Senn - wha - huh? What the heck is Sennheiser? Thresh and Kenn already reviewed some high end Sony headphones for you, the MDR-V600s. But if you've ever done a little research into audio equipment, you will find that true audiophiles turn their noses up at mass market brands like Sony or Aiwa. Basically, if you can find it in a Circuit City or some department store, it's not audiophile quality. True audio snobs turn to brands like Parasound, Bang & Olufsen, and Marantz for their hardware. There are also some 'tweener brands that regular schmucks like you and I have heard of - Denon for example. So what name keeps coming up among audiophiles who are looking for headphones? Sennheiser.
Comfy earmuffs or high end 'phones?
I was in the market for some headphones, and for once in my life, I decided not to be a chintzy spend thrift with my audio hardware. I wanted the best, so I did some research on the matter, and to my dismay, I found that it costs a LOT to get the best in audio. I thought I would be able to plunk down about $100 and get something really high end but that just wasn't the case. Sennheisers range from $10 for their cheapo ear bud style headphones (the kind you jam in your ear and never want to share with your friends), and $360 for their HD-600 - the cream of the crop (this doesn't include the ridiculously priced ones over $10,000). Looking into the matter further, I found out that the HD-600 is pretty much identical to the HD 580. They both use the same driver, so I decided I could save a bit by looking for the HD 580 (which is, by the way, still the defacto favorite headphone among audiophiles).
Backtracking a bit, why buy a pair of headphones? I already have CSW Soundworks speakers in my home computer. With speakers as good as those, who needs a fancy pair of headphones? Well, for one thing, it's much easier to discern 3D sounds with a pair of headphones on, than with speakers. Even with my four speaker set up at home (I use the CSWs for front, and the speakers of my Aiwa bookshelf system as the rear channel), it's hard for me to tell where that breathing is coming from in Thief. Also, for the office, we use headphones so as not to disturb one another when we're gaming. Since I'm usually playing games during the day, I don't want the sounds to distract Kenn while he's working on a new video card. I know I appreciate it when Dennis puts on his 'phones. The last thing I want to hear when writing up a review is the latest Backstreet Boys or N'Sync MP3 he just downloaded. Oops did I just let that one slip?