I think the definition of audiophile is changing as there is "classic audiophile" and "modern music" audiophiles. I'm an audiophile, I have a $500k home stereo system - but I love bass. Modern music requires it and the artists that make it WANT you to have the bass (pop, rock and especially hip-hop and dance). Relatively flat curves for mid-high, yet low bass extension that you can feel IS what many producers want you to hear and therefore to me is the NEW-AGE audiophile.
I mean no offense, and these are definitely beautifully crafted phones, which I'm sure will appeal to a large number of people, but I think it's incredibly presumptuous to assume that all modern, hip, up-to-date audiophiles want massive bass, routinely listen to highly compressed, beat-dominant music, and that, in point of fact, such music is the definition of modern. I, for one, can assure you that the modern Jazz scene is about as vibrant as any musical scene has ever been. Taylor Eigsti, Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, Maria Schneider, just to list the first few names that pop into my head, are all producing ingenuitive, beautiful, subtle, detailed, complex music that most certainly demands a reasonably neutral presentation to be properly appreciated. I can go to any of a dozen Jazz clubs in New York on any given week and be guaranteed that there are going to be more mind-blowingly talented musicians performing than I have the time or money to appreciate. The production on some of these albums (Highway Rider, Compass, Daylight at Midnight are the first that come to mind), and the ethos behind the studios producing them (Nonesuch, Concord, etc) is, undoubtedly of the "classic audiophile" camp that you seem to be relegating to the realm of the archaic. These artists, studios and producers do not WANT the bass on their recordings to be artificially amplified to the extent that dance and hip-hop artists may well. To be perfectly honest, I'm not even sure how one can approach the concept of audiophilia in material that's as repetitive, simplistic and has been as heavily compressed on the production side as most modern hip-hop, pop and dance music has been. I consider myself an audiophile because I prize, treasure and cherish the small, subtle nuances in my music that become ever more apparent on better and better systems. The minute genius of Eric Harland's touch on a cymbal, or Christian McBride's tone on the high registers of an upright bass. I'm not sure such things even exist in the genres of music you are heralding as "modern." To be sure, there is a place for dance and pop music, the same way there is a place for fast food and soap operas. Not all music need be cerebral to be enjoyable. I go to DEMF (excuse me...Movement...) every year and I rock out just as hard as the next guy to Benny Benassi or Fedde Le Grand. But never would I think of any part of that experience as having anything to do with audiophilia. The music is way too loud, the bass is way too fat, the systems are all ultra-high wattage class D distortion boxes, and that's just the way it's supposed to be. I have to use 28 db pad earplugs to not have ringing in my ears by the end of it, and that alone is bound to destroy the fidelity of a system. There is surely genius to be found in electronic and hip-hop music. But every time I see someone using a Lady Gaga track to judge the fidelity of a piece of gear they're testing I want to cry. Maybe I'm just an old-fashioned stick in the mud at all of 23, but as my engineering mentor, Tom Munsell, once put it best, "you can't polish a turd." Insofar as that, if you can't reveal detail or subtlety that isn't there in Ke$ha and Beyonce, maybe the best thing you can do is just to crank up everything... As for me, I'll stick with my classic-audiophile concepts for my modern music.
Edited by Dev Avidon - 10/2/10 at 12:22pm