The Saga of Headphones- Part IV- A New Hope

Well, I’ve said a lot about choosing my cans previously, today I’ll say a bit about what it’s like to listen to them. Why am I doing all this? Because sound reproduction seems to be the area where most people cheap out. They’ll spend loads on their laptops, CDs, dvd-players or i-pods, but next to nothing on what actually brings the sound to your ears… and without spending thousands, you can’t do that all that well with speakers. There is a whole world of sound waiting to be discovered- hearing is believing!As was said in an online review for the K240’s, ‘they open up whole universes of sound, I’m not just saying that, it’s true’.

What’s amazing is it really feels like hearing the original performance, something I have never felt before. The bass, which seems to move around you, is simply amazing. If I am gushing, it is because listening to my ‘mere’ MP3 sources through this is something akin to a religious revelation. The music is so vibrant and detailed I wonder why millions haven’t already purchased this phone. Well the simple answer to that, if the AKG website is to believed, is that they in fact have and that it is the most widely used phone in recording studios today, partly due to it’s versatility, but mostly due to it’s uncanny ability to seamlessly play a wide variety of sources. I am hearing sounds, like ambient birdsong that I never noticed before. It is not at all fatiguing to hear all this, as it just adds to the richness. What startles me is the sense that this is how the original was intended to be heard. Yes, it’s pretty deep.

Listening to Oasis, I can hear the guitar solos so distinctly I can really appreciate them. The gravelly singer’s voices have the full emotion the song speaks of. I found listening to Phil Collins especially moving- the songs hit home in a way they never had before- you can hear the very sincerity in his voice. Another amazing experience was listening to Robert Mile’s Dreamlands, where ambient sounds like birdsong and stormy rain are all around you, with a powerful, almost kinetic effect. The bass is simply unbelievable- it rolls, it travels… it’s simply there and so very musical. I have truly never heard, or perhaps just never noticed, anything quite like it. I just never knew the bass in music really sounds like this. Each and every piece of music I’ve heard is so much more detailed, intense and beautiful than I’ve ever heard before, I really sense it opening up for me like never before, almost as if I’m hearing the pieces for the first time.

I just watched an Episode of 24 with them on (Season 4, Episode 13). I was happy watching that with my regular surround speakers, which admittedly are pretty low grade, but pleasant, which seemed to emphasis the ticking clock and explosions well enough. Nothing could have prepared me for what I found through these. Each bass line or drum beat is incredibly clear and tight, adding exactly the punch that the drama requires. Not only that, but they sound just like the real instruments. I previously thought they were synthesized, but this puts no doubt as to their reality. At times, I can actually imagine the musicians, as I can hear that each note is slightly, ever so slightly different from the next. Which, of course, in real life they are… we just rarely get a chance to notice it. The bass also sounds like it is coming from the sides, at quite a distance, enveloping you like clouds of mist, whilst the voices, each one incredibly nuanced, come from the center, in front of you. It all sounds so… natural.

In the gun-battle with the commandos, each shot came through exactly as if it were happening, each falling shell case was exactly clear and precise. Also, where they came from, how near or far away they were- all this was quite obvious and distinct, whilst the background music came from further away. Although this was just a stereo recording (and this being on a 160 kbs mp3, it holds incredible detail), it put my experience of surround speakers to shame- the events were taking place all around me- not just in front or behind, but to the sides and above and below. This gives a fully enveloped feeling, which for one shows just how well the soundtrack was originally recorded. Helicopters didn’t sound just like choppers- they are helicopters, and when a wall muffles them, they sound exactly muffled by the wall, not just quieter. Each sound is individual and distinct, giving a very intense, powerful experience, yet all the while entertaining and not distractingly detailed. One amazing touch was the office scenes at CTU Headquarters- you can hear the background chatter so clearly that, if you listen, you can sometimes hear what is being said. Now that’s clarity!

 

Since then I’ve watched various films with them and some episodes of Lost and each time been fully drawn in. I’ve also listened to Pink Floyd again, enjoying the larger sound these can provide. Funnily enough, they sound really good on my mobile phone, so if I want a convenient way to listen I just jack them into that. It’s all something of a revelation, well worth the price of admission!

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2 Comments

  1. Gideon

     /  June 13, 2007

    Your wish is my command…

    Reply
  2. The Whitemeister

     /  May 7, 2007

    Don\’t know who you could possibly be talking about when you mention people going cheap when it comes to their headphones!!
    I look forward to \’The saga of headphones part V\’

    Reply

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