Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › Which Summit-Fi Headphone For Me?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Which Summit-Fi Headphone For Me? - Page 8

post #106 of 178
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post


I see... so what headphone do you consider to be the cheapest summit-fi headphone? He500 at 700 bucks nowadays?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


Depends on how you want to classify summit-fi. If you mean good quality sound that doesn't get old after a few hours and a can that is well rounded and high fidelity in its reproduction abilities, the K701, HD600/650, and DT880 are very much relevant. But they don't "fit" because they're $1000 too cheap. rolleyes.gif I'm not a fan of this recent "smash everything into rankings" jag that seems to have taken the world by storm - take your cans straight-up and stick with the ones you like, who cares if they don't "win" popularity contests or Consumer Reports doesn't put them at the top of their list. tongue.gif
If you wanted a more conservative answer (as in, one that won't have people get irked at you for challenging the status quo and/or questioning things in general) - the HE-500 are a common suggestion (I have not heard them, and probably never will - imho no headphone has a good reason to be 500g or larger), the ESP/950 are also obscure and expensive enough to sit at the table. The thing is, the ESP/950 are what? $600-$1000 depending on Amazon's mood, and something like the HD 580 or HD 600 were $200-$350 a few years ago, and are nearly as good and just as enjoyable - so which one is really better? (And this isn't meant to denigrate the 950 - I enjoy them quite a bit, but I see their extra cost more as a function of their complexity and American build, not as some sort of objective measure of their performance relative to things around them).

 

In the non-summit forum, my ranting against the whole "mid-fi" monicker has become infamous in a few threads :P  Calling HD650, K/Q70x, DT880/990, etc mid-fi is preposterous.   However my argument is slightly more in the middle than obobskivich's.  I can gladly exist that mid-fi does exist.  AD700 for example strikes me as a mid-fi headphone.  It's a $100 headphone that performs very well for it's price, is filled with detail, but not as much as some of the top tiers have.  But ultimately what I think REALLY separates low to mid to high, is how much it has to compromose from a theoretical "flawless" (i.e. sounds exactly like real life.)  The top tier cans in theory would represent as close as technology allows to "real life" sound reproduction.  Headphones that make a bit more compromise would fall into general hi-fi.   The ones that give up just a bit too much would be mid-fi, and the ones that don't in any way sound like real life would be "low-fi".   AD700 is a headphone that fits well with mid-fi to me because it's very good, with a surprising soundstage, lots of detail, but it sacrifices so much detail in the bass range to do so.  They made a compromise where they preserved detail but sacrificed frequency response to get it.  Others will sacrifice detail but retain FR and tonality.  Basically, to my eyes, mid-fi represents a range that tries hard to meet both hi-fi and price, and finds a middle ground where it's a good attempt with big compromises.

 

If technology moved along to a point where newer better performing headphones truly replaced the old models, I could see referring to the old flagships like HD650 and HD600 as "mid-fi".  Eventually that will happen.  Something that used to be really good but has been surpassed by time and tech.  But in the present time that does not fit.  The old models still fit the same price tier they always did, and the new "better" headphones fit price points 2, 3, 4x that price point.   That's exotic early adopting prototyping.  When they can sell HD800 for $500-$600, then we'll talk mid-fi for HD650.  Not a moment before.  The "better" headphones have not replaced or bumped out the old ones, they simply added a new layer at exhorbitant prices of something a little better. 

 

However, that's a distinction between hi-fi and so-called mid-fi.  SUMMIT-FI, by definition I think does have to pertain to bleeding edge somewhat.  Stuff that's either the latest in technology no matter the crazy "living prototype" pricing, stuff that may fail in the market horribly but is an interesting try, and stuff that's fairly rare, exotic, etc.   That's the one place I draw a distinction in my opinion from obobs.  I have no problem calling anything that's ever been hi-fi PERMANANTLY hi-fi.  It may be old hi-fi, it may be surpassed hi-fi, but it was still designed as a hi-fi piece, and thus it IS a hi-fi piece.  But I can also accept there to be hi-fi gear that's a cut above the rest too.  And summit by name implies it's the stuff that stands above the rest.  But that's just it.  Many people define "hi-fi" as being the handful of absolute best, flagships only, etc.  Which is really what summit is all about.  And if you follow the "it must be flagship to be hi-fi" logic to it's logical end, the HD700 is a brand new, shiny, $1000 mid-fi can, as is the LCD-2 biggrin.gif  

 

Also, I'm not sure HD650 in itself was ever considered summit.  Back when I got into HD650, the trio (701/650/880) was the pinnacle of hi-fi, and summit-fi was limited pretty much to the true exotics....orpheus, Stax, R10, etc.  But HD650 was visible in summit circles because people were building $10,000 signal chains of Mark Levinson, Ray Samuels, etc equipment.  So HD650 was a staple of the summit-fi amp and DAC owners, while from what I saw, HD650 itself was never actually summit-fi.   What's changed since then is that "Summit" has dropped down from the $3k-10k headphone arena down to the $1k-10k arena with the introduction of new models.  hi-fi has otherwise stayed pretty much identical to where it was 5 years ago, but with more people trying to convince everyone that only summit-fi is hi-fi and everything else is mid-fi. 

 

"Summit-fi" by implication implies that it's, by nature, extraordinarily into diminising returns beyond normal level gear.  Extreme prices for moderate performance bumps.  It's kind of a prototype showcase....summit-fi lets you try, today, for $1500 what everyone will buy tomorrow for $500 :) It's those old Disney "home of the future" prototypes that looked nothing like what a modern home actually looks like, but it was a valiant attempt!   But ALL of it, from summit-fi down through HD598, at least, is surely hi-fi. 

 

If you want to find the "cheapest" summit-fi headphone around, find the first headphone that you're paying for a whole lot more than you actually get, but you do actually get something over the vastly cheaper one, and you've found the beginning of summit-fi biggrin.gif  That may well be HE-500 simply because the HE-400 can get so close to it for so much less.  That's not overcharging though, that's because HE-400 now has automated assembly and HE-500 was from before the automated assembly went live so it clost a lot more to make. Next generation will probably see the prices shift again. If they were manufactured the same way, estimation is they'd be more like $100 different at most.

post #107 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Within your definition, I'd say yes they are still in. The real improvements over those three when moving to something much more expensive and obscure are fairly minor, they still sit at that threshold of diminishing returns. Of course you'll get someone telling you that "oh god no, you need XYZ iPride 5 to experience this dramatic, Universe shattering, life changing, religion creating experience" and to that I don't have a good response, but having gone from 2/3 of those to much more hoity-toity models, the realized differences are minor (there are improvements, but it's more differences/preferences than improvements - for example, I don't "hear more details and feel that I'm rediscovering my music" having gone from the K701 to 'stats - all the detail is still there, but the 'stats have a different presentation and tonal balance).
At the end of the day it comes down to what you think is appreciable though - I remember a recent thread where someone upgraded from an M50 to a K701, and felt the 701 was marginal (if any) improvement, and was disappointed. A lot of people got pretty offended (I don't know why) - so in that case I think it's a case of the improvements not being appreciable relative to the price. In other words, all of this "night and day, universe changing" talk has over-promoted what really is to be gained from spending a lot more money. As Erik said, the point of diminishing returns is in the thousands, not the billions.
The last $50,000 for the last .05%. wink.gif



Thanks for the info and I like how your opinion is straight forward and not exaggerated. I also don't think there's all that much day and night difference unless you are upgrading from those airplane earbuds rolleyes.gif OK now I'm exaggerating a bit, 10 dollars earbuds also count, I guess LOL... also since you are more than knowledgeable and helpful, I'm assuming you don't mind me pming you for my future upgrade?
post #108 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post

I also wish headphones can be a little more affordable LOL...

 

Summit headphones are always going to be expensive. The manufacturers know there's a (small, but still profitable) market for a headphone that's a little bit better than the other good quality headphones out there but costs 2 or 3 times as much. high performance and high margins

 

But, for those still interested in the more midrange pricing, there's still good deals around for great headphones for decent prices.

