Over the years, I’ve received questions in high volumes about my ES-series headphones and thought it was time to write an article about them.  Audio Technica’s recent release of the ESW9LTD only made things worse for me after I reviewed last year; the flood gates were opened and I’d felt like I was forced to almost act as a support rep for the entire ES/W series portables.  With that in mind, I felt it was time to do an ES/W portables series group review.

The following page is a chronicling of my experiences with repairing my set of ESW10JPN headphones.  The original owner took very poor care of them and I’ve decided to repair them to the best of my abilities.   After this, I will detail the sound characteristics of each model of the ES/W series from Audio Technica on the following pages of this article.  If you don’t care about the Art involved in the traditional lacquering of the ESW10JPN, skip this section.  It is quite long and filled with a lot of subjective experiences.

Urushi Process 1

A Guide to Japanese Urushi Lacquer – My Artisan Training

Back in 2008 or so, Audio Technica released the Urushi Lacquered ESW10JPN and it was nothing short of dazzling to any fool with a mortal soul that looked upon them.  We all gazed into the abyss that year…and the monster in the depths below stared right back, forcing everyone to invest time into searching Google for more details.  If you’d have taken up this quest for knowledge, you’d have quickly found yourself in the middle of a slew of nonsense posts on Head Fi about this model. There were too many threads that lack any useful information, too many “Oh, these are good.” posts and similar empty opinions that only frustrate you more as time goes on, as well as posts from users who claim to have two of the rarest headphones around…but naturally don’t want to share a simple photo of them for proof of ownership.

The lack of information on these models is so severe and some users who reviewed them are so clearly and vividly off-center with their views, that I had to gather the ES10, ESW10JPN, ESW11LTD and the ES700 myself to discover if I was crazy.  I’d already owned the ESW9 for some time, so there was no need to purchase that.  I’ve heard each model individually many times and almost never agreed with anyone who said anything about them, save for someone who happened to be a buddy of mine who goes by the user name Glitch3d…a previous owner of the ESW11LTD:  a voice of reason amidst insanity.

I bring this up because after years of reading and scouring for more reviews and mentions of the ESW10JPN and the ESW11LTD, I’d always come back with more confusion and stress as time went on.  Nobody talked about EQ or efficiency, nobody tested with popular sources and amplifiers or really at all touched on what they are capable of with different pads, where their limits are and what meshes with them and why.  It baffled me and stressed me out so intensely, that I spent the last few years hunting for a used ESW10JPN and ESW11LTD to purchase for myself just to review.  I finally found sellers for both and dropped a heartbreaking and wallet crunching amount of cash.  I got a hell of a deal on a near mint 11LTD…but the owner of the 10JPN flat out lied to me about their condition and it took almost 60 days for it to be imported to my location in the states.   I tried to dispute it, but Paypal said it was too late to do so and the owner got away scot-free after saying it was in A+ condition and when the set was actually in F condition and severely battered upon delivery.  That son of a bitch...

The Process of Urushi Training

After 8 years of gawking at the ESW10JPN and hunting for someone even remotely interested in selling one, that is what I ended up with?!  I was so furious, that I contacted an artisan I found online that lived here in Cleveland, Ohio who said he had decades of experience with the Urushi art form.  I’d hoped he could help salvage or repair it for me.  Instead of fixing it for me, he’d offered to instruct me on the art form enough to do it myself.  Of course, I accepted and it only took a few weeks of lessons to raise my level of experience to the point of being able to start repairs on my ESW10JPN.

Japanese Urushi is a highly toxic substance that can leave slight burns and poison ivy-like effects if it comes into contact with your skin.  Brush strokes, mixing and application processes need to be precise, the area of work needs to be dust/contaminant free and the weather can’t be too harsh in either direction.  Failure to meet a single one of those requirements equates to ruination of the Urushi curing process.  I have a lot of wood working and lacquering experience, but I’ve never touched this traditional Japanese Urushi lacquer before.  It needs to be imported from Japan and specific, custom made brushes outfitted with mouse hair are really the only acceptable source of application you can use.

