LCD-4’s, on the noisy floor of CanJam SoCal. Also listened to the Abyss 1266 TC’s and the Warwick stuff at that same show, which also both really wowed me.
Warwick stuff is truly extraordinary especially if you are comparably new to the hobby!
Hifiman Sundara. It was my first open back, first hifi headphone, planar - it blew my mind, amazing resolution and detail, soundstage and energy, it showed me that headphones could create a really immersive experience.
So, the first pair that made me say holy crap was when I was much younger. Sennheiser 598. First pair of open backs I’d ever seen, and while I still have them and they occupy a sentimental spot in my heart, it’s not that I think they are in any way “holy crap” worthy in an absolute sense. But in the sense that they were a gateway drug of sorts, that was it. Still remember getting them from Amazon and unwrapping and the experience of putting on Joy Division and then The Cure and then Mahler and then Sunday at the Village Vanguard and smiling and smiling. They were a big purchase for me at the time. Now in a world of HD-800s’s, LCD-3’s and ZMF Verite Opens I’ve found new vistas, which I like a lot, thank you very much. But i’ll never forget those 598’s (and the 598c’s that I brought to work with a Schiit Fulla for a long time which were much worse, but were closed and cheap enough that if they got stolen I wasn’t going to sweat it too hard though they never did).
Probably said something else before but thinking back the Koss ESP-6 in about 1974 really stood out.
You never forget your first planar experience! Mine was the RAD 0 (so I kind of got ruined from there on out).
RAD 0 + xBass is one of the craziest experiences ever, feeling bass that sounds like it’s coming from your chest is crazy when you’re new ish to the world of full sized headphones.
RAD-0 wasn’t my first, it was a Modhouse Argon Mk II. Which is a whole lotta fun!
But the RAD-0 was my first “wow, holy shit that’s fantastic” planar!
I agree, the RAD-0 was my first holy shit planar experience. I’d previously tried a Meze Empyrean (which I liked) and Hifiman HE-6SE V2 “Adorama special” (which I didn’t like) in my system, and then borrowed a RAD-0. I think “Holy shit” were actually the words I used, because it hit every single preference of mine. I immediately reached out to @taronlissimore, who had just received a new shipment of models from Rosson, and the rest is history.
Sennheiser hd650 and audeze isine20 with lta mz2. This is what got me scurrying down the headphone path. I had it next to my bed before going to sleep when I couldn’t listen to my speakers late at night.
My holy shit moment would not come until I bought a zmf Aeolus. The added weight and bass over the hd650 was what really made me a serious headfile in this hobby.
The very first headphone that I thoroughly enjoyed and got me into the hobby was Hifiman HE-5. I wish I’d never sold them.
However, the headphone that made me say “holy crap” and made me drop everything I was doing and thinking was Stax SR-404 Anniversary Edition. I am still hunting those.