 

My eyes have been opened by my recent purchase of the MrSpeakers Mad Dogs (modified T50RP headphones). Until now I didn't think it's be possible to get these great technicalities and relatively neutral (a bit warm) FR for less than 500 bucks, but it looks like it can be had for under 300. that's pretty great value.

post #109 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post


In the non-summit forum, my ranting against the whole "mid-fi" monicker has become infamous in a few threads :P  Calling HD650, K/Q70x, DT880/990, etc mid-fi is preposterous.   However my argument is slightly more in the middle than obobskivich's.  I can gladly exist that mid-fi does exist.  AD700 for example strikes me as a mid-fi headphone.  It's a $100 headphone that performs very well for it's price, is filled with detail, but not as much as some of the top tiers have.  But ultimately what I think REALLY separates low to mid to high, is how much it has to compromose from a theoretical "flawless" (i.e. sounds exactly like real life.)  The top tier cans in theory would represent as close as technology allows to "real life" sound reproduction.  Headphones that make a bit more compromise would fall into general hi-fi.   The ones that give up just a bit too much would be mid-fi, and the ones that don't in any way sound like real life would be "low-fi".   AD700 is a headphone that fits well with mid-fi to me because it's very good, with a surprising soundstage, lots of detail, but it sacrifices so much detail in the bass range to do so.  They made a compromise where they preserved detail but sacrificed frequency response to get it.  Others will sacrifice detail but retain FR and tonality.  Basically, to my eyes, mid-fi represents a range that tries hard to meet both hi-fi and price, and finds a middle ground where it's a good attempt with big compromises.

If technology moved along to a point where newer better performing headphones truly replaced the old models, I could see referring to the old flagships like HD650 and HD600 as "mid-fi".  Eventually that will happen.  Something that used to be really good but has been surpassed by time and tech.  But in the present time that does not fit.  The old models still fit the same price tier they always did, and the new "better" headphones fit price points 2, 3, 4x that price point.   That's exotic early adopting prototyping.  When they can sell HD800 for $500-$600, then we'll talk mid-fi for HD650.  Not a moment before.  The "better" headphones have not replaced or bumped out the old ones, they simply added a new layer at exhorbitant prices of something a little better. 

However, that's a distinction between hi-fi and so-called mid-fi.  SUMMIT-FI, by definition I think does have to pertain to bleeding edge somewhat.  Stuff that's either the latest in technology no matter the crazy "living prototype" pricing, stuff that may fail in the market horribly but is an interesting try, and stuff that's fairly rare, exotic, etc.   That's the one place I draw a distinction in my opinion from obobs.  I have no problem calling anything that's ever been hi-fi PERMANANTLY hi-fi.  It may be old hi-fi, it may be surpassed hi-fi, but it was still designed as a hi-fi piece, and thus it IS a hi-fi piece.  But I can also accept there to be hi-fi gear that's a cut above the rest too.  And summit by name implies it's the stuff that stands above the rest.  But that's just it.  Many people define "hi-fi" as being the handful of absolute best, flagships only, etc.  Which is really what summit is all about.  And if you follow the "it must be flagship to be hi-fi" logic to it's logical end, the HD700 is a brand new, shiny, $1000 mid-fi can, as is the LCD-2 biggrin.gif   

Also, I'm not sure HD650 in itself was ever considered summit.  Back when I got into HD650, the trio (701/650/880) was the pinnacle of hi-fi, and summit-fi was limited pretty much to the true exotics....orpheus, Stax, R10, etc.  But HD650 was visible in summit circles because people were building $10,000 signal chains of Mark Levinson, Ray Samuels, etc equipment.  So HD650 was a staple of the summit-fi amp and DAC owners, while from what I saw, HD650 itself was never actually summit-fi.   What's changed since then is that "Summit" has dropped down from the $3k-10k headphone arena down to the $1k-10k arena with the introduction of new models.  hi-fi has otherwise stayed pretty much identical to where it was 5 years ago, but with more people trying to convince everyone that only summit-fi is hi-fi and everything else is mid-fi. 

"Summit-fi" by implication implies that it's, by nature, extraordinarily into diminising returns beyond normal level gear.  Extreme prices for moderate performance bumps.  It's kind of a prototype showcase....summit-fi lets you try, today, for $1500 what everyone will buy tomorrow for $500 smily_headphones1.gif It's those old Disney "home of the future" prototypes that looked nothing like what a modern home actually looks like, but it was a valiant attempt!   But ALL of it, from summit-fi down through HD598, at least, is surely hi-fi. 

If you want to find the "cheapest" summit-fi headphone around, find the first headphone that you're paying for a whole lot more than you actually get, but you do actually get something over the vastly cheaper one, and you've found the beginning of summit-fi biggrin.gif   That may well be HE-500 simply because the HE-400 can get so close to it for so much less.  That's not overcharging though, that's because HE-400 now has automated assembly and HE-500 was from before the automated assembly went live so it clost a lot more to make. Next generation will probably see the prices shift again. If they were manufactured the same way, estimation is they'd be more like $100 different at most.





Props for great definitions of classification.
post #110 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by paradoxper View Post

IF the newer cans are indeed improved and better...why is it problematic?

LCD-3 best or most preferred headphone I've heard (including all orthos and stats) not worth the price though. That is just by my value system.

HD 650: Amazing headphone, cheaply priced. Not as good as Audeze or some Hifiman...how's this problematic?

I agree with the premise, but not the execution. In other words, how can you absolutely quantify or defend your examples in light of someone disagreeing with you? Does it become a true Scotsman? Or what?

And more to the point, IF they were improved, sure, but they aren't. They're grasping at straws for $50 million a pop to make them a few cents more accurate - BFD. Accurate reproduction through headphones has existed for over 20 years, but everything old has to be new again, and if there's a buck to made, someone will make it. Preferences aside, actual "improvement" and "biggering" stopped sometime in the 1970s.

And that isn't what I was calling problematic - the consumerist tendency is what I was calling problematic (in other words "everyone has to buy a new TV every 2 years to have a good TV" - well then why the hell are you buying the one this cycle if you know it's no good!)
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post


In the non-summit forum, my ranting against the whole "mid-fi" monicker has become infamous in a few threads :P  Calling HD650, K/Q70x, DT880/990, etc mid-fi is preposterous.   However my argument is slightly more in the middle than obobskivich's.  I can gladly exist that mid-fi does exist.  AD700 for example strikes me as a mid-fi headphone.  It's a $100 headphone that performs very well for it's price, is filled with detail, but not as much as some of the top tiers have.  But ultimately what I think REALLY separates low to mid to high, is how much it has to compromose from a theoretical "flawless" (i.e. sounds exactly like real life.)  The top tier cans in theory would represent as close as technology allows to "real life" sound reproduction.  Headphones that make a bit more compromise would fall into general hi-fi.   The ones that give up just a bit too much would be mid-fi, and the ones that don't in any way sound like real life would be "low-fi".   AD700 is a headphone that fits well with mid-fi to me because it's very good, with a surprising soundstage, lots of detail, but it sacrifices so much detail in the bass range to do so.  They made a compromise where they preserved detail but sacrificed frequency response to get it.  Others will sacrifice detail but retain FR and tonality.  Basically, to my eyes, mid-fi represents a range that tries hard to meet both hi-fi and price, and finds a middle ground where it's a good attempt with big compromises.

I'd agree with this. I think the AD700 is a good example. It gets you out of the "cheap seats" but it isn't "top of the line" - it shoots right down the middle. The problem (as I see it, and I don't think "problem" is a good word) is that there's been this recent trend (and not just in headphones) for people to "max out" on everything; I don't know, blame Burger King, but there certainly is a lack of respect for good enough being good enough.
Quote:
If technology moved along to a point where newer better performing headphones truly replaced the old models, I could see referring to the old flagships like HD650 and HD600 as "mid-fi".  Eventually that will happen.  Something that used to be really good but has been surpassed by time and tech.  But in the present time that does not fit.  The old models still fit the same price tier they always did, and the new "better" headphones fit price points 2, 3, 4x that price point.   That's exotic early adopting prototyping.  When they can sell HD800 for $500-$600, then we'll talk mid-fi for HD650.  Not a moment before.  The "better" headphones have not replaced or bumped out the old ones, they simply added a new layer at exhorbitant prices of something a little better. 

