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Which Summit-Fi Headphone For Me? - Page 7

post #91 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post

4000?  From what I've seen the "CI" models of AVRs (23xx, 33xx at least) are still made in Japan.  Granted those are the high end of their non-esoteric stuff, but still, those modes are still Japan as of last year I believe and they feel every bit of it.   There's a lot of noise out there disliking those units and the RMA process, but most of the issues seem to be with people trying to flash the firmware over the network feature.  The more "network" support these AVRs get the worse they behave.   A few years ago common wisdom was HK & Marantz sounded good but would fail fast, Onkyo, Denon, Yamaha didn't sound as good but lasted longer.  HK &Onkyo ran hot, the others did not.  I think it rotates.

I've always viewed Onkyo as one of the solid, reliable ones.  Never had an Onkyo truly fail.  One did, sometimes it wouldn't turn on, but it was their bottom of the barrel unit and saw a *LOT* of use at the time....it was a fair lifespan for it and technically it still works.  I do have a Denon sitting around for when my other Onkyo dies, but it's given no indication of death other than a sometimes buggy HDMI switch that was always buggy.  HDCP related abnomralities but it was the first generation of HDMI on Onkyo AVRs, so it's good considering.  That after a tempered glass TV stand shattered onto it, scraping some paint off the chassis.  I still find kibbles of glass every time I move it around.  I have no complaints about onkyo durability, the only shortcoming is they burn hotter than a binary pulsar embedded in a supergiant.

I can't speak for their equipment in the last 4 years though which seem to be newer designs and cram a lot more toys into them at ever lower pricepoints, so maybe it's not the same Onkyo that was a few years ago.  I could never get into Yamaha for some reason.  I liked their SACD players, but I had one that after 1.5 years stopped reading discs a few months ago. I don't trust their reliability much better anymore.

So now I'm on Denon.  When they let me down I guess I'll have to get into Rotel :P

So far they seem solid though.  Pricy, but maybe that's the price of getting 95% of the features working 75% of the time versus the others :P

Not sure who's replacing those big three these days.  Pioneer's out, Yamaha...can't even figure out what they're doing.  Sony hasn't produced something real in the audio world in years.  D&M is ok but the consolidation is scary.  Onkyo...they're holding stable but have rarely been TRULY high end.  I've heard NAD is these days one of the least reliable things around.  Short of Ray Samuels what else is there? :P

See, from years of experience, Onkyos are just timebombs. There's a reason you don't see vintage Onkyo gear, and all that. tongue.gif

Denon, Yamaha, Sony (especially ES and older stuff), etc will all last, but there's varying degrees of quality. Pioneer IME is all over the place - some of them are road warriors, others are trash. Never honestly heard of Marantz being unreliable - never even seen one die. Then again, as you said, the more DSP crap you stack up, and the hotter you run, the worse you are (there's a metric in IT that you can roughly halve usage life with every 10*C you gain in operating temperatures over ambient - and some of the newer Pioneer and Onkyo units I've seen run hot enough to fry meat on the faceplate).
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I think J-Lo is a great example for some of that mass market hi-fi gear.  It distorts in the upper registers just as badly as she does and is nearly as shrill! tongue.gif

Seriously though, Yeah JBL pushes out GARBAGE in waves. But they also push out the good stuff.  I don't mean Synthesis, but the Studio series, and even the ES series.  It's not hi-fi, it's more mid-fi (real mid-fi) than anything but for the price point it does a good job at what it should be expected to do.  I have the old Stadium series which has been replaced by ES and two ES rears on the big HT.  For "big theater sound" it's a great bargain.  It's not a music system by any stretch, but for an HT setup it's good value.  The Studio series is more into the hi-fi realm and priced reasonably.  There's a lot worse value out there, and not a whole lot better value, IMO.  Better gear...but for a lot more money.  The price points Q70x is running is just silly cheap.  I'm still not seeing the complaint.  They sell waves of garbage to the masses and still seem to provide good value to those in the know.  Yeah the really high-end stuff is a rip-off, but is there an example where it isn't? (HD700 anyone?)   I think anyone writing off Harman as a whole isn't looking at the whole product catalog, just the most visible stuff.  It's a "v shaped product catalog" :P HK receivers on the other hand I wouldn't touch if I had to build a receiver myself otherwise.  I know they sound fantastic, but they might as well be paper transistors in a dunk tank.  You get an hour out of them before they fall apart very_evil_smiley.gif

+1 on this. I agree especially on the 701 point - they really outshine a lot of competitors when you consider the $200-$300 pricetag (or even $400 retail), and that they're celebrifones, and all that jazz. Of course since the Germans started playing Price It Right, they're no longer "high end," but c'est la vie. Was there an original thesis to this thread, because I feel like we've diverged? tongue.gif
post #92 of 178
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


