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      In Norway, there is a law about Reklamasjonsrett where the place that sells you something has to offer a repair (typically through some deal with the producer) within two or five years (depending on how long the thing is expected to last, in general a court may decide this). If they don’t manage to repair it within a few tries, you have the right to get a new one.

      The five year group includes stuff like dish washers, but court cases have also decided that e.g. cell phones may be “reklamert” for up to five years, same goes for VCR’s (an IR sensor failing after 3.5 years led to a case on that). I suspect high-end headphones would fall under the same category. However, buying it from “an ebay vendor” would put one in a worse position. There are Norwegian shops selling Jaybird headphones though …

      Warranty time offered by seller/producer does not affect the interpretation of reklamasjonsrett (they are completely independent), and it’s enough that the product is only partially failing.

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        The UK has something like this as well, though as you might imagine all the relevant details differ. Goods must last a time ‘reasonable’ to the type of good, which unfortunately isn’t clearly defined for almost anything, leaving it up to courts to decide. The exception is that if a product breaks within the first six months after purchase, the burden of proof is on the seller to show that it wasn’t their fault, excepting some items obviously not intended to be durable. So most reputable UK-based sellers will repair/refund/replace in the first six months unless you obviously damaged the product yourself. In theory, claims can be made up to six years, but past the first six months, the burden of proof is on the customer to argue that the product was faulty and failed to last a reasonable time, and they have to take the seller to court to enforce the claim if the seller rejects it, which is pretty rare.

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        For those interested, reklamasjonsrett translates to “reclamation right” in English. “Reclaiming” a product, unless I’m mistaken, means returning it and getting a new one.

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          Yeah, I was a bit scared of translating a legal term … the Wikipedia page’s English link goes to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_complaint which wasn’t too helpful

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            Yes, reklamasjon seems to have a special meaning in (some of the?) the Nordic countries, but I thought it would still be interesting to know what the word means literally.

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              From Swedish Wikipedia:

              Ordet reklamation härstammar från latinets reclamo och betyder “att ropa mot” eller “att protestera mot”.

              Rough translation:

              The word is from the Latin reclamo and means to “to call against”, or to “protest against”.

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        This is true in most countries I believe. New Zealand has a similar law: the Consumer Guarantees Act. As far as I know there’s not much in the way of well-established timeframes like 2-5 years, it’s whatever is considered a reasonable timeframe by a hypothetical reasonable person, typical kind of common law stuff.

        And similarly, nothing at all to do with the ‘warranties’ offered by people selling stuff. Retailer warranties aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

        In New Zealand if the product is faulty (partially or wholly, doesn’t matter) then you can take it back and if it’s reasonable to do so they can replace it or repair it or give you a refund, their choice. But if they repair or replace it and it is faulty again you can choose to get a refund.

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      As someone who buys expensive headphones I have sympathy for the author, but I don’t really buy the chain of reasoning in this post. I’m not saying planned obsolescence isn’t a problem, it just feels like the author started with a motivation to complain about that issue (and to work in some criticism of Apple) and then worked backwards to their headphone problem.

      Is it fair to compare something that costs $180 to something that costs $1,500 (Commodore 64 in 2018 dollars) and say that you expect the same engineering quality in both? Do we have any idea what the reliability of Commodore 64 or Amiga computers really was? The parts were a lot bigger, but there was probably a lot of hand-soldering, too. Saying that “some of these things, of which millions were sold, are still working” and then concluding that it’s because of a now-lost built-to-last principle seems like a big stretch to me. Also, these headphones are exposed to a lot of physical wear and tear. There must be a lot of stress on tiny wires that are constantly being twisted and pulled. It’s not the same as a computer that largely sits in one place for its entire life. The author basically picked an arbitrary length of time for how long something that costs $180 should last, and then wrote a blog complaining that it didn’t last that long.

