I didn’t think that headphones could sound much better then my Etymotic ER-4Ps (One up from my ER-6s), but it would seem that you can and by a big margin.
How I had managed for so many years with my el-cheapo Technics RP-F350s at home, I don’t know. I never used the etymotics at home, but after trying them once on my iMac I realised I’m really missing out when it came to listening to music at home. And considering I spent more time infront of my machine here at home then anywhere else, it made sense to get myself a good pair of “cans” for home use only. After some research, the Grado SR80s headphones seemed like the way to go. A bit more then the SR60s (but well worth it from what I read) and more convinent then the SR125s as they had a 1/4″ connector rather then the 3.5mm one needed for my iMac or iPhone. I tracked a pair down on Tottenham Court Road and sat down to give them a try.
My jaw literally hit the floor the moment the first few notes came through and no matter what I threw at them, they just sounded more and more amazing. I swapped between a few headphones to make sure I wasn’t dreaming it and boy, I sure wasn’t. This is pure audio bliss. Everything, and I mean everything, is perfectly defined. It feels like instruments are floating in space and that you’re really there listening to everyone playing their part. No muddiness or distortion, just clarity. Bass feels tight and deep, the highs never too sharp or piercing and just such a vast expanse throughout the whole range. I read that many people found the headphones too uncomfortable to wear for more then an hour or so, but I’ve had no problems what-so-ever. I can easily wear them for 4,5,6 hours at a time without bother. The only real flaw is the open back design, unlike closed back headphones, sound leaks a lot (this is what probably gives them the spacious sound) so you can’t wear them out in public as you’ll piss a lot of people off. Thankfully this doesn’t really effect me as that my Etymotics are for.
Why I made myself suffer for so long, I’ll never know. I wish I had known sooner.
(And things are going to take an even bigger leap with the arrival of my handbuilt headphone amplifier. Post coming soon)