See, from years of experience, Onkyos are just timebombs. There's a reason you don't see vintage Onkyo gear, and all that. tongue.gif
Denon, Yamaha, Sony (especially ES and older stuff), etc will all last, but there's varying degrees of quality. Pioneer IME is all over the place - some of them are road warriors, others are trash. Never honestly heard of Marantz being unreliable - never even seen one die. Then again, as you said, the more DSP crap you stack up, and the hotter you run, the worse you are (there's a metric in IT that you can roughly halve usage life with every 10*C you gain in operating temperatures over ambient - and some of the newer Pioneer and Onkyo units I've seen run hot enough to fry meat on the faceplate).
+1 on this. I agree especially on the 701 point - they really outshine a lot of competitors when you consider the $200-$300 pricetag (or even $400 retail), and that they're celebrifones, and all that jazz. Of course since the Germans started playing Price It Right, they're no longer "high end," but c'est la vie. Was there an original thesis to this thread, because I feel like we've diverged? tongue.gif

 

Pioneer used to have some nice stuff, I remember the old fan-cooled seperates stacks.  I don't know what happened to them but I can't take Pioneer seriously at anything anymore.  I'm convinced they have no clue who their customers are anymore. 

 

Marantz seperates I've never seen one fail.  The AVRs are another matter.  But I think that's the universal bane of AVRs.  They're good quality in a relatively cheap box that nearly anyone can afford one of one class or another.  But they've taken them to far into the consumer electronics realm and away from the audio realm.  They sell them like TV's now.  This year's model has even moar three dees!  It's a joke of cramming features and case badges on it with ever diminishing purpose to doing so or proper functionality in doing so.  For the price of one seperates component you get the whole rack, but when it burns out you throw out the whole rack.  But now that the HDMI race is afoot, it's still worthwhile since they change the standard on you every few years. 

 

In fairness to Onkyo one of their biggest heat problems a few years back was the Anchor Bay video processor which was a win/loose.  On one hand it really WAS the best, most versitile video processor around.  On the other hand, the cost was insane heat that really should have had fan cooling.  Onkyo always ran hot but for some of them they ran hotter than normal due to that thing.  But it's hard to call it a failure since it was indeed a desired feature for many.

 

But it's gone too far into "lowest price point possible, more features than can be imagined" and what must give? Performance or dependability.  Or both.

 

Yeah I remember when K701 came out and the big DT880/HD650/K701 3-way summit-fi battle of the $500 titans began in earnest.  To see one of the trio in its newest form selling for $250 some places is amazing.  That Harman is the one making it happen is more amazing. Those trio were the summit-fi forum back then.  Now it's lime green, says Harman, and sells for less than an iPod.

 

And you're right about the Germans pricing.  I really don't know how they managed it.  I can see Audeze prices being crazy, it's basically handmade in the US.  I can see HiFiMan's prices all over the board...also nice products largely made in small batches.  Stax is absurd, but same thing. Yeah "made in Germany" costs money....but come on, if those guys can't leverage mass production who can?  And don't give me limited demand. They could build a plant in Germany set T1's at a $500 price point, and crank them out eficiently for mass market easily enough.  It's boutique for the sake of being boutique.  Except that it's really not boutique. :)

 

Oh it's a bit off topic, but it's my thread, and I don't mind!  popcorn.gif

post #93 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post

Pioneer used to have some nice stuff, I remember the old fan-cooled seperates stacks.  I don't know what happened to them but I can't take Pioneer seriously at anything anymore.  I'm convinced they have no clue who their customers are anymore. 

I like that - "no clue who their customers are" - tongue.gif

Yeah, the old stuff with the CCS frames and honeycomb bodies, wood-sides, and Elite badges - that was some nice gear. And some of the insanity-level statement players like the HLD-X0 or BD-09FD. I think after the SC-09TX they completely just threw in the towel on caring though.
Quote:
Marantz seperates I've never seen one fail.  The AVRs are another matter.  But I think that's the universal bane of AVRs.  They're good quality in a relatively cheap box that nearly anyone can afford one of one class or another.  But they've taken them to far into the consumer electronics realm and away from the audio realm.  They sell them like TV's now.  This year's model has even moar three dees!  It's a joke of cramming features and case badges on it with ever diminishing purpose to doing so or proper functionality in doing so.  For the price of one seperates component you get the whole rack, but when it burns out you throw out the whole rack.  But now that the HDMI race is afoot, it's still worthwhile since they change the standard on you every few years. 

