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A question for those that consider themselves audiophiles.

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

This is the impression I get from those of you that call yourselves audiophiles (correct me if I'm wrong).  You at one time loved music and wanted it to sound as good as possible.  But in that quest you have taken on the thought that music needs to sound as accurate as it can, and it has become a competition that never ends that you have to get the most accurate set up.  You need to have the best equipment and need to prove and defend your equipment.  However, this quest is never meet because there is always something better and you are always onto the next bigger and better thing.  And this once quest to get better sounding music has turned into this game that never ends and seems to made you forget why you loved music in the first place.  Not to be the most accurate but because you like listening to it.  But think about it, does more accurate actually make you want to listen to music more?  or is it like a disease that has destroyed music for you.


Maybe I'm completely wrong but tell me that.  I came here because right now I'm using $10 ear buds that I don't mind but when I go to my car, or at a event with speakers, and I get this rich sound with a fun amount of bass.  I get engaged with the music and sometimes find myself singing along, which I never do because I have a horrible voice.  Or will tap my feet or bob my head.  So I when I was at best buy a while ago and put on a pair of beats I knew I wanted a pair of decent headphones.  It gave me that feeling of being in my car with good speakers with bass.  I would have gotten them but couldn't justify spending $300 on a pair of headphones when I'm in college.  So I went on the internet and started looking for cheaper options.  But the only thing I get is that beats suck because they are overpriced.  I get that, that is why I didn't get them in the first place.  I don't get why they are so bad because they are not an accurate representation of the true music.  Who cares if it sounds more fun and you get more enjoyment out of listening to them.  Isn't that what it is about anyway.  It seems like a competition, and most accurate or true to the music is the thing to compete on because it is the only thing you can kind of measure.  It's hard to compete for which headphones you enjoy most because we all have different tastes.


I kind of want to get a MK2 because it supposedly has good bass and has a detachable cable.  I want these to last a while not like my ear buds where after a few months I can only hear music in 1 ear.  My only concern is that they will be to tight, I wear glasses.  I'd get the M50 but from you guys I feel like it wont have enough bass.  But I'm a little hesitant because I don't want to fall in the same trap of getting music to sound accurate, I just want to make it more fun to listen to.


Please guys correct me if I'm wrong.  I have a hard time taking advice from you guys because I feel like we have 2 different views on music.  I think it is fun and you guys treat it as an competition.  I can give you more specifics what I'm looking for but I want you to keep in mind where I'm coming from and what I am looking for.

post #2 of 33

I wouldn't really class myself as an 'audiophile', mostly because I just happened to stumble down this road during my journey to get better at audio production (and that still remains my primary goal). But I do generally agree with your sentiment that this can very much turn into a silly competitive sport of sorts, however, I'd like to clarify a few things. Firstly, it really isn't everybody's goal to get an 'accurate' representation of music through their audio equipment. Sure, it might seem like that would be the only good reason why you'd even consider getting into the multi-thousand-dollar territory in this 'hobby'/addiction, but as you suggested, it all still boils down to preferences, and to a surprising amount of people, the money spent on getting their music to sound how they want it, is totally worth it. The prominence of tube amps in the upper echelons of audiophilia is a good example of this, as tubes by nature deviate from the actual sound they are fed in by coloring/'sweetening' it so that it becomes more 'pleasing' to listen to; so naturally a lot of people like that.


Also, this is an activity that's all about recreating experiences, and experiences are notoriously hard to comprehend unless you experience them yourself. This is in no way meant to sound condescending/belittling, but it is unfortunately true: unless you have experienced what's out there at the upper levels, it is hard to understand why somebody might find the lower levels inadequate. The same would of course apply to several other areas, including food, musical instruments, cars, whatever... and it is totally a personal decision on whether that experience you had when you tried out the 'bigger and better' stuff is worth recreating enough to seriously pursue.  Just a couple weeks ago I had a listen at some of the most expensive headphones in production today (the Sennheiser HD 800 - valued at $1,500), and I went into it being very skeptical, and totally convinced that I would never actually buy a pair for myself even if I liked them just because of the absurd price. See, I am also a college student from very modest means, and even though I thankfully have a nice job, I am still quite frugal when making most purchasing decisions. Anyways, fast forward to last wednesday.... I bought myself a pair of HD 800's. It's honestly hard to explain unless you start getting really into audio, start appreciating the abilities of certain equipment, and then finally find something that just really blows your mind like that. All there's really left to say is that 'ignorance is bliss'; and I sincerely don't mean any ill by invoking the word 'ignorance', but it really is so much easier to live life not being captivated by the things that are out there that you may possibly never afford. In fact, I'm fairly certain that's the same phenomenon that makes people in impoverished countries generally happier than us 'modern'/westernized folk, so by no means do I believe this 'experienced' route is superior.


