Lower quality made me turn up the volume. Higher quality made me lower the volume, a LOT.
I just created an account here to share with you what I consider to be an extremely important knowledge for the health of anyone who listens to music, including your kids.
In 2005, when I turned 14, my mom bought me a Philips SHP 805 for birthday. It's is a full-sized headphone that was something like 30 USD for an American, but here in Brazil the minimum wage at the time was 300 BRL, and this headphone price was 130 BRL. My jaw dropped when I found out the price of the headphone I just got, and I was pretty amazed, because what was in reality an entry level headphone, for me, was a ridiculously high quality product. I couldn't freaking believe in my life that I just got an SHP 805 from the holy Philips. The best of the best, oh yeah, baby (my thoughts at the time). I used this "excellent headphone for its price" from 2005 to 2014 and I have very little complaints. It was durable, had washable cushions, was reasonably comfortable and had a "critical listening" audio signature. It lasted 9 years so far and still works, but now, at 23, I wanted more.
So I took a step forward a few months ago. I bought an ASUS Xonar STX along with a Sennheiser HD 650. Today's Brazilian minimum wage is 724 BRL, and I bought this combo for 3100 BRL. It definitely made a slight change in my bank account and I'm sure the same will happen on the majority of people pockets, but I'm here to tell you that it's worth paying for a decent headphone not just because of the off-the-charts comfort and listening pleasure. This investment had a great impact on how I listen to music and how hard my ears take audio on a daily basis.
See, when I had the Philips SHP 805, although it reproduced an "acceptable" audio quality, significant imperfections on its frequency curve made me always had the volume on a more "present" level. The entry level headphone reproduced noticeably louder specific frequency ranges along with a "right inside your ear canal pseudo-detailed audio" signature, which was fatiguing after listening for a few hours.
When I first listened to the Sennheiser HD 650 my first thoughts were, in their respective order:
1. Holy ******** sh*t.
2. This sounds SO different.
3. Why does the audio look like it's being reproduced from 2 meters away? I have never experienced any kind of "acoustics" on a headphone! Amazing.
4. Unreal. The details, the warmth, the comforting sound, unbelievably realistic classical musical reproduction, incredibly pleasant smell of new headphone, wearing comfort so high that it feels like the hands of a god are over my ears, etc.
You get the idea. But respective to listening habits, what I later noticed after a few months of use was that:
1. My ears never ever got fatigued in any way after listening non-stop for 10 hours sessions or more;
2. My "ideal" volumes were much lower than with the entry level headphone.
These features are crucial, because they actively "protect" your hearing.
Now, I knew how to handle the entry level SHP 805. Even though it always invited me to higher volumes and low volumes never satisfied, I was always fighting my volume slider down because I had done my research from the beginning. I had control over myself when adjusting my volume, but I know a lot of other people, specially teenagers, do not, thus raping the sh*t out of their headphone's diaphragms.
My "good behavior" paid off. The hearing checks that I've made two times a year, for the last two years, revealed that I have the same hearing health of an infant, which in the words of the medic who does the tests on me, says "it's rare". Why do medics consider rare a 23 year old guy, like me, having this level of hearing health?
- Because teenagers don't give a flying ***** about their hearing;
- They constantly go to parties and stay there for countless hours near deafening loud speakers turned to maximum volume;
- They have long high volume listening sessions on cheap headphones all day, everyday.
Cheap headphones contributes a lot to this, because satisfaction on cheaper sound sources might only come on higher volumes.
Right now, I'm listening to Uplifting Trance on my Sennheiser HD 650. The volume it's set is much lower than the sound I hear of a silent car cruising through my neighborhood. And well, this low volume is fulfilling and satisfying for me at this moment. My decade experience on the entry level SHP 805 can guarantee you that my volume at this exact same circumstance would be much higher.
Care for yourself and your kids hearing and only buy yourself or them high quality headphones and teach them how to use the volume slider.
The final product is that either you or they might be hearing surprisingly well after getting old.
Same old story: What is cheap now might turn out to be very expensive later.
Edited by Suncatcher - 5/28/14 at 6:40am