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Mid-prices headphones for the asipiring audiophile

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
What a wonderful forum! I hope I could ask a few questions from the experienced audiophiles out there that I haven't been able to answer in my online searches.

First of all, these headphones are going to be for three things - home playing through a mid-fi system (rotel amp, denon cd, monster cables) for both audio and video, mp3 playback through my home computer (mac G4) and watching films at AV studios on campus (I study and teach film history). I have a decent pair of old sennheisers (the HD 455), but I'm looking to upgrade to something serious for the long term. Also, looking at some reviews of the beyerdynamics, I think I am in the "likes a slightly warmer, bassier sound" category, perhaps because of my love of electronica. Since I'm low on cash, I'll probably get the headphones now (around $200 max ) and then a decent amp for them later ($200-250, maybe more).

Through a plethora of online merchants and review sites, these seem to be the winners. Anyone who has compared these to one another would obviously be the most help, but any help would be appreciated.

- OPEN -
Sennheiser 580 $199
Grado 225 $195
AKG 501 $150 (sale)

- CLOSED -

beyerdynamic DT831 $229
Sennheiser hd250II $179
beyerdynamic DT990 $179
AKG 240df $129 (sale)

Since I'm not going to be using these with portables that much (if at all) the power shouldn't be an issue (and will eventually be resolved by buying an amp anyway.) Purely because of the good deal, I'm leaning towards the AKG models at headphone.com. The beyerdynamic DT 831 is probably a bit too expensive, unless people think it's really worth it. I should also state that, all things being equal, I tend to lean towards closed architecture, both for comfort and because I can't stand outside noise. The Sennheiser hd250II seems like a nice unit, but I haven't heard much online about it. The beyerdynamics seem increasingly interesting, but I can't seem to find good deals on them anywhere... where can you find them online?

Any help much appreciated!
post #2 of 15
Rodchenko,

The Beyer DT-990's are open, but the DT-770's are closed.
post #3 of 15
I have 3 of the phones you listed Sennheiser HD600 (the bigger brothers but very close to HD 580 anyway), Beyerdynamic DT831 and DT250.

All 3 are great phones. It depends on your sound tastes and purpose.
Since you say that you like warmer sound, I'd exclude the DT831. These are on the brighter side of neutral with excellent detail and very expanded soundstage for closed back standards.
DT250 are warmer and somewhat darker sounding but the detailed. Very articulate midrange and great bass. To me they're the best built of the 3 in terms of rugedness. The detachable cord system is very sturdy. They're made to withstand years of heavy pro use.
Both Beyers are closed and offer good isolation. The comfort is also great due to their soft velvet earpads. Since they're closed however, there is always a possibility that ones ears can get hot
HD600 (or 580) are designed for audiophile use. You'll need a dedicated headamp to drive them to their full potential. Amazing sound, simply the best cans I've heard. The comfort is also top rate. Since they are open, expect little to no isolation.
post #4 of 15
rodchenko,
i have the akg240m, which is the non-diffuse field version. it is a wonderful phone, but forget about using it with a portable without an amp. they are very neutral, and have a laid back dry sound. very intellectual phone, great for classical. for rock and electronica they lack a little oomph as far as drum & bass attack. for that i reach for the mdr v6; at about $79 the v6 are one of the best deals around. the sound is right up in your face (ears) and some say it is bright--i would describe it as punchy and warm, with high definition of detail, and have the added benefits of portability and indestructable design.
post #5 of 15
rodchenko: You've got US$ 200 to spend? Then you can even get two fine phones for your budget (it's always nice to have more than one decent headphone!) - and these are the beyerdynamic DT531 and the new Philips HP890. You also listed my personal comfort king, the AKG K501, which isn't bad either, but does at least need a good quality jack on an integrated or pre-amp - and actually I think both the DT531 and the HP890 sound better.

The Philips is a little more on the bright side - maybe just a tad too bright, but this didn't really bother me. And it has very good and deep bass, too. Whereas the DT531 is still very detailed, but not too bright - and it might have just a tad too much mid-bass, but that's quite nice for rock.

Both are fairly efficient, so I'm quite sure, you'll be pleased with their sound from all of your sources without an additional headphone amp. And both are only slightly less comfy than the K501. If you get both, you will have the advantage of experimenting which one sounds better to you from your different sources (and for different recordings) - and you might not always have to carry your headphone from one place to another.

