Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › HD800 Story Telling Time - *Warning* Prepare thyself, not for the faint of heart - (You've been warned!)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

HD800 Story Telling Time - *Warning* Prepare thyself, not for the faint of heart - (You've been warned!)

Poll Results: "Guess that Smell..." - SPOILERS BE WARNED!!! Thankfully, "Smell-O-Vision" doesn't exist, so the voting will show everyone's favorite Theory!

  • 16% (8)
    Theory 1: "Estate Sale Closeout"... aka Rigamortis Funkubus
  • 18% (9)
    Theory 2: "Death Bead Doorbuster"... aka killer sound
  • 32% (16)
    Theory 3: "Musical Mortician Madness"
  • 10% (5)
    Theory 4: "Z for Zennheiser - Z for Zombie"
  • 10% (5)
    Theory 5: "Clean your ears folks!"... aka leprosy, bringing it back!
  • 14% (7)
    Theory 6: "Taxidermy Treasure"
50 Total Votes  
post #1 of 351
Thread Starter 

Everything I am about to tell you is true.  I will do my best not to embellish any of the details while I attempt to explain this nearly-unbelievable chain of events.


A couple of footnotes and background before the story...


I am a professional whisk(e)y taster.  That is to say, one of the many facets of my job is to drink for a living.  This detail will be important later in the story, so I bring this up not to brag (well, maybe a little) but not disrupt the actual story.  I run a locally owned wine and liquor store that specializes in everything rare, unique, and obscure.  My passion first and foremost is Scotch Whisky.  Beyond selling whisk(e)y and managing the store, I organize tastings, events, classes, as well as run staff trainings at bars and restaurants around town.  In the course of a week, I sample 20-50 new wines, beers, and spirits.  In fact, occasionally, my distributors host events like mini-CanJams with 100+ different "libations"!  I rely on my nose and tastebuds to find the best products for my customers.  I know, tough job... (On a side note, training your palate is very similar to learning how to listen to details in the headphone world)



Beside booze, I have a sick OCD for tracking down great deals.  I have been known to scour the interweb for deals even if I am not looking for anything in particular.  This dirty habit inadvertently lead me to a well known-yet-contagious disease known as upgrade-itis.  After upgrading my amp, and now ready for a new DAC to follow, I happened upon a deal too good to be true...


Sunday - October 6th

After looking at "The Deals Thread III" for far too long, I was inspired to find a better HD800 deal in the competitive spirit of Head-Fi.  Little did I know I would find exactly what I was looking for...


At the time, the best deal was for a new set for $1200 shipped from a not so trusty looking source on Amazon. This was not acceptable, but after giving up, my attention moved to other things.  By sheer luck, I accidentally typed "HD800" at Guitar Center when I meant to type HD600.  Subconscious messaging or a call from the headphone-gods... The result was not "0".  One used HD800 in box!


I will not post what the price was since it may offend someone, but it was both less than the $1200-new-scam and too good of a deal to be true.  Debating with myself if I should post my findings or buy now and ask later, I sit tortured for hours trying to make the ultimate decision.  I decide to sleep on it.  If it's gone in the morning, it wasn't meant to be.


Monday - October 7th

Many times throughout that workday, I nearly pulled out my phone and "Buy Now".  Moving the HD800 in and out of my virtual shopping cart so many times eventually took its toll -- that or the whiskey and wine samples at 10AM...


I had to leave work early to meet a good customer and the owner of one of my favorite local Scotch bars (Again, tough job, I know. Don't judge).  Cancelled!  Who cancels free whisky?  But again, call it fate or the whiskey-gods intervention this time, but wouldn't-cha know, one of those above mentioned booze Trade Shows happened to be at the same time as my meeting!  15 (of the 150) wines, 30 (of the 30) beers, 11 (of the 15) whiskies, and 4 gins later, I decided I must go visit Guitar Center.  


