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Low $100s to $1000s. Is there a significant difference for home audio? Why pay more?

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afinepoint

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I have a set coming to try out.
 

Kaligogrrrrr

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Also beware of "difference" as opposed to improvement.... when something sounds different and is substantially more expensive, we sometimes like to convince ourselves that the difference is an improvement......

This is key for audiophools and subjective reviewers but this can't trip up well conducted measurements...

Subjective reviewers often irk me hugely while I'm listening to them spout absolute garbage.

I am so grateful for Amir educating so many potential victims. He's a hero.

Amir is like the guy who shows people how magic tricks are done and is hated by folk in that circle, only, he's not spoiling the fun and mystery for kids, he's allowing kids and ALL to have as much fun as they want without being ripped off.
 
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afinepoint

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Agree. Measurements are one data point. But one must understand how they are done. I haven't the slightest idea of how to perform accurate measurements but I do know different equipment and settings can significantly change the outcome of what is seen and measured. I too am grateful for Amir's assistance and created a post dedicated to that but it takes two points to draw a line and a conclusion IMHO. Amir gives us one to get us going in the right direction. Our ears the other. Independent research and honest advice is an invaluable roadway between the two.

I understand what dialoum is getting at and have mentioned it. That's part of what my post is about. Some equate cost with better. Not always so. Sometime it's just the bling. Sometimes people hear what they want. Or what a chart or voice in their ear tells them to hear. It must sound better so that's what they hear. If it makes people happy so be it but it doesn't mean it's better. For me measurements are a great tool and lend clarity and explanation to results and expectations. But we are not machines which is why this thread and others have repeated shown that measurements are not the alpha and omega. And why so many opinions exist and why preferences for audio equipment ranges so far. Some like bright others mellow. Solid state or tubes. In the end regardless of anything else the ears matter and should be the determining factor of where you put your money. If we were the same we'd be buying the same thing but we are not. I could care less what an "expert magazine review" or graph says if I don't like what I'm hearing. We are not cyborgs and honestly too many go along with what they want to believe or are told. Lemmings.

In the end if I have to be sold by one thing it's my ears.. I literally have to live with them. : D

The feedback on this thread is rewarding. I've used it to narrow my choices. Hats off guys.
 

Yorkshire Mouth

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I think most of us now, we know that your DAC should be pretty much perfect, unless you’ve not been paying attention.

Most half-decent amps should be the same, as long as you pay attention to power vs speakers/listening distance/volume required.

So it’s down to the speakers.

And yet I feel they’re catching up. Okay, you’ve got to do more research and put a bit more effort into it. But I’ve been reading reviews of a number of speakers, and (again, depending on how loud you want them to go), you can reach dizzying heights for just a few hundred pounds.

It’s truly a wonderful time to be listening to music at home.
 
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afinepoint

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Bathy's arrived. Sounds is very good. Highs are clear. Bass not overemphasized. The big complaints I've read are comfort and unusual sounds particularly during power on. No such noises for the first power up and connection. The headband and ear muffs are comfortable but we'll see after an hour or two. In my work I wore heavy industrial sound powered phones that were heavy and gripped with a vise-like clamp that were painful in short order. They are a bit heavy, another complaint, but I would think that is to be expected for higher end (Bluetooth) headphones.

The ability to connect digitally via the supplied cable is a definite plus as the normal Bluetooth compression is eliminated. Analog to digital compression is not required. Furthermore no DAC or amp is needed. It's handled by the headphones.

I found the controls confusing. Multiple pushes required. For example pausing, playing and call functions are handled by one button using one push. Forward is two pushes, backwards is three. This is all using the same button. So there's a learning curve. Simple compared to my old job which had hundreds of buttons so not an issue. Like our car controls once you've driven awhile you know where to reach without looking.

Noise canceling is an area whose performance is said to trail other phones like Sony 1000XM5's. However I have a quiet house and quiet neighborhood so again no concern or need for such. If it comes to that I have Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds with very good noise canceling and good performance. Because let's face it if it is that noisy then there will be no critical listening being done.

I hope they work out. They list for $700 that I got new from Crutchfield, my go to audio dealer, for $480. Couldn't pass it up.

I'll do an update after some time with the Bathy's.
 
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afinepoint

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I think most of us now, we know that your DAC should be pretty much perfect, unless you’ve not been paying attention.

Most half-decent amps should be the same, as long as you pay attention to power vs speakers/listening distance/volume required.

So it’s down to the speakers.

And yet I feel they’re catching up. Okay, you’ve got to do more research and put a bit more effort into it. But I’ve been reading reviews of a number of speakers, and (again, depending on how loud you want them to go), you can reach dizzying heights for just a few hundred pounds.

It’s truly a wonderful time to be listening to music at home.
Digital reproduction beyond audible distinction is so easy to find in any good gear. How close to perfect does it need to be? Distortion now so low choice can more often come down to price, tonal preference, usability, esthetics and such.

For example these headphones are a pleasure to use. However they are indeed heavy. Only some Pioneers from the 70s came close. This could be a deal breaker for some. It doesn't bother me as one I have no neck issues and will not be wearing them for eight hours and two and more importantly I understand why they are heavy. Build quality.

Tonally I did set the EQ to dynamic as research states it places them closer to the Harman curve. There is a noticeable difference. Preference will cheerfully require more listening.
 

dokazi

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Agree. Measurements are one data point. But one must understand how they are done. I haven't the slightest idea of how to perform accurate measurements but I do know different equipment and settings can significantly change the outcome of what is seen and measured. I too am grateful for Amir's assistance and created a post dedicated to that but it takes two points to draw a line and a conclusion IMHO. Amir gives us one to get us going in the right direction. Our ears the other. Independent research and honest advice is an invaluable roadway between the two.

I understand what dialoum is getting at and have mentioned it. That's part of what my post is about. Some equate cost with better. Not always so. Sometime it's just the bling. Sometimes people hear what they want. Or what a chart or voice in their ear tells them to hear. It must sound better so that's what they hear. If it makes people happy so be it but it doesn't mean it's better. For me measurements are a great tool and lend clarity and explanation to results and expectations. But we are not machines which is why this thread and others have repeated shown that measurements are not the alpha and omega. And why so many opinions exist and why preferences for audio equipment ranges so far. Some like bright others mellow. Solid state or tubes. In the end regardless of anything else the ears matter and should be the determining factor of where you put your money. If we were the same we'd be buying the same thing but we are not. I could care less what an "expert magazine review" or graph says if I don't like what I'm hearing. We are not cyborgs and honestly too many go along with what they want to believe or are told. Lemmings.

In the end if I have to be sold by one thing it's my ears.. I literally have to live with them. : D

The feedback on this thread is rewarding. I've used it to narrow my choices. Hats off guys.
Very good points made. Can't allow ourselves to be led on by what we really can't decern and doesn't matter. Like opinions ears are different. Love the ASR technical chats and the usual humorous side notes.
 

Brian Hall

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Lots of good advice and insights here. Much appreciated.

I stay busy and do need to pick up a high performing Bluetooth set. I know Bluetooth is not lossless so there's one compromise right out the gate. I planned to test some Sony XM5s and Bowers and Wilkins PX8s. Perhaps Focal Bathys. And of course look at suggestions here.

Sennheiser's Momentum 4 Bluetooth headphones sound really good to me. If you prefer earbuds, the Galaxy Buds pro 2 are also pretty good.
 
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afinepoint

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I did blind tests of the Bathys, Bower PX8 and Mark Levinson 5909 using a wired Type-C connection. I kept my eyes closed as my wife randomly swapped the headphones while playing music on my phone. So not streaming.

Unfortunately both the PX8 and Levinson would only achieve little more than a whisper. I had to max out the volume setting on my phone to hear them. The Bathys were loud and clear. All headphones were the store's. No settings were altered. Two salesman could not understand why the muted volume. I had to halt listening as my phone battery was in single digits. ANC settings shouldn't matter. The PX8 were the most comfortable.

