the paint comes off on the adjustment side leaving a silver line that may or may not bother you. So the idea is to get the headband to fit once, and just leave it there.
 

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Jan 12, 2021 at 2:48 PM Post #26 of 39

PolloLoco

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I modified my baffles to test bigger pads. The result worked pretty well, though I don't think the overhang looks great. I made 100mm, 105mm and 108mm files.

I only got the 105mm version printed out, and put my 110mm Auteur pads on. The result is shown in the pictures below. I don't think it looks great, but it sounds and feels great. I might just stick with the 100mm pads I previously showed, but its easy to pad roll back and forth.

If I decided to use 110mm pads full time, I would print 108mm baffles. These 105mm are slightly loose, but work.

Auteur.jpgAuteur2.jpg
 
Feb 7, 2021 at 12:00 AM Post #27 of 39

CrowDaddy

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Today received my Mjolnir-modified STAX 006t and began listening to my new Pollinators with it. Very impressed -- I especially like the improvement in orchestral passages where you can hear clear, detailed lines and instruments, rather than an indistinct muddle.
 
Mar 29, 2021 at 5:46 PM Post #29 of 39

timb5881

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Mine arrived while I was out of town, so today so I am listening to them now. Very good for the money. I will compare them to my Koss and Stax and post what I feel the differences are in a week or two.
 
Mar 31, 2021 at 2:31 AM Post #30 of 39

timb5881

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Yesterday I hooked up my Stax SRD-7 Pro to my Golden Tube SE40 and used this with the Nectar Pollinators. This was an tube setup with an ARC LS7 preamp. Music flowed with both ease and grip. The bass was tight and deep and the mids have a very good presence and the highs are clear and detailed. I will try different pads when they get here in the mail. Now I need to make an adapter to use the Koss on this set up and compare them with the Stax 404 (which are on loan to a friend).
 

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