I don't see it happening. And I don't think the HD 800 for $500 example is valid either - when the HD 800 becomes a $20 commodity then we can talk. Point in case - have you ever heard a headphone from the 1960s or 1970s (that isn't an ESP or the DT48)? They sound like garbage and they're HEAVY - compared to something like the Koss R/80 (which are $35 on Amazon) you're talking night and day. You go from this congested, clustered, bass/treble-less presentation in a very heavy and dis-comfortable contraption to something you don't mind wearing that's full range. But if you step from the R/80 up to something like the GS-1000 or ESP/950 even, you don't see such a dramatic shift. Sure, they're better, but are they 28.5 times better? No. Advancements in audio reproduction (speakers and headphones) have been more or less stagnant for half a century, and some of the top end designs of the 1940s and 1950s are still very well regarded contemporaneously - with headphones there have been some materials science advancements that have made them more comfortable (e.g. Neo magnets and improvements in plastics) but beyond that, we haven't seen anything legitimately revolutionary in a long time.
Quote:
However, that's a distinction between hi-fi and so-called mid-fi.  SUMMIT-FI, by definition I think does have to pertain to bleeding edge somewhat.  Stuff that's either the latest in technology no matter the crazy "living prototype" pricing, stuff that may fail in the market horribly but is an interesting try, and stuff that's fairly rare, exotic, etc.   That's the one place I draw a distinction in my opinion from obobs.  I have no problem calling anything that's ever been hi-fi PERMANANTLY hi-fi.  It may be old hi-fi, it may be surpassed hi-fi, but it was still designed as a hi-fi piece, and thus it IS a hi-fi piece.  But I can also accept there to be hi-fi gear that's a cut above the rest too.  And summit by name implies it's the stuff that stands above the rest.  But that's just it.  Many people define "hi-fi" as being the handful of absolute best, flagships only, etc.  Which is really what summit is all about.  And if you follow the "it must be flagship to be hi-fi" logic to it's logical end, the HD700 is a brand new, shiny, $1000 mid-fi can, as is the LCD-2 biggrin.gif   

And where I'd say this falls apart is the same "cutting edge" thing - what can really purport to be truly new hat?
Quote:
Also, I'm not sure HD650 in itself was ever considered summit.  Back when I got into HD650, the trio (701/650/880) was the pinnacle of hi-fi, and summit-fi was limited pretty much to the true exotics....orpheus, Stax, R10, etc.  But HD650 was visible in summit circles because people were building $10,000 signal chains of Mark Levinson, Ray Samuels, etc equipment.  So HD650 was a staple of the summit-fi amp and DAC owners, while from what I saw, HD650 itself was never actually summit-fi.   What's changed since then is that "Summit" has dropped down from the $3k-10k headphone arena down to the $1k-10k arena with the introduction of new models.  hi-fi has otherwise stayed pretty much identical to where it was 5 years ago, but with more people trying to convince everyone that only summit-fi is hi-fi and everything else is mid-fi. 

The old summit board was more about exotic gear though, while I'm glad to see the "show us how much you spent" pissing contest threads gone, I think that same theme has permeated far deeper with the "T1 and HD800 are the best in the world, or LCD if you want bass" thought chain, that basically excludes anything that isn't one of those. It's very reductionist, and you see that kind of pyramid structure evolve out of unregulated/controlled consumerism. It's sort of text-book behavior.
Quote:
"Summit-fi" by implication implies that it's, by nature, extraordinarily into diminising returns beyond normal level gear.  Extreme prices for moderate performance bumps.  It's kind of a prototype showcase....summit-fi lets you try, today, for $1500 what everyone will buy tomorrow for $500 smily_headphones1.gif It's those old Disney "home of the future" prototypes that looked nothing like what a modern home actually looks like, but it was a valiant attempt!   But ALL of it, from summit-fi down through HD598, at least, is surely hi-fi. 

I don't think this should be the case though. Mostly because the products that exist in summit-fi never do trickle down in that manner, in other words, stats have been hovering right around a grand for 20 years, and rare woodie dynamics about the same. We've just added more kilobuck plastic to the table in the interim. It flows downward about as well as Reagonomics worked.
Quote:
If you want to find the "cheapest" summit-fi headphone around, find the first headphone that you're paying for a whole lot more than you actually get, but you do actually get something over the vastly cheaper one, and you've found the beginning of summit-fi biggrin.gif   That may well be HE-500 simply because the HE-400 can get so close to it for so much less.  That's not overcharging though, that's because HE-400 now has automated assembly and HE-500 was from before the automated assembly went live so it clost a lot more to make. Next generation will probably see the prices shift again. If they were manufactured the same way, estimation is they'd be more like $100 different at most.

Good point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post

Thanks for the info and I like how your opinion is straight forward and not exaggerated. I also don't think there's all that much day and night difference unless you are upgrading from those airplane earbuds rolleyes.gif OK now I'm exaggerating a bit, 10 dollars earbuds also count, I guess LOL... also since you are more than knowledgeable and helpful, I'm assuming you don't mind me pming you for my future upgrade?

When people say airplane earbuds, I think of those sound tube nightmares - apparently they've done away with those (can you tell how much I fly?) and replaced them with cheapo buds or on-ears (that are apparently suckier (what? it's a word.) than iBuds or similar). BLECH! ph34r.gif

To respond to both you and IEM:

I would look at mid-fi as something that gets you into good sound, that sounds "good" to the ear, and can give you that "wow" factor over the typical muddy/congested/craptastic stuff you get included as throw-aways. Hi-fi is where you start improving over that, and basically goes up to the ceiling of insanity, but after a point (and I would say that point is right around a grand) you stop paying for performance and start paying for aesthetics. Which is something we see in a lot of other consumer segments as well - like cars, cutlery, housing, etc - after a given break point all you're buying is looks, ergonomics, customer service, what have you, but you've hit the limit of performance (in other words, I can sell you a mattress for $200, or $20,000 - you can literally only sleep so hard though, or I can sell you booze for a few bucks a gallon or a few thousand an ounce, but you can only get so drunk)).

This doesn't mean aesthetics are bad, but it certainly deserves consideration wrt everything else. I mean, I could go buy some raw platinum, and have a buddy forge me a pair of ESP/950 frames out of pure platinum, and re-mount the drivers inside, and assuming it didn't short them out, I'd have probably a $35,000+ pair of headphones. And I could get some earpads made out of Emu or Alligator or some other endangered species and rack the price up, and so on. But what does it do for the sound? Or with closed headphones, I can take the plastic cups off of a T70 or the metal cups off of a T5p, and replace them with solid gold, or some near-extinct hardwood, and what does it do aside from jack the price? Of course these are extreme examples, but that's kind of the point. Just because the prices are going through the sky doesn't mean any real improvement is happening; there is stuff that's expensive just to be expensive.

A great example of this, and probably one of the only ones that was publicly shown (if only for a few days), is the Audio-Technica ATH-W1000X. Those list out at like $700-$800. And regularly cost like $500-$600 (so you've already pulled $200 or so of mark-up bloat off the top), but Electronics Expo had them for $375 about a year ago. And my guess is they probably were still making money, and only put it back to $500 something because AT had a fit. And then we can get into the discussion of how much "technologic advancement" does the W1000X represent over the W1000 or W10 or whatever...so it gets a new headband, different cups, etc. But does it magically measure a million times better? Or something like that? Not really. As they say in the Navy, SSDD. The point is, think about mark-up and all of that in terms of product placement - how much of the price exists just to have a high price to sell the product to your target audience? To take it even further - most "audiophile style" headphones generally are expensive and have a treble boost, but less expensive sets usually lack a treble boost. So what that tells me if I'm Acme Headphones, and I have two models that cost the same to produce and are fairly similar, we'll call them A and B, and A is a very bright headphone, and B is a very bassy headphone, I market A as an "audiophile style" headphone for roughly twice whatever B gets sold for, and they'll probably both sell fairly well. redface.gif

And PM away if you so desire.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LCfiner View Post

Summit headphones are always going to be expensive. The manufacturers know there's a (small, but still profitable) market for a headphone that's a little bit better than the other good quality headphones out there but costs 2 or 3 times as much. high performance and high margins

But, for those still interested in the more midrange pricing, there's still good deals around for great headphones for decent prices.

My eyes have been opened by my recent purchase of the MrSpeakers Mad Dogs (modified T50RP headphones). Until now I didn't think it's be possible to get these great technicalities and relatively neutral (a bit warm) FR for less than 500 bucks, but it looks like it can be had for under 300. that's pretty great value.

See, and I'm looking at it from the world-view of the HD 580 being $200 BNIB with a release price of $299, and saying "why the crap does anything but an ESP have a right to cost more than $500!?"
Edited by obobskivich - 8/14/12 at 10:44am
post #111 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by LCfiner View Post

Summit headphones are always going to be expensive. The manufacturers know there's a (small, but still profitable) market for a headphone that's a little bit better than the other good quality headphones out there but costs 2 or 3 times as much. high performance and high margins

But, for those still interested in the more midrange pricing, there's still good deals around for great headphones for decent prices.

