Just did some listening at several places, Brookstone, Best Buy (with Magnolia in store) and Radio Shack.
At Brookstone I could hook up my own iPOD with music, I tested 4 headphones:
- Beats by Dr. Dre: overwelming uncontrolled bass, unable to hear the mids well but clear highs, although not sparkling. Comfortable though.
- AblePlanet NC200B: better controlled bass than Beats but missing punch. No sparkling highs either but agian comfortable.
- Klipsch Mode M40: I really liked it's sound. Very controlled lows, detailed mids and crispy highs. Some instruments (brass) I barely heard before stood out! But no way comfortable, the clamping tension much too high to let them on, not even for half an hour, Too bad!
- Parrot Zik: The most comfortable headphone I tried. Much better audio than Beats and AblePlanet, but not as good as the Klipsch IMO. Missed the mid details that were present at the Klipsch. Not convinced yet.
At Best Buy the only decent demoing station was Dr Dre's. I'm pretty sure the music on there station is well chosen and I bet all the amplifier inside really has some nice audio processing to cover op the pretty bad sound. The rest of their stations sucks, no good sound at every headphone I tried there. The label says: connect your own MP3 player but here wasn't even a plug to connect it to.
At my surprise I saw the Magnolia store inside Best Buy. They did have some nice headphones hanging there. I connected my iPOD but hell, only one channel was present. I called one of the employees (3 of them were talking behind the counter, not paying attention whatsoever) and he just listened. It took him quite a wile to figure out one channel wasn't actually present at all! Then he went away and came back one minute later. Yes I'm sure the cable is broken but can't fix it at this moment. He went back behind the counter to continue his conversation with the other employees, so I left....
Next I went to Radio Shack. I looked at the headphones, really not much there, besides all the Dr. Dré ones. The guy there step to me and really wanted to help me. I told him I didn't like the Dr. Dre headphones, but he really wanted to let me hear the pricey Dr Dré executive. He took a lot of effort to got a new one out of storeroom, unpack it and gave it to me. I listened but was not exited anyway.
It's incredible how eager the companies are to sell you this Dr. Dré stuff. It must be a reward or something for the employee if he sells one, otherwise I can't find a reason.
Okay so far, so good. No decision yet but an experience richer. Maybe next year when I come to visit I buy one....