After spending most of the day comparing the Basso and Tenore, I can make some general comments regarding the differences (and similarities) between the two. Granted these comparisons are made without any significant burn-in time, but I always like to start with "out-of-the-box" phones just to get an idea of where things begin. In many, but not all, cases, I note little, if any, difference over time. Two notable exceptions are the Cardas Mirrors and Sony F1, both of which benefit from a lot of play hours.
First off, I found that for my ears, the Tenore is a much more comfortable and "forgetable" fit even when using the same size tips. Just the difference in body thickness between the two phones makes for a significant difference in comfort to me.
It seems to me that both phones were designed considering the psychoacoustic properties of the Fletcher-Munson audio curves, which shows that our ears are most sensitive to frequencies in the 3-4Khz with both higher and lower frequencies being rolled off as volume decreases.
An issue that I have with many phones is that they are apparently tuned for rather specific volume levels and can sound considerably different than intended at higher or lower volumes. Consider the fact that nearly all live music, whether rock, classical, pop, whatever, is normally heard live at higher volume levels than are typically used in most home environments. As the volume decreases, the highs and lows also (to our ears) decrease in amplitude. By designing a phone that is boosted in both high and low frequencies, we can listen at lower levels and still appreciate the subtleties of the music represented by these frequencies. The decrease in apparent loudness with a decrease in volume is considerably more apparent with the lower frequencies hence they are usually boosted more than the highs.
The Basso seems to me a much more pleasant listen at lower volumes, where the boosted lows compensate for the overall reduced volume level. By the same token, the Tenore begins to sound rather thin at lower volume levels but really comes into its own as we increase the listening volume and begin to approach live performance levels. At these higher volume levels, the Basso sounds to me to be too bassy and "in-your-face", thus distracting me from the music itself.
This is not to say that one is a better headphone than the other, rather they are, I think, designed to each accurately reproduce the source material at rather different volume levels. For bassheads, the Basso at higher volumes will likely be the phone of choice, whereas those looking for a well-balanced sound at higher, more live-performance volume levels will probably find the Tenore to be the more satisfying choice.
As I listen to vocal, jazz and classical music at levels near live performances (which is probably around 85-90 db) I personally find the Tenore to be my favorite, as my attention is never drawn to any specific part of the frequency spectrum. If I were to listen to this same music at a much lower overall volume level, I would find the Basso to sound quite pleasing.
It was fun spending time comparing the Basso and Tenore with many different types of music and at differing playback levels. Both phones offer enormous bang for the buck...
Pay your money and take your choice....(or both!)
Edited by HiFlight - 5/1/14 at 1:57pm