      There’s no real evidence of planned obsolescence in these headphones, or Jaybird products in general, is there? To counter anecdote with anecdote, I’ve had a pair of tiny Jaybird bluetooth headphones for about 4 years, not the same model, but very similar. They’re beat up, bits of plastic have broken off the tiny controller (I can see the circuit board), I’ve occasionally carried them around in my pocket without a case, and they still work just fine. I assume that because of the tiny size they’re not very user serviceable, but I wouldn’t trade serviceability for bigger headphones - I bought these for the size.

      With a broader market of consumers, the cost of high end electronics has not really gone down substantially in the past few years. We’re hitting the limits of what new innovative technologies can be crammed into our portable hardware, so manufactures are relying on continual releases and the rampant consumerism of their general customer base to keep their sales growing. People from the technology sector who seek to minimize waste are fighting back with projects such as PostmarketOS, which attempt to bring new life to old cell phones that have been abandoned by their manufacturers.

      It’s amusing to me that the author previously spent a whole section criticising Apple, when as far as I know they have by far the longest software support lifetime for their phones. The latest iOS supports back to the iPhone 5s, which was released in 2013, and it brought a lot of performance improvements to older devices.

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        Well and lets be clear, this is cherry picking. There were plenty of things in the 1980’s that were expensive trash. Pretending like you can evidence that anything has changed with a single example is pretty dishonest.

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          Thanks, I had the same thought. Perhaps amusingly, as it’s also audio-related, a lot of expensive “hi-fi” speakers from the 80s (and 90s?) would probably fall into the “expensive trash” category. Cheap, poorly-constructed enclosures with bad drivers. You’d probably get a way better speaker today for less than you paid in the 80s, even adjusting for inflation.

          Anyway, the whole post is completely misusing the term “planned obsolesence”, which is supposed to mean “a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete (that is, unfashionable or no longer functional) after a certain period of time.” There’s just no reason to believe that Jaybird designed their headphones to fail once they were out of warranty, and the technology certainly isn’t obsolete - it’s not like the industry dropped Bluetooth in the meantime, in order to force people to buy new products.

          I think it’s also pretty unlikely that Apple has a policy of planned obsolescence either (I bring up Apple again as the author singled them out for criticism). Yes, there was a problem with iPod hard drives 14 years ago, and Apple got dinged for it, and probably deservedly so. But that’s not the same thing as designing it to fail, or if it is then you’d have to conclude that they ended the policy, because they moved to flash storage and buttons instead of the click wheel, and those little no-moving-parts iPods lasted for ages (I bet a lot of them are still going).

          By far the most likely scenario IMO is that the author broke their own headphones somehow. Sucks that it’s out of warranty, but it’s probably not evidence of a conspiracy to rip you off.

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            Yeah I don’t particularly like apple but my fiance has had her macbook for a gooood long while now. They have many faults but I’m not quite sure planned obsolescence is one.

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              AFAIK Apple is using planned obsolescence for all of their computer products by stopping updates after 6 years no matter what. E.g. my colleague can now trash his Mac Mini within the next year as Apple prevents him from updating to Mojave even though the hardware is capable of running the OS which means the box will become a security liability. This I’d call planned obsolescence.

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                That’s so bizarre. With a PC, you can always update Windows because of the standard hardware and BIOS (now UEFI). I also have a post about getting Linux running on a MacBook and their hardware is far from standard:


                Your MacMini might have been on the market long enough that some people in the community have added Linux kernel support for it and you could just install Linux on it, but most normal consumers will either trash it or keep running it without security updates.

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              The new macbooks are really terrible. The keyboard becomes useless if a spec of dust gets stuck under one of the paper thin keys. And to remove it you have to disassemble the entire bottom half of the laptop, rip the old keyboard out, remove the 150 rivets holding it in, thread all of the rivet holes so you can put screws in them and put the new keyboard in.

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            Author here.

            Yes, I did tend to pick on Apple a bit, even though all cell phone manufactures are guilty of limited life of their products (many Android vendors not supporting phones after only 2 or 3 years).

