May 20, 2016

What was your Ah ha! moment in becoming an Audiophile?

Everyone started somewhere. What was the piece of equipment that initially sent you over the edge into caring about frequency response, specs, drivers, etc?

Mine had to be the Havi B3 Pro 1 when it was a complete unknown. Blew me away compared to the items I had previously. I made the jump to an audio-gd dac/amp and HE-500 real quick after that, and I don't have those anymore either.

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Listening to electrostatic STAX for the first time... Dad's friend brought them in one day. The sound clarity blew me away.
When I went back from the HD-6xx to the m50x. It was night and day difference to me and I just could not take the muddy bass of the m50x. However, I did prefer the more emphasised highs on the m50x. D:
It was the moment when I had a listen to my friend's shiny new Aiwa cassette player.
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Was this the one:

(not my pic obviously)
Looks damm close, but i can't remember correct model, must have been around 25-28 years ago.
Being younger, young kids, other priorities, electronics havn't been the top of the most wanted list, but it felt good and didn't sound bad at that time given :)
My "A-HA" moment actually began with a mobile audio audition for a system I wanted to put in our Mini Cooper. It was a Dynaudio/Brax Helix/Genesis, and ARC audio setup, the tune was "Vikingman" by Rodrigo y Gabriela, and it sounded AMAZING, so much so that I bought that gear. Now, the correlation is, audio in a mobile environment is a very personal experience, and something that enhances that experience. I wanted to know how, and why I wasn't hearing the fingers sliding over the strings, or the little subtle breadth or exhale while singing, in my home audio encounters.

I researched and auditioned quite a few cans before purchasing a set of Sennheiser 650's with a Schiit Jotunheim, and it works really good for me. It was awesome listening to songs and music you've known for years, and you are hearing entirely new things and pulling new details out of it.
Haha, I went into Best Buy and tried on the beats and monster headphones and loved how they sounded compared to like $10 ear buds and my father as well as the internet told me they were terrible, and he pointed me to good brands like AKG, Shure, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, and a few other brands. With so many options came research, which gave me enlightenment. I picked up the latest AKG K553 drop, but my first decent ear buds were $60 Sennheisers with in-line remotes for my Samsung Note 2 (which was a requirement), and I currently listen to my beloved ATH-M50Xs.
Good thread

Believe it or not, it was some $30 Sony earbuds from 20 years ago. I've since spent thousands of dollars on DAP then more $$$ on flagship headphones, DAC + AMPS. My current flagship setup is well over $10k.

However even going to these lengths, it still hasn't given me that same euphoric moment when i moved from cheap $3 earbuds to the $30 Sony earbuds.

I even put on the new mighty orpheus as well as some extended time with a loan of the stax 009s from a mate but I still feel these fall short from my virgin euphoric moment
Because we buy into the hype of the latest version of the latest gobbledy gook stuff believing you will get that 1st time feeling... that was a lot back then, but outrageous nowadays...
Sony Z1R - my new end game

My moment of epitome for my audiophile journey came about when I moved from a cheap pair of $3 to $30 Sony earbuds. It was a moment of enlightenment and nothing came close ever since, even when I moved onto my current flagship setup consisting of a reputable source + DAC/AMP and sub $3000 (LCD-3 / HE-1000v2 / Elear) headphones towards the diminishing point of return in terms of performance/value. I hold my respect for the HD800S and T1v2 though, these German cans can each hold their own in my opinion - being around $1000-$1500 they are also quite a bit cheaper than the aforementioned cans.

It wasn't until I put on the Z1R, it completely blew me away. A good headphone gives good bass slam, impactful presence and visceral effect. But the Z1R is something very special, not only it retains the former qualities but I could also literally feel the bass reverberating the air around me, none of my other high end cans could achieve this. The mids were sweet, lush, clear, addictive and not intrusive and the highs were exceptionally detailed, not rolled off and none fatiguing, it could do with a slightly tiny bit more sparkle in my humble opinion. I could not believe the presentation of the soundstage is from a pair of closed cans, analytics aside, speaking from my experience, it feels like it is up there on par with the HD800S. Imaging is also superb and more focused than the Sennheiser. Overall the Z1R has a very good presentation along with a nice tonal balance and to me they do not feel recessed in any spectrum of the audio – a complete package where everything is intimately present.

The Z1Rs walks all over the Focal Elear that I have been listening to as my daily driver. I would even rate it higher than my Audeze LCD 3 (unrefined highs) as well as the Hifiman HE-1000v2 (feels slightly dry and unexciting / a little cold and recessed in the lower mid region to my ears). Sound staging has always sucked on the planars from my personal experience but in terms of musicality, I prefer Sony's presentation over these two cans. The only other headphone I would put it alongside is the humble and improved Senn HD800S. But I still reckon the Z1R is the best headphone for under $3,000. I've spent some time with the Stax 009 recently and I would even go as far to say that I enjoy the Z1Rs more than the 009s - these also suffer from a narrowish sound stage and you will need to strap these next to a power sub station (or something that could drive the shinkansen) to run these to their max potential, otherwise they just sound dull and bland, and not able to flesh out the lustrous hyper details from tracks. The Z1R on the other hand scales well with my current DAC/AMP (Burson Audio) combo.

