Gear that sucks

Rare is the voice on audio forums that speaks up and says “this thing is just bad” while simultaneously listing a well thought out and detailed reasons why.

There are plenty of flame posts where bias is clearly the primary driving motivator, and the writer just doesn’t like Schiit, for example. This is not that kind of thread.

This thread is for gear that is so obviously bad that a detailed reason why is warranted. People must be warned.

Be fair! This is not a flame thread. It’s not for items that just weren’t your cup of tea. This is for the Atari “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” video games of the headphone and stereo world.

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Looking forward to seeing what is said here!

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My first candidate for something that sucks are the original Google Pixel buds.

I got these. I was initially satisfied with them, not for their sound quality, but because I finally had buds that didn’t insert into my ear canal and had a pretty good interface to my Android phone. All IEMs cause my ear canals to ache after as little as 10 minutes of use, so I try very hard to avoid them. Besides, this was a convenience thing, not an audiophile thing.

After my Koss Porta Pros arrived, these sat unused. Well, I put them on again tonight because I had to walk my dog (he was getting cabin fever so bad), and it’s really really cold out, so I needed to wear a cap. The Porta Pros don’t do well with caps.

To describe the sound, I’d say it is an upside down W shape. The bass rolls off early, the mids are withdrawn, and it had no treble to speak of. Kick drums have no impact at all, guitars have no bite, and cymbals have no splash. Most vocals come across compressed. It’s just a bad sound.

They also sound very different if they aren’t pointing directly into your ear canal. (More on fitment later.) This routinely leads to one being off tone from the other, which can be maddening.

Further, the controls are wonky. If you don’t execute the swipe forward and back perfectly, they think you are trying to use Assistant and stops all music playback while telling you it didn’t understand what you asked it to do. You’re better off pulling out your phone and controlling volume and track playback manually.

To make things worse, the stiff cable that also acts as the ear-stays (so they don’t fall out) are not the same length on each bud. They generally won’t expand enough to get a really firm seat in the ear, or they loosen as you wear them which causes them to shift and ruining the sound even further, and then eventually fall out.

Given that there are so many true wireless headphone options out there, this design just doesn’t make sense.

So, I could deal with mediocre sound so long as they fulfilled the convenience they were supposed to provide, but they utterly fail at that too… So what’s the point?

Thanks

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Sony VAIO computers (PC).

Had two of these, and they both sucked. Sony developed VAIO firmware to handle computer maintenance tasks within their brand. It complicated the computer operation and was easily corrupted. Support was awful. I still have the VAIO laptop (about 9 years old). My brother helped me strip that software out, and it runs ok for an old laptop. It did save my bacon using Roon after the Catalina iOS upgrade…Switched over to iMac permanently in 2014.

Once you have a Mac, you never go back.

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I’ve worked on laptops and PCs for more than a couple decades, and the Sony brand was always the most challenging. Drivers that had to be installed in a certain order or the OS would endlessly bsod. Proprietary connectors used internally for no reason at all. Even as a certified tech, I couldn’t get support or order parts. This was years ago though.

So yeah, I hear you. On everything but the Mac stuff that is. From an enterprise managememt perspective, Macs are a nightmare. :wink:

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Bang & Olufsen’s Earset.

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Beautiful industrial design… that was terribly executed.

Dry, and thin sounding with no bass to be found. They were very uncomfortable as well. The loop system worked, but the driver housing hurt your ears. Didn’t quite rest against the tragus as intended, but to large to fit into the ear canal.

I have larger ear canals and I’d always end up horse-shoeing them into the opening of my ear to get them to stay put.

But boy did they look cool.

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I’m just a home user, so the imac works great for me. It’s like a car with the hood glued shut. You just drive it. PCs have more upgradeable options, but that’s not something I really need.

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Oh yeah, I get it. For a personal computer, sure, knock yourself out. For an enterprise computer, GTFO. Hehehe

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Man I wish I could come up with something, but with all the great reviews and info on this forum and the other, it is really hard to make a bad purchase these days, if you do your homework.

Hey @ValentineLuke the same photographer from the off topic game that did the Sade cover also took this image! Haha

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:rofl:

I just pulled it from the web!

Hopefully not considered a “flame” but I’d nominate the Massdrop x Fostex T-x0 first gen without a Argon mod. Sound was so disappointing that I thought I had a bad set until I saw others comments.

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While I have many a negative opinion of many a product, my experience with sharing these opinions as blank statements on forums is that it can quickly ruffle feathers and destroy positive vibes.

I am not referring to negative reviews as they are as useful (or even more) than positive ones, I am referring to the statements of “xxx sucks”. Remember that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

I certainly hope this thread is the exception to the rest of them.

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Did you try the translation feature on them? That was probably the only reason I was interested in them because it looked cool. I never ended up getting them, though.

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Nope. I haven’t tried that.

The stock Hifiman Arya / HE1000se cables are not good. They sheath kinks very easily and the actual cables themselves are very flimsy. The headphones themselves are great but the cables are objectively bad.

The opposite can be said about the Focal Elegia / Clear and Stellia cables except they are still bad. Stiff and uncompromising, they are difficult to use on the go as they stick out at various odd angles. Not as much of an issue with the Clears since you most likely won’t be using them on the go (and if you do then whatever floats your boat!).

On the actual headphone side of things I’ve tried plenty of terrible things but that’s mostly on the cheapo, Amazon 10,000 fake 5-star review stuff. On the more expensive side of things, there’s only one headphone that stands out but that was a prototype of a first headphone attempt and I’m not going to name it because it would be unfair to the maker.

I’ll have to throw the AudioQuest Beetle into the ring as well. When it worked it was pretty great but unfortunately working units were few and far between.

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I agree, and plan to be thoughtful about why I’m critical. Examples include:

  • Bad quality control or durability (e.g., some HiFiMan products)
  • Bad price/performance
  • Does not work effectively or as advertised

Please be specific and stay away from the brand/fanboy wars.

I visited the B&O showroom at Union Square in San Francisco in the 1990s. Flat everything before flat was a common thing. Real world Star Trek: The Next Generation. They had a rare and expensive flat screen Mac as a cash register. I never saw that model before or since in real life. [It appears to have been the 1996 Twentieth Anniversary Mac.]

B&O never had much value, and was always about style and lifestyle. Many, many things in the home entertainment market are derived from B&O, with soundbars, flat TVs, tablets, and wireless speakers now the norm. Does B&O suck? From an audio standpoint, more often than they should (given the prices). From an influence, style, and clutter-avoiding owner standpoint, no.

The difference between B&O and anyone else was enormous in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s hard to appreciate it now, as many vendors adopted those old concepts.

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Oh, I’m not hating on B&O. I love their styling, and I’ve enjoyed some of their products.

I actually mentioned the B&O H3 in another thread as being a very nice pair of earbuds. I’d still be using them if I didn’t bend the connector.
Their high-end audio stuff is pretty fantastic, and loaded with technologies (very dsp oriented).

If I could, I’d probably “settle” on a high-end pair of Beolab floor standers. And their TV’s are spectacular (they use LG OLED panels).

It was just that one Earset that wasn’t very good.

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Ok, I gave up and looked it up…it was surprisingly not as easy as it would have seemed…but once I found them…wow! I really like their use of lighting in their photography!

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