            As far as planned obsolescence, a good example is Dupont and the material they originally engineered for women’s stockings, which was de-engineered to not last as long because sales were falling. Maybe a better term would have been negligent obsolescence? Let’s be clear, look at the Jaybird product reviews on eBay/Amazon/various hi-fi forums and there are a lot of problems. You’d need to do surveys and check distributions of product owners to get real scientific data, but I think a good hypothesis is that the design quality had suffered, either though intentional cuts or bad decisions. But if you still sell just as much shit, why bother making it better? Negligent obsolescence can have the same profit margins as planning for it.

            I think the Apple point is still a valuable one because there is evidence (the Linus Tech Tips situation is really telling) that Apple hasn’t learned a thing from the iPod lawsuits on batteries and is going back to all those old tricks to rake in the money, and it’s particularity bad because they are such a big player. If they get away with it, it’s a bad example to every other manufacture essentially saying, “Hey, play dirty to win.” CBC news did an amazing video show the problems in their stores where they’d recommend people purchase new hardware for fixable problems; and they go so far as to interview the iFixit crew too.

            In the case of Jaybird, I was told, “There’s no option to repair. You have to buy a new one,” and that’s shitty. Why can’t I just get these fixed? I’m willing to pay for it. The first response should not be “buy a new one.” There is so much waste out there, and as mentioned in other comments, many countries require manufactures to stock and sell spare parts or offer repair services. (They can say, “we can’t repair this” of course, but they need to make a good faith effort).

            Telsa is another big company that’s shitty about this. You can’t order many parts from Tesla, even in states like New Jersey with right to repair laws, because those laws are worded to ensure consumers can buy anything a dealership can by (as far as parts and tools go). Telsa has no dealerships since they sell direct; so they don’t have to comply with right to repair.

            Maybe my Jaybirds are the wrong example, but there is a real problem here that’s leading to waste and throwing out products that aren’t ready for the bin.

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              One aspect you might be overlooking is the fact that designing for repairability can, in some cases, affect product decisions. There is some marketing spin here (Apple being very persuasive with theirs), so perhaps a less electronic example will be better: the Swatch Sistem 51. This is an analog, self-winding watch that is made far cheaper than normal because it cannot be opened without destroying the watch. By forgoing screws, the watch can be made with plastic and glue which is far cheaper to work with. Since all the components are sealed by a glued-on bezel, no dust or contaminants can affect the mechanical action of the watch. This is much harder to accomplish with screws. The side-effect, of course, is that you can’t open the watch without destroying parts of it.

              I don’t think your Jaybirds will be destroyed if opened, so it’s likely “can’t be repaired” in your case means “it will cost more to pay a person to repair them than to buy a new product.” Paying repair staff, managing spare part inventory, and dealing with accounting and shipping costs money; why do that when the things come rolling off the factory line at hundreds a minute?

              The analog to Apple products would be that adding springs, contacts, and extra case material to allow for removable batteries would make Apple products thicker and reduce available space for the battery. Given the choice between a customer-removable battery or a thinner device with 10% more battery, I think many consumers would choose the latter. You can argue that Apple should provide a customer-removable option to give consumers that choice on their platform, but that’s a different argument than the hardware design one. Further, fewer mechanical connections tend to mean a more reliable and cheaper product.

              I agree that it’s an overall bummer that the trend in consumer products is toward monolithic, disposable, non-repairable items. I want to say that this trend is usually to make them cheaper and smaller, not because of planned obsolescence. As mentioned several times in this thread, the software support timeline of electronics is the true planned obsolescence – Apple would love to have a far more reliable hardware product that can be phased out with software than a less reliable hardware product that requires a costly support and repair pipeline.

              I think you’re the victim of design for a specific cost target instead of planned obsolescence.

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                Yup. I’ve developed mechanical IP65 enclosures that are not repairable. There’s much broader design space for ingress protection once you drop the requirement that the device can be opened.

