wood v.s. plastic: my first review!!!
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secretasianman

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Well, thanks to you guys I've bought, in chronological order, Senn MX500's, KSC-35's, HP890's, W100's, and hopefully some Ety
ER-4S's. So let's cut the foreplay and get down to biznass...

Being a virgin head-fier, i expect this review to end prematurely and be unsatisfying for both of us, but I'm working at it, k?


I dumped the HP890's because I couldn't stand the brightness (sibilance was a huge concern), and although we had some good times together (I enjoyed the "soundstage" for classical, the separation of the different instruments) - and yes, they felt REALLY GOOD on me, its attitude was just too much for me and I went back to my homely but well-behaved KSC-35's.

The W100's are a bit of an enigma to me. When I got them, they had been fairly well used (1000 hours...) and "broken in", so I expected that any brightness had been taken care of. When I put on "Tonight, Tonight" by the Smashing Pumpkins, took a deep breath, and stuck it into my Mini, I was delighted. I was hearing things that I'd never heard with any other (I noticed things like the decay of cymbals, which I only noticed on my KSC-35's after hearing the W100's first). But when Billy began whining, "we're not the same but different tooniiiiiiiiiiiiiiite" the moment was ruined, I grabbed for the cans and ripped them off (the brightness of the W100's can make his voice unlistenable - although it wasn't nearly as bad as with the HP890's). Just when I'd thought I had found the one...

So now I'm alone again and somewhat broken-hearted (they looked great, felt even better, had nice bass, and liked women) - but I've got my eyes on the Etys: Word is that, despite the high price and the initial pain of insertion, they make you "one with the music". As for the W100's, they're packed up and ready to leave (see the For Sale forum). Treat them right and give them the right stuff, and you'll never want to take them off.

Drunk and taking a shower,
- Ed
 
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Guyferd

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Man. Sad to hear that.
What's your source. I guess that is the culprit behind the brightness. Don't tell me it's mp3 or onboard soundcard and stuff
 
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Kubernetes

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Sorry to hear that. Of course everyone hears differently, and you might just be very sensitive to treble. You might consider a good tube amp to take care of your sensitivity. My w100s sound just fine out of an EMP, and have sounded just fine ever since I broke them in.
 
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Tomcat

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This W100 sibilance problem some ownwers have is a mystery to me. I am sorry to hear about your less than satisfactory results, secretasianman.

I feel like many other W100 owners, e.g. solomon, Blighty, 88Sound, who think that the W100 is very forgiving of bad recordings, tames sibilance and manages to convey musical flow and emotion instead of focussing the listener's attention on distortion. BTW, I completely agree with your comments about the Philips HP 890. Its treble is on the bright side, somewhat aggressive and rather fatiguing. But to my ears, the W100 is very transparent, smooth and non-fatiguing. Through the W100, the timbre of violins, for example, is extremely natural and seductive, like silk.

I wonder what causes our different impressions.
 
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halcyon

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Tomcat: "I wonder what causes our different impressions."

I know this has been covered earlier, so I'm not presenting anything new, but...

Discarding personal head/ear differences for a while now, the headphone placement is crucial for bass and for high frequency reproduction.

Even a slight change in position can seriously alter the measured sound at concha level. This has been seen many times in artificial head measurements.

I've noticed that people tend to wear headphones a little differently from each other. This may be a contributing factor in addition to the personal HTRF functions that change the sound.

The problem with placement is even more crucial with headphones that are placed on the ear and not around it (circumaural). This means Grado style headphones.

regards,
Halcyon
 
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Tomcat

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That's a good point, halcyon!

I like to wear my circumaural headphones in a forward position, with the centre of the membrane aiming at a point slightly in front of the outer ear. It seems I get the most natural pinnae effects concerning the signal's frequency and timing that way.

Another thing that will influence the W100's tonal balance is the fit of the headphone. I have had very good results with JML's "conehead modification": carefully bending the two tubes that connect the two enclosures in order to achieve a tighter fit and higher clamping force. This will increase the W100's bass extension and it will shift its tonal balance slightly lower. I am not sure what's responsible for this: the firmer coupling between the enclosures (and ultimately the drivers) and the listener's head or the reduced size of the cavity between the driver's membrane and the outer ear.
 
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kelly

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I found the W100 to be on the polite and forgiving side, but did find there were treble peaks that I could see being a problem on just the wrong recording and/or source component/amp combination. When I auditioned the W100 it was with a variety of recordings (different performers, labels, genres) and with three different amps. While I'm not a huge fan of the W100 for other reasons, I'd definitely look into these other things if the problem is brightness and exaggerated sibilants. The Etymotics are just as capable of showing those problems to you and they're unlikely to make you happier if that's where your primary complaint is.

But then again, I think if your headphones made Billy Corgan sound whiney and annoying that it is truly a testament of the headphone's accuracy.
 
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Kubernetes

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Quote:

But then again, I think if your headphones made Billy Corgan sound whiney and annoying that it is truly a testament of the headphone's accuracy.


hehe, I didn't think of that before. Isn't Billy Corgan's voice *supposed* be peaky and painful in the treble?
Maybe your previous headphones just tended to mask the true nature of Corgan's voice. That's one reason I could never get into the Pumpkins. Great songs and good music, if only if they could get a decent singer instead of Corgan.
 
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bobjew

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Hey Secret, I know of what you speak with that sibilance. What helps, also— although they add a little weight to a portable set up is ferrite clamps (available from Digi-Key) one between the output on the Mini and one on the headphone cable, cheap tweak anyway, but they really keep some of those sibilant frequencies down. Adds a little air, too. Might even help with Chinese Opera!
 
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secretasianman

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Forgot to note: I'm doing all my listening out of a CT470 line-out, powered by a Fixup Mini (9v version). Does that explain a lot of my problems?

Now that I can drop the sexual undertones -

Tomcat: I understand what you mean by their ability to make you focus on the music - I was able to listen to make it through CDs I hadn't been able to make it through before (Tidal comes to mind). I was even almost able to listen to jazz (No disrespect to the jazz community) - sorry, but I'm just incompatible with jazz (and country as a genre and a culture).

These headphones just don't like Corgan. Kelly, you're probably right (for all I know) - it's not rock music they have a problem with (I'm listening to Physical Graffiti, and it's like I've never heard them before): I enjoy their kinda "forward" sound, which may just be a synonym for "acceptable brightness". Then again, I've never heard Grados before. I could probably buy an amp and CDP that would make the W100's endurable with Corgan, but that's just too complicated.

Bottom line: these heapdhones are great - I don't have to concentrate very hard on the music for the details; they seem to just be there. And I can kick back and just enjoy most of the time - even though they're a little bright. I'm listening to
Hendrix - Band of Gypsies, and "Dim Changes" is moving me in a way it hasn't since, well, ever.

If I had never heard of the Ety ER-4S's, I could probably just end my headphone quest right now (after an amp/source upgrade, and some DT770's) and be 95% happy. The Etys, I hear, make the details even more present, without being fatiguing or noticeably colored. And the "attack" or "transients" or what-have-you are better too, from what I hear. Most importantly, most of my listening will be outside and I'll need good isolation - the W100's won't do.

Bass - the W100's had tight, or perhaps tame bass that worked with rock... or really any genre but rap (put on "Ready To Die" for a quick bass test and these phones refused to rattle and boom - some might call it a "musical" bass). "Teardrop" off of Mezzanine (Massive Attack) sounded fine (only I could hear a constant hiss/crackle in the background
).

I could stop here... but I won't. Not until Corgan finds a warm, loving home.

NOTE: these phones have already been sold (99% sure) in favor of the ER-4S's.

Signing off,
- Ed
 
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dohminator

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I agree with your comments about the bass and the sound overall. The bass isn't too powerful. It works just right for the majority of music. Bass fiends may find it lacking, but for pretty much everything it works out just right.

Oh, and billy corgan's voice is harsh, and it really stands out on the w100. I think that is more represetitive of the truth than anything. If you get somebody that has a silky smooth voice and listen to them on the headphones, it will sound absolutely fantastic. IT's the price you pay.
 
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zowie

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"Wood or wire? They have both kinds here."
 
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