If you have ever visited pages of some of the more expensive headphones on Amazon, you must’ve seen reviews by people who claim to have sold their kidneys and houses to buy them, and while these reviews might sound funny for the first 5 seconds of reading them, there is actually a lot more to the world of these shockingly priced sound devices.
I had to find what this ‘audiophilia’ is about, so I decided to get something so special that it isn’t even available on Amazon, and today I am going to share 5 things that I discovered after spending 1.5 lakh on this pair of headphones, and it is really important that you know about this, because you might be going through a mid-life crisis, and then you may decide to pull the trigger on something like this, but then you may find out that just getting the headphone is not enough.
So we’re going to talk about why these headphones are so expensive, what kind of extra stuff you need to make them work, and I am of course going to tell you about whether it is worth going for something like this or not.
So first let’s unbox the headphone that I bought from Headphonezone, the name of this headphone is HEDDphone, and it is made by a German Pro audio company named HEDD audio, and because they are so professional, you don’t get a lot of stuff in the box, and it is quite an ordinary unboxing experience, except the fact that the box and the headphone is very F***ING big in size.
It is over 700 grams in weight, so definitely one of the heaviest headphones on the market, but the special thing about it is that it isn’t using the traditional dynamic drivers that you see in other headphones.
The regular headphones just have a miniaturized version of the kind of driver you find on speakers,
but this is the world’s first headphone to use an air motion transformer driver, which is something that you find on the tweeters of some special speakers like my Adam A5Xs,
and instead of the driver moving back and forth to create sound,
these drivers use kind of a squeezing in and out movement to create sound.
You Will Need An Amp & a DAC
Coming to making them create sound, the first thing that you need to know is that you may not be able to power these with your phone or even your PC.
There are some high end headphones which may work directly with your phone, but majority of them require something called a ‘Headphone amplifier’, it takes the lower power signal from your computer or other sources, and it amplifies it so these high end headphones can be driven.
These headphone amplifiers can also cost a lot, but for starting out with something like this headphone, you may need something that costs at least 20 to 30 thousand rupees.
But there’s more to just amplifying the signal, because the signal that you’re getting from your phone or PC may not be high quality enough to give you the best sound with these.
Your phone or PC have something called a DAC, or digital to analogue convertor, and it converts the digital signal of the files you play, to an analogue signal that moves the drivers of your speakers or headphones, so while your phone may do a basic job of giving you the sound from your digital files or stream, the DAC in your average phone or PC doesn’t translate that digital signal in a way that is good enough to give you the best sound from these headphones, so you will need something called a DAC, which is just an external version of the sound chip that you have on your phone or PC, but it is also a very high end chip, so it can give you a very high quality signal that will be good enough for a headphone like this.
I personally already had something called an RME ADI-2 DAC FS, and it is a combo unit that has a very high quality DAC, and a high quality headphone amplifier, so it is something that works well with a headphone like this. Now this thing also costs around 1 lakh Rs., but I already had it for my special Adam speakers that also benefit from a high end DAC
So just keep in mind that you may need to invest a serious amount in something that will make these headphones usable for you. So if you buy a 1.5 lakh Rs. headphone, the combination of the DAC and AMP will take the cost to around 2 Lakh Rs. at least, and ideally, you would want a setup that would cost around 2.5 Lakh rs. To get the best experience.
Cables can be expensive!
But it’s not just these specialized devices that are expensive, but even something as simple as cables for these headphones can also get very expensive, I bought this original HEDD Audio cable for around 13,000 Rs., it is a balanced cable
that will allow me to use these headphones with more special balanced amplifiers, but the thing is that even if you try to buy a third party unbalanced headphone cable for these, it’s also going to cost you at least 7 or 8 thousand rupees.
Now these cables are not really as special as their price tag would indicate, they only seem to be expensive because the people buying headphones at this price point can afford it, and because the cost of making these in small numbers can get high with manual labour included, and then there’s also the cost for the retailers for maintaining stock of such a niche item.
Expensive doesn’t mean ‘best for everything’
The next thing that you should keep in mind is that just because a headphone is expensive, doesn’t mean it will do everything perfectly for you.
So for example, you might be a person who likes to listen to a lot of bass heavy music, and you might think that these headphones will deliver skull crushing bass and will really rock your ears, but that is actually not the case with many of the high end headphones.
This headphone for example is designed to give you a very neutral or linear response, meaning that none of the frequencies in your sound are emphasized, so the bass won’t be overpowering the rest of the sound.
But it doesn’t mean that these headphones lack bass, in fact they deliver some really kick-ass bass which is extremely high in quality, but it may not be something that someone who is used to the typical consumer centric headphones may like at first.
These headphones are also open back, and not closed back, which means when you play music on these, a person sitting next to you will be able to hear what you’re listening to, and you will also hear the sounds around you, so if you’re looking to block environmental noise, this type of a headphone is not going to do it for you. I actually keep my AC turned off because it is very audible through these headphones, and I am willing to endure the heat to get the best sound quality possible.
But that is also what the beauty of variety is, because there are high end options available in the market which are closed back, and also deliver kind of a punch in the bass that you might seek, and even something like this can be tuned to have more bass with an equalizer, but that is a separate topic for another video.