I'd agree with this. My experience with AVRs is generally positive, but I don't really play around with stuff you can buy at Wal-mart. redface.gif
Quote:
In fairness to Onkyo one of their biggest heat problems a few years back was the Anchor Bay video processor which was a win/loose.  On one hand it really WAS the best, most versitile video processor around.  On the other hand, the cost was insane heat that really should have had fan cooling.  Onkyo always ran hot but for some of them they ran hotter than normal due to that thing.  But it's hard to call it a failure since it was indeed a desired feature for many.

Yeah, the 5508 comes to mind as an ideal video processor, but even that one will shoot craps given enough time. And it's usually stupid problems like ribbon cables shearing off or solder joints failing, things that shouldn't make it past QA.
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But it's gone too far into "lowest price point possible, more features than can be imagined" and what must give? Performance or dependability.  Or both.

+1. Most of the BOM $ on modern AVRs is for licencing all of those badges on the front, not the hardware inside. I still remember (and even have!) AVRs from before that was even "a thing" - you get the manufacturer's name and maybe a Dolby sticker, and the rest of your money is into components. But now it's just this huge banner of features (most of which nobody will ever use, or it's the kind of thing that like 10% of customers want feature A, 10% want B, etc and they're trying to do the Heinz Method where you make enough different flavors to entice all customers, but instead of releasing 57 different models, they mix them all together - and you can imagine how that tastes).

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Yeah I remember when K701 came out and the big DT880/HD650/K701 3-way summit-fi battle of the $500 titans began in earnest.  To see one of the trio in its newest form selling for $250 some places is amazing.  That Harman is the one making it happen is more amazing. Those trio were the summit-fi forum back then.  Now it's lime green, says Harman, and sells for less than an iPod.

Yeah, I remember the 701 costing under $300 in 2007-2008 even. And the HD 650 was not $500 either. But then something shifted, and "they" decided that $1500 can be the new $500, and $600 can be the new $200.
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And you're right about the Germans pricing.  I really don't know how they managed it.  I can see Audeze prices being crazy, it's basically handmade in the US.  I can see HiFiMan's prices all over the board...also nice products largely made in small batches.  Stax is absurd, but same thing. Yeah "made in Germany" costs money....but come on, if those guys can't leverage mass production who can?  And don't give me limited demand. They could build a plant in Germany set T1's at a $500 price point, and crank them out eficiently for mass market easily enough.  It's boutique for the sake of being boutique.  Except that it's really not boutique. smily_headphones1.gif

It's all market manipulation. I agree with the hand-made/US stuff - it's like you had the DT880 (which are also made in germany!), HD 650, and K701, all sub $500 by SRP, and around $300 street, and the RS-1 would show up to that fight and get laughed out at $695, but you have to remember that the RS-1 is being hand-built in NYC and it's made from some unobtanium wood that is grown just for Grado. But now the RS-1 is the "cheap seats" and "mid-fi" and you aren't even in the game until you've spent $1500 on a headphone (and $5,000-$10,000 on some special amp to plug it into). It's ridiculous. And I'm looking squarely at Beyerdynamic and Sennheiser for this whole mess - it wasn't STAX, it wasn't even Ultrasone with their Edition series (because those've been around since 2004, and STAX have been expensive since at least the 1970s), it wasn't AKG (they're undercutting everyone), or Grado (who have held their prices stable since sometime around 2003), or even the boutique planar guys who are crafting new drivers out of nothing to serve their needs - no, it's Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic who decided that we need to make everything 3-4x as expensive and then forcefully drop a MAP on everyone's head to ensure the skim works. Good grief.

"Boutique for the sake of being boutique" - that's a nice way of saying "expensive for the sake of being expensive" - aye?
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Oh it's a bit off topic, but it's my thread, and I don't mind!  popcorn.gif

beerchug.gif
post #94 of 178
I also wish headphones can be a little more affordable LOL...
post #95 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post

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

Amen. I liked how things were a few years ago, where $500-$750 was summit-fi aside from collectible stuff (like the R10).
post #96 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Amen. I liked how things were a few years ago, where $500-$750 was summit-fi aside from collectible stuff (like the R10).



So what were the summit-fi headphones back then? Like the hd650, dt880, k701 (the ones you guys mentioned)? That's it? Sorry if I don't know too much history about headphones. I think a year ago I was still using ibuds...
post #97 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post

So what were the summit-fi headphones back then? Like the hd650, dt880, k701 (the ones you guys mentioned)? That's it? Sorry if I don't know too much history about headphones. I think a year ago I was still using ibuds...

