Over the weekend, I heard a world class symphony orchestra combine with its chorus for an enjoyable evening of music. In that alone, I'm fortunate. But that's not the point of this thread.
The point was raised in my mind, however, by the mild disappointment I felt at the sonic changes to the orchestra elicited simply by the moving of their chairs by no more a distance than a very make-able putt. In order to accomodate a group of 80 or so singers, the orchestra had to move forward just enough that most of the strings were sitting on the apron instead of their usual place within the resonance chamber of the deep stage. It occured to me that if I compared this change in the sound of the orchestra to how I often listen to a new set of IEMs, I would quickly begin thinking in term of how the mids were muddier, that there was less separation between instruments, and that imaging lacked the same precision. All these thoughts I would have thought, and yet here I was, sitting in a famous symphony hall that recently underwent a thorough, acoustically-driven renovation!
Yes, I could hear changes, but the concert was still terrific and the orchestra sounded superb. It was as close to the sound of a live orchestral concert as one can get, given that it was, in fact, a live orchestral concert! Yet, I couldn't entirely turn off my critical faculties and was bothered by an ever-so-slight change from their normal sonic signature. Similarly, many of us in this hobby listen closely for minute differences among phones, offering in our reviews and comments of quite, quite excellent products statements about the more veiled mids of this one, the diminished sense of air around instruments of that one, and the less precise imaging of the other!
And of course we should do so, because a necessary part of audiophilia is developing better listening skills on our quests to identify the products that bring us as close as possible to being right there where the music is made. But surely we should also pause once in awhile to appreciate how we live in an era where for fewer than $200, we can acquire a portable digital player and a set of 'phones that bring us pretty darn close to "the absolute sound" of being in the recording studio or the club or the hall where music is being made. We are able to hold a hundred records and sonic fidelity equaling the reference speakers of yesterday IN THE PALMS OF OUR HANDS! There's no chance our spouses/partners/flat mates can object to the look of our new gear or how it intrudes into the living room! It's all stunning, and better sound is seemingly cheaper every year.
In the near future, I'm going to venture into my first review here on Head-Fi--a "shoot-out" comparison of under $200 studio monitor style IEMs. As someone who has made a living in the general category of "things audio," I believe I have the listening skills and vocabulary to have a decent shot at writing something a couple of people might find of value. But more than that, I'd like to offer--especially to those wired as I am with an unhealthy need to know that I have the very best possible for what I have to spend--the observation that, starting somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred bucks (maybe less), you can get yourself an amazing 'phone that is able to perform to the level of allowing you to identifying the meager differences in sound of an orchestra moving its chairs a few feet forward from its norm.
SO: I've come to appreciate that there are many fine listeners here on Head-Fi, and that they are generous in sharing their critical observations of 'phones to any stranger that asks. But let's have a space simply to gush about what we are enjoying and why. No comparisons here. No "which is better?" questioning and commentary. Just "I'm loving product x because of y and z."
And if you're still wondering: yes, whatever you've chosen is an excellent choice!