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Audiophile hobby is a scam?

ZENERGiA

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Hi Guys!

Please help me understand, because I do not know If I am missing something, or the whole audiophile hobby is a scam.

I have several headphones with different frequency responses (namely: AKG K712 PRO, Grado SR225i, Sennheiser HD559, Sennheiser HD560S, Audio-Technica AD700X, AKG K371). Running them from the OG Atom Stack.

Out of all these, the most natural sounding is the K371 (without EQ). I can notice the difference when it comes to "soundstage", the open backs have bigger soundstage, but outside of that...we could say they have more "detail", but to me "detail" really seem like a buzzword, and in reality we are talking about quirky frequency responses, which create the illusion of "detail".

Any time I pick up the K712PRO for example, I can hear more "detail" from the music, but it sounds off...the 560S has more "detail" than the K371, but it sounds off (timbre is particularly bad with the 560S imho). I can sometimes enjoy these headphones, but they can get fatiguing, and anytime I pick up my K371, they just sound natural to me, and never fatiguing, regardless of genre of music.

So what is the catch here? If we want the best fidelity, we just need a clean amp, a clean dac, and a headphone that has Harman Tuning, and that is it, there's no possibility of getting better science based sound quality? Or my hearing might just gravitate toward the Harman Tuning?

Thank you for your responses in advance!
 
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Purité Audio

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Yes, transparent dac, transparent amp and then headphones to taste?
Keith
 

SSS

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Clean neutral audio chain prior the headphone is desirable. From there the headphone/ear/head/brain system is very individual and needs to be evaluated for the particular listener in order to get a headphone which pleases with the music style. Anyway, most music recordings are not made for headphone listening.
 
OP
Z

ZENERGiA

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Yes, transparent dac, transparent amp and then headphones to taste?
Keith
What I am surprised about, is how many headphones sound off, I do not know how could someone listen to the 560S for example without any EQ for longer periods of time...its treble is literary irritating. I can see the use of a K712 PRO or HD560S in studio environment for example...but when it comes to regular music listening, headphones tuned closer to the harman target seem like the correct way to me.
 
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Purité Audio

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I suspect,( although far from an authority) that the headphone market is not unlike loudspeakers there are ‘accurate’ designs that aim to reproduce the signal more or less as accurately as possible and then, ‘tuned by the designer’ designs which almost have to sound ‘different’
to justify the much higher pricing.
Keith
 

mechapreneur

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Beyond a certain reasonable dollar amount, you are buying for looks--or with headphones, also comfort. If your equipment is not adding noise and does not muddy/color the sound, then it's probably better than your ears.

I definitely have had some cheap equipment (amp, dac) that had a noise floor I could hear. And I've owned lots of cheap headphones that sound weird or bad. But it did not take much money to get out of that market.
 

Chrispy

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I'd think of it as some in the audio industry willingly scamming for their own benefit. I don't think headphones makes it particularly different, even tho they're not my thing particularly to use.
 

gags11

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It is as much of a scam as being a fan for Louis Vuitton or Hermes products.

PS: so if you like LV, you may appreciate a PS Audi DAC. I for one, will take good quality leather over plastic any day.
 

radix

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To play devil's advocate, everyone's different and there must be some variation in headphones for different people's heads and hearing and sound preferences and use cases (open vs closed, over-ear vs in-hear, noise-canceling, etc.). Just like there's no one perfect speaker, there must be choices for different rooms and different hearing and different voicing preferences.

But of course some of it is a scam.
 

Dunring

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Try a pair of 7hz Salnotes Zero:2 on your current setup. For $24 you'll have a baseline of just how great things can sound for the price. Worth having them just as a reference point, since they put most headphones to shame.
 

Robin L

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I've got the AKG K371s and the Drop 6XXXs, switch them back and forth between the two. The AKGs sound a tad closed in, the Drop 6XXXs lack the bottom octave. In the past I primarily used Stax Earspeakers with their tube energizer/amp, found them much more resolving. But that just might mean that they had more treble energy. As regards electronics, flat response, low noise and low distortion is all you really need, as long as power requirements are met. But with transducers - loudspeakers, headphones, iems - it really is a matter of personal taste. The "audiophile hobby" is not a scam, but some of the products and myths of the "high-end" constitutes snake oil of various sorts.
 

Rhamnetin

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So what is the catch here? If we want the best fidelity, we just need a clean amp, a clean dac, and a headphone that has Harman Tuning, and that is it, there's no possibility of getting better science based sound quality? Or my hearing might just gravitate toward the Harman Tuning?

The audiophile industry is generally a scam, I agree. There are a few other variables like distortion and group delay/phase response, which Amir talks about in this video. Group delay impacts headphone performance similar to how room imperfections affect speaker performance. IEMs are best here, though Dan Clark Audio has made staggering leaps and bounds in this area as far as over-ear headphones go.

Also, you might not personally favor Harman's 2018 preference curve, but chances are your preference will fall into the range of their preference curves.

 
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dlaloum

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I've got the AKG K371s and the Drop 6XXXs, switch them back and forth between the two. The AKGs sound a tad closed in, the Drop 6XXXs lack the bottom octave. In the past I primarily used Stax Earspeakers with their tube energizer/amp, found them much more resolving. But that just might mean that they had more treble energy. As regards electronics, flat response, low noise and low distortion is all you really need, as long as power requirements are met. But with transducers - loudspeakers, headphones, iems - it really is a matter of personal taste. The "audiophile hobby" is not a scam, but some of the products and myths of the "high-end" constitutes snake oil of various sorts.
Typically the stats also have substantially lower distortion....
 

pseudoid

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....whole audiophile hobby is a scam... I can notice the difference when it comes to "soundstage", the open backs have bigger soundstage,
I don't know about the "scamming" part of your assertion but I don't even understand headphone listening (pick the kind), at all. :oops:
Especially when someone starts talking about soundstage with respect to headphones.
Please also remember that in the game of scamming there are two participants.
 

zonk

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The recommendation is to use EQ with headphpones/IEMs. For example Qudelix K5 on Iphone or EAPO on MS Windows or RME DAC FS.

For me the much bigger problem is that most music sounds not good. Very good sounding music is only available in homeopathic dose. One drop in a big lake.
 
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Prana Ferox

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Over the ear headphones in particular are going to be sensitive to how they fit on your specific ears and head. That's not something someone on the internet can measure and it's not something that magically gets better with money.

"Detail" is often a way to say "boosted highs" especially if it gets tiring after a while
 

FINFET

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For many hobbies when you invest more money above a bar, it often turns into a "scam" that you are just paying for the brand and a sense of luxury. It's just for audio, the bar is pretty low. So I'd consider many already entered the scam realm.
But headphones can justify some of its costs by providing you comfort, build quality, durability, light weight, which are quite important considering headpohnes are wearable stuff. This thing touches your skin for hours everyday. You see that with other wearable things people are willing to spend much more for aspects beyond mere functionality, which is also true for headphones.
 

droid2000

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For many hobbies when you invest more money above a bar, it often turns into a "scam" that you are just paying for the brand and a sense of luxury.

You just described a Veblen Good, which a lot of "audiophile" gear is.

 
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