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PC user looking for good headphone set

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I've heard that any "true audiophile" doesn't listen to music on his PC; taking that into account, I'd label myself a "gamer"--someone who enjoys listening to .mp3s while usually playing games. Besides clear, precise, beautiful noise, perks such as positional audio and surround sound are very important to me. I'm not going to spend a grand on headphones or a speaker system, but I'm not averse to spending upwards of 200 bucks for headphones. I'm pretty ignorant of audiophile hardware, and what's good or not, so bear with me.

Recently I bought a computer with a decent speaker system (ADA885), but it's too loud to be played at night--or early morning, depending on your perspective--in my appartment building. (Also, my sound card is a Santa Cruz DSP, if this helps.) I believe my solution lies in a nice set of headphones. I'm new to this whole headphone thing, so I decided to do a little research before I bought a hundred dollar pair of Sonys from BestBuy. For the last hour I've been surfing the 'Net for headphone info, and references to a Sennheiser HD580 keep popping up. I take it that the HD580s are good headphones, but I still have some questions and musings:

1. It seems most of the reviews and buzz I've read automatically assume you're using headphones with a "headphone amp". I did a little research on amps, and the average amp is more expensive than a pair of high-end headphones. I'm not really interested in buying an amp.

2. Is an amp *that* important for headphone use with PCs? Doesn't a good sound card provide a superior audio quality w/ headphones than if I were to jack them into my DiscMan?

3. So, what's probably the best pair of headphones (without the use of an amp) for under 200 bucks I can get that would garner the best audio experience?

4. Also, where would I be able to buy the HD580s retail? BestBuy carries the 570 and the 490 (?), both which I've heard are lackluster at best. I don't like ordering items online, as I dislike shipping fees and having to wake up early and wait for the delivery man. (As anyone who works graveyard will tell you: I like my sleep.)

(I listen to classical-, techno-, and rock-type music--or any combination thereof--while playing games that require good audio, such as Counter-Strike.)
post #2 of 9
I know where you're coming from, becuase that's where I started my forray into the world of headphones (be careful, you might not make it back out of here!).

I think most people here would recommend a closed headphone design for gaming because they are better at positional audio and spatialization than open phones. In the time I've been here, it seems that the most recommended closed headphone is the Sony MDR-V6 or it's twin brother, the MDR-7506 (same exact thing, just in a "professional" package that costs more). From what I've heard these would also be excellent for techno and rock type music, though I'm not sure about classical.

One thing to be careful of is that the ones you're seeing at best buy are probably the MDR-V600 model, which are thought (around here at least) to be way inferior to the V6/7506. What I've heard is that any of the MDR-XXX and MDR-XXXDJ series are pretty much not going to be as good as the V6's.

I'm not sure you're going to find really good headphones at Best Buy, the best ones at my store are the $20 Koss KSC-50's, believe it or not. So unless you can find a specialized audio store, it may be best to buy online. The V6's and 7506's can be found here: http://djmart.com/headphones.html for $79.95 and $109.95 respectively.

Keep in mind, I don't have a pair of these, but I've seen them recommended time after time here and at headwize as the best closed headphones for the money. I'm sure there are other people who can recommend others that will cost more from Beyerdynamic but I am really clueless about those.

Hope this helps, I'm sure others will share their ideas with you as well.

post #3 of 9
I have the 580s, and I would not recommend them for playing games out of a soundcard. They are truly wonderful headphones, but not straight out of a soundcard. I'll second the recommendation of the Sony V6, which should provide good positional sound w/ plenty of volume.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the great advice!

That was very helpful.
post #5 of 9
i own the v6 and it is a truely wonderful closed phone for the price. however, because of its revealing detailed sound it may not be the best choice for games or mp3, where the treble can get grainy or harsh. it also can be a little fatiguing after a few hours to wear (to me anyway). if you can find it, i highly recommend the sony cd1700 cans, i got some used for $150. they work best from a good source, but can take the edge off harsh digital sound. the auranomic design provied a great soundstage & directionality (although not over-wide) for gaming. you can wear them for hours, as they are very comfortable and have a non-fatiguing sound which is addictive.

another choice would be the sony e888 earbuds (~us$60). they use the same biocellulose diaphrams as the cd1700. earbuds provide perfect imaging for sources that use binaural or hrtf sounds (such as some games).

a cheaper phone would be the sony ex70. they are earplug type phones with great bass & isolation, around $35.

all of these headphones can be easily run from a portable or your computer without an amp.
post #6 of 9
Just to tell you, the ADA885's headphone amplifier in the left front speaker is realllllly bad...
post #7 of 9
Sean, it looks like you did some homework, and JJ it looks like you've been reading

As dhwilkin said, the 580s are great headphones but they aren't very good without an amp, especially out of a sound card. They also aren't the best for gaming and they let out a lot of noise.

I have a pair of Sony MDR-V6/7506 that I use for games. They sound great, although as redshifter said, they are a bit too revealing for MP3s. Perhaps the Denon 750s or 950s would be better, since they are a bit less revealing (and a bit more "musical"). They are also available at djmart for decent prices.

While the 888s and EX70s are good portable phones, I wouldn't use them at home as a primary headphone, especially for gaming.
post #8 of 9

Too revealing for MP3s?

Even with a high bit rate or Lame's VBR?

Any opinions on the Grado SR-325 in these instances?
post #9 of 9
Now those are highly revealing of treble. Actually the V6 isn't that bad if you get an amp that cuts off the treble and upper midrange like an Airhead. That's what I use.
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