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      That’s awful. From my experience, the Bluetooth headphone market is just not very good: high prices, low sound quality, and iffy codec support are the norm. So many products are rushed to market with little regard for design, much less value. My wife likes her Bose Soundsport quite a bit, but they are not cheap.

      All I want is for Koss to make the KSC75 with Bluetooth.

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        KSC75 with Bluetooth

        If you are willing to do a bit of work: https://liuyi.co/add-bluetooth-or-inline-remote-mic-cable-to-koss-ksc75-headphone/

        The KSC75’s are still the most absurdly amazing value in headphones. I carry extras with me to give away to anyone who needs headphones.

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          There are days I prefer the sound of them to my X2’s.

          Thanks for the link. I’ve been looking for a decent BT cable with AAC for awhile now but got a bit stuck in that. There’s a weird gulf between dodgy cables and quality, more pricey ones. I’d like to do the mod (I have a pair of KSC75’s from 5 years ago that need the cable replaced) once I figure that out.

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            If you do it – post about it! I have been curious about doing it but never pulled the trigger. I really would like to find a BT component with AptX stuff on it.

            The gulf as you say has gotten even weirder now in the value space. Like the ZERO AUDIO Tenore (ZH-DX200-CT) – I call them the best headphones you can rent. They sound fantastic, the drivers are amazing, they are tiny, they are at KSC75 level of value IMHO – but the cable design means, they will break. I tell people are you paying $45 for about 1 to 2 years of amazing sound. After that one of the cable will strain and you will have to buy them again. If they existed with detachable cable + mic/audio control they would be beyond a doubt the best value in headphones to me. Sadly, the few times I have tried to modify IEMs has been… well, nicely put, unsuccessful.

            My gear is such a weird split of (near?) end-game and value at this point because I wanted to have stuff I could recommend to friends and family – my TH900, Ether, 846, etc get less headtime than my value gear – because I am often buying / trying / recommending the value gear and while it is more flawed, it is a ton of fun.

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      Sorry to hear that!

      Hey, I have some Jaybirds too, I think the X2 but I’ll have to check. I literally never use them and have all the original differently-sized attachments. They work great, I just never had a use for them. PM me and I’ll mail them to you.

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      I totally agree things should be more repairable. In the case of Bluetooth earbuds, though, I’m surprised that noone has mentioned the engineering constraints involved in making such a product repairable.

      Bluetooth exercise earbuds need to be sweat-proof if not waterproof, very sturdy to vibration/movement for exercise, small and light. To meet these requirements, most Bluetooth earbuds (certainly my $40 ones[*]) are press-fit parts sealed with some kind of glue around every seam, with silicone moulded over all of the cable ingress points and buttons.

      It’s possible to redesign a product like this to be repairable, by adding things like screws and providing detailed instructions for how to break and then re-apply sealants. But it’s pretty hard! Even to a $180 price point, I think it would be a challenge - and adding new ways in and out out of the product increases the chances of introducing a fault if it turns out a screw shakes loose, or makes a weak point in the seal, or something like that.

      The post compares it to products like 80s home PCs, but those products had very different size and space constraints (also price points, as another commenter pointed out). If a model of BT earbuds had nice removable access plates with reusable compression seals under them, and were accordingly three times the size, weight, and cost, then some people would probably buy them but they would otherwise likely be a flop!

      I don’t have an answer for this. I certainly think that products should be designed to last longer than two years, and it seems the only way that this is likely to happen is via regulation. Maybe it would be interesting if manufacturers were required to provide this data somehow (something like % of warranty returns over age of product), so consumers could evaluate it.

      That said, it’s impossible to know what the MTBF for Jaybird headphones is from a sample size of 1. And even if “repair” was legally mandated for this kind of product, it’s hard to imagine that “repair” wouldn’t consist of shipping a replacement and putting the broken one into e-waste… (With the second order effect of incentivising longevity in the next product line.)

      [*] My $40 ones are also starting to die and I have explored getting into them, mostly using a scalpel, with no luck. But I can’t see any easy modifications that would have made them more accessible while still sturdy enough for regular gym sessions.

