The MDR-R10: Portrait of a Vicarious Experience
Apr 8, 2002 at 1:13 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25

shivohum

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With all the interesting discussions of the MDR-R10 going on right now, I thought it might be nice to summarize the overall sonic picture of this exotic beauty by consulting all the known sources on Headwize and Head-Fi.

Unfortunately, I got tired of this at some point in the middle, when I realized just what an enormous volume of material Vertigo-1 alone had written. To do the topic full justice would take more time than I was willing to give. So here's the half-hearted result
smily_headphones1.gif
. Actually, I think it's a pretty decent overview, in that it covers everyone who's had experience with the R10 that I know of on Head-Fi or Headwize, but it really isn't totally comprehensive of all the nuances.

Anyway, below are some of the major references I used. Links lead to pages which have most representative post on the R10 that I could find by the person listed. Not all quotes were taken from the below pages, though... many of them you'll just have to look up on the search engines, sorry.

Again, I am not in any way trying to be comprehensive, just as representative and fair of the views as I can. Obviously I've had to exercise plenty of editorial judgment.

Owners:
vertigo-1
jatinder
markl

Ex-Owners:
mrbeanyohan
m rael

Demoers:
darth nut
tuberoller
88sound
ai0tron
pigmode

What's the R10's basic character?

vertigo-1:

Quote:

Just beautiful music ultimately, with no outright distractions in any one part of the spectrum. The epitome of what Sony calls, "natural" sound.


Quote:

It is clearly not neutral in the sense of what you'd hear from the Grado HP-1s, and in that sense even neutrality can be considered a form of tonal coloration.


Quote:

Well, what do I mean by 'hearing the wood'...I mean this obvious sense of hearing drum notes reflect back towards you with a hollow sound...The problem is when the hollow tone crosses over into vocals...that's when the
tone that is normally reserved for drums starts turning vocals into a "colored" voice.


jatinder: Quote:

...warm and extremely musical...


markl:
Quote:

By far the most “natural” sounding headphones I’ve heard. ... a touch on the dry side ... I don’t find them “warm”, but remarkably “clear” and “open”. On the other hand, they are not “clinical” or “sterile”...a refined musical instrument...easy, steady, and distortion-free...the integration between lows, mids, and highs is seamless...


mrbeanyohan: Quote:

...sounds like great loudspeakers with strong bass, musicality is stunning.


m rael:
Quote:

The Sony R10 has a smooth, transparent, 'cocoon like' sound thats non fatiguing in the extreme.


88sound:

Quote:

They sound very good, polite on everything. ... R10 politeness did not translate into realism as much as relaxation.


ai0tron:
Quote:

...very natural, very realistic...perhaps they were too refined for my tastes...


pigmode:

Quote:

Everything is there in a refined and controlled atmosphere.


What's the treble like on the R10?

vertigo-1: Quote:

the treble
and bass are both recessed...both are simply "enough".


Quote:

...a bit laid back, but very clear...


jatinder:
Quote:

I think that the R10 could do with just a tiny bit more high-frequency sparkle.


markl:

Quote:

My hypothesis is that abrasiveness and hash are typically things "added" by "bad" equipment. The R10 doesn't add them, so it's transparent.


mrbeanyohan:
Quote:

...sweet clear detail and tremble.


m rael:

Quote:

...it was difficult to get the R10 to sound aggressive, even at high-to-very high listening levels.


88sound:
Quote:

...cymbals, rim shots, harshly recorded muted trumpet, all polite.


ai0tron:
Quote:

...captured the essence of the sound without offending ones ears...


What's the midrange like?

vertigo-1:
Quote:

...aaaaMAAAZING transparency and clarity...


Quote:

...clean with just a trace of warmth...


jatinder:
Quote:

...natural...


Quote:

...warm...


markl:
Quote:

...natural...


m rael:
Quote:

...midrange is round and bloomy sounding and leads seamlessly down to a bass that has the same basic feel.


Quote:

This relates to the R10 in that I actually found it hard to get the midrange and treble to 'wake up' from the R10's smooth and relaxed mode of presentation. What seemed to me at first to be an ability to make all my recordings sound good turned instead into a mild vexation with the always buttery sounding midrange and treble of the R10.


ai0tron:

Quote:

...naturally detailed...


What's the bass like?

vertigo-1: Quote:

the treble
and bass are both recessed...both are simply 'enough'."; "The R10s lack visceral bass


Quote:

...drop dead articulate, tight, with just the
right amount of extension.


jatinder:

(with EAR HP4) Quote:

The bass is deep and controlled. Quite possibly the best bass I have ever heard from headphones.


markl:
Quote:

It's damn good!


