Chasing A Unicorn? ...Tales from a Masochist?
Sep 7, 2009 at 7:42 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 11

RagingForces

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I'm having a hard time with this hobby. Spend enough time on these forums and I come away with certain understandings about certain makes and models. Spend a couple months listening to several different headphones from all kinds of manufacturers. Spend money traveling to as many locations as I can that say they offer audiophile level headphones for sale and I can now begin to chime into forum posts myself. Spend hours upon hours online researching all the different factors that play into sound itself, let alone a specific configuration of audio reproducing gear and I begin to realize just how deep this subject goes. The more I know, the more I know that I do not know.

I do all this because i'm looking for a sound that i've envisioned in my head. Something that I have only witnessed in literally a couple of loudspeakers upon the hundreds i've auditioned, let alone headphones of which there are even fewer .... and it all sounds so easy to be honest. Clarity, detail, speed, separation, comfort. These among other attributes are thrown around like doubloons at Mardi Gras. To each their own I suppose, its a very subjective art but I may be failing to understand the artistry.

You see, years ago it was about the music. It still is, but with a stipulation now. It has to sound like this. It has to have these attributes. It doesn't really matter if Diana Krall sounds beautiful through this setup, if Metallica's early work can't blaze through the same setup its money wasted. After all, money is the only thing holding us back from filling up houses with enough audio gear to satisfy every track we own, let alone artist. That last bit spoken as my audiophile split personality
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I've finally had a chance to audition two headphones that i'd been so eagerly anticipating to hear, back to back. I came away more confused than when I started. Each had things I enjoyed immensely but each failed to make me say yes, these are the ones. At least in the loudspeaker world i've found the makes and models that speak to me. I suppose in the broader sense, it only took roughly 16 years to find those from whence the journey began.

What does it mean when you fully comprehend that no amount of advise or coaching will give you what you are looking for?

Queue that famous quote from The Matrix...
 
Sep 7, 2009 at 8:24 PM Post #3 of 11

Drumonron

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I'm interested in what you've tried for headphones on what rigs? It would be nice to know something about where your going with this or are you simply giving an OPED piece here? You leave me with more questions than answers. Why the mystery? Can you fill in all the blanks.

Thanks
 
Sep 7, 2009 at 8:30 PM Post #4 of 11

Uncle Erik

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Do you think you're being too picky? A philosophical change might let you settle in and enjoy the music.

I don't hold gear against a mythical ideal. I take it as it is. If it works for me, I'llbuy it and appreciate it for what it is. Even headphones with flaws can be enjoyable and I try to get that enjoyment from them. Even my lousy stock car stereo has some decent points and I appreciate them.

I find chasing ideals somewhat useless. It's a good thing for those inspired to create new products, but when it comes to selecting gear it turns into navel-gazing and running in circles. An "ideal" of reproduction is nearly impossible - the same band will sound drastically different in an old church and an open field. Because there's so much variation there (as well as a million other considerations) so some variation in headphones and speakers is perfectly acceptable.

The other major factor is that our tastes change over time. What I enjoy today is not what I enjoyed in 2006. Even if you nail down your 2009 ideal, what you will enjoy in 2015 will probably be different.

So, for me at least, chasing an ideal is pointless. Even if you find it, you'll have to do it all over again when your tastes change.

My recommendation is to buy something you find inoffensive and does a good job with your music. Buy two or three pairs if you have to. Then simply get involved in the music and forget about the tweaks and upgrades. Just enjoy the music.
 
Sep 7, 2009 at 9:29 PM Post #5 of 11

moonboy403

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There are plenty of cans that offer clarity, detail, speed, separation, and comfort that you seek depending on how much of each aspect you want and what your budget is. Which headphones and upstream equipments have you tried and what were you thoughts on those?
 
Sep 7, 2009 at 10:04 PM Post #7 of 11

RagingForces

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Rather than break this into a series of quotes with answers, please allow me to address everyone reading and responding as a whole.

This isn't a cry for help finding the correct gear. I wrote this to highlight the fact that I am consistently, day in and day out wishing I could hear what was in my head. The methodology used to determine what gear may or may not be aligned correctly to my spectrum of sensory input is largely irrelevant for this thread.

To address a separate question, I didn't intend for anyone to worry about what gear i'd auditioned, and what my budget concerns may be. I think its far more interesting to think for a minute about what this hobby does to our mentality towards our music. How many times during a given song do we find ourselves no longer following the music or lyrics and instead wishing "that part" sounded better than what we perceived we heard it as. There is another thread going on right now addressing burn in. Its all of a similar vein.

I was so intently focused on the emotions contained in some music a couple nights ago that I actually wrote a song from my life's perspective based on the music I was listening to at the time. I want to say its actually quite easy for me to forgive the various music reproduction products I have at my disposal in favor of the music itself. Instead its this dichotomy between calming oneself to the substance rather than the deliver of it. I find this to be fascinating. One possible point in case is why there are so many threads focusing on the tactical hardware purchase vs. the emotional impact we so willingly subject ourselves to as our favorite artists create magic through aural stimulus.

A very famous artist once said that we actually create the music in our head in addition to it being played in our ears. I could never bridge the gap that I felt between physical input and mental projection more accurately than this. How often do we miss the opportunity to intoxicate our mental health with satisfying aural pleasure vs. glazed eyes of opportunity for a technical achievement that could only be best described as subjective at best.
 
Sep 7, 2009 at 10:07 PM Post #8 of 11

Drumonron

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Quote:

Originally Posted by MadMan007 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
To quote the well-known song...sometimes you've just got to Love the One You're With.

I find listening to music for pleasure rather than gear for critical comparison a lot more fun anyway
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Well put, MadMan007.

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To the op, nice introspective look into yourself and overall reflection and I truly believe
your statement is meant metaphorically for all things one seeks in life...interesting.
Though I must admit...I too chase the ideal in my head but then listen to those who have
more experience such as Uncle Erik....truly words of wisdom to live by, there.

Remember what Clarence said to George at the end of It's A Wonderful Life and apply it to your rig.
 
Sep 7, 2009 at 10:20 PM Post #9 of 11

Uncle Erik

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You're a hopeless romantic.
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Nothing wrong with that, except you end up chasing your tail so much that you can miss something truly great.

Maybe you enjoy the pursuit so much you're afraid it will end. Or maybe you won't know what to do with yourself once the pursuit ends.

Keep in mind that you don't always know what you really want. Even when you think you do.

If you really want off the rollercoaster, buy headphones you can live with. There are some excellent ones out there. Maybe not ideal, but good.

Then get out of the gear side and focus your efforts on something else. Go back to school, take up a competetive sport, collect something, start a business, or something along those lines. You have a lot of dedication and (I think) smarts, so maybe put that to better use than endlessly comparing audio gear.
 
Sep 7, 2009 at 10:40 PM Post #10 of 11

haloxt

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Listening critically is different from listening for pleasure. It's not very fun to test wine or condiments but once you pair them with food you reap the benefits of your critical testing.
 
Sep 7, 2009 at 10:46 PM Post #11 of 11

estreeter

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Cmon, lets all just come out and admit that we are hopeless, unrestrained gear queers : we long to caress the rounded edges of the objects of our sonic desire. Forget the music - lets just go out and BUY MORE KIT !!!! Forget about the phallic appearance of tubes - you know want the 'warmth' they give you (Freud would have a field day..) - and who cares if the Compass is 90% billet magnificence and 10% sound : get that credit card out and get busy, people !

(yes, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but I think tough problems deserve tough solutions. Someday, friends, you'll thank me)
 

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