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Closed headphones + computer source

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hello everybody!

So I want to upgrade my "sound system" - that means headphones + sound card. I know there's another section for sources, but I need some opinions about the best combination for the money.
My current setup is kind of lame by head-fi standards, but hopefully that will change soon. I have Audigy2 + AKG K55/Senn HD201 at home, and a Rockboxed Nano + CX300 for portable use.
The budget is ~400$ (+/-50) for both of them (but I'm from Europe so I'll make the conversions for your convenience).
The headphones should be good all-rounders because I listen to all sort of music: rock ( old & new + live concerts), pop, electronic (something like adult contemporary in a radio station) and sometimes classic, jazz, blues. They should be circumaural for greater comfort.
So, after a lot of reading time on this forum, and considering headphones available around here (Romania) I have the following options (random order):

1. AKG 271S (~180$) + EMU 0404 USB ( ~300$)
Comment: I can get the AKGs only with pre-order (so I can't test them before buying) and I'm worried about the lack of bass for electronic music. I'm guessing that the 0404 USB should be enough to drive them. I prefer the sound of my K55 over the Senn HD201 for example, so if the sound signature is the same maybe I should stick with AKG?

2. Beyerdynamic 770 Pro (80 ohm) (~240$) + EMU 0404 PCI (~140$)
Comment: the 0404 USB would now be over my budget so I'd have to settle with the PCI version; same DAC from what I understand but no class A amplifier. Will the Beyers sound OK without an amp? I've also read that they have a lot of bass, I hope that not too much though. For example, I find the CX300 a bit to bassy for my taste. Hopefully I'll be able to test them, as the local distributor has a showroom.

3. Audiotechnica A900 (~320$) + EMU 0404 PCI (~140$)
Comment: They seem the best option from what I've read around here, but I can only get them from an e-bay shop in France. The local distributor only has ATH-M40 (A900 don't seem to be available in Europe). They should be fine with 0404 PCI as I understand they don't require an amp.

I'll consider other options too if you recommend them. AKG, Sennheiser, Beyers and Ultrasones are usually easier to get.

Any ideas?
post #2 of 23
The a900's are your best bet. The beyer's really benefit from an amp, and they have A LOTTT of bass. I think too much for you if you think the 300's are bassy. You can get the a900's for a lot cheaper than 320USD though; ive seen them for around 200-250.
post #3 of 23
I don't have a suggestion on headphones as I haven't heard any of those, but you might want to think about snapping up the modded 0404 before someone else does. I actually don't know a thing about it, so of course you'd want to research it a bit. I'm curious, but I use my 1212m for S/PDIF out only.

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=229363

No association to seller. Good luck.
post #4 of 23
Can't speak to the Beyers or the ATs, but I have a pair of AKG k271s (and my #2 and #3 choices when I got the 271 were the AT 990 and the 250 ohm 770, in that order). My source is currently PC -> Audigy 4 (2/2.1 stereo mode) -> Little-Dot Micro Tube -> 271. I think my listening tastes involve similar genres anyway (lots of live rock music, acoustic jam bands of all flavors, a few punk bands, healthy doses of both trance and jazz, and occasional progressive & orchestral metal)

The 271 has been great for me, but when I'm listening to headphones I tend to prefer precision over bass if I have to choose. The midrange on the 271 is lovely - really very precise. However, the bass just isn't exactly forward, if that's what you want. As I turn the volume up, I notice clear, multi-toned bass that I would again categorize as precise, but in tracks with both strong vocals and bass (I listen to a fair amount of vocal trance, for instance), the vocals spring to life way before the bass. Female vocals in particular really shine. If it's bass you can feel that you want, I'd recommend that you remove the 271 from your list. If you prefer a more precise bass that takes a back seat, then I think they suit your needs well.

Anyway, that doesn't exactly answer all of your questions, but I thought I'd share my brief impressions of the k271 since you can't try them before you buy them. (I've had mine since this past December, I've had the amp since early February of this year).

Finally, the A900 are available for $179 + shipping to the US. One site I was looking at was Audiocubes (http://www.audiocubes.com/product/Au...eadphones.html). They don't list Romania as a shipping option (and I am admittedly ignorant of the situation of the Postal Service in Romania, so perhaps I'm wrong here), but they do list shipping to Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine for $13 US. If you decide that the Audio-Technicas are right for you, perhaps you could at least contact them and inquire about shipping to your area.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgonino View Post
The a900's are your best bet. The beyer's really benefit from an amp, and they have A LOTTT of bass. I think too much for you if you think the 300's are bassy. You can get the a900's for a lot cheaper than 320USD though; ive seen them for around 200-250.
Well, the CX300 are just a bit too bassy, my biggest issue with them is that, while electronic music sounds GREAT, rock sounds pretty boring. The problem is in the mids I guess.
About the A900's price... check my location. From the US the transport fees + possible VAT that I would have to pay make the price go up. So I thought I'll get them from an e-bay shop in France, the only problem is that I'll have to pay by bank transfer - I don't know how safe is that. The seller has a high rating though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Superpredator View Post
I don't have a suggestion on headphones as I haven't heard any of those, but you might want to think about snapping up the modded 0404 before someone else does. I actually don't know a thing about it, so of course you'd want to research it a bit. I'm curious, but I use my 1212m for S/PDIF out only.

