Audio Why is everyone throwing away their wired headphones


red dragon

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Honestly speaking, I do not know how many pairs of headphones I have, but the number is certainly more than enough. However I still check ebay almost everyday for used headphones (old habit from India) and in last 10 days or so, there has been a LOT of great old headphones are popping up there ( also in Aukro/ Bazos etc....these are like olx of Czechia) at absolute throwaway prices (HD 598 for 30 EUR, M40 for 40 EUR, DT 770 for 45, DT990 for 48 and similar)
Initially thought these are scams.
However one particular seller is located within just <10 minutes drive, so I went and bought an absolutely brand new pair of M40 for 40 bucks.Over the weekend bought pairs of HD598, DT990 from a seller who agreed to deliver at my place and got them today morning. The seller was a high school kid who dropped the packages himself.
I literally asked the young man why is he selling such expensive equipment so cheap, looks like the younger generation is perfectly fine with wireless headphones and most phones these days don`t have 3.5mm audio out anyway, no one in his circle is interested in wired cans (the cans belonged to some of his dorm buddies).
I do have few BTNC headphones myself, while they are somewhat serviceable on the go, but absolute garbage when you want to actually enjoy music. I have those damn expensive PXC550 ( possibly the best relatively affordable BTNC cans) QC35 ( got them cheap, but they do not have any clarity whatsoever in the highs and upper mids) and the absolute rubbish XM3s (possibly the weirdest cans that I`ve come across, they try to upscale everything to sound punchy, dynamic, loosing all the character of the original music, I do understand this sound signature appeal to a lot of people, but they should have given an option to truly turn off all the DSP effects, but they did not, even after turning off all the bells and whistles some signal processing still color the sound, which is absolutely unacceptable)
Am I the only one who feels so strongly about the wired vs wireless audio? Any of you, technical gurus feel this way?
Back in the days we used izotope`s ozone to audition 128kbps mp3s before exporting the lossless version in final stages of mixing. Now people at izotope are probably developing SWs to audition the quality of Bluetooth codecs!! Strange time!!
 
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Jambumali

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Wireless gives apparent freedom. Most newer flagships dont have the 3.5mm jack, once Apple threw it out. Margins would be fatter on BT, (Beats for ex.), esp with NC tag attached. Also most likely manufacturing (manual labor) may be cheaper with fewer modules to assemble and pack and manage the supply chain. And, maybe colorful BT cans are "cool"-er.
 

belictony

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you just opined that the Sony XM3s and Bose QC35s are rubbish. I have been using an XM3 myself for the past 1 year and it has the best of both ANC and sound quality. not sure why you feel its not good.
 

red dragon

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Just A/B them with something lot cheaper like a DT990 ( open back) or HD25 ( closed) or even a dirt cheap M40X, you will hear it instantly.
I'm glad you like them, I tried, but couldn't.
It even makes voices in podcasts unnatural.
They have fantastic ANC for sure.
I've seen how much work the audio engineers put in on every song, to make it sound right to the musicians. With a crappy kick/snare mic, they literally go inside the audio and some literally replace each drum hit manually ( even using trigger is also very tedious), they then eq those samples to sit in the mix. The process takes hours even with modern DAWs ( can't imagine what they did with tapes!!)
Now, to me a perfect headphone should reproduce that exact sound ( nothing does, as the perfect does not exist) but certain cans do the job nicely ( certain Stax models sound like speakers close to your ears, but they cost a LOT)
Sony also has similar cans (7506 possibly) which are used even at studios in India.
But my main problem with XM3 is how much compression and eq it applies to the sound ALL THE TIME.
They do sound punchy and fun even with absolutely cold recordings, but they mess up the original sound completely.
I'm not trying to bash XM3 at all. Sound is completely subjective and I totally understand people's love for punchy, head rattling sound. But it's not always the artist's or producer's intent.
There is another big disadvantage of too much digital manipulation, loss of details ( the PXC550 is extremely detailed with usb out, as the drivers are really good, but looses everything the moment it's switched on....sad... really sad)
 

logistopath

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Honestly speaking, the audiophiles are a niche category. Most people I interact with (and I) rarely understand and recognize differences in sound quality, unless it is something very bad. The standard set of earphones that come with mid range and high end phones are good enough for my ears, as long as it sounds clean. So convenience takes priority, which is where Bluetooth earphones win. Add to that the recent trend of manufacturers foregoing the 3.5mm jack. I no longer have to be literally tied to my phone or laptop through my earphones.
 

