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:
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