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=229363

No association to seller. Good luck.
Thanks for the info, but I'm not sure I understand what that mod does... obviously it should improve SQ, but does it improve amplification too? Can it drive headphones easier? ( sorry if this is a stupid question )

Quote:
Originally Posted by dirwin View Post
[...]
Anyway, that doesn't exactly answer all of your questions, but I thought I'd share my brief impressions of the k271 since you can't try them before you buy them. (I've had mine since this past December, I've had the amp since early February of this year).

Finally, the A900 are available for $179 + shipping to the US. One site I was looking at was Audiocubes (http://www.audiocubes.com/product/Au...eadphones.html). They don't list Romania as a shipping option (and I am admittedly ignorant of the situation of the Postal Service in Romania, so perhaps I'm wrong here), but they do list shipping to Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine for $13 US. If you decide that the Audio-Technicas are right for you, perhaps you could at least contact them and inquire about shipping to your area.
First of all, many thanks for the review. Well, I don't need bass that "I can feel", but it should be there when I need it. I mean if I listen to some electronic or R'n'B it should get me toe-tapping. From what I've read around here I'm not sure they're able to do that.
About audiocubes... well... it's not the mail system the problem... unfortunately Romania has a bad reputation over the Internet because of frauds, carding etc. (even though the phenomenon has declined lately due to better laws and actions against these thiefs) so a lot of stores are not willing to ship to Romania. Even Paypal doesn't accept registration from Romania so this is a big problem as audiocubes only accepts US credit cards or Paypal.

On Tuesday I'll visit that showroom, hope I'll get to listen the 770/80. I hope it will be an easier decision after that, though if they need an amp they'll be over my budget...
post #6 of 23

To original OP - Regarding A900 Bass and Soundcard choice

I just copy and paste what I wrote in another thread on someone asked why his Sony SA3000 bass is light...bare the long reply and read them through patiently and don't mind my writing as I didn't edit them:P

I've being using my AT A900 for the past couple of weeks now, almost "24/7"
with intervals of pink noise burned in when I'm not listening with them (sleeping, away.etc)

As a A900 owner, I MUST voice out my opinion regarding A900's bass. If you think you got "recommanded" for the purchase of A900 as the main reason of its bass performance like I DID, I sincerely suggest you think again. With more than $200 spent on my source - $200 Auzentech Meridian sound card + upgraded analog Operation Amps(LM4562 8DIP) on it PLUS +/-75% increased db in 32hz and +/-65% increased db in 60hz on the equalizer... ALL TOGETHER so i can get a "enjoyable" or in other word, a standard low frequency representation in songs that requires Mid-low, low, and below 50hz frequency songs to make it sound as a whole.

WITHOUT Excellent source and EQ tunning (MUST) on the lower frequency, "the bass is almost near NON-EXISTENT".

I was recommanded for the purchase of A900 becouse "some" said its bass is great. Bass impact, extention, quantity and quality out of those 4, A900 only has one that I can comment on and that's its bass "quality" The quality is maybe TOO good and accurate that I'm literally missing that 30% of the bass notes from the songs that I played.

Now I warn you to ask yourself what type of music do you mostly listen to - "I'd say it's the most important question one should ask himself before buying a pair of new headphone" becouse the result may sound either SPECTACULAR or just plain DISSAPOINTMENT. What kind of source will you be using in conjuction with your headphone is also very crucial. I assume those who recommanded A900 may not have the same taste in music and listen to the kinds of songs that I listen to at my age - 23. You've to be careful for the opinion you get here and there and you may be hearing a group of owners who'd appreciate how great A900 sounds (YES I AGREE for those great classics they love, jazz, vocal, soft music, instrumental...as A900 does a great job in those area. Clarity, detail and natural sounding are the descriptions I'm going to comment on it but would be = spectacular listening experience?? Certainly the asnwer will vary a lot from person to person and I'd NOT recommand you listen to anyone of them for their listening result reviews unless he or she has "exact same expectation, taste, preference in music as you" otherwise a classical fan vs rock fan vs rap vs R&B vs trance/electronica....are going to vary by a whole lot. Believe me in this becouse I'm a sole victim for not knowing this as I've only being in this community for less than a month and I've being accumulating as much knowledge as I can during this short period of time to give you this valuable opinion.

So what would be my next phone after the A900? unamped and great sounding with solid bass impact, extention and quality? From what I've read so far I can say Beyerdynamic's 2005/2006 DT990 or DT880 with modded pleather pads at 32ohms for portable will do a nice job and fill in the bass compartment nicely.

