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The "Week-with-a-Crappy-Can" Challenge! OR "See how much of the experience the MUSIC carries!" - Page 2

post #16 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

If we're talking "before you started spending lots of money on headphones", then I could probably survive for a week with my Sansui SS-20 (something my stepfather had lying around and never used). It does need new earpads and is rather heavy, but it sounds decent.

 

But if we're talking "worst-sounding headphone in your collection", that means I have to suffer with the GE H-22 (which I got well after getting into Head-Fi) and its total lack of extension for an entire week, hoping my ears don't bleed. It's comfortable, but it'll take extreme EQ to make it sound even halfway decent.

 

That brings up a good point. I guess we can't put a restriction on EQ, or even modifications, in order to get through the week. That could actually be really interesting--if a headphone is so bad it compels its owner to redesign it just to try to make it usable, it just might spur a new DIY craze for a particular model. "Hey, I made a Sony V150 sound like an LCD-2! Just do x, y, and z, and deposit your disbelief in the nearest suspension-inducing receptacle" or some such.

 

Also, vintage headphones are fascinating, if for no other reason than some of the designs and interesting ideas (e.g. AKG's variable-distance drivers) that fell by the wayside as the general idea of what a "headphone" is evolved. I miss the innovation and build quality of that period (and I say that from the standpoint of somebody who was born in the modern era of headphones), though from what I understand even midrange headphones from today are usually significantly better than the majority of designs from back then.

 

I wonder if that means that today's crappy headphones are on the level of midrange vintage cans?

post #17 of 52
My first headphones were Sennheiser 480s. They still make them for use in BBC studios. I think I was all of eight when I picked those.

The worst ones I own? Probably Sennheiser 280s. They're lifeless.
post #18 of 52

Hi.  Intriguing topic and one I know pretty well.  I went from a very nice system including Grado RS-1's and matching amp (it was the best I I had heard at the time) and then had kids and it all went... everything...  

Until recently I was down to an ipod with some $50'ish sony earbuds.  In the last year I've added a bithead amp and Denon D2000's and I can say that as much as "the music" is important, gear can make all the difference in enjoying it.  As a pianist, I don't really need a great sound to enjoy G.Gould playing Bach as I know and play the pieces so a lot of it is in my head anyway but it sure helps to have nice gear.

I am now looking to upgrade my cans as some recent experiences with some of Max Richter's music has shown me that if you can't even hear part of the music with crappy gear, how can you fully enjoy it?

 

Another anecdotal analogy to instruments...  As a pianist, I've been playing the same keyboard for over a decade.  Sounds alright with my Grado 125's but I once sat down and played a Bosendorfer that I was told was on sale for only $90,000 and I swear I sounded like a WAY better player on that piano..

post #19 of 52

given time, and no other choice, humans end up accepting anything. be it propaganda, a girl/guy, or old apple ear buds.

the trick is to keep an absolutely narrow mind and truly believe you ve got the best.  (works wonders for propaganda, girls/boys, and apple products ear buds ^_^ )

 

i tried to play the game with the buds they gave with my cowon. for some reasons i had fun with the **** bass rolling over every detail they could crush. but i had to push the volume so much to get something i could actually listen outside, that i had to stop after 20mn. there is no way i can stand that for a week.

i ll try with the stuff they gave with my phone, at least they re intras. from memory they sound like mini megaphones...

post #20 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SBranson View Post

 

Another anecdotal analogy to instruments...  As a pianist, I've been playing the same keyboard for over a decade.  Sounds alright with my Grado 125's but I once sat down and played a Bosendorfer that I was told was on sale for only $90,000 and I swear I sounded like a WAY better player on that piano..

 

The Boesendorfer has always been my favorite piano, and it would be the greatest joy to actually play one. I've actually got a VST version of a Model 290, and while I love it to bits, I'm under no illusions it will ever live up to the real thing.

 

I appreciate the general point of your post. Of course having good gear helps to fully enjoy the experience. I certainly would never choose to listen to iBuds or my V700 when my DT880 and SRH440 (and, if all goes well, in a few months a Phonak PFE 111/112) are available. My headphones are my window into the music, and sometimes I just lay back and marvel at everything I can hear with them.