Quote:

The bas just fails to acheive more volume and impact after a certain point, but that's much much louder than you would normally listen.


mrbeanyohan: Quote:

...strong bass...[excellent] tautness...


m rael:
Quote:

Low frequencies are handled well, though not in a way that draws attention to itself.


ai0tron:

Quote:

Their one imperfection is a somewhat absent bass region. ... the R10's are just a touch too polite in the bass region. Just a touch. But the bass is still there, it's just not THERE.


pigmode:
Quote:

...it could use a tad more.


What's the soundstaging like?

vertigo-1:
Quote:

...massive, big, and the best way to describe it would be that upon first listen, it felt like I had literally walked right into an auditorium. The sound felt very wide, very echoy.


Quote:

it's like being in a private concert hall.


Quote:

The soundstage just simply flows around the head...


markl:
Quote:

...I dub the Sony R10, the “Disappearing Headphone”. Your ability to just relax and let the R10’s take over contributes mightily to your musical enjoyment.


Quote:

The R10 provides the best soundstage and imaging of any headphone I’ve heard. Left-to-right imaging is phenomenal, but the soundstage is wider than it is high. It’s like your sitting in a widescreen movie theater. These phones eliminate the 3 separate blobs effect common with other headphones; it’s all one large, wide continuous image. Electronic sounds that zip from one side of the soundstage to the other do so with an eerie reality. Although this is a closed phone, the soundstage extends well beyond your head, and is larger left-to-right than any I’ve heard.


m rael:

Quote:

Its revealing of recording space and ambience to a high degree while the soundstage and general presentation are still set back, as it were, from your listening perspective.


Is it good for rock music?

vertigo-1:

Quote:

You could look at it two ways...that they can't do a specific genre well, or that they're the ace of all trades...they can carry that natural sound through each genre and leave you wandering in the land of music, regardless of whether or not tonally they can handle a genre well, such as rock...I know for some people rock = 90+ db loud + bass, in which case, no the R10s wouldn't do the job.


jatinder:
Quote:

I listen to all kinds of music (classical, acoustic, Metallica, Floyd etc) and have never had any complaints with the MDR-R10.


markl:

Quote:

...to me R10 sound great on any kind of music. If they didn't sound great with loud rock recordings I'd have little use for them considering 90% of my music collection is rock.


Quote:

BTW, I would never use a live rock show as a standard for good sound. ... I sure wouldn't want to replicate that in my home environment...


mrbeanyohan:
Quote:

...not worth the high price if you listen to pop/rock recordings.


m rael:

Quote:

...instead of jumping up and down on the R10's for sounding too polite on rock music, I mentioned it in passing and left it at that. I saw no reason to make more of a point about their sound in that regard than I already had. BUT, it wouldnt surprise me if someone else might hit that point harder.


88sound:

Quote:

I had the feeling I could be listening to punk rock while sipping tea with pinkie extended and feel right at home. ... I respectfully submit, these R10's in this setup did not slam.


How much better than other headphones are the R10?

vertigo-1:

(after hearing the HD600, MSP, HP-1) Quote:

...none of the other headphones could portray...the beautiful naturalness of the music.


An evaluation of the HD600 when compared to the R10:
Quote:

The bass is just way too strong and overdone...The midrange sounds thick and veiled...The HD600s has prominent tonal characteristics that stand out...The HD600s sound course in the lower treble, and have a upper midbass bump...IT DOESN'T SOUND REAL!


CD3000 & R10:
Quote:

Bottom line, the CD3000s do NOT compete with the R10s. They don't even sound the same. Their sound is like apples and oranges. Or maybe I should say like a $5 lunch plate compared to a $30 Italian meal.


(I believe this is outdated, but the quote's from well after Vertigo started loving the R10
smily_headphones1.gif
)
Quote:

my favorite headphone happens to be the Allesandro MSP......it's fun (fast impacting
bass and transients, in the face sound) combined with the sweet midrange of headphones like the Sony R10 or the Sennheiser HD-600.


jatinder:

Quote:

I did listen to the Orpheus and the R10 at different locations seperated by about an hour. The source components were different but the music was the same.

As far as I could tell, they were both warm and extremely musical. If anything, the Orpheus was a little warmer than the R10.


Quote:

To my ears, the W2002 really does not compete with the R10...


Quote:

the R10 is much much better than the CD3000 - except for the imaging which is slightly more focussed in the CD3000.


markl:

Comparing the W2002 to the R10:
Quote:

W2002 has less air and ambience and soundstage is not as deep as R10. ... not as skilled at pulling up the finer details ... Bass is very deep and full and more impactful than the R10 ... just not in the same class as the R10 ... the R10 stands above the W2002 in terms of tone and timbre, soundstaging, image depth, instrument body, and detail retrieval...


Comparing the CD3000 to the R10:
Quote:

The leap in sonic quality from the CD3000 to R10 is not like the jump in performance you’d expect by simply going up to the next model in a headphone manufacturer’s line. It’s more like jumping up to the best model in an entirely different audiophile line, which in fact is what you are doing!


And:
Quote:

...the R10’s remind me somewhat of the ER4S. Chiefly, this is due to the linearity of both headphones’ frequency response, along with that wonderful fluid, grain-free quality both headphones possess.


mrbeanyohan:

R10 & RS-1:
Quote:

The vocal is about the same as Grado RS-1 but slightly sweeter rather than warmer, mopre pleasing. The tremble and the detail is better then the Grado RS-1.


Quote:

MDR-R10 is not as transparent as the RS-1. Almost sound identical, the MDR-R10 wins in the fact that it can produce sweet clear detail and tremble. ... bass is as good as RS-1 but better in tautness.


R10 & HD600:
Quote:

MDR-R10 is almost like the Sennheiser HD-600 but its warmer, sweeter sounding and STRONGER, tauter bass. ... The Sony MDR-10 is excellent with Discman. The Sony MDR-R10 sounds impressive even without amp, sounds better than a cosmic with HD-600 using discman.


R10 & Orpheus:
Quote:

...rivals the Sennheiser Orpheus for the clear, sweet tremble and deatil. Orpheus is more transparent however...


m rael:

R10 & W2002:
Quote:

Ultimately, the W2002 is more suited to me and my music though. The W2002 is, I suppose, the solid state answer to the R10's triode character.


darth nut:

Quote:

...it's not bad, but nowhere as good as the [Grado] HP-1s.


tuberoller:

Quote:

based on my ownership of the Orpheus and HD600s,extensive listening experiences with the Stax line up,and an short(40 minutes)listening session with the R10s at CES and my listening session at the Headroom meet, I would place them in this order:

1.Orpheus=100% Headphone Nirvana.
2.Stax Omega 007=95%(with tubed driver)
3.Stax SRS-4040 =90% (Stax signature series with SRM-006t tube driver unit.
3.HD600/Blochead combo
4.Stax Omega 717=90%(with solid state driver)
5.HD600/Clou Red Jaspis Wheatfield HA2=80%
5.HD600/Clou headroom Max=80%
6.R10/Cary 300-SEI=75%

I just was not that impressed with the R10s when I heard them and I think you need to realize that the laws of "diminishing returns" kick in at a very steep curve once you get past the HD600 /Max or Wheatfield combo.


88sound:

R10 & W100:
Quote:

By comparison my W100's (not broken in at all by anybody's account) sounded brighter than the R10's. ... I don't think the W100's slam either in case you're wondering. ... I am now home listening to my EMP/W100 with that harshly recorded muted trumpet (Miles recorded in 1958) and it sounds great and REAL.


R10 & 325:
Quote:

Even if I had the R10's I would still be listening to slamming drums on the 325.


R10 & the disappearing act:
Quote:

As far as the phones I've listened to that at times have disappeared sonically that happens the most with the EMP/W100 or ETY4S/RA-1 combo, it has also happened less often with the RS-1's and almost never with the 325's.


ai0tron:
Quote:

...those of you who discount the HD600's as veiled etc really need to hear them out of the Melos. They take on a new life that approaches the R10's IMO. The sound isn't as natural but it's close.


pigmode:

Hope that's interesting to someone
smily_headphones1.gif
. Have I earned my tagline yet?
biggrin.gif
 
Apr 8, 2002 at 1:25 AM Post #2 of 25

kelly

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I still can't really determine whether they're as good as the Sony VITE.
 
Apr 8, 2002 at 2:01 AM Post #4 of 25

Vertigo-1

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LOL, that's a very good sum up of it all shivohum. Thanks for taking the time to do that. The R10's major points, both good and/or bad, are highlighted out even more strongly than before, which is very cool I think.
 
Apr 8, 2002 at 2:10 AM Post #5 of 25

Blighty

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When reading from those quotes, please be sure to note that different reviewers used different equipment and listened to them for various amounts of time which may explain some of variations in their sonic description. What seems to be a general consensus is that they are very "natural" sounding. mrbeanyohan found them warm with powerful bass probably because he was using a HP DCT-1 which is known for those traits. He is also known to listen almost exclusively to pop which the RS-1 does exceptionally well. I find that the most accurate opinions of equipment in general are from those reviewers that have owned and used them extensively with correspondingly suitable equipment up the chain.
 
Apr 8, 2002 at 2:29 AM Post #7 of 25

markl

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Quote:

MDR-R10 is not as transparent as the RS-1. Almost sound identical...


