Back when I was 19 years old and I got my first incomes I decided to upgrade my current set of headphones, which were the standard Apple EarPods. I went online and found a brand called Beats, that had some very cool looking products. I hadn’t the opportunity to test them before spending the 200 dollars that were sitting in my bank account.
I bought the Beats solo model. Which at that time sounded very terrible. I’ve heard from trusted reviewers that Dr. Dre’s line of headphones have been improved over the years and now they sound OK. But back in 2009, they did not. I remember when I first listen to Fade To Black on these headphones. Before unveiling my experience I want to remember that there are basically three kinds of frequencies in sound:
- Low-frequency: Under 500Hz. Refers to the bass of a sound.
- Mid-frequency: Between 500Hz. The human speech is on this frequency.
- High-Frequency: Higher than 2000Hz. Refers to the crispy sounds, like cymbals crashing, guitar solos or birds singing.
Going back to the Beats Solo headphones, for me they were pushing the low frequencies higher than the others. Higher to a point where there were some high-frequency sounds in Fade To Black wich I could tell with my EarPods but not with my new 200 dollars headphones. That meant one thing… I had no money and I had in my possession a lower quality headphone, or at least that is what it seemed liked for me. And because I bought them in some special offer there was no return policy, or it was very hard to give them back, I don’t remember this 100 percent.
But I had an advantage: because of their popularity, the Beats were selling like crazy back then. So it took me a few days to have some proportion of the 200 dollars back to my account. And I was partially happy. I had some of my money back but not enough to go for a decent set, or at least that is what I thought.
A friend of a friend of mine had a classic (and in my opinion) good looking Bose QC25 headphones. I tried them out and I instantly said: Oh my God, these ones are comfortable, and they killed almost every ambient noise that surrounded me. And the music sounded balanced and clean. I fell in love. It took me some days to save enough money to purchase my new Bose QC25.
The difference in sound quality and comfort between the Bose and the Beats was huge. And that without considering the Noise Cancelling feature. I used them for 6-7 years and then upgraded to the QC35 model, which sounded pretty much the same but had Bluetooth and rechargeable battery.
Nowadays my perception and my knowledge of music have changed, in the good way I think. I had the opportunity to test very high-level equipment in high fidelity conventions, I have read quite articles and some books about audio recording and sound concepts.
There is a real prooved reason why noise-canceling headphones, and not just the Bose ones, are not the best sounding headphones. And they are not the best sounding headphones on their price range either. I will provide you a link in the description with the reason explained below. But I will explain to you the why of it with few words: in noise canceling headphones there is a mic in the outside that receive the soundwaves of the noises that surrounds it. Then, through a headphone driver, the soundwaves are inverted and played in the headphone. This to waves sums up like a flat wave. And this is how the ambient noise is killed in noise canceling headphones. It is extremely difficult to give a soundwave that is as accurate as a HiFi headphone through a noise canceling ones with the ambient inverted waves bothering in the back. In fact, every audiophile 2k or higher priced headphones are not noising canceling. So I personally think that is not difficult but it is impossible to achieve.
Having learned this theory, I went to my local retail store with my DAC and iPhone with TIDAL on it to test some headphones. I have found out that some low priced headphones sounded better than my QC35. OMG! I had 10 years thinking that this was the best sounding headphones for their price range. I was wrong.
I have chosen the Shure SD1540 to be my personal musical partner for the next years to come, and I will review them after having heard them for a few weeks.
The Bose QC35 are for me the most comfortable and the very best in terms of noise canceling that you could find out there. But now I’m more into audio quality rather than anything else.
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