Importing Urushi is a nightmare and costly, the real stuff anyway.  You can get junk on eBay and elsewhere, but that’s clearly not the good stuff…and I was only interested in the good stuff for my repair of the ESW10JPN.  My new “Sensei” helped me import some real Urushi from Japan, as well as some proper brushes.  Be careful if you buy online though, because Japanese sellers don’t know English well and have no clue what the words “clear” and “transparent” really means.  They list these terms on their products and you’d naturally assume it means colorless Urushi right?  Nope.  It means nothing and the substance is still dark.  It will be based on color codes that the website or seller will provide in a pallet key form or image, so even if it says transparent and clear…it is literally the opposite.  Sellers on eBay and Amazon, as well as other sites in Japan use these terms in the title of the ad and are not aware the product is not clear.  Be careful.  I wasted a lot of cash buying and importing Urushi while waiting for the real stuff to arrive, as I’d wanted to practice with the lower end stuff and every single product I ordered was not as described in color.

Urushi Process 2

ESW10JPN Design

It hurts on an emotional level that Audio Technica originally lacquered the ESW10JPN to a completely different color than what the wood cups were. They didn’t do a good job on the application and left a ring around the top of every cup they applied Urushi to. The natural color of the 10JPN’s wood is of a lighter coloration than the very dark stain and flat Urushi lacquer they used. The 10JPN’s wood has blonde highlights and a gentle rolling marble effect in the wood grain with deeper contrasting areas, immediately followed by darker ones.  I figured it would look incredible if I could sand both cups down to expose some of that amazing wood grain and then apply a fresh coat of Urushi for that candy like visual appeal. The sanding process was extremely difficult and took a few hours a day to work around the lettering and logos with a fine pointed sanding pen.  At this point, I’d stripped as much as I could off the original Urushi lacquer of the right cup and reapplied a lighter base. The result is shockingly beautiful. It looks like a deeper, more interesting 11LTD, but with real Urushi glazed look. It is the stuff of dreams and I want to punch the previous owner in the face for taking such poor care of them. Bastard

Here is a video I recorded of the first steps I took to gently strip the Urushi lacquer off the headphone:

The Black Cherry Wood of the 10JPN is gorgeous beyond words, but Audio Technica decided to cover it up completely with a darker stain and yet even darker lacquer, the end result is just the dumbest thing they could have done to it. They should have used a much lighter Urushi color, or even a 90% clear base instead. What a tragedy. Fostex recently did the same thing with their TH900 headphone, which they’ve even uploaded a video of the entire Urushi processes for everyone to see.  In that video, they applied a piano key black Urushi base and it looked so much better than the tacky red sparkles of the final product.  By the way, Urushi application has to be done in single layers once a week or at the very least every 4-6 days for the duration of a few months.  Audio Technica apparently did this by hand for the ESW10JPN models, so I classify this as high-art and something to be respected and cherished.

Tradition is wonderful and I feel like I am one of the few who understand the art and love required to actually use Urushi techniques after experiencing it all firsthand…but at the cost of destroying the natural beauty of the wood? No way!  Not on the ESW10JPN, it totally masked the gorgeous grain of the natural Cherry Wood!  This would have been fine on the ESW11LTD’s more bland wood, but Audio Technica didn’t lacquer that one. The only portable they lacquered with Urushi is the ESW10JPN and they screwed it up royally. Of course, that is entirely subjective and despite them masking the immensely gorgeous natural grain of the Black Cherry Wood used in the 10JPN, the Urushi solid color lacquer they used is still damned beautiful…just not as beautiful as it could have been with a lighter Urushi color to make the grain below pop.

Urushi Process 3

Filing a Complaint against people who abuse Art

Do you realize what the previous owner must have done to these headphones to build up enough damage to penetrate months of Urushi lacquer and all the way down to the base coat? My God…they must have been subjected to prolonged grinding against something sharp. What puzzles me and why I bring this up as an annoyance at all is that the headphone’s cable, frame, interiors and headband are all in 99% great shape, almost like new if not for the noticeable lines in the leather from normal usage, and light usage at that. After the first few coats of Urushi on the right cup, I decided to start work on the left side. I’d previously not rubbed any wood polish on that side as of yet and after the first application…the most terrifying thing imaginable happened…the lettering and logo’s flaked right off within moments of gently buffering the wood with the same polish and cloth I used on the right side.

