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are expensive headphones really worth it?

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 

Hi. I want to know, are expensive headphones really worth it? I spent 600 dollars on a pare of headphones, a DAC schiit modi and schiit magni amplifier to go with my Hifiman he-400 headphones. The reason I bought it is because I wanted to invest in nice headphones and I had my geek brother do research, who has a pare 200 dollars less than mine, and he chose these for me. Well it's a couple days until the refund policy expires and I'm starting to feel physically heated about this decision I have to make. So I can't make up my mind, and I want other people's opinions.

post #2 of 65

As a new owner of my first two headphones (cheaper) and (also cheaper) amp, I say it's worth it.  But it took me days for my brain to get educated with the differences.  I came from cheap IEMs and find the difference quite large (after 2 weeks using both my headphones).  It took me a while to appreciate their worth, and I don't know if that applies to you.

But for your particular pairing, I think there's also your taste in music and sound signature you like, that adds to factoring whether those items are worth your money.  As some headfiers might detest HD800 but love HD598 (just an example).  Or as I just read from another thread, some were satisfied downgrading to Fiio E9k from a more expensive model.  So you might have bought a very highly regarded set up, but you might be one of the others who just don't like the resulting sound signature.

Also, at certain threads, headfiers would also say, "If you enjoy the cheaper headphones as is, then good for you"... and good for your wallet.  No matter how expensive your gear, if you just can not appreciate the value of the sound its offering, it's not worth it.

To me right now, it's worth every money, time of research, and headache for searching for a good deal, is all worth it.
But again, it took me a while to realize that.

post #3 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix Jackson View Post

As a new owner of my first two headphones (cheaper) and (also cheaper) amp, I say it's worth it.  But it took me days for my brain to get educated with the differences.  I came from cheap IEMs and find the difference quite large (after 2 weeks using both my headphones).  It took me a while to appreciate their worth, and I don't know if that applies to you.

But for your particular pairing, I think there's also your taste in music and sound signature you like, that adds to factoring whether those items are worth your money.  As some headfiers might detest HD800 but love HD598 (just an example).  Or as I just read from another thread, some were satisfied downgrading to Fiio E9k from a more expensive model.  So you might have bought a very highly regarded set up, but you might be one of the others who just don't like the resulting sound signature.

Also, at certain threads, headfiers would also say, "If you enjoy the cheaper headphones as is, then good for you"... and good for your wallet.  No matter how expensive your gear, if you just can not appreciate the value of the sound its offering, it's not worth it.

To me right now, it's worth every money, time of research, and headache for searching for a good deal, is all worth it.
But again, it took me a while to realize that.

I'm glad you responded to my thread, for starters. Here's my issue. When I first tried them out I was expecting to be blown away, like a lot of other people when they first try expensive headphones. Well it's been a week since I first tried them on and here's what I notice that's different. I have not been blown away. In fact I'm still having doubts about whether or not I made a good decision. I'm also wondering if someone would tell me what 'dark sound' means'.  Anyways, what I noticed that is different is I can hear instruments more on their own. What I mean by that is certain instruments sound louder. It's kind of a loudness that hurts my ears after a while, especially in symbols and high frequency sounds. I think that's because of higher frequency. I am using flac file if that's supposed to make a difference. Maybe it's just because I'm tired right now, and my hearing gets more sensitive when I'm tired. My brother says I'll get used to that sound (my brother is the geek who did all the research for the headphone for me). I guess I'm a little concerned because I made this exact same thread on 4chan (yeah, bare with me here) on the technology board, /g/. Here's the responses I got. I'm not sure if they're trolls or what:

-

>headphones from **** self-proclaimed "audiophile" manufacturer
>DAC and amps marketed for dumb**** head-fi going retards

Yeah u don goof'd. Return them.

-

Your brother made a bad choice by researching on head-fi. Return everything, get some entry level decent headphones such as ATH-M50 and maybe when you appreciate high end audio you can try to get a high end headphone

-

Ya blew it.

You bought an extremely dark audiophile headphone that has no treble and is suited for an audiophile niche market. Think a niche within a niche. You also bought a FOTM product which hasn't been around for long.

Return everything.

-

Law of diminishing returns.
The more money you put into it =/= the better it is.

Now, why did you spend all of that money if you couldn't in the first place? Its called disposable income for a reason.

I've tried expensive headphones and there is a good reason I don't have HD800's with a stack of amp/DACs: I just don't need it.

I've got several $100 headphones. T50RP, MDR-V6, Portapros. And I would take these over a higher priced headphone, as I don't hear a dramatic jump in quality.


If you don't have the money, return the stuff and get a cheap pair of headphones. Grado Sr80is would be good, and you don't need an amp/DAC for them. Just the headphones and a good source.