 

But sometimes I think people go too far in the other direction, especially here on Head-Fi. They start listening to the gear more than the music, and they get bogged down in FOTM and can shuffling. I can certainly understand searching for something you like--I went through two other headphones before I got my first keeper. But somewhere in the madness, I think, the true reason we buy these things can sometimes take a backseat, and that's to help us enjoy the music to the fullest.

 

The goal of this thread is to remind everybody that, though they may have been aware of the shortcomings of their old headphones even when they were all they had, they still managed to enjoy the music with them. If we spend a week remembering how it used to be, we'll be that much more thankful for the wonderful equipment we have.

 

And maybe, just maybe, we might get to relive that moment, that revelation, the first time we ever heard really good sound, when we finally get to use our best headphones again at the end of the week. I know that I for one wasn't thinking about soundstage, imaging, or tonal balance that first time. I was too busy being blown away by the music. The guys behind the desk at GC may have thought I was nuts when I started practically head banging on the display floor, but I didn't care. I can't remember a single thing from any of my analytical listening sessions. But I've had some pretty memorable ones just relaxing or rocking out.


Edited by Argyris - 10/22/12 at 8:50pm
post #21 of 52

Thanks for the clarity.  I see what you're saying more clearly now and I completely "get" what you're saying.

 

My revelatory experience was with Grado headphones.  I had some $30 panasonic over the ear types that lost a channel.  I liked them so much I went back to buy another set but when I saw all the choices I tried a couple out.  The salesman said that if I wanted "real" headphones I should go next door to the HiFi shop.  I went in and walked out with Grado sr60's as I couldn't justify the price of the sr80's.  Well something wasn't right with that set so I took them back and walked out with the SR80s.  Kept going back and trying the 125s the 225s just to see then in an impulse traded in the sr80s for the 325s..  did some reading and thought, what the hell, I have to hear the RS-1s.   I was floored...  I had never heard a soundstage like that.... wasn't sure if I had ever heard the soundstage.  I couldn't quite understand how a whole hall could be inside my skull...  So... in 3 months I went from wanting to buy a $30 set to dropping $1100 for the RS1s and amp.

 

That got me looking for a source and then I got out of cans into the whole stereo thing.   

 

I had some friends who put cotton balls at strategic spots around the room, measured 15oz of sand in ziploks on their speakers and some who had systems so badly matched that they were unlistenable to me but made them happy because of the brands of the components.  The real kicker was that company (I won't mention) who "sold" a phone call that would tweak your system. Yeah right!

My system wasn't really high end but pieced together carefully.  Some thought I was nuts to buy aftermarket wall outlets and power cords and sure I did my fair share of tube swapping listening to the same 30secs of music over and over...  It's the compulsion side, the addiction side of the audio hobby.  

 

I'm happy that with my current D2000s/ipod/bithead and Max Richter, I got that same "wow" hearing distant thunder that fooled me into thinking that I physically felt it rumbling and took off my phones to look outside... then realized it was in the music....  Thanks for this thread because it's kind of a warning to me too as I can feel the obsessive streak sparked, looking for that next "hit" from the audio syringe.  


Edited by SBranson - 10/22/12 at 10:59pm
post #22 of 52
Wait, a person is actually going to wear those V700s? Yikes.

Anyways, interesting concept to think about. I'm sure some of my normal listening fare are "clunkers" compared to some of my other normal listening fare, but I don't own anything that's explicitly "terrible" (or beat up) anymore. redface.gif
post #23 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Wait, a person is actually going to wear those V700s? Yikes.
Anyways, interesting concept to think about. I'm sure some of my normal listening fare are "clunkers" compared to some of my other normal listening fare, but I don't own anything that's explicitly "terrible" (or beat up) anymore. redface.gif

 

I'm not sure anybody could wear the pair in the second picture anymore. Half the pieces have been borrowed to repair the ones in the first picture.

 

I do actually have something that might be worse. I've got a pair of the first generation iBuds. One side doesn't work anymore, though, so it wouldn't be useful for this challenge. I've also got the crappy pack-in "headphones" that came with my last PCDP, but both the foams rotted off and I never actually used them.

 

I guess the point of this challenge is to use something I actually thought was good and/or spent a lot of time with. Neither of these things got any real use (other than maybe once or twice just to laugh at how bad they are), so they don't really fit the spirit. Plus, neither is really in working condition. The V700, beat up as it is, still works, and since it was the inspiration for this thread, I guess that means it's my choice.

