ESS 252 Closed-Back Headphonessearch

ESS 252 Closed-Back Headphones

ESS 252 Closed-Back Headphones

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(5 reviews)
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Hi all, in *no* way to disparage this drop but if this model were built around ESS's original "Heil Air Motion Transformer" (ESS marketing term), a folded ribbon, I'd buy them in less than a heartbeat, lol. I owned a pair of the original ESS 'phones. Imho, those were the closest I'd heard to my reference Koss electrostatics, and could def play louder. Hope all who buy these enjoy, as at $100, they seem a good deal. Thanks!
OK, i must say i'm semi-dissapointed with this headphones. My pair arrived today and i have been testing it for a couple of hours now. I have pros and cons. PROS:
  • A very pleasant sound experience.
  • Vocals and mid-range are balanced. To my ears at least.
  • Bass is not too loud or deep but detailed. The overall sound experience was fantastic.
CONS:
  • A bit heavy. I was able to feel the presure on the top of my head. Is not too heavy but after a couple of tracks it was unconfortable to use.
  • Too rigid. I got a headache for the presure on my ears, is just too much for me.
  • Sometimes i could hear only trough the left side, because the imput zone on the headphone was not quite secure, i had to play with the connector to hear the sound on both sides. A little touch on the headphone connector and the sound was gone on the right ear.
I guess that the clamp pressure will get loose after some use, but i am very concerned about the audio jack on the headphone. It's the only quality issue i have detected, and i don't wanna be moving the audio jack all the time to fix it. **This was mostly machine translator so forgive if sound weird to you.
Company's pushing these cans need to get review samples out to Joshua Valor, Metal571, DMS3 TV or Z Review.
rslatara
I agree for sure... I enjoy and appreciate all of those reviewers for different reasons. Joshua Valor is typically spot for me as far as sound preferences go and I always enjoy the quality of the videos he produces!
How can nobody know if these are over-ear or on-ear? None of the reviews seem to mention this either!
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+1 (VERY helpful)
The biggest weakness of both of ESS’s headphones are the pads. I just received my ESS 422h from Massdrop on Christmas Eve and they’re awful with the stock pads. I followed Zeos’ advice and swapped them with Shure 1540 pads and it completely transformed them, they’re awesome with those pads.
On ear or over ear?
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Just got a pair in. these are on the tight side....
bigcjm
On the tight side? They are on the alien facehugger side, they will grab your head to never let it go. It feels like the diadems want to touch each other through your brain.
(Edited)
A well spent $99. Haven't finished breaking them in yet, but I'm very happy with the comfort and sound quality. I wanted a pair of (relatively) inexpensive headphones that would fold down and provide good sound while travelling. These work for me. I'm using them with a Hiby R6 using the 3.5mm jack and the Hiby has plenty of power to drive these.
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Thank you so much for the measurements!
PolygonBronson
Brainwavz oval pads will fit.
Tried the 422, didn't like it.
I bought a pair of these 252's and also their 422h model which features a hybrid design with both a dynamic driver as well as a Heil air motion transducer (folded ribbon / accordion style tranducer). I had called Rick Caudillo at ESS (the CEO of ESS and also the head designer) to ask him about the sound character of each of these models, as I was attracted to the price, closed-back style for travel, and the beautiful wood construction. At the Massdrop price of $99, the 252's represent a tremendous value. They sound very good. I wanted to compare them to one another. initially, both were weak on bass, but that was because they weren't broken in. I ran them both continuously for 3 days on a bench to loosen up the dynamic driver suspensions. Ahhh, very nice after break-in. So here's the skinny: I like the 422h's the best. I'll give the 252's to my teenage daughter and they will absolutely punish the ear buds and "Beats" all her friends have. The 252's are well balanced, forgiving for any overly compressed music, and they have amazing bass response. But the 422h's...that Heil AMT is the secret sauce and brings Rick's design to the next level. The mids and highs are more clear, detailed and shimmering. They are unforgiving of poorly mastered / distorted / overly compressed music, but I don't listen to any of that garbage anyway. I'll use the cliche that swapping from the 252's to the 422h was like looking through a hazy window vs. looking through one that is so clean you almost cannot see that the glass is present. The 422's also have more space / air / ambiance...it's a bigger soundstage with the 422h. 422h are $199, so double the price of the 252's, and not on Massdrop. So, back to these...are they worth it? For $99 - yes they are. Tremendous value here...they sound very nice, and if I didn't have the 422h to A/B back-to-back I would be quite pleased to own the 252's as a primary closed-back design p[air of cans. Build quality on both is impeccable...the wood is stunning, pads are comfortable (although both pair out of the box are heavier than some other brands of cans and also the clamping pressure is firm. My head is somewhat narrow so they are a good fit for me, but folks with a giant head may find these too tight. The 422h earcups are bigger than the 252 (I like the bigger cups). In summary, I'd say the 252 are well worth the $99 if that is your budget, but the 422h are definitely worth double the money if you have the cash. Remember the dynamic drivers will nothave their final amount of bass when new right out of the box until you run them for a few days with some good bass tracks to loosen up the surrounds on the drivers. I used Techmaster PEB's "Bass Computer" to break them in.
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Love the pics and thanks for your input! Would you say these are comfortable for folks like me with large heads? I really have a hard time with over the ear phones because of clamping pressure. I guess my ears/jaw are sensitive. Right now i'm using AKG's but they are semi open ( I really love them) but need some closed backs for travel/office. Appreciate any insight you might have . Cheers!
Trigon
They both have significant clamping pressure. I don’t think they would be good for a larger head. Clamping pressure is not adjustable.
are those chrome part around the wood plastic with a coating?? because it look kinda cheap....
Darnops
I was thinking nearly the same thing except it says metal. If it's high polished stainless steel then it would be a compelling buy at it's price point.
I wrote an email to ESS and got the response: " the standard cables are about 6ft long, 2.5mm gold plated with a 3.5mm adapter "
search
These look amazing. I love wood. Will definitely be picking up a pair.
well after that recent request for ideas for closed back headphones this is a nice surprise... I am diving.. Send me a pair mass-drop.
The very few reviews put this one on heaven, if I already have HD58X, HD600, HD650, Sennheiser Momentums, IMR R1, and ATH-M50, Would this thing worth it?
I'm actually looking for a closed back headphone as upgrade to my Momentums, I was thinking in a Meze 99 Classics or even a DT770.
Edit: Well, after reading the Head Fi thread about this headphone, I'll have to pass on this.
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The 99 Classics are amazing cans!
Fenriz
Why do you say that you will pass?
These look gorgeous, wonder if they'd fit my fat head
Zac_Lee
I came here to ask the same question.
ajdasilva22
Big heads think alike
Here's a review from positive feedback including its other big brother, ESS 422
https://positive-feedback.com/reviews/hardware-reviews/ess-252-ess-422h-headphones/
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Would you describe these as on ear, over ear, or in between?
All dynamic drivers with surrounds /spiders need to break-in. They are mechanical, after all. Shoes are actually a good analogy. Shoe leather is stiff when new. On drivers, the suspensions are always stiff when new which decreases bass response. Once the spiders loosen up, bass increases and the drivers “settle” into consistent performance.
They kind of look like the Sony mdr-1a so i wonder if the sound signiture is similar
Since these cost only $99, how does Sennheiser have the nerve to charge $2000 for it's HD800??? Oh I forgot, it's a free-market😩
The spiel says these headphones give warm sound, problem is I don't want warm sound, warm sound is sickening. I want the song to sound exactly as it was intended, warm, cold, neutral, bassy whatever, I don't need the headphone to second-guess the mastering engineer, capiche? Therefore we need headphones with a neutral sound-sig.
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Don't fall for it Phoenix. He appears to simply be trolling for a fight. He doesn't explain how one would even know what the "right" sound was. It's impossible without having been there when the track was laid down to hear the original sound. So how would anyone ever be able to identify what the original sound was if they had never heard the original sound in the studio in the first place?
glennac
Haha I see! This makes sense. Well, I'll leave it at that, then
is a mic'd cable available?
these look amazing but there are so few reviews out there. Does anyone have any links? Also do we know if this drop will come around again?

