An audiophile becomes an engineer - and why you wind up with more than one headphone
(..and possibly speakers and components)
I recently considered selling a couple of my headphones since they were collecting a bit of dust and not seeing as much action. As much as I like most of my headphones, I was sticking with a couple based on the genre or how the music is presented. For jazz, classical and music that have a common emphasis across the spectrum, I wind up using the Hifiman HE1000se. For music with more dynamics or vocals, I tend to use the Utopia.
During one of my previous post about needing to invest in complementary DAC/AMP combo, @Paullieb213 commented about compatibility and that resonated with me. Being an audiophile is experiential but takes on multiple dimension when you become a perfectionist, looking for more appealing sound and arguably emotional responses. That is, you wind up looking at the entire setup as a whole from the audio source to individual components, cabling, and testing the variations.
To take it a step further, and infinitely more complicated, each of our individual tastes can be vastly different than the next.
My Denafrips Ares DAC arrived today, and it accentuated the analog and fluidity of my tube amp, a Woo WA22 with Tung-Sol 5998 power tubes, Tung-Sol 6sn7GTB drivers, and Sophia Princess rectifier. I'm using Mogami XLRs, WAudio power cords and a Furman power conditioner. The Utopia is using silver plated XLR cable. The combination is heavenly as I play Ritual (Tiesto/Jonas Blue/Rita Ora), Hurricanes (Dido), and Find U Again (Mark Ronson/Camila). Completely lost in the cosmic soup of vibrations.
The Denafrips replaced the Gustard X22, which has been my workhorse with the WA22. While warmer in sound, the Denafrips soon won me over with the transparent openness and linear dynamic rendition. I suspected the HE1000se and the HD820, which are clinical and can edge on sibilance with certain tracks, would pair well with the Denafrips. I was right and the warmer and more fluid presentation from the DAC made the headphones more pleasant and enjoyable.
There isn't a perfect headphone for me. The more neutral sounding headphones allow me to fish/look for the music in it's rendition, such as the HE1000, LCD-X, and the Ether CX. The Utopia and the LCD4 just want to give it to me whether i wanted or not; perfect for tracks with more edgy dynamics.
In the end, I don't consider myself an analytical listener and certainly don't prefer headphones that are too clinical. While I'm sticking to my headphone preference, I found new appreciation for tinkering my setup, from hypothesis to actual listening, to find incremental and improved experience. (Or simply just new ones)
I am a audiophilic engineer.. or something like that