 

Unless...

post #24 of 52
Thread Starter 

...there's always this:

 

 

 

No idea where this came from. I spotted it in the storage barn this past summer, and I remembered it just as I was typing the past post, so of course I had to go out in the middle of the night and get it. I have no idea if it works. I'm a bit afraid to put it anywhere near my ears. There might be things living in it. I seriously don't remember this at all, but it was with a bunch of my old toys so it must have been something that went with one of them. Maybe the goose-shaped one that played cassette tapes, though I haven't seen that in years.

 

So, yeah. I'm going to lint-roller those foams off and see if it works. It probably still doesn't qualify for the challenge, but I'm just curious. It reminds me strongly of Reese's Pieces, but I doubt it sounds very sweet.

 

EDIT: Okay, scratch this. Not only does it not fit (it's clearly made for a little kid), it has almost literally no bass and no treble, and yet manages to be fatiguing at the same time. It sounds like somebody is holding two telephones up to my ears. Halfway decent soundstage, though, and surprising imaging from something so rudimentary. Also, it proves a point I may have made before, which is that once you know that details are in a song, you can hear them even on the crappiest of equipment. I just heard the amp buzz at the beginning of Natalie Merchant's "Jealousy," which I first noticed on my DT880.

 

Maybe these things will improve with burn in. tongue.gif

 

I think it may have been designed for kids to listen to cassette tape recordings of nursery rhymes or something, since it focuses entirely on the midrange. Therefore it's technically disqualified since it's not a purpose-built music-listening device. Doesn't stop Natalie from being pretty damn awesome as always, though.


Edited by Argyris - 10/23/12 at 9:50pm
post #25 of 52

How do you think those would rate to the ear hangers you get on airplanes?  I was stuck with those for a short while.tongue.gif

post #26 of 52
Thread Starter 

I couldn't tell you, having never personally heard any of those planephones. It's been over ten years since I was on an airplane, and I can't recall the flights ever offering a movie, so no headphones.

 

You might find this article amusing, though. Tyll Hertsens actually tests one of these airplane headphones with his equipment and offers his thoughts. This one definitely falls under the "no matter how disappointed you might be sometimes with your headphones, they're better than this" banner.

 

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/headphones-united-airlines-flight-962


Edited by Argyris - 10/24/12 at 2:06am
post #27 of 52

Ha!!  That was a fun read.. THanks!  The ones I mean have even worse ergos.  They are individual and hang off each ear and never really lie against the ear properly, fall off and generally suck.

post #28 of 52


Surprisingly they're not as crappy as I remember them. They're not worth reviewing again, because I would doubt anybody would be buying them, but they remind me of midrange Sony Fontopia earphones I grew up with, all the time craving more bass. If only I'd known to get some on-ears.

Maybe I should check the local market for something truly awful like those orange Altai from the 80s. They might even sound ok; you never know.

post #29 of 52
You can probably get replacement foams for those kiddo headphones, but if they don't fit they don't fit. I'm also guessing that you could get a better on-ear headphone for the price of replacement foams (look at the Koss KPH-7, *for its price* its a very good headphone). I lol'd at the picture.

As far as the airplane headphones - the ones I've heard are worse than the KPH-7 imho (which Tyll did benchmark...wink.gif).
post #30 of 52
Thread Starter 

That KPH-7 definitely doesn't measure that poorly for what it is. I imagine it's probably better than most of the pack-in type headphones that used to come with PCDPs. I wonder if they even bother with those headphones anymore, as the style seems to be for iBud-like things these days.

 

For that matter, do they even sell PCDPs in big box stores anymore? It's been many years since I bought one, so I would have no reason to even check.

 

Also, come to think of it, I did use headphones on a plane once. It was actually a weird setup from what I remember. It wasn't electric. Well, on some level it had to be, but they would give you the 'phones and you plugged this rubber tube (like a stethoscope) into a hole on the armrest, and it would channel sound into your ears from (presumably) a dynamic driver sealed in a chamber. There may have been passive drivers in the earcups. Of course I was way too young to think to check for any of this, but even then I must have been mystified by how it worked because I remember all these details now.

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