Bob Lefsetz is a music industry observer, and publisher of the Lefsetz letter:


Everything old is new again.

So I’m in the bar at the Royal York in Toronto and I’m introduced to the Sennheiser rep.

I do what any obnoxious denizen of the cultural landscape would do. I ask her about Beats.

I tell her I’m a dedicated Sennheiser fan, they’re my headphones of choice, I have both studio and portable models, but everywhere I go I see that red cord.

She said it all came down to marketing. That Sennheiser wasn’t going to spend those dollars. That they were in it for the long haul. Had I heard the HD 595? I needed to check ‘em out. If I wanted, she could send me a pair…

That’s hard to turn down.

They came yesterday, but I didn’t uncrack them. I was once involved with a woman who would be so eager to wear what she’d bought that she’d often parade around with the price tag streaming off, albeit unknowingly. I’m the opposite. If I get something important, I wait…

But you can’t wait forever. And I had to let this woman know I’d received the headphones.

So I just got the scissors, cut the tape and extracted the headphones and then plugged them into my Mac Pro, which has a jack right on the front.

And after setting the System Preferences to get sound, I was jetted back to the seventies, the era of stereo.

People reminisce about shopping in record stores, I miss going to the hi-fi emporium, checking out the new gear, listening to the Mobile Fidelity half-speed mastered records.

I’d buy a product a year. A Sansui integrated amp. A top of the line Yamaha tuner. A Nakamichi tape deck. And when I hooked them up I’d spend the rest of the day, the whole weekend, spinning all my old records, to see how they sounded now.

I decided to visit my iTunes playlist, the one containing my Top 200 most played tracks.

Suddenly, James McMurtry was singing just to me. That banjo on that Keith Urban record was just to my right, the electric guitar exploded to my left, I was taken away.

They say it’s not the same. That you can’t finger the album covers. That everybody multitasks. But this music was stopping me in my tracks, forcing me to spread my wings and fly. It was the same as it ever was.

Everything sounded good. It was like my favorite tunes had been scrubbed of all the detritus and were now pristine.

And I was afraid the spell would fail. I’d switch cuts and it just wouldn’t be the same. But track after track was a revelation. I dialed up Spirit’s “So Little Time To Fly” and I could have closed my eyes and been lying in the dark on the floor of my childhood home. Randy California may be dead, but in my ears, he was positively alive. And the history of rock and roll is ploughing through my brain. The fact that the famous riff from “Stairway To Heaven” is a direct lift of a Spirit cut.

Then that live take of “You Oughta Know”, from the Grammys. They never sell this stuff, you’ve got to steal it, but it’s so damn good. Slowed down, with an orchestra, you remember it, right? Back before Napster when the music landscape was still comprehensible and this twenty one year old came along during the summer of 1995 and blew us all away, took hold of the mainstream and owned it!

Then I pulled up Little Big Town’s “Bones”…you know, the one that sounds like classic period Fleetwood Mac. It was like the four members were singing in my ears, literally.

And I’m scanning my library, wanting to hear more than I have time for. Like John Grant’s “I Wanna Go To Marz”. And Crosby & Nash’s “Carry Me”.

I was in such a terrible mood. Soldiering on in order to prevent collapsing in a heap. I’d just broken out the headphones to make sure they worked, so I could thank the sender, I had no idea my world was about to go from black and white to color.

Sometimes you think the past is history. Frozen. Unreachable. Untouchable. But listening to these tracks on these headphones makes me feel like I can touch down in any of the last forty five years, my popular music consciousness.

It’s a solitary experience. That unites you with the creator, the performer, that makes you feel included even though you’re alone. And it’s so good that you’re drawn to the gig, like a lemming, like a zombie in “Dawn Of The Dead”, where you join the mass of people who feel exactly like you. It’s not about money, it’s not about fame, it’s about sound. A religious experience more powerful than any that takes place in a traditional house of worship.

All because of a simple piece of gear. Opening up new vistas,

I almost expect my college buddies to come walking through the door, my high school crush, my summer camp loves. You may look at me and see somebody old, but I feel the picture of youth, as alive as one can be.

Category: Music, Technology, Weekend

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

11 Responses to “Sennheiser HD 595”

  1. kdruff says:

    I loved my Sennheiser gaming headset. However, it got broken when I moved.

    I replaced it with a set of Grado SR60i and I love it. The best under $70 pair of headphones you can buy. If your wife will let you spend a little more (unlike mine) the SR80s are just that bit better.

  2. Post seems to be missing a ‘Buy it Now’-button..

    List Price: $329.95
    Price: $116.99 + $4.68 shipping
    You Save: $212.96 (65%)

  3. Longball111 says:

    My son gave me a pair of Sennheiser HD 595′s for Christmas. He fancies himself a headphone connoisseur. I took them for a test drive and thought they were outstanding. I found out how outstanding when I listened to a live track. When the song finished and the applause started my head snapped around involuntarily – to see who was in the room with me applauding. Amazing……

  4. druce says:

    Sennheiser HD650 and Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 FTW

  5. formerlawyer says:

    @Mark E. Hoffer

    You can click on the picture – it brings up Amazon using Barry as a referral. That is, to my understanding, one of his funding sources for this blog.

  6. formerlawyer,

    never suspected such, though, yes, indeed — link through pic..

  7. gratianus says:

    From the enthusiastic review, you’d think the reviewer might have noted that Sennheiser has discontinued this six-year old model. From his exchange with the rep, it sounded to me like this model was new to the market.
    On the other hand, the Amazon link that Barry provides convinced me to buy a pair (I wasn’t in the market, but hell who knows whether these are significantly inferior to the new model) at what looks like a firesale price.

  8. BR,

    certainly, be “Free to Choose” (@ ~10x the Price?), though, you may care to (re-)read some .. “”The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

    We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.” – Edward Bernays

  9. ardano says:

    what about grado s60′s…old school…i have several sennheiser’s they’re great as well

  10. DiggidyDan says:

    I’m going to be the douche that suggests you shouldn’t buy $1500 headphones to listen to compressed digital music on itunes. Hopefully you get lossless. Those HD 800s would be awesome for some classic vinyl with a good amp or SACD stuff. (I wish I could blow that on phones. . . I’m saving up for some floorstanding stereo speakers to go with my Emotiva amp set)