Vintage Orthodynamics

The local headphone crowd, mostly members of the audiophile-id.com forum, have been quite into vintage orthodynamics for a while now. During a recent meet I was able to taste some very special, very rare vintage orthodynamic headphones. This is the NAD RP18 and the Fostex T50v0 headphones, kings of the old orthodynamics, courtesy of iQem and Anton. Both headphones look identical on the outside, except for the emblem, but slightly different driver materials.

Both orthos are stock and unmodded, and they have a certain uniqueness in the midrange that’s the typical character of vintage Fostex drivers. They may not compete in terms of detail and frequency extension, but the the transients and the clean separation is where these orthodynamics shine. Most of the owners listen to hard rock and metal, and it’s very important to have a headphone that can maintain good articulation on those busy passages. Bass impact is very tight and controlled, although not too much in the lower bass area. Compared to the newer Hifiman Orthodynamics, the vintages can’t really compete in the technicalities, but people still love them primarily for the midrange

I was also able to audition the full wood housing Fostex T20 aka Gundala headphone, crafted by calico. The sound is like taking a stock vintage T20, but with improved accoustic chamber that translates to better ambiance, timbre, and a more romantic timbre. The damping is also improved on the Gundala, as the reverb on the housing is much eliminated when compared to a stock unit.

The Gundala. A full woody Fostex T20.

The Gundala on the Burson HA-160 amp. Sweet pairing.


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