There are many like me who dissagree for recommanding A900 mainly for its bass. Beyerdynamic DT-770 seems to be "norm" for a closed bassy headphone and newer Beyers has 32/250/600ohms selection to complement your setup.

Well so for $179USD shipped and about $250 spend in my source - modded soundcard (Meridian - the best SC there's on the market) and a month of time spending on this forum, I've learned a lot more than I originally started.
I wouldn't want to see anyone else who else made the same mistake as I am. You should always keep in mind what type of music, their taste and preference in music before taking anyone's opinion into account. If you're a rock fan or R&B lover and taken a classic/jazz music fan's suggestion for his or her suggest for what they think it's a "GOOD BASSY" phone then you'd definetely find yourself dissapointed.

I would suggest A900 to anyone who's looking for nice sweet sounding mid and upper range sounding headphone and lower-end frequency isn't a significant part played through the songs that they normally play, like vocal, instruments, soft, classical, jazz...etc. Some stated that A900 aren't coloured so they provides accurate and natural sounding but that may not neccesarily mean a "fun" listening experience.

I hope my comments on the A900 and its related areas helps
post #7 of 23
Eh? I can get A900s much cheaper than 180 + shipping. 135USD + shipping if I buy locally and ship to you. Previously I said I'd do it for free just as a favour but since I've got some serious debts to clear I wouldn't mind a small fee If I find out the authorised retailer here will accept your order and ship directly to you then it'd be free of course. Contact me if you're interested
post #8 of 23
if up to 320 buck is an option you can get true hi fi phones. A900 is for 170 dollars at audiocubes.com so for the price they are really good.

but you can get an Ultrasone Proline 750 for example for considerably less then 320$ and it´s closed and extremely versatile... It has bass if the tune needs it and the mids and the highs... the drivers are extremely fast too so they are very controlled. I have listened to all except jazz with them and they haven´t failed anything yet

I had the A900 and they are for sure good headphones and a bit cheaper then the 750 but for me but more external sounds get into them and they don´t have the bass extension especially and they simply don´t sound as "clean". Tiramasu isn´t exhaggerating on that you do miss bass notes you hear on the DT 770 and 750 with the A900. Soundstage is wide on the A900 as well but they are not as 3D as the 750

As for DT 770 they are great headphones but not something for classical... A pair of Dt 770 and A900 do complement eachother greatly but then my 750 combines all these and do everything better tbh... So my true recommendations is spend a bit more and get them or the senns 650 if they truly is a match or AKG 701... I mean I am listening to my 750 unamped and still they blow my DT 770 and A900 away totally...

Only my ears I know but I always thought you would be paying premium for those top models for something like 10 % sound difference at best... But I have yet to see anyone comparing them to A900 and DT 770 and like these more...

I would assume comparing HD 650/AKG 701 and the likes then it may be more apple and oranges lol

Very comfortable, durable, if you get the DT 770 PRO 80 ohms you don´t really desperately need an amp especially since you already get one with the EMU 0404. It drives great from my X-fi but plays better amped of course like 99,9 % of all hi fi headphones.
post #9 of 23
I'll throw another combo into the mix.

AKG K701 $240 from Northern Sounds I think, and then a Little Dot II++ for around $180-$200 I think? Just use your lineout fromy our audigy2.

EDIT: Missed the closed part?
post #10 of 23
yeah not much competition in the closed department if you ask me .
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yeah, closed is must. It would have been easier otherwise.

The Proline 750 is an interesting choice, as I can get them for ~340$... just +20$ over A900 and from a safer source. But how are they doing unamped? Beacause I'll have to get the PCI version of EMU 0404 and even use them with my Audigy 2 for a while (a month or two).
post #12 of 23
I am still waiting for my Heed...

I have mostly run them through my X-fi but am now on a crappy Audigy 2 ZS... I can hear the difference but they surely sounds way way better then my A900 and DT 770s on these sources...

However since these headphones require so much burn in, what you run it for the first 200h the source don´t matter much since they will change like crazy anyway...

But the better source and the better amplification you get the more you get out of them. From what I have heared with people having proper amps and good sources there is major difference running them properly amped and without...

As for volume I can´t run either the Audigy 2, X-fi over 50 % or it gets to loud so volume is not an issue.

But yeah they sounds great unamped...Much better then the DT 770 and A900 amped with a pimeta even.

As for price maybe you can do some price matching? Here in Scandinavia (with our 25% taxes) I got mine for around 280 USD shipped...
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yap, just checked the official distributor of Ultrasone and they have one piece at exactly 280$.

So, tomorrow I'll check the Beyers, and if they're not "right" I'll get the Ultrasones. I can't listen to the Ultrasones as they're in another town.

As for the source... 0404 PCI or maybe I'll stick to the Audigