So I'm delving little by little into the world of audio. For a bit of background, I've always loved music,
played the piano when I was a child, started with guitar later in College and have always been
surrounded by music and musicians. I have always had Ok headphones but it wasn't until a few years
ago that I started buying more "expensive" headphones.
Now, I've always had good speakers and/or monitors to listen to music so I usually can catch the
differences between them (I find it more difficult catching coloration or changes with receivers, preamps,
cables, etc.). And it seems the same thing is happening with headphone amps. I mean, I can "catch" the
differences between cans (i.e. the "grado" sound, the "shure" sound (my favorite as of now), cheaper
Sennheisers, a couple of Ultrasones, etc.) but the differences between amps has been more difficult.
This past weekend I spoke to an acquaintance of mine about this and he told me to bring what I'm using
at home to his house. Now, he doesn't have a bunch of equipment but some goods that I could test and
since I'm thinking of buying the Sennheisers HD650s as my "last" headphones (at least for this year ;-))
I wanted to have a few other choices.
So there I went with my Shure 440s, 940s, and the Icon HDP which I use as my amp. There he had the HD600,
DT990, a couple of others I don't remember (and did not try) and for amps he had:
- RSA SR-71B
- Audio GD FUN
- Woo Audio 3 (his "baby")
All of these I guess are in the same price range (he wants something better and he was talking about
another version of Woo... don't know which...)
Anyway, to my point.
I took out my 940s since I'm spending more time with those. They have the "Shure" flavor meaning they
favor high and mids and are quite balanced. I know how they sound on my Icon HDP (i.e. brighter, a BIT
of an extended soundstage, etc.). Tested these guys on the FUN amp and the Woo Audio 3... I heard ALMOST
the same sound. Bass extended a bit more and I noticed that the high-end region wasn't as bright (a bit "warm"
maybe) but other than that I didn't notice a whole lot more difference in soundstage nor clarity.
Tried his HD600s for about half an hour or a bit more using the tracks I usually test on any speaker/headphone,
making notes, marking the track time for specific effects, etc... connected these cans to my Icon HDP and I
actually LIKED them better on the HDP (I guess the HDP accentuates the high-end and it is my belief that the
cans performed with more clarity!)
He did the same using my headphones (he told me he didn't like them! LOL! ;-)) but he basically noted the same
thing, changes were VERY minimal.
So my questions:
Is it my ears that they suck and cannot pick up a lot of differences?!?
Or, since all of these "amps" are in the same price range, they sound as good as they cost (meaning they sound the same, basically!?).
Or do all of them sound similar because that's how the music SHOULD sound!?
I'm not sure now whether I should buy any more headphones such as the HD650 or any other med/hi-end
can nor if I should my any other amp for a "different" signature since I really didn't notice a whole lot of difference
even with the tube Woo (meaning, that what I noticed doesn't convince me of spending more money...)... and my friend is now wondering whether he should also spend on a better amp...
Should I, maybe, jump spending regions and check out the Bursons, Woo's, Apex, etc. or will I
experience a similar effect of NOT finding too many differences.?
Thanks a bunch!
P.S. It is not my intention to start a placebo/blind test/etc. thread, these are legitimate questions. I'm ALMOST
quite happy with my set-up and was going for the HD650s because I read that they went great with the Icon HDP
(and maybe I could give my ears a break from bright/balanced cans).
P.S. part 2: Sorry for the wall of text... I got carried away it seems!