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how good are our ears exactly?

Poll Results: how good are your ears?

 
  • 5% (2)
    i cannot even tell any difference between "better" gears and "lesser" gears
  • 10% (4)
    i can only tell when i a/b them
  • 35% (14)
    i can tell them apart but it requires more than normal concentration
  • 50% (20)
    i can totally tell them apart and its extremely easy to do that and does not really require no effort at all
40 Total Votes  
post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 

most of us have better gears than the average person whos not into audio at all. however, how good are our ears? how fast do you think you can tell the difference in sound quality between a 10 dollars earbud and a good 300-500 dollars headphone if you are being blind tested? and we usually tend to use whatever best gears we have and reluctant to go back to inferior gears but have you tried going back and see how you like the lesser gears? is it tolerable to listen to them? do you still enjoy music through them? or is it a waste of your time moment and just want to switch back to the better gears for more enjoyment? 

post #2 of 49

I don't think audiophiles have better hearing. Those who regularly go to something like rock concerts have probably worse hearing than the average person.

 

The difference is experience, for example in recognizing lossy compression artifacts, how differences in frequency response affect instruments and voices etc.

 

 

I personally have no problem enjoying music I like with cheap headphones, as long as they don't have piercing treble or are uncomfortable. Sure, I'm gonna enjoy the music more with a very comfy set of accurate headphones, but if I had to choose between awesome headphones and awesome good music I'd pick the music. ;) 

 

 

 

The problem with judging headphones by price is that there are expensive headphones out there that sound like crap, and cheap ones that sound amazing. Obviously you're gonna more consistently pick the really better sounding ones in "blind" tests.


Edited by xnor - 9/25/13 at 8:47am
post #3 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
 

I don't think audiophiles have better hearing. Those who regularly go to something like rock concerts have probably worse hearing than the average person.

 

The difference is experience, for example in recognizing lossy compression artifacts, how differences in frequency response affect instruments and voices etc.

 

 

I personally have no problem enjoying music I like with cheap headphones, as long as they don't have piercing treble or are uncomfortable. Sure, I'm gonna enjoy the music more with a very comfy set of accurate headphones, but if I had to choose between awesome headphones and awesome good music I'd pick the music. ;) 

 

 

 

The problem with judging headphones by price is that there are expensive headphones out there that sound like crap, and cheap ones that sound amazing. Obviously you're gonna more consistently pick the really better sounding ones in "blind" tests.

 

um... that is interesting as one would associate audiophiles with super hearing. i have seen someone on youtube comments that audiophiles have better hearing than cats (of course, its just a metaphor but you get what hes trying to say and he did not say it in a sarcastic tone on his post if you are wondering). so you definitely brought something new to the table ;)
 
like you, i admittedly also find cheap headphones can be enjoyable if no piercing treble or discomfort. i also think that even when one can tell the better headphone has better sonic technicalities, he can still pick the lesser headphone just because he likes the sound signature more or something. 
 
i know price does not always indicate better, thats why i said a good 300-500 bucks headphone instead of just 300-500 bucks headphone :p
post #4 of 49

Audiophiles just know what to concentrate to while listening and how music "should" sound like. That's why I feel most musicians are also audiophiles..

post #5 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post
 

most of us have better gears than the average person whos not into audio at all. however, how good are our ears? how fast do you think you can tell the difference in sound quality between a 10 dollars earbud and a good 300-500 dollars headphone if you are being blind tested? and we usually tend to use whatever best gears we have and reluctant to go back to inferior gears but have you tried going back and see how you like the lesser gears? is it tolerable to listen to them? do you still enjoy music through them? or is it a waste of your time moment and just want to switch back to the better gears for more enjoyment? 

The OP seems like a simpler question than it is. One could pull a random 18-year-old (one not already over-exposed to loud volumes) out of the population and get "better ears" than mine every time, on clinical measures.

 

But we listen to music with our ears, with our minds, and an even fuzzier notion, with our emotions. Audiophiles **care** what music sounds like. Just paying attention is a huge part of being able to hear a particular difference or not. Your ears may pick it up, but if your mind does not decode it, it doesn't exist in your experience.


So yes, audiophiles have better, ummmmm...listening, than non-audiophiles. Not better ears necessarily, but definitely better listening.

post #6 of 49

You also need to define "better" and "lesser" gear. Anyone can tell the difference between a pair of Beats vs an HD800 with zero effort. But I would need to A-B and concentrate on specific things to hear the difference between a $500 amp and a $1000 amp.

post #7 of 49

The OP might also be interested in this blog post by solive.

 

 

I guess Audio Retailers/Reviewers can be categorized as audiophiles, and yeah they perform better than random marketing/sales guys and college students.

post #8 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Headzone View Post
 

Audiophiles just know what to concentrate to while listening and how music "should" sound like. That's why I feel most musicians are also audiophiles..

Well, I can't claim to have superior knowledge.  But just my experience, and that of a few folks I know, most musicians aren't audiophiles.  The better the musician the less he/she seems to care about the playback most of the time.  As long as enough is heard to get the music they don't seem to care.  They also seem non-plussed when they listen to a very high fidelity system when maybe they regularly listen to all in one compact systems or some other very basic minimal system in their home. 

post #9 of 49

I agree that musicians are imho more concerned about the quality of the artistic content as opposed to the quality of sound (recording, processing ... reproduction).

 

"Audiophile" has a negative connotation because of the strong focus on reproduction and also high-end nonsense. I guess that's why some differentiate themselves as "musicophiles", which is also a label I'd be more comfortable putting on artists.


