I've had the good fortune to accumulate many headphones of interest (NAD VISO hp50, Sennheiser HD 598, Beats Studio 2013, Parrot Zik, Sennheiser PXC 310 BT. and earbuds Klipsch s4i, Sennheiser CX300II, Apple In-Ear Headphones, Apple Earphones, Apple Earbuds).
Recognizing that sometimes the best headphone evaluation is a comparative evaluation, I'd be happy to post the results of comparative listening tests here, if you will guide me as to what tests you use when you evaluate headphones. This might look a bit like the evaluation posted by MacedonianHero, "Comparisons: 13 of the Top Closed/Portable Headphones Around), seen here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/672743/comparisons-13-of-the-top-closed-portable-headphones-around#post_9622611 .
This leads to my question:
How do YOU audition or compare headphones?
I suspect there is a subjective part, in which you assess the overall sound, comfort, and maybe even looks.
But when you LISTEN, what do you do? What source material do you use? What acoustic "events," if any, do you listen for? What system do you use to get the source material to drive your headphones?
I spent some time yesterday in purchasing my new NAD VISO hp50s in comparing them to my own Sennheiser HD 598s and the store's HiFiMan HE 400s, Grado PS500 and Grado rs2i.
I used three sources of material, as played on my Apple iPhone 5. No additional preamp was used (and probably not needed, as all except the Sennheiser had input impedance of 32 ohms or less... Sennheiser was 50 ohms). Test 1 and 3 were encoded in AAC (256 kbs VBR); Test 2 was encoded losslessly (Apple Lossless). Separate tests on Test 2 source material convinced me I could not tell any difference between Apple Lossless and AAC at 256 kbps VBR, but I had it that way.
1) "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone," Band of Heathens: listened for a) difference between voice of vocalist on first verse vs. second; b) clarity of bass glissando in third and subsequent verses;
2) "Spanish Harlem" sung by Rebecca Pidgeon on the Chesky "The Ultimate Demonstration Disk" (track 3): listened for a) moistness of plosive consonants (e.g., p in "Spanish"); b) quality of maracas (shaker) that begins in Verse 3... is each shake a bit different, as suggested by the narrative introducing the test?; c) position and uncertainty of position (size of "blob") of those maracas in the sound stage;
3) "Saint Saens Sympony No. # - Organ Symphony," Lorin Maazel & Pittsburgh Sympohny Orchestra, Sony Records, Movement IV: listened for the calliope-like reinforcement of the organ chord by the orchestra 3-1/2 beats later, on the 3rd "verse" where the organ rejoins the orchestra and leads the theme (about 1:16 min in). Barely audible on this recording, though much clearer on another recording by Charles Munch.
I'm new at this, and so I'm really interested in what more experienced folks use to compare the sound quality of headphones.
If I can extract a set of common practical tests from your input, I'll be glad to compare the above-listed 10 headphones according to a prescription that I will prepare and post in advance of the test. I'll even acquire a modest amount of new source material if you use something that I don't have...OK?