So…basically what happened here is that the right cup sustained 0% damage to the lettering, but was scuffed around the lettering to an extreme degree. The left side sustained 95% damage to the Urushi lacquer and was down to basically a single layer, also scuffed up terribly. Beyond that, the letters popped right off the Urushi base coat. So, what the hell happened here? Did this person set the headphones on their desk and tap pencils or keys on it daily for years or let their cat claw it daily, but hardly touch anything else on the headphone? Every part except the cups appears in fantastic shape, so this is a mystery I’ll never solve and one that will eat at me for years to come. The previous owner doesn’t want to talk to me now after I blasted him for lying to me about their condition. Anyway, it is fine…that odd sound is just my sanity leaving the room each time I think about it. My theory on what happened here is that the previous owner set up this headphone on a stand which the left side facing a window with the sun often, if not daily that shined harshly onto it.

I found out later that Urushi cannot be left in direct sunlight for long periods of time, which actually can bake it like a yummy and toxic pot pie. This person likely lived in a hot place with a harsh sun shining through the window and onto only the left cup for years, effectively baking the Urushi a little every day, which then resulted in only the left side ended up a near total loss of Lacquering and the lettering being extremely fragile. I’d noticed that the Urushi of the left cup was almost totally down to the very first layer and required just one pass with 0000-steel wool to fully expose the bare wood and stain below.  The right cup took hours to strip in the same manner and down to the same level, as it had almost no loss of layers and was only scuffed up and pot marked with small holes…almost as if something small like a needle poked it a few dozen times in random places and pierced a few layers of the Urushi.

Speaking to other Urushi artisans in Japan over the course of the last few months of this project have all said the same thing when I asked them about why this could happen, so I guess it is a known thing with this art form. I recorded a video of the first clear Urushi base coat onto the right cup and uploaded it to You Tube. In the video, you can see the left side letters still intact, but you can also see briefly that the letters appear RAISED off the lacquer finish, prominent and more eye-catching than the right side. The reason is that ATH stamps the logo and text after the Urushi process. The damage done slowly over time dwindled the lacquer down on the left cup, effectively liquefying and losing layers as time went on…but the letters and the lacquer directly under them remained gently raised like text on a bubble. It became immensely fragile and wiped right off with the first attempt to dab some polish on a cloth and move it around gently over the cups. Christ Almighty, this is why the Audio Gods never gave me super powers…or else I’d teleport to the original owner and drop kick him for this.

After the lettering of the left cup flaked off, I was forced to undo weeks of Urushi and polishing of the right cup to match the now much lighter color of the left side.  It was a blessing in disguise, as the second go of it all resulted in a more beautiful looking wooden cup. The stock version was quite dark and matte, texture-less and moderately reflective.  After re-sanding down the right cup to match the left side and applying weeks worth of Urushi, the final product looks so much better than it ever did before.  Now a lighter gradation of wood hue, the ESW10JPN was gifted a new makeover and I believe I’ve now the most beautiful and highly polished ESW10JPN on the face of the Earth.

Before and After

The Journey’s End

At the end of this journey, I’d learned to respect the art involved in Urushi lacquering and ended up with a unique headphone.  I took this headphone from a battered state and nursed it back to a healthy state of being.  I actually had to learn a centuries old art form just to get the job done to my liking. True, it is not 100% mint, as the damage ended up being far worse than anticipated and after removal of the Urushi lacquer that exposed the wooden cup damage.  I think I was able to grant new life to the headphone and that means a lot to me.  I feel good about the final results, but she will always have her scars.  The entire process from start to finish has taken 3 months total: hours of careful sanding and gentle stripping of the original Urushi, multiple attempts to create a dust free area and having to re-strip the Urushi after finding a small piece of the brush that cured into the lacquer, as well as other particles of “things in the air” that were able to land on the surface within seconds of trying to place the wooden cups in a dust-proof container and bad imported brushes from Japan and mislabeled Urushi that ended up being a totally different color than advertised.  This has been a stressful ride, but also one that is totally worth it to restore something this beautiful.