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      I have been very distrustful of the whole “high end earbuds” thing ever since the fad started.

      I use two sets of Sennheiser 555 cans I’ve had for over a decade (one for work, one for home) they sound great and will last forever :)

      For earbuds I mostly use to listen to podcasts I own a set of super cheap $2o chinese bluetooth buds (SoundPeats I think? :) that work great.

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        My HD-650’s are still going strong after 15 years. They can probably be found for $200 today, but cost a lot more than that new.

        I don’t think you are likely to get or should expect a quality sounding and long lasting set of cans for under $250 in the current market. Everything at that price or under seems to be high-end disposable products.

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          Some professional AKG and Beyerdynamic cost about €100 and last forever. Cables and ear cushions are replaceable.

          Of course, they sound dead neutral and aren’t designed for the average consumer in mind.

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            That sounds like exactly what I want. Can you refer me to one of those models so I can buy it?

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              There are the AKG K-271 MKII and the slighly more expensive Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro and a few others. Be careful with impedance: standard headphones are 32 ohms, 55 ohms works fine on almost any device but 80 ohms might be too high for your use case.

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                Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro

                No replaceable cables on those – but they are built like a tank.

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                  Yes and no, it depends on what the meaning of “replaceable” is. Beyerdynamic do sell replacement cables but they have to be soldered.

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                    shakes head disappointingly :)

                    Come on – the common meaning of replaceable/removable cables in the headphone space is no-soldering replacements. If we are going to broaden the definition to that it is almost absurdity. If you go into any sort of headphone picker/assistance and click “replaceable/removable cable” as a requirement, the DT-770’s will be filtered out.

                    EDIT: https://www.pcmag.com/review/355880/beyerdynamic-dt-770-pro (see cons)

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                      Oops, sorry. I’m not a native speaker, sometimes I misuse words :)

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          Massdrop has the HD6xx (which are based on the HD650) going for $200, and the HD58x (based on the HD580) for $150. I haven’t heard the HD58xs, but the HD6xx is an incredible headphone with a very competent sound signature and sturdy build quality. As a bonus, the cables and earpads on both are replaceable.

          There are decent headphones that go for even cheaper than that. My Sennheiser HD485s (~$65) are decent sounding and 10+ years old, and the only thing I’ve had to do is change the earpads after a few years.

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        Where does your distrust stem from? There isn’t much magic there – they are certain driver or driver sets and you can even build your own IEMs with custom shells from scratch: https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Custom-in-Ear-Monitors-DIY-CIEM/ (one of a dozen+ decent guides).

        The tech is around them both BA and DD has been making steady quality progress for the last decade, and timing, housing shaping and jamming multiple drivers in is a lot of were the work is. When people pay for something like Jaybirds they are paying for the BT and codex stuff as well.

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          Distrust comes from the fact that I have never experienced what I would call seriously high quality sound from anything like “earbuds”.

          Also my understanding is that the DACs in most mobile devices also put a limit on the quality you can get out of them no matter what you’re using.

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            Also my understanding is that the DACs in most mobile devices also put a limit on the quality you can get out of them no matter what you’re using.

            Good news, that simply isn’t true, you can rest easy knowing that the DAC’s haven’t really been in issue in a couple decades. In the last 80s and early 90s, there was DAC jitter, low sample rates and various other issues. Problems with phone audio are hardly ever the DAC. Even the very-cheap tier of DACs tend to be so good as to never be the issue.

            Most phone issues around audio are either hiss or weakness. Hiss is just some extra power being diverted to the output by some rogue voltage somewhere making a jump due to temp or poor design. This isn’t a DAC failure but a design failure of the board, yet people often think it is a DAC failure because when they add an external DAC away from the voltage noise, it is fixed! The second issue people run into is just a weak output unable to drive the high impedance / huge drives they love – this requires an external AMP to solve, as it just lacks the energy to do it.