ahh fuck it I'll get this as a gift for a friend
These sound like they’re right up my alley in terms of sound signature. I’m just worried they might be too warm and loose sounding.
OK, and who the heck is Major Hi Fi?
It was a good, descriptive, if truncated review. Gave me a decent picture of what these sound like. But I’ve never heard of this review site before. Can they be trusted?
Anyone know how these compare to the Thinksound ON-2?
K.T.N
I'm fairly certain that the ON-2 are on-ear and these are meant to be over-ear.
SothaChill
Yes, I’d noted that. ;)
But rather a comparison of sound quality/signature between the two.
It doesn’t seem like many folks have listened to these headphones, so I’m sure comparisons are few.
Hmm... I'm Always on the lookout for full sized, portable closed backs. And these are a nice price. However, I'm not a fan of pleather earpads but I would want to keep as much bass as possible since from the review they don't sound particularly bass heavy. I wonder if HM5 pads would fit. These would look super classy with brainwavz's new microsuede pads. I will have to think about this....
I have the 422h ess headphones .It doesn't take much to push them and include a small heil tweeter.I really like them .Highs are brilliant.The lows are powerful.On amazon.
Photonet100
I bought these and the 422h as well. I will keep my favorite and sell the losers.
Hmmm....I've never seem these before. That headband looks familiar, but I can't quite place it. Interesting.
jaybattle
It kinda reminded me of m50's headband wise mixed with some low-mid grade Philips like the L2BO/27 I've got laying around somewhere. Kinda somewhere between those in shape/structure and design aesthetic/materials? Just what I thought of at first glance
Strange...looked at a half-dozen sites (including ESS) but could not find a photograph that actually shows what sort of cables these damn things ship with!
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That's my been limited my experience as well.
In deed I was. Wouldn't be expecting anything extravagant but I became suspicious when I noticed decent photos of 'em weren't shown anywhere. Everyone else shows their cables even if they're total shite!
I really wished we had pics of the ear pads... are these true over ear or on-ear? Not even the reviewer mentions this. There's a picture of the inside of the ear pads on Amazon, and it makes it look like they're over ear...
These are over ear cans right?
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Nah, i like wearing them as a hat - nothing better than shiny mahogany circling your head :p
On a more serious note: -over ear (meaning your ears go inside the cup fully) -on ear (the headphones rest on top of your ear, Koss porta pro etc.) -in ear (earbuds that go into your ear like a plug)
There was no info regarding that on the page itself so i was wondering if anybody knows
~cheers for the laughs tho
Juzifer
Glad we got all that straightened out!
I’d be more interested in a drop of their 422 AMT headphones, but $99 for a pair of 50mm driver cans with real wood cups isn’t bad.
Disposable emu teaks?
Knut
I get what you are saying, but it's still a bit too much to call 100 bucks as disposable.
Do it for science, then, good sir. :)