My eyes have been opened by my recent purchase of the MrSpeakers Mad Dogs (modified T50RP headphones). Until now I didn't think it's be possible to get these great technicalities and relatively neutral (a bit warm) FR for less than 500 bucks, but it looks like it can be had for under 300. that's pretty great value.


Would you consider mad dog summit fi?
post #112 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


I agree with the premise, but not the execution. In other words, how can you absolutely quantify or defend your examples in light of someone disagreeing with you? Does it become a true Scotsman? Or what?
And more to the point, IF they were improved, sure, but they aren't. They're grasping at straws for $50 million a pop to make them a few cents more accurate - BFD. Accurate reproduction through headphones has existed for over 20 years, but everything old has to be new again, and if there's a buck to made, someone will make it. Preferences aside, actual "improvement" and "biggering" stopped sometime in the 1970s.
And that isn't what I was calling problematic - the consumerist tendency is what I was calling problematic (in other words "everyone has to buy a new TV every 2 years to have a good TV" - well then why the hell are you buying the one this cycle if you know it's no good!)
 

Nope, very good point. I think it's looking pretty irrelevant though, considering..."we'll" pay for it no matter where they set the price at.

 

I guess if every 2 years products were released with quantifiable differences you wouldn't have an issue with upgrading? 

post #113 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post


Would you consider mad dog summit fi?

 

No, because there are headphones that are better and/or more expensive than them.

 

I would place the MD at a similar level, or higher, as the HD600, HD650, D5000, RS1, LCD2, PS500. These are all really good. Th MD are better than some of those headphones at some things, worse at other things. But none of those headphones are "summit-fi".

 

summit-fi is all about creating something with as few compromises as absolutely possible regardless of price.

 

But your quote was about headphones in general being more affordable, so i thought I'd bring up the MD. :)  summit headphones will never be affordable.

post #114 of 178
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


ill - imho no headphone has a good reason to be 500g or larger),

 

IMO the >500g HE-6, so far is surprisingly comfortable, I don't feel the weight of them any more than I do on HE-400, and overall more comfortable due to better gimbal flexibility.  This surprised me greatly.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post

I think my definition of summit-fi is its one of the best there is, at least in its own class (class as in driver types... etc). And you wont be able to get too much higher performance than that, meaning even if you can upgrade, the difference is very little and at that point, preferences should matter more than actual upgrade in technicality. In this case k701, dt880, hd600/650, are they still in or are they out?

 

I think the "old trio" is still a hi-fi classic, but I don't think of them as "summit", and I still don't really believe they ever were "summit'.  Orpheus, Stax etc always outperformed them.  But they were wholly unobtainable to all but the uber-rich so they didn't factor in for most people.  Now there's this new "in between" group that it's cheaper than Stax, but more expensive than anything else, so it got lumped in with summit. I don't see the standard for hi-fi having been bumped up a peg so much as the standard for summit-fi slowly moving downward.  I don't think of HD800 as an "expensive HD650" so much as "a cheap Orpheus."  That's a stretch, but the idea holds.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


And that ideation will change - just as it did in the past. Something "new and improved" will come about, and those will no longer be special and fantastic, they'll be old hat, and passed over. Just like the HD 650 or ATH-W5000. It's a moving reference, and that's why it's problematic.
I'm not really trying to argue with any conception here - I think paradoxper is spot-on in terms of what "most people" would say if asked, and there's nothing at all wrong with that. It's just a very loosely defined construct that serves nothing but people staying on a continuous treadmill, chasing a carrot they can't ever reach, to get "the best sound" or whatever else as manufacturers oblige with stream after stream of new products. It's very consumeristic I guess you could say. And again, there is no value judgment attached here.

 

Very true.  I often point out that virtually EVERYTHING often discussed at Head-Fi is hi-fi.  It's a forum almost entirely about hi-fi.  Summit is just that, it's the split out of whatever the top performance currently is above the general norm of hi-fi enthusiasts.  And that will either always be a moving target, or will wholly stagnate.  I think we're close to full stagnation though unless prices start moving down or tech creep starts moving downward.  Though HE-400 indicates at least in one corner, that's starting to happen. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post




I'd agree with this. I think the AD700 is a good example. It gets you out of the "cheap seats" but it isn't "top of the line" - it shoots right down the middle. The problem (as I see it, and I don't think "problem" is a good word) is that there's been this recent trend (and not just in headphones) for people to "max out" on everything; I don't know, blame Burger King, but there certainly is a lack of respect for good enough being good enough.

 

On the contrary, I think consumerism is more about never maxing out.  People will by the best Walmart item around for $20 without looking to see that the REAL version of what they're buying costs $200 somewhere else.  So they'll run the treadmill of $20 cut-corners Walmart knock-ofs totally $1000 of purchases on the same item that never really served its purpose right to begin with rather than just spending the $200, buying it once, and never having to worry about it again :)

 

Headphones are a whole different animal, laregely because there's no such thing as maxing out.  Doing that would involve buying an R10....and then being told it's not good enough :) For me, personally, I prefer maxing out.  I maxed out (short of stax) with HD650 5-6 years ago.  It was a good purchase.  I love my HD650.  To the point of recently paying to fix them.  I doubt I'll ever get rid of them.  Now I bought my HE-6.  Today it's summit, tomorrow it won't be, but it will always be very good hi-fi.  And unless there's a massive breakthrough in tech that alters headphones forever, as long as they continue to work I doubt I'll be buying anything "better" for a good few decades.  Maybe better DAC or amp...because I didn't max out on that. But you get the idea.   Consumerism is mostly about not knowing what you actually want and what's really available.  The HD650 and HE-5 purchases are based on knowing what there is, knowing how the cycle works, and knowing what I desire, then spending the money on it.   Consumerism is just a rampant cycle of "the best" without even knowing what "the best" is.  and too many people at HF get sucked into it. How many people bought HD800 to get "the best" without an understanding of what Orpheus and Stax, and R10 etc is?

 

Quote:

I don't see it happening. And I don't think the HD 800 for $500 example is valid either - when the HD 800 becomes a $20 commodity then we can talk. Point in case - have you ever heard a headphone from the 1960s or 1970s (that isn't an ESP or the DT48)? They sound like garbage and they're HEAVY - compared to something like the Koss R/80 (which are $35 on Amazon) you're talking night and day. You go from this congested, clustered, bass/treble-less presentation in a very heavy and dis-comfortable contraption to something you don't mind wearing that's full range. But if you step from the R/80 up to something like the GS-1000 or ESP/950 even, you don't see such a dramatic shift. Sure, they're better, but are they 28.5 times better? No. Advancements in audio reproduction (speakers and headphones) have been more or less stagnant for half a century, and some of the top end designs of the 1940s and 1950s are still very well regarded contemporaneously - with headphones there have been some materials science advancements that have made them more comfortable (e.g. Neo magnets and improvements in plastics) but beyond that, we haven't seen anything legitimately revolutionary in a long time.
 
...
 
I don't think this should be the case though. Mostly because the products that exist in summit-fi never do trickle down in that manner, in other words, stats have been hovering right around a grand for 20 years, and rare woodie dynamics about the same. We've just added more kilobuck plastic to the table in the interim. It flows downward about as well as Reagonomics worked.

 

Oh, I do see it happening.  Not yet, but it certainly will.  HD800 at $500 is valid because 10 years ago HD650 at $500 was the benchmark of diminishing returns.  Focusing on a 10-year cycle is close enough.  They're milking it, and it's slow.  But there will be tech creep downward in the not so distant future I think.  The summit prototypes are paying off in a few areas.  Beyer's moving Tesla downstream finally.  HiFiMan has the HE-400, that takes a good chunk of HE-500 which took a good chunk of HE-6.  They made it much more efficient (electrically) and 1/3 the cost.  The tech of the prototypes certainly creeps down.  Sure HE-6 is still better than HE-400, but the point is the tech of the HE-6 and the benefits that tech brings are moving mainstream.  That's how it's supposed to work.  Senn may have fallen asleep but everyone else hasn't. 

 

And the existence of orthos....rehashed from the 80's which themselves were a pared down cheaper stat is an example of a very slow creep downward. We went from Stax to HE-400 along those tracks.

