Originally Posted by SonusAudio
I am well aware that Beats by Dr. Dre is a disliked brand on these forums. I can't help but seem to be amazed at the sheer market share that the Beats headphones possess above $100. Well over 50%. That is insane. Now, I know this is because of the advertising; celebrities, music videos, in every damn store ( soon grocery stores ), etc... However, aesthetics aside as well, It's the tuning of the headphones in regards to the music the majority listens to. As much as we hate to admit it, bass is "generally" the most cared for frequency. I'm a midrange head; however, I can see the reason behind the successful sales of basshead headphones.
We regard the HD800, Beyerdynamic T1, Audeze LCD Series, Stax and others flagship headphones as the epitome of sound quality. I am still stunned by the sound that the HD800 has piped down my ear canals; even the HD650. Sadly, if I were to put those headphones on the average consumer and have them play their favorite song, the first response that I would get is "where's the bass?". With a complete lack of regard on the accuracy of the sound or its quality, they don't experience the pounding and engaging sensation of boosted bass and therefore their "enjoyment" levels hit rock bottom and they proceed to remove the headphone in shock of their price tag. I've had this happen countless times. It's disheartening at first to see them ridicule a pair of flagships because of the lack of bass, but then you begin to understand why they do so.
We listen to the music to "enjoy" it. Lot's of us here are victims of listening to our gear as opposed to the music. Face it, the majority of Beats owners and the masses listen to the music; not the gear. Now, I'm not saying the flagship headphones talked about on these forums are not technically adequate for their price offerings. I'm saying, the average consumer couldn't care less about the ability for a headphone to control its resonances or how well it keeps a well shaped 300hz square wave. All they care is if the music sounds enjoyable with the headphones that they use. The way Beats are tuned, It's quite evident that sound signature is preferable for the genres the masses listen to.
I am somewhat in the neutral in terms of this. I am amazed by the clarity and sonic qualities of the flagship headphones; however, they don't "move" me emotionally or engage me in the music as well as say a pair of Sennheiser Momentums or V-Moda Crossfade M-100's would for the genres that I listen to. It's all about enjoying our music, but I think we as a whole should come to the understanding that the headphones we praise as audiophiles are not going to offer the sound signature that everyone will enjoy. At the end of the day, enjoying the music is more important than the technicalities of your audio gear.
I can't deny that Beats have made a huge impact on what headphones are today. But I do disagree with a number of things that you stated, mainly dealing with the preferred sound signature of the consumer base.
You make a statement in your first paragraph that bass is generally the most cared for frequency. I need to disagree with this as it isn't the most cared for, rather, it's the most advertised. If you actually look at it, as you go up the Beats line, bass goes down. This is true of all most of the mainstreams: Skullcandy, Beats, Sol Republic (with exception of the Master Tracks), etc. So obviously, people aren't looking for a more bassy headphone, they'll agree that the 500 dollar Beats sound better than the 300 dollar ones which sound better than the 200 dollar ones (and so on). So Bass isn't the most cared for, rather, it's the most advertised.
In the second paragraph, you make a statement, a true one actually, that the neutral sound (dead neutral) isn't the preferred sound to the consumer. This I will agree with, and a lot of audiophiles would agree with you to (for listening to music with). Even Tyll has stated that he prefers a headphone that's tamer with the treble. So yes, consumers do prefer a small bump in the bass.
In your third paragraph, you make a bold, and true statement that consumers don't care about measurements... So true, so overlooked on Head-Fi. They generally don't care for the measurements, in many cases have no clue they even exist let alone understand what they mean. It's true that they listen to music, they don't know how to listen to gear; LOL. A lot of Head-Fiers can care less about measurements as well, same with some engineers that listen first, measure second. You also make a statement that the way Beats are tuned, that becomes the preferred signature. There have been more than a few studies done that showed that Beats aren't the preferred sound when blind tested. So that's generally not true.
Now I'll ask a question back, is it the headphone signature that is at fault, or is it the music that is at fault? Much of the music we listen to nowadays, more current ones anyways, are compressed to hell and back. This removes large chunks of information from the track. If you listen to an older track on a neutral pair of headphones, it will move you, it will catch you emotionally and even excite you. However, if you go and then grab the remastered and compressed version of the song, it doesn't do it as much. There is a reason why neutral does't sound natural anymore, I'd be willing to bet at one point in time, neutral was natural... With that said, I feel the most preferred headphones around today (for consumers and audiophile alike) are the ones that "compensate" for this compression the best without getting rid of accuracy or overdoing anything. And that's a tough job to do.