W100 poor man's R10? or I feel the FIRE commin on!
Apr 6, 2002 at 6:52 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 53

88Sound

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I had the opportunity to audition the R10 about two weeks ago for over an hour with all sorts of material, I also brought my W100's for a known reference. The source was a Sony SACD player with my normal CD's through an EMP. The EMP was new and going through the hum phase that mine is now thankfully over. Before even trying on the R10's I plugged in the W100's to see how they sounded with this setup. My portable D-25S, or SL570 sound better through my broken in EMP than this new one, I can't imagine the source sounding worse than my portables so it must be the EMP, there were also some very expensive looking interconnects, (I use the often disparaged Monster interconnects).

My explanation of the setup is very important for understanding my review of the sound. Synergy between different equipment is critical at any audiophile headphone level and can easily be the difference between these things sound good and these things sound so great I can't live without them. Enough of that onto the sound.

The R10's are beautiful, they have top notch materials, are very comfortable, the Rolls-Royce of dynamic phones. They sound very good, polite on everything. I had the feeling I could be listening to punk rock while sipping tea with pinkie extended and feel right at home. Regardless of how harsh the material I played was it was polite on the R10's. By comparison my W100's (not broken in at all by anybody's account) sounded brighter than the R10's. The R10 politeness did not translate into realism as much as relaxation. Crashing cymbals, rim shots, harshly recorded muted trumpet, all polite. If I wanted to come home from a hard day at work, sit in my favorite chair with a single malt and relax the R10's would be hard to beat.

Maybe because I'm a musician or sound man or was dropped on my head as an infant I do not primarily listen to music for relaxation as much as intellectual stimulation. Stimulation not only from the composition and interplay of the music but also from the quality of the recording. I was hoping from the Sony description of the R10's they would be like a chameleon, smooth and flowing on some music, hard and slammin on others. I respectfully submit, these R10's in this setup did not slam. I don't think the W100's slam either in case you're wondering. If you look up slam in the dictionary you will see a small picture of a Grado 325. 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.

The Sony's thankfully for my wallet were not for me, but I can easily see why their owners love them. Even after everything I've just said I have been tempted to try for a used pair but have so far resisted. I am quite happy mixing and matching music with equipment to get what I consider to be that perfect sound.

Comparing the R10's and W100's side by side I found they have a lot in common: Closed, wood enclosures, 40 Ohm/48 Ohm, Same pad design, self adjusting, made in Japan, angled drivers, silk covered cord. So close in fact that I would be surprised if the W100 designers hadn't examined an R10 closely before the W100's were designed.

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.

Even if I had the R10's I would still be listening to slamming drums on the 325.
 
Apr 6, 2002 at 8:35 PM Post #2 of 53

The Quality Guru

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That's good to hear that you still like your W100's after listening to the R10's. Very soon I will be recieving my W100's, and I can't wait to hear what they sound like. Did you listen to the W100's out of your Panasonic PCDP? How do they sound when compared to them being played when with the EMP?

Thanks, Luke
 
Apr 6, 2002 at 9:01 PM Post #3 of 53

88Sound

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Luke,

I haven't listened to the W100's without an amp yet! Didn't even realize it myself until I read your post. I must try this for science sake but since I only listen to these at home I didn't even think to listen to them unamped.

When I first got the W100's I listened to them with the Panasonic 570 and RA-1. I loved them at first listen. I have since had sessions with the D-25 or 570 and EMP/W100 that sounded so good to me that I had to check to see how much of this incredible combo is the amp, and the EMP adds a lot to the sound.

For me the perfect combo for old jazz, female vocal, and audiophile recordings is an EMP that's been warmed up for at least 2 Hours and the W100's. Incredible.
 
Apr 6, 2002 at 11:27 PM Post #5 of 53

RickG

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Quote:

Originally posted by 88Sound
Even if I had the R10's I would still be listening to slamming drums on the 325.


I have no doubt that the R10's are fantastic phones, and I sincerely hope I'm in a situation where I can hear them someday. However, I have to chuckle when I read your comment about the SR 325's.....they have to be the most exciting and involving dynamic phones I've listened to.....sometimes they're a bit too much, but hey, they kick major butt!.......
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Apr 7, 2002 at 3:44 PM Post #6 of 53

88Sound

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The W100's are definitely here to stay. They sound fantastic on all of the Miles Davis 20 bit remasters especially with the EMP (that accounts for about 18 CD's in my collection). They are incredible with female voice, Holly Cole, Tori Amos, Christy Baron and all the Chesky audiophile stuff. This is the same territory the RS1 covers for me and in most cases I prefer the W100's to the RS1's. I have a feeling this preference will change with the hot weather. The W100's will be too hot to wear unless you're in air conditioning or a cool climate....we'll see.

Oddly enough I don't like to listen to any of the above material with the 325, they just aren't smooth enough, too much raw detail. However when it comes to the crack of a rock or jazz snare (John Scofield - Uberjam, Medeski Martin & Wood) I haven't yet found a phone that does this anywhere near as good as a 325. The ETY4S comes the closest to snare perfection after the 325. I think the ETY is accurate and the 325 has an excited coloration but the 325 sounds more like a real snare (I hear a real live set every weekend doing sound).

There are some nearly perfectly recorded modern studio jazz CD's(Dave Holland Quintet) that sound the best to me by far on my ETY's. Every other phone I have makes the bass sound bloated and on the ETY's it's like they disappear and you're in the studio.

At this point I don't think there is one phone or setup that sounds perfect on everything even the R10. If I loved to listen to classical more than anything else those R10's would be very tempting. The choice of which setup is right for which person has a lot to do with the material they mostly listen to. If you like a bunch of different stuff and you want all of it to sound stellar I'm afraid you will be doomed to alot of different equipment. At least it's small and relatively inexpensive compared to full size speakers and amps.

Or I might be just completely crazy.
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Apr 7, 2002 at 3:53 PM Post #7 of 53

markl

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Quote:

If I wanted to come home from a hard day at work, sit in my favorite chair with a single malt and relax the R10's would be hard to beat.


Not to sound like a broken record (who, me?), this is a perfect example of why I think "listening style" is so influential on how we evaluate phones.

I like to listen pretty much as you describe above, eyes closed focused solely on the music, glass of wine by my side. R10s are indeed the perfect headphone for my listening style.

Can I ask how you got to hear the R10s? Whose were they?

markl
 
Apr 7, 2002 at 4:06 PM Post #8 of 53

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Hey 88Sound, any words yet on how the W100's sound w/o an amp?
 
Apr 7, 2002 at 4:09 PM Post #9 of 53

shivohum

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Quote:

I like to listen pretty much as you describe above, eyes closed focused solely on the music


This is a good point, and I think a key question to ask you would be: do you listen to relax the vast majority of the time? Or do you ever get up and dance, and if so, how often?
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Apr 7, 2002 at 4:14 PM Post #11 of 53

markl

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Mostly I listen to relax, but it really depends on what I'm in the mood to hear.

I own an electric guitar that I can't play. When no one's around and I want to rock out, I'll "jam" along with the music.
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I'll boogie automatically when certain CDs are on, just can't help myself-- up and out of the chair. R10s certainly facilitate both total listening immersion and "rocking out". For me, at least.

markl
 
Apr 7, 2002 at 4:28 PM Post #12 of 53

kelly

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I feel like I'm the only one who wants, in the ultimate headphone, exactly what's behind the headphone. I want the headphone to be like a pane of glass absolutely transparently allowing everything behind it to show through, good or bad. I want control over how it sounds in other stages (pre-amplifier, source, the recording itself). I feel like Grado fans and R10 fans are on polar extremes of the issue--one preferring a harsh "kick", the other wanting everything smoothed out. I have a feeling the market for what I want is thinner.
 
Apr 7, 2002 at 4:47 PM Post #13 of 53

88Sound

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Quote:

I want the headphone to be like a pane of glass absolutely transparently allowing everything behind it to show through, good or bad.


This is what I searched for when looking for a home stereo, and I feel I came very close to this with some Studio Monitors that have aluminum 10" drivers designed by Larry Hartke back in the early 80's (probably not 20 pairs of these in the world). Poor material sounds rotten, great material is breathtaking. I have been into the audiophile headphone thing for about a year now. Your goal was my initial goal but since I have been unable to find my pane of glass headphone I changed my goal to find stained glass headphones where the staining complements the material. This is something I never thought I'd do a year ago but there you have it. A year ago I did not know you could get a sound as good as I have gotten with certain headphone/amp combinations. It still is amazing to me how I can be listening to something that sounds so right with one combination and yet the same combination can sound so wrong on different material.

This mixing and matching of equipment for material goes against everything I've ever believed in selecting audio gear, but in the heaphone realm it is what has worked best for me so far.
 
Apr 7, 2002 at 5:49 PM Post #14 of 53

markl

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Quote:

I feel like I'm the only one who wants, in the ultimate headphone, exactly what's behind the headphone. I want the headphone to be like a pane of glass absolutely transparently allowing everything behind it to show through, good or bad. I want control over how it sounds in other stages (pre-amplifier, source, the recording itself).


Hmmmmm... based on this, maybe you *would* like the R10 after all. It comes closest to my definition of "transparent" of any headphone I've heard. If you boil Vertigo's review down to its essence, he is simply saying that the R10 is uterly transparent. Remeber I called the R10 the "Disappearing Headphone"? That's yet another way to describe them as "transparent".

I originally understood you to say that you only wanted transparent sound in your upstream components, not the headphone itself. You seemed to say you wanted a little extra "kick" or "bite" in the headphones themselves.


markl
 
Apr 7, 2002 at 6:02 PM Post #15 of 53

kelly

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I want nothing added Mark, but according to what you've posted, it adds smoothness.
 

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