A brief review of headphones using the metaphor of photographic reproduction

Audio-Technica M50
Audio-Technica M50

Imagine you could take a photograph of sound; bass, in particular.

AIAIAI Tracks on-ears would be a very good tracing of that photograph. One gets the idea, and knows what the photo would look like, but it’s not the same as experiencing it firsthand.

Incase Sonic over-ears: Now the photograph has been nearest-neighbor resized in Photoshop to 150%. So you get its presence and some detail, but with jagged edges all over the place. The bass is plain to see, but not particularly nuanced.

Monster Beats in general are a printout of the photograph at 200% size on a color inkjet printer that’s missing a few ink tanks and in need of a head cleaning, then rolled up for sale in a $1,000 faux-crystal gift box.

Klipsch Image ONE over-ears are like the photograph enlarged for display on the side of a skyscraper which has exploded and is collapsing in your direction.

The Audio-Technica M50 headphones are like finding great photo paper at a closing down sale and printing out a realistic reproduction that you’ll put on your wall for years. But the plastic frame it’s in is really ugly.

PSB Speakers’s M4U 2 noise-canceling over-ears in ’active’ mode is the work of a DSLR camera viewed on a Retina display. While you’re looking, someone squeezes your (large) head to the point of moderate discomfort. Your wallet also vanishes.

Lastly, the Harman Kardon CL on-ears are a beautiful replica to stare at, but you’ll always wonder if springing for the real thing would have made a difference.

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