Dissapointed with high end headphones... what am I doing wrong?
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Elseis66

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Hi, friends.

I recently got a job that allows me to save money, while enjoying hobbies. I've been in and out of this hobby for many years - mostly because of changes in interest, but more predominantly, because of life (kids, mortgage, bills).

After some rushed purchases through Amazon (DT770, SE425, ES100 MK2, etc), I decided that it was my time to stop playing around and get some sort of endgame. My plan is/was to get an RME ADI-2 DAC FS + headphones (LCD-2 Classic and perhaps some new IEMs) plugged into my computer with Roon/Audirvana. But because I live where I live, I don't have access to listen to some of these equipment. That is why I decided that I wanted to actually "hear" a difference in high end equipment before I went and spend some money on it.

A very nice person invited me to a private showroom here in Mexico City. They had, basically, all of the Focal line up, plus very high end amp DACs and amps (Moon HD230, Chords, etc). They allowed me to enjoy 2+ hours of listening. I listened to Elegias, Elear, Clear, Stellia and Utopia connected to the Moon HD230 and my computer. And while I could listed some differences in the clarity, soundstage, etc. Most of them were very subtle to my ears. To say it mildly, I was very dissapointed.

With this in mind, I am seriously considering not buying more stuff.

Am I doing something something wrong? are my ears trash?

I appreciate any advice :)
 
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E8ArmyDiver

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Congratulations,you have had the epiphany of truth in Audio...The so called differences the golden eared tout are almost ALWAYS subconscious justification for the $ spent & RARELY if ever are real & tangible..I've demo'd HiFiMan up to the Susvara.I bought the Sundara because the difference in performance was miniscule if it existed at all...
 
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Hi, friends.

I recently got a job that allows me to save money, while enjoying hobbies. I've been in and out of this hobby for many years - mostly because of changes in interest, but more predominantly, because of life (kids, mortgage, bills).

After some rushed purchases through Amazon (DT770, SE425, ES100 MK2, etc), I decided that it was my time to stop playing around and get some sort of endgame. My plan is/was to get an RME ADI-2 DAC FS + headphones (LCD-2 Classic and perhaps some new IEMs) plugged into my computer with Roon/Audirvana. But because I live where I live, I don't have access to listen to some of these equipment. That is why I decided that I wanted to actually "hear" a difference in high end equipment before I went and spend some money on it.

A very nice person invited me to a private showroom here in Mexico City. They had, basically, all of the Focal line up, plus very high end amp DACs and amps (Moon HD230, Chords, etc). They allowed me to enjoy 2+ hours of listening. I listened to Elegias, Elear, Clear, Stellia and Utopia connected to the Moon HD230 and my computer. And while I could listed some differences in the clarity, soundstage, etc. Most of them were very subtle to my ears. To say it mildly, I was very dissapointed.

With this in mind, I am seriously considering not buying more stuff.

Am I doing something something wrong? are my ears trash?

I appreciate any advice :)
Take a look around. For many people, this hobby is full of subjective bias.

My suggestion is just a get a good inexpensive gear and stop there and just enjoy your music. Cause it is the most important part of the gear.

There is nothing wrong with your ears.
 
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Redcarmoose

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You just have to take a small risk and buy something and live with it a while. As the post earlier is 1/2 correct......much is mental, as we are all subsequently triggered to have a bias from suggestion. The difference is not exactly quantifiable. Is a low grade diamond they grind up the same as one of those expensive ones they use for wedding rings....no......the nice diamonds are slightly different. The law of diminishing returns is real.

All these people who spent money are not crazy, there is difference. The difference is noticeable and if it’s worth it to you is of course highly subjective.

My suggestion is try it to find gear that has your tone.

I started with full size and have slowly moved to IEMs.

But again it takes time. It’s getting used to stuff alone in a dark room. A noise riddled showroom is not a good place at times to find the value; at least I never could?
 
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Redcarmoose

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It’s all an illusion. When you see a movie you somehow trick your mind into a narrative. What happens is we always think more expensive gear will make the music more pleasurable. Are $500 IEMs twice as good as $250 IEMs? Will the music be more enjoyable with $1000 IEMs. The most important thing is to find personal tone. After you find the tone you like, then your more inclined to accept the sound as music. You will get more involved regardless of price if you find your tone.

But IEMs are actually a smaller world than headphones and headphones are a smaller world than speakers. The difference is the IEMs place the soundstage inside your head, where speakers and regular headphones place it outside.
 
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This is a common outcome of a visit to a hifi store. For me there are 2 main causes. Firstly the objective difference between mid-fi and high end is not as great as some would have you believe. The second (and this is enough to make mid-fi = high end) is you're in an alien environment with only short exposure to multiple different amplifiers and headphones. There isn't enough time to adjust to the upgraded benefits of the equipment. Generally you're not hearing the upgraded headphone at its best. Since most headphones have unique sound signatures this exacerbates the difficulty. Many will find the headphone they most like is similar to their daily driver. If someone listens to a Sennheiser HD600 regularly they might find they most like the HD660S at their local store because of dimensional/acoustic similarities. Any headphone that has completely different characteristics will take several hours of listening to appreciate. This of course makes headphone selection a hazard. Whether you think the price you eventually pay is worth it for the upgrade is another matter entirely.
 
