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The Audiophile Headphone Aesthetic (and new Denon lineup)

Poll Results: What Kind of Headphone Design Are You Partial To?

 
  • 7% (4)
    Futuristic
  • 20% (11)
    Retro
  • 16% (9)
    As unassuming as possible
  • 20% (11)
    Luxury
  • 0% (0)
    Rapper-can style
  • 35% (19)
    I LEGITIMATELY don't care AT ALL so long as it sounds good and is comfortable.
54 Total Votes  
post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

     Prompted by recent discussions of the new line of full-size headphones from Denon, I felt compelled to start a conversation about the "audiophile aesthetic."  I find it highly ironic that many people are already dismissing this new line of headphones, without even hearing how they sound or feeling how comfortable they are, while still claiming that "sound quality is far and away the most important factor to me when considering a headphone, followed up closely by comfort for long-term use."  I have no vested interest myself, although I do love the current line of Denon headphones, with their classic styling and appearance.  But quite honestly, although I adore my Denon Ah-D7000s, I have always felt them to be a tad flimsy and impossible to use portably.  Hence, I'm not willing to simply dismiss a new, potentially great line of Denon headphones on the charge of appearance alone.  However, I DO think appearance is an important consideration.

 

Many people on this forum are adverse to Beats (and other similarly branded rapper cans), and with good reason: they sound awful.  But hypothetically, suppose Beats or Monster put out a headphone that sounded awesome and was very comfortable and durable, but still looked like cheap plastic.  Would you still avoid them like the plague simply so as not to be branded as "one of the crowd?" Shouldn't sound quality be far and away the most important consideration when considering a pair of headphones?

 

My point is mainly that as audiophiles, I feel we do have our own set of aesthetic considerations when considering headphones.  We like headphones that are somewhat more subdued, classic, and organic looking in appearance.  Otherwise, we tend to favor headphones with either a futuristic design (Sennheiser HD 800s), or something with an awesome retro-cool vibe to it (Audeze lineup; Beyerdynamic headphones), or something in between (AKG maybe?).  Now, quite obviously, these considerations and aesthetic preferences won't be universally true, but I felt it worthwhile to start a discussion about this, because I do believe that no matter how much sound quality is the most important factor to us, most of us DO actually care SOMEWHAT about the appearance of a headphone.  Most audiophiles that I have talked to seem to prefer a headphone design that will separate them from the crowd and distinguish them as "someone who cares about sound more than appearance."  But there are limits even to this.  Consider the following:  Imagine that there existed a pair of headphones that were more revealing, clearer, neutral, and at the same time more musical than anything you had ever heard before...but they happened to look like the image below  Would you wear them?  Be honest with yourself:

 

 

japanese cat earphones

 

 

LOL.  But seriously, what are your thoughts on the "audiophile aesthetic"?  What do you look for in a headphone, and how to you feel about the trend of trying to make headphones look more stylish?  I want to hear your thoughts.  Personally, I don't object to the idea of headphones becoming a fashion accessory as well as a listening tool, SO LONG AS THE SOUND AND COMFORT REMAIN THE PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS.  Anyway, those are just my two cents.  I hope that this post will inspire a thoughtful discussion of what most of us think look good in a headphone.  Do you like the look of the Denons, something like the Bowers & Wilkins P5 (the gentleman's headphone), or are you partial to the futuristic design of something like the HD800s?  Have I misjudged most people?  Do we REALLY not care about appearance AT ALL?  And if so, then why are so many people dismissing the new Denon headphones just because they don't look as "classy" as the old Denon headphones?  Why do we care if hi-end audio products start to resemble rapper-can designs more and more if the sound quality continues to improve at the same time?  I hope to hear your thoughts on these and other issues relating to the appearance of headphones and to see your responses to the poll I have created.


Edited by Mishalex - 6/5/12 at 3:36pm
post #2 of 29

I myself feel like simplistic/retro cans look awesome. I feel the Beyer DT770 are a sexy headphone. Same for the Shure SRH line.

post #3 of 29

I would say I am partial to both "nerdy audiophile vintage" (grado and T50rp) and "modern masculine" (Denon D7000).

