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head fi ears...

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
i just wanna know if you guys could tell the diff between headphones right when you first started getting into headfi or did it take awhile?

i just recently got a pair of equation audio rp-21 and the headphones i had prior were skullycandy smokin buds (yea i know how much people here hate skullcandy) and quite frankly i can't really tell a difference

as far as burn in for the rp21's i'd say its been about 30-40 hours

is it just my hearing ability? lol

also source is a PC with onboard audio on a 790fxta-ud5 mobo w/Realtek ALC889 codec

possibly source?

not even sure if this is the right place to post this lol
post #2 of 19
With my first pair of headphones, ATH-ES7s, I could tell the difference immediately.
If you can't hear the difference, try listening exclusively with your new headphones for a week or so and then try listening to your skullcandy headphones again.

It could be your source, but even then I'd think you could hear some difference.
post #3 of 19
I've never tried skullcandies or rp21s, but the main problem I notice with cheap earphones, (such as the one's an ipod comes with... or really any player comes with) are that they start to distort really noticeably at higher volumes, their build quality is generally disappointing, and their performance just starts to really dwindle after awhile from regular use.

It could be a number of things though. If your favourite genres generally feature a lot of distortion, you might not be able to tell the difference between distortion that is part of the music, and distortion that is caused by the earphones. You will probably most hear it when the singer in a good recording is hitting some really high notes, and the volume is moderate. Stock earphones just can't get there.

You don't really need to spend much to get decent earphones... I use the MX560 and they work perfectly, you just need to not cheap out by getting the cheapos. Earphones that cost more than 100 dollars is likely just silliness, but definitely if you're not hearing the difference between the drivers of earphones made using substandard materials, and drivers made of standard materials, you are having an unusual experience. Like I said, it's probably your choice in music.
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
i'll look into that. i listen to mainly rap, hip hop, rnb, and rock...for example from Jay Z, Craig David, Incubus, The Atari's etc.

but so far i've only listened to rap on it, so i'll try it on other stuff.
post #5 of 19
Go to a Head-Fi mini meet in your area. You may get the chance to listen to a ton of gear. Good way to define the sound you are looking for? Just my 2 cents.
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
its not necessarily an equipment thing, but i wanted to know if head-fi hearing is trained or natural, for example people with an "ear" for music, which i assumed i had lol

but listening to other equipment def would help, to see if i could hear a diff in more than just the 2 i own.
post #7 of 19
My first quality headphones were the PX200, and I was coming from the ibuds and a variety of different cheap sony buds (from the times when my main player was my discman about 10 to 15 years ago). I noticed the difference right away because they were completely different from any headphone I had heard before. If I hear right now those headphones I would be able to describe with a level of precision that I wouldn't have dreamt of in that time, but can I hear the difference more now than back then? No, if anything my hearing abilities must be a little less (I say a little because I'm very careful about that).

The difference between an audio expert (or an expert of pretty much any field actually) and non-experts is not in their hearing capacity, but in their ability to describe precisely their reactions to specific audio equipments, and also they know what to look for to see more clearly the differences (for example, cymbals are a great place to hear to see if something has an attenuated treble response, or the example that Chef said about vocals in good recordings). But most of the times the ability to hear is there, pretty much with the same quality, in both the experts and in the non-experts, so you should trust your ears, and what earthpeople said is very good advice, since you are new to the headphone world, the differences between the headphones might be more apparent once you get accustomed to your new pair.

A little footnote to what I said is that better equipment might be able to accentuate the differences between headphones, but if two headphones are fundamentally different (for example, very different sound signature), I think most people would notice the difference between them if you leave the rest of the equipment constant, so if you can't hear big differences then probably the sound signature between the headphones might be pretty similar, and you could consider a different brand/model of headphones.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
nice post.

so basically it is training of the ear, in the sense that you become more adept at being able to pick out and describe the differences through knowledge and experience, just like training to play music by ear and pickin up notes more easily?
post #9 of 19
Originally Posted by ksalvador View Post
nice post.

so basically it is training of the ear, in the sense that you become more adept at being able to pick out and describe the differences through knowledge and experience, just like training to play music by ear and pickin up notes more easily?
Yes, exactly like that, it is not that you didn't hear the notes before, but now you know what you are listening (and nice way to shortly put it, I tend to digress sometimes ). And when you start moving to the high end the differences start becoming more subtle, so that is why some people think that you need experience to fully appreciate the best equipment. Also that makes a good idea reading other people's opinion with a grain of salt, specially if they sound exaggerated like "omg these are the dullest headphones ever" or "the piercing highs give me headaches two nanoseconds after I put these headphones on". Since people get accustomed to the better headphones they tend to magnify the differences they now find, which gives you that impression of people with ├╝ber-capabilities of hearing things.
post #10 of 19
It took me a while. Still working on it.

Get a pair of Senn PX100-II or 200-II if you need sealed; these are great cans and a good place to start hearing good stuff.

I think one of the big problems with cheap headphones is that they can be so wildly far away from flat it's hard to make heads or tails out of them.

Also, practice listening to pink noise and hearing it on many phones. Pink noise should sound smooth and without noticable emphasis on any one frequency of noise. Again it'll take you a while before you really get the gist of it, but hey, that's why they call it a hobby, it's something to do that takes practice.
post #11 of 19
When I got my first headphones I auditioned others and the differences were clear.

Welcome to the world of the audiophile where people can can very excited about even the smallest of differences. Some are so small that others say it is all in the mind!
post #12 of 19
I would imagine if you're a musician, work in the business or attend a large number of live performances you'd 'get it' a lot faster (you'd be like "does that NOT sound like a french horn" etc...). As for the rest of us, we can work on it. I got started focusing on differences in soundstage, visualizing the instruments and such; at this point I can instantly recognize a lot of sonic qualities but still have trouble describing them. I'm not really that sensitive yet, though I absolutely can't stand recessed mids.

Additionally, indie/alternative rock is a terrible place to start. Great music, a lot of really bad recordings.
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
not a musician really but i can read notes and sort of play the piano lol. more of a "i can play the piano" rather than "i PLAY the piano" type person if you get what im saying.

but i did join the Audio Engineering Society (AES) at my school (through which i found this site from a member) so i should be getting experience in due time
post #14 of 19
Originally Posted by ksalvador View Post
nice post.

so basically it is training of the ear, in the sense that you become more adept at being able to pick out and describe the differences through knowledge and experience, just like training to play music by ear and pickin up notes more easily?
A well trained Audiophile has the ability to pick variations where there are none.

Just leave your ears untrained then buy and enjoy what sounds good.
post #15 of 19
Once I got a good pair of headphones (SR60i) I could tell they were different immediately. I could not, however, appreciate the differences until a month later when I decided to give the pads a cleaning and soften them up. That day I had to switch back to my old headphones, and it was a painful transition.
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