Headphone Regrets 😟

Sometimes no matter how you plan or review, it doesn’t work.

I recently picked up a pair of DT 880’s semi-open back and realized I had made a serious error; the semi-open back let too much back ground noise intrude, nearly ruining the experience and joy. Even the tv in the next room can be heard, greatly distracting from the music and listening pleasure. Now it frustrates me instead of relaxing me, to listen to music while also hearing unrelated noises. I’ve never had this issue before so perhaps the level of “semi-open” classification varies between headphones, but this is a deal breaker for me and I’ll be looking to either sell or gift these, rather than be frustrated by them.

The performance is very good and the comfort level is great; if you have a very quiet environment or need to hear background noises (office setting) then these may work well. But the 880’s profoundly identified that a significant portion of my listening experience is also based on isolation, pushing me very strongly to only consider closed style for any future purchases (which makes the DT 1990’s very difficult to consider).

Fortunately I only had $150 invested and there are silver linings to this experience. Don’t purchase from places that won’t take returns (for non-defective reasons), “listening” preferences vary not only based on performance and fit but also isolation capabilities. Worse case scenario I’m only out $150 in a “teaching” moment as compared to spending $600 and finding myself just as frustrated. And with a degree of humility I also admit, had I purchased through Headphone, I could have taken advantage of the return policy and the teaching moment wouldn’t have been as bad. Lessons learned.


I had a similar experience with a pair of 880s…ended up selling to a friend who I’m pretty sure sold them off…


The Sennheiser MM-450x that I got on eBay for $75 used, along with a second pair of them that werre supposed to be MM-550’s but weren’t and a pair of low end Senns that I gave away. Only one pair of the 450s worked properly. I bought a new battery, and a special cord to try them wired.

The purpose of the buy was to try and replace my destroyed Senn PX-100s. Maybe upgrade, but looking for portable. Since I made the L-pad switch with tape mod, my Grado SR-60e’s seem to be filling that role. The 450’s lack bass-yes, even compared to the Grados. I used them on a plane - the noise reduction works, but is not sensational.

I can’t bring myself to buy Bose QC 35s because I don’t care for the class of people I see on flights smugly taking their Bosies out of the case before takeoff.

I see the Senn MM-450 in my travel bag all the time, but they just don’t get that much use. Probably because they try to be everything, but are really good at nothing.


I regret buying a Mobius. I got it for gaming, but the 3D and virtual surround sound barely expand the soundstage in it’s default setting, while making the sound quality a little worse. I’ve calibrated it in Audeze’s software, and increasing the room ambiance does increase the soundstage, but destroys the clarity, timbre and dynamics. It sounds awfully hollow/harsh/metallic/tinny, especially voices/vocals. So I’m selling it off.


Now I have to start my research again, balancing the pocketbook and acceptable performance. This has taught me that I have give up some performance in going to closed headphones, but the background noise leaking in…can’t work with that.


Hmmmm… I have a pair of Sennheiser MM-450-X’s with a new battery and pads. They are open, but have noise cancelling. Maybe we could make a deal…

[ducking and running…]


I don’t really regret any of my headphone purchases. They were all learning experiences leading to where I’m at now. I do regret some amp purchases though, like the old (no longer made) Felix Elise.

When someone said this was the best sound in all of audio, it should have been a massive red flag that the hype (and someone’s lack of common sense) was out of control.


I thought you said he was a friend. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I literally LOL’d.

Friends don’t let friends Beyerdynamic. I’ve owned the 990, 880, 1770, T1… I tried so hard to like them. So comfy. So good looking. So murderously bright.


We aren’t on the best of terms…:rofl:


Interesting thread. I’ve had some headphones that really didn’t work for me (the TX-00 & JVC HA-SZ1K stand out on the misery meter); some amps that didn’t make the sonic cut, and so on.

At the time I thought each was a defeat, and not only for $$ spent. But it turned out these “defeats” were just necessary learning experiences. These days I have a better sense of what I really like.

But having said that–odds are very good I’ll eventually purchase some new disastrous headphone or amp.


misery loves company eh? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

My biggest headphone purchase regret was the Campfire Audio Polaris. I found the driver flex unbearable, and the Japanese V tuning was not distinct enough from the Mee Audio Pinnacle P1 to make them worth keeping. Thankfully they were purchased used and I was able to resell them without too much trouble.

1 Like

This is a great topic allowing a baseline although it be someone else’s impressions. It then allows further investigations to gear.

1 Like


  • Grado SR80e – incredibly bright high range, rough foam earpads press on the ears

  • Massdrop X Noble IEMs (Midnight Blue, 2 BAs) – no bass at all, short ear shafts, difficult to keep in place

  • KZ ZS10 IEMs – regretted partly because I bought better KZ AS10s shortly after getting these. The ZS10s have a weird sound profile too.

1 Like

If you still have the Grados, do the L=pad switch with the tape mod. Improves bass and cuts the treble peak a bit. See mod notes and graphs on Inner Fidelity resources.

HD598 and SHP9500, couldn’t give them away fast enough, but looking back I think they gave me a better idea of what is my preferred sound, thin and bright is not it.


Like others have said, I don’t regret any purchases because they all increase my experience and insight. And they’re always fun at the beginning :slight_smile:

That said, if I had to do it all over again and my primary goal was to minimize expenditure, I would skip the HE-400S, HE-4XX, Aeon Flow Open, and K7XX. I don’t know if it’s tonal balance or actual resolution, but the planars always sounded blurry to me compared to my HD-6XXs. The K7XX was more of a comfort issue.

1 Like

I would vote for gifting, and would like to be the first to volunteer.

In a message dated 2/17/2019 10:34:00 AM Eastern Standard Time, headphones@discoursemail.com writes:

1 Like

On the learning side there was the HD598C’s, the ATH-M50x’s, B&W P5’s (Gen 1), Sony MDR-Z7’s, Grado SR325e’s.

On the regret side there is the NightOwl Carbons. Fell in and out of love in one month.

Most overhyped headphone ever: HD6XX.
I bought these AND an amp to drive to them. What colossal waste of money.


1 Like