I'll return another time to re-test. Crutchfield has a 60 day satisfaction period so no rush.
 

EJ3

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I went through many threads and didn't see a post discussing this topic. Apologies if I missed it.

Is there that much of a noticeable and significant difference between the audible performance of over the ear headphones costing a hundred or two and ones ten times that price? As much as I love the sound of well made and matched audio equipment I can not wrap my head around the concept of a headphone in the thousands being used for home audio. Can the untrained ear even hear a difference? My hearing is very good but . . . I can perhaps see the need in professional editing where the budget allows and the music engineering demands the best. But for home use?

I once asked a professional concert violinist if she could hear the difference between a Stradivarius and the best made modern violin. She said not likely. And certainly no average listener would ever be able to. She said owning a $10M violin is about the name and collectbility not sound. It must "sound" better because it costs $10M right? More money equals better. But this philosophy just doesn't always pan out. Especially with the imperfections and marked difference of human ears.

And a $3000+ home headphone . . .?

Help me get it.
Style, comfort/fit, brand recognition, elite/esoteric status, collectability, "this one just makes me feel good" are few of the many things that have nothing to do with "is the sound good according to measurements", disposable income: are a few of the many, many reasons for the discrepancies.
More money may or may not equal better.
You may not get what you pay for but you will usually not get what you don't pay for.
(see: always buying the cheapest possible things).
 

Ze Frog

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If you can't spend a million you might as well just listen to the radio in your car, LOL.
Lol, with fuel prices where they are it might actually be best to just spend the million.
 
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afinepoint

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"is the sound good according to measurements",
Exactly. That's probably a if not the leading error and misconception of placing all else before your ears. Doesn't matter what the measurements or another opinion says if your ears say "No". Like buying a shoe that doesn't fit. Although people do it all the time for some of the very reasons you mentioned.

I look forward to re-testing the Levinsons and PX8s. And again appreciate the feedback. ASR has helped with an (expensive) amplifier buy. And likely headphones purchase.
 
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afinepoint

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Other than the update I plan to make on my further blind tests of the Bathys, Levinson and PX8s I think this thread can be put to bed. I may post those thoughts in a separate thread. The collective opinion is $2k+ headphones have no real or should I say perceptible performance over those costing much less except maybe to an oscilloscope. The materials are pretty and bragging rights come with the package.

Over 30 practically none can hear in the high kHz range. And as for the performance in the audible range for even the more affordable high end headphones, - by comments (throughout other forums) it is at times highly subjective which ASR is seemingly not based upon.

Many thanks to all that commented. As always in ASR it has been a learning experience.
 

TankTop

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DVD you wrote:

…If I could afford a Lamborghini I'd likely buy one too but a $100k Vette will outrun and outgun it for half the price.
20 years in the car business. Lamborghini, you spelled Porsche wrong… Vette’s are cool but track day Saturday equals shop on Monday 90% of the time. Porsche track day Saturday equals commute to work Mon-Fri rinse repeat. There is a difference and it’s massive.

Same can’t be said for cans though
 
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afinepoint

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20 years in the car business. Lamborghini, you spelled Porsche wrong… Vette’s are cool but track day Saturday equals shop on Monday 90% of the time. Porsche track day Saturday equals commute to work Mon-Fri rinse repeat. There is a difference and it’s massive.

Same can’t be said for cans though
I didn't mention Porsche. FWI I own one and wouldn't misspell it and ran mine at VIR. Lamborghini is spelled correctly. Would have loved to have seen that at the track.

Regarding the headphones - perhaps. Thanks for the thoughts.
 
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TankTop

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I didn't mention Porsche. FWI I own one and wouldn't misspell it and ran mine at VIR. Lamborghini is spelled correctly. Would have loved to have seen that at the track.

Regarding the headphones - perhaps. Thanks for the thoughts.
Not in a position yet, but the Porsche 911 Dakar has me drooling. The dealership up the street from me is the number one Dakar dealer in the world right now, Colorado Springs so it’s very appropriate
 
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