 

Nothing revolutionary though....just evolutionary.  I've said before, I think without new RECORDING technology, we're kind of at an roadblock for what a speaker can do.  I suspect someone will be enterprising enough to revolutionize recording and hi-fi with it at some point, but it's not on the horizon now.  The last major recording breakthrough was when Bing Crosby started multi-track recording.  And that was not a good revolution. rolleyes.gif

 

 

Obob: You realize that this showdown between the two biggest windbags of Head-Fi will become the stuff of legend, right?! We're going to overload Google! very_evil_smiley.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LCfiner View Post

 

No, because there are headphones that are better and/or more expensive than them.

 

I would place the MD at a similar level, or higher, as the HD600, HD650, D5000, RS1, LCD2, PS500. These are all really good. Th MD are better than some of those headphones at some things, worse at other things. But none of those headphones are "summit-fi".

 

summit-fi is all about creating something with as few compromises as absolutely possible regardless of price.

 

But your quote was about headphones in general being more affordable, so i thought I'd bring up the MD. :)  summit headphones will never be affordable.

 

Exactly.  I'm at odds with many folks over "mid-fi" monickers for some excellent hi-fi pieces like HD650.  (Uhm, LCD-2 at the same level as D5k?) but over the summit-fi monicker there can be little confusion I think.  It's the crazy expensive stuff for the people who don't mind paying for the crazy expensive stuff to get whatever prototype represents a new theory or material in practice, or an old theory or material applied in a new way.  I do concur that "summit" being out of rational affordability is kind of expected.  They're small batch things, often experiments.  The exotic and quasi-exotic stuff needs a name to keep it seperate from the things sane people would buy.  "summit" is the chosen name :)

 

Only when people then take the stuff sane people would buy and start calling it "I guess it's ok for a mid-fi route" because it's not crazy-priced summit prototypes that it gets dishonest. 

post #115 of 178
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

...

 

 

Returning the the amp/avr conversation yesterday, you have a good working knowledge of amps etc.  What's your thoughts on tone controls in general versus bypassing the tone controls with something such as "source direct" button in terms of general performance?  Paranoia tells me to keep the tone controls off.  But they are interesting to play with! 

 

I experimented with a Jesse Cook album and cranked the treble all the way up (or what I would call "I set it to full HD800 mode") and found it actually sounded good. In fact, having seen him live, amplified, twice, I can say that I'm pretty sure he runs his concerts "in full HD800 mode"  biggrin.gif ) When I set it back to normal it sounded amazingly veiled.  It isn't of course, but the brain perceives the drop in treble that way.   Also, setting bass and treble to max makes HE-6 a great low-volume-listening can! redface.gif

 

 

For everyone else that was following the thread, my HE-6 has arrived.  First impressions are in the HE-6 thread on the summit boards!

post #116 of 178

My thoughts on this, The key is finding that balance point between bang for buck, and save now pay later.  In other words, I want as much performance as I can get per dollar, while also spending extra dollars now if it will delay having to spend more money shortly after the purchase, and then also balancing against how often I will realistically be using it, whatever it is.  I took the plunge from astro a40's / etymotics hf5's to lcd-2's / lyr / bifrost combo, I was jumping around, looking at he-400's or pro 900's, all which would have had a compromise of some sort compared to the next tier up basically, where the compromises are less technical and more subjective (do you want bass & rolled of treble or sparkly treble and airy soundstage basically).   Even if it's only mild, it's one of those things that once I'd been exposed to, which would have happened at some point, I'd never be able to not 'notice' it again, and in future would have ended up selling my 'mid-range' gear and upgrading, and in the process spend more money than I had initially.  The etymotics hf-5 wasn't like a huge leap in clarity, but it was a huge jump in terms of presence, body, that sensation of actually being there rather than just hearing a nicely recorded & mastered record.  Are they 4 or 5 times better? No, but they are better, often quite notably, on some tracks I'd even say it's night and day, the music goes from sounding clear and analytical to vibrant and alive. I don't have a 'mid-priced'/'old top dog' headphone to compare though.

 

It applies to all hobbies almost the same way, for example with a computer, I can build a system that will give me 90% of the performance of the most expensive available for 2/5 of the price, sometimes less, depending on the scenarios I'm using it in.  Same with cars, $200,000 gets you a porsche, A million gets you a veyron, which is only a little faster to 60, but it makes all the difference if you're driving it.  While I'm not rich and loaded I'll juggle bang for buck with the best I can afford, I'll get the best headphones I can afford, and use an amp / dac that does the job, I might not be getting 100% out of the headphones, but getting 90% out of them for 1/8 the cost is the smarter move for me right now, otherwise I break the bank, then in another 5 years I have to upgrade again, or when the tech drops in price I can get today's top tier amp a few years down the road for much cheaper.  If summit-fi is spending the extra 20% to get that last bit of performance I won't be bothering because I have too many other things to spend my money on right now :P, but getting to that 80 - 90% is good enough for me, even if it means spending 10 - 20x the cost of consumer level tech, to me it's cheaper than constantly upgrading / selling / eating depreciation.  Headphone tech doesn't move as fast as my other hobby (computers), which is good, or else I'd need to start whoring myself out, But if I spend say 2k every 5 years...that's like $7 a week to get goosebumps when I listen to music, well worth it IMO.  

post #117 of 178

Hi All,

 

Just wanted to thank you all for the reqs.  I have ordered my HE-400.  I am planning to run them out of my fio E11 to start.  Will keep everyone posted on how that works out.

 

Sincerely,

Larry

post #118 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by paradoxper View Post

Nope, very good point. I think it's looking pretty irrelevant though, considering..."we'll" pay for it no matter where they set the price at.

I guess if every 2 years products were released with quantifiable differences you wouldn't have an issue with upgrading? 

Oh no, I'm a hypocrite - but I will say that most of the cans I've bought since ~2010 were released originally before 2000. But I would still buy something new if it's cool and neat, I just tell myself it's about as practical as collecting shoes or ties or what have you - I don't need it and it doesn't benefit me, I just really really want it. redface.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by LCfiner View Post

No, because there are headphones that are better and/or more expensive than them.

I would place the MD at a similar level, or higher, as the HD600, HD650, D5000, RS1, LCD2, PS500. These are all really good. Th MD are better than some of those headphones at some things, worse at other things. But none of those headphones are "summit-fi".

summit-fi is all about creating something with as few compromises as absolutely possible regardless of price.

But your quote was about headphones in general being more affordable, so i thought I'd bring up the MD. smily_headphones1.gif  summit headphones will never be affordable.

I would say the D5000, RS-1, and LCD-2 don't deserve to be in that inclusion, because they were all originally designed as a cost-no-object flagship for their respective companies. They've just been surpassed by more expensive models that offer slight differences (in the case of the Denon slight improvements).
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post

IMO the >500g HE-6, so far is surprisingly comfortable, I don't feel the weight of them any more than I do on HE-400, and overall more comfortable due to better gimbal flexibility.  This surprised me greatly.

See, and I've heard this before - I remember a discussion with Val (from V-MODA) about weight not being the sole factor to if a can feels "heavy" (and as a personal experience, the ESP/950 are about double the RS-1, and feel lighter on the head), but there was no consensus on how to figure out whether or not a given can will or won't feel heavy beyond avoiding the doorstop stuff.
Quote:
I think the "old trio" is still a hi-fi classic, but I don't think of them as "summit", and I still don't really believe they ever were "summit'.  Orpheus, Stax etc always outperformed them.  But they were wholly unobtainable to all but the uber-rich so they didn't factor in for most people.  Now there's this new "in between" group that it's cheaper than Stax, but more expensive than anything else, so it got lumped in with summit. I don't see the standard for hi-fi having been bumped up a peg so much as the standard for summit-fi slowly moving downward.  I don't think of HD800 as an "expensive HD650" so much as "a cheap Orpheus."  That's a stretch, but the idea holds.

Fair enough.
Quote:
Very true.  I often point out that virtually EVERYTHING often discussed at Head-Fi is hi-fi.  It's a forum almost entirely about hi-fi.  Summit is just that, it's the split out of whatever the top performance currently is above the general norm of hi-fi enthusiasts.  And that will either always be a moving target, or will wholly stagnate.  I think we're close to full stagnation though unless prices start moving down or tech creep starts moving downward.  Though HE-400 indicates at least in one corner, that's starting to happen. 

