My preferred sound signature is Diffused Field Neutral – or more specifically Etymotic version of DF Neutral. More often than not, this is an utterly flat frequency sound curve and with some emphasis on sparkly brightness on the upper segment. I embraced this sound signature when I first acquired my venerable Etymotic ER4S. I was already a Grado/Alessandro fan back then (circa 2006). Prior to that I have always been a Sony house sound enthusiast. In between I have also developed a period of fondness for the energetic sound of KOSS (but that didn’t last long).
To me, it is important to acknowledge that sound preference is very subjective. Many factors are involved. Age and health conditions play big role in our ability to resonate with what we hear. I can attest to this as I am less prone to Treble sibilance now than I was 10 years ago. Similarly the situation can be applied to those who would find some bass responses fatiguing.
The type of music we listen also play big part in the sound signature we prefer. To me it makes sense that EBM and Dance music lovers will be naturally inclined to prefer stronger bass than a classical music enthusiasts. And some are totally devoted to hearing rich and lush Mids with engaging vocals. Some utterly loving percussions and transients.
So, the way I see it. There’s no right or wrong. One person may prefer flat neutral and natural, another natural and warm, some want it bright and dry, some prefer velvety smooth and analogue. Whatever it is, it should not be used as a reason to downplay one preference over the other.
That is why we see tons of variation of audio equipment for us to choose today. No one solution can satisfy all. A $5000 ultra flat neutral STAX Electrostatic System may sound utterly boring to some, and equally many will attest to it being the very best sound system they ever experienced. Again always remember our own biological ability to resonate with the sound will determine if we like it or not.
SYNERGY. We tend to forget that synergy play huge role in the resultant quality of the sound that we hear. For example my Etymotic ER4SR will transform into ice spikes when I plug it to a source that are tuned to emphasize brightness and treble. Or for most Sennheiser/Meze you plug them to an already very warm tubey source, all can get dizzyingly thick. Simply put, pair them wrongly and the result could spell disaster. Pair them right and perhaps even sonic nirvana attained.
My take on this. I respect individual ability to appreciate sound. Some are more adept at recognizing the dynamics and some not so sensitive. We are humans after all and not frequency response measuring devices