            EDIT: The majority of phones can drive the majority of headphones with no issue currently, so don’t let that worry you in terms of purchasing decisions. There are exceptions: large audiophile cans needing amps, very sensitive IEMs picking up too much noise, but they are the exception not the rule.

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              That’s good to know. I think part of it also comes down to personal preference on my part. When I’m listening to music or pocasts on my phone, it’s typically in environments where the chances of my being able to actually perceive high fidelity are very small.

              That said, I should probably look into a well rated set of budget bluetooth earbuds rather than just tossing $20 at whatever Amazon rates well :)

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      I had these exact same headphones as a warranty replacement for the previous pair that failed after 2 years. They refused to replace them this time. A $14 pair of AUkey headphones are nearly as good to me, although I’ll admit years of being an audio engineer have probably affected my hearing somewhat; I still appear to have quite good ears according to hearing tests. I have some nice studio headphones when I really need to hear clearly, and it turns out my use case for earbuds overrides the need for superior fidelity. Are the $14 buds as nice? Of course not, but sometimes good enough is good enough.

      Jaybird will never get another cent from me, and their parent company Logitech is now worthy of my scrutiny.

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        $14 bluetooth buds?

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          There is no correlation between headphone frequency response and retail price, the consumer and especially the audiophile HiFi market is full marketing voodoo. The main difference between cheap and expensive headphones is the material the case is made of but the built-in drivers are usually pretty cheap and the construction of good headphones is no rocket science, even though the audio industry wants you think that. I also own a cheap pair of bluetooth in-ear headphones for commuting that cost me 20€ and are pretty reliable and sound pretty okay. I forgot them once in a pocket of my jeans and they even survived the washing machine. Another anecdote regarding relation between price and audio reproduction quality of headphones: I was looking for headphones for my home recording studio this year and tested difference models ranging from Samson SR850 for 27€ to Beyerdynamic DT-880 for around 200€. In the end I went with the Samsons’ because they sound fantastic and I can live with a non perfect case finish, heck, you can even get a pair of them for 39€.

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            I don’t disagree about marketing voodoo in HiFi space, there is astonishingly good cheap gear, KSC75s possibly being the most striking example. That said, adding a mic and BT to them will cost you about $14 ($11 BT chip, $3 mic, straight from China) by itself with a so-so BT chip which doens’t license the high quality audio stream stuff and will randomly fail to pair.

            The SR850s are exceptional, like the KSC75s, Zero Audio Tenore’s and a handful of other great drivers, so-so build quality but no core build defects.

            EDIT: Update from the OP, it was $27, which makes A LOT more sense to me.

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            I’ve been exactly there and I ended up with BD DT-770’s, which sound great but are ultimately comfortable to wear for extended periods without clamping my head or causing inner-ear pain. Were I tracking a kit I’d probably use the Sennheiser hd-280pro’s due to the superior bleed isolation but man those things kill my ears after a couple hours. What that tells me is that inside, the tech provides modest differences and it’s all about comfort and durability.

            At the end of the day, much of the music most people consume is rammed through lossy compression and mixed to maximize volume, then rammed through a cheap DAC - so listening through a $1000 pair of headphones provides little benefit other than to point out the flaws in the recording all along the process.

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              At the end of the day, much of the music most people consume is rammed through lossy compression

              Most modern static compression is well beyond good enough even for high end gear. Note: static compression, not on the fly compression like BT does.

              and mixed to maximize volume

              The loudness wars left a lot of damaged music. But it is all but over at this point. Everyone from indie artists to professional mastering have stopped it as a matter of course, and it is now the exception. Mick Guzauski, Bob Ludwig and Ian Shepherd since the mid-2000s really pushed against it changing the industry. iTunes Radio really cemented it with automatically tuning down overly loud music, meaning if the copy they get from you is part of the loudness wars it is going to sound objectively horrible.

              then rammed through a cheap DAC -

              $3 DACs are all but perfect at this point, a lot of the difference between a $3 and $30 DAC is bit-rates used for professional mastering and its shielding. Finding an awful DAC these days takes real effort.

              so listening through a $1000 pair of headphones provides little benefit other than to point out the flaws in the recording all along the process.