*NOTE - I do not advocate over consumption or driving while influenced.  I take my job seriously and I spit everything out at a tasting.  Often labeled as an "alcohol abuser" for spitting and dumping, I've learned it is not humanly possible to drink even a fraction of what I typically sample at those events and expect to remain vertical!


With the warning out of the way (people under 21yrs old you can now uncover your eyes/ears), I safely (and soberly) make it to Guitar Center...


Explaining the situation to the friendly guy at the counter, he offers to connect me to the distant Atlanta location where Sennheisers are safely sheltered.  Over speakerphone we discover the following:


"These headphones are 100% mint!  They are mint... except, well, er.. um..."

Me: "Yes?!"

"There is an, um.. uh.. a smell..."

Me: "A smell?!  What do you mean, 'A smell...'"

"Yeah, it kinda.. well it smells like wet gym socks.  It kinda took my breath away when I opened the box."



This is just the beginning, friends!  I will post more tomorrow... and yes it gets better!  Feel free to ask questions, but there will be at least 2 more parts, so give it some time before it gets juicey... maybe not the best choice of words!

Edited by mrscotchguy - 10/22/13 at 9:03pm
post #2 of 351
Thread Starter 

.... Continuing where we left off: "A Smell..."


From my experience working in retail for the last 10 years (pause, holy crap... has it been that long?), I strongly believe the most awkward invention is the speakerphone.  Ever let something "slip" because unbeknownst to you, the in-laws were on the other line?  I'll put it this way, the conversation from this point just turns into a beautiful disaster.  It's not like it was a busy day, but I almost feel bad for the passersby, almost.


To protect the identity of employees involved, I will use code names like "Atlanta Dude" and Local associate "Nash".  Everyone was incredibly helpful and the experience I had at Guitar Center has been some of the best customer service I have personally experienced (outside of the expectations I have for my employees of course!).  That said, it's Guitar Center, so everyone is much more laid back than the average person.  All parties took this whole ordeal in stride!  For that, you get my respect and gratitude.


(*Side note to moderators, I am not sure your leniency to expletives and profanity, but all verbiage will be in the use of direct quotes reaching verbatim wherever possible.  Please feel free to edit any said expletives you deem necessary.  Though keep in mind, many, many more went through my head while the story unfolded!) 


The three of us proceed to repeat "A smell? What do you mean a smell?" several times while Nash and I are trying to hold back bouts of laughter.  Dumbfounded, I try to focus on the task... should I buy these stinkin' cans?!  Nash, wise beyond his years, starts to question the smell...


Nash: "Does it smell like cat piss?"

Atlanta Dude: "No.. wewf.. not like.. cat piss.  Definitely not cat piss."

Me: "Wew, that's good.  What about water damage, maybe mildew?

Nash: "****, does it smell like ****? As long as it doesn't smell like piss or ****, I had that with equipment once..."

Me: "Gym socks, so is it an organic smell?"

Dude: "It's putrid, the smell made me gag, bad."

Far off voice:  "The guy that sold it to us said it has 'always' smelled that way... that's why he sold it"

Dude: "Why didn't we let this air out!  Gahh..."

Far off voice: "Is that how it comes from Sennheiser?  What? $1500 dollars! Nevermind!"

Dude: "We really should have let this air out.  Oh, no, there's no water damage, it's not that."

Me: "So it doesn't smell like piss and ****, and it's not mold."

Dude: "It's ripe.. whatever it is"

Me: "Should you guys maybe pass around the headphones and play 'Guess that smell?'... 'Oh that smell, can you smell that smell?!'"​

Dude: "I don't think I can do that to anyone!

Me: "Do you think it will go away, how long have you had the HD800s?!"

Dude: "We've had em here for about 3 weeks.  It might fade.. maybe.. you could try."

Nash: "Haha, this is one of those stories you tell people about... you know, what's the best story while you worked here..."

Dude: Where you're from, we close in about 15 minutes.  No one is going to buy them tonight.  Think about it over night.  Uhh, I am putting them back in the box!"