red dragon

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Very true, even the bundled earphones are usually pretty clean compared to BTNC cans. They do not alter the audio signal that much. I am not an audiophile and do not believe in those crazy expensive cables, FRCs etc. Price of a pair of XM3/ QC35 easily crosses even mid range "audiophile" headphones.
The Massdrop HD6XX costs slightly lower than 1000XM3, even if you do not care about SQ, the difference in quality of sound will shock you ( XM3 misses almost all details beyond 11-12Khz, I have a severe hearing loss in 15-17kHz range due to age, still it is almost impossible for me to justify the price)
If you know how a particular kick or snare drum sounds in a room without any mic, you will be surprised how different they sound in a top tier wireless can ( no kick/ snare drums can sound like that in reality) same with guitar and bass amps. It is like comparing a painting on a canvas and a photograph ( with lots of edits in LR) of the same.
 
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psyph3r

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Are there any new noteworthy sub 200$ headphones worth checking out these days apart from the tried and tested DT770, DT990, ATH-M50x/M40x, HD598, HD25-II and the slightly more expensive AKG K7XX or HD6XX ?
 

red dragon

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Very good point, I'm not very sure. Hifiman HE400 is relatively new.
But most of the good wired open back headphones coming out these days are really expensive.
I can't seem to find the Philips 9500 anywhere either.
Audeze may have a few sub 250 models, but don't know how they are ( everything in head fi goes way above my head these days and the Reddit headphone threads are awful)
I may buy my last pair ( HD800S) in few days and stop buying them.
Those are still pretty expensive.
Though will continue saving up for my endgame...the ****ing Orpheus (HE 1)!! Heard those along with a pair of Diana in Austria. My wife was with me at that time, otherwise would have bought the Orpheus at full price ( that would dry up all the savings)!!
Man!! I can't describe the sound, but it's not a ripoff.
The luxury car analogies are stupid, no matter what car it is, it still feels like a car, not like a beach. But those cans can take you to some place else
 
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Renegade

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Honestly speaking, the audiophiles are a niche category. Most people I interact with (and I) rarely understand and recognize differences in sound quality, unless it is something very bad. The standard set of earphones that come with mid range and high end phones are good enough for my ears, as long as it sounds clean. So convenience takes priority, which is where Bluetooth earphones win.
This is exactly it for me. I like to move around the room while watching a video or attending a call. I do not like to be tethered like a cow to my laptop/phone. I can even attend calls (passively) or listen to music while in the washroom without worrying about peeing on the earphone wire by mistake.
 

cute.bandar

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I think being an audiophile is like being a supertaster. Not everyone can even 'get' sound details like audiophiles can. For the rest of us, wireless is 100x times more convenient.
Offtopic: F*ck flipkart for killing ebay.
 
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red dragon

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I'm not an audiophile mate. Can't hear anything between 15 and 17khz. However don't mind at all being tethered to something at home.
But just can't tolerate the sound of some digital compressor kicking in with everything.
Very closely listened to XM3s last night with some music I'm really familiar with ( including few crappy songs of our own band)...now I am pretty sure some kind of SW compressor is going on inside it all the time, with the NC engaged, the compressor is lowering the threshold by 2-3dBs.
You can achieve the similar result by playing any lossless file in a free DAW and applying the inbuilt compressor ( just make sure the attack is shorter than release with a hard knee and ratio of 4:1 or higher, make the knee soft if the music has no percussive elements in it)
Even the AKG 7XX sounds punchy with it!!
If you guys have time, try it once.
It has got nothing to do with audiophile madness. Pure physics.
Just a small example, (do not worry about copyright issues, I played the crappy bass, mixed and mastered this title track of a flop Bengali web series last year). The folder has 2 mp3 files, one with a crap ton of compression, artificial tape saturation etc. another with just a small amount of compression/EQ and a limiter on the master, of course the enhanced version sounds a lot more dynamic, however if you listen closely, there are 3 glaring flaws, the drums sound completely artificial, the bass guitar sounds like sampled (the glides completely disappeared) and you can hear the compressor kicking in on every 2nd snare hit.
Hope this example clears up my issues with DSPs in wireless cans.
 
