Lately, I've been looking at my current gear and reminiscing about "how I got here" and remembering the headphones and audio experiences of years past that led me to the place I am now in my "audiophile evolution". Its kind of interesting I think. And that got me curious about your personal audiophile evolution. Where did you start? What were the first headphones you listened to when you thought to yourself: "Woah! I didn't know music could sound this good." What do you listen to now and think to yourself: "Woah! I can't believe I thought that sounded good...THIS is MUCH better!"
For me, like most, I started out with stock ipod earbuds and the year was 2004. From there, my personal evolution looks something like this:
Shure e3c: I bought these retail from an Apple store in D.C. after reading a very glowing review on cnet.com. I remember listening to these and being "blown away" for the first time listening to music I has heard all my life.
Bose in-ears (Don't laugh.)
Bose on-ears (Again, I was young and foolish, so STOP laughing.)
Shure se530: Got these off eBay for Christmas in 2006 after reading another glowing review on cnet. This is when I got spoiled...
Audio-Technica ATH-M50s: I really purchased these for my wife. We were recording a song together and though I was content to use the se530s for monitoring, they hurt her ears, so I did a google search for "good full-size headphones" and was directed to head-fi for the first time. I found the "popular headphones list" and started looking. The Audez'e LCD-2 was top of the list followed by the Sennheiser hd-650. I remember clicking on those two products, seeing the price and thinking: "Holy $%&#! Headphones can cost THAT much!?". (You can imagine my shock and awe when I made it down to the Stax!). Honestly, the thing that impressed me the most about these M50s in the listing was that they were so highly ranked among much more expensive models. That's still the case to this day.
Ultrasone PRO 900: Got these for myself for Christmas in 2011 after reading a review online. I really liked the bass response. It was really like nothing I had ever heard. I have much better cans now, but I've held on to these because I've yet to find anything that matches these on Electronic music. For my taste, at least.
Grado SR80i: Through the years, I had read about Grados and how these and the SR60s were a really good value. These were my first open cans and I remember hearing them for the first time and thinking "where's the bass?" and "man, those highs are harsh, but WOW that acoustic guitar is clear!" I still break these out every now and then to get my "Grado sound" fix, but not often.
AKG K702: I purchased these along with a Matrix M-Stage Amp (having read that the K702s suck without a good amp and the M-Stage apparently had good synergy with these cans). I LOVED these things for classical music in particular. I had never heard clarity like this before, but really longed for better bass impact and extension. I sold these just last month and kind of miss them.
AKG K550: I purchased these because I wanted a closed can that matched the K702 soundstage, but with more bass. These fit the bill.
Audez'e LCD-2: My most recent purchase. I LOVE these. Do I really need to write why? But at the same time I hate them because after I listen to these for a little while, every other can I own sounds like crap!
I've been through several amps as well and recently I consolidated and settled on the ALO Audio MK3-b coupled with an HP-P1 portable DAC. This is a great combo for me as I like to have something I can move around and carry with me. This rig is strong enough to power anything I've got plus some.
So that's my evolution. What's yours?