So, Sony sent me a pair of their new PFR-V1 headphones, which are supposed to sound like you're sitting in front of a pair of speakers. I'm not sure why, as they're not being sold as pro monitor headphones. Anyway...
So many reasons not to like these headphones: They look absurd - little inch-wide lacquered aluminium (I guess) balls containing tiny speakers, held in front of your ears by little metal tubes which stick into your ears.
Think that sounds uncomfortable? It is. You're sticking a curved metal tube into your ear. It's cold. My wife tried them on for a second and said 'euch, that tickles' and wouldn't go near them again. After a while, it heats up, and feels OK. They're very light, and you'll never suffer from 'hot ear'.
They come with a little inline booster which takes a 2xAAA batteries in a cheap plastic case with an on-off switch and an LED. It could use a clip and a volume control.
The cabling is all super-thin and rubber coated, so it takes a minute to untangle every time you get them out.
Because they're completely open, they're really noisy. Aside from looking like a tit, you couldn't use them in public, or in a room with anyone else.
If you wear glasses, you can't wear these.
They cost £249 from Amazon. That's £50 more than the Sennheiser HD650 at £199, which I suspect is a rather more sensible headphone choice, without doing a direct comparison.
On my iPod, I have lots of snippets of music I've made, just loops and bits. When I started listening to these through the PFR-V1, it was, to use a terrible cliche, a revelation. I heard numerous details I'd never heard before. My normal headphones are Sony MDR7506's. They're comfortable, loud and bassy. They make music sound warm and nice. But the PFR-V1s are about accuracy: the bass isn't exaggerated, but it's there. The mids and highs are super crisp. The stereo image is huge and very precise. I kept hearing things I'd never noticed: clicks on loops, mistakes, sounds that clashed, subtle differences between guitar sounds, wonky mixes, things that sounded great, bass sounds that really worked.
This isn't news to those of you who work in real studios or have proper monitors in acoustically helpful rooms, but the question is - is there any way to get this kind of accuracy in a cheaper, more comfortable, less stupid-looking package? (This feature from Sound on Sound talks more about expensive headphones vs cheap monitors.)