About the Beats; you're right that the more expensive ones aren't bad headphones, but you also answered your own question in that regard: the aren't usually worth the money. It does ultimately boil down to your own listening preferences of course, but if a vast community of people that have tried numerous different headphones are telling you that there are (at least) equally good sounding options for less money, well, then as I mentioned above with the whole experience thing, I would take their experiences over mine if I know I haven't been exposed to much of what else is out there in that category. The community may definitely come off quite elitist, especially if they're relentlessly putting down something you liked, but as far as suggesting that there are better options out there for cheaper, then I can only gather that they are most certainly on your side, despite however it may appear.


And honestly, the only determining factor as to whether or not you would fall in to this 'trap', is yourself. If you feel it isn't worth it to you to pursue further down this track, awesome! However, if you do start to develop a craving for the 'better' and irrationally expensive world of diminishing returns... well, you've got a pretty large support group here at least.

post #3 of 33

As for me - I love music.  I want it to sound "right" but I really want it to sound musical and engage me.  I'm also pretty much a Gear Slut. I suspect many of the long timers here suffer from the same addiction (hello, my name is aamefford and I'm a gear slut.  "hello aamefford, welcome").  Headphonedom is great for people with this affliction, because the gear is generally smaller, shipping is cheaper, and DavidMahler and a few others notwithstanding, the gear is much more modestly priced.  With all the trading around, a lot of us have gathered a fair amount of experience (some LOTS AND LOTS of experience) with different gear.  And we have opinions.  Boy do we have opinions.  Look for common ground in comments on gear, and take what you read with a grain of salt, and you can get pretty good information here.

post #4 of 33
I do consider myself an audiophile. I say this at the risk being flamed mercilessly because it almost seems to be a dirty word around here sometimes.

While i think that some, possibly all of you assumptions do apply to a small segment of the audiophile community it is wrong for the majority. Being an audiophile is not a "competition" it is a quest. For me it has always been a quest to suspend reality, to close my eyes and be able to believe the singer or musicians are in the room with me or i am in the venue with them. This has nothing to do with accuracy but only with what allows "me" to create that illusion. I do not feel the need to defend or justify my decisions to anyone because all that matters is how my system sounds to me. I have never lost my love of music during this quest, it is my love of music that drives me.

It is easy for beginners to get lost in this hobby. To listen to reviewers, other audiophiles, to fall for the "snake oil " salesmen. It is important to "listen" and satisfy yourself. My goal was not unachievable. It took 37 years and lots of mistakes but I have satisfied myself and that's all that really matters.
post #5 of 33

This is not precisely the best explanation but it would help you to understand:



post #6 of 33

For me personally, i do update my gear quite frequently in the short time ive been in the personal audio hobby (i make beats at home, which led me here for cans recently). Ever since ive become somewhat obsessed with all of it. But its not a never ending quest for a 'flat sound" anyone who has read any of my posts or met me knows im a bass fiend, proud as they come. I dont care for a lot of the open backed $1000-$2000 woodies, or "audiophile" cans, But i do own $600 headphones, and in total i have 4 sets of cans and 2 amps (soon to be three when the WA7 hits our shores). 


I buy all this stuff because it makes me bob my head and tap my toes, because it makes music more fun! You cant enjoy music to the same level if you cant hear ALL of it. I dont mean a faint crackle of a record (although i do enjoy that), i mean just the whole bassline!


I wont ramble on anymore, but if you like beats, but dont want to spend the $300, good news is you can get MUCH better cans for a bit less that will do the same thing. Go get yourself  some Beyerdynamics DT770 80ohm (cant imagine your buying an amp just yet and these have the biggest bass due to an internal baffle difference).


At least just go try them out with your own music. I think once youve had some time with these your assumptions on this community, or at least a large part of it, may change.


Best of luck.

Edited by mrbigsby - 1/5/13 at 1:38pm
post #7 of 33

The reason a lot people here strive for accuracy is because they listen to a wider range of music compared to the average person, at least most of the time. If you find something relatively neutral, then you don't have to worry about your headphones sounding "fun" with certain genres and not others. For example, many of Head-Fi's visitors and new members consider bass the most important aspect of a headphone, and it's no coincidence that their listening preferences fall into the rap/dubstep/pop category. If you only listen to bass heavy music, then sure, having a headphone that prioritizes bass over everything else may be your best bet. In fact, most head-fi'ers have no problem recommending bass monsters (i.e. Sony xb500) to those who seek them. 