Page 2: Sound Impressions


52 Responses

    • Michael

      Thankfully, these headphones are all super easy to remove the cable.

      Remove the pads, they slip right off.

      Make sure you have a good screwdriver with a magnet on it, so you dont lose the screws which have a knack for trying to literally just teleport into the abyss upon removal.

      The metal/wood plate will pop off when the screws are removed, which leads to the internal driver area. You’ll see the cable soldered in place without much around it, making it extremely easy to recable.

      Just make sure you have a solder tool and maybe the suction removal tool for solder too.

      Beyond that, its just a matter of stripping your new cable and soldering the leads back to where the stock cable was. It is very, very easy. If you do a recable, please send me pics or post them on the Headfonics facebook page for me to see!

      • Richard

        Thanks. That sounds doable.
        I most likely will do a detachable mod like this. https://www.head-fi.org/threads/audio-technica-ath-es-10-impressions-thread.545288/post-11987752

        Though would prefer to have a standard cable size it seems easier to do.

        I’m very tempted do so do this mod by Bill-P that apparently makes it even better. https://www.head-fi.org/threads/audio-technica-ath-es-10-impressions-thread.545288/post-10937819
        Though too be honest, have no trust in my ability to tell how much material to use based on sound alone.

        Also, what DAC/Amp combo would you recommend with the ES10? I’ve tried looking through the site but there’s so many products I don’t know where to begin.

        P.s. thanks for recommending these phones many years ago.

      • frederike


        I have ESW10 that got destroyed in an accident: the plastic yoke thingy broke, the headband is damaged and the cable is torn. Basically I need to replace everything aside from the cups. I know what to do with the cable, but the headband assembly leaves me scratching my head. Do I try calling AT in Japan (closest to me geographically) and ask for replacement parts? Do I find a broken pair of ESW9s and make a frankenstein? Are parts even compatible between ESW9/ESW10?

        Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. This is a very cherished item for me.

        Thanks, and thanks for the excellent article!

  1. Amos Lim

    I have an ESW10JPN myself. any idea where i can find a replacement for the headband

    • 24bit

      eBay is the only place I know of that carries them. They are $5USD on ebay right now.

  2. Docentore

    Great article.
    I’m a small fan of the series myself, although I only had ES700 which I have modified with some cork.
    Afterwards I managed what I thought was original ESW9, but they were just well made (in terms of look) knock-offs. Sound was terrible.

    Then I bought ESW9, loved the sound.
    Problem that I have is the first generation of ESW9 uses mediocre quality of plastics, they did broke few time. AT asks over €50 for replacement headband (in parts). I think I need to find those knock-off’s again :)

    ATM my ESW9 have lot of modifications and repairs, headband is flued with epoxy – looks bad, drivers were replaced with ES700 and interior was layered with a bit of cork under the yellow fibre that AT uses. Much better sound.

    • 24bit

      I lost the files, my SSD decided to cease breathing. Never made any backups, which traumatized me over the loss I think haha!

      I bought the 2piece kit that contains that square pad this, which I bought on Amazon and not through their site: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015AR4DM8/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      Light pressure and a few minutes of work and you should be able to buff out light to moderate scuffs and give it a new-ish looking restored visual appeal to any brushed titanium surface. This is not for polished steel/titanium with a reflective surface, it’s only for brushed metal. On these headphones, the brushed metal is horizontal from left to right, so moving the pad gently from left to right will recreate the “grain” of the metal and those lines as they were originally. If you go up and down against the lines or direction the piece of metal was brushed in, you’ll ruin everything so be careful!

  3. Tiger

    Hi 24bit, that’s a tremendous review, especially the Urushi part! What happened to the video? Why did you delete them?