Me: "Thanks for being a trooper!  You might be shipping these in the morning... maybe"


Nash and Dude proceed to explain Guitar Center's incredibly flexible and beyond amazing 100% satisfaction guarantee.  Essentially, there is no negative to place the order. For any reason (especially smell) I can return the Senns for a full refund within the 30 day window!  This seems too good to be true.  It has to be too good to be true, right?


Pacing around the store, I'm eyeballed buy other customers trying to understand why anyone would ever want headphones the price of a car (their words not mine -- one does not get much these days in the way of cars for $1500).  Not being able to bring myself to swipe my card, I call a good friend -- a voice of reason.  Explaining the situation, I am hoping he talks me out of this.  He does not!  Screw it, I am in!  This is way more than I would normally spend, but I am a sucker for a good deal and even more for a good story.  All in!  Things have felt "meant to be" so far.  Might as well, right?  At the time, I looked at it this way: worst case scenario, I demo a pair of HD800 for 2 weeks and return them.  I am out nothing, and I swear I will beat upgrade-itis off with a stick if I must.


If only things were that easy... 


To be continued...


I will return with Wednesday's current events after I eat some breakfast and sample whisky... just kidding about the whisky, not after last night!


P.S. Just as I forgot at the time, I forgot just now... After the purchase, and I head toward the exit, I immediately swing around and yell out: "(Insert expletive of choice), THE SERIAL NUMBER, I FORGOT TO ASK ABOUT THE SERIAL NUMBER!!!"  Some things are better left as surprises...

Edited by mrscotchguy - 10/10/13 at 7:20am
post #3 of 351
Thread Starter 

Part 3... The Waiting


Tuesday - October 8th

Waiting is such a pathetic word for it, GC took care of me.  It was only $10 to upgrade my shipment to Overnight.  Even after placing my order 5 minutes before the Altanta store closed.


Nothing exciting here, sorry folks... Tuesday was painfully slow trying to keep my mind off the nagging "what will this smell like?", "Will I need to return it?", "What if the Dude was exaggerating?". 


To prevent too much Tuesday boredom I will share a neat story about a bottle of wine we discovered just a week before.  Covered by dust and magazines in the back room, a pair of unique bottles sat untouched from way back when the store first opened.  Unknowingly, we were sitting on a wine from a recognized French region-- Chateau Chalon (in Jura) vintage 1962! This gem was aged, bottled, and sold to my store, all well before I was born!  Needless-to-say, we had some interesting conversations as I cracked that sucker open!  Besides the find of the year, the second bottle is actually in better condition!


Focus, focus!  Back to the real topic... fast forward to Wednesday since Tuesday I just kept checking my tracking number and reading way too much on the HD800 trying fight off my creeping buyers remorse!  



Wednesday - October 9th - The beginning of the end (insert creepy music!)

Despite the package arriving at 10:30AM, I couldn't sneak out from work for an extended lunchbreak until mid afternoon.  I can't be the only one who suffers from such impatience, right?  Before I can drive across town to inspect the goods, I must swing by "storage" to snatch some Rye whiskey for an event later that evening.

 (Yes my life revolves around whisk(e)y, it's true. There is not a day that passes without the mention of Scotch or Bourbon...  or me desperately dispelling the horribly misguided perceptions of "moonshine" <-- another story for another day).


Before I get too far, I must interject that next door to the wine shop is a HiFi electronic store... very dangerous indeed.  The devil couldn't do a better job tempting me with all the incredible gear that is just one bay over!  Truth be told, I was so giddy, like a 5 year old on his birthday.  I had to share the great news with the HiFi shop.  No judgement, just calm repose and gentle curiosity.  The head salesman was kind enough to let me borrow his Dragonfly DAC for a couple hours so I could test out the Hd800s without lugging my gear to GC, what a guy!