IDENTICAL TO THE RS1??????????????????????????

Blasphemer!!!!!!!!!!

Send that man to the seventh level of hell!

shivohum,
While I applaud the effort (I once did something similar with the CD3K http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showth...ghlight=cd3000), I think you were a bit selective in your choices (though you had to be I suppose). I know I have written some much more insightful comments on the various aspects of the R10s sound than were chosen, but I think I'll live!

Also, I'm not sure how much credence we should give to MRael's comments. BTW, he didn't own them, he just borrowed them for a couple days. He was using an older CDP and no amp. He did not have the R10 properly amplified IMO.

So, you wouldn't have gone to all this effort if you weren't considering a pair very heavily, right?

So, watcha gonna do? You make a decision yet?

markl
 
Apr 8, 2002 at 2:35 AM Post #8 of 25

punosion

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<hands shivohum a trophy>

Congratulations! That was the longest post I have ever seen by anyone. Ever. And I thought some reviews went long...
tongue.gif


Nice job! That was a pretty good read, and a nasty workout for the imagination...now I gotta go get me $4,000
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Apr 8, 2002 at 2:52 AM Post #9 of 25

shivohum

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Quote:

(I once did something similar with the CD3K


You certainly did. Good job! Maybe I subconsciously drew on your example, having seen but forgotten it...

Quote:

I know I have written some much more insightful comments on the various aspects of the R10s sound than were chosen, but I think I'll live!


Why don't you quote them in this thread? It'll help anyone who's looking for R10s.

Quote:

So, you wouldn't have gone to all this effort if you weren't considering a pair very heavily, right?


No, I'm just stupid. I didn't realize just how much effort would be involved
smily_headphones1.gif
.

Quote:

So, watcha gonna do? You make a decision yet?


Sorry, but at this point I think dynamic headphones are all variations on a theme. Their resolution is inherently limited, and the HD600 is an excellent set of compromises anyway, in my opinion. If Headroom feels fit to give them a $4000 amplifier, if Stereophile's editor-in-chief uses them as his personal recording and personal listening reference, if those who have used and appreciated Omega IIs still appreciate HD600s, and, most importantly, if I'm able to enjoy them long-term (while understanding their limitations), that's enough for me. Of course they're very far from perfect.

Plus, note that you & Vertigo both like pop and rock above all. I didn't include the quote, but on some post someone talks about the best phones for classical and jazz, and Vertigo says something like "that's why I have the HP-1." I suspected as much...
biggrin.gif


Another interesting point. Although the R10 is probably owned by many fewer people than the Stax Omega II, it seems like R10 owners are much less loyal to their headphones. Mrbeanyohan sold his. Vertigo-1 is selling his. Or is he? You considered giving yours up for a W2002.

But have you ever seen a sale for the Omega II on this board? There hasn't been one. There hasn't been one on Headwize either. I've never seen a used Omega II on Ebay, either. Or on Audioweb or Audioshopper or *anywhere*. Maybe the amp will go, but not the headphones. Even the Orpheus is sold, but not the Omega IIs. Hrm.

In addition to all this, I am evaluating the W100 right now, which are admittedly MOST interesting. But if I can muster the amount of money for an R10, unless I learn something drastically new, it will almost certainly go towards a pair of Staxes.
 
Apr 8, 2002 at 2:57 AM Post #10 of 25

markl

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At the time, I was optimistic the W2002 was better than the r10 based on certain hysterical postings from an un-named W2002 fanatic.

I really could have used the money from the sale of R10 as I was about to embark on a move and I needed cash. However, the R10 were so much better than the W2002 that I couldn't bear to be without them even if it caused some economic hardship. So I bit the bullet and held on to them.

Also, next to my little furry loved ones and personal photos/memorabilia, the first thing I'd grab out of my burning apartment would be the R10s.

How's that for loyalty?

markl
 
Apr 8, 2002 at 3:28 AM Post #12 of 25

Zanth

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I have been reading these R10 threads all weekend and have been very entertained, especially since msjjr just wanted an A/B comparison, not a heated philosophical debate. Nonetheless, I have learned a ton about the R10s and may pick up a pair in a few weeks. Anyway...shivohum just mentioned no one ever selling the Omega II's, and although I am not trying to be a prick, I was just on audiogon and well....I came across this link:

Omega IIs for Sale


Irony for sure....a good laugh....most definitely.
 
Apr 8, 2002 at 3:31 AM Post #14 of 25

dhwilkin

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Something like this, though not technically a headphone review, should go in the Featured Reviews section. Useful stuff.
 
Apr 8, 2002 at 3:33 AM Post #15 of 25

kelly

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Furry loves ones? Mark, you can love your pets, but it's illegal to LOVE your pets.
 

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