Headphone Brands from Worst to First

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Headphone Brands from Worst to First

Postby jb » Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:08 am

Good info here. Read before you drop money on Beats.

http://time.com/74886/best-headphones/
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Re: Headphone Brands from Worst to First

Postby jast » Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:12 am

A brand worth considering that is not listed there is Beyerdynamic. I tested about 40 different headphones (AKG, Sennheiser, Shure, Audio-Technica, Sony, Ultrasone and some others I don't remember) and ended up choosing the Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro for what I consider a good balance of enjoyable listening and transparency – it's suitable for both monitoring and casual listening IMO. That said, I quite liked the AKG K271 studio phones for their extremely clean sound, but listening on them feels more like work. ;)
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Re: Headphone Brands from Worst to First

Postby Caravan Ray » Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:36 am

I won a pair of Skull Candy headphones (yes - being the Trivia champion of your company does occasionally pay off) - and they seemed really crap. So I gave them to my daughter.
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Re: Headphone Brands from Worst to First

Postby josh » Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:37 am

I don't give much creedence to a poll done by Time magazine using input from shills like CNet and Wired. Haha.
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Re: Headphone Brands from Worst to First

Postby jb » Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:10 pm

Perhaps you would consider contributing, rather than sniping.

josh wrote:I don't give much creedence to a poll done by Time magazine using input from shills like CNet and Wired. Haha.
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Re: Headphone Brands from Worst to First

Postby Niveous » Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:52 pm

I use wireless Sennheiser headphones. I've had them for 5 months now and they've been glorious.
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Re: Headphone Brands from Worst to First

Postby josh » Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:37 pm

Oh, sorry if that came off as a snark on you, it was directed at the article. Hadn't considered you'd take offense! I've used a lot of mediocre headphones over the years. Mostly the cheap Sony ones (MDR whatevers, going for $20 a pop). They sound good enough but break about once a year. Also have a pair of these industrial AKG's that also sound good enough and are solid as heck, but aren't convenient for transport. Right now I'm using ATM-50 headphones. I'm pretty happy with them. I don't have the ears to say anything in depth. They feel solid and sound good enough for me.
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Re: Headphone Brands from Worst to First

Postby jast » Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:23 am

IMO the most important thing when choosing headphones is to actually compare different models, otherwise you're pretty much buying blindly. When doing test listens, it's very important to level-match them (play stuff at the same loudness on all models; you may have to alter the player's volume since headphones have different electrical characteristics that affect the final loudness).

That taken care of, there are many different things worth paying attention to. Generally if you can hear more details in the audio on one pair of headphones, that's a good thing (for monitoring purposes, anyway). If some pieces of audio sound boomy (louder than they should be in part of the frequency spectrum, e.g. certain notes or drum hits louder than others for no particular reason) or muddy (part of the sound just kind of blurs together) on one pair but not on the other, you may want to discard the boomy/muddy pair from your selection. I expect Beats will disqualify itself fairly quickly if you do that (haven't tested them myself but I've talked to people who have). Many other headphones I discarded because either part of the sound didn't get through nearly as well on those as on some others, or because part of it sounded harsh but otherwise no clearer/more detailed than on other pairs.

You can't make these kinds of decisions without a point of reference, so it's impossible to judge a lone pair of headphones properly.
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Re: Headphone Brands from Worst to First

Postby fluffy » Thu May 08, 2014 11:56 pm

I'm surprised that Sony outdid Audio-Technica on average, and that AT is so far down the list, even. Sony's surprisingly good for a standard consumer brand but I've always found my ATs to be really good at least for studio use. The fact it tied with Apple of all things makes me highly suspicious of their methods.

That said I do use a pair of Sony noise-canceling headphones at work, but that's more about keeping bad sound out than getting good sound in.

EDIT: Oh, I see, the graph is pretty much meaningless and you have to read the text. And for AT they don't bother to call out the good models like they do for the others. Lame. If you look at the actual comparison site, my current headphones of choice are among the highest-rated all around. And I'm still not sure what this 'smart rating' thing is, because headphones with a rating of 3.5 or so are getting a 'smart rating' of 100... (and the breakdown makes no sense since it's using a mixture of reviews, kinda-meaningless tech specs, and a few other things thrown into a mix that doesn't really tell much of a useful story)

I mean okay the ATH-M50s have 5dB lower sensitivity, but it's still at 99dB which is... well, correct me if I'm wrong but well better than the range of human hearing. And there's absolutely nothing in the spec-based rankings that has anything to do with frequency response beyond the testable range of it (which doesn't really tell you much, since again they go well beyond the range of human hearing). Nothing about flatness of response or how much distortion can occur at any frequency or whatever. You'd might as well rank cars solely on their top speed and how hot the heater can get.
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Re: Headphone Brands from Worst to First

Postby jast » Fri May 09, 2014 12:42 am

Flatness of frequency response isn't that important for consumer applications, and not even as important for studio applications as most sources claim IMO. Sure, you don't want one narrow frequency range amplified or deemphasized like mad, but a boost or cut on one end of the range isn't going to cause any serious issues as long as you're familiar with the characteristic sound of the headphones. Distortion or bad spectral decay properties are much bigger issues because they can't really be compensated for.

That said... yes, their ranking is pretty worthless.
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