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Maybe I'm chasing a Unicorn?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

6 Years ago I bought a HD555.

It was good all around and I used it mostly for games.

Then one day I went to my really rich uncle's house in China and I plugged my HD555's into his $10,000 cd player.

I remember being completely WOW'd.  It sounded so real.  (keep in mind up until that point, I had not listened to any flac files)
This is what first peaked my interest in audio.

 

A few years ago, I started getting more into headphones.

I bought a HE-400(first batch) and ran it straight out of my computer.  It sounded better than my HD555's.  But there were balance issues so I returned them.

Recently, I bought an asgard, modi/magni, and HD600's.

Yes, they sounded better than my HD555's, but $500 better?  not really.

The improvements were too big.  Better bass, better extension, more musical, pretty much same amount of detail and clarity.

 

I just expected to be wow'd.  With the HE-400's, HD600's, Asgard... I kept expecting to hear night and day, as if trying to recapture that first wow moment I had at my uncle's house.

I keep trying to rationalize that I will get that wow feeling once I get something like LCD2's or HE-500's.

But the more I read, it seems like these headphones are just yet slight improvements upon the HE-400's and HD600's.

Does the unicorn I'm chasing after not exist?

 

Even my HD600's from unamped to amped sounded quite similar.  I was expecting mud vs crystal clear sound, but it was just slight improvements again.

I don't even hear a difference between my magni and asgard... and any that I might have heard was probably placebo.

 

I'm not the type of person to obsess over tiny details.  And I do have at least decent ears to be able to tell the difference... being a violinist all my life and having every teacher I've ever had tell me I had one of the best ears they've ever seen.

 

I want a sound that is JUICY.  Not too spacious, but engaging.  CLEAR and punctual bass.  Colorful mids.  DETAIL and CLARITY.  I just want a sound that is... well, sexy.  Like melted chocolate.

Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree with Senn's, because I did like the transparency and clarity of the HE-400's better.

 

But it just seems like no matter what I get, I'll always be disappointed.

So, does the Unicorn exist?

post #2 of 18

Well, I have seen in a thread some person doing an A/B test between the magni/modi and Asgaard/bifrost stacks. He couldn't reliably tell the difference.

Anyways, I don't think you ever will get that wow feeling again when progressing so slow. But for me to find a satisfying sound, the least I could settle with (from what I have heard) is a properly amped HE-400. It can become musical and very natural, especially with tubes (just my experience).

 

I'd bet that you won't be that much wowed if you could try the hd555 with your uncles cd player today, now that you are more experienced in audio.

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

It's just really frustrating at times.

I'm just gonna sell my bike for $2,000 and buy the LCD2 and Burson ha-160ds.

If I'm not satisfied by then, I'm just gonna get out of this hobby while i can =/

post #4 of 18

to be honest, human body take things for granted after a period of using em'. Like changing from a pair of branded sandals from cheapo one, u will first be WOWed by how comfort it is but after few months of wearing u won't feel tat way anymore. the only way to experience back the WOW feeling is gv urself sometime Listening to headphone of lower quality or stop listening completely. Let ur ears get used to the normal quality, however, if low,mid,highs is all you heard from a song u will find urself skipping every songs before it finish.Instead, listen to the singer's emotion,the story that singer tells in the song. I acknowledge i have only own few bang for bucks headphones (FA-003,HD25-ii,TF10,SRH440) but i'm contented now.

 

PS:headphone are just tools used to convert data to sound energy. It takes the right emotion,right ambient and the right time to make a person falling for a song.

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by CSGO rice View Post

6 Years ago I bought a HD555.

It was good all around and I used it mostly for games.

Then one day I went to my really rich uncle's house in China and I plugged my HD555's into his $10,000 cd player.

I remember being completely WOW'd.  It sounded so real.  (keep in mind up until that point, I had not listened to any flac files)
This is what first peaked my interest in audio.

 

A few years ago, I started getting more into headphones.

I bought a HE-400(first batch) and ran it straight out of my computer.  It sounded better than my HD555's.  But there were balance issues so I returned them.

Recently, I bought an asgard, modi/magni, and HD600's.

Yes, they sounded better than my HD555's, but $500 better?  not really.

The improvements were too big.  Better bass, better extension, more musical, pretty much same amount of detail and clarity.

 

I just expected to be wow'd.  With the HE-400's, HD600's, Asgard... I kept expecting to hear night and day, as if trying to recapture that first wow moment I had at my uncle's house.

I keep trying to rationalize that I will get that wow feeling once I get something like LCD2's or HE-500's.

But the more I read, it seems like these headphones are just yet slight improvements upon the HE-400's and HD600's.

Does the unicorn I'm chasing after not exist?

 

Even my HD600's from unamped to amped sounded quite similar.  I was expecting mud vs crystal clear sound, but it was just slight improvements again.

I don't even hear a difference between my magni and asgard... and any that I might have heard was probably placebo.

 

I'm not the type of person to obsess over tiny details.  And I do have at least decent ears to be able to tell the difference... being a violinist all my life and having every teacher I've ever had tell me I had one of the best ears they've ever seen.

 

I want a sound that is JUICY.  Not too spacious, but engaging.  CLEAR and punctual bass.  Colorful mids.  DETAIL and CLARITY.  I just want a sound that is... well, sexy.  Like melted chocolate.

Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree with Senn's, because I did like the transparency and clarity of the HE-400's better.

 

But it just seems like no matter what I get, I'll always be disappointed.

So, does the Unicorn exist?

 

Heya,

 

I would call into question that if you heard the same setup again, you'd probably go "Meh, didn't sound like I remembered it..." Psychology plays a huge role. You knew it was expensive and "audiophile" so of course you thought it sounded great, even though really it shouldn't have sounded any different on those headphones as something that cost $100.

 

You definitely need to stick to planar magnetics.

 

I would suggest you start looking into the HE-500, HE-6 or LCD2. Yea, cost is prohibitive. But what you're looking for does exist.

 

And of course, your source media, the music itself, has to be the best recorded and mastered material, or no fancy audio setup will render something sexy.

 

Very best,


Edited by MalVeauX - 1/16/13 at 7:35am
post #6 of 18

Well if you describe yourself as a musician with above average hearing defintion and you don't notice a sunstantial improvemnt from HD555 to HD600 with adequate amping, in at least detail retrival and tonality of i.e a violin, I'd blame the source material. Quality recording is first and foremost then the electronics. What material were you listening to?

 

For the best clarity and detail, Try some electrostats (Stax) Or vintage AKGs (K240 Sextetts, K340, K1000). These have the best clarity and accurate reproduction of source material IME.

post #7 of 18

I aggree with jammerlee on taking things for granted. When going back to my $70 IEMs that blew me away a few years back, they sound like crap in comparison to my HE-400's.

 

With the Magni and Asgard sounding the same...according to their specs, they should. They're both ruler flat 20Hz-20KHz(Asgard doesn't mention it but I measured it, completely flat), and have THD levels well below audibility. Maybe the Asgard has a better SNR but you'd have to be listening pretty loud to notice that. They have a little half joking thing on the Magni FAQ on why you would buy the Asgard over the Magni.

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by CSGO rice View Post

I'm not the type of person to obsess over tiny details.

 

 

Then I'd set a small budget for headphones and move on with my life, if I were you. Going down the rabbit hole is for people that want new tiny details to obsess over.

post #9 of 18

Audio as a hobby is the ultimate example of the law of diminishing returns. There is so much good equipment out there at a reasonable price, that when you spend substantially more, you're really getting only minimal improvements. Don't buy all the "night and day" annecdotal reviews, they're simply examples of confirmation bias at work.  Yeah, a $2000 pair of headphones may sound better than that $300 pair, but undoubtedly NOT 700% better.  The question becomes what can you afford and what are you willing to spend to eke out the last vestige of sound quality.

post #10 of 18

I see it this way: The more money you use, the less improvement you get BUT the little improvement is far more important when spending big cash to perfect the sound.

I don't really know how far I want to go myself. For now I own the HE-500 and a decent amp. So far, im satisfied with this setup, and there is nothing I really long for like I did when I only had my dt-880.

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 

I just bought the mad dogs from someone as I don't have that much cash right now.

I'll see if it was just the sound signature of the Senn's that I didn't like.

Thanks everyone.  =)

post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesDaddy View Post

Audio as a hobby is the ultimate example of the law of diminishing returns. There is so much good equipment out there at a reasonable price, that when you spend substantially more, you're really getting only minimal improvements. Don't buy all the "night and day" annecdotal reviews, they're simply examples of confirmation bias at work.  Yeah, a $2000 pair of headphones may sound better than that $300 pair, but undoubtedly NOT 700% better.  The question becomes what can you afford and what are you willing to spend to eke out the last vestige of sound quality.

 

Heya,

 

Quite true.

 

On another note, my favorite pitfall is when someone wants to spend $1000 on a setup, seeking great quality, but they're playing the same music they were playing from their cell phone, from iTunes, or YouTube rips, or some variable rate MP3's they downloaded off some torrent site and then go and say that the equipment "isn't that good."

 

Very best,

post #13 of 18

I'll echo most of the sentiments here, and add my piece: set a modest budget, and spend the rest on music, wine, and other mood "enhancements" to really bring you to that "wow" factor wink.gif

post #14 of 18

You have stumbled a phenomenon that many of us have. Amping in general is over-rated. That is not to say it does nothing but it is WILDLY exaggerated here. It means people spend hundreds of dollars on amps and run them out of cheap DACs and expect miracles. It's to be expected that a $100 DAC doesn't sound as good as a $10,000 CD player.

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by redrich2000 View Post

You have stumbled a phenomenon that many of us have. Amping in general is over-rated. That is not to say it does nothing but it is WILDLY exaggerated here. It means people spend hundreds of dollars on amps and run them out of cheap DACs and expect miracles. It's to be expected that a $100 DAC doesn't sound as good as a $10,000 CD player.


Miracles, no, but the small things can mean a lot. Nothing irritates me more than underamped equipment, but the DAC is not as important for me. Perefection ya know :P

There are definitely cases in the sub 500$ where $ spend on an amp is better than spending $ on a more expensive 'phone. For me it would be the case with the HE-400 properly amped, vs HE-500 poorly amped. This is what I experienced with: Fiio E17->HE-500 vs x-can v8p->HE-400.

 

I most point out, that I definitely think the HE-500 is superior to the 400 in general

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