Originally Posted by MattTCG
@ ASR Hmm...this "review" sounds more like a commercial for KEF hp's than anything else to be perfectly honest and also an explanation of why you don't find orthodynamic hp's "musical." But honestly, it feels somewhat out of place here. I do get your point... I think. You don't enjoy orthos or find them musically engaging. You mention several world class orthodynamic hp's that didn't "sound good" to you or "move you."
I'm sorry but those hp's that you mention are some of the most "musical" that I've ever heard, anywhere at any price. He500, He6, LCD2 and 3...non musical ?. I do agree that the Stax are other worldly and quite "musical" but it would be rather fruitless for me to compare the Stax with the MD considering the price discrepancy. The MD for me like many of the other orthos mentioned above are beautifully musical, but then again I love the sound of orthodynamic hp's. I think that point you make is that you don't enjoy the sound of orthos including the MD or any ortho. So it doesn't matter what the MD brings to the table or at what price...you wouldn't have enjoyed it, correct? I appreciate and respect all opinions on the forum and you're certainly entitled to yours. Everyone hears things differently and the sound made by orthos obviously doesn't suit you.
Possibly your post might be more appropriate in a KEF appreciation thread.
A lot of new posts since I last posted in this thread, had to dig back several pages. But I saw your post and wanted to further respond.
(1) I'll be honest, my post went spontaneously off-track from what I originally intended, which was a sonic analysis of the Mad Dog (and I'll probably write this up later anyway). But I went off-track because I was enthusiastic about the KEF M500 and was listening to them while writing that post. If anything, as AnakChan pointed out, I meant to raise awareness of the KEF M500, not write a "commercial" or advertise it. It's not like I'm on the payroll for KEF or any of its retailers.
(2) My conclusion about not liking planar magnetics is something I very recently realized - specifically right before I finally shipped off the Mad Dog as part of a sale. I wasn't really saying that "I don't like all orthos and orthos are bad!" - I was more saying that "I've realized that I haven't really liked any of the orthos that I've heard", from Audeze to HiFiMan and now Fostex (T50rp). And I have only one major complaint against all of the planar magnetics that I've heard: none of them have made music sound physically direct to me. I have the same complaint about electrostatic headphones too though. It seems that only dynamic headphones achieve physical directness to my ears. The not-sounding-musical aspect about planar magnetics was just something I noticed along the way as well.
(3) I think the best words for me to use with respect to the Mad Dog are that I admire and respect them. It was truly technically the best $300 set of headphones that I've ever heard and sonically beat out everything cheaper and quite a few more expensive than it. I'll continue to recommend the Mad Dog too for anyone looking into a great set of closed headphones up to its price - it's not like I have anything against it. It's just that I ended up not favoring it. My personal satisfaction with a set of headphones is a completely different aspect than how good I think it is. There are other headphones that I really don't like either, the HD800 for example, but I admire & respect it too.
Originally Posted by Darkbeat
Using "musical" as a description for a headphone is so vague it's practically invisible.
Since this point was brought up more than once, I should say how I personally define "musical". I agree it's a vague word particularly when used in a group setting where not everyone will agree on its definition, but in my mind it refers to something very specific. For me it refers to a headphone's ability to do, and not do, some key things:
- It sounds real. And by that I mean the instruments have realistic-sounding timbres/tonalities/textures. A violin, or violin section, will hopefully sound real on it. My point of comparison for that is my own violin which I still play (though I don't take lessons, as I quit years ago), and the string groups & orchestras that I still perform in too. The vast majority of headphones I've heard have fake-sounding instruments for one reason or another. Not enough treble or too much treble, or weird mid-range peaks. The amount of treble needs to be a balance for especially violins to sound real.
- It sounds integrated and cohesive. It can't unnaturally diffuse/separate the sound too much (like the HD800). Real, live music isn't separated like it is on the HD800. A band or orchestra is typically grouped up inside a room or on a stage. It seems like the new trend for headphones in general is to separate/diffuse the sound, which IMO is the wrong direction. A band should sound like the members are all playing together. An orchestra should sound like it's a group of unified instrument sections. I can't tell you guys how many headphones I've heard completely go about presenting orchestral music the wrong way by diffusing the sound. A real-life violin section sounds like a unified violin section, not a group of individual violins. There's a difference between those and so many headphones I've heard make the 1st and 2nd violin sections sound like a group of individual violins, not the 1st and 2nd sections that they are. Headphones that properly integrate the imaging/soundstage and make it a cohesive whole are rare in the market. The accurate, sonic result should be a band or orchestra presented with that close-knit (not up-close which is different) feeling, like the musicians/vocalists are performing together in the same room and not off doing their own thing in a separate space. It's sort of like the "forest vs the trees" analogy. Most of the latest headphones (dynamic, planar magnetic, and electrostatic alike) are really good at letting you see the trees. But few are good at letting you see the forest.
It's for all those reasons that the KEF M500, along with the Grado HP1000, and Stax OII MKI as well, are what I call "musical"-sounding, as that's how I define it. They nicely present music as a forest, not individual trees. The Mad Dog, on the other hand, merely did what so many other headphones have done for me: it presented the musical "trees" instead of the forest.
Edited by Asr - 7/28/13 at 12:40am