Auditioning/testing headphones · Feb 10, 04:48 PM
This entry came about after noticing a regular question that people seem to ask is “what music should I bring when testing audio equipment”.
Now I don’t know if I’m in the minority or something, but to me the answer is simple:
Music you know and enjoy. Anything else is a waste of time.
If you’re never going to be listening to Mariah Carey on your new headphones, why bring some in to test them with?
Grab 3-4 of your favourite CDs, that cover your general listening tastes. Don’t be shy now, you won’t be judged for your tastes, so it’s ok to grab that best of Kylie CD if it is your favourite.
Once you do get to testing some equipment I strongly recommend against doing quick A/B swaps. I see people here in store frantically trying to switch between two headphones as fast as they possibly can so they can “hear the difference”.
You shouldn’t be listening for “the difference” you should be listening for what you like. However, if you must hear “the difference” I’ve found it’s actually a lot easier to hear differences between two models once I know how one pair sounds. Swapping back and forth rapidly doesn’t give me any idea of how EITHER one sounds really, and can often build false impressions.
So instead of quick swapping, listen to at least one track (a whole CD is ideal, but not everyone has the time or patience for that) you know and like all the way through on one pair, then swap headphones, start the track again and listen to the track again.
Try to relax and ask yourself “am I enjoying this sound?”, don’t lean in and try to hear a difference.
It’s always better to listen to the whole track than just little bits. I understand that some people might want to “compare the bass” on two models, but you should be listening to the big picture, not just one aspect of it.
As a side note, judging headphones based on how they look is a really, really stupid thing to do. Stop doing it.
If you’re wearing the headphones in public I can understand people wanting something that suits “their style”, but if audio is at all important to you it really shouldn’t be a massive deciding factor, ESPECIALLY if they’re only going to be used at home, unless you spend all your time in front of the mirror preening yourself.
It’s generally worth noting that if you listen to headphones in store here, I (or whoever helps you out) will leave you alone to do your listening, it’s not because I hate you and don’t want to be near you, it’s because I like to let people come to their own conclusions and to not feel pressured, but if you have any questions, or you want to discuss your thoughts, feel free to start chatting away.
At the end of the day, you don’t need to be “an audiophile”, and you really don’t need to know what you’re listening “for”. As long as you like the way the headphones sound, or more specifically as long as you like the way your MUSIC sounds on said headphones, you’ve made the right choice.
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