I'd agree.
Quote:
On the contrary, I think consumerism is more about never maxing out.  People will by the best Walmart item around for $20 without looking to see that the REAL version of what they're buying costs $200 somewhere else.  So they'll run the treadmill of $20 cut-corners Walmart knock-ofs totally $1000 of purchases on the same item that never really served its purpose right to begin with rather than just spending the $200, buying it once, and never having to worry about it again smily_headphones1.gif

I see this, but I also see people who want to do this (for what I reason I don't know) instead of just doing it right the first time (so to speak).
Quote:
Headphones are a whole different animal, laregely because there's no such thing as maxing out.  Doing that would involve buying an R10....and then being told it's not good enough smily_headphones1.gif For me, personally, I prefer maxing out.  I maxed out (short of stax) with HD650 5-6 years ago.  It was a good purchase.  I love my HD650.  To the point of recently paying to fix them.  I doubt I'll ever get rid of them.  Now I bought my HE-6.  Today it's summit, tomorrow it won't be, but it will always be very good hi-fi.  And unless there's a massive breakthrough in tech that alters headphones forever, as long as they continue to work I doubt I'll be buying anything "better" for a good few decades.  Maybe better DAC or amp...because I didn't max out on that. But you get the idea.   Consumerism is mostly about not knowing what you actually want and what's really available.  The HD650 and HE-5 purchases are based on knowing what there is, knowing how the cycle works, and knowing what I desire, then spending the money on it.   Consumerism is just a rampant cycle of "the best" without even knowing what "the best" is.  and too many people at HF get sucked into it. How many people bought HD800 to get "the best" without an understanding of what Orpheus and Stax, and R10 etc is?

Hah!
Quote:
Oh, I do see it happening.  Not yet, but it certainly will.  HD800 at $500 is valid because 10 years ago HD650 at $500 was the benchmark of diminishing returns.  Focusing on a 10-year cycle is close enough.  They're milking it, and it's slow.  But there will be tech creep downward in the not so distant future I think.  The summit prototypes are paying off in a few areas.  Beyer's moving Tesla downstream finally.  HiFiMan has the HE-400, that takes a good chunk of HE-500 which took a good chunk of HE-6.  They made it much more efficient (electrically) and 1/3 the cost.  The tech of the prototypes certainly creeps down.  Sure HE-6 is still better than HE-400, but the point is the tech of the HE-6 and the benefits that tech brings are moving mainstream.  That's how it's supposed to work.  Senn may have fallen asleep but everyone else hasn't. 

Okay, so then what about the HD 580 being essentially the same headphone, from 1992, and the ESP/950 being from 1990-1991, and the STAX SR-Lambdas dating back into the 1980s, or the R10 being from the 1980s, or the HP1000, etc?
Quote:
And the existence of orthos....rehashed from the 80's which themselves were a pared down cheaper stat is an example of a very slow creep downward. We went from Stax to HE-400 along those tracks.

Planars != stats. Different design tech. You might be thinking of electrets (which haven't come back, would be neat if they did).
Quote:
Nothing revolutionary though....just evolutionary.  I've said before, I think without new RECORDING technology, we're kind of at an roadblock for what a speaker can do.  I suspect someone will be enterprising enough to revolutionize recording and hi-fi with it at some point, but it's not on the horizon now.  The last major recording breakthrough was when Bing Crosby started multi-track recording.  And that was not a good revolution. rolleyes.gif

I think the "next step" is DSP based, at least in most people's eyes - things like DeQX, Trinnov, Audyssey, etc. But that's slow going to headphones.
Quote:
Obob: You realize that this showdown between the two biggest windbags of Head-Fi will become the stuff of legend, right?! We're going to overload Google! very_evil_smiley.gif

Two enter. One leaves. cool.gif
Quote:
Exactly.  I'm at odds with many folks over "mid-fi" monickers for some excellent hi-fi pieces like HD650.  (Uhm, LCD-2 at the same level as D5k?) but over the summit-fi monicker there can be little confusion I think.  It's the crazy expensive stuff for the people who don't mind paying for the crazy expensive stuff to get whatever prototype represents a new theory or material in practice, or an old theory or material applied in a new way.  I do concur that "summit" being out of rational affordability is kind of expected.  They're small batch things, often experiments.  The exotic and quasi-exotic stuff needs a name to keep it seperate from the things sane people would buy.  "summit" is the chosen name smily_headphones1.gif

I'm fine with that - I view "hi-fi" as the "old school trio" and thereabouts (there's modern stuff that could be jumped in there too), and anything above that is just an exotic - like cars. A Ford Mustang or a Dodge Challenger is a fast car, but it's not an exotic car, a Ferrari is. But both of them are fast enough to get your licence taken away.
Quote:
Only when people then take the stuff sane people would buy and start calling it "I guess it's ok for a mid-fi route" because it's not crazy-priced summit prototypes that it gets dishonest. 

Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post


Returning the the amp/avr conversation yesterday, you have a good working knowledge of amps etc.  What's your thoughts on tone controls in general versus bypassing the tone controls with something such as "source direct" button in terms of general performance?  Paranoia tells me to keep the tone controls off.  But they are interesting to play with! 

Really depends on how the tone controls are implemented by the device. With older analog components (I have an old stereo receiver with a "Pure Direct" switch for example), I would agree with using the P-D mode (and it audibly drops background noise so on, and the manufacturer has specs to back it up, and so on), but with modern digital front-ends you can pretty much go buck wild with EQ, tone controls, etc because it's all applied by DSP and done extremely accurately (versus some 5% resistors or whatever that are trying to center on 100hz and may or may not pull that off and so on - it's like the difference between a butter knife and a chef's knife). With digital front ends, the only advantage to "source direct" and similar is if you want to nerf bass management or room EQ on-demand, and there are scenarios where I can see this as worthwile.
Quote:
I experimented with a Jesse Cook album and cranked the treble all the way up (or what I would call "I set it to full HD800 mode") and found it actually sounded good. In fact, having seen him live, amplified, twice, I can say that I'm pretty sure he runs his concerts "in full HD800 mode"  biggrin.gif ) When I set it back to normal it sounded amazingly veiled.  It isn't of course, but the brain perceives the drop in treble that way.   Also, setting bass and treble to max makes HE-6 a great low-volume-listening can! redface.gif

Yeah, that's about what I'd expect. But if you had done this with an EQ you could get closer to the desired goal - it's a matter of precision. This isn't to say that tone controls are always bad, it really just depends on the device in question. Variable loudness is a similar thing - it can be great, or it can be a pain.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rasatouche View Post

My thoughts on this, The key is finding that balance point between bang for buck, and save now pay later.  In other words, I want as much performance as I can get per dollar, while also spending extra dollars now if it will delay having to spend more money shortly after the purchase, and then also balancing against how often I will realistically be using it, whatever it is.  I took the plunge from astro a40's / etymotics hf5's to lcd-2's / lyr / bifrost combo, I was jumping around, looking at he-400's or pro 900's, all which would have had a compromise of some sort compared to the next tier up basically, where the compromises are less technical and more subjective (do you want bass & rolled of treble or sparkly treble and airy soundstage basically).   Even if it's only mild, it's one of those things that once I'd been exposed to, which would have happened at some point, I'd never be able to not 'notice' it again, and in future would have ended up selling my 'mid-range' gear and upgrading, and in the process spend more money than I had initially.  The etymotics hf-5 wasn't like a huge leap in clarity, but it was a huge jump in terms of presence, body, that sensation of actually being there rather than just hearing a nicely recorded & mastered record.  Are they 4 or 5 times better? No, but they are better, often quite notably, on some tracks I'd even say it's night and day, the music goes from sounding clear and analytical to vibrant and alive. I don't have a 'mid-priced'/'old top dog' headphone to compare though.

This is where I'm saying the "treadmill effect" does people a disservice. And imho the general quality of modern non-exotic headphones (and cars, and food, and so on) has drifted down as costs have risen, so it makes the exotics more appealing. I remember a thread talking about this a while ago and someone (I think Asr, but don't quote me on that) made a comment that modern exotics are better for buyers than old exotics, because stuff like the SR-507, HE-500/HE-6, ESP/950, RS-1/GS-1000/PS-1000, LCD-2/3, etc are all right around a grand, and are all top-notch, while older exotics like the R10, Ed7/9, L3000, W2002, K1000, etc could run up to $5-$7k for a similar top-shelf experience. So I think the cost-no-object class is still doing what it does best, and popularity has brought the cost of exotics down, but it's the tier under that that truly suffers. We've gone from the HD 580 and K701 to the Beats Pro and so on, and it just inflates the quality of the more expensive stuff by contrast, and makes the "mid-range" look unappealing as a whole ("if this $400 headphone sucked, what says all $400 headphones don't suck and aren't a lot of compromises and crap?").
Quote:
It applies to all hobbies almost the same way, for example with a computer, I can build a system that will give me 90% of the performance of the most expensive available for 2/5 of the price, sometimes less, depending on the scenarios I'm using it in.  Same with cars, $200,000 gets you a porsche, A million gets you a veyron, which is only a little faster to 60, but it makes all the difference if you're driving it.  While I'm not rich and loaded I'll juggle bang for buck with the best I can afford, I'll get the best headphones I can afford, and use an amp / dac that does the job, I might not be getting 100% out of the headphones, but getting 90% out of them for 1/8 the cost is the smarter move for me right now, otherwise I break the bank, then in another 5 years I have to upgrade again, or when the tech drops in price I can get today's top tier amp a few years down the road for much cheaper.  If summit-fi is spending the extra 20% to get that last bit of performance I won't be bothering because I have too many other things to spend my money on right now :P, but getting to that 80 - 90% is good enough for me, even if it means spending 10 - 20x the cost of consumer level tech, to me it's cheaper than constantly upgrading / selling / eating depreciation.  Headphone tech doesn't move as fast as my other hobby (computers), which is good, or else I'd need to start whoring myself out, But if I spend say 2k every 5 years...that's like $7 a week to get goosebumps when I listen to music, well worth it IMO.  

I get this, but where I'm having an issue is the assumption that technology somehow moves along that fast (the same claims are made about computers and performance, and it's generally untrue there too - same with AVRs, and cars, and so on; technology CREEPS along - the engine, comfort, features, etc in my 1987 are almost identical to what you could buy in a 2007, and my 2008 computer is still top-tier; I have amps from the 1970s that are still top-shelf performers too, so buying it once and doing it right certainly has some merit). Sure, something like the HD 800 does represent an R&D investment but it's a bucket of cash for minor improvements that may or may not be subjectively better for a given listener over whatever they had previously - that's basically all I'm saying.
post #119 of 178
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Okay, so then what about the HD 580 being essentially the same headphone, from 1992, and the ESP/950 being from 1990-1991, and the STAX SR-Lambdas dating back into the 1980s, or the R10 being from the 1980s, or the HP1000, etc?
Planars != stats. Different design tech. You might be thinking of electrets (which haven't come back, would be neat if they did)

 

Planars != stats, but the Planar technology was, if I recall, stat-inspired.  Meaning the original 80's orthos were the product of someone getting the idea to merge some attributes of electrostats (speakers presumably) and dynamic drivers for a "cheaper best of both worlds" situation.  So IMO, the original 80's stats were an example of stat tech moving downstream.   Then they vanished (almost, the closed Fostex cans excluded.) But with Audeze and HFM picking it up, especially HFM, we see that tech creeping down in price to where HE-400 is cheaper than HD650 and par with Beats Studio.  It took 25 years, but that was stat tech creeping, indirectly, toward mainstream.

 

HD580...that's just Sennheiser refusing to budge their product line biggrin.gif  I think they're terrified of breaking the golden geese. As they should be.  Those geese are pretty golden!

 

 

 

Quote:
I think the "next step" is DSP based, at least in most people's eyes - things like DeQX, Trinnov, Audyssey, etc. But that's slow going to headphones.
Two enter. One leaves. cool.gif

 

That's not the "next step".  Sure there's some success with DSP solutions, and I have to say my experience with Audyssey is excellent.  However I think that's more about compensating for room treatments than anything else, and that is a huge step for speakers where room treatment has always been an issue in need of solution.  It's a fantastic feature for speakers.  But I don't think it changes the general fidelty equation at all.  There are still spatialization issues to compensate.  Maybe DSP can do it, maybe it can't.  But even if it can, we still don't have the right tech for it yet.  And it will still need to be in conjunction with new recording methods.

 

On the other hand I'm just not holding my breath for DSP to change the shape of audio. We've been told since the early 90's that Dolby Pro Logic was going to revolutionize audio.  Before that it was Quadraphonic.  And here  we still are.  With MP3s taking over from the 8-track :P  No, there will have to be something else, or a revolutionary DSP that does something other than "concert hall" effect.  Nobody even uses those anymore, not even for a toy.

 

 

Quote:
Really depends on how the tone controls are implemented by the device. With older analog components (I have an old stereo receiver with a "Pure Direct" switch for example), I would agree with using the P-D mode (and it audibly drops background noise so on, and the manufacturer has specs to back it up, and so on), but with modern digital front-ends you can pretty much go buck wild with EQ, tone controls, etc because it's all applied by DSP and done extremely accurately (versus some 5% resistors or whatever that are trying to center on 100hz and may or may not pull that off and so on - it's like the difference between a butter knife and a chef's knife). With digital front ends, the only advantage to "source direct" and similar is if you want to nerf bass management or room EQ on-demand, and there are scenarios where I can see this as worthwile.

Yeah, that's about what I'd expect. But if you had done this with an EQ you could get closer to the desired goal - it's a matter of precision. This isn't to say that tone controls are always bad, it really just depends on the device in question. Variable loudness is a similar thing - it can be great, or it can be a pain.

 

Well the Marantz is certainly analog.  They advertise "no ICs" and they mean it :) You can peer in and watch where the POTs connect to the board.

 

With digital front ends on AVRs I think the big advantage is shutting down the heat spewing interference generating video processors, switches, and the front VFD display panels. Obviously separates are different. 

 

Yeah, I haven't ruled out genuine EQ setups especially for HE-6 which seems to take EQ VERY well.  The catch is without using a software front-end I'd be down to looking at real console GEQ/PEQ/DSP units biggrin.gif

 

Quote:



still doing what it does best, and popularity has brought the cost of exotics down, but it's the tier under that that truly suffers. We've gone from the HD 580 and K701 to the Beats Pro and so on, and it just inflates the quality of the more expensive stuff by contrast, and makes the "mid-range" look unappealing as a whole ("if this $400 headphone sucked, what says all $400 headphones don't suck and aren't a lot of compromises and crap?").

 

 

I wouldn't look to blame the existence of HD800 and LCD-3 at $1k+ for the image damage of the $400 price point headphones.  I'd look to Beats charging $400 for a $70 headphone tor the image damage of the $400 price point headphones biggrin.gif    People used to complain that $500 was too much for a headphone.   Now people complain that $500 isn't enough for a headphone.  $5000 headphones existed back when $500 was too much.   I don't think the existence of summit is what tarnished normal hi-fi, nobody steps into audio in any area with zero awareness of summit.  It's the back listening room with Rotel & Levinson in every Hi-Fi store that encourages you to walk out with your Denon & Pioneer :P  HD800 exists, therefore you buy HD650 because It's only one notch (now two) below!

 

It's Beats that encourage the thinking that $400 Beats are garbage so you have to move up to the next tier at $1k to get something good.  Not the $1k headphones that encourage it.  You've got it backward wink.gif

 

 

Quote:


I get this, but where I'm having an issue is the assumption that technology somehow moves along that fast (the same claims are made about computers and performance, and it's generally untrue there too - same with AVRs, and cars, and so on; technology CREEPS along - the engine, comfort, features, etc in my 1987 are almost identical to what you could buy in a 2007, and my 2008 computer is still top-tier; I have amps from the 1970s that are still top-shelf performers too, so buying it once and doing it right certainly has some merit). Sure, something like the HD 800 does represent an R&D investment but it's a bucket of cash for minor improvements that may or may not be subjectively better for a given listener over whatever they had previously - that's basically all I'm saying.

 

 

Well, the treadmill mentality was created in the 90's (and lesser the 80's) with tech when tech really was moving along briskly.  But that was mostly all tapped out a decade ago. But everyone was idoctrinated into the fast moving tech and internet "it's version 3.4 this week!' mentality. But the mentality still lingers.  Audio has ALWAYS moved in decade-long cycles.  But now that it's "tied to computers" especially with headphones, "it should get better every year!" is the pervailing mentality, especially for the up-comers coming from a younger age group that grew up with the tech boom and he yearly cycles, and expects their "new" hobby to move in the same pattern without realizing the 50 year history of an already established industry. 

