Sometime around 4 years ago, I wandered into one of the local electronics mega-stores here in Japan and pondered the huge headphone display. My MB Quart QP55X's pads' foam had become flat and I needed new headphones. I'm almost certain I tried AD900s out of the 10-port headphone distributor amp with whatever crap they were playing. I had no idea and knew it. So I joined Head-Fi. I don't need to detail the rest and don't want to contemplate how much I've spent, how much time I've put in, how long I've spent listening. I'm tired of it to a large degree. I just want to enjoy listening when I'm working or whatever at my computer.
So, I decided to just DO it -- I got the SR-009s. I decided to battle myself by getting into DIY and actually building something, despite all the parts complexity of the projects I've chosen being enough to give me mental overload. Then I can stop...ok, maybe. I know if I have essentially the best, anything else wont be appealing any longer as it simply wont sound as good.
But, while I'm still not there, a couple of things still tempt me to see resolution: A good transportable set-up when I travel that doesn't make me lust for my home rig. For that I'm thinking the Fostex HP-P1 for reasons that would require an essay covering everything I've learned being here. The other is that a couple of legendary headphones still interest me. One of them, horrendously expensive in Japan (despite being made here!) came up for sale at something like a more reasonable price than retail. So I sent a PM....
Back when I joined Head-Fi, the numerous options available compared to the mostly Audio Technica that was available here distracted me. Not to mention all the "you need an amp" etc. stuff we are all now familiar with. I was using the QP55Xs straight out of whatever Mac I owned at any one time. The last was a MacBook Pro I bought in 2006 three-quaters of a year after arriving.
Here's how my desk looked in 2007. You can see the condition of the pads on the headphones in this shot too.
So we are back in Yodobashi Camera (I think Bic Camera's headphone section wasn't good at the time) looking at all these Audio Technicas. They are very comfy, like my MB Quarts (which resemble Beyers in design and comfort). I had no thoughts about bass, mids or treble or anything like that at the time, but looking back now, the QP55X's are very light on the bass and very bright. Hard for my computer to drive too, as I was always maxing the volume and there wasn't much exciting going on. I revisited some of my favourite music, such as Massive Attack a year or two ago and was honestly blown away hearing it reproduced more faithfully (and with proper delivery of the bass notes). Anyway, I noticed a progression of these ATs going from something like $100 to a few hundred, way more than, at the time would have considered spending, but probably did contemplate simply dishing out the serious coin for so that I wouldn't have to upgrade for another 15 or so years, the length of time I'd been using the QP55Xs.
If one was to go to these stores now, they'd find the most expensive on the rack (maybe not in the cabinet) to be around US$700 or so. That pair arrived a couple of days ago, my interest as a result from comments from various people about how good and under-rated they are. And sod it if they weren't dead right. That pair is the AD2000s. After listening with them, even though I'm aware, ultimately, that my LCD-2s and SR-009s are technically better, these make them sound un-involved and distant. They are the Grado (or now, Symphones Magnums) I always wanted after I tried my friends HF-1, then the original Symphones Magnums through my Phoenix -- pinpoint imaging, fantastic speed and total involvement.
Looking back 4 years at the thought I had that day in Yodobashi Camera, that I should just buy the best and be done with it -- I was right the first time. Dammit.