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rdst_1

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Honestly speaking, the audiophiles are a niche category. Most people I interact with (and I) rarely understand and recognize differences in sound quality, unless it is something very bad. The standard set of earphones that come with mid range and high end phones are good enough for my ears, as long as it sounds clean. So convenience takes priority, which is where Bluetooth earphones win. Add to that the recent trend of manufacturers foregoing the 3.5mm jack. I no longer have to be literally tied to my phone or laptop through my earphones.
I've had completely different experience. I have seen nearly all of my friends' who tried my HD650 clearly notice how detailed and airy the cans sounded. They are no audiophiles but do love listening to music. Same had happened many years before when I had bought Soundmagic PL-50 and Hifiman RE-1 from Amarbir. Also, once they have heard good headphones/earphones they can very easily see the shortcomings of their current devices. Of course, most of them still won't spend that much money on headphones and still call me a lunatic for spending 25k on headphones, but they can clearly see the difference in sound.
As for the Sony 1000XM3, when I auditioned them, I could clearly see that I could never use the ANC feature because of what it did to the sound signature. But I did like the sound quality without NC and felt that they had the best sound quality amongst Bluetooth headphones. Frankly, I would prefer using a nice Bluetooth Receiver like the Earstudio ES100 than buying a bluetooth headphone as with that, I can use any of my devices wirelessly.
 

red dragon

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I've stated using the 598 outdoors, it doesn't leak like other open cans and perfectly usable on the go ( unless it's extremely noisy, thankfully I live in a very quiet place, don't know what will happen in city centre)
It's a far more relaxing experience.
@rdst_1 if possible, try the PXC550 with USB, they sound amazing.
Don't know why Sennheiser didn't really market this feature. None of the BTNC cans I have come across, has this feature ( couldn't get the QC35/ XM3 work with USB)
 

Julian

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How about using a bluetooth headphone amp like the FiiO BTR3 with audiophile grade headphones and get the best of both worlds?

I recently got a DT770 pro 80ohm after one driver of my jvc ha-rx700 died, and the detail is pretty good. of course $140 for a pair of headphones had people call me insane too. portability is not a requirement for me right now, but wouldn't a quality BT amp work in the above use cases?
 

red dragon

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It should. Are you liking the thunderous bass on the DT770?
It's the only bassy can I absolutely love beside Mad Dogs.
Sennheiser should learn how to make closed cans from Beyer. Maybe that's why they bought Neumann.
 

Julian

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Funny, i thought the bass was a bit low actually. I'm totally not a basshead, i can't stand boomy bass, and overly thumpy bass, in that order. I have tinnitus so am sensitive to HF and sibilance too. I'm also an (amateur) musician (guitar/bass/drums) and am very sensitive to tone. These were the headphones i was waiting for my whole life, and i can totally understand why people would want to spend 100s of dollars on even better ones. Though i must say, the jvc rx700 are an excellent pair of headphones for the general public.

But i got these covers (you could say it's wasting the velour pads but...), and more than the treble, they seem to attenuate the bass. I haven't got an amp yet (big sin according to head-fi etc.) and run it off my usb sound blaster x-fi pro. maybe that's why i found the bass subtle. it was barely adequately audible with my redmi 4x, but the asus 5z is able to drive it pretty decently. Also not too bassy.

I find the audio to be absolutely neutral, without exaggerated bass or a V shape. Thing is i need treble lowered (tinnitus probably) and a bit of bass (volume, neither loudness or punch) makes general listening more enjoyable, whether music or video.

I've boosted the lower frequencies from 5 to 2 dB and lowered the highs similarly. Very satisfying now.

