Audiophail

My Grado SR-80 headphones are more electrical tape than headphone at this point. Inexplicably, sound continues to come out of them. The wires have so many breaks that I'm not sure how this is physically possible.

Also the top of the band is also splitting apart and the pads are worn down and fall off constantly and there are pokey plastic bits that hurt my ears a lot. After prying them apart with a hammer and screwdriver to fix the wires a few times, they look like they've been through a wood chipper. I love those things but it is time for retirement.

Researching headphones can suck up months of your time if you let it, especially if you believe the bullcrap. Going to an "audiophile" site like Head-Fi is like entering a new world. I have no idea what any of the vocabulary means.

"Detailed", "neutral", "open soundstage", I can figure those out to some degree. But what the hell do "sweet" and "dark" and "thick" and "smooth" mean with regard to headphone quality? Are we talking about music or chocolate? What do "forward" and "recessed" and "transparent" and "analytical" mean? These are rhetorical questions, I don't care what they mean. I have my doubts that they even mean anything objective.

Then there are strange beliefs, like that letting your headphones run for 100 hours to "burn them in" when they're new will make them sound better. I'd really like to see that theory put to a proper scientific test. I have strong doubts that it's anything more than people's minds fooling themselves. It sounds like voodoo. At least it's not as bad as $7,000 speaker wires.

I can definitely and easily tell the difference between cheapo $5 headphones and my Grado's, but beyond that I really start to doubt that it matters. Spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on headphones seems like insanity to me.

For this reason I decided to do next to no research, and went and bought the first pair that I found online that looked comfy, got mostly good reviews, got a couple good reviews on head-fi (as far as I could decipher) and had a price of around $100. I ended up ordering ATH-AD700's from Amazon. Should be here in a week.

This post is related to My Poor Headphones
August 05, 2009 @ 3:17 PM PDT
Cateogory: Hardware

2 Comments

Michael Klier
Quoth Michael Klier on August 05, 2009 @ 8:27 PM PDT

Most of the vocubulary you mentioned is indeed just dumb voodoo mumbo jumbo that means nothing and probably comes from people who have no clue how to express what they mean in a proper way (like the "it must sound green" thing from the 5th Element?). Also, there's a difference between proffesional products for people who work as Audio Engineers and the so called High-End audio stuff, which is mostly designed for people who are stupid enough to willingly pay 7000$ for speaker wires just to lay them out in their flat so they point to Mekka in order to listen to a record which is poorly mixed - most of the High End Audio stuff is just marketing, nothing more.

If you like to be analytical, headphones are just the second last stage of the music consumption process of which the last one is your ear. What matters most is the frequency response the headphones can deliver, well, nobody over 20 needs a headphone which can deliver up to 22kHz, you probably can't hear frequencies above 18kHz anymore anyway (if you still have good hearing). Also if the EQ of your stereo sucks, good headphones wont fix it for you, same goes for the music, if it sounds bad it sounds bad. Some headphones try to make music sound better by implementing a nonlinear frequency response which pushes the frequencies that add to most music in a good way. From an audioengineers point of view headphones with a completely linear frequency response up to 20kHz are the best (that's what you could refer to as "analytical"). However, due to several reasons, building headphones (same goes for speakers) with an ideal frequency response is difficult (filters are the biggest problem), hence the hight prices.

Noah
Quoth Noah on August 06, 2009 @ 4:40 AM PDT

Good call on the Audio-Technicas. I have ATH-ANC7s and they are a really good value

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