              Really depends on the headphones, some very much show the flaws, others are just expensive and fun. Also, there is something sort of special about finding new depth in recordings through high end gear, tapping of a foot, the side mic exhale, etc. I would say like the TH900s are a nice pure-fun high end headphone: 25ohm, v-shaped, pretty to look at.

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                thanks for the clarity; I agree with the that there is the possibility to renew appreciation in old favorites by changing the listening environment. Having donned the primo grados at a high-end mastering house, I am a believer.

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              …mixed to maximize volume…

              This is more a matter of taste than a sound quality problem, and yes, the loudness war caused popular music to be less dynamic because loud = good.

              …rammed through a cheap DAC…

              I will not deny that there are differences between a good DAC used in a professional audio interfaces and those used in a cheap laptop but even the latter ones are good now (except the one of the Raspberry Pi), but the distortion caused by a cheap DAC is orders of magnitude’s lower than that of any loudspeaker. The mechinal part of reproduction is still the weak point, by far.

              Monty Montgomery from xiph.org (the ogg vorbis guys) made an enlightening video about D/A and A/D conversion which I can highly recommend to anyone.

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              All the HD-280s I have even seen or owned died the same sad death – headband death. Either the metal strains against the plastic and breaks it, or the strain goes to the metal connect and it snaps, either way hard to repair.

              Also, they make a great set of earmuffs.

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              At the end of the day, much of the music most people consume is rammed through lossy compression and mixed to maximize volume, then rammed through a cheap DAC - so listening through a $1000 pair of headphones provides little benefit other than to point out the flaws in the recording all along the process.

              Dunno about that. I really enjoy my AKG K812 even if plugged straight in to a laptop (most of the time) or phone (sometimes). I also enjoy my Sennheiser HD 800 even if the amp that feeds them gets analog input straight from the motherboard. Yes, it can get a little noisy when the GPU is busy. I enjoy them both, generally more than my Sennheiser HD 650, even if I’m streaming lossy music from Youtube. Or music I compressed myself at a bitrate I know is transparent (or damn well close enough) from the ABXing I’ve done in the past. If anything, I feel like the AKG K701 (cheapest cans I have right now) are more revealing in terms of recording flaws.

              I really don’t think the DAC and compression are a big deal, even if I do also have a collection lossy music and an external head amp.

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                I think it comes down to design intent for the cans in question - e.g. listening vs. mixing, and I do agree that technology has vastly improved since I last posted a diatribe about this. I think there’s also a matter of ear training here that affects me, as it’s not just headphone use where I hear every razzafrazzin sound in the room. I spent years developing critical listening skills and I can’t just turn them off.

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            While I won’t argue the point of sound quality right now (because it’s all over the map), I certainly will argue about build quality.

            I’d be willing to bet that a much larger percentage of gear priced at $200 and above will be around in 15 years, vs. lower priced gear.

            The higher-end gear might not always be technically and sonically superior but it is usually built to a higher standard of quality.

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          Oops, I fibbed, they were $26.99: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06ZZSQQTD/

          I’m one of those “excessive research” headphone chaps and I am generally highly critical of any headphones but these right here, they are a winner for me.

          I should note my use cases are: using outdoor power equipment where bigger hearing protection doesn’t fit, using power tools in the shop, and blocking out noise on planes. The one place they fail, which is entirely due to the size, is for sleeping. Plus, more often than not I’m listening to podcasts, audio books, or lo-fi rock & roll where high fidelity or critical listening isn’t a factor.

    8. 2

      Anecdote: I showed this article to a friend and his response was: “only!?” (in a sarcastic way that indicated that two years is a reasonable amount of time for headphones to last).

      Can’t have a problem if you pretend it doesn’t exist I guess.

    9. 2

      I bought these Oppo PM-3 planar magnetic headphones and while they sound great, and the frame is still in good shape, after a year or so the artificial leather started flaking.

