I can tell you without hesitation, there are many musicians who are among the most difficult to please sonically. Just as there are musicians who don't really care what happens to the sound after they've produced it.
Compare that to audiophiles vs. other listeners, and the simplest explanation - thus the most likely - is that their population has a pretty normal distribution of listening requirements.
This post for me is most representative of what I hold as reality. To think of a hi-fi vs. a musician’s mentality is inaccurate. People are people. Some obsess about their system’s sound or their musical tone, and some do not. There is no wrong answer. It’s what’s right for the individual.
I’ve been a musician for 20 years plus, and an audiophile for about 5 years. I know a lot of musicians that don’t value hi-fidelity sound either in reproduction or pro-audio or recording. I also read about consummate pros who stop at nothing, and are never satisfied in the pursuit of their tone. I can tell you that my experience as a musician has been utterly enhanced since becoming an audiophile. I’ve read an article in Strings magazine advising the use of the best audio equipment that one’s budget allows when studying or just plain listening to music. The subtleties of a classical soloist or vocalist can only be reproduced with better equipment. Being able to hear the room or auditorium itself, and the space around the individual instruments. My love is of baroque music. I still love it whether it’s in my car’s stock stereo or on my home set-up, but my home set-up does offer an infinitely greater intimate connection that is priceless.
I’m also never satisfied when pursuing my musical tone. I will always be musician first and audiophile second. I spend time tweaking my music equipment and instrument as well as my reproduction components. Whether it’s the equipment, instrument, or expression and execution, it results in one product together. My musicians’s sensitivity is immeasurably increased thanks to being an audiophile. Are you making a Big Mac or fine French cuisine? Don’t get me wrong, I can jam out balls-to-the-wall in my car to Metallica (Cliff Burton RIP) or old school hip hop, but enjoy Bach and Vivaldi in my home to the maximum thanks to hi-fi. The #1 rule is music first and foremost and maybe some good equipment second to enhance the experience as a bonus if possible.
BTW, there will never be a consensus on headphones or any other equipment as long as people are different. Take everyone’s opinion with a grain of salt because very few will completely share your music ideals.
Edited by lmswjm - 9/30/10 at 11:04pm