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The High End Is Not For Everyone.

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

This is based on my experience. Having recently bought a pair of JH13fp. CIEM's.

If you are reading this, the likelihood is that you were not able to do a bit of research on the internet, buy a pair of headphones and go of to happily listen to your music.

Instead, like me, you probably bought a pair of headphones that you thought were very expensive and were surprised to find that they did not sound marvellous. Good yes but there was something... Missing.

There then followed much excitement, frustration and disappointment, during which time the gear associated with music reproduction became an interest. Even a hobby.

In the end  it starts to make sense to go right to the TOTL. Scrimping and saving or, more likely, spending money you cannot afford on one "endgame" purchase.

Don't do it. It doesn't work like that.

IMO. The high end shares characteristics with the mid tier. There is still no such thing as the perfect headphone. What there are is products that do certain things superlatively well. In the same way that mid tier does certain things very well. There are also similarly different presentations and emphasis. Maybe even flaws and compromises. With the mid tier due to budget. TOTL sheer physics.

You need to have the disposable income to afford to experiment within high end in the same way as perhaps you can in the mid tier. Otherwise it might be better to stay with gear that is designed to get the best out of limited possibilities.

It cost me £1000 to learn this. I offer it here for free!


Edited by krismusic - 5/14/14 at 1:15am
post #2 of 33

sorry for your wallet

 

i have always said though, once you reach a certain point its for more about what suits your tastes than whats "better" than another.

 

that certain point is about the US$100 ish level.  once your hitting that  you can get some outstanding options but it doesnt mean somethings right for you, the RE-0 proved that.

post #3 of 33

I've always considered the sweet spot in full sized headphones the flagships of old. That means the HD600/650, DT880, etc. type level of headphone. With good quality dacs and amps getting cheaper you certainly don't have to spend a lot to get very good sound.

 

The same goes for iem's. Not too long ago high end used to be limited to a few products and universals rarely went past the $400 mark. You certainly don't have to spend a lot of money to get very good sound compared to how it used to be. That's just how it goes.

post #4 of 33

There is certainly a "law of diminishing returns" in this hobby (like most hobbies).

 

Under $30 you get what you pay for......not a lot.

 

Starting at around $50 you can get some amazing performance for the price.

 

"Most" people hit their pinnacle in the $150-$300 range. Here you can find virtually every sound signature you could hope for from "studio monitor" flat to "bass head" or "sparkling treble" and everything in between.

 

Above that is the diminishing returns. You start to get very, very nuanced differences. You get exotic materials, (in some cases rarity) and fine styling touches for your extra $$$. 

post #5 of 33

For me it was quite easy. I read reviews in what area's the Shure SE846 was better than the Shure SE535, which was exactly the things that was bugging me about the Shure SE535. After asking alot of questions I ordered it and I'm quite happy with it. 

 

There are still room of improvements but I think that's simply the limitations of IEM in general. I just like the imaging and soundstage of speakers more.

 

In terms of price to quality ratio, I think the Shure SE215 is at the sweet spot at $99. I can enjoy music with no problem using my Shure SE215.


Edited by ubs28 - 5/14/14 at 11:10am
post #6 of 33

I always make sure that I listen to equipment before I buy it. If I don't have the ability to, then I pray that the equipment fits my preferences. I've been satisfied with my Audiquest Dragonfly feeding my JDS Labs O2 powering my HE-400's. I'm looking for something that can produce a better mid range now, so I'm probably going to blindly buy the Pandora Hope VI. Hopefully I don't end up in the same situation that you've found yourself in :eek:.

post #7 of 33

OP is spot on!  I'd rather have a variety of high-quality (not end-game) headphones/iems with different sound signatures and configurations (open/closed, over/on ear, portable/at home, etc.).

 

I listen to a variety of music and swap out the gear (even tube vs SS) accordingly...for me, the music is more enjoyable that way.


Edited by GearMe - 5/16/14 at 11:44am
post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddTheMetalGod View Post
 

I always make sure that I listen to equipment before I buy it. If I don't have the ability to, then I pray that the equipment fits my preferences. I've been satisfied with my Audiquest Dragonfly feeding my JDS Labs O2 powering my HE-400's. I'm looking for something that can produce a better mid range now, so I'm probably going to blindly buy the Pandora Hope VI. Hopefully I don't end up in the same situation that you've found yourself in :eek:.

 

Todd, saw your comment about the HE400s lack of mids and thought I'd pass on a recent listening experience.  Went to a shop with the HiFiMan line to listen to the HE400s and thought they were OK for $300...but then made the mistake of putting on the HE500s (all cans running from an EF6).  

 

Out of the higher-end headphones I've heard so far, the 500s are the only ones that I'd consider spending more than $300 for...yes, even $600.  The set I listened to 'fixed' the midrange issues that the 400's had.  I mention this because the Pandora's and the 500's are more or less the same budget range, and if you like the HiFiMan sound (except for the midrange), the 500's might be a great purchase (and save you $100).  

