Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

About Headphones and AKG

I’ve been blogging quite a bit on AKG headphones lately. No, not on this blog, but on Omy’s K3003 Sound of Luxury blog. So if you have been wondering why posts on this blog has slowed down, particularly if you discount all the AKG related ones, well, that’s why. From 1 Dec, you’ll get a chance to vote on that Omy blog, and stand to win the AKG Q460 headphones, and I stand to win their flagship K3003 in-ear headphones. So remember to support me then! Heh.

I don’t really consider myself an audiophile, although I do have a some sound and music related interests and experiences. I was the head of the sound crew back in junior college, where we do many events like concerts and such, some of them not for the school. We did productions then too. We had a lot of fun, and we learnt a lot too. Not just about sound engineering. Not just about lighting (because we sometimes take over the lighting people’s job). But also silly little things like, for example, if you don’t set the counterweights correctly for the fly bars above the stage, you could go flying up with them.

So at that time, my job was to make sure people are hearing things the way we wanted them to hear. Yes, that also means sometimes we enhance the sound so that the correct engineered mix of sounds reach the audience. It requires some critical listening. It requires some skill and knowledge of equipment and the technology. It requires understanding of the production.

Another thing is that I play (oh well, “played” would be more accurate) the piano, and I took music at O levels. So I’ve been listening to music. I’ve been blessed (sometimes cursed) with absolute hearing pitch. What this means it that when you play any note on a properly tuned piano, I can tell you what note it is. Just like that. The curse is that when you play that note through a microphone, amplifier, and then out through speakers, it is usually distorted enough that I cannot place the exact key anymore. I learnt about this during my O level aural music exam, where very fortunately, I was close enough to the piano to hear directly from it rather than having to depend on the speakers.

So, I began to understand and appreciate accurate and realistic sound production from things like, for example, headphones. Why do people like to go to concerts or other live performances? Okay, perhaps nothing beats being actually there. But why is not being there a problem? Could one of the reasons be that the music just doesn’t sound the same, doesn’t sound right, doesn’t sound good?

Many people, I believe, have only heard music through cheap headphones, the sort that comes free with a mobile phone, music player or other mobile gadget. That’s all they’ve heard, and that’s what they think the technology of headphones are capable of. It’s not helping that the marketing folks try to tell you their cheap lousy headphones are actually cutting-edge, state-of-the-art stuffs. Like, do you believe that the #1 choice of the world’s top touring musicians will settle for $49 earphones? (And there are cheaper ones yet.)

There’s a very broad range of headphones, with prices from as low as $2, like those from Daiso… to as much as $1599, like the K3003 that we’re writing about at the Omy blog, and more. Yup. That’s like the Chery of cars to the Lamborghinis. That’s not the best analogy, and not surprisingly, price isn’t always the most reliable indicator of quality, but you can bet that there is a transformation when you go from $2 to $1599.

2 thoughts on “About Headphones and AKG

  1. Cool to learn of your absolute pitch “condition”.

    Any chance that you’ll be reviewing Q 701? It looks very similar to the K 701, seems like they differ only in the outer finish.

    1. Unfortunately, the Q701 isn’t part of the Omy-IMS-AKG campaign. But I might just go try it anyway to find out how good it is. 🙂

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