-

>I'm curious to know, what is everyone's problem with head-fi?
you can't post anything that reveals something negative about their sponsors. they will also ban you for discussing double blind testing.

example: never mention that schiit amps/dacs live up to their name

 

I wonder what these people have against this website.

 

Okay, so out of all these comments, I'm still not convinced. I'm very curious to know what "dark sound means" and what that one guy could possibly have meant by "a niche market." I also noticed that around the internet, I don't hear about a lot of people who really suggest high end audio equipment. I think that's probably because most people can't afford it, but still. I see people who have those seinhieser he800 things and even they say that there's not much of a difference in sound quality. So I know no one can make a decision for me but I'm really on the fence about this. My brother says all the 4chan guys are AKG fanboys and are probably trolling and don't know anything about headphones. Still, I see a lot of people saying I made a bad decision, so I don't know. I only made the decision to buy them and I'm feeling literallhy, physically heated about the decision of whether or not to return them. The problem is I don't really have any reason to dislike them other than I spent a lot of money on them.


Edited by Hifi Man - 1/26/13 at 9:48pm
post #4 of 65
From the sounds of things you maybe jumped in a little too deep for starting out. I'm sure your brother means well, but you aren't as mature in your HiFi journey as he is (don't take this as me being condescending, I'm really no further along). You might get more enjoyment for now by returning that setup and buying a cheaper amp and a couple nice pairs of less expensive cans. That will give you a chance to explore your tastes while stretching your critical listening wings. See what you think after the return policy term runs count on that equipment. You'll probably want more.
post #5 of 65

Dark sound means that there is a relative lack of high end frequencies compared to lower end frequencies. If you enjoy them, and can afford them, I would say keep them. However, you did jump straight into the deep end (well kind of the middle actually), so if you're looking to get into the hobby there are a lot of other models from $50-200.

 

What does your brother have by the way? Do you enjoy them? Do you notice a difference?

 

So it all comes down to what you can afford, how much you will use them, and if you enjoy them or not.

 

As for the hate on head-fi, who knows, we usually only recommend to people what they can afford and try to tailor recommendations to the individuals tastes.

 

Oh and just ignore any comments like "Just get some M50's or SR60's" both of those are definitely good, but also not for everyone, and while you may love those 'phones, do some research around here, ask lots of questions and someone can point you in the right direction.


Edited by winenerd - 1/26/13 at 9:56pm
post #6 of 65
Thread Starter 

Edit: hold on, more posts I gotta read.

post #7 of 65

This stuff should be a distraction, not a source of stress If it is causing you stress it's a very bad expenditure. Even the lowest priced headphones are luxuries, not necessities.

 

KP

post #8 of 65
The only person able to decide if anything is worth it to you is yourself. However, I would recommend you hear some other pairs of decent headphones before you write them all off.

I, personally was not a fan of the HE-400. I felt as though their integration between the mids and treble was off, causing to them to sound artificial, and the overly exaggerated upper HF was somewhat annoying to me as well. There are several headphones that cost less than the Hifimans that in my opinion sound much better on most music (HD60x, K70x, SRH940, for example.) I realize that I am in the minority with these statements however.

Which headphones you like depends a lot on personal preference, what types of music you are listing too, ect. There is no best pair for everyone. That is why whenever possible listening to several pairs before you buy is always a good move.

Best of luck with your decision!
Edited by Snag1e - 1/26/13 at 10:17pm
post #9 of 65

I don't know how seasoned headfiers would react to such responses, but I surely do not like bashing.  Giving negative facts or opinions, flat out, is one thing.  Colorizing their words just to give emphasis on their opinions make me doubt their credibility.  That's how I judge.

 

The glossary says: Dark - A tonal balance that tilts downwards with increasing frequency. Opposite of bright. Weak high frequencies.

That kind of contradicts (I think) what you're experiencing, as what you describe seems familiar with fatigue due to sibilance or something.  Please don't take my assumptions much as I'm still new to audiophile, though.

 

What I think where your brother might be at fault isn't that he researched through this site.  But more on whether he knows exactly what you want.  As you stated, he said, "You'll get used to it." It makes me think when he's researching, whether he was thinking of what you ought to hear rather than what you like to hear.  There is a chance that he really liked what he heard out of your set up.  But as I said earlier, different folks have different specific tastes.

 

As for your connection to flac files, it does makes a difference to some phones and some people.  Some particular phones are called "unforgiving" 'cause they tend to bring out more details than the others.  Which means if the recording is bad, the badness will be emphasized.  And again, that partially depends on the listener as some people seem to be able to detect such flaws easily.

... and that I think relates to the "niche" the 4chan people are talking about.  Why some headphones are addressed as "reference" while some are "fun."  The reference headphones are deemed boring because of its neutral sound but they, after all, was made for a group of people who prefer it that way.  The more popular headphones (regardless of price) are deemed fun because it is meant for enjoying the music... BUT again, it depends on how the output of sound is tweaked... which (I think) relates to the color or sound... and an example is being dark.

 

My problem is I don't have much experience and technical knowledge with this, along with the fact that I was never interested in open-back headphones (for now), so I don't know anything about you particular headphone.  I hope some other headfiers would come to aid.

 

There's another thing that would've helped you before buying your set up.  As most (if not all) here strongly recommend: Nothing beats auditioning the headphones before purchasing.  So I suggest that also.  If you have any means of going to a shop to listen to some other headphones, please do.  It will help you a lot to detect what you didn't like from your gear, and also find out the particular sound you're looking for.  When you said you want to be blown away, it's the "how should it blow you away" that you might want to figure out.  I don't know if the rest of the headfiers agree with me, but I think the more expensive these headphones get, the more specific they sound.  I mean they tend to specialize at a specific sound signature.  While the cheaper and cheaper and cheaper ones seem to be more general but doesn't give emphasis to anything.

 

Edit:  It took me too long to think and type that there are people chiming in already.  Eh.  Sorry.


Edited by Phoenix Jackson - 1/26/13 at 10:10pm
post #10 of 65

Oh and on the bit about double blind testing, I imagine it just causes all sorts of arguments and turmoil in the main forums. The Sound Science forum is almost completely dedicated to it, and has a lot of interesting reads.

post #11 of 65

Maybe change it for a cheaper setup if you don't feel it's worth it.

post #12 of 65

DT770 Pro 80 is enough for me, Never getting another pair of headphones until these stop working (probably never considering these build quality)

post #13 of 65

Lol, never thought I'd see 4chan quotes up in here; love the contrast, even though I'd say they were mostly generally trolling.

The fact of the matter is that no one can convince you to be happy with a headphone purchase, if you don't feel like the purchase was justified, don't worry about what other people think, just return them.  If you've already given them a chance, and there's no benefit that you feel is in it for you, no big deal, they're just not your thing.  I could chime in here and say that "oh, you just haven't found the right headphone etc etc etc..." like a 'good' head-fi-er, and even though deep down a part of me does believe that, I don't think people should be peer-pressured into going on a wild goose chase for something that may in fact, just not be their thing *gasp*.

I know that with me, I wouldn't really be able to tell you why a purchase was worth it to me exactly, but I can tell when I start to get the sense that it wasn't. For me, I usually do get a bit of a buyer's remorse feeling when I first make a big purchase, but the key is, whether or not that feeling goes away, and/or how fast I forget about it.  I am one of the owners of those 'HD800' things, and as you know, those are mighty pricey. So naturally, when I first got them I was kind of missing that large wad of cash I just spent, however after about a couple day's worth of use, I completely forgot about it. Does that mean they are worth $1500? Hell, I don't know. But I do know that I don't regret buying them. If my feelings of doubt hadn't gone away, and I was still frequently thinking about returning or selling them weeks after, then I would've almost certainly said "no, they are not worth it". But since that was not the case... yeah. I guess I just don't feel comfortable making broad statements about the objective 'worth' of something, given everybody's different interests/tastes/financial situations/etc...

This is a niche market though. And as with any niche, it's gonna have a small hardcore following that will pay attention to literally mountains of tiny details. Because the more you get into something, the more you're gonna pick at it, and the more you'll be noticing smaller and smaller details. It's just the nature of human interest. Same thing for wine/cars/fashion/tech/whatever. The thing about 'super expensive' headphones not being much of an improvement over 'cheaper' headphones is two-fold:

1st) Given the sound of any headphone, how can you ever determine how much better a competing headphone is? What does a headphone that's '2x' as good sound like? 3x as good? 5x? etc... it's just too abstract to quantify like that, so the price/value ratio you get out of these things is never gonna be even remotely the same for everybody.

2nd) The paradox of the 'huge' difference top-tier headphones make, and the comments about the difference really not being that big, comes down again to that fact about us making mountains out of tiny details. Since people that are really into this (or any other) hobby make a big deal about tiny details, a headphone that improves upon a whole mountain of them, is going to feel like a huge difference. However, since your average non-head-fi-er doesn't really care about small details, that mountain is meaningless and so the sound really doesn't improve that much. Add into that the fact that there is no objective measure of improvement like I mentioned above, and the whole pillar of 'value' upon which these really expensive headphones stand quickly comes crashing down for your average consumer. 

High-end 'niche' interests in anything, are something I feel should be discovered on an individual basis, not pushed upon you by others. I have plenty of friends that just roll their eyes at me when they listen to my headphones (not even telling them how much they were!). But once in a blue moon, I get a random friend that just asks to try them out of his own curiosity, and is totally blown away, so from there I might start making recommendations and such. But I would never suggest someone 'upgrade' their headphones without showing a legitimate interest first. You sound like you actually had a slight interest in it first, so I wouldn't feel too bad saying that yes, maybe those particular phones weren't for you, and you might prefer a different sound. But if you don't legitimately feel that this interest is coming directly from you, then just ignore that and return your setup, because it seems like that would make you happier in the long run.

