Archive for March, 2004

Headphone listening

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

Some preliminary thoughts from my headphone listening the past couple days. Two surprising observations, in particular. First (brace yourselves all ye prog snobs :), “Get Mine, Get Yours” by Christina Aguilera sounds brilliant on the Sony V6s. There’s a separation of instruments I’d never heard before, particularly in the bass, that doesn’t come through in the Grados. Second, “The Package” by A Perfect Circle sounds similarly brilliant on the Grados - the dynamic range is fantastic for a rock recording, and - this is the surprising part - the Grados are well able to reproduce the incredible bone-jarringly deep bass in the early part of the song. It’s not boomy bass; it’s tight and controlled, but still powerful.

On the other hand, Kind of Blue is hiss-and-crackle central. It almost sounds worse on these headphones than on my crappy speakers, if only because I can hear how poorly it’s recorded. And I have the relatively new remastered version, too. Finally, Gorecki’s 3rd (I know, I know, but I like it) is gorgeous on the Grados. These phones do wonderful things with female vocals.

Headphone geek talk

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

I’m back on my headphone fetish. Some years back I rediscovered my music collection with a pair of Grado SR-125 headphones and a Headroom headphone amplifier. It was a revelation: great sound on a budget, something that made tons of old CDs of mine a joy to go back and listen to again. I recently plonked down way too much cash to upgrade my headphone amp to a Gilmore Lite, purchased a couple new headphones (Etymotic ER-6s and Sony MDR-V6s), and am considering taking the plunge for some serious high-end cans (Sennheiser HD-600s).

In the meantime I am once again rediscovering some old recordings, and in the process comparing my Grados and Sonys. The former are considered some of the best rock headphones out there, with an up-front, in-your-face presentation. They are a bit lacking in the bass, though. The Sonys are a little too bright, but they have a ton of bass. It’s been interesting to find out what sorts of recordings I enjoy better with each headphone.

Some of the best-recorded albums in my collection, which I have been using to A-B my headphones, include:

I’m putting together a playlist of individual tracks that will be a good test for any pair of headphones. Wide-ranging stuff, from pop and rock to classical and jazz. I’ll post it when I have it together.

Xploding Plastix in a Bacardi ad

Sunday, March 7th, 2004

Trainspotting of the day: an Xploding Plastix song used as the soundtrack of some Bacardi TV ad. It took me the longest time to place that familiar driving electronica, and when I finally did I didn’t trust myself. But it’s true - how the hell did some obscure Swedish electronica group manage to sell themselves to a major corporate advertiser? That’s pretty impressive, I have to say.