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Elseis66

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All these people who spent money are not crazy, there is difference. The difference is noticeable and if it’s worth it to you is of course highly subjective.
You should have seen the face of one of the two gentlemen in this super fancy showroom. He was waiting for me to go "DAMN!! I'M TAKING EVERYTHING". In fact, when I said I didn't notice huge difference, he started using his facemask inmediatly (he wasn't using it in front of me before) and disappeared within the store :)

I think your suggestion is very good. The reason why I was looking to get something like the RME was because it had a "reasonable" combination of all-in-one high-end dac/amp. I felt that if I get something like that, I wouldn't be going back to a store to get more expensive, higher-end equipment. Plus, it seems that it doesn't take too much space.
 
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Elseis66

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It’s all an illusion. When you see a movie you somehow trick your mind into a narrative. What happens is we always think more expensive gear will make the music more pleasurable. Are $500 IEMs twice as good as $250 IEMs? Will the music be more enjoyable with $1000 IEMs. The most important thing is to find personal tone. After you find the tone you like, then your more inclined to accept the sound as music. You will get more involved regardless of price if you find your tone.

But IEMs are actually a smaller world than headphones and headphones are a smaller world than speakers. The difference is the IEMs place the soundstage inside your head, where speakers and regular headphones place it outside.
I think the "personal tone" advice is a wise one.

What I want to achieve is to have 1 headphone, 1 EIM (I travel a lot both for work and pleasure, ex-covid) and one desktop DAC/Amp that can do everything (hopefully). I already have enough with the ES100 MK2 as a portable DAC/Amp.

Right now, in order of enjoyability/use:

1.- DT770 Pro 80ohms.
2.-Etys HF5 (the cable,unfortunately, broke/wore down and I can't use them any more).
3.- AKG K401 (for classical)
4.- Shure SE425
 
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Elseis66

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Congratulations,you have had the epiphany of truth in Audio...The so called differences the golden eared tout are almost ALWAYS subconscious justification for the $ spent & RARELY if ever are real & tangible..I've demo'd HiFiMan up to the Susvara.I bought the Sundara because the difference in performance was miniscule if it existed at all...
Hmmm the Sundaras look pretty cool + not crazy expensive. Care to elaborate in your thoughts about them?
 
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Elseis66

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The second (and this is enough to make mid-fi = high end) is you're in an alien environment with only short exposure to multiple different amplifiers and headphones. There isn't enough time to adjust to the upgraded benefits of the equipment.
Yeah... the benefit of the doubt. I might take the risk, and if I'm not in love, I'll just sell everything. Thanks for your advice!
 
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E8ArmyDiver

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Hmmm the Sundaras look pretty cool + not crazy expensive. Care to elaborate in your thoughts about them?
They feel/look like $3000.00 headphones,they are solidly built,superbly comfortable for longgg listening sessions,they have exquisite tone with a glorious midrange/upper bass & they cost $350.00 which is absolute bargain..
 
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No, your ears are not trash. I once had the Denon AH-7200 and I immediatley requested a return within one hour. That headphone is pure trash! Too much focused on vocals and bass is bad and the headband hurts like a m$#%^&@! I have the DT770 and DT880 250ohm and I like it. Although I use EQ to tone down the piercing highs and sounds is amazing. As a DAC I have the Fiio K5 Pro and much more expensive gear for me is totally unjustified. Now I use my Amirons the most. I wanted the Focal Elegia but owners have stated it has sibilance, which I don't like that.

Any human being out there has their own opinions and tolerance but we must never forget our common sense. Paying 1000$+ bucks on a gear just for your simple requirement is pretty much out of proportions.
 
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Hi, friends.

I recently got a job that allows me to save money, while enjoying hobbies. I've been in and out of this hobby for many years - mostly because of changes in interest, but more predominantly, because of life (kids, mortgage, bills).

After some rushed purchases through Amazon (DT770, SE425, ES100 MK2, etc), I decided that it was my time to stop playing around and get some sort of endgame. My plan is/was to get an RME ADI-2 DAC FS + headphones (LCD-2 Classic and perhaps some new IEMs) plugged into my computer with Roon/Audirvana. But because I live where I live, I don't have access to listen to some of these equipment. That is why I decided that I wanted to actually "hear" a difference in high end equipment before I went and spend some money on it.

A very nice person invited me to a private showroom here in Mexico City. They had, basically, all of the Focal line up, plus very high end amp DACs and amps (Moon HD230, Chords, etc). They allowed me to enjoy 2+ hours of listening. I listened to Elegias, Elear, Clear, Stellia and Utopia connected to the Moon HD230 and my computer. And while I could listed some differences in the clarity, soundstage, etc. Most of them were very subtle to my ears. To say it mildly, I was very dissapointed.

With this in mind, I am seriously considering not buying more stuff.

Am I doing something something wrong? are my ears trash?

I appreciate any advice :)
I'll put it this way.

Back in 2018 I tried the Utopia vs my HD600 to see if at least the imaging would be that much wider and deeper, if at least match the K701. I brought my Meier Cantate.2 but tested both headphones on that and a transformer-coupled tube amp they had there.

I left the store knowing I'm pretty set and don't need to worry that I'm missing out on something. It is better in some other aspects, but I'm not blowing $3,000.
 
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