FOR THOSE LIKE ME WHO SUFFER FROM ADHD
Owned Sennheiser MM 450 Flight headphones. Loved them to death; crystal clear sound, strong and powerful bass, and I loved the Active NC and wireless. Unfortunately, they got super uncomfortable after a few hours, making my outer ears ache.
Sold them and bought Sennheiser MM 550-Xs, expecting on-ear 450s. Similar sound quality and super-comfy, but they were deathly quiet and had virtually nonexistent bass, making those gorgeous tear-jerking orchestral swells sound hollow and lifeless.
This has been me and Sennheiser in a nutshell over the last 10 years: I either find something extremely uncomfortable (on-ear), or with ridiculously low bass/volume (over-ear). Which leaves me wondering:
- Why couldn't Sennheiser just take the 450 guts and stuff them in the 550?! Is it that hard?! (It probably is...)
- Why do on-ears make my ears ache so much?
- Why am I always disappointed in over-ear bass performance? Is this just how headphones work?
- Is something wrong with me or the way I listen to music?
- Am I just not using to the right brand?
Any help is massively appreciated. If you'd like to make a recommendation for another pair and need more to go on, I've included more details below.
BECAUSE I'M A PENDATIC, LONG-WINDED BASTARD
If this is too long, feel free to stick with bold-faced text.
Below I'll list a bunch of information about my past listening experiences. For those of you willing to extend the patience to read all of this just to help me out, I very much appreciate it.
WHAT IS BEST IN LIFE
BESIDES CRUSHING YOUR ENEMIES AND SEEING THEM DRIVEN BEFORE YOU
Throughout the years I've learned that there are many things I value beyond just having clear sound quality.
I'm outside a lot, and on the move way too much for something bulky.
POWERFUL LOW END
I love what many consider "excessive" low end. Be they low orchestral strings, drum-n-bass synths, or the heavy rumbling of taiko drums, powerful low ends truly help me lost in my music; at the right moments, it's often moved me to tears. Please don't take my audiophile card ;_; I don't even have one T_T
JUST ONE PAIR
Most important. I hate redundancy. Don't have the money for multiple pairs, don't want to adapt to multiple types of sound. Not one for studio, one for home gaming, and one for on the go; just one for everything.
A given, but mine is weird. On-ears seem to make my outer ears ache after an hour or two. Never have this problem with over-ears.
Active or passive irrelevant if it works. Noisy kids, roommates, engines, fans, AC units, noisy film studios, and running stage tech for concerts has made noise isolation a godsend.
(optional) WIRELESS / BLUETOOTH
Easier to cook, clean, go for a run, move in a crowded studio, or play a PS3 from far away without blasted wires tangling up everything. Plus I like taking calls on my cans.
MY PAST HEADPHONES
A HISTORY OF RAMPANT FIRST-WORLD CONSUMERISM
Here's a list of cans I've used over the years in the order that I used them, and how I've felt about them.
Sennheiser HD-280 Pro (over-ear) Disliked them. One brand new.
- Crystalline sound,
- Super comfy.
- Really weak bass.
- Made head sweaty after a while.
- Not very portable. Too big. Bulky coiled wire
Bass was so low I thought they were defective when I first got them. Had to EQ adjust everything, and bought devices solely based on custom EQ support; hated iPods/iPhones since they didn't have EQ.
Sennheiser PXC-250 (on-ear) Liked them. One bought used, several brand new replacements.
- Great sound, lovely bass.
- Active NC improved sound quality, had it on all the time.
- Super uncomfortable; ears ached within an hour.
- Too many wires/tangles due to external battery.
- Flimsy. Broke easily, lots of replacements.
I owned these the longest. In fact, two are still sitting in my drawer.
Sennheiser PXC-450 (over-ear) Decent...? Two bought used.
- Weak Active NC...?
I must not have liked them much; all I remember is selling/returning them very quickly both times I bought them.
Bose QuietComfort 2 (over-ear) HATED them. Borrowed brand new.
- Super comfy.
- Amazing Active NC.
- Bad sound.
- Bad bass.
With my uneducated non-audiophiliac lingo, I can only vaguely describe its sound as "fuzzy" and "staticky", not crystalline like the Sennheisers; turned me off Bose forever.
Sennheiser MM 450 Flight (on-ear) LOVED them, favorite ones so far. Bought used.
- Great sound.
- Amazing bass.
- Super portable.
- Feature-rich. Wireless, phone talking, remote music controls, and (ironically) a wire option were magical.
- Passive NC was great.
- Uncomfortable; outer ears ached mildly after 2+ hours.
- Active NC = audible bass/quality drop, but I rarely used it beyond concerts and public transit.
They were so close to perfect, and I loved them to death, but I barely used them due to the discomfort... *sigh*
Sennheiser MM 550-X (over-ear) Decent but disappointing. Bought used, just got them today.
- Crystalline sound.
- Portable despite over-ear (yay wireless!)
- Feature-rich, like the 450 MMs
- Virtually zero bass. Music sounds hollow and lifeless. Upping lows in EQ distorts the sound.
- Pretty quiet.
- Constant static fuzz when turned on. Music doesn't drown it out.
What the Luna poop. This is exactly the same as when I bought the HD-280s nearly a decade ago. Huge disappointment. Lots of nostalgia (the bad kind) from when I despised Apple products for not having a custom EQ.
Essentially, when it comes to Sennheisers, I always seem to have to pick between comfort (on-ears) or bass (over-ears).
I'm almost certain I'm gonna sell the MM 550-Xs. After that, I dunno what to do next. What would everyone suggest?
OPTIONAL: "IS IT JUST ME?"
IN WHICH I HAVE A PARANOID SELF-IDENTITY CRISIS AND OTHER METAPHYSICAL HORSE MANURE
So here I am, with a pair of brand new $400+ cans that I took out of the box literally just a few hours ago, completely baffled as to why I could despise the sound of something I spent so much money on, from a company that I've been buying from for nearly a decade.
Here's my real question: is something wrong with me?
I know that the headphones I'm buying are not your average joe schmoe cans. They come with so many luxuries that people consistently tell me I'm crazy for spending this much money on them. So why is it that I'm so consistently disappointed in everything I buy? Am I just a picky bastard?
People buy on-ears all the time and love them to death. Why is it that they make my ears ache, even when they're well-padded like the MM 450s? I've always wondered if it's my glasses...
More importantly, how is it that venerable sets like the HD-280s have managed to disappoint me, yet so many around me continue to sing its praises? Is my obsession with pounding bass some kind of personal deficiency? Is the bassless nature of sets like these some kind of wine-like "acquired taste" that I need to get accustomed to? Is there some kind of frequency of bass that I'm simply unable to hear?