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini
post #6 of 15
I own two of the three open cans that you listed. (580's and 225's)
If you have no plans of getting an amp any time soon then the answer is easy. Get the 225's. (AA has a demo pair for 150 if you hurry!) If you are going to get an amp now then the choice comes down to the type of music you are into.

Good luck!

This place has the 225 for 159!

http://shop.store.yahoo.com/expressa...adsrhead2.html
post #7 of 15

hmmm..

I have only heard the Sennheiser 580 and the bigger brother Grado 325. The 580 will work fine with a stereo amplifier, but not so well through a portable cd player.

With a decent headphone amp the 580, to me, was far far better than the Grado 325. In fact the Grado RS1(at more than double the money), IMO, is not a clear winner over the 580. In fact for classical, Jazz or vocals I'd give the 580 a hefty edge over the RS1. I heard both headphones on a Grado amp...and maybe the RS1 prefers tubes...but then so do the Senns.

The HD600 can be had in the States for a good price and I think they give a bit more presence to both frequency extremes(which is largely why I bought the HD600s).

You will have to spend considerable money to best the Senns. The Orpheus didn't do it at $18,000.00CDN.

Stereophile was right on giving the Sennheiser 580 and then the 600 a Class A rating.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
You will have to spend considerable money to best the Senns. The Orpheus didn't do it at $18,000.00CDN.
WHAT!? The Orpheus wasn't better than the HD600s!? That's GOTTA be total BS. Have u ever heard the Orpheus? Have you?

I mean, it's one thing to say that "this headphone is better than this headphone" - but to say that the most expensive headphone in the world does not outperform a mid-price, overperforming classic is kind of crazy...
post #9 of 15
Quote:
The 580 will work fine with a stereo amplifier
I would disagree on that point. The Senns will work out of the headphone jack on most amps, but they won't be properly driven. I have yet to find a built-in headphone jack that will do the 580s justice.
post #10 of 15
Macdef:
<The Senns will work out of the headphone jack on most amps, but they won't be properly driven>

A headphone jack on an integrated amp will drive them to the appropriate volume levels...at least my Arcam sufficiently drive my HD600s.

A better amp will drive them better I'm sure...but as a temporary solution...most stereo amps will do the job.

Coolvij:
<WHAT!? The Orpheus wasn't better than the HD600s!? That's GOTTA be total BS. Have u ever heard the Orpheus? Have you? >

I spent about an hour with the Orpheus...which was likely not enough time. That said the headphone part of the orpheus rig is not that wonderous...the tube amp is what you are paying the premium for... Sennheiser built the headphone specifically for it which over inflates the cost of the headphone...They only made 50 of these orpheus rigs and have sold less than 20.

You should not equate best with most expensive...while this can generally be said to be true, it isn't alway the case and when you remove the tube amp(Orpheus) from the Sennheiser(whatever the model is called)...then it is not outlandish for the HD600 to be AS GOOD as some more expensive headphones.

I'm not saying the Orpheus is bad...it may be the best rig i the world...but if it's the best...then my 600s are looking like an even better bargain all the time. Now if I could just have that tube amp to gowith them.
post #11 of 15

Correction

There are around 300 units worldwide...less than 20 in Canada
post #12 of 15
Quote:
In fact for classical, Jazz or vocals I'd give the 580 a hefty edge over the RS1
That's odd, because vocals are the RS-1's forte.

Quote:
Stereophile was right on giving the Sennheiser 580 and then the 600 a Class A rating.
The HD580 was class B.
post #13 of 15
Which year did they give the 580 a class B.

You know, I'm really surprised by that because even though I own the 600 I must admit that the 580 is the better value. The differences are there but are very subtle. Still a class B rating is very good.

That's odd, because vocals are the RS-1's forte

Hmmm... interesting...I only listened to Jackson Brown and Sarah Maclauchlin. The RS1 was rich and full...the 580 seemed more correct. Don't get me wrong...the RS 1 is a terrific unit...maybe better...but not worth the hefty price tag difference. Of course that all depends on what one considrs hefty.
post #14 of 15
RGA wrote:
Quote:
A headphone jack on an integrated amp will drive them to the appropriate volume levels
But it's not volume we're talking about -- even a crappy portable can give the 600s volume. It's quality.

SumB wrote:
Quote:
The HD580 was class B.
It was originally Class A, until the 600s came out, at which point the 580s were moved to B and the 600s got the A.
post #15 of 15
Quote:
It was originally Class A, until the 600s came out, at which point the 580s were moved to B and the 600s got the A.
Really? I didn't think the HD600 was out in '96. It's not on the list at that time.
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