    • 24bit

      The music track was flagged for copyright. It was a freeware, public domain track without the possibility to claim it. I made an unwise choice and contested it, lost because Youtube doesn’t actually care about anything. Lost despite it being a free track anyone can use anywhere. So, the videos were removed against my will. Put a ton of work into this, months actually and filmed it only to have it all get taken down. Thanks for the lovely words on the article though, I appreciate it!

      • Tiger

        That must be so angering. Any chance you would re-track it and upload again? I would love to see the video!

  4. Melvin Dichoso

    Love this article! I may not be able to lacquer ever but I find it reading the guide and watching the video enjoyable. :-) Like many, I myself are still looking for a second hand ESW10JPN that I can get my hands on and I have not given up yet. lol

    • 24bit

      The ESW950 is a rehash of the ESW9, but with different wooden cups and a detachable cable. The ESW990H is a 950 with a microphone on the cable. They are the same headphone and both use the same wooden cups, sharing the same specs as well.

      • HoHo

        Okay, thanks.
        Have you found some sound impressions or comparisons?
        There’s not much.

      • 24bit

        I spoke directly to Audio Technica Japan about it via email, I’ve not heard them and don’t know anyone who has heard them yet. If they can’t provide photo’s of it, don’t trust that persons impressions.

      • HoHo

        I will ask my local AT store if they plan to sell it.

        To be continued

      • HoHo

        My local AT store told me they will try their best to have some ESW950 and ESW990H but not sure at all.
        Wait and see.

  5. Michael Gunin

    A terrific article! I use ESW9 with iBasso DX50, and then synergy is great for styles like jazz, soul, funk. ESW9 seems a bit dark and softens the brighter sound of DX50, sounding a big analog-like. Still, I can’t say it is universal and would use something else for rock or electronic music.

      • Michael Gunin

        The only problem for me was the build quality. The skin on pads has grained, and the cord has broken and stopped working for one of the channels. However, after ordering custom genuine leather pads locally and switching to a better cable the durability seems much better. The model is lightweight and convenient for outdoor use, while the isolation is not for subway or other noisy environment.

      • HoHo

        You’re right. Using it in subway is not very convenient. On airplane or train it’s ok for travelling.
        But when you use it in subway, girls look at you. In that way it’s useful :D

      • 24bit

        I’ve been wearing the 11LTD out often and I get more uncomfortable in public with it as time goes on. Scared someone is going to jump me, because it really looks like candy glazed wood after a polishing. :[

    • HoHo

      I had the ESW9, it was lovely for jazz.
      Maybe you can try the ESW9LTD if you have the chance, a little more balanced sound and more versatile for different genres.

      • Michael Gunin

        Thanks! I’m also curious to try ES10. Another convenient option is Momentum Over Ear 2, not sure how it compares.

      • HoHo

        Pairing Momentum 2.0 with DX50 would sound a little boring, less engaging, I think. With DX90 it sounds good overall but lacks some coloration, some character.
        I would recommend Aedle VK1, B&W P5 S2 or P7, easy to find for demo for some, it depends on your taste.
        ES10 would be the best of them. You know that our mate Michael “24bit” sells his one, don’t you? :D

      • 24bit

        I’ve listed my 10jpn even though I said I wouldn’t haha. I don’t mind giving up my 10jpn to someone who enjoys art as much as I do and who would appreciate the work I put in the custom woodied version. After months of listening to them, I feel the 11LTD is the one I want to keep for me that I will use at home. The ES10 is what I want to use on the go (but I want a mint condition). The 10JPN is wonderful, but I think it gets lost in my collection, as does the ESW9 and ES700. All of them are great, but I’ve had a ton of people who want to buy my 10JPN, so I’ll test the waters with that and see what I can make on it. If I hadn’t pulled the trigger on my new set of custom empire ears Zeus ciems recently, I’d keep all of them. But, the amount of money I threw at the machinery needed to mod the earcups exceeded the price I paid for the 10jpn haha.

      • HoHo

        You have a very very hard decision to make !

