Sasa (who’s a real girl and hence must have good fashion sense), Asakura Yoh and I all agree on this. It is also no coincidence that every major character in the ultra-fashionable anime Eureka seveN, especially those on the Gekkogou, have their own personalised pair of cans. Paradise Kiss is a rotten failure of a show because it claims to be about fashion yet doesn’t have much headphone spotlight. The haute couture of otaku fashion, Murata Range’s PSE range of products and designs, also incorporate these devices heavily.
Today, we shall talk less about the aesthetics and more of the technicalities. Because I bought a new pair.
This is the Sennheiser HD 415, which I was using until a week ago.
I also had an Audiotechnica one (broken), a PX100 (broken) and a few others. I bought a new pair because the HD415 broke on me yet again. Headphones in general don’t really break down, it’s just the cable and connection that get damaged but it’s a pain in the ass to send these for repairs.
So I went down to SLS to seek out a new pair today. With the initial aim of getting a wireless pair (since wires are the weakest link), I browsed through the various stores only to be chided for not taking care of my cables properly. This is true, for I hang my phones around my neck which sometimes causes the able to snag onto stuff. Since I have a burning anger against Sennheiser, (three damaged cables in a year!!), I chose to skip all their models. With wireless ones out of the question (due to rumoured low sound quality and high price), I sought the nearest alternative – detachable cables. In the end, I found only one model that had all the functions I wanted at an affordable price. The storekeeper also highly recommended it (I bet he was lying anyway) so I got it.
Strangely, in the store the phones looked quite good but now I think it’s ugly. But not as ugly as the HD415.
I tested it out on my wretched Ipod Mini (formerly owned by Tsubaki) and voila, the sound was fucking good. The bass was deep and clear, yet not headache-inducing. The mids and trebles were very sharp, crisp and strong, not drowned out by the powerful bass. This pair has probably the best sound of all my phones so far. The HD 415 had a weak treble which forced me to have to use the equaliser on mp3 players, in "acoustic" mode to raise the volume of the mids and treble.
Price-wise, the Stanton was S$140, 40 dollars more than the HD415. The PX200 is 100 as well, but that’s completely shit and not worth using.
The Stanton comes with a detachable cable, which is thick and coiled up with a perpendicular jack rather than a straight one. This is great as this fits an mp3 player better, with less risk of damage. A bad point: the default jack is the fat one, so I have to use an adaptor. Both the HD415 and PX200 do not have detachable cables and this gets troublesome when you aren’t using it. Especially the HD415, with its 1.5 metre long cable. What do I do with a 1.5 metre long cable that I use only 20 cm of?
In terms of comfort, the HD415 wins hands-down. The whole point of that range was to provide comfort and those headphones were godly at it, being the open type and heavily cushioned. You could use them as pillows, such was the thickness of the cushioning. The Stanton is a Sealed type of phone, which means your ears are fully cupped. But the relatively shallowness of each can still gives it the feeling of a semi-sealed, since your ears are still pressed down. There is less padding for the ears and head too.
The HD415 can be hung very comfortably around the neck with lots of space left but the Stanton, like most other headphones, will choke you unless you turn over the cans but this makes it ugly. Sadly, this is one of the most important aspects of a headphone and why the HD415 pwned.
The HD415 leaks a lot more sound out than the Stanton, due to its open design. Now, I don’t have to feel embarrassed listening to the Galaxy Angels theme song in the lift with strangers. Both models block off exterior sound to about the same degree.
Now, the DJ Pro 2000 is meant for DJs naturally and hence has a few other functions which the HD415 lacks. The first is its foldability. It has 4 points of articulation on each can compared to the HD 415′s 2 (and only a tiny degree of movability). The former thus can be used in a lot more ways and packed into a smaller space than the latter. But the length adjusters of the HD415 have clicks and this is superior to the Stanton’s smooth sliding ones. DJ Pro also packs a Stereo/Mono feature, which allows you to use only one side and still get all the sound.
The PX200 is the lightest in terms of weight, but who likes a small penis? The two heavy weights are similar in mass, but the Stanton’s cable is removable and that’s where most of the weight comes from.
Both headphones come with a few accessories. HD415 had a cable winder (totally utterly useless piece of crap), an adapter. Stanton DJ Pro 2000 has a earpad option, which can be stuck onto the right side. I think it’s meant for DJs who have to press their headphones onto their right shoulder. It also has an adapter for down-sizing the jack.
In terms of aesthetics, I can’t decide. Both seem pretty ugly on me but look good in the box. Bah. In truth, only Audiotechnica headphones look good and that’s because they are Japanese and we all know Japanese are fashionable. Oh well, after I get the HD415 and my old PX100 fixed, I’ll have a choice of what to wear when I go out. Maybe I can start matching my headphones with my clothes…
And finally, more examples of why headphones pwn.