But the important thing to remember is that even at high end, a single headphone cannot do everything, and one headphone may also not be the best for all genres of music, and that is why some people buy multiple of these expensive headphones, because that is what gives them different experiences that suit different genres of music perfectly.
They can be heavy
These headphones are also quite heavy at 700+ grams, and there are actually other headphones that are also very similar in weight,
so you may be able to wear your ten thousand rupees headphone all day, but you may find something like this to be only comfortable for a few hours.
But again, there are other high end headphones that are also light and comfortable for all day use, I just had to get the best sound quality possible for me, and I don’t need to wear headphones all day as I mostly use my speakers.
Law of diminishing returns
Now one thing that a lot of you might think that because these headphones cost 1,50,000 Rs., they will be 10 times better than something like these Hifiman HE-4XX, which cost around 15,000 rupees, but that is not the case, and what you get with these, is a refinement in the character and detail of the sound instead of an improvement that you can easily quantify in percentages.
But you don’t necessarily have to spend lakhs of rupees to get a great sound,
and even at , 5, 10, 20, and 30 thousand rupees range, you can get headphones that sound much better than the mainstream headphones that people generally use. I will link to some very good value headphones at different price ranges in the video description.
Audiophilia is actually not about using expensive products, but it is more about getting a higher quality, balanced sound at any price point that you can afford.
It is like preferring a color calibrated profile on your TV, instead of the default oversaturated profile that it comes with.
These high end products are also sold at a much higher margin percentage than your typical 2000 rs. Earphones, but these companies have to do that to sustain their business by often selling a product assembled by hands that they don’t sell lakhs or millions of units of, so they are not overcharging you, but you do have to pay more as more as you get to the higher end. This rule actually applies to all product categories like cars, watches, or TVs.
So… are they worth it?
And that finally takes us the most important question, how do they sound, and if they are worth it.
As for how they sound, I will make a separate 20 minute video about that, because I don’t think most people who aren’t interested in buying these will have the patience to watch that,
But in short, they of course sound absolutely phenomenal, and if you search online,
you will find that some of the most trusted reviewers say that they compete with headphones that cost 3 to 4 lakh Rs.
And yes, there are headphones that cost 5 to 6 lakh rs. And even 50 lakh rs., so my headphones are actually not that expensive on the higher end, but you should subscribe to the channel with bell icon if you’re interested in my detailed video on their sound.
The reviews for these high end headphones are also actually quite different, and the people who are audio enthusiasts have a set of terminologies and concepts that a non audio nerd may not be familiar with, so if you don’t know what these terms mean, you won’t understand what the reviewer is saying, and these terms are actually necessary to explain the very subtle differences their quality, because you can’t just say that something as high end as this just ‘sounds good’, you have to understand the specifics of what is good or bad, because you also have to understand whether the qualities of a particular headphone matches your preferences or not.
But coming to a simpler explanation for these HEDDphones, they of course have microscopic levels of detail in them, their soundstage is really wide and amazing, which means that they instruments sound like they are at a distance from your ears, and different instruments have different positions and they sound very separated. Vocals sound extremely lifelike, their bass is outstandingly tight and precise, and their treble is just on another level and it is extremely well extended, so all that of course results in a sound that you just can’t get from headphones that are not as good as these.
But when it comes to deciding whether they are worth it or not, one factor will of course be your income, but I think the more important factor is how important listening to music in high quality is for you.
Enjoyment of music, and the quality of audio are different things, and I would much prefer a song with good composition and music arrangement on a 5,000 Rs. Headphone, over a song that isn’t good musically on a 1.5 Lakh rs. Headphone.
But that doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy your music more on a better sounding headphone. If you REALLY enjoy listening to music, then these headphones just give you another level of insight into your favourite tracks, and it is a completely next level experience.
You get to enjoy the expertise in the vocal techniques of your favourite artists. The instruments in Coke Studio songs sound extremely lifelike, and you get to hear the complete extension of a cymbal, the sweetness and intricacy that Indian flute has to offer, and you even hear the emotion in instruments like electric guitars, and all of these instruments don’t compete with each other to get your attention, resulting in a muddy sound, but you can really hear these instruments sounding completely free from each other.
It’s like the limitation of listening to your music through headphones is just not there, it’s like virtual reality for your ears, except the technology is perfect and you are getting 8K resolution per eye with a 240Hz refresh rate.
Buying a headphone like this for an average person is actually more about their priorities.
Some people I know have sound setups that cost half as much as their cars, and it may sound crazy, but it is completely logical, because for these audiophiles, the audio experience is a bigger priority, and they get more enjoyment and satisfaction out of it.
Some people in Japan have even sold their house, and then they buy 75 lakh Rs. Speakers to get the best audio experience.
For me, these are completely worth it, because it has been almost 10 or 15 years since I’ve been trying to get the perfect audio experience.
I’ve also been learning and playing music for more than 18 years, so music is also an extremely important thing in my life, so I am actually quite satisfied, and happy with my purchase.
And those were the things that you should keep in mind if you decide to go for one of these top of the line headphones. I’ll have links to buy them, along with some other headphone recommendations at lower price ranges.
⭐ My Adam A5X Speakers: https://amzn.to/2P43e8M
⭐ Nice DAC
⭐ Nice Amp
GET 10,000 Rs. off by applying coupon code SIDBHARAD at checkout.