Headphone Character Redemption Arc

I think at least most of us have had this happen at least once.

Whether it be based on looks, recommendation or some other deciding factor, it’s almost inevitable that we will buy a headphone that we find out we’re not particularly fond of.

For me, the HD6XX was an example of this. The hype got my expectations pretty high (arguably too high). I decided to pull the trigger.

When they arrived, I was so excited. I immediately plugged them into the single ended jack on my BTR5 and… well, I wasn’t impressed.

At the time I was coming from a V Moda M100 Master and to say the Senns lacked the same dynamic impact was a gross understatement. I ended up giving up on them after trying all the different sources I had. I even bought a balanced cable off amazon to try and get as much juice as I could out of my poor BTR5. Alas, no bueno. Returned to Drop and bought an HE4XX…

Fast forward a few months (maybe even a year) several pairs of headphones and some proper source equipment, I decided to try them again. Armed with a Magni 3+, a Grace SDAC, and a little more experience, I gave them a listen and I was a LOT more happy with them. I can’t put my finger on what exactly caused me to like them more. Was the better source config really playing that big a part? Was I just more mature in my headphone listening career? I’m sure it was a combination of the two, maybe even more. Regardless, they stuck, grew on me and became my choice open back. I haven’t found anything that can even come close to replacing them, and don’t think I ever will. I’m just too attached.

Will I ever try any other open back? Hell YES! At least for me, this hobby is about the journey. It’s the adventure of trying different things, and sometimes you run into something that just sticks around, even if at first it seemed to not be worth while.

The moral of the story is that IMO, sometimes (maybe even most) it takes a few days or even weeks to really get the feel for a piece of audio equipment. Don’t dismiss something completely until you’ve given it a good go around, and a good chance to try and impress you.

I wanted to share this story because I know I’ve abandoned things in the past after only listening to them for an hour, or maybe even just 10 minutes.

I was wondering if any of y’all had similar experiences, any audio based anime redemption arcs that you wanted to share.

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For me it was the Moondrop Starfield. I actually tried the closely related Kanas Pro once and didn’t love it. Fast forward a bit and I bought a Starfield just to try the Moondrop house sound again. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t excite me. Periodically, I kept coming back to them just as a baseline for comparing other IEMs, played a bit with tips and a smidge of EQ, and eventually they really grew on me. Now they’re a standard part of my listening rotation.

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I’ve learned to keep several amps on hand. You need power, power, and more power to properly assess many audiophile headphones. You also need at least one solid state and one tube amp (or 2+ of each) to explore the best pairings. This approach is for hobby analysis or deep reviews, but overkill for most casual use and enjoyment.

I got rid of my Magni 3 in about 10 days, then ended buying a Magni 3+ a couple years later. I might have kept the original amp as a reference…but still don’t think I’d like it today.

FWIW, the Kanas Pro is very dependent on both tip and head position. They are relatively small and can move around in the ear with loose tips. The vent holes face the head and can be blocked if they move around (which results in boomy bass).

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This is absolutely true.
Something I didn’t realize until after using a proper amp.

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Agreed wholeheartedly. It’s more like alchemy than science when coming up with a good sounding headphone setup. I’ve found that more power, what kind of power ( Tube / Solid State ) and a headphone that works to blend the power & music, that is where the journey goes. As they say getting there is half the fun.

Mark Gosdin

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Indeed, I had to learn that the hard way.

As a side note, the fairly common practice of designing things that go in the ear with vent holes on the ear side seems … odd. I get that front venting is part of tuning, but I have to wonder if there’s a better way to do it.

I had a similar experience when I first purchased the HD6xx a few years ago.I was so disappointed in the sound-What was all the hype about? It took at least 6 months for them to grow on me.I did some more reading about them-changed to the fenestrated sheepskin earpads.Then I experimented with eq setttings and the sound changed for the better.I then got a Topping E30&l30 stack to drive them.I go to the Steve Hoffman forums to get opinions on the best recordings of the music I like.Today I love them.Give them time and learn from others how to get the best from them.

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Its true that, its takes few weeks to get the real feel. Need patience.

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2+ amps is so true. “I want a great pair of headphones” quickly turns into “I have 7 amps 3 dacs a box of backup tubes 400 1/4” to 3.5mm adapters and I use maybe 2 headphones with all of them."

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Parallel: back in the vinyl days I never liked a newly-purchased LP until I listened to it a few times.

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Same here, but 2 amps now in this instance. My progression went: Headroom Micro Amp/Micro dac, then Schiit Vali 2/Modi 2 Uber about 4-5 years ago, then to Schiit Asgard 2 on closeout about a year ago with the old Modi, now Schiit Lyr 3/Asgard 2 and Bifrost 2 dac last summer/fall! It needs to stop!

Headphones I bought and hate: Hifiman/Drop HE-5xx!

I wanted to try Hifiman on the cheap, didn’t want to spend $350 on the Sundara. They’re way too bright, they hurt after extended listening… I kept them too long because I wanted to like them, still no love.

I ended up buying the Sundara… which I do like, BTW.

Anyone want a pair of like new HE-5xx? :slightly_smiling_face: