What's with vintage headphones?

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by mattstech, Aug 26, 2017.

  1. J English

    J English Super Member

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    I still use my two pairs of Senn HD 414s, and they sound great. But they are a lot more accurate than most headphones from the 60s and 70s.
     

     

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  2. ssmith3046

    ssmith3046 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have no desire to go to my Koss Pro's that had back in the early 70s.
     
  3. cgutz

    cgutz AK Member

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    I bought my HD424 Sennheisers in the late 70's. Still have them :)

    At the time, Koss was the "rave" - I was not impressed....:eek2:
     
  4. keitht

    keitht Active Member

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    Headphone tech improved a lot in the last 15 years. The only Koss model I ever liked was the HV1.
    Stax, well that's another story. Older electrets hold their own with just about anything..
     
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  5. rkgren1

    rkgren1 Well-Known Member

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    I have a set of Yamaha Orthodymanics and they have a nice, neutral sound.
    I also have a set of AudioTechnical ATH-5s and they are very nice as well, a bit warmer than the Yamahas.

    Edit: After spending a few weeks with the ATs I have to say that these really are nice headphones. Unlike the Yamahas that I have, they can thump out a very solid bass line, and really good performers overall. They are quite comfortable to wear as well.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2018
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  6. restorer-john

    restorer-john Addicted Member

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    Vintage headphones are way cool looking. I have a pretty decent collection of some awesome looking models, but I'm yet to hear any that didn't sound like a transistor radio speaker in a plastic cup (which, incidentally many of them were...). Two ways with controls, over ear, you name it- they all sound putrid.

    My AKG702s are my reference and it's hard to go back to vintage ones.
     

     

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  7. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

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    I remember the Koss Pro 4a when new, didn’t like them and brought them back. So they sold me a pair of the Koss Studio headphones for half price that cost four times the price of th 4a. But the wife left a window open and they disappeared along with the rest of my equipment. Now I just use Sennheizer...
     
  8. 2channel*

    2channel* Well-Known Member

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    I would disagree with your last statement. I got my Stax SR44 new waaaay back when. They still sound great. I picked up a pair of used SR-30s about 2 years ago, thinking they would be an improvement. Unfortunately the left driver takes about 30 minutes to reach the same volume as the right, so I hardly ever use them. I got a pair of NAD Viso HP50 dynamics designed by Paul Barton. They are very good, have a real "presence" and strong bass; but really not in the same class as the Stax electrets, in my opinion. I bought a used pair of SRX Mk3 and a SRD7 last year, a true electrostatic set up that got monster reviews when the came out in 1979. They are my everyday cans because I feel they most realistically present everything in the recording; but I often go back to the SR40s. The "air", as you put it, is so refreshing.

    The HP50s are for loud listening when I don't want to disturb others close by. A pair of Sony MDRv-600 dynamics, also very well reviewed, are relegated to my desktop. So I don't think modern dynamics in the $150 price range will be able to hold a candle to your SR44Ds, except in convenience and portability. Maybe some Oppo PM-3 ($400) or HiFiMan HE400 ($275) planar magnetics would come close. I have been wanting to hear those Oppos for a while.
     
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  9. twiiii

    twiiii Addicted Member

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    five or 6 years ago I ordered new pads for my Koss Pro4 AAA's. It really helped, but when one ear speaker became intermittent and failed I went shopping. I couldn't believe how much the Sennheisers have improved in the last 10 years. I first bought a Pair of over the ear sealed Momentums that were just a little or lot bass heavy around 160hz. The oldest boy like them so a year later I bought some closed 598 and they are almost my cup of tea. They aren't quite as bright as I would like but for long term listening a great choice. About 10 days after they were introduced I got to audition pair of 650's, and if I didn't have my Lambdas or Signet electrostatics I would have bought a pair. Sure they cost a ton more than all but my Koss headphones from a long ago time, but they are fantastic. Koss has been sitting on its laurels to long. Just look at all the new Headphone products by newer companies introduced the last 10 years.
     
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  10. 2channel*

    2channel* Well-Known Member

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    "five or 6 years ago I ordered new pads for my Koss Pro4 AAA's. It really helped"

    Yeah, I forgot to mention one downside of all the older Stax with round earpads. Try getting new pads. It's almost impossible. There is one dealer in Canada who was kind enough to accommodate.

    http://www.americansound.com/contact/
     
  11. elcoholic

    elcoholic AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I feel that my SRX Mk llls are the most accurate and detailed head phones I have, but I can only go one album before they get uncomfortable. Still they are great for jazz, chamber music and acoustic rock, bluegrass, etc. My trusty Yamaha HP-1's beat the Stax for rock and are almost as detailed, but also get uncomfortable quickly which wasn't a problem when I bought them in '76. My much older ears just don't like lengthy sessions with on-ears. My home built Yamasteins use the same drivers but are over-ear and despite their added weight are much more comfortable and have better bass. For better coexistence in the living room I just got a pair of the new Monoprice Monolith 1060C's and I'm leaning towards keeping them. The more I listen to them the more I like them and they are super-comfy. I started a thread on them here.
     

     

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  12. 2channel*

    2channel* Well-Known Member

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    That's good to know. I had been curious about Monoprice planars. Just wondering if you ruled out the Oppos and why?
     
  13. elcoholic

    elcoholic AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    No Oppo is next up if I don’t keep these. Esthetically I’m drawn to wood phones. Large round ear cushions and the 2 part headband tend to be more comfortable for me.
     
  14. olddude55

    olddude55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I had the Stax SR44 also and loved them. My son dismantled them when he was a toddler.
    I've got Sennheiser HD600's, they're comfortable and sound pretty good. You can find them on sale for as low as $200 sometimes, but I still prefer Stax. Vintage Stax cans like the SR-3 or SR-5 beat the HD600 in my opinion and can be had for less if you shop around.
     
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  15. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    I prefer my headphones from a shiny, new box. Why buy old worn-out phones that God-only-knows what their owner put them through? Get fresh jumbo farm eggs, not the ones thrown into the dumpster out back.
     
  16. KG_Jag

    KG_Jag Member

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    Most vintage headphones (1960's into at least the early 90's) had an "n" shaped sound signature. This means that they were mid-centric and didn't do bass or treble very well. They had small sound stages--it was mostly about left, right and center. Almost all of them were not very good by today's standards--not only when compared to current mid-fi cans, but also when compared to quality ~ $100 headphones of today.
     

     

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  17. hatrack71

    hatrack71 distracted by everything

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    I like some vintage headphones but most vintage are far too dark, veiled and withdrawn for me. My favorite have to be the Beyerdynamic DT 48 for it's build quality and absolutely precise and UPFRONT/ FORWARD engaging sound. I also like the DT 480 Sound Juwel (a DT 48 in a DT 100 frame- sort of the home hi-fi version of DT 48) and really like the DT 150. I've listened to Fostex and currently own Yamaha orthodynamics but have not found a sound signature I like with them yet. Too polite, hard to drive to high levels but with killer bass (YH-3). They tend to be on the warmer side with highs rolled off. I like lots of high frequency detail and separation with instruments. Stax are always great in the Pro Bias variety but man are they ever getting expensive. And if they need work..be prepared to shell out serious coin. There are a few guys on Head-Fi who are good with these though.

    If you like binaural music... the DT 48 can do some spooky real imaging. And for some reason voices just sound real on these. If we are talking about driver advancement over the years, I tend to think progress is fairly minimal with more hype to drain your wallet than anything else. Just like audio. It seems I like old tube stuff. Modding can make most sound like a modern headphone and it's mostly altering the cups and never the drivers so to speak. Other than just foam/ felt dampening on the back of it. I've owned over 50 different headphones from different manufacturers to be able to come to this conclusion. The DT 48 was a headphone WAY ahead of it's time (1937) and still sounds more accurate than 75% of what is out there presently. Maybe even more. And with a good high end tube amp to bring out it's nuances, it may become a favorite of yours too. But it is very analytical and has it limitations if you are distracted by too much going on in the soundstage. it will certainly make a poor recording sound terrible and is not forgiving at all like modern headphones. Garbage in..garbage out. Love/ hate for the masses. In fact Beyerdynamic is love/ hate since they are generally brighter than almost all headphones...except some Audio Technica open backs I've listened to that I really liked. For reference... I am a treblehead.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
  18. Hawkeye83

    Hawkeye83 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Just an update, I sold the Stax and got the Oppo PM-3's...where can you find those for $400, new? Just curious. I paid $320 for used ones but they also came with a Fiio Q1 portable DAC/amp so not too bad I guess...I see that $400 price mentioned everywhere but I have only been able to find them for $500 and up, and even $800 and up on Amazon!

    Anyway, I made the change due to easier usability and also portability. Switching to a normal 1/4" headphone connection really cleaned up the signal chain in my main system. If I had kept the Stax, my signal chain would have been:

    Sources -> RCA selector box -> preamp/DAC -> KEF Kube -> amp -> Stax headphones -> subwoofer -> main speakers -> supertweeters.

    Just way too many interconnects and boxes for my liking. I had the chance to remove one box (the Stax transformer box), so I did it.

    So far I think I like the Oppo's better, but the Stax are not outclassed by them, sonically...at least not by much. The biggest difference I've found so far is more bass in the Oppo's. Also I find the Oppo's more comfortable. And, they can be powered by a cell phone, no external amp needed! Pretty sweet for a planar headphone!
     
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  19. kmulkey

    kmulkey AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    My first really good quality headphones were 424's...great headphones
     

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