        According to what you said before, if I were you, I would sell ESW9, ES700 and ESW10JPN.
        ESW9 and ES700 are not necessary when you already have ESW11LTD and ES10 imho.
        It’s hard for me to say this but you should sell ESW10JPN but only if the price reaches all the expenses that you made on it, not below. If not, it’s a wonderful collector’s item to keep.
        ES10 is your favorite on the go, ESW11LTD is your favorite to keep at home and your (OMG) Zeus CIEMs for both use.

        I have not such issue cos my 10JPN is my only favorite portable headphone but the 11LTD is also really good.. lol

      • 24bit

        Yea, it is all about balancing the sound signatures of headphones I currently own and want to use. The 10JPN is so good, but if I am going to keep it and display it, it has to be 100% mint with a perfect condition box. I loved hunting for it for so long and I’ll happily do it again for a fully mint, or at least A-‘ish 10JPN without any letter loss. The 11LTD meshes so well with my Airist Audio amp, its like pure butter. So soft and tasty, forward and musical. I’ll definitely be keeping that one for the sound quality it offers as well as the great condition it is still in. Lets hope someone wants my 10jpn haha, if not, thats cool. It will just sit on my desk looking beautiful for the rest of my life.

      • HoHo

        I hunted for my 10JPN during 3-4 years, I was close to give it up :D
        I guess the mint 10JPN you’ve described looks like mine hahaha, cups like mirrors, no scratch on it. But I have now some scratches on the headband cos of transportation during my last trip, not cool.

        Reading how you talk of your 11LTD makes me want to have one now!

        Good luck with your beautiful issue.

  6. HoHo

    Glad to read an article on the ESW series.
    Congrats Michael for your work on the lacquering, you respect the art and your headphone.

    I had the ESW9, have the ESW10JPN, tried the ESW11LTD some time ago, didn’t like the ES10.
    I have recabled my ESW10JPN with OCC Copper with nylon sleeve and bought the official replacement pads from Japan on Ebay and it’s my perfect portable headphone, I would never sell it.

    With the well-used stock pads, it sounds a little like the ESW9, more thicker sound.
    With the new pads, it sounds more like the 11LTD, more balanced as I remember but the 10JPN has the lovely midrange that seduces me instantly.

    The 11LTD was very good, balanced sound, bigger soundstage, bigger driver > bigger pads > more confortable, sweet memories. I would have bought it if I could that time.

    I recommend ESW owners to recable their headphone so that it can be used at their full potential and also for durability cos the stock one is not very good…
    I really enjoy my 10JPN more after recabling. The sound is cleaner, clearer, scales well with power.
    What would it be with the 11LTD!

    This is my opinion, you can give it a try.

      • HoHo

        I remember when the 11LTD was out, I went to the AT store with my recabling 10JPN. And we compared the two with the seller. It wasn’t a night and day difference, we agreed that both were close. Of course the soundstage on 11LTD was larger due to its larger parts. The midrange on 10JPN was more forward. That was all I noticed subjectively in sound.
        But my 10JPN was recabled and the 11LTD was with stock cable!
        That’s why I wrote above that I couldn’t imagine what the 11LTD would sound with same recabling!!

        I recabled mine 4 years ago so I didn’t remember well how 10JPN sounds with stock cable.
        But all I can remember is that the soudstage was narrower and also with high power output source, it still remained narrow average soundstage, more left/right stereo. It was like the power couldn’t go fully through the cable and was limited.
        Take this with a grain of salt cos it was long time ago..

        Recently I tried it with Plenue S, QP1R, Paw Gold and the soundstage wideness particularly scales very well with more power, it embraced the auditor, like a bubble, at a very good level for a portable headphone.

        I am curious to read your impressions on your ES10 with ESW9 cups, I didn’t like the ES10 cos the treble was piercing my ears and had too much bass for my taste.