 

FWIW, I also listened to the HE6's and preferred the 500s...same conclusion Tyll came to (http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/hifiman-he-5-he-5le-he-6-and-he500-planar-magnetic-headphones and http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/comparing-world-class-headphones-conclusions).

 

That said, the hybrid design of the Pandora's is very interesting and reviews seem to be quite good...haven't heard them but would like to.  If they're at or above the 500s in terms of performance, then they would definitely be worth considering when I do talk myself into that price range.

post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 

If you are talking about the Final Audio Pandoras, definitely get to try before you buy. I heard these at a show. They are of, lets say idiosyncratic, design physically.  I cannot remember their sound in detail but I  I could not take their Robbie the Robot styling seriously and their sound did not win me over. 

post #10 of 33
Thanks for sharing your experience with the HE-500, I've heard that it fixes the mid-range issue. I'm just looking to try something new and outside of the Hifiman line. If I had the money I would get an LCD-2, but I'm not sure I can justify spending over $800 + tax at the moment.
post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by krismusic View Post

If you are talking about the Final Audio Pandoras, definitely get to try before you buy. I heard these at a show. They are of, lets say idiosyncratic, design physically.  I cannot remember their sound in detail but I  I could not take their Robbie the Robot styling seriously and their sound did not win me over. 
I kind of like the design. It's more the sound I'm worried about to be honest.
post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by GearMe View Post
 

 

Todd, saw your comment about the HE400s lack of mids and thought I'd pass on a recent listening experience.  Went to a shop with the HiFiMan line to listen to the HE400s and thought they were OK for $300...but then made the mistake of putting on the HE500s (all cans running from an EF6).  

 

Out of the higher-end headphones I've heard so far, the 500s are the only ones that I'd consider spending more than $300 for...yes, even $600.  The set I listened to 'fixed' the midrange issues that the 400's had.  I mention this because the Pandora's and the 500's are more or less the same budget range, and if you like the HiFiMan sound (except for the midrange), the 500's might be a great purchase (and save you $100).  

 

FWIW, I also listened to the HE6's and preferred the 500s...same conclusion Tyll came to (http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/hifiman-he-5-he-5le-he-6-and-he500-planar-magnetic-headphones and http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/comparing-world-class-headphones-conclusions).

 

That said, the hybrid design of the Pandora's is very interesting and reviews seem to be quite good...haven't heard them but would like to.  If they're at or above the 500s in terms of performance, then they would definitely be worth considering when I do talk myself into that price range.

TBH, HE500s are the sweet spot for me - probably as high end as I'll go unless I hear something SIGNIFICANTLY better (highly doubt it... even the Abyss wasn't leagues better)

They were a marked improvement over the DT880/Q701/HD600 for me

post #13 of 33

I think one can't really fully appreciate the TOTL without that progression up to it. At each stage, your tastes and hearing becomes more nuanced, and that extra bit of difference starts to become more and more valuable. And all of a sudden, TOTL starts to make sense :)

post #14 of 33
Originally Posted by ToddTheMetalGod View Post
Thanks for sharing your experience with the HE-500, I've heard that it fixes the mid-range issue. I'm just looking to try something new and outside of the Hifiman line. If I had the money I would get an LCD-2, but I'm not sure I can justify spending over $800 + tax at the moment.

Yep.  Same here.  Even $600 seems like a lot of scratch for headphones.

 

Originally Posted by nehcrow View Post

TBH, HE500s are the sweet spot for me - probably as high end as I'll go unless I hear something SIGNIFICANTLY better (highly doubt it... even the Abyss wasn't leagues better)

They were a marked improvement over the DT880/Q701/HD600 for me

I agree.  I haven't heard anything else that justifies the incremental investment.  Interesting about the 3 you mention, I've been debating whether I should buy one of those to round out my mid-tier before saving for the 500s -- might just hold off.  One other I've considered is the K612 PROs (can get for about $150ish new and are still Austrian made...I believe)

 

Originally Posted by Bohdy View Post

I think one can't really fully appreciate the TOTL without that progression up to it. At each stage, your tastes and hearing becomes more nuanced, and that extra bit of difference starts to become more and more valuable. And all of a sudden, TOTL starts to make sense :)

The concept makes sense and it certainly applied to me in the stereo world...but there was a point where the $$$$$ I had to spend outweighed the marginally 'better' experience.  I'm expecting to find the same thing in headphones.  Could be wrong though; we'll see!   :-)

post #15 of 33

i am starting to think that constantly buying hi-end iems(phones) comes down to having money to spend and the ability to 'fool' yourself that the money spent is an investment/upgrade and not a mind-game/greed thing

then again i am a guy short on cash and the ability to fool myself , so what do i really know , huh ?

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