20 years ago it was Sony that did it for me from the $30 earbuds. 20 years later, it is again Sony that has taken me to the audio nirvana that I had been longing for.

The Z1R is the best purchase I made in pursuit of audio perfection.

The Shangri-la is a joke when standing against the Orpheus - USD$50k - somebody please shoot Fan Bian in the head as he would put it in his own words, [we can charge you this much] "because it sounds good" - if it goes for $5k then I would consider it, take it or leave it.
Hifiman HE-400i. Coming from ATH-m50s, those planar magnetic drivers surpassed my wildest expectations. I know there are more expensive cans out there, but it's hard to imagine anything sounding more quick, precise, and dynamic than these bad boys.
I grew up never really having anything pricey or hightech when it comes to audio, but somewhere around my teens i got a Creative 5.1 surround system for my PC, including sub and all, which was a huge step in audio for me. It was a shitty system to say the least by anyones standards, but I just loved it at the time. Played the Symphony & Metallica DVD and cranked it up, and that was when music and audio really entered my life. Been into sound and music ever since.
I grew up around the stage and national treasure grade professional audio equipment, so I started on the higher end of the spectrum without actually realizing it. As I grew older, I kept getting this "left wanting more" feeling with any and all portable music player/headphones I owned. The most crucial moment was when I first replaced my Etymotic hf5 earbuds with UE-900s with custom tips. The moment I started playing music thru the UE-900s connected to my iPhone 5 was when the ah-ha feeling hit me. It gave me a closer than ever peek at what I used to hear growing up near the stage. I've since then added a pair of UE Reference Remastered, Sennheiser HD650, and Audeze LCD2 to my repertoire. The Audeze paired with the O2 have so far brought me close as ever to the childhood audio experience I remember. I'll be attending CanJam in NYC in February in search of head gear that gets me even closer.
In the 1970's, the whole KEF speaker lineup.
it started with some triple fi10 for me I thought they were the dogs they were unfortunately stolen. I then bought the m50s my first ever headphone and was impressed then the obsession took over and I dare not say the time and money I have spent researching and buying headphones since then XD
Had money to buy a headphone.Decided to research on the best headphone I can find for 100$ and I found great companies like Grados and Sennheiser.Afterwards, I played with my mac amp and I fell in love with frequency responses.Some people saying that x headphone doesn't work with certain devices and then, I start caring about ohms and now, I am trying to understand what is harmonic redistribution and blah blah.I started to care about sound once I bought my first 300$ headphone.It was a pair of Urbanite XL.I need a good headset that can be powered by a mac and samsung s3.Before buying the phone, I have read lots of reviews on headphones and I have actually used the momentums before getting the urbanite xl so there was additional experience there.That was the time when I actually cared about the lows, mids and highs.I start to listen to other headphones.The M50X, QC35 and more.I see the different sound signatures and fell in love with headphones more but thanks to my urbanite xl burn in, I was able to listen to details I had never heard and listened to breaths by the singer that shocked me hard!I was very shocked when I saw saw the HD800.That headphones fascinates me and I would like to add the hd600 to my collection soon.I also started to fall in love with audio quality when I saw spotify premium's extreme quality option.I fell in love with amps and dacs when I wanted to know what it takes to power reference headphones like the HD600.
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I am also using foobar for windows10. i recommend it since its easy to customize to your liking, but i also like the jriver, which is why i have both... but i prob will get rid of one or the other tbh. vinyl is basically the most lossless format you can get and very detailed, just the way the producer wanted you to hear, personally to me its a different experience
I hope to at least some level that GUTB is joking as the law of diminishing returns has already full on kicked in by HD650. I own two statement products (Beyer T1 and Senn IE800) and about a brand new Honda Civics worth of other audio gear. I will be the first to say "It's not for everyone!" words like "have to" "must" and "ghetto" only serve to further the notion that audiophiles are snobs who look down on other people. This is why I fully shun the term and prefer Audio Enthusiast because for me it IS about the MUSIC.

Edited to add that I greatly prefer JRiver Media Center to Foobar. Took 20 years to find an audio program I liked more than Winamp (that didn't crash/lag while loading my library). IMO easier than Foobar to configure and more enjoyable base UI. It's not free but if you catch them during a development period they will slash the cost by 50% or more.
A music store (tapes, CDs, records) where I would occasionally buy tapes had Bose speakers playing music. From there I realized how clear and defined music can really sound.
I have to ask (sorry I know its not really the place) but what qualifies as being an audiophile? I started with apple earbuds and then jumped to inearpeace then finally jumped to hifi350's so while I'm not up there by any means I noticed as I increase the accuracy I get more of those tinglingly in the music moment kind of euphoria, does that classify? Maybe, maybe not.
I really think anyone who is on the path to finding the best sound -- anyone who cares that the music sounds as close to live as you can afford to have it -- is an audiophile. Not every audiophile needs to be able to tell the difference between a 320kbps AAC and a 24bit/96kHz FLAC file to "qualify." I know I'll never be able to afford an Audeze LCD2 and whatever $1000+ amp/DAC is required to match it, but I'll do everything I can to get as close as I can with what money I can scrimp and save.