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BOSE and BEATS FTW...WTF?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

First of all, have you ever noticed that FTW is WTF backwards?  Yeah...just thought I'd point that out.  I also thought I'd point out that none other than Tyll Hertsens has admitted that the Bose Quietcomfort 15  are among the best in the category of noise canceling headphones, and that the and the Beats Studio headphones didn't actually sound that bad within this category of headphones either.  For those who haven't yet seen the video, here's the link (it's at the bottom of the page):

 

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/comparative-review-high-end-noise-canceling-headphones-page-3

 

I mention this only because most of us headfiers (myself included) tend to be dismissive of these two brands.  But when you come down to it, we largely dismiss these brands because we dismiss the whole notion of the noise-cancelling headphone as little more that a bad-sounding gimmick to begin with.  But for frequent commuters who don 't like IEMs, these really are often the best alternatives, and I don't believe we should judge people that harshly for thinking that "the Bose sound good."  After all, Tetsuro Oishi had a hand in designing the Quietcomfort 15, and I must say, he did a damned fine job.  Anyway, I was curious as to other people's impressions of noise-cancelation technology.  Personally, I've never been a huge fan, but then, I don't like IEMs either, so I guess I have to settle for good sound but sub-par isolation with my regular closed-back headphones.


Edited by Mishalex - 6/22/12 at 7:02pm
post #2 of 14
I think the snob appeal to audiophile equipment has really gotten out of hand in the last few years; people want to spend as much money as they possibly can just to be able to talk down to everyone around them. This isn't *everyone* - but it's certainly a trend I've seen (and I'm not denigrating anyone in specific here). It's "edgy" and "popular" to hate things that are "mainstream."

Overall I think that a lot of the complaints levied against "mainstream" products reflect the community as well (Scheper-Hughes once said, "a society reveals itself perhaps most clearly in the phenomena it rejects, excludes, and confines") - the arguments about a lot of popular products being fashion accessories and all that, and then going on a crusade against anyone who disagrees simply to prevent ownership of those products (because we *don't* worry about how we look, amiright? rolleyes.gif).

Personally I haven't tried the Beats Studio, but I enjoy the QC15 quite a bit (and not for commuting wink.gif). I don't have any real axe to grind with the Beats or people who own and enjoy them (and I've met a few commuters who swear by them), apart from the Beats Pro being (imho) uncomfortable. They aren't the parent-killing, dog-kicking, child-molesting, world-ending, terrorist-supporting, communist-breeding, anti-christ that many people want to make them out to be though. I mean after all, they're just a headphone - really who cares if someone likes or dislikes them? The other cans he reviewed I've either never heard of/seen until that video (Polk, ANC9, etc), or have specifically avoided due to user comments/reviews that roughly voice his frustrations (like the PXC 450's oddities - I remember trying a lesser Sennheiser ANC a few years ago and really wasn't impressed (the ANC did nothing but eat batteries)). It would've been neat to see the Koss QZ900 included in the review as well; I've been curious about them for a while.

If you ever want to really re-evaluate the state of things, try a legitimately cheap headphone out. For example I picked up a pair of KPH7s for $4.88 (not kidding you) just to have for testing stuff out (and they're cheap enough that I don't care if they break). Honestly, they don't sound that bad - they aren't 205 times worse than my ESP/950. Or 61 times worse than my MDR-F1. They're quite listenable (and that's more than I can say for a lot of more expensive headphones!). There is a certain ridiculous-ness factor going on here.
Edited by obobskivich - 6/22/12 at 6:09pm
post #3 of 14

I think active noise cancelling is ridiculous. If you get good sealed headphones the noise should be isolated enough to not hear the outside anyway. I really wish AKG would have released their K550s with a shorter chord they are PERFECT for portable use except for the 9 foot chord.