Edited by xnor - 9/25/13 at 5:00pm
post #10 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
 

I agree that musicians are imho more concerned about the quality of the artistic content as opposed to the quality of sound (recording, processing ... reproduction).

 

"Audiophile" has a negative connotation because of the strong focus on reproduction and also high-end nonsense. I guess that's why some differentiate themselves as "musicophiles", which is also a label I'd be more comfortable putting on artists.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by esldude View Post
 

Well, I can't claim to have superior knowledge.  But just my experience, and that of a few folks I know, most musicians aren't audiophiles.  The better the musician the less he/she seems to care about the playback most of the time.  As long as enough is heard to get the music they don't seem to care.  They also seem non-plussed when they listen to a very high fidelity system when maybe they regularly listen to all in one compact systems or some other very basic minimal system in their home. 

 

 

i have noticed that too. i have some friends who play instruments, they are not really concerned with audio playback gears neither. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Headzone View Post
 

Audiophiles just know what to concentrate to while listening and how music "should" sound like. That's why I feel most musicians are also audiophiles..

 

that may be it... 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
 

The OP might also be interested in this blog post by solive.

 

 

I guess Audio Retailers/Reviewers can be categorized as audiophiles, and yeah they perform better than random marketing/sales guys and college students.

 

 

interesting... what does it mean by trained? like sound engineers?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by blueangel2323 View Post
 

You also need to define "better" and "lesser" gear. Anyone can tell the difference between a pair of Beats vs an HD800 with zero effort. But I would need to A-B and concentrate on specific things to hear the difference between a $500 amp and a $1000 amp.

 

"better" gears that i keep referring to have better technicalities (clarity, extension, etc...) and do not mean they have to have a sound signature that please the listeners more. and on the hd800 vs beats, i dont know if its true that anyone can tell the difference. i have read someone on youtube commenting that he cant tell the difference at all between all headphones, he said headphones sound all the same to him... 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltMusicSnob View Post
 

The OP seems like a simpler question than it is. One could pull a random 18-year-old (one not already over-exposed to loud volumes) out of the population and get "better ears" than mine every time, on clinical measures.

 

But we listen to music with our ears, with our minds, and an even fuzzier notion, with our emotions. Audiophiles **care** what music sounds like. Just paying attention is a huge part of being able to hear a particular difference or not. Your ears may pick it up, but if your mind does not decode it, it doesn't exist in your experience.


So yes, audiophiles have better, ummmmm...listening, than non-audiophiles. Not better ears necessarily, but definitely better listening.

 

 

 

i dont know if this is true or not, you are saying someone whos not into audio when listening to music dont pay as much attention to whats going on? or is it simply that they cant tell the difference between how something sounds on one system compares to another?

post #11 of 49

To me, it is quite easy to tell stuff apart. I tried the Astrotec AX7 and straight away I could see where it was better and worse than my GR07 MKII which is in the same price range. Needless to say, the difference between something like a Monoprice 8320 and a GR07 is quite huge. Admittedly, last year, before I joined Head-Fi, I could not tell the difference between headphones' soundstage and stuff. 


Edited by lin0003 - 9/25/13 at 10:52pm
post #12 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lin0003 View Post
 

To me, it is quite easy to tell stuff apart. I tried the Astrotec AX7 and straight away I could see where it was better and worse than my GR07 MKII which is in the same price range. Needless to say, the difference between something like a Monoprice 8320 and a GR07 is quite huge. Admittedly, last year, before I joined Head-Fi, I could not tell the difference between headphones' soundstage and stuff. 

 

thanks for sharing your honest experience. 

post #13 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post
 

most of us have better gears than the average person whos not into audio at all. however, how good are our ears? how fast do you think you can tell the difference in sound quality between a 10 dollars earbud and a good 300-500 dollars headphone if you are being blind tested? and we usually tend to use whatever best gears we have and reluctant to go back to inferior gears but have you tried going back and see how you like the lesser gears? is it tolerable to listen to them? do you still enjoy music through them? or is it a waste of your time moment and just want to switch back to the better gears for more enjoyment? 

I've only been in the audio world for about 2 years. My first pair of decent piece of audio gear was the Klipsch Image S4 and I thought it was a massive jump from stock/cheap earbuds/iems. The sound was less congested compared to stock/cheap audio gear. After the day I bought the Klipsch I could not go back to anythng cheaper. It was also the first time I heard the bass guitar in a song as before this, I always thought the bassist was a waste of space :D. IMO once you make the jump, there's never going back.

post #14 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by audionut117 View Post
 

I've only been in the audio world for about 2 years. My first pair of decent piece of audio gear was the Klipsch Image S4 and I thought it was a massive jump from stock/cheap earbuds/iems. The sound was less congested compared to stock/cheap audio gear. After the day I bought the Klipsch I could not go back to anythng cheaper. It was also the first time I heard the bass guitar in a song as before this, I always thought the bassist was a waste of space :D. IMO once you make the jump, there's never going back.

 

i have been in the audio world for roughly 2 years too. my first was the etymotic research hf5 and i also thought its a massive jump from the stock/cheap earbuds/iems. you said you could not go back to anything cheaper but have you tried yet? have you gone back to your old gear and really did not like it? honestly, i have gone back to see if i really hate it that much. i really dont. if i must, can i tell the difference? i have tried and yes (my listening skills fluctuate too, sometimes i can tell easier, sometimes cant tell at all... and i have never blind tested myself and i think im always a bit cynical about sonic difference because of placebo effect) though not as easy as i would think because the difference is almost always smaller than expected from my experience. 

post #15 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post
 

interesting... what does it mean by trained? like sound engineers?

See Harman's How to Listen program and the blog post I linked above.

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