After selecting the right bottles from the storage unit, I head to Guitar Center.  I walk in, and it's like they are ready for me or something... smoke machines activated and a two familiar faces ready for the "inspection"!  If you have ever seen the HD800 box, it's not tiny.  The box that Atlanta GC packed away was massive.  Digging 2 feet down, I finally located my new toy through a mountain of green foam packing peanuts that just love to cause problems!  Doing my best to not create disaster area, I was unaware of the small crowd gathering around (okay, had to exaggerate here -- 2 employees and 3 customers... but the crew gets bigger soon enough!).


After struggling with the perfectly packed foam mountain, I am awarded with a box in surprisingly fair condition.  I take a deep breath and bring my nose closer to the package... Nothing!  Wew, so far so good!  Quickly, I strip away the outer packaging as Nash inches closer.  Outer box set aside, I grab the manuals and see the FQ chart... quite different from the many posted here on HeadFi.  Before I can dissect that information, a closer glance reveals the serial number.




"41xx!!!",  I shout out at Nash, At this point, he is confused as I ramble off the excitement only a HeadFier can.  Stoked to be an owner of a low serial number HD800, reality slowly kicks in that this headphone was probably made in 2010...that's 3 years ago!  I gently set the black box atop a heaping stack of Fostex active-monitors. Feeling eyes peering over each shoulder, I every so slowly open the box to reveal this mystery...


Finally closing in on my prize, things are looking good.  Before I can lift the cans from it's satin, coffin-like home... explodes... A SMELL!

Edited by mrscotchguy - 10/22/13 at 8:53pm
post #4 of 351
Thread Starter 

Part 4 - The END???


After accidentally deleting my entire 4th posting, I decided to call it quits for the evening, to come back refreshed.  Dredgeding up these traumatic events has caused me to hit the bottle... of Absinthe!  See you guys soon:veryevil:


What can I say?  Words just cannot describe this situation to the fullest.  Without proof, this story just seems too far fetched.  I feel I need to repeat, that there is absolutely no embellishment of the truth here.  The odor escaping the box alone was bold, excessive for most.  Pungent, that's the word Atlanta Dude used.  If he were just referring to the gases escaping the box, I could settle on "pungent".  No, no, this was worse, far worse.  It goes much further than just "Bad".  In fact, this is beyond good and evil altogether.  Just like a black hole is a force so strong it can bend even light, so too is the potency of this "force".  Could the emanating smell be enough to wake the dead?  Not sure, but that would not be a pleasant reanimation!


Remember back to my introduction (yeah, I know, that pages ago), I mentioned how my palate is very important to my job.  Well here it comes.  Something you need to know about me. I am always putting my sniffer to the test, going out of my way to smell and taste everything I can. This may be my undoing!  If I could only unlearn... You may see where this is going... I did the unthinkable in front of those onlookers. Gently, I hoisted those beautiful headphones towards my nostrils...


How smell affects the brain 

The brain is a funny thing.  Of all our senses, smell is the only one that passes all information to the brain unhindered.  Data sent to our brain is directed, sorted, and then filtered by priority in the Thalamus. In essence, this allows our brain to ignore unimportant information, like the constant rubbing of clothes against skin, or how the roof of our mouth tastes.  The olfactory on the other hand is constantly feeding our brains a direct stream of information.  The significance of this is, with nothing to filter aromas, our brain gets the full impact of that data.  When grandma's cooking triggers fond memories or the smell of tequila causes you to relive the night you tried so hard to forget -- or brain stores this information so well that some things just cannot be unlearned.


Pungent, acrid, putrid, naustiating, haunting, hanging, foul, noxious.  Words I may have used if my brain could function at higher levels in that moment.  The word of the moment: "Wow!"  That is all I could muster.


Holding the HD800s out at arm's reach, I carefully conducted a visual inspection.  


Me: "He wasn't kidding, they're in great condition... can't say the same for the smell!"  You wanna smell?"

Nash: "No, but I will... Oh, god... yeah, that isn't pleasant... What is that?!"

Me: "I'm not sure, but it's alkaline, even ammonia-like... this is not good."

Nash:  "I've gotta help those customers.. over.. over there.. away from here.  I'll let you inspect your headphones.  Let me know what you decide."


