The one that got away or how I learned to live without the Sony R-10’s

This is a story about the “one that got away”. Do you have an audio related product that has always just managed to elude your grasp? Here’s my story. It’s about the Bo Derek, the perfect 10 of headphones, the Sony R-10.

Back around 1994, the availability of good portable CD players stoked my interest in portable hi-fi. I had a Denon walkman-type CD player and a pair of Beyer DT-990’s and that system worked pretty well. But as always, audiophiles want to see what’s better around the corner.

As it happened, I was doing some part-time audio tech work at that time and one of my clients was an early importer of the Sony R-10 and CD-XXXX phones into the country. There were models at about $300 and $600 and, of course, the $4000 R-10.

On one of my visits I decided to audition the non-R-10 Sony’s as an improvement over the DT-990. The $300 seemed to be a lateral move but the $600 CD-3000 had potential. But the R-10 beckoned like Bo running on the beach from their perch on the shelf. I had to listen and the rest was history. I was smitten!

I left with no new headphones. The others seemed irrelevant after the R-10, but they were $4000! What kind of idiot would spend 4000 (1994) bucks on a headphone!

I told my audio buddy John about my discovery and rather than calling me crazy, he opined that if I sold this and this and this, devoted all my part-time job money and put it all in a shoe-box, eventually I would have the money. Idiocy turned into scheming.

The DT-990’s sold along with a few other items and my efforts filled the box up to $2000 pretty quickly, so I called the importer to let him know my intentions. He had two pairs in stock, so I was covered!

Finally the day came and the shoe-box was full so I called to pick up my treasure. Only he had just sold the last of his remaining stock. But don’t worry, he said, more are on order. Arrrggghhh! Months went by. The importer said they are on back order, be patient! I have a better idea, sell me your demo pair! He declined…

Of course, no R-10’s would be forthcoming. A year or so went by and I gave up, though they remained in my mind.

One evening during a trip to John’s place, headphones came up and I told my sad story. Oh, I have a pair said John. He had bought a pair based on my enthusiasm (I didn’t know). From my friend, the importer. One of his last two. MY PAIR!!!! Arrrggghhh again!

The Sennheiser Orpheus seemed a good alternative, but would have required two more shoe-boxes and was hardly portable. I bought a pair of Grado HP-1000, good, but not the same. Eventually, I called the importer on the off-chance that he would sell his demo R-10’s since they were by then officially discontinued. Oops, he had already sold them.

We fast forward to about two years ago. Thoughts of my old flame were far from my mind, but looking around on Audiogon one morning, my heart skipped a beat. There it was; SONY R-10 FS! Gulp! I quickly clicked off the ‘Gon, shut off the computer and went to work. Would Bo have aged gracefully in the ensuing years? Should I spend the money?

Upon returning home from work I knew what I had to do. I went to Audiogon and found the ad only to be greeted by an ominous red SOLD! No, it can’t be! Not again! My eye then caught the zip code. Could it be? Yep, John had finally decided to sell his Sony’s. I swung and missed again.

Sometimes the fates have their own agenda and we have to learn to accept that. We all have our R-10s, our old girlfriends, the car we should have bought and so forth. The R-10 is my audio product that got away. And like old girlfriends and cars, the art is in knowing when to give up and get over it…


Posted on August 18, 2012, in Personal Stereo, Philosophy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The one that got away or how I learned to live without the Sony R-10’s.

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