Last night I was wandering around the house in a daze of tiredness after a marathon of reading, photo processing, and Perl hackery. While rummaging in the kitchen for a snack, I realized that I'd been wearing my big headphones for at least six continuous hours, with the iPod playing the "chill out" playlist on shuffle, with the volume turned down low.
"Yeah, these headphones are comfortable alright," I thought, as I cut a bagel in half. "And they sound pretty good. But I think there's an upper limit to how immersive headphones can be, 'cause I'm listening to these at a typical volume and, well, I just don't feel inside the music. I can't pick out the details I know should be there. This sucks. ... Maybe the headphones can't help. Maybe my ears are just deteriorating."
Then I sat down on the couch. As I sat down I noticed that I could hear the rustling of the cushions underneath me, through the sides of the headphones.
"That's a pretty quiet sound. If I was listening to music at a show, or even sitting in a movie theatre, there's no way I'd be able to hear that. ... Wait a minute ... Maybe I'm not listening to music at 'typical volume' at all... Maybe it's just really quiet around here, so I think the music's loud..."
I took the iPod off shuffle and switched to the Biosphere playlist, where all the tracks are encoded in lossless format. I queued up "Decription". Cautiously, I inched the volume up, then up some more, then up even further, then WAY up...
Then I had to fall back on the couch and shut my eyes because oh my god the sound was incredible.
You turn a regular pair of headphones up this loud, about as loud perhaps as the jukebox in the Saturn during the dinner rush, and the music just sounds loud. Abrasive; painful. You want to turn it back down immediately, because it's not interesting, it's annoying. But I turned these HD 650's up loud and the music didn't feel loud. It didn't feel abrasive. What it did do was come barreling out of the headphones and shake my brain around like an earthquake shaking a house. Holy crap, folks. I knew these headphones were good; I knew I preferred them to any other pair, but I could never quite rationalize the money I spent on them, until today. Worth every damn cent. Absolutely, 100 percent, worth it.