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.
I just read this entire comment, and it was really helpful. I want to say that I feel you've brought to light a couple key factors. Not doing things based off what other people think. Hi end headphones aren't for everyone and it is a niche market. Probably something I'm not into. I feel like you've helped me fulfill something I was looking for tonight; I've been looking for an honest opinion, something that's honest and reasonable. For one, I like these headphones, but right now I feel like the pressure to make a decision I might regret is really hindering any enjoyment I could get out of them. I don't think I really am in to these kinds of headphones, and I think I'm going to go ahead and return everything for a full refund. It would really ease my mind, and I could always come back to high fidelity if I really feel like it, but if I don't return them, then I'm stuck with them. I feel like I gave it a lot of though, and it's not an easy decision, but the important thing is it's MY decision, and I think it's the right one. It certainly has been a very interesting, if not a little bit stressful experience.
Edited by Hifi Man - 1/26/13 at 10:34pm