And about 'dark' headphones: it's kinda hard to explain the sound of it if you haven't had much experience with different types of headphone sounds, but basically it just means that a phone is lacking in the higher frequencies (like where a drum's cymbals live and such). I haven't tried the HE-400 yet myself, but judging from it's frequency response graph, they don't seem like they would be very dark to me. But it does seem to have humps at around 1k and 9k with recessed upper-mids, so maybe it's just that 'V' sound signature that you don't like? Who knows. The only way to know that would be for you to try out more headphones; but again, I don't recommend doing that unless you really want to for your own sake.

post #14 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by winenerd View Post

Dark sound means that there is a relative lack of high end frequencies compared to lower end frequencies. If you enjoy them, and can afford them, I would say keep them. However, you did jump straight into the deep end (well kind of the middle actually), so if you're looking to get into the hobby there are a lot of other models from $50-200.

 

What does your brother have by the way? Do you enjoy them? Do you notice a difference?

 

So it all comes down to what you can afford, how much you will use them, and if you enjoy them or not.

 

As for the hate on head-fi, who knows, we usually only recommend to people what they can afford and try to tailor recommendations to the individuals tastes.

 

Oh and just ignore any comments like "Just get some M50's or SR60's" both of those are definitely good, but also not for everyone, and while you may love those 'phones, do some research around here, ask lots of questions and someone can point you in the right direction.

At this point, I don't feel like I've had enough time to really tell. I can afford them, and I used a little pocket of change I had stowed away, and I decided I wanted to invest in new headphones, not because of audiophile interests, but because of my music hobby. I listen to a ton of music. 

 

My brother uses the DT770's (250) with an STX soundcard.

 

Really, I'm not really into these, and not completely loving them, I'm just getting a gut feeling of uncertainty. On the opposite end of the table, I find these headphones really interesting, and I wish I want like a year to check them out. The problem is within a couple days the return policy for the Modi and magni will run out and that could possibly leave me dead in the water, so to speak. 

 

I see that the needle drop uses AKG headphones, and seems to say they're good headphones. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDNTB524fy8 I don't really listen to a whole lot of music this guy reviews, but I often watch the new episodes he comes out with because I think it's interesting. However, sometimes he does come out with an interesting metal review of an album I like, rarely. If this guy, a seasoned music listener uses these headphones, why shouldn't I? Also, there's http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARInCuMQXaI&list=UUt7fwAhXDy3oNFTAzF2o8Pw&index=23 this video. Coupled with everything the people on 4chan said, and this guy, I'm not exactly sure if maybe the AKGs would be better for me, because maybe I'm just more into just listening to music for pleasure, instead of hearing things differently, and trying to wonder if the headphones are right for me. Honestly I'm getting a little tired of just wondering and wondering about the headphones. I wish I could have made a decisive move that changed my life for the better. Not spent a lot of money for barely any added enjoyment. 

 

If there are better headphones for my taste that would be cool. Personally, I tried out my old headphones on an album I used to love. It's a really low fi black metal album on 125 kbps on itunes and played on my new headphones, everything stands out and it sounds hugely unpleasant to my ears. Then I put back on my old headphones and everything sounded flat and fuzzy again, and it pleased my ears. Also, I have been listening to some FLAC files on foobar2000 with these headphones. I feel like the difference I hear may be just an placebo effect, because I put on the music and it really is hard to tell the difference between 320kbps and flac, except I do it because I'm interested. That leads me to wonder if the music will be the winner here, or if interest in sound quality is the winner. When it comes to these headphone, am I really in it for the sound quality, or am I in it for the music? I'd say I'm 100% in it for the music. That just leads me to wonder if there's some sort of equalization program I can get so I can make the sounds that come out of this headphone more suitable.

 

Btw, what do people mean when they say this headphone has no treble?

 

I think I'm a bit tired and I'm going to go to sleep for the night. I look forward to seeing a comment or two when I wake up. It's really the final crunch time for me to make a decision here, and I honestly just want to make the right one. Easier said than done.


Edited by Hifi Man - 1/26/13 at 10:24pm
post #15 of 65

If it's just the return policy on the Magni/Modi you're worried about, you could keep them a bit long and always sell them later. Someone would definitely snatch them up. You might lose a bit on them, but could probably recoup most of your money. A lot of items in this hobby don't depreciate very quickly.

 

Actually why don't you email Schiit and explain what your situation is? They might extend the return policy for you? This is a pure guess, but it can't hurt.


Edited by winenerd - 1/26/13 at 10:30pm
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