Updated May 20 - 08
JENA Labs is not going to be custom modifying any more
older products as it is just not a situation were we have full control of all
of the parameters of manufacture.
independent of any and all uncontrollable situations of custom
reworking of other peoples products, is the reality of the superior
performance of our Ultra Wire.
manufacture new products and with total control of the entire process
we can be self assured of the total quality control that is best for
our customers, and for our long standing reputation of supreme
The last modified product gets a review...
but first the product modified is presented
The Sony MDR-R10
of the most legendary dynamic headphones ever produced is the Sony
MDR-R10, also known simply as the R10. The overall ear-cup design and
it's internal transducer are considered by many audiophiles to be the
best personal listening system ever produced. As with all audio
systems, the performance of any given component can only be as good as
the quality of the signal it is given. While the original copper wire
harness may be sufficient to please most owners, there are those who
wish to explore the upper limits of the transducer and ear-cup system.
The last JENA Labs R10 upgrade.
headphones ear-cups were totally disassembled from the headband frame.
The pad system was removed, and the transducer was removed from the wood
surround, allowing access to the solder tabs on the interior surface.
Only then can the original harness be un-soldered and removed. A
new harness is constructed, installed, and the system reassembled with
special tools and adhesives. Our JENA Labs 22 G Ultra-Wire was
used at the ear-cup, 2 strands for each polarity, a total of 4 braided
strands at each cup. The new 22 G ear-cup wires were then brought
together in a shielded splice where they are joined to an 8 strand
braided Ultra Wire 18G cable that continues on to the connector system.
JENA Labs R10 harness offered
a vast improvement over the original wire system.
Termination / Connector System
offered a conventional Tip-RIng-Sleeve 1/4 inch 'phono' style plug from
Neutric, or independent Left-Right isolated ground [ so called
"Balanced"] termination. Independent termination was offered in three
formats. The most common option was via XLR Male connector which has
become the defacto standard for 'consumer' balanced headphone
outputs. Less common was connection via Female
XLR, the standard for all professional balanced line level interfaces.
More obscure would have been the option of termination with a separate pair of
Tip-Sleeve 1/4 inch 'phono' style plugs. This system is often seen in
vintage professional audio equipment such as Ampex and Studer stereo
recording systems, and true dual-mono, separate Left-Right chassis
consumer audio systems with 1/4 inch, single circuit, headphone jacks.
For all headphone harness upgrades, please contact our affiliate Ken at
Audio Line Out to discuss your other headphone rewiring needs. Ken is a
fully licensed JENA Labs Ultra-Wire OEM fabricator and modifier. Ken
has a superb track record of customer service and exemplary
craftsmanship, all at reasonable prices. ALO also manufactures or
retails a complete line of headphone related products such as iPod
docking stations, mini amplifiers, and miniature interconnects and
JENA Labs modified Sony MDR-R10 delights Ken Ball of AudioLineOut.
Review - ALO:
Fun with Modded Sony R10s - from http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f70/fun-modded-sony-r10s-274275/#post3499027
I have enjoyed positive reviews* and posts on my headphone modification
efforts in the past and continue to beautify and enhance Grados and
AKG701s. While I have used various custom built multiple thin gaFun with Modded Sony R10suge
silver wire headphone designs, the nature of a solid silver cable does
not perform well mechanically and I have solely been using the
(JenaLabs) Ultra Wire for not only my headphone mods but ipod and IC
cables as well. I have looked far and wide to try and locate a better
conductor for a headphone cable, sonics and durability in this
application. The JenaLabs wire does wonders for mid range and bottom
end resolution, extension of frequency, decay, and all the wile not
sacrificing the detail of the upper end. I have auditioned several
other vendors headphone cables and found them to all be weighted to one
end of the spectrum or the other, never finding a correct balance
between the two. Most were all way to bright and tinny, while the rest
were bloated, muddy and truncated. Every stock headphone cable you see
today on headphones are not meeting the full potential to the
headphone, this is due to economics mostly as a headphone cable to meet
the full potential is going to simply add too much cost to the bottom
line of the product. Moreover the physical size of a cable suitable for
meeting the full potential of the headphone will turn many mainstream
consumers away. Oh yeah and the fact that the conductor needed to
propel the headphone to its hidden inherent potential is pretty hard to
I am pretty lucky to have Jennifer and Michael of JenaLabs
in my home town and have a partnership with them in that I do use the
Ultra Wire from them and have the added bonus to pick Jennifer and
Michaels brain on occasion, and get much needed advise as they have
been in this business much longer than I have and both have EE
backgrounds. I have been using the smaller 22G Ultra Wire (what ALO has
been calling “Cryo Wire”). The impact of the AKG using this 22G Cryo
wire simply transforms the AKG 701; it’s night and day IMO and others.
