Thanks for the recommendation, nick_charles.
Cswann, really great to read your impressions of this area. I've only been looking up headphones online for a month or so now and it's really interesting to see the experience of someone who has been into it for a while. How's your wallet after all this time? ;)
I just learned about the Bottlehead Crack yesterday, and the Miller Starving Student now. Admirable ventures. I wish I could hear one.
Having not had a chance to test ANY amps yet, when you say these items sound great, do you mean to say you suspect that any difference in sound quality produced between them and a $5000 amp would be either non-existant or negligible? I ask because, having just decided on my first expensive headphone purchase and needing to make my first headphone amp purchase, I have seen people in threads and in the store where I demoed the headphones telling me I had to spend a significant amount of money to get the most out my future HD 800s.
As someone who has no technical background nor practical experience in the matter, it seems to me that it should be a simple method of determining whether the differences that occur in sound production between various amps are a result of component quality or some kind of sound colouring akin to EQ. Yet going online to try and learn and seeing that there are two camps, and have been for decades, makes it anything but simple. Frankly, when I see lists of published evidence using double blind/ABX testing protocols suggesting that generally people can't differentiate between different components when tested in controlled circumstances, it makes me think this is a superstitious hobby full of people who don't know what they're talking about. The idea of getting advice from them is pretty freaky, yet I'm not confident I can/would learn all of the required science to be able to make an informed decision for myself... it seems a big ask just to buy some audio equipment.
I've read jude's rationale for banning mention of DBT/ABX and I appreciate that it is a decision the community seems to support and that evidently it has resulted in a stronger, more cohesive and co-operative community. But from the point of view of an ignorant newbie like myself, I think it's frankly shameful. Can you imagine if this was a forum discussing which cancer treatments were good and the admin ruled that talk of peer-reviewed results were banned because it made all of the fans of reiki energy healing very unhappy? I know my analogy is a bit melodramatic, but my point is that banning discussion of DBT/ABX testing isn't some 'nobody wins' compromise. It's doing EXACTLY what one party wants at the cost of the other party's ability to respond using a widely accepted scientific methodology. The practical result of the ban is that it greatly increases the chances of a newbie like myself being convinced that they need to spend $2000 on an amp for their headphones when this may be nothing but superstition or an appreciation of EQ/colour. Frankly, I don't even know if it is ******** that I will need an expensive amp with my HD 800s or not: all I know is that there are pages of tests saying I don't, and hundreds of experienced users saying I do, and that the most obvious means of bridging this gap experimentally is discouraged from being discussed.
You've suggested that there will be a natural weeding out of the frauds and phoneys over time as the community puts their money into worthwhile products, but what I see as a newbie is an industry where marketing successfully trumps performance, where reviewers are paid off in free products, where forums host ads, get invites and free products, where discussion of measurable performance is discouraged and where there is an unquestioned acceptance of vague, flowery prose and sentiments when describing the performance of a product and a religious rejection of logic wrapped up in the seeming legitimacy of a philosophy called 'subjectivism'.
I am acutely aware that not only do I not know anything but that I really know nothing. My frustration comes from asking myself how am I to learn under these conditions, except to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to acquire experience in an area that ultimately is not magical, is ruled by simple physical laws and should be largely explainable by theory alone.
Anyway, I'm sorry for the bitter rant. And I hope you don't think I'm attacking you. I'm responding to you precisely because, based on what you wrote in this thread, you seem like you would understand my type of thinking and my confusion and I hoped maybe you could come along and save me from it :) It might be easier to take a note from your avatar and forget about audiophilia and head down to live in a van down by the river. Either way, thanks for the reply. I enjoyed the responses in the thread very much.
Edited by audioops - 1/26/14 at 3:40am