Those, the ATH-W series (most of which cost more in-line with the W1000X than the W5000/W3000), the HD 600, various Grado models (RS-1, GS-1000, PS-1, HP-1000, etc), Sony SA5k, not sure if the PROline 2500 was ever elevated, and then the various "big gun" rare models like the AKG K1000, AT L3000, Sony CD3k and R10, STAXen, and the Sennheiser stats. A lot of that stuff was, and continues to be, fairly expensive - but it's all relatively small scale and rare. The prices on some of those have absolutely skyrocketed in the last few years though (like the R10, which are now pushing $10k). The point wasn't really that $1000+ models didn't exist (the RS-1 have been $695 for a really long time, for example, the GS-1000 have been $1k since 2006, the R10s have always been multiple thousands of dollars, STAX have always been expensive, etc), but the trio you mentioned there - those ran around $300, and were pretty much top of the mark. Now though, those are "mid-fi" or even "entry level" to some posters, simply because they don't cost a whole bucket of money, and otherwise aren't sanctified. And it's easy to understand that mentality, in the light of stuff like the Beats headphones (I don't mean to start down that path - I just mean, if you look at something like the Beats Pro which is $400, it isn't generally regarded as a legitimate competitor to the DT880 or K701 in terms of fidelity, regardless of if it's a good headphone or not), and the massive price hiking that Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic have engaged in with their own product lines (the new T series stuff from Beyer is just disgusting, for example). It all feeds on itself. You go from a single $300-$400 fashion headphone being overpriced, to a few $600-$700 audiophile headphones being overpriced, to the entire segment shifting upwards very quickly and the buy-in going from the "affordable hi-fi" (which used to be the argument for headphone listening) to a terrible value proposition. And what I mean there is, if you're gonna spend $5-10k, get speakers.

I might be forgetting a few models too; apologies to anyone who feels I left their babies out.
post #98 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Those, the ATH-W series (most of which cost more in-line with the W1000X than the W5000/W3000), the HD 600, various Grado models (RS-1, GS-1000, PS-1, HP-1000, etc), Sony SA5k, not sure if the PROline 2500 was ever elevated, and then the various "big gun" rare models like the AKG K1000, AT L3000, Sony CD3k and R10, STAXen, and the Sennheiser stats. A lot of that stuff was, and continues to be, fairly expensive - but it's all relatively small scale and rare. The prices on some of those have absolutely skyrocketed in the last few years though (like the R10, which are now pushing $10k). The point wasn't really that $1000+ models didn't exist (the RS-1 have been $695 for a really long time, for example, the GS-1000 have been $1k since 2006, the R10s have always been multiple thousands of dollars, STAX have always been expensive, etc), but the trio you mentioned there - those ran around $300, and were pretty much top of the mark. Now though, those are "mid-fi" or even "entry level" to some posters, simply because they don't cost a whole bucket of money, and otherwise aren't sanctified. And it's easy to understand that mentality, in the light of stuff like the Beats headphones (I don't mean to start down that path - I just mean, if you look at something like the Beats Pro which is $400, it isn't generally regarded as a legitimate competitor to the DT880 or K701 in terms of fidelity, regardless of if it's a good headphone or not), and the massive price hiking that Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic have engaged in with their own product lines (the new T series stuff from Beyer is just disgusting, for example). It all feeds on itself. You go from a single $300-$400 fashion headphone being overpriced, to a few $600-$700 audiophile headphones being overpriced, to the entire segment shifting upwards very quickly and the buy-in going from the "affordable hi-fi" (which used to be the argument for headphone listening) to a terrible value proposition. And what I mean there is, if you're gonna spend $5-10k, get speakers.
I might be forgetting a few models too; apologies to anyone who feels I left their babies out.




I see... so what headphone do you consider to be the cheapest summit-fi headphone? He500 at 700 bucks nowadays?
post #99 of 178
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?

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).
Edited by obobskivich - 8/14/12 at 9:40am
post #100 of 178
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?
post #101 of 178
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 believe the Audeze line are summit, as well as the likes of HD800 and HE-6. However, I feel the HE-500 is the best budget summit can....

And maybe some modified Fostex headphones.

post #102 of 178
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?

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
post #103 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by paradoxper View Post

I believe the Audeze line are summit, as well as the likes of HD800 and HE-6. However, I feel the HE-500 is the best budget summit can....
And maybe some modified Fostex headphones.


That sounds like the general idea of summit-fi, I mean what most people would consider as summit-fi
post #104 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post

That sounds like the general idea of summit-fi, I mean what most people would consider as summit-fi

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.
Edited by obobskivich - 8/14/12 at 10:07am
post #105 of 178
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.

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?

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