      That’s a 500 EUR headphone in Europe.

    10. 2

      In the UK and EU, there are decent consumer protection laws.


      From that page:

      Under consumer laws in the UK, consumers are entitled to a free of charge repair or replacement, discount or refund by the seller, of defective goods or goods which do not conform with the contract of sale. For goods purchased in England or Wales, these rights expire six years from delivery of the goods and for goods purchased in Scotland, these rights expire five years from delivery of the goods.

    11. 2

      I had three original bluebudsx from jaybird. Lasted me 5+ years until I put them through the washing machine 2 months ago. I haven’t pulled the trigger on an expense jaybirds replacement because I’ve heard newer models don’t last so long.

      I bought a cheap $15 BT in-ear headphone set from Amazon, sound quality is so poor compared to my old jaybirds.

      1. 2

        Bizarre - a while ago, I put my 2-year-old BlueBuds X through the washing machine too. But they worked just fine when they dried out. Seriously - I’d already ordered a pair of X2s because I assumed I’d killed them, but I thought “might just give it a try” and bam, they worked just fine. They keep their charge really well, so now they’re a backup for when I forget to charge the X2s. If you haven’t tried the Xs since you span them, it might be worth a go. If you have already, or if they still don’t work, I prefer the bass on the X but the overall fit, sound (esp. clarity in the mid & top) and the controls are better on the X2. Worth the cash. Dunno what the X4 are like but the price is dropped (in UK at least) and if it’s as good an improvement as between X and X2 then I reckon they’ll be worth it.

        1. 1

          I tried to use them and charge them but only got the red light of Death from the On indicator whenever they were turned On.

    12. 2

      $180 headphones can’t be expected to last long, IMO.

      On the other hand, I bought my Sennheiser HD-650 headphones back in 2003 or so - albeit for a lot more than $180 - and they are going strong today - but I think I had to repair the cord once. I believe you can get them now for around $200, however.

      1. 3

        I got my HD600 used (in mint condition) for $180, but the HD6XX from Massdrop (which is the same as the HD650 just in dark blue color) go for $200 brand new.

        1. 4

          Great value in the Sennheister HD-6xx cans! I prefer them to just about everything else.

          However — the Sony MDR-V6 are actually decent cans on the lower end, they don’t need an amp, and I’ve recommended them to people who don’t want spend the money for better higher-end cans - but, I think the 80’s and early 90’s V6’s are more durable than the current production.

          I have very little experience with earbuds though, which is what the original poster was talking about. I’ve heard very good things about the AKG N40 — but those are more than double his apparent budget.

          1. 1

            I have fond memory of happy time with the MDR-V6’s, they where my first back in 2012 and then gave them to one of my brothers, they of course are still going on, great value at a decent price.

            For IEMs I hit the sweet spot with the ER4XR and will look no further, though insertion is a bit tricky. There is also the ER3 line made in China, but with the same specs of the ER4 line, the former go for about $180 brand new, while the latter go for $350, I think it’s worth to try them.

      2. 2

        Here in Europe, professionnal AKG and Beyerdynamic headphones cost around €100 and last forever. Of course, these sound dead neutral, aren’t bass-heavy at all and don’t look any modern so one might dislike them. You can also found much cheaper clones.

      3. 1

        Owners of Sony MDR-7506 and the earlier MDR-V6 would argue with that statement.

    13. 1

      I recently had this exact same experience with FitBit. My device died after 1.5 years (the screen froze, even though the sensors were still recording data). FitBit offered me a 25% coupon on another device (but it was not valid on their newest device.)

    14. 1

      The problem here is that the author is expecting miracles. Earbuds have to be made tiny (resulting in being hard to repair in general), and they have to be glued together, they’re subject to constant physical stress, and then you jam them into your ears, which is not exactly a good place to put electronics.

      When buying earbuds, you pay for construction quality up to about $50, then the rest of the money goes for speaker and electronics quality. They’re never going to be a product that’s economical to repair.