A much longer article was originally written in my main language, and I wrote it as a personal piece mainly for myself, to try to make sense of the subjective vs objective view that we find on headfi and HiFi in general.
In my experience, when you have two strong conterparts like this that dont see eye to eye, both usually have something they are right about, but the message gets lost in communication, or lack of.
I mean its not like more precise headphones are the most musical if the recording is really bad and has a dynamic range compressed -6dB from clipping.
And maybe electrostatic headphones actually have the potential to be more precise, but what if they cant produce the dynamic range of the most dynamic classical recordings? Are they still better?
Or that much of todays music with a dynamic range of -10dB sound bad when played the way it is through precise Stax, Sennheisers or Audeze. Maybe Beats can be more "musical" because it gives music with low dynamic range more dynamics because it is underdamped and unprecise.
Dynamic means movement right? and more dynamic range means more movement? and more movement means you need harder damping to keep the same ammount of mass under control. Knowing every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
In relation to musicality, not precision Im starting to think modern music sound more musical and more dynamic, when played through underdamped headphones like Beats. Or in rock, played with Grados. Because this type of Music usually have low dynamic range and because the Beats and Grados are underdamped.
Audiophile recordings will sound better with music that has more dynamic range because quality headphones have lighter diaphragms and are harder damped and therefore have better control on the diaphragm making them more detailed.
With really dynamic recordings orthodynamics and electrostatics dont have the physical space to fully express the largest dynamic movement of the recording, probably because they are not dynamic enough. Dynamic drivers are not constricted inside a 2,5mm space between large magnets, and may have an advantage over electrostatics and orthodynamics in this case. It is a question of weighing the pros against the cons, and if the dynamic range is more important maybe the Sennheiser HD800 may be a better suited headphone for music with very high dynamic range, even though the Stax is more detailed.
To make a long story short. Dynamics of music matter. The most dynamic recordings may be better on dynamic headphones like Sennheiser HD800 because its diaphragm can work unrestricted. For less extreme dynamic recordnings the electrostatics may be better and more precise. But for the recordings with the lowest dynamic range and for the music that is the most artificial and compressed, the less precise dynamic headphones can again sound better because they are underdamped and less precise. They can even give music with little dynamic range more dynamics because of the unpresise loose damping. It may be less true to the actual recording, but it doesent matter if the actual song playing actually sounds better. Precise headphones reveal more of the distortion, compression and clipping that we find in bad recordings and recordings in general that are heavily influenced by the loudnesswar, and distortion is the least musical sound I know of. Less is better.
In my experience you cant get a headphone that is both precise and detailed for the best recordings, that at the same time smooths over rough recordings making them at sound fuller. If such a headphone exist, I would definitely want one.
I also made these graphs, sorting music genres after dynamic range (vertical) and tonality (horisontal). And plotted in the different headphones after tonality (horisontal) and damping (vertical), to see the headphones tonality and damping-factor in relation to music genres dynamic range and tonality.
The graphs display dynamic range of music genres in relation to headphone measurements like damping. Instead of in relation to nothing. Or headphone measurement in relation to something. The graph comes remarkably close to the subjective opinions on witch headphones that are best suited for each genre. And can maybe even give insight to why Beats have 70% of the headphone marked, and I dont think its all down to marketing.
In relation to nothing the best measuring headhone will be classified as the best, but Im not convinced that the best measuring allways sound best.
Edited by MatsGyver - 9/17/13 at 8:40am