“HiFi Ruined Me” — Says User as High-End Gear Spoils His Perception of Mainstream Brands

Using HiFi headphones come with an unexpected downside.
Using HiFi headphones come with an unexpected downside.

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The headphones he once dreamed about now sound bland.

An audiophile recently shared how high-end headphones changed his perception of mainstream audio gear via a Reddit post in the r/headphones community. According to him, what once were “dream headphones”, such as the Sony WH-1000XM5, now sound ‘plain unimpressive’ due to his experience with higher-end gears.

The Disappointing Reality

Jacky-Chan_778's original post on the r/headphone subreddit. (From: Reddit)
Jacky-Chan_778’s original post on the r/headphone subreddit. (From: Reddit)

The user, Jacky-Chan_778’s post serves as a warning for those who are just entering the audiophile hobby.

In his post, he shared his disappointment with the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones after years of using high-end gears.

“Keep in mind, before I got into audiophilia 5-ish years ago this would have been my dream headphones.” he wrote.

These headphones, as the OP admits, are widely praised by mainstream consumers. However, after using other headphones and trying it out, he says he found their sound quality to be underwhelming.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 are Active Noise Cancelling headphones marketed for the general listeners, not audiophiles. (From: Kazi Mahbub Mutakabbir)
The Sony WH-1000XM5 are Active Noise Cancelling headphones marketed for the general listeners, not audiophiles. (From: Kazi Mahbub Mutakabbir)
“Headphones that are considered top of the line by normies (Sony WH-1000XM5) sound plain unimpressive. Anemic sub-bass. Bloated and muffled mid-bass. Mids sound unnatural. High frequencies are tinny. No separation, as everything is jumbled together and chaotic.” he shares.

The OP admitted that his perception of the Sony headphones had changed significantly over the past five years. He shares that his experience with other audiophile-grade headphones has affected his preferences a lot.

He warned others about this potential downside of exploring high-end audio gear, such as his HiFiMan Edition XS.

HiFiMan Edition XS are planar magnetic headphones that require a high-powered headphone amplifier for the best experience. (From: Eric Hieger)
HiFiMan Edition XS are planar magnetic headphones that require a high-powered headphone amplifier for the best experience. (From: Eric Hieger)
“If you’ve never tried high-end, specifically planar headphones, maybe best to stay away.” he says.

To help others understand his experience, the OP drew an analogy to using a high-refresh-rate monitor.

“If you’ve never tried high-end, specifically planar headphones, maybe it’s best to stay away. It’s like using a 240 Hz monitor, and now regular stuff feels like 60 Hz.” he explained.

But it’s not all bad. In a follow-up comment, the OP also mentioned that his high-end setup had made him more appreciative of the production quality of music. He said it allowed him to recognize that some tracks are “objectively better” than others.

The Community Reaction

The post garnered a significant response from the community, with many users sharing their own experiences and opinions on the matter.

Some echoed the sentiment that once you experience high-end audio, it’s difficult to go back to lesser-quality gear.

Users who agree that listening on high-end headphones has changed their perspective. (From: Reddit)
Users who agree that listening on high-end headphones has changed their perspective. (From: Reddit)

Others, however, argued that the pursuit of the best possible sound quality isn’t always necessary or practical.

“Real talk, for 90% of the listening most people are going to do, AirPods are probably good enough. You don’t need the best possible sound quality to listen to a podcast on your commute.” one user says.

This sentiment was shared by several others. They stressed the importance of having the right tool for the job rather than always using the best available option.

User pointing out the importance of considering the different purposes of each headphones. (From: Reddit)
User pointing out the importance of considering the different purposes of each headphones. (From: Reddit)

To support this, some users also pointed out that comparing the Sony WH-1000XM5 to audiophile headphones like the Edition XS isn’t entirely fair, as they serve different purposes.

The consensus among this group is that both types of headphones have their place. And, the ideal choice depends on the listening environment and the user’s priorities.

Users highlighting how they use different headphones for different moods and activities. (From: Reddit)
Users highlighting how they use different headphones for different moods and activities. (From: Reddit)

Interestingly, a few Redditors mentioned that their audiophile journey had come full circle. Some say they ultimately settled on a simpler setup after a while.

People sharing how their audiophile journey aren't linear. (From: Reddit)
People sharing how their audiophile journey aren’t linear. (From: Reddit)

One user even pointed out a meme that has been going on in the community for a while. Here, it shows an audiophile’s journey from fighting for the best headphones to settling into where they typically started.

A meme that many audiophiles who has been in the hobby for years can relate with. (From: Reddit)
A meme that many audiophiles who has been in the hobby for years can relate with. (From: Reddit)
As MoonPresence777 puts it, “Point is, unless you are some purist solely interested in audio quality and no lifestyle aspects, there will always be a place for those Sony wireless headphones.”

💬 Conversation: 1 comment

  1. I keep coming back to my Koss Porta Pros (with Yaxi foam earpads), despite having several headphones, open back and closed, and also several earbuds. But, my “go to” headphones are the Porta Pros because they are lightweight, comfortable to wear for long-term listening, and have quite good sound, as many here have noted.

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