        Glad to share opinion with ESW lovers :)

      • 24bit

        Here is an album of the custom ESW10JPN wooden cups I made. I have to custom drill more holes into the ESW9 cups to fit the ES10. Not sure what to do about that at the moment, might just leave things as they are and store the darker cherry wood cups: http://imgur.com/gallery/aywHr/new

        I’m sticking with the ESW10JPN as my portable of choice. Despite the 11LTD being better everywhere, I prefer the setup of the 10JPN. The fact that I put so much effort into three refurbished sets of earcups makes me want to use them over the others haha. Odds are great I’ll recable it as well sometime soon. The ESW10JPN will be my primary portable (non ciem) and the ESW11LTD likely will never be taken out of my house and only used with desktop amplification. I’ve an offer on the ES10 already so I will probably sell that as well, despite it being my favorite of the bunch. It is the readily available and easily purchased, so I don’t feel bad in reselling that one.

      • HoHo

        I saw your pictures. Very beautiful. Good job.
        In fact now you have a ESW9LTD10JPN !! :D

        Think twice before selling it (ES10 with ESW9 cups, right?). Audition it for some time after finishing your cups. It may be your perfect headphone! haha

        Enjoy the hobby, my friend.

      • 24bit

        I’ve listed the 11LTD and the ES10 for sale. I’ve invested too much into the ESW10 repairs to sell that, so odds are good I wont ever sell that ESW10JPN. The ESW9 and the ESW10jpn share the same cup sizes and the ESW9 cups wont fit on the ES10 or the ESW11 sadly. It is odd, because the 10jpn driver plate is smaller than the ESW9 driver plate. The ESW9 pads are much larger than the ESW10jpns as well. It is a weird mesh, everything on the 10jpn is smaller but it shares the same wooden cup size and dimensions to the ESW9.

        I miscalculated it seems. So, I’ve two sets of spare cups for my ESW10 haha and I think I like the lighter color woods I made. The Dark one is porous and doesn’t look as nice, in my opinion. Hoping someone buys the ES10 and ESW11LTD from me…lol. I’m poor after this article, Urushi is expensive.

      • HoHo

        OMG, I’ve just seen that you sell now your 10JPN instead of 11LTD mentioned earlier.
        What’s going on?? WTF! lol

      • 24bit

        Just testing the waters, more of a Interest Check to see how much I might get offered. Odds are strong I’ll not ever actually sell it.

      • HoHo


        Well, if I had a lot of money to spend, I would have bought your 11LTD, just to help you of course haha.
        Unfortunately we’re both poor at the moment.

      • HoHo

        I have sent my DX90 in Russia for modding. I’ll have it back next week maybe.
        I can tell you one month without DAP is very hard!
        Also trying some iems, so in theory I won’t make other purchases for some time.
        But I’ll keep it in mind, we never know what happens next :)

  7. s0m3guy

    I’ve had my eye on a pair of used ESW9s for a couple weeks now and reading through this has finally convinced me. Is there anything I should be looking at regarding quality when I meet up with the seller to give them a listen? Any trouble spots I should pay attention to?

    • 24bit

      Absolutely make sure the driver ring is blue. Take the pads off and take a gander into the holes of the driver plate, if you can see anything vibrant blue, its real. If there isnt something blatantly blue in there, its a fake ESW9.

      • s0m3guy

        Thanks for the reply. I’ll be sure to check out under the pads to see what’s what.

      • 24bit

        Yep, lots of fake ESW9’s out there, all fakes lack a blue ring. Most reputable and good sellers aren’t aware they are selling a fake, or that they bought a fake originally. Blue inside the driver = good to go ;)

  8. dalethorn

    I really regret giving up my ESW11Ltd, months before I acquired an equalizer. It would undoubtedly still be my favorite portable today. My ESW11Ltd had a weird midrange coloration. The ESW9a I have now has a broken cable, so I should get that fixed – recabled. But unless there are non-beveled pads I can put on the ESW9a, with ease, then it will just collect dust.

    • 24bit

      It is hard not to love the 11LTD and objectively it is the best of the crop. The “awesome” pads are non-beveled and work well with every model in the lot, they are $4.24 right now on eBay. I highly recommend them, they are much better than any other pads out there.


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