Recently came across this article, and my eq adjustments are kind of in the same trend. Also interesting to read this one. that guy oratory1990 is a total guru.

edit: my eq
1594212637026.png
 

red dragon

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You must try the other Beyer cans to understand how much bass these can produce. Absolutely clean bass, no sub bass rumble, just the fast slammy bass with superfast decay.
As a musician, you/ your bandmates must have some sort of audio interface ( which connects the instruments to the DAW for recording) most audio interfaces have a decent amp. Plug it in.
However these are fairly neutral cans and the next obvious improvement in sound would be very expensive planers.
Enjoy them man, these are terrific cans ( and they scale up nicely with both tube and solid state amps) BTW are they 80ohm ones?
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I would suggest you one thing ( advice from a very old headfier,who is not crazy)
Make a list of your 10 most favourite albums.
Buy CDs of those and rip them yourself in SW of your choice.
I did that, however I also had 24bit "high Res" downloaded versions from t***en£s too for most of those albums.
You wouldn't believe, my 192kbps rips sounded lot better than those huge flax/ even wav files.
That was a real eye opener.
Till date, I don't know why this happens in 99 percent of music downloaded from internet ( even through legal channels) Wasted a lot of money on HDtracks, some people claim they are better, but how do I ignore my own experience?
If you want to experience the beautiful world of open air cans for cheap try to source a pair of Philips SHP9500, since you mentioned tinnitus with high frequency sounds, may look into Sennheiser HD598, original/SR/SE does not matter. They all sound same to me (but beware of the 599, they are super aggressive, non forgiving cans, few people do love this sort of sound signature) all are brilliant for the price, wide, fairly clean across all the frequencies with very very mild emphasis on treble (not sibilant at all). With tubes they upscale very nicely and for my ears sound somewhat better than HD6XX (except detail retrieval)
That`s my only issue with Sennheiser open back headphones. I am sure they know how to retrieve details from a driver, but they deliberately keep that secret for HD800s and higher. Even the HD700 lacks clarity compared to AKG`s 6 and 7 series.
 
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Julian

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Yes, that's exactly what i love about them and haven't heard before in other headphones. They are absolutely tight and clean. It may take a while to tell the difference after switching from non audiophile phones, but you can definitely make it out.

Yes, they're the 80ohms. I didn't want to get the lower ones just to run on mobile devices, and didn't want to invest in an amp right now. It paid off, and they run pretty good.

Heh, when i didn't know better, i would rip all my CDs, (had a pretty decent collection) in 128k. Couldn't tell the difference because my headphones and speakers at the time were limiting. But after getting into good IEMs, i had to re-rip most in 192k. Above that i couldn't gauge any improvement. I don't have too many flac albums, but they don't sound that much better either. I do have a dts rip of knopfler's sailing to philadelphia and it is pretty much flawless. But even now some of my old 128k rips are better than the same downloaded album.

Yes, internet music even at high bitrates sounds crap a lot of the time, maybe it's intentional to make people actually go out and buy CDs.

I don't really have the budget to experiment with more headphones right now, but my next upgrade is going to be a good portable amp. Most probably not the BT receiver type. Maybe a high-res player/amp combo.

The tinnitus is persistent 24x7, i meant that HF aggravates and fatigues my ears quickly.

These days people listen to music on mobile phone loudspeakers and portable BT speakers, it's like no one cares about audio quality any more. If it has beats written on it and the bass rattles your brains, it's probably good, is the general mindset. :-/
 
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red dragon

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Yes, no point buying too many headphones ( they just gather dust) I have at least 8 pairs laying around. You have indeed made a very wise choice with DT770 ( unlike M50/40 they scale up very nicely with amps) Now all you need is an amp and possibly an open can down the line.
Can try the new Fiio M3 pro, it is sub 100 USD, comes with a very decent DAC and extremely powerful amp for it`s size and can be used as USB DAC-amp like most DAP these days. There are not many reviews online, but the amp section is really powerful. I can easily drive the DT990( 250ohms) HD6XX /HD600 with it (with plenty of reserve)
 
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psyph3r

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These days people listen to music on mobile phone loudspeakers and portable BT speakers, it's like no one cares about audio quality any more. If it has beats written on it and the bass rattles your brains, it's probably good, is the general mindset. :-/
There are a lot of people who still use the old school method.
You can join this tracker via interview if you haven't already, it's the spiritual successor of oink and what.cd.
They have stringent rules for maintaining quality so you won't find bad rips here, ever.