It was as if openning that box, a cloud had emerged and hung in that corner.  Passersby started taking notice that something was off.  My eyes faded in and out a bit, but I was determined to make sure my investment worked and sounded as it should -- despite that acrid rankness.  Holding my breath, I set up my station atop the stack of speaker boxess.  Laptop... check, foobar... check, AudioQuest Dragonfly... check.  Stumbling with the HD800's obnoxious cable, I finally inserted the plug into the borrowed Dragonfly. Pressing, "play", I test for sound.  Half expecting whaling and mashing of teeth, I hope for the best.  Sound! We have sound! Trying to build up the courage, I draw the Sennheisers towards my face.  Before I can afix  them to my head, I **** my head to the side as my delayed senses catch up.  My brain, at that moment, was attempting to piece together where I had experienced that "musk" before.


I dared to do what should never be done... Like jumping head-first into a shallow pond, I quickly attached them to my head, holding my breath.  With a deep exhale... I momentarily forgot about that hanging cloud!  The sound! They sounded like everything I hoped they'd be!  Even with a portable rig, Goyte, Muse, Bastille, and Pink Floyd (my usual test subjects) have never sounded so pristine!  The gorgeous music allowed my brain to momentarily repress the dangerous fumes seeping from the clothe surrounding my ears and scalp... for a few peaceful moments at least!


Finally catching up, the smell hit me off guard.  My stomach started to gurgle and nausea ensued.  I had to move... the fight-or-flight part of my brain kicked in and FLIGHT won out.  Making sure not to stumble over the cables, I take a few steps back to catch my breath.  I looked around for Nash.  After helping some customers, he cautiously  wandered toward our direction.  


Nash: "I talked to the manager.  We're more than happy to give you a full refund... if you want to."

Me: "Can't decide!  On one hand, they sound amazing, on the other, I don't know if I can get over that SMELL!"

Nash: "Up to you..."

Me: "You want to try em out?! Are you masochistic enough?"

Nash: "$1500 headphones, I don't see how I can say no..."

Me: "I just figured it out.  The smell.  I know what it is!  But, I won't ruin it for you until you get a chance to listen..."

Nash: "Thanks?  Should I be afraid?


To be continued.... 



I feel like one of those a-hole movie companies that has to break their half-arsed movie in extra parts.  Like The Hobbit, this tale must be broken down to please the audience's addiction for the next release.  Part 4b will be out soon in a forum near you.  And as always, your patience will be rewarded, enjoy.

Want more? Read on here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/685261/hd800-story-telling-time-warning-prepare-thyself-not-for-the-faint-of-heart-feedback-appreciated-part1-so-far/195#post_9898853
Edited by mrscotchguy - 10/18/13 at 4:26am
post #5 of 351

Loved the way you ended this part with the gym socks, though i'm much more curious with the price of the HD800

post #6 of 351

You've got my subscription. I"m quite interested.

post #7 of 351

I can't wait. Wet gym socks. Wow!   :biggrin:

post #8 of 351

I knew this would be good from the moment you posted "I am a professional whisk(e)y taster." 


I'll be back tomorrow for the next instalment. :popcorn:

post #9 of 351

Sounds interesting lol. 

post #10 of 351
You are now a professional whiskey and gym socks taster.
post #11 of 351

I love a good story.  I'm in! :)

post #12 of 351

Glad you got 'em, can't wait to hear 'em after you febreze 'em.

post #13 of 351

Wow it's actually a very good read! I want to hear the rest of the story already! 

post #14 of 351
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Xymordos View Post

Wow it's actually a very good read! I want to hear the rest of the story already! 

At Guitar Center now, then off to work to prep for an event tomorrow night. Next free moment, part 3 will get sorted and typed up haha. Appreciate the kind words/support!
post #15 of 351

you got my attention. Love a good read. too bad you do not have the audio version:)

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › HD800 Story Telling Time - *Warning* Prepare thyself, not for the faint of heart - (You've been warned!)