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Auditioning - Headphones and Amps

sceptic

Member
As someone with, I guess, not particularly audiophile ears I often wonder how people audition equipment such as headphones and headphone amps.
Do you play a small passage of music and concentrate on, say, the bass and then switch equipment and play the same piece again?
Or do you play the music for a more extended period, listen to the whole sound, and then switch?
I speak as someone who often has difficulty in defining differences when auditioning. I often feel that the new headphones, for example, have just picked up some detail I've not heard before. I switch back to the other pair and the detail is there too.
It impresses me when people hear differences in bass, mid-range, and top-end.
I'd be very interested to hear how people approach their auditioning.
 

alexs2

Well-known Member
Hi there...welcome to the headphone section....I've always found the best way of auditioning any piece of equipment is to take along a piece of music you're really familiar with(preferably something well recorded,and with plenty of dynamic range),and use that for testing and comparing.
Using discs in the shop is all very well,but usually ends up with it being something you haven't heard before,or don't like,and it may be chosen to emphasize a dealer's equipment.
 

pendulum

Novice Member
As Alex said ^^^

listen a few times to the music that you will take for demo, on your home gear, just before leaving if you can as the music should be fresher in your mind, which should help with comparisons.
 

sceptic

Member
I had in mind auditioning at home. For example comparing a headphone amp with the headphone socket on your stereo amp.
Many people add new headphone cables and I wondered how they do a comparison with the originals.
I always have great difficulty in discerning differences and certainly if I spent £150 on a headphone cable I would expect a major improvement. How do you guys conduct listening tests to check this?
I'm not looking to start a debate on blind listening tests, btw.
Cheers
 

alexs2

Well-known Member
Originally posted by sceptic
I had in mind auditioning at home. For example comparing a headphone amp with the headphone socket on your stereo amp.
Many people add new headphone cables and I wondered how they do a comparison with the originals.
I always have great difficulty in discerning differences and certainly if I spent £150 on a headphone cable I would expect a major improvement. How do you guys conduct listening tests to check this?
I'm not looking to start a debate on blind listening tests, btw.
Cheers
Hi...I'd be very wary of spending large amounts on a cable,before assessing the sound quality to begin with,and certainly wouldn't consider that amount unless I was using a very expensive setup,as some here do.

Again though,the only way to listen,is to do so with your own CD's,preferably with your own gear,and then decide.

BTW...relatively few headphones seem to come with replaceable cables,so that's worth looking at as well.
 

WhyAyeMan

Member
Best advice I can give is to try to at least audition in a quiet room. When I have auditioned headphones and amps in the past they have always been in the middle of the shop, and quite honestly its a hopeless situation.

Other than that, try not to listen too hard to the details, just see how the music comes across.
 

alexs2

Well-known Member
Originally posted by pbirkett

Other than that, try not to listen too hard to the details, just see how the music comes across.
I think that's an excellent piece of advice....relax and listen to the music...if it sounds good,and unfatiguing after a good long listen,then it may be that you've found the right piece of gear....everyone has different likes/dislikes,so my tubed single ended amp may not suit a solid state persons tastes and vice versa.
 
N

nthornhill

Guest
it is however very tempting to listen for resolution of details above musicality of sound, because you can hear new details instantly, whereas you need to sit and relax to hear the musicality of the new kit, and that means taking lots of time if you want to hear various options.

The one thing I've learned the hard way about auditioning is to use the process to avoid buying hifi kit which sounds harsh or aggressive. Such kit will become unlistenable in the long term, since your ears will feel abused if you try to listen for longer than 30 minutes. However, if you sit in the shop using a big switchbox to try out various components, you never give yourself the chance to really feel the impact of aggressiveness in some components, and risk making a big buying mistake.
 
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