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Comparing old vs. new headphones

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I've read a lot of reviews comparing various headphones to each other, ie: Senns HD600 vs HD650. My concern is that these comparisons are pitting a headphone with many years of use (over a 1000 hours like an HD600) against a relatively newer phone (like the HD650 or even the AKG K701) that may have been burnt in with only a few hundred hours, but still relatively new in listening hours or use.

I've had my HD600 for over five years and feel they are still improving with age. The HD600 sound to me has always been very satisfying. However, I feel that they are a better phone today than they were 5 years ago and that they continue to improve.

I realize this can also be a produst of my own perception in listening to one phone for a long time and that there are a lot of intangibles in this kind of comparison. But, can they still be improving with age and over 1000 hours and are comparisons valid with a newer phone at that point? It doesn't seem that this is ever mentioned in any reviews or comparisons.

Sorry if this has been discussed before, but I couldn't dig up any reference to it.

Headphone Equipment:
Theta Data Basic IIA > Theta DS Pro Basic III > McCormack Micro Headphone Drive w/ Power Station II and B upgrade > Sennheiser HD 580, HD600 w/ Equinox, Yamaha HP1a, Beyer DT990, AKG K701; Kimber KCAG & AGDL interconnects, Cardas Power cords, Tice Power conditioner.
post #2 of 10
you can buy both new on the same day, so there is an element of "control" if you want to consider it a scientific experiment.

once you finish ignoring the people who say that burn in dosnt exist in any part of headphonia (the best thing to do with them imho) the VAST majority of others agree that after AT MOST a couple hundred hours the headphones have totally settled. usually its FAR less time.

i think your ears are simply prefering the headphone. the first time i put a couple high-bill headphones on i liked em but couldnt exactly place their sound. after a few more listens, my ears and them started to see eye-to-eye. they are all used, and well burnt in: its me changing preferences, not the headphones changing sound.

i personally think this is a rough spot for headphones at meets. if your ears are used to a grado or a senhessser the first time you put the other on it will sound VERY weird. as you give it a few more listens you can appreciate the sound of both.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
So, you believe that after a headphone has "settled in", its sonic signature never changes, even with thousands of hours of use?
post #4 of 10
I haven't noticed any sonic changes in my HD600 over the last few hundred hours, save for the channel imbalance gradually getting worse

I have been in a position to subjectively observe the existence of burn in. I have an SR-003 with brand new drivers and an SR-001 with well burned-in drivers, and the cable between the two is freely interchangeable. The sonic difference between the two is immediate and obvious; the burned-in pair has more treble extension and more resolution across the board. Though I haven't done any proper DBT, the difference between the two pairs is big enough to qualify them as two different headphones; they're more sonically different, for instance, than the SR-303 and SR-404.

So, I always take in burn-in into account, where I think it exists, when comparing two different headphones.

However, in my experience, balanced armatures don't burn in, and there was a post here by Sugarfried from Shure stating that they noticed no measurable or observable changes from burn-in with balanced armature drivers.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
I agree that burn-in can effect the sonic character of headphones, sometimes dramatically. What I'm curious about is the change in this character after the burn in period. Does the headphone change character continuously and gradually during and after thousands of hours of use? Does the change in sonic character of the HP ever really end? And, my concern is that comparisons are made with newer headphones with only a few hundred hours of use against older headphones with many thousands of hours of use and the implications of recommendations given for one over the other.

Make sense??
post #6 of 10
It's possible, but, when comparing headphones that had a very long production run, how would you know if the difference was because of a lot of use or because of a manufacturing change?

Beyerdynamic has been making DT990's since 1985, and they stayed essentially the same until 2003. At least, all the parts look the same aside from the variation of the 'pro' style headband with the single-entry cable.

But how do we know that there weren't subtle, invisible changes - like the method used to glue the coil to the diaphragm? Or a minute change in the thickness of the fabric on the baffle?

And AKG is notorious for making several changes to a headphone without changing the model number - even with headphones that saw a relatively short production run, like the K501.
post #7 of 10
dang, I thought this thread was going to compare headphones from the 70s and 80s to todays modern phones. because I feel some of the new modern headphones can't compare with the oldies.
post #8 of 10
Eh, hindsight is 20-20.

Many of the current models can't compare with Some of the oldies.

There were a lot of lousy headphones in the 70's and 80's - we just don't waste time talking about them, and most of them have found their way into landfills.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericj View Post
Eh, hindsight is 20-20.

Many of the current models can't compare with Some of the oldies.

There were a lot of lousy headphones in the 70's and 80's - we just don't waste time talking about them, and most of them have found their way into landfills.
This is a wonderful point, and this is why we will always be nostalgic about vintage gear and look at it all through rose-tinted glasses. We remember the gems, and not the giant deluge of junk in between them.

I very much feel that there are some headphones from back in the day that are as competitive as anything on the modern market (the K340, for instance, is in my opinion the best headphone under $1000).
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericj View Post
And AKG is notorious for making several changes to a headphone without changing the model number - even with headphones that saw a relatively short production run, like the K501.
AKG is like a box of chocolates...
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