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Holy guacamole, there's a ton of new headphones coming out this year...AND IT IS GOOD!!!

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Well, I don't know about you all, but for me, this year has been pretty darn exciting...and it's not even over yet!

 

I've been waiting for this type of explosion of audiophile grade gear/headphones to come out for some years...not just small bits and pieces here and there then tend to lead to wishful thinking, but an explosion of real headphone gear! Hehe, seriously though, it's really great to think about our community of headphone enthusiasts that were once part of a nichy, yet well respected hobby, and passionate pastime for many, that is now really starting to hit the masses and reach out to people who would have never considered spending more then $50 for a pair of cans. To me, this means high quality audio gear that will hopefully become not only more accessible for most, but more affordable, while retaining the quality many of us expect to hear. 

 

Shure, TDK, Sony, Denon, Ultimate Ears / Logitech, Creative, AKG, wow...I'm sure I'm missing a few more, I'm really stoked about all of the new gear!! Heck, I'm even considering starting up my review channel again! :) Anyways, I just had to share my enthusiasm with you fellow head-fi'ers, and would personally like to thank you for continuing to contribute your heartfelt reviews of new products, sharing your moments of musical enthusiasm, and most of all, supporting the love of everything audiophile. 

 

The power of music is pretty awesome, and to be able to experience it through new and improved technologies is truly exciting!

 

-Davy

post #2 of 8

Amazing!

My credit card will suffer dt880smile.png

post #3 of 8
I'm less enthusiastic. Sure, there's a ton of stuff coming out, but a lot of it is not that great. Dig a little deeper and you'll see trends towards higher-priced headphones that are under-engineered and pretty mediocre. Of course, high-dollar flagships existed for ages, but these days there are so many $1k+ dynamics that don't really do anything exceptional that yesterday's much cheaper dynamics didn't, not to mention cheaper electrostatics which are just flat-out better in most respects.

Ironically, IEMs, which probably contributed most to the growth of this whole thing, are the one area that's improving, and quite rapidly at that. Decent universal-fits like the UM3x and W4 simply didn't exist 5 years ago (I never cared for Etymotics), and today's top-tier customs are giving genuinely good high-end full-size cans a run for their money. It seems that while most driver technologies have plateaued somewhat, balanced armatures are still nowhere near maxed out.

I'm more enthusiastic about projects like what Tyll and Purrin are doing. There's so little data coming in about headphones, at least compared to the speaker market, that even if headphone measurement is in its infancy it's still vitally important to start.

I am looking forward to the new Sennheiser electrostatic though, and will probably get it if they don't ruin it, or price it into the stratosphere.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by catscratch View Post

I'm less enthusiastic. Sure, there's a ton of stuff coming out, but a lot of it is not that great. Dig a little deeper and you'll see trends towards higher-priced headphones that are under-engineered and pretty mediocre. Of course, high-dollar flagships existed for ages, but these days there are so many $1k+ dynamics that don't really do anything exceptional that yesterday's much cheaper dynamics didn't, not to mention cheaper electrostatics which are just flat-out better in most respects.
Ironically, IEMs, which probably contributed most to the growth of this whole thing, are the one area that's improving, and quite rapidly at that. Decent universal-fits like the UM3x and W4 simply didn't exist 5 years ago (I never cared for Etymotics), and today's top-tier customs are giving genuinely good high-end full-size cans a run for their money. It seems that while most driver technologies have plateaued somewhat, balanced armatures are still nowhere near maxed out.
I'm more enthusiastic about projects like what Tyll and Purrin are doing. There's so little data coming in about headphones, at least compared to the speaker market, that even if headphone measurement is in its infancy it's still vitally important to start.
I am looking forward to the new Sennheiser electrostatic though, and will probably get it if they don't ruin it, or price it into the stratosphere.

I completely agree with you on every level and although valid, at least theres a massive burst of energy this year to market what we love about the head-fi genre...getting it out to the masses. Hell, it may have started in the recent years with the Beats line of gear (albeit less than mediocre..perhaps I'm being too polite), AND at least the meat of it has been able to hit the younger generation...well, and older as well.

 

Here's a story. Jjust the other day, my Dad was asking about what I thought of the Beats line of product and well, to be honest, I had a LONG conversation with him about personal ideals of what audio quality SHOULD be vs what SQ CAN be when high end equipment is considered to human hearing. BUT....just you sharing this message (playing the good cop, bad cop role..respectively), will this allow others interested in this niche a greater understanding and depth of equipment? I think it certainly will! It will allow them to search for more information and reviews of audiophile equipment, furthering their understanding and education of audio. At least the message is getting out to the masses that better equipment exists beyond Best Buy shelves and Dre Beats cans. I was hoping that some would chime in from this site to contribute, and I'm happy you did, as I suspect others will as well...what you and I have experienced in hi fidelity should not be a secret within a private circle of enthusiasts, but instead, shared to everyone, rich and poor :). All I'm saying is that this is more accessible to the masses, and the more demand there is as a result of this, the more audio gear, improved or not, we can get our hands on! :)

post #5 of 8
Good discussion here and great points by catscratch.

There is tons of interest in this hobby right now, its a gold rush of sorts for personal audio. On one hand it is exciting to see this energy directed at this hobby. On the other, there are some troubling trends in the way this development is unfolding.

