Is Audiophile level sound an acquired taste?
Aug 19, 2007 at 4:24 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 244


Headphoneus Supremus
Jul 8, 2007
I invited 3 friends over to my house to finally try out some of my gear that I've been raving about for months. This gear consisted of.....

Sennheiser HD650
Sennheiser HD600
AKG K701
Beyers DT880 Pro
Beyers DT770 (250 ohm) 2005
Denon D5000
Ultrasone Proline 750
Audio Technica W5000

They all listened to these headphones on my iMod using wave files and either Meier Corda Move amp or the Hornet by RSA

Not one of these three friends has ever used a headphone above 75 bucks and not one of them had heard of any of those brands mentioned......they expected Sonys, Koss, when I unveiled these unknown (unknown to them) brands they seemed surprised and a bit disappointed because I told them what I've spent and the effort I put into burning them in.

Anyway. I played the three friends unanimous favorite band to them Led Zeppelin......and to be a bit cliche I let them all hear the entirety of "Stairway to Heaven". I started with the HD650s and got a lukewarm response from all three. Friend X said "It's pretty good, but I would never pay 300 bucks for that, its not that good. Friend Y said "There's no bass! They're lousy" Friend Z said "I think I prefer the apple buds to this". I was amazed!

We moved on to the AKG K701s. Friend X said "the music feels so far away, I don't like it", Friend Y said "I feel like my ears are listening to a cell phone" Friend Z said "I still prefer the apple buds"

Anyway, I kept getting disappointing responses. The only headphone they seemed to warm to was the Denons. They all agreed they sounded the best and looked the best. When I told them they were 450 bucks, they laughed at me saying the sound was good, but not even worth 200 bucks and that they think the Boss QC3s are just as good and block out more sound.

Anyway, the point of this thread is just to set up a forum to discuss whether you think audiophile sound quality is an acquired taste. Some people really prefer booming bass, its attractive to them. It bothers me somehow that I could spend probably 1000 bucks on a headphone that a good friend of mine would probably say pales to the ibud. I know they have inexperienced, or i should say different ears, than I do, but's really amazing if you think about it!
Aug 19, 2007 at 4:29 AM Post #2 of 244
Yeah, these guys are idiots.

You need better friends, friends are definitely an acquired taste!
Aug 19, 2007 at 4:31 AM Post #3 of 244
We've been through this...

There is no bass response comes from those who want mid-bass hump.
Prefer iBuds is just usually a plain refusal to accept improvement.
Friend X actually was listening but clearly high audio quality is not worth to him as much as you, thats a totally different situation.

In comparison - my roommate listened to my Edition 9 and said that it sounds excellent, he can easily hear mp3 artifacts and such,
but it is not worth the money to him. Its just a matter of priorities.

Oh, and ability to hear strength of headphones usually takes a while to get used to. I bet it is hard to hear what is so good about
Edition 9 over...say, DT770, if the person is comparing for the first time after a lifetime of iBud use.
Aug 19, 2007 at 4:33 AM Post #4 of 244
Back in college a roomate I didn't get along with "borrowed" my Grado's for a night, knowing nothing about them. I noticed he bought a pair later.

Had something similar at a LAN when I had an extra pair of V6's I loaned out.

The more laid back sounds of cans like the HD600's seems to be a much more acquired taste though. The idea of measuring sound quality by the base output is just so ingrained these days.
Aug 19, 2007 at 4:35 AM Post #5 of 244
Either they have noise induced hearing loss or they've developed a taste for iBuds. I initially preferred my QC2 which I've been using for a long time to my 650s . When I put them on first, I was hearing for the wrong things. I was only measuring tonal quantity. After experimenting various amps/sources, I started hearing at soundstage shapes, separation, extension, decay, and all kinds of things. Only then my QC2 started collecting dust and reserved for noisy road trips and airplane rides.
Aug 19, 2007 at 4:40 AM Post #6 of 244
I don't know if its an acquired taste, but for certain, the ability to detect finite differences in sound is not something everyone can do. Most (myself included) need to be taught what to listen for... How to listen to notes and musical passages is a learned skill with many.

Even then it boils down to hearing perception, no 2 people perceive sounds and minute differences the same.
Aug 19, 2007 at 4:43 AM Post #7 of 244
I didn't get what your source was. Possibly that was part of the problem. High definition phones with low def material is still low def material.

Otherwise I can second this story, I have two daughters growing up who listen to a fair bit of music and are also fairly accomplished musicians. Only one shows any interest in my electrostatic phones, admittedly I only let them use the Koss ESP950, rather than various Stax, because the 950 has such a good warranty and I can't fully trust them with expensive equipment.. The other listens to oldies on a small FM radio with a tinny speaker. She could easily hook this up to the fairly good self-powered speakers I gave her for her cd player but is offended when I suggest this because she's "not interested in the sound."

I think that part of the issue is that people develop a taste for whatever music they prefer and then want to hear it the same way they first began to enjoy it. She developed a taste for whatever on a tinny portable radio and wants that sound.
Aug 19, 2007 at 4:43 AM Post #8 of 244
young grasshopper. some people dont notice the differences in ANYTHING though to others they may be as different as black and navy blue.

some people notice SOME differences, like red and crimson.

some people notice MANY differences, like 72DPI and 128DPI prints.

it goes on and on.

another key is a solid reference. invite them over with a bose triport. at my first head-fi meet there was a set there as a sales tool for the senheisser hd-201.

and lastly is a price factor. not everyone has our mildly skewed opinion as to the value of stereo equipment. telling some people you spend $300 on SPEAKERS will get a "What, do they suck your quill?" reaction... try to leave the element of price out of your comparisons.
Aug 19, 2007 at 4:47 AM Post #10 of 244
The Grados are the only ones that get a favorable response from new listeners I've experimented with...I think the other headphones I definitely take some practice to appreciate. Even I haven't fully appreciated them yet.
Aug 19, 2007 at 4:51 AM Post #11 of 244

Originally Posted by BrookR1 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The Grados are the only ones that get a favorable response from new listeners I've experimented with...I think the other headphones I definitely take some practice to appreciate. Even I haven't fully appreciated them yet.

I had a Grado SR 60 that they've all heard before and never thought much of it
I also used to have a Bose QC2 and Bose QC3 and they LOVED it....I think they couldn't get past the fact that it was a noise attenuator. I'll be honest, I think for most of my friends, they don't really understand the concept that each headphone represents the sound differently. For them I believe "sound is sound and the only differences really are the amount of bass impact and comfort and noise blockage"......not one of them really could say anything about the highs or the mids. I think one of them never even heard of the word treble
Aug 19, 2007 at 4:59 AM Post #13 of 244
I feel like a moron for letting it bother me though. One of my friends is a really good musician too who I have respect for musically, and to hear him just dislike stuff that I know is good is somehow bothersome. It's like taking a restaurant critic to a really expensive, fancy and delicious steakhouse and having them reply "eh I woulda prefered a big mac"
Aug 19, 2007 at 5:02 AM Post #14 of 244
I agree with Nikon, some people notice somethings that others dont/wont. That said, I do believe that in general it is something of an aquired taste. Most people are just so clueless that I dont even bother trying to explain it, infact I've noticed that recently I go out of my way to avoid the subject with family and friends.

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