Apr 2, 2018221 views

Spending big on audio products

Hi, i'll just start off by saying i understand the difference in different iems/headphones and why one costs 10x more than the other but i'm having a hard time deciding if i should "drop the ball" and spend 1-2k on like say a good iem/headphones. i already have a mangi 3 and sanskrit and i'm using the low end westone w10 as my main driver. I understand the difference in the quality and can kind of appreciate the nuances that more expensive items produce but i think the main question is worth. I know it's a extremely subjective question and i'll prolly get lots of flack on it, but i can afford to spend that much but the problem is should i? i've been eyeing the noble k10 on the previous drop but didn't hit purchase cause i wasn't sure so maybe someone can help me out?
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You should determine the max you could possible spend and then add another thousand--that's how much you spend. Your system won't necessarily sound especially great, but a few months down the road--everything will click (meaning you will finally have learned the value of a dollar).
Still waiting on my K10 customs. And not very patiently. :-)

There are two halves to answering "is it worth it" for your own situation. First is, can you afford it? You say you can, but are you also considering everything else you won't be able to spend $1-2k on if you throw that money into audio gear? That's called opportunity cost; considering it will help you decide whether you're spending your money on what is most important to you.

The second half is, will better headphones / IEMs provide enough value to justify the cash outlay? Answering that depends on many entirely subjective factors, such as how much you enjoy music, whether these are your first or 15th set of headphones, how much time you have to enjoy them, etc.

Of course, if you're just looking for an enabler as an excuse to give yourself permission to blow money on nice headphones / IEMs, well, the listening experiences do keep getting better as you climb the scale of pricier gear. Just be aware that gear upgrades tend to lead to not only better listening sessions, but also ... more gear upgrades. :-)

One last bit of perspective: right now I'm listening to Focal Utopias driven by the AK380 player I got from Massdrop a couple weeks ago. The audio quality is out of this world. However, I also absolutely love listening on the 6xx through the Aune X1S. With that setup I easily get lost in my music. It doesn't feel like anything is missing or compromised. If you do an A-B with the Utopias, there's no contest--the shortcomings of the cheaper setup are glaringly obvious. But if you *don't* then it just sounds like great music.
SpeleoFool
I f***ing love you guys. Most other communities on the internet and the op would have been right about catching flak for such a generalized and individually-subjective query -- instead he gets, "...but are you also considering everything else you won't be able to spend $1-2k on...? That's called opportunity cost; considering it will help you decide whether you're spending your money on what is most important to you."

What an incredibly helpful reply, dudes! It's like I said -- you guys are awesome.
I think you have good insight...

"the main question is worth...it's a extremely subjective question... i can afford to spend that much but the problem is should i?"

No one can answer that for you...you could spend your life savings on gear or a fraction of a paycheck, and still enjoy audio as a "hobby" immensely. For me, it is one of my main forms of recreation and enjoyment in my free time, so I feel fairly okay about spending a little higher proportion of what I can afford on it. You could consider the same questions about a car if you enjoy driving. As has been mentioned, there are diminishing returns per dollar...as long as you are aware of that, and have some sort of realistic grip on what you personally enjoy, you can draw the line wherever you like.
Just saw a review by Z reviews on YouTube check him out his latest one for the Kef r300s. he has his own opinion on buying options starting out in hi-fi make some good points check it out.
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I always take these Youtubers with a grain of salt I find Z reviews to be entertaining informative sometimes and I draw my own conclusions in the end but I still watch him Life's too short.
Oh! What a hurtful thing to say--you should be ashamed!
When we're talking headphones, I tend to stay just under 1K, as I, too, agree with Mr. Vices on this one.
When we get into this cost neighbourhood, I'd rather spend my money on speakers. The kind you don't strap to your head.
Don't. Just don't.
Don't blindly spend that much. Demo and audition things first, and when doing so make sure the listening environment is as quiet as possible! For example, I listened to the Audeze LCD-4 ($3,995) at the New York Audio Show and was very impressed. But it's super loud there. I bought it, used it on an extremely similar system I have at home (well, very different DAC but still a very high quality one, and an extremely similar amplifier). At home in a silent listening environment, the LCD-4's flaws revealed themselves to me and I ended up returning it (I'm only losing money on shipping it back but whatever).

I prefer multiple sub $1,000 headphones to the LCD-4, including my $900 and $700 models, as well as a $500 model (HiFiMan Sundara). Probably even a couple of $300 models which I will verify soon (ZMF Classic and Argon MK3). So the lesson here is, don't blindly purchase and realize that a noisy listening environment can really alter what you hear.

But are there improvements with higher end products? Absolutely. For headphones, speakers, amplifiers, preamplifiers, and DACs. But more expensive isn't ALWAYS better as I have found out. My favorite headphone I've ever owned was my 2nd most expensive one, my favorite DAC and headphone amps though are my most expensive ones by far.
Side note... bought the K10 earlier this year... it rivals all of my full-size headphones in a portable package. The "scale" is always less with an IEM but that is the only point the K10 concedes. Did you end up jumping on one of the later drops?
You should have a goal in what you want to achieve with your audio experience. For example, I choose to pursue the best gear that matches my sound preference in a headphone or IEMs regardless of price. If it was cheap, fine. If it was expensive, then that is fine as well.

Higher end IEM doesn't always mean better, it most often is a different tuning. I have tested the full line-up of Nobles and although the K10 does match my sound preferences, the Noble 4(IDK what it is called now-a-days) was my preferred choice since it matches my sound preferences better. If I were to purchase a K10, it would actually just be a side-grade rather than a full-on upgrade.

I also did something similar to Westone, I tested their W10/20/30/40 and UM PRO 10/20/30/40. I settled with their UM PRO 30. Even after the releases of W50/60 and higher end stuff, I found that they are just a slightly different tuning.

With that said, if you have the money, go for it. Noble does have good products. However, I would advise on testing rather than just buying blindly. Research as much as you can.
I agree with Vices once you hit a point you begin to really get hit by diminishing returns. I went up to the HD800 and ended up selling because it just wasn't enough of a difference for me to justify the price. I kept a few headphones at a much lesser price point because for me they are more than good enough. For me it was a fad that passed me by its an expensive hobby so don't let the gear dictate too much its about the music and if you can enjoy it on a $300 headphone then its all the better for your wallet eh.
I've been at the headphone game for roughly a decade now and the audio enthusiast game for twice that. I personally feel that statement level products (aka flagship, aka engineers don't factor in cost) do yield benefits compared to their cheaper cousins. I certainly don't think it's enough of a difference that it will be for everyone. I currently own the Senn IE800 and Beyer T1... both "Statement" products at their initial launch, and I have no regrets. I always say spend money on good headphones first and gear second. I also have a personal stance that running an $1800 headphone on a $100 source may not yield the best return on ones investment in headphone. Now running a $500 or under headphone on a $100 I feel will give you most of what that headphone has to offer. After that you are pretty much chasing 5 to 10% improvement with rapidly escalating diminishing returns.
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