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Sound quality as relativity.

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Warning: Long and boring.

I used to have some quality phones like Etymotic ER4, AKG K501 & K340, and by now I've heard about 50headphones that I considered to be quality sounding. Then I sold off all my headphones stuff. I don't even have an mp3 player right now. I use mainly my Magnepan speakers and a Sennheiser HD201 headphone that I bought and recabled. And the Sennheisers sound as good as anything I ever heard to me, I'm completely satisfied with it. Then my friend sent me a Beyer Dynamic DT531 for me to fix, and I took a listen to it, it freeking blow me away. I started noticing new details in my music that I missed (compared to the HD201 and my speaker).

It is much in the same way that when I first received my Magnepan it blew me away and then I got used to the sound. And then something new came, maybe it's not even better sounding, but just different, and it created a spark. I failed to understand that during my path of upgrading hardwares, if I was smarter I would have saved a large sum of money and get the most expensive speakers I could afford instead of buying and selling 50 headphones/speakers/amps/cables/mp3 player. I don't think my Magnepan is incapble of producing those details that I missed. I think it's simply because the headphone vs speakers present things different and after a lengthy listening period they preconditioned me to notice different things.

In the past with the headphone (and speakers) hobby I spent a very large sum of money building up my perception and standard of sound quality. The more expensive my sound system had becomes, the higher my standard is raised (speaking abstractly). And I feared that if I was forced to use anything cheaper I will lose that enjoyment of the maximum details and sound quality I currently possessed. But overtime my brain just forget or put away the high quality "Standard" of whatever the ER4 and AKGs sounded like. That standard didn't really matter anymore overtime when it's no longer a priority of my life, even when I was listening to something 10times cheaper (ie mx500, generic pc speakers, hd201) I had the same enjoyment because my brain was not concerntrating on looking for those details. A part of the reason why the cheaper phones still sound good to me, I think, is because partly due to the brain adding a bit of imagination to compensate the sound. For example, if you are listening to an HD650 for a very long time and then immediately switched back to an ipod earbud, the sound is unbearable, but overtime it will becomes more bearable when you forgot what the HD650 sounded like.

Even though the DT531 reignited that spark, and my ears were capable of picking out all the differences in qualities between it and my HD201, a really groovy sounding headphone btw, I don't really have an urge to spent money on a better sounding headphone than my HD201. Infact I'm looking for a cheap circumaural bluetooth headphone because I'm sick of wires.
post #2 of 6
Quote:
For example, if you are listening to an HD650 for a very long time and then immediately switched back to an ipod earbud, the sound is unbearable, but overtime it will becomes more bearable when you forgot what the HD650 sounded like.
Well, I'm not quite sure what the point is you were trying to make here. While I will agree that if you go from a really good headphone to one of a lesser quality, the lesser quality one will become bearable, are you really going to forget what the good ones sounded like?

You may not recall their actual sonic qualities but are you going to forget the fact that they sounded better than what you're currently listening to? How could you forget that an HD650 didn't sound better than ipod earbuds? I think you're fixating on the fact that more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better (which it doesn't), and that you're perfectly happy with the sound you're getting at a certain price point.

There is nothing wrong with this and I agree with it wholeheartedly. However, just because you're happy with something or become used to it shouldn't make you "forget" that other headphones sounded better.

It seems you've gone from one extreme to the other - from convincing yourself that the more you spend, the better your gear will sound, to believing that really cheap gear can sound just as good as the expensive stuff.
post #3 of 6
That's true and that's how it is... But people just need something to be "into". I guess headphone\audiophile hobby is not worst addiction out there.
post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by terrymx View Post
I failed to understand that during my path of upgrading hardwares, if I was smarter I would have saved a large sum of money and get the most expensive speakers I could afford instead of buying and selling 50 headphones/speakers/amps/cables/mp3 player.
But think of how much fun you would have missed along the way.............Remember, it's the journey, not the destination, that makes life both worthwhile and enjoyable.
post #5 of 6
You really need to regularly hear live, acoustic concerts (i.e. unamplified) in order to have a reference for good sound. If you don't you may end up going after things that may sound good or at least interesting with some material but maybe not everything.

I am a little surprised at how few times anyone in these forums makes such a comparison but since the most such concerts are classical possibly this just indicates a lack of interest in such music.
post #6 of 6
In my experience most live concert music has lousy sound. Coughing, noise, mediocre acoustics, etc. A nice recording has better sound to me. Of course concerts offer an experience that recorded music can't match in many ways. But for sound alone, I'll take even an average recording. Of course there are bad recordings, but a decent one is good enough for me.

Of course you have to have a decent setup. Sound reproduction is so good nowadays, but there are big mistakes you can make. If you keep it within a certain range, it sounds great to me. It doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the music, and greater levels of fidelity don't really add to my enjoyment of the music a whole lot. I can tell it sounds better but it's no biggie. It's easier to get there with headphones. With speakers, you have to know what you are doing a little bit more. You have fewer variables between the recording and your ears with headphones.

I truly love and enjoy increasing the fidelity of the sound as a hobby, but past a certain point that is fairly easy to get to (if you know what you are doing) it doesn't increase my enjoyment of the music when the needle or laser hits the groove, so to speak.

I think the market has spoken in terms of this being most people's experience.

So this may be pretty much in line with what the original poster is saying.
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