Thoughts on Purchasing Two Products for Comparison? (Then Returning the "Loser")

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by MICHAELSD, Apr 4, 2015.

  1. MICHAELSD, Apr 4, 2015
    Last edited: May 10, 2015

    MICHAELSD macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #1
    Since I've been looking into purchasing a pair of new headphones I have been finding it difficult to narrow it down to a single pair since sound is so subjective. I've been looking into getting an exciting, portable pair of headphones, although I'm open to ear in-ear or over-head. Frankly I already own a pair of ATH-700 Audio Technica headphones but as fantastic as the soundscape and clarity is, they are very flat and neutral headphones which makes them a bit boring for my taste. The Klipsch S4i I own also give me a similar impression in having exceptional clarity yet being a bit too flat, although the ATH-700 are the superior option. That being said, if I could have the ATH-700's soundstage, highs, and mids with a more powerful low-end in a more portable form factor I would buy it in a heartbeat.

    Despite being an audiophile, already owning the very non-portable Audio Technica headphones for home/studio use, I do find the Beats Solo2 to be an attractive option. Mind you, the brand was a horrendous value prior to Apple's purchase of Beats -- now they are simply a decent value thanks to a much-improved sound quality and of course design. Having tested the Solo2s with a very limited demo, I came away impressed at the bass quality combined with an overall nicely-mixed balance of mids and highs. Personally I enjoy being able to feel my music, no matter what genre it is so I may give in to the impulse to purchase a pair of Beats as a high-quality opposite of the flat Audio Technicas. The rest of the Beats they had for demo sounded absolutely awful: muddy bass with completely drowned out mids and a lack of treble. Nonetheless, the Solo2 are a good pair of headphones for today's music tastes.

    Back on-topic: is it acceptable to purchase two products for the sake of comparison, with the intent to return the inferior product? For a category as subjective as headphones, it honestly does not seem out of the brink of possibility that manufacturers may encourage this if they believe their product can stand out well enough. I would like to purchase a pair of Beats Solo2s and another pair of audiophile-recommended portable headphones and put them head-to-head at home.
     
  2. RossMak macrumors 6502

    RossMak

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    #2
    I may be wrong but in the UK I am sure things like headphones are exempt from returns (unless there is a defect with them) I am not sure what the rules are in the US but you may want to double check
     
  3. FieldingMellish Suspended

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    #3
    Buying for comparison is becoming a necessity in today’s world of online buying and the nearing demise of brick and mortar stores. The online sellers, saving on costly retail rent, necessarily has to invest some of that savings into returns and restocking expense.
     
  4. Tsuchiya macrumors 68020

    Tsuchiya

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    #4
    With the case of the headphones, go for it. If you purchase from an Apple Store, they have a generous two week return policy on open box products. Headphones included. I'm considering doing this for a pair of B&W P7s.
     
  5. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    #5
    By generous two week return policy, I think you mean the minimum required by European law under the distance selling act. Anybody who is offering less needs to get with the times, even if outside of Europe.

    As for my thoughts on buying two products with the intent of returning the looser. Obviously this comes at a cost. So this will be passed on to all of us when we make a purchase. How many times on hear do you read about people returning their Mac because they don't like the colour temperature of the screen. Then the next thread is someone asking why Mac's are so expensive.
    Sometimes it's unavoidable of course, but sometimes proper research on a purchase can help to avoid these unnecessary returns, and help us all to save a bit of cash.
    As for items like head phones, I would go to a bricks and mortar store to listen to them first, then make your purchase online (if it's cheaper), or even get the store to price match.
     
  6. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    #6
    Well, I see the reality distortion field still works.
     
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #7
    Exactly. Very good post.

    This is what I do, too. I also read and study online reviews (closely).

    And I will talk to staff, if they are approachable, and decent guys - sometimes, if they are knowledgeable and interested - they will be happy to share their impressions (even if it is the occasionally unwelcome thought "Sorry, but I tried this one and think it over-priced for what they are charging for it; that [name different brand] is a lot better)".

    And do a lot of homework, and prep before making such a purchase.

    Very, very, good. And a little too true for comfort or peace of mind…...
     
  8. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #8
    Beats has been getting much better reviews. Although I think the Solo2 are really $99 headphones in a $199 body. It was fun to consider Beats for a few days but I'm back to audiophile options that are more portable and pack more of a punch then my ATH-700.
     
  9. wct097 macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Not an audiophile, but I always had the impression that Beats was more marketing than quality. I normally assume this of any product I see being used as a fashion accessory by the hipster and/or hip-hop crowd. Maybe that's not fair since I see Macs being the go-to fashion accessory at coffee shops.... but then again, given the shoddy quality of my last two Macbook Pros, maybe I am on to something.
     