 

I've found the summit-fi boards tend to actually have LESS of the "mine's bigger than yours" kind of posts.  Because the people dumping cash into summit stuff tend to be people who have been around audio for a while and tend to and understand the cycles and palcements and tradeoffs between gera more.  Yeah, summit folks are spending more, but they also know what they're spending more on, tend to have other gear to compare it against, and know where the piece places in the grand history of audio.  The summit crowd seems far more likely to take HD800, HE-6, whatever and fairly compare it to HD650, K702, etc.  The summit crowd seems more likely to also buy more obscure pieces that aren't mentioned all the time.  ESP950, vintage orthos and stats & Stax, various strange Fostex, etc.  They discuss them in the summit niche and it kind of stays there.  The non-summit crowd seems to be the side more likely to buy the LCD-2, LCD-3, HD800, T1 and boast in every single bloody thread on the forum how "mid-fi" can be really good, but you should "really just go to the top"! :)  Not that those aren't all valid, excellent cans....it's just that you can always tell the more popularly named ones are the ones that everyone's boasting about.  When was the last time you saw someone posting in every single thread "dood just get some Stax 507's, a GES, and plug it into your AVR?" :)  All tolled it would be CHEAPER than the LCD-3.  But every thread has at least one person ranting about LCD-3 biggrin.gif

post #120 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post

Planars != stats, but the Planar technology was, if I recall, stat-inspired.  Meaning the original 80's orthos were the product of someone getting the idea to merge some attributes of electrostats (speakers presumably) and dynamic drivers for a "cheaper best of both worlds" situation.  So IMO, the original 80's stats were an example of stat tech moving downstream.   Then they vanished (almost, the closed Fostex cans excluded.) But with Audeze and HFM picking it up, especially HFM, we see that tech creeping down in price to where HE-400 is cheaper than HD650 and par with Beats Studio.  It took 25 years, but that was stat tech creeping, indirectly, toward mainstream.

No, planars are the same as ribbon speakers. Electrets are what you're thinking of.

Quote:
That's not the "next step".  Sure there's some success with DSP solutions, and I have to say my experience with Audyssey is excellent.  However I think that's more about compensating for room treatments than anything else, and that is a huge step for speakers where room treatment has always been an issue in need of solution.  It's a fantastic feature for speakers.  But I don't think it changes the general fidelty equation at all.  There are still spatialization issues to compensate.  Maybe DSP can do it, maybe it can't.  But even if it can, we still don't have the right tech for it yet.  And it will still need to be in conjunction with new recording methods.

On the other hand I'm just not holding my breath for DSP to change the shape of audio. We've been told since the early 90's that Dolby Pro Logic was going to revolutionize audio.  Before that it was Quadraphonic.  And here  we still are.  With MP3s taking over from the 8-track :P  No, there will have to be something else, or a revolutionary DSP that does something other than "concert hall" effect.  Nobody even uses those anymore, not even for a toy.

My point wasn't that it was a GOOD step, but it's where things are moving.

Also, I use my older processor's "Concert Hall" effects from time to time, and quite enjoy them - it uses additional speakers to pull it off though, and doesn't sound as canned as a lot of modern cheapie implementations. It's also based on real acoustic models and all that. redface.gif

Quote:
Well the Marantz is certainly analog.  They advertise "no ICs" and they mean it smily_headphones1.gif You can peer in and watch where the POTs connect to the board.

And I don't get why no ICs is such a big deal. Digital has advantages.
Quote:
With digital front ends on AVRs I think the big advantage is shutting down the heat spewing interference generating video processors, switches, and the front VFD display panels. Obviously separates are different. 

Meh, the VFD does nothing for fidelity (I've had components since the 90's with this feature - not a one of them sounds different and I'm annoyed by losing the OSD every time, the only exception is a DVD player that will turn off its display while the movie is running (which is good, because its display BE BRIGHT LIKE THE SUN!)). The big issue is pulling extra chains out of the signal - your tone shapers, exciters, loudness controls, etc, and dropping other components like VPs as you mentioned.
Quote:
Yeah, I haven't ruled out genuine EQ setups especially for HE-6 which seems to take EQ VERY well.  The catch is without using a software front-end I'd be down to looking at real console GEQ/PEQ/DSP units biggrin.gif

Nothing wrong with a nice outboard EQ.
Quote:
I wouldn't look to blame the existence of HD800 and LCD-3 at $1k+ for the image damage of the $400 price point headphones.  I'd look to Beats charging $400 for a $70 headphone tor the image damage of the $400 price point headphones biggrin.gif     People used to complain that $500 was too much for a headphone.   Now people complain that $500 isn't enough for a headphone.  $5000 headphones existed back when $500 was too much.   I don't think the existence of summit is what tarnished normal hi-fi, nobody steps into audio in any area with zero awareness of summit.  It's the back listening room with Rotel & Levinson in every Hi-Fi store that encourages you to walk out with your Denon & Pioneer :P  HD800 exists, therefore you buy HD650 because It's only one notch (now two) below!

Yeah, my point was that in creating an arena wherein $400 is "China boilers" (I believe that's the right Dutch phrase), you create an arena where $1k can seem reasonable by contrast. It just inflates the image.
Quote:
It's Beats that encourage the thinking that $400 Beats are garbage so you have to move up to the next tier at $1k to get something good.  Not the $1k headphones that encourage it.  You've got it backward wink.gif

Yeah, that's what I meant.

Quote:
Well, the treadmill mentality was created in the 90's (and lesser the 80's) with tech when tech really was moving along briskly.  But that was mostly all tapped out a decade ago. But everyone was idoctrinated into the fast moving tech and internet "it's version 3.4 this week!' mentality. But the mentality still lingers.  Audio has ALWAYS moved in decade-long cycles.  But now that it's "tied to computers" especially with headphones, "it should get better every year!" is the pervailing mentality, especially for the up-comers coming from a younger age group that grew up with the tech boom and he yearly cycles, and expects their "new" hobby to move in the same pattern without realizing the 50 year history of an already established industry. 

I'd say it goes back further than that - we could blame Detroit and their incessant "new models" if we wanted. And yeah, the younger people are the ones that feed it. They feed it with computers and the like as well - and even that's all fallacious (even in the 90s I'd argue that it was pretty much marketing run amuck). In other words, someone got into schools in the early 1990s (and I'd probably better not say who!) and handed out a lot of free or nearly free equipment and (heavily biased) training to teachers who meant well, and kids were trained well in the ways of subscribing to marketing. And guess what, that someone's market share has gone through the sky in the last few years and their products are sold more or less along the lines of cars "the 2007 model" "the 2008 model" etc - despite no real changes taking place, and in general new features being a SLOW, years delayed, reality. And that spills into everything else. I've seen many a kiddo make a statement like "Grados suck - they haven't revised their design in years, they're outdated, XYZ new product has to be better, it's newer!" - WHAT?!


Quote:
I've found the summit-fi boards tend to actually have LESS of the "mine's bigger than yours" kind of posts.  Because the people dumping cash into summit stuff tend to be people who have been around audio for a while and tend to and understand the cycles and palcements and tradeoffs between gera more.  Yeah, summit folks are spending more, but they also know what they're spending more on, tend to have other gear to compare it against, and know where the piece places in the grand history of audio.  The summit crowd seems far more likely to take HD800, HE-6, whatever and fairly compare it to HD650, K702, etc.  The summit crowd seems more likely to also buy more obscure pieces that aren't mentioned all the time.  ESP950, vintage orthos and stats & Stax, various strange Fostex, etc.  They discuss them in the summit niche and it kind of stays there.  The non-summit crowd seems to be the side more likely to buy the LCD-2, LCD-3, HD800, T1 and boast in every single bloody thread on the forum how "mid-fi" can be really good, but you should "really just go to the top"! smily_headphones1.gif  Not that those aren't all valid, excellent cans....it's just that you can always tell the more popularly named ones are the ones that everyone's boasting about.  When was the last time you saw someone posting in every single thread "dood just get some Stax 507's, a GES, and plug it into your AVR?" smily_headphones1.gif  All tolled it would be CHEAPER than the LCD-3.  But every thread has at least one person ranting about LCD-3 biggrin.gif

Yeah. That. But there's also the side of summit-fi where people talk about $25,000 speakers as "mid-range" and all that. eek.gif I think the fair statement is that insanity is relatively rare in GP, but it exists in about equal proportion throughout.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: High-end Audio Forum
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › Which Summit-Fi Headphone For Me?