 

However, I would say what is more important than the design style is whether it follows proper good design, which *extremely* few do.

post #4 of 29

Chrome bits, has to have chrome bits whenever possible.

post #5 of 29
Two words: electrostatic headphones.
post #6 of 29

As long as they don't look tacky and cheap (very subjective in itself, I think beats fall here slightly), it's all good. But even that is excusable to me if they sound good enough.

post #7 of 29

Chrome bits, has to NOT have chrome bits whenever possible biggrin.gif. I like good quality materials which usually means more metals and wood less plastic.

post #8 of 29
I wouldn't wear the cat-ear thing; they don't look that comfortable to be honest. If they were comfortable, maybe.

What category in the poll does this fit into:
201

I like whatever that is; it's not gaudy, but it's not really subdued (the aluminum does shine, for example). It's beyond functional, but it isn't "bling bling" (like say, the trade-show W3000ANV tongue.gif).

I'm not saying that's the only can I like, it's just an example (and I happen to be wearing them and their mind control rays proximity has an effect). Basically, somewhere between "I don't care" and "not a PlaySkool product" I guess. redface.gif
post #9 of 29

Anything that doesn't scream "A RAPPER ENDORSED THIS YO" is fine by me. More specifically though I like subdued metallic look and none of the overly shiny metal look. I'm partial to woodies, but I like metal more. Maybe the sole exception to woodies (aesthetic wise, mind you) is the TH900. That just screams "SEXY METAL-WOOD HERE, MAKE LOVE".

post #10 of 29

Of course I care about how they look. They need to be "inviting" and I would have to feel comfortable with myself wearing them. If something doesn't look good in my eyes, then I would feel awkward when wearing them, and that would take away from the whole experience.

post #11 of 29

Don't care, just don't be ridiculous like the Beats or look too cheap. I'm curious about the D2Ks but wish they had the wood treatment the upper end models have, i mean $350 is still a lot of moolah for headphones, more than 99% of people would think to spend.

post #12 of 29

Build quality above all other aesthetics. Of course I don't want to wear something very suggestive like a pink color or other bright colors that scream el-cheapo crapola headphones.

post #13 of 29
Just out of curiosity, have there ever been and high quality headphones that come in any color that isn't black/white/silver? Like, there's a Beats ad that I've seen that's something like "pick your color" and they show something like 16 different colors that you can get. I don't think they're great headphones, but honestly it's just a matter of coloring the plastic - why don't other manufacturers follow?

The only examples I can think of are the lime green AKG Q series, and a few Ultrasone models that are blue or brown. But where's awesome cans that are purple? Or red? Or orange? Or pink? Really.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Just out of curiosity, have there ever been and high quality headphones that come in any color that isn't black/white/silver? Like, there's a Beats ad that I've seen that's something like "pick your color" and they show something like 16 different colors that you can get. I don't think they're great headphones, but honestly it's just a matter of coloring the plastic - why don't other manufacturers follow?
The only examples I can think of are the lime green AKG Q series, and a few Ultrasone models that are blue or brown. But where's awesome cans that are purple? Or red? Or orange? Or pink? Really.

 

V-Modas :D

post #15 of 29

Honestly, aesthetics are not the only thing. If there was a consensus "BEST" headphone out there ... like, for instance, if the Sennheiser HD800 actually was hands down "better" than the LCD-3, then I'd get them. But as it stands, if I'm not SACRIFICING sound quality, then you bet I'm going to want something that doesn't make me vomit at the sight of it if I'm laying down $1000-plus. I'm using the HD800 as an example because I think they look hideous. I would never buy them, even though I think they sound absolutely breathtaking. They've got a beautiful sound that puts all of my headphones to shame.

 

But, of course, I don't have any headphones in the price bracket. I've also head the LCD-3 and was absolutely blown away. When push comes to shove, yeah I want style. I want them to look good. Not for everyone else (ie why Beats are popular), but for me. Myself. I want to admire them every time I go to put them on.

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