  10. jdechko macrumors 68040

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    #10
    I see nothing wrong with doing this. Something as personal as headphones should be tried on, tested and compared for a few weeks. Online reviews can be useful. They can help you narrow a list of 100's of models down to a select few. But they can't accurately gauge things like comfort and whether something that is "bass heavy" is too bass heavy.

    On the other hand, trying them on in a store is useful for comfort and sound quality, but you only have a few minutes (or hours if you're really obsessed) to try them, and in a limited setting. Knowing how a headphone works throughout your day is also important.

    Unfortunately, there aren't any (many?) places that I know that will rent a reasonable pair of headphones (in the few-hundred-dollar range) out for a couple of weeks. So go ahead and test drive a few pairs in the comfort of your own home.

    Personally, I bought the S4i headphones and returned them later the same day because a) I couldn't test them in the store and b) the sound quality wasn't what I wanted (way too much bass).
     
  11. sdilley14 macrumors 65816

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    #11
    I don't see anything wrong with it. Online retailers are crushing brick and mortar stores. As mentioned previously, one of the reasons they're doing so well is a lack of rent/lease expenses. As a result of sacrificing an "in person" experience, they need to compensate for it by taking increased returns into account. I think it's a reasonable cost of doing business for an online retailer. They save on rent/lease expense, but they take on the added risk of a higher rate of return/exchange products.
     
  12. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #12
    I don't see a problem with it. In fact, I just returned a pair of Bose QC15 noise cancelling headphones I recently bought to Costco for $260 because shortly after I bought them, Amazon had the Sony MDR10RNC on sale for $130 - half the cost of the Bose headphones. I ordered the Sonys, and after comparing the two of them, determined that the Bose headphones weren't really any better than the Sonys, especially twice as better. So I returned the ones to Costco and they took them back no problem. Of course, Costco is known for their excellent return policy, YMMV elsewhere.

    FWIW, neither the Bose or Sonys are what I would consider audiophile headphones. I purchased them for their noise canceling ability which I need for a 17 hour flight later this year.
     
  13. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #13
    Part of me winces over the tactic of buying two and sending the loser back. But as others have pointed out, the shift toward retail on the internet has changed a lot of things. My preference is to do decent research and buy one product. If you like the product, then what more do you need? Be happy with your purchase and move on to the next one. :)
     
  14. unclejamaal macrumors 6502

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    #14
    I've done this in the past with phones and returned the one I didn't like. I say go for it as long as you return the loser in an undamaged condition so the seller doesn't lose out.
     
  15. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    #15
    The seller loses out even in this case. At best they return it to the supplier and take a small hit.
    At worse they have to sell it for less money as an open box. To recoup this money, we all have to pay more because of people's indecisiveness.
     
  16. jdechko macrumors 68040

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    #16
    Which is why some sellers charge a restocking fee for returned, non-defective items.
     
  17. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    #17
    Not in the UK or Europe. It's actually illegal for online purchases to do so.
     
  18. jdechko macrumors 68040

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    #18
    Interesting, but not surprising. You guys seem to have much better consumer protection laws than we do. What about in-store purchases?
     
  19. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

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    #19
    Varies store to store. But as they have to compete with online, many offer the same.
     
  20. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

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    #20
    OP did you make your decision yet and if so did you use the buying method you asked about?

    I'm not opposed to buying two products and returning one later, but I do think that's a lot of added hassle for all involved. Generally I do as much pre-purchase research as possible and make a decision based on that.
     
  21. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #21
    After doing far too much research, I ended up purchasing a pair of V-Moda M100 headphones when they went on sale. Whether they are worth the $199 I paid, let alone the $299 full price, remains to be seen (awaiting delivery). I had come to the rationalization that I could purchase one pair at a time, and if dissatisfied with these for the money, then try another option next time there's a deal on a pair I have my eye on.

    So my consensus is: rather than purchasing for comparison, purchase subjective gear such as headphones after becoming informed on the market, and take full advantage of the 30-day period most retailers give consumers to test the product.

    Re: brick and mortars, unfortunately none of the stores I checked had a selection for testing that expanded far from Beats and Sony. Next time I'm in NYC I'll see if I can find a better selection of headphones to compare against the M100 but I feel that at-home and personally-tested is the best way to try most products.
     
  22. Melrose, May 4, 2015
    Last edited: May 4, 2015

    Melrose Suspended

    Melrose

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    #22
    The thing with Beats, though, is that they've always produced good sound - it's just they're way, way overpriced for the sound they produce.

    I have a pair of AKG ($260, Amazon has them for $110... or did) and they're blissfully gorgeous for even discerning audiophiles. Very clear sound without emphasis on any particular part of the response (Beats tend to be bass-heavy... not sure if you want that or not).

    For what you bought: As with any good headphones, don't judge harshly until you've broken them in. Give them about 150-200 hours of listening before you really get critical.


