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Old 03-01-2011, 09:03 PM
swbf2cheater swbf2cheater is offline
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Default First ever Grill Mod for Audio Technica ESW9 Headphones

Not that anything was wrong with the ESW9 to begin with, I enjoyed the sound a lot, but I naturally got bitten by the mod bug and wanted to see what could be accomplished. The mod is relatively easy and shouldn't void your warranty, it is easily reversible. The highs became a little more detailed for sure, the bass seems to be more spacious and airy feeling and a nice increase in cleanliness in the bass, it remains soft and relaxing and reaches so deep. Vocals moved forward a lot, Mr. Buble' is noticeably closer haha The tools you will need include:

-a screwdriver
-some felt with sticky back
-Cotton of your choice
- Metal Mesh

Remove the earcups from one side only ( make sure to only do one side at a time )

First you need to gently pry off the material laying under the earpads. Use a knife and slowly poke under there, gently lift the material with something else like a screwdriver or something small and pointy, making sure to keep a gentle slicing motion to strip the material off. It's kind of sticky, but the knife will slice through the sticky residue easily, just take your time and be sure to not cut through the taped area over the driver. We want to keep this piece of material intact.

Should look like this when you get that material off. Nice and Clean looking. From here you can begin to take the screws out and remove the driver. We want to get to the back portion.

Behind the driver you will see this huge wad of fiber. Its seriously the poorest quality cotton I've ever seen in a set of headphones, I have no clue why its there but it has to go. It is your choice to salvage this piece, or use your own cotton later. I chose to salvage it so dont toss it. There may be some of this ugly cotton stuck to the hole, remove some of it with your hands or something plastic, dont use anything metal in fear of it catching the magnet and poking it or something like that.

From here I cut a small circle out of some felt with a stick back. Dont worry, this wont cover any sound holes, its just a foundation to attach the metal grill to so we can keep things easily reversible. After you cut out some circles that are big enough to cover the hole on the backside of the driver, you can further cut a smaller hole out of their centers to make them doughnut or ring shaped. Sticky side down, place the dougnut felt piece over the hole, apply a little glue to the edges. Might be wise to apply the glue to a toothpick or something out of dripping range of the headphones. Apply the grill and let it dry, do your best to center it.

Below shows the cotton option, you can salvage that piece we removed earlier or use your own. If you salvage it, peel off half, and then further peel off those pieces ( keeping the circle shape, almost wafer like lol ) and spread them around evenly on the inside of the cups. Do not pull them apart, keep them in tact. You do not want to use a lot, just one small layer of flat material is enough to make sure nothing changes drastically in the set. I would suppose the more cotton you add, the more bass you get but at the cost of decreasing the quality or sparkle of the highs. If you use a fluffy cotton, your highs will be piercing, so if you do choose cotton, make sure to flatten it out under some books or something heavy and flat, make that cotton as flat as possible.

It should look just like this now. Make sure the glue is dry before screwing the driver back in place. Place that ring of material we sliced earlier back on and rub your finger over it a few times, make sure to center it. It should be more than sticky enough to stay without the need for extra glue.

Repeat the needed steps for the other side. The end result is a tighter presentation that is more forward, a more aired out bass experience that remains soft and high quality like the stock version, and lastly the highs seem a little cleaner. Using the Naturespace tracks, I noticed the more forward presentation created a nicer layered effect ( slightly deeper stage ), and the highs in the bird chirps were noticeably more clear. The padding material in there is just god awful, it falls apart very easily and is really a lower quality than the dollar store cotton you can buy. The mod is easily reversible and takes about 15 minutes. This easy mod goes well with cotton stuffed under the earpads, as well as with the metal grill absent. There is a small sheen difference with using the grill and not. I prefer the sound with it.

Last edited by swbf2cheater; 03-02-2011 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 03-03-2011, 01:18 PM
swbf2cheater swbf2cheater is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 9

wow i guess the esw9 are not as popular as I originally thought.
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Old 03-03-2011, 02:31 PM
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Danneq Danneq is offline
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Södertälje, Sweden
Posts: 273

The ESW9 are great sounding portable headphones. But perhaps there are fewer modders here than at Head Fi?
A very bold mod, I must say! I would never dare to poke around inside any of my headphones. At most, I can put on new earpads...
DAP collection:Cowon S9; Cowon X5V; Creative Zen Vision M; Creative Zen Touch; iRiver H120; JVC XA-HD500; Kenwood HD20GA7; Rio Carbon; Rio Karma; Samsung YH-J70; Sansa Clip+; Sansa View; Sony HD5; Toshiba Gigabeat F20
Earphones:too many to mention...
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Old 03-03-2011, 03:05 PM
swbf2cheater swbf2cheater is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 9

haha well, someone here told me they werent popular enough to comment on this mod, which saddened me lol

anyway, nobody replied on head fi either, this is the first um...what the...nobody is interested in a new mod? ive ever seen on a well rated set lol

*fades away into the dark with head held low :[
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Old 03-04-2011, 10:24 PM
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The DarkSide The DarkSide is offline
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Location: Qns Vlg, NYC
Posts: 16,241

I think you've done a fantastic job. I don't own them myself,...but your attention to detail & instruction is quite good.
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Old 03-04-2011, 10:50 PM
swbf2cheater swbf2cheater is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
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ya, I really feel bad for anyone who doesnt want to try it, the washers I used were from the filter on a sink, so you can get them at any hardware store for like $1 for a bag

the sound definitely moved forward, more of a realistic placement and the bass is supremely clean. I mean it, its the cleanest most pure quality bass I've ever experienced in a portable set...and I've literally owned all of the top rated sets except the Bowers P5 :\
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:39 AM
bennyboy bennyboy is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: London, me old china, London
Posts: 73

To the OP:
I've had my ESW9s for a few days now and they sound utterly superb. I have no desire to go tinkering inside them. But congrats on modding yourse and thanks for sharing. If I change my mind, I know where to come.
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