Where the $1k+ bracket was for truly state-of-the-art flagships, its created such a bubble in the market that its now becoming the norm. There have been such disappointing $1k+ headphones this year. Its sad that innovation isn't driving the prices up, but rather simply because the market allows it.

While it is exciting, its more important now than ever to be discerning consumers -- to reward manufacturers for truly pushing the envelope, and stay away from manufacturers that are simply cashing in on the market. That's why communication forums such as Head-Fi are so important -- to empower us as consumers to make better choices with our hard-earned money. The measurement databases maintained by Tyll and Purrin are also incredibly valuable in keeping manufacturers honest and helping us consumers wade through all the information out there.

But yes, I share a bit of tempered enthusiasm about the direction of this hobby. Quality headphones are becoming an increasingly reasonable pursuit for "normal people" so its providing lots of opportunity for me to discuss audio reproduction with other folks who wouldn't otherwise be interested.
post #6 of 8
Demand and competition are good, but they have to compete for the support of an educated consumer base, otherwise there might not be any improvement over time. It's important to educate, and doubly so in an area that's so subjective, where any real problem is so easy to dismiss as an issue of subjective preference. Factor into that other things that make measuring and quantifying headphones a real mess (like HRTFs), and you have a field that's murky and complicated, where educating people at a consumer level is pretty damn difficult.

It's growing fast though, as you say, and it's become more important than ever. Stax showed the world that headphones don't have to suck in 1959 with the SR-1. Sennheiser made headphones more than a utilitarian accessory for many people with the HD414. Now Monster shows the world that headphones can be a fashion item with the Beats. As much as I hate to put them in this illustrious company, the impact is pretty major, for good or bad. It's too bad that we live in such a youth-driven culture where fashion trends that are only applicable to a small percentage of the population are mercilessly shoved down everybody's throats, but at the very least people are becoming accustomed to the idea that paying more than $50 for headphones is a socially acceptable thing to do. Now we just need enough people to learn what constitutes actual quality sound so that money is spent more intelligently, and is actually a driving force for the improvement in product quality, rather than the opposite - which I'm kind of seeing now.

Anyway, trends come and go. It's easy to lose the historical perspective and get lost in what's happening now. And a market that's full of crap will automatically create a niche for quality, even if it's small.

Maybe I'm bitter since I didn't take my happy meds this evening, but I will say this... I admire your enthusiasm. I wished I shared more of it, but I do share some.

[Edit: Questhate beat me to it.]
Edited by catscratch - 8/30/12 at 10:27pm
post #7 of 8

too many new things in the ~$500 range!

depleting my funds too fastblink.gif

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by catscratch View Post

Demand and competition are good, but they have to compete for the support of an educated consumer base, otherwise there might not be any improvement over time. It's important to educate, and doubly so in an area that's so subjective, where any real problem is so easy to dismiss as an issue of subjective preference. Factor into that other things that make measuring and quantifying headphones a real mess (like HRTFs), and you have a field that's murky and complicated, where educating people at a consumer level is pretty damn difficult.
It's growing fast though, as you say, and it's become more important than ever. Stax showed the world that headphones don't have to suck in 1959 with the SR-1. Sennheiser made headphones more than a utilitarian accessory for many people with the HD414. Now Monster shows the world that headphones can be a fashion item with the Beats. As much as I hate to put them in this illustrious company, the impact is pretty major, for good or bad. It's too bad that we live in such a youth-driven culture where fashion trends that are only applicable to a small percentage of the population are mercilessly shoved down everybody's throats, but at the very least people are becoming accustomed to the idea that paying more than $50 for headphones is a socially acceptable thing to do. Now we just need enough people to learn what constitutes actual quality sound so that money is spent more intelligently, and is actually a driving force for the improvement in product quality, rather than the opposite - which I'm kind of seeing now.
Anyway, trends come and go. It's easy to lose the historical perspective and get lost in what's happening now. And a market that's full of crap will automatically create a niche for quality, even if it's small.
Maybe I'm bitter since I didn't take my happy meds this evening, but I will say this... I admire your enthusiasm. I wished I shared more of it, but I do share some.
[Edit: Questhate beat me to it.]

 

Ahh, yes, you are really hitting home with how I feel about head-fi in today's generation, and you put it much more eloquently than I could :). Since making this thread, I've given a lot of thought to the new vs the old. Lots of design changes have happened recently, but I'm not so sure that these changes have improved upon audio quality that we have been enjoying for the past several years. Lately, I've been thinking, "Is all of this new product to create new revenue based just on good looks while regurgitating the same old internal design recipe?". Honestly, I don't know, but from the reviews I've been reading, nothing has truly struck a chord with the vets from what I can see. Nothing has established a wow factor that would validate actually purchasing these new gears based on improved SQ. I do know this though...I am going to budget for a pair of new Shure 1840's, and I'm going to upgrade my DAC/AMPs to Schiit product that can power planar magnetics, just so that I can really have a go at the HiFiMan HE-500's....not the newest stuff, but let's just say I'm catching up. In the meantime, my youngest brother is just now getting into the world of head-fi due to a lot of chatter within the facebook circles, beats that, Denon this, Sony that...and, I think it's really a great time to show him what he has been missing! Now, I just need to catch up on the latest and greatest before I feed him my opinions :)

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