    ....and in re returning the ones you don't like. For me personally, I think it's cheating to do that and helps drive up prices for everyone else who has to make up for the ones that get free returns. But hey, that's just me. Do note that if Amazon thinks you're abusing their return policy it's not unheard of for them to ban customers.
     
  23. MICHAELSD, May 5, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016

    MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #23
    While I believe in the burn-in process and headphones improving over time, manufacturers are beginning to state that the sound from the factory is the final sound. Maybe it is placebo or getting used to the sound, but headphones do seem to improve over time.

    Frankly I don't believe returning a product such as headphones disrupts the market at all... if anything it boosts sales and drives down prices thanks to the higher quantity sold.

    When you get down to it, the cost to manufacture a fine pair of headphones may not be simply pocket change but it is low enough that manufacturers are not really losing profit by reselling them open box.

    ---

    V-Moda M-100 first impressions: frankly, when I first try on a pair of headphones I think I have a certain expectation and I become disappointed initially when it does not meet the expectation that I have of the sound. Frankly when I first began my testing using iTunes Radio (was on my iPhone) it did not produce nearly as impactful of a sound as expected. Dance music was more disappointing than expected. Surprisingly, rock really rocks on these. Even soft rock tracks such as The Lumineer's "Ho Hey" which I expected to be the opposite of what these were made for really brought out detail and impact: I had heard a bass line I wasn't aware was even in the song, which is beginning to become a sticking point of these headphones.

    Holy. ****. Not sure if it is the album or the lossless quality, but listening to Taylor Swift's 1989 (don't judge :)) is bringing out so many details I have not heard before even on other audiophile equipment. I first noticed this on Panic! at the Disco's "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" during my iTunes Radio session, and even Fall Out Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark" -- a song I'd heard many, many times over and am all but sick of. The detail reproduction is blowing away my Audio Technica ATH-700, which some critics regarded as a top-10 headphone. I wanted better bass and treble reproduction, but was not expecting to hear this extent of additional detail. All-around, the bass and treble are also much more prominent but without overpowering the mids. I guess that's all that really matters, right? That these headphones are unmistakably more pleasant to listen to than my previous audiophile pair, the ATH-700. Those are regarded as the most comfortable headphones ever, and these are not particularly comfortable but I am hoping the memory foam works some magic over time. Apparently these headphones can really benefit from lossless music, which I'll need to test further. Honestly I wasn't able to hear a difference between lossless and 320kbps AAC on previous audio equipment but Tidal may have a selling point now ;).

    Coldplay's lossless "Ghost Stores" is also quite a shock, from the opening notes of every song I can hear details very prominently that my ATH-700 did not reproduce. Many details at that. This would be an incredible jump for anyone used to Beats or any sub-$200, hell even sub-$500 if we're talking retail store brands. Just wow. Hearing instruments I've never heard on these songs, details in the vocals and backing vocals that make them abundantly clear, and even subtle but drastic differences in the instruments I could hear on the ATH-700.

    I think I had unreasonable expectations going into trying the M-100 as I do with every other piece of audio equipment. Hell, I probably have unreasonable expectations for headphones to begin with. At first when I began testing I was considering going with the original idea behind the thread and purchasing a pair of Sennheiser Momentums for comparison but I couldn't imagine them sounding much better. It is incredible how huge of an extent I can hear extra details in songs I've heard many times over on the M-100 as compared to the considered-excellent ATH-700... to top that off, with prominently superior bass and treble the M-100 are headphones to appreciate.

    Now, anyone want to purchase a pair of ATH-700? :p

    Edit: In case anyone was wondering, there is a pretty substantial difference between lossless quality and 256kbps AAC iTunes Radio on these. Hell, I can ever so slightly notice the difference between the CD-quality version and Tidal's 1400+kbps lossless offering for Coldplay's "Magic."
     
  24. Melrose, May 5, 2015
    Last edited: May 5, 2015

    Melrose Suspended

    Melrose

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    #24
    Compression quality is the first big thing you'll notice. Too bad the size difference is so great: 7.8MB for an AAC song vs like 87MB for an AIF... I've dug out my Discman again after getting my AKGs.

    Not sure if you're into Classical (if not strictly classical then sample Apocalyptica) but you can hear the quivers in the strings on the violin. With good cans you can hear slight trembles in the notes and pick out a ton of background details you missed before. :)
     
  25. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #25
    I've been listening to FLAC for years on my ATH-700, which is why it's so surprising to hear the M-100 reproduce a great degree more details. On the ATH-700 I didn't find the difference between lossless and 320kbps too noticeable, but on here even little details like deeper bass or hearing the texture of the instrument as it was in the studio are more evident. For lossless, I do wish Tidal had an option to download songs as I don't want to blow through Comcast's data cap too quickly :). I'll check out Apocalyptyica, and hell see what Tidal recommends for Classical.
     

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