Originally Posted by RayleighSilvers
Because of the way these people are mastering their songs, would it be pointless to get an "audiophile" headphone?
Generally, I would say yes. It depends on what you want out of your system. If you want to hear every single detail even if said details are not flattering to the recording, then a resolving system is the way to go. If you want to make the music as involving as possible, then you're probably better off with a more colored headphone or a more colored signal path in general.
Here I have to sidetrack and say that jazz and vocal music gets used so much in reviews not because it works best with high-end equipment, but because it sounds good on everything. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I have to say that a lot of professional reviews - most professional reviews in fact - seem to me almost carefully formulated to divulge as little information about what's being reviewed as possible. Nearly all are in the format of "I listened to track X and this is what I heard," which is completely meaningless to anyone that hasn't heard track X. More, smooth jazz and light vocal music are so undemanding on a transducer that they will sound great on anything that's not totally terrible, so you can easily say exactly what you hear and still not publish a damning review. Obviously if you do publish a damning review you're not going to get more products sent in for review, so there's quite a bit of pressure on reviewers to not give critical reviews ever. Also notice how there rarely are any comparisons to directly competing products; most comparisons are against either cheaper products and are along the lines of "the improvements are subtle but clearly audible" or against something more expensive and are in the vein of "this gets very close for a fraction of the price."
Now, I digress, but the point of the rant above is that you shouldn't put too much stock in professional reviews, and in professional reviewers mostly using mellow jazz and other "audiophile" music. Pay attention to impressions from people that listen to the same thing that you do, and also know what they're talking about.
However, dynamic compression and hot mastering are a different thing entirely, and here anything with a modicum of resolution is going to give you exactly the amount of clipping that's there in the recording, and can be unlistenable.
So... if your collection is overcompressed, then don't go crazy with the resolution. But if your collection is simply badly produced pop/rap/whatever that isn't overcompressed, then a high-rez system may not be a total waste.
There's another way - you can combine a relatively resolving transducer with a tubey, mushy sounding amp, which will still give you a fair bit of resolution but will also inject a lot of warmth and color into the sound. This will not make overcompressed recordings passable in most circumstances but will make a lot of dry, dull-sounding recordings come to life.
I've been using nothing but Stax for I don't know how many years, and my listening lately mainly consists of psychedelic electronica, the more extreme forms of metal, some psychedelic rock, and the occasional full-scale orchestral piece (Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff for example). There you generally don't have hot mastering but recording quality can be all over the place. I often use the Omega 2 with a transformer box and a very mushy-sounding tube amp, which gives it a fairly colored but quite musical presentation, especially with recordings that are far from ideal - but at the same time you do keep a lot of the resolution and intrinsic qualities of the O2. It's nowhere as good with well-recorded music as the Blue Hawaii with the same O2 but it does make more recordings palatable.
Now, as to whether in your situation something like that is worth the money... I don't know. I don't know what you listen to. But a nice syrupy tube amp with a good, resolving dynamic like the HD600 may not be a bad way to go. Buy used and sell it if you don't like it.
Originally Posted by MalVeauX
The recessed mids talk is way over-emphasized. The headphone is not that recessed. It's mainly people looking at frequency response graphs and not actually listening to the headphone in question. Typical head-fi stuff. I listen to it and vocals and instruments don't sound all recessed to me. Some may hear a slight recession, but it's not night & day troughs like some would love to type and have you think (which have already gotten to you obviously, and unfortunately). The HTF600 is a great headphone for $30. Again, it's $30. Don't expect the world. The DT770 is better, it's higher resolving, better overall quality, and an excellent under-rated headphone.
I've had a DT770 for years, still do actually though I don't really use it anymore. I think the mids are
recessed but not to an extreme. It's only evident in comparison to something more linear like the HD600. The DT770 was never a terribly accurate headphone but so much of the new stuff on the market is seriously inaccurate that the DT770 is starting to sound like a neutral headphone in comparison. I agree that it's underrated, especially now. It's a good answer to the generic "want bass and clarity" suggestion, especially when you consider that most things that pretend to offer that give you muddy lows and screechy highs with nothing in between. The 770's mids are pretty good tonally, and it does have surprisingly good resolution.Edited by catscratch - 3/13/12 at 3:40pm