PROS: Fair amount of detail in the mid-range; buttery warmth if that's your thing.
CONS: Flabby, congested bass; not enough sparkle in the treble; sound stage is overrated considering the reviews; for me, the velour ear pads get as itchy and hot as a pig's butt in July.
I'm an audiophile in the sense that I do love great sound and can discern detail and texture at various frequencies (as can most people if they care to listen for it). But I'm also not compulsively obsessed with it to the point where I'm willing to make my wife and kids go homeless and hungry. I've been in this hobby for twenty years, and I've long since learned that the audiophile world is a lot like wine tasting. Perhaps you've heard about those experiments where they have world-class wine tasters do a blind test between a $100 bottle of wine and a $10 bottle, and it turns out that at least half the time, they get it wrong. It's the same with audiophiles and their equipment. To be frank, the community is full of people who are trying to ameliorate their guilt and justify the thousands of dollars they spent in the hopes they'll be able to hear the spit smacking between Etta James's molars. It literally becomes an addiction, with all the symptoms thereof. Audio equipment manufacturers are obviously aware of this and exploit it to their full extent. [End of rant]
Anyway, I recently won some fantasy football cash and decided to splurge on a $200 pair of headphones. I neurotically researched everything I could find online and settled on these bad boys, believing they'd deliver the miraculously spacious sound stage, airy highs, and crisp bass that I'd read about. I plugged them into my Denon receiver, fired it up, and--huh, that's it? I've tried them out with all my various sources (Blu-ray movies, Xbox 360, and cable TV) and different kinds of music (Leo Kottke, female vocal jazz, some generic EDM, and a Brahms violin concerto). Everything sounded really "nice," but the sound stage only seemed to extend about two inches beyond my skull, the bass was muddy when there was a lot of low-frequency activity happening (like lower strings and brass), and the highs were a bit recessed. They definitely sounded better than old $30 Sony headphones, but a $170 better? I dunno, I guess that's for you to decide.
I later read that you shouldn't plug good headphones into an AV receiver, because the headphone amps on those things are usually garbage and instead you should buy a DAC combined with a separate headphone amp and yadda yadda yadda and GOOD GRIEF STOP ALREADY! I have other financial obligations. If it doesn't sound amazing with my receiver, then it's just not worth it to me.
I have quite a bit of experience with speakers but not headphones. Maybe my expectations were too high. I really wanted headphones for gaming, movies, and music (mostly jazz, classical, and acoustic pop), because I've always heard how much more exciting and immersive they are. But for $200, these are a little underwhelming so far. I do love listening through headphones late at night, but I'm thinking I might step down in price and get something that's "almost" as good, such as the HD-558s.
UPDATE: After several days, these headphones are growing on me, probably because I'm settling into lowered expectations, or maybe they're burning in (though I think that's somewhat a myth; it's your own ears that "burn in"). In any case, I'm going to pick up the HD-558s soon, compare them, and decide which pair to keep. Any advice or comments are welcome!
Edited by jtmccoy - 1/21/14 at 6:44pm