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

I think the snob appeal to audiophile equipment has really gotten out of hand in the last few years; people want to spend as much money as they possibly can just to be able to talk down to everyone around them. This isn't *everyone* - but it's certainly a trend I've seen (and I'm not denigrating anyone in specific here). It's "edgy" and "popular" to hate things that are "mainstream."
Overall I think that a lot of the complaints levied against "mainstream" products reflect the community as well (Scheper-Hughes once said, "a society reveals itself perhaps most clearly in the phenomena it rejects, excludes, and confines") - the arguments about a lot of popular products being fashion accessories and all that, and then going on a crusade against anyone who disagrees simply to prevent ownership of those products (because we *don't* worry about how we look, amiright? rolleyes.gif).
Personally I haven't tried the Beats Studio, but I enjoy the QC15 quite a bit (and not for commuting wink.gif). I don't have any real axe to grind with the Beats or people who own and enjoy them (and I've met a few commuters who swear by them), apart from the Beats Pro being (imho) uncomfortable. They aren't the parent-killing, dog-kicking, child-molesting, world-ending, terrorist-supporting, communist-breeding, anti-christ that many people want to make them out to be though. I mean after all, they're just a headphone - really who cares if someone likes or dislikes them? The other cans he reviewed I've either never heard of/seen until that video (Polk, ANC9, etc), or have specifically avoided due to user comments/reviews that roughly voice his frustrations (like the PXC 450's oddities - I remember trying a lesser Sennheiser ANC a few years ago and really wasn't impressed (the ANC did nothing but eat batteries)). It would've been neat to see the Koss QZ900 included in the review as well; I've been curious about them for a while.
If you ever want to really re-evaluate the state of things, try a legitimately cheap headphone out. For example I picked up a pair of KPH7s for $4.88 (not kidding you) just to have for testing stuff out (and they're cheap enough that I don't care if they break). Honestly, they don't sound that bad - they aren't 205 times worse than my ESP/950. Or 61 times worse than my MDR-F1. They're quite listenable (and that's more than I can say for a lot of more expensive headphones!). There is a certain ridiculous-ness factor going on here.

 

I agree with everything you have just said, and personally (and hypocritically, seeing as I've bought pricier headphones myself), I really don't think that a headphone should cost more than $300.  Okay, maybe there are exceptions like the super flagships, but really, I'm more impressed with a good-sounding cheap-o headphone than I am by an amazing sounding flagship headphone.  The trouble is, you EXPECT more expensive headphones to be better, but the reality is that there is very little correlation between price and performance.  Also, thanks for keeping me honest.  Sometimes I have to admit that the audiophile snobbery holds a certain appeal for me as well, but really, it isn't very becoming.  Cheers.

post #5 of 14

I don't think he acknowledged the Beats to be the best in that category.  His words were 'CQ15 creamed everything else' when it came to sound cancelation, and if one isn't buying a sound canceling headphone primarily for just that, then there's little reason to listen to them.

 

There's plenty reason to dismiss Bose and its line of boutique products (of course that isn't including the massively gouged 50,000 dollar vinyl players and 1 million dollar speakers that other vendors introduce), but I've never really heard head-fi bash the CQ15 when it came to sound cancellation.

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

I don't think he acknowledged the Beats to be the best in that category.  His words were 'CQ15 creamed everything else' when it came to sound cancelation, and if one isn't buying a sound canceling headphone primarily for just that, then there's little reason to listen to them.

 

There's plenty reason to dismiss Bose and its line of boutique products (of course that isn't including the massively gouged 50,000 dollar vinyl players and 1 million dollar speakers that other vendors introduce), but I've never really heard head-fi bash the CQ15 when it came to sound cancellation.

 

You're right.  These are good points.  It's just that to be honest, I was surprised that Tyll even thought the studios sounded "acceptable" within this shootout, but he did say their noise cancellation was somewhat dysfunctional.  This whole article honestly made me wonder how titled in terms of frequency response some of the other headphones sound...but I guess the graphs for the Klipsch should give me a pretty good idea, lol.

post #7 of 14

I can agree with you about head-fi bashing the Beats outright for sound quality alone.  They do sound fairly decent.  The bashing imo is ill called for.

 

Usually people bring price into the consideration when bashing the Beats, but I keep bringing the same argument up over and over again-- that bashing price/performance ratio is beyond hypocritical in the very consumerism driven hobby that is audiophilia (see 50,000 dollar vinyl player line)  Or even an example that hits home better: the 1500 dollar HD800 vs the 500 dollar 'mid-fi' rolleyes.gif HD650 that a lot of people still prefer-- including myself.