Also, I'm not sure where you are getting this feeling of competition from. Yes, many head-fier's list their equipment in their signature, but this is usually intended to give others a frame of reference. Describing sound is a tricky business, and all the more if you don't know what the person's reference sound is. For example, someone may complain that a headphone has too much treble, but by looking at their equipment, you may notice that they prefer a dark sound signature in the first place. Maybe there is competition among those who drop thousands on DACs and cables, but most of us are just looking for the most bang for our buck. 

post #8 of 33

You seem to think being highly critical about something and having fun with something are mutually exclusive. I think it's possible to approach something in a serious manner and still be motivated by a desire to have fun with music. I'm sure there are people whose interest in equipment overshadows their interest in music but I don't get the impression that most people on this forum have that mentality. I don't quite understand why some people think having fun requires not thinking very much.

post #9 of 33
A good question to ask and some great answers. To each their own, music is an important part of most of the folks here lives. I can't imagine being without myself.

You mentioned your car, what setup do you have?
Edited by GSARider - 1/5/13 at 2:03pm
post #10 of 33

Wow, everything that's been said thus far has been spot-on I think! Great comments guys.

I'll just add that, if you're worried about becoming addicted to this hobby, it's a good concern to have in all honesty. I'd say examine yourself to see if you have an addictive personality. I know I do, but unfortunately I rather "stumbled" into this hobby quite accidentally and have since been hooked. It's a blast though, and the only bad thing about it in my opinion is the cost factor...


And on that note, you should be encouraged by this fact: Diminishing returns means the more you pay for audio equipment, the less performance you'll get per dollar. That is to say, if you just grab a $100-300 headphone that suits your fancy, I'd encourage you to be content and to know you've got a good portion of the high end quality for a fraction of the price!


The already suggested Beyerdynamic DT770 would be a great buy that will set you up just fine for a long time until you have the necessary funds to look further up the chain.

Edited by Biscuitz - 1/5/13 at 2:12pm
post #11 of 33

For me there is another aspect of this hobby that has not been mentioned yet. There is also the quality of the recording or mastering of the music I listen to. I still buy CDs, mostly the higher quality ones like MFSL, DCCs, early pressing, Japanese pressings, West German pressings, etc... These are not covered here as much. This can be very expensive too. So there is the equipment side but there is also a music side.

post #12 of 33

The MK2's have a skull crushing clamping force.  Just a heads up.  Also the mids are incredibly recessed.  Hard to hear the singer and guitars (I like alternative rock).  I LOVE my M50's.  Lots of bass for my genre but still has beautiful mids.  Take reviews with a grain of salt.  You really just need to try some headphones and see what you like.  That's what I had to do after buying several headphones off of reviews here and being very disappointed.  Music and sound is very personal and your tastes will differ greatly from others.  

post #13 of 33

I haven't read everything in here, but not everybody (I don't even know if its the majority on this site) here is looking for accuracy. 



EDIT: Oh and this line "So I went on the internet and started looking for cheaper options. But the only thing I get is that beats suck because they are overpriced." They don't suck because they're overpriced, they just suck. This isn't like a "spend $50 less, get a better pair." This is "Spend $30, get a better pair."

Edited by ninjames - 1/5/13 at 2:39pm
post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 

The quest thing made a lot of sense to me, at least I think it is a better description that what I was saying.  And for my car, I have nothing special, actually I have no idea what I have, I just like the fact that I can get more lost in the music and love the bass of it because I don't get any from my ear buds.  I think I'm gonna get the M50's.  I was a little hesitant from some of the people that gave reviews because they weren't as bass heavy as others but I'm hoping that coming from no bass in my ear buds to real headphones will hopefully get me what I'm looking for.  I don't really care if they give me a real or true representation, I'm not looking for that, I just want something that sounds better than my ear buds and once I get that I will probably be done until they break.  And that is why I probably don't get a lot of the people on here.  I really wish the M50 had a detachable cable that is really bugging me.  I just cant find a headphone that fits exactly what I want.

post #15 of 33
Thread Starter 

Also I'm probably going to get the M50's from guitar center because they are close to me so I think I can return them if I don't like them right?  I'm trying to find a place to get headphones where I can return them at little to no cost if I don't like them.  I think amazon you have to pay return shipping.  Where do you guys get them from.  Where do you test them first.  All they have at best buy is like beats.

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