Reading this hurts my brain a bit, prompting a rant of sorts.
I feel for you, and it’s one of the reasons I take such an issue with rtings conclusions - they base them strictly on curve targets, suggesting that ‘critical listening’ should entail adherence to a specific response (that is ultimately subjective anyway). They lack the indication that performance can be found in a number of other areas that aren’t captured strictly by frequency response. I’d take a super fast and highly resolving headphone that deviated slightly from that curve over a loose and poorly resolving headphone that matched it perfectly any day (and there are lots of examples of this). What people ultimately enjoy for ‘critical listening’ is heavily impacted by a multitude of other factors, and if we were to take their recommendations seriously, we’d all end up with QC35iis over L700s…
It’s an axe to grind for me I know, but when I read people making purchase decisions based on their recommendations, when they don’t even consider resolution or speed - or other defining characteristics of headphones like driver type and material - I feel like I have to speak out against what they’re doing. In fact I’ve spoken to them about it in the past after they reached out to me about what they could be doing better. I identified this area in particular as one of the reasons why they end up with such ridiculous conclusions, and they never responded or even gave a justification for why they don’t include those considerations. My hunch is that one of two things is going on:
A) They don’t actually listen to the headphones they review - at least not with the scrutiny that someone making a purchase based on their recommendations would.
B) They’re only basing their conclusions on what they have the tools to measure. This means anything to do with why a planar sounds different from a dynamic, or an estat for example is completely ignored. Same with detail, speed, timbre and imaging. They’re basing recommendations for where to go by pointing at an incomplete map because that’s all they have - one that leaves out topography… or water and then suddenly you have a mountain or a lake where you wanted to build your house.
Getting slightly back on track here, I feel like that site is responsible for a lot of headphone regrets.