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Posts Tagged ‘headphones’

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.

The myth of bad music?

Tuesday, December 24th, 2002

I’ve been reading some of the miscellaneous forums over at head-fi recently - this is a great site if you’re interested in good headphones or good portable CD players. I have a pair of the former (Grados) and am in the market for one of the latter, so I’ve been browsing the posts a lot. But there are also music forums, and it’s interesting to read what these audiophile types listen to. Lots of classical and jazz fans, not surprisingly, but also a bunch of IDM/electronica fans. Interesting.

Anyway, someone posted the poll: “do you think there is any such thing as bad music”? The overwhelming majority has been voting “yes” - 75% or so - but here’s a great comment by someone:

A very strong no from me. The day I ever think there is such a thing as bad or crappy music is the day I need to get a life. I may not agree with somebody else’s music tastes, but I will never point at someone and tell them “that music sucks”. Anybody that does that needs a serious attitude re-adjustment and needs to bring their nose back down to earth a little.

I seriously could care less if you only listen to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 SACD on repeat, or Britney Spears on repeat. As JMT’s sig says, “If it sounds good, it is good.” And that’s all that an individual should care about.


Headphone bliss and… Britney Spears

Tuesday, March 26th, 2002

A couple weeks ago I got a pair of used Grado SR-125s along with an old Headroom Airhead portable headphone amp, for the sum of $175 (about what the Grado phones would cost new by themselves anyway). I’ve since been attached to my CD player. Everyone always says that a good new system or pair of headphones makes your CDs sound brand new again, and it’s so true. I A/Bed the Grados with my Sennheiser earbuds and even with my old Labtec computer headphones, and man. What a difference. I’ve been going through old CDs and hearing new stuff in all of ‘em. It’s a great way to prevent me from spending still more money on new CDs.

So here’s something that will make me lose all credibility with pretty much everyone. I found Britney Spears‘ new one (the creatively titled Britney) in the used bin, and on a weird whim (probably influenced by the review I read at PopMatters) I picked it up, glancing furtively around me to make sure no one I knew was nearby. Haha. After a fashion, it ain’t so bad. I mean, by this time we all expect cheesy bounciness out of this sort of music, and that’s what you get. It can be fun when you’re in the mood for something stupid.

Wow, did I really just post that? Allow me to hang my head in shame and get back to listening to Aksak Maboul on those Grados. :)

Procrastinating with music

Tuesday, December 18th, 2001

It is now 4:45 am. I’m currently sitting at a computer lab computer trying to bang out a 20-page paper in one day and one night. I’ve been listening to music on headphones using the computer’s CD-ROM drive. I have no idea what the sound card and audio hardware on this machine is, but something weird is going on with it. When I listen to my music, especially CDs with strong stereo separation, certain parts of the mix get highlighted whereas others go really quiet. I’m hearing percussion in some songs on Kid A that I’ve never heard before, for instance. On the one hand, this is sort of annoying, but on the other, it’s actually kind of enlightening. Either way, though, it’s distracting me from the work I should be doing. Hmm.

My primary form of procrastination has been the reviews archive - I’ve found some pretty interesting stuff in there. Like, for instance, the only really really negative review of Mogwai’s My Father My King that I’ve yet read. Or, a review of a Sigur Rós concert that I think captures the awe and wonder of a good live show by that band - yeah, it’s gushingly positive and over the top, but that’s appropriate, I think. Or maybe my opinion of Sigur Rós is just way overinflated (but I knew that already). There’s also weird stuff like the statement that Sunny Day Real Estate’s The Rising Tide “would have been right at home alongside classic albums by Rush, Marillion or Kansas.” Umm… maybe. But not really.

Hehe: the new Pitchfork review of Radiohead’s I Might Be Wrong makes a point - over and over again - of calling the album an EP. A little bitter?