Edited by TMRaven - 6/22/12 at 7:12pm
post #8 of 14

I agree with you mostly, though I really hated the Beats Solo.  Those were baaaaad.  A super-cheap Sennheiser is an order of magnitude better.  They're also 100% plastic and break a tooooon.

But the Beats Studio or Pro aren't really bad.  They're just not great, I guess.  I liked my $200 M-80s quite a bit better than both of them, and the Pros go for around $500 around here.  The ANC in the Studios is completely unnecessary though.  It barely does a thing and just makes it hiss and require batteries to work.

post #9 of 14

i can understand the critizes of beats being overbassy and not really hifisounding but expensive though i think the qc15 sounds fairly decent and the noise cancellation is way better than the sennheiser pxc450 that i owned. however, i dont have any beats or bose and i only have listened to them in best buy

post #10 of 14
I keep hearing about the "Beats Solo" as this abysmal headphone, and I've seen graphs on InnerFidelity that show like -40 dB from 1khz upwards. But apart from seeing a few random people on the street with them, I have no idea what they really are or sound like. redface.gif Also, what's that other Beats headphone, it's an on-ear model; I've never seen them outside of CG renders online. They look like the Beats Pro. Anyone ever tried or reviewed those? (I'm just curious, I know it's unrelated to the thread).

As far as ANC goes - here's roughly my take on it (and a bit on the QC15):

It's been like 100* F almost every day thus far this summer (it's almost 10 PM and it's 93* F outside right now); the aircon has been running 24x7 as a result. I'm going *mad* listening to it. So I was going to buy IEMs to deal with it, but figured, you know what, I'll give these a shot as a "last ditch" before I go that route. I've tried a number of "closed" headphones (most of which don't isolate worth anything) and apart from the Kenwood K1000 (which are super heavy), they all screw up the sound somehow (too bassy, too boomy, sibilant, slow, whatever - never heard one that's all of the above (thank god), but I'm sure it's out there). So I tried the QC15 out, and honestly I think they're worthy of their price tag (ANC or not); they're just as enjoyable/good as my MDR-F1, albeit fairly different in overall presentation. They aren't harsh or sibilant, they aren't overly boomy, and they sound fairly smooth. But they aren't slow/muddy. They're enjoyable. I would easily put them above or equal to a lot of "audiophile approved" suggestions both for mobile/transportable sets, and at-home sets. Especially because they also weigh about as much as the MDR-F1 (Bose claims 196g with the cord, but doesn't mention if that's with or without the battery; they're not quite as comfy as the MDR-F1, but they're the most comfortable closed headphone I've ever worn) - so they don't fatigue you to wear, physically. And then there's the ANC - and it absolute eats the aircon noise and leaves you with nothing. It's very relaxing (there's a slight hiss in the background, but I tried moving around in my house with them on (cordless) and it seems to change based on how much noise is around you (in other words I suspect if you sat in a very very quiet space, they would become equally quiet because there's less cancellation being applied).

None of the closed headphones I've tried (including the Beyer T70 which have a lot of passive isolation) accomplish that as completely (and if you've read my other posts, you know I *despised* the T70 - they're harsh, aggressive, fatiguing, clampy, and all of that for only $669.95 (curious why the price has dropped like a ROCK in the last few months? tongue.gif). Was it a relatively frivolous purchase? Yeah, probably so. But they get used, and even when the ANC isn't needed, they're the bassiest headphones I own now, and they're lots of fun with videogames (but unlike a lot of other bassy headphones, they don't have a nasty punched up treble response; it's just a pleasing warm low end with reasonably good extension). And music.

I'll also agree on the accessories package - for the price, it was absolutely SURPRISING to have accessory after accessory in the box (and the batteries WERE included); most audiophile headphones you're lucky to get a box with your purchase. rolleyes.gif The only set that surpasses the QC15 in both presentation and sound would be the ESP/950 (do a quick price search, I'll wait) - they include enough accessories to support any possible usage scenario that is outlined in the user's manual. And a *huge* bag/case. It's really over the top compared to a lot of what we're conditioned to accept out of audiophile headphones - honestly I'm kind of impressed with Bose in this regard, in that not only do they provide a good product, they provide all of the little bits that support it (except a 1/4" adapter, which is the weirdest exclusion - literally they include cables and plugs for anything else you could conceive to plug these into, but no 1/4" adapter). They also provide cheap replacement parts (not "Koss $5 earpads" cheap, but cheap enough - none of this $80-$160/set earpads and assorted madness). The only other headphones I've tried that approach this package are the Ultrasone PROline models - most of them cost a lot more than the QC15. And they still don't include as many toys. But compared to Denon, Audio-Technica, Sony, Grado (god rolleyes.gif), etc it's just not even fair.

I can see other people/people in general liking the QC15 sound as well. Simply because it is so non-fatiguing and well extended. I don't think they're the best headphone ever made, but really who cares about that? They're pleasant sounding. They're comfortable (the pads don't seem to heat up and make you sweat, despite being not fabric (I have no idea what they're made of; it isn't leather, and it isn't any kind of pleather I've ever had before; it's not even quite the same as the TriPort)). You can enjoy the music, and they do what they claim to be able to do (nowhere in their literature does it say they're dead-on balls accurate and suitable for studio monitoring; it says they're designed for music enjoyment). They also aren't microphonic like the TriPort (which is my biggest complaint with those).

I will agree with Tyll though, that ANC seems to be thrown into a lot of products as a result of the QC15 and it's general mass appeal (a lot of people who maybe haven't spent as much time around audio equipment in general probably do regard them as one of the best headphones ever, simply because they might be one of the most expensive they've ever seen) - sort of a "they have this, so we have this" kind of game. But every non-Bose ANC set I've heard is just...bad (at ANC). Haven't tried the Beats (as I said above), but given that they seem to leak pretty bad if the kids I see (I should say "hear from across the car over the din and motor noise") on the train are any indication, I doubt they provide much isolation.

I'm not saying people need to run out and buy these, and I'm honestly doubting anyone will very seriously consider them (for the reasons outlined above), but I still figured I'd share FWIW.
post #11 of 14

I bought a QC today just for its cancelling thing (ten hour long flight coming up). It really works, better than any in ear IMO, even Etys. The sound, though, is not that great, even PortaPros are better, but in the end they are very listenable. 

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

I keep hearing about the "Beats Solo" as this abysmal headphone, and I've seen graphs on InnerFidelity that show like -40 dB from 1khz upwards. But apart from seeing a few random people on the street with them, I have no idea what they really are or sound like. redface.gif Also, what's that other Beats headphone, it's an on-ear model; I've never seen them outside of CG renders online. They look like the Beats Pro. Anyone ever tried or reviewed those? (I'm just curious, I know it's unrelated to the thread).
 

They're called the Beats Mixr, I've seen some mixed reviews for them.

 

Also my main problem with the Solo is that it has practically no treble.  Like, the treble is basically not there. It's not like the M-80 where it's a liiiittle bit rolled off, with the Solos there is literally no sparkle at all.  But it still manages to have some sibilance? They really just aren't very good.  They do deliver gobs of bass though, so I guess that could be something going for them for some people.  But they don't really deliver anything else...

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by madbull View Post

I bought a QC today just for its cancelling thing (ten hour long flight coming up). It really works, better than any in ear IMO, even Etys. The sound, though, is not that great, even PortaPros are better, but in the end they are very listenable. 

 

 

i personally think the porta pros lacks a bit in clarity that qc15 has but i dont own neither but i have heard them before for very short times and separately. porta pros, my friend has it and qc15, they have demo in best buy

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danthrax View Post

I think active noise cancelling is ridiculous. If you get good sealed headphones the noise should be isolated enough to not hear the outside anyway. I really wish AKG would have released their K550s with a shorter chord they are PERFECT for portable use except for the 9 foot chord.


I do use my K550s portably sometimes, and the isolation is quite good, but you're right, the cord does get in the way.  I've been thinking about recabling them just so I could use them as my primary on-the-go fullsize headphone.  I do wish AKG would have released them with a detachable cord, and/or a straight and coiled cord option as they did with the 271 mkII, but I guess I can't complain too much since the K550 does really sound pretty darned good.

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