I recently made a pair of these AKG701s with the Ultra Wire for my
friend Vinnie Rossi (Red Wine Audio). Vinnie contacted me saying he
needed a good headphone for a build he was working on. I told him I
would be more than happy to make him one of my modded versions. And
Vinnie replied saying, “really does it make that much of a difference?”
I had sent one of his workers a stock pair of AGK701s and he was pretty
happy with the stock one so I guess he was thinking a stock one would
be fine. I proceeded to tell him the pluses of the mod I do with the
701s but it’s very hard to describe the dramatic transformation of the
headphone with the cable, you just need to hear one. Ultimately I told
him to just wait and hear for yourself. Sure enough he was thrilled
when he got them, compared to the stock, no contest.
making more extreme variation of the Ultra Wire headphone cable
recently by making a 8 wire flat braid using the 22G UW. The first pair
I did this to was to a pair of HF-1’s I bartered off head-fi’er
AglieOne, and thus nicknamed the 8-wire cable “The Agileone” headphone
cable. This can instantly became my favorite headphone. Comparing HF-1s
between the AgileOne cable and a standard 4 wire braid was like someone
was increasing the “everything” knob. Wow I though I wish I could use
the larger 18G UW for a headphone cable, that would take it to the next
level. However I was pretty certain that cramming 2 heavy 18G wired
into a headphone cup and soldering them to the delicate solder pads of
a Grado or the pole in a AGK701 would equate to future failure. So I
never attempted this. Then a while back I was browsing the JenaLabs
website and saw photos of Jennifer’s recabled R10s. I knew she was
working with these legendary headphones. I still think she is nuts for
working with these phones. For those of you who are not familiar with
the Sony R10, they are considered by many an audiophile as the world’s
finest headphone, are no longer in production, and command a cool
$4,500 - $7,000 for a used pair. I was talking to Jennifer about
working with the R10s, I told her that working with R10s is a “pucker
factor” of 10 and no thanks. I don’t care how much money your getting
for modding a R10 its not enough! When I make a mistake (oh and I never
make mistakes!) I have ample NEW parts for my builds. Not so with a
headphone that is out of production. This is just a testament to her
ability and skill at doing this. I have recabled a lot of headphones,
the AKG is IMO the hardest headphone to recable and even with all the
skill I have at doing this kind of work you will never find me
recabling a R10, ever! Shes nuts I thought, then oh now I have to hear
one!. Anyway while I was browsing the JenaLabs page I saw her recabled
R10s and wow she used the 18G wire? I called Jennifer and asked, hey
how did you do that? Not only that she used a 8 wire 18G weave for the
cable. Turns out that the 18G wire is only up to the “Y” split in the
headphone. From there on up it’s a multiple 22G UW braid using a clever
splice and solder joint. That’s how she is able to use the larger more
potent 18G wire while still maintaining the delicate touch of the 22G
wires into the cup, brilliant. But doesn’t the splice and solder
degrade the sound? I asked her. Turns out it does, but only very
slightly and the use of the larger 18G wires far outweigh the
degradation of this solder joint. Additionally the solder joint is done
a special way to minimize signal loss and maximize structural
integrity. Of course I ended up copying the entire cable, with help
from Jennifer of course, thank you Jennifer. But don’t ask me to
recable your R10s with it, no thanks.
above: Includes two headphone sets sent to us by Scott Wasserman. ( The
Stock ones and the repaired and upgraded ones, center of picture )
the day came when I got my audition with the R10s just last week.
Jennifer brought a stock R10 and her 18G UW version as well as a big
treat, a recabled Ultrasone Edition 9 headphone ($1,500) retail, pucker
factor 8. Jennifer brought over a Tascam DVRA1000HD, DSD recorder.
Which also plays Cds but is designed for live 2 tracks, or mixdown
mastering work to 2 channels in the DSD format, 64 times the sample
rate of CDs, and with much greater dynamic range. So first up on the
Tascam was a DSD master file recorded live by Jennifer at Kaul
Auditorium at Reed College, the Portland Chamber Orchestra, Yaakov
Berman: Conductor. A Mozart concerto for horns....
The PCO website Portland Chamber Orchestra - Ryymes & Rhythms. Also amazing was this recording and look mom no compression.
stock R10s - Yeah there they are, so smooth liquid and airy. Detail was
just pouring out like someone removed the cotton from some of my best
headphones, beautiful. Then the recabled R10s, yeah its was stunning
and like a totally different headphone all together. The most impact
from a headphone cable I have ever heard and easy the best headphone I
have ever experienced. The biggest thing I noticed was the sheer weight
and girth of the sound, yet will no loss of detail on the delicate
sonics. The light lace like finger of the music so airy and expansive.
A beautiful tight as hell bottom end, stunning. My jaw was on the table
and she was just laughing at me with a knowing nod. I took them off and
said you have got to be kidding, did you do something to the track or
do something with the CD player? Of course she is just pointing to the
cable. Still not believing I had her switch the phones again, still
amazed I grabbed my iMod – LE-Vcap dock – LISA3 amp and qued up a track
on my system to A/B the 2 phones. Yep still there and still was the
Yeah I wish I could afford one of these cans.
Perhaps some day and if any of you have a R10 you want to un load,
please email me.
Next up was the Edition9’s.
(edition-headphones.com) By Ultrasone. With the classical music I was
not very impressed with the Edition9’s. I mean yeah it was still an
awesome headphone. The Ultrasone Edition9 is wonderfully built
headphone, solid and comfortable with a super detailed sound that was
nicely open for a closed headphone. I took the headphones off to let
her know that the Edition 9s were not on the same page as the R10s that
just mopped the floor with every headphone I have ever heard. Jennifer
saying, “hold on these are for rock and roll” then cued up some thing
with a bit more speed - The Nylons, album: 'Because'. I donned the
Edition9s again and holy crap! I was floored at how expansive and
powerful resolute and bass yummy the Edition 9s became with rock and
roll. It was like someone stuck my head inside a giant metal ball that
was one big driver with music all about. I took them off and exclaimed,
I have to buy a pair of these! And can you recable them for me?
Seriously I really want to save up for a pair of these guys.
at the end of the day I was able to audition 3 R10s, one stock, one
recabled with the UW to a balanced XLR with a 1/4 adaptor and one with
the same UW cable to a 1/4 plug that was just glorious. The R10 is not
my cup of tea size wise, me being a freak for anything portable and
this is why I was so in love with the Edition9s. But for sheer sound
quality, wow the recabled R10s was a real treat!
I know that
there will be nay sayers who will read this and go on with negativity,
yeah hes in the business and has his motives for saying this for
profit, your wanting to help JenaLabs out, I want to sell snake oil, I
am full of poopoo, etc..and what ever. But the fact is that the cable
does make a huge difference, is it for everyone, hell no. Moreover I
really do not want to do a lot of headphone work because its not really
that profitable, and takes a great deal of time.
*See ToneAudio Edition 10 and 10
Tone Audio Online - Download Tone Magazine
Note: None of the R10s are the property of JenaLabs and they have none for sale.
Ken @ ALO
For the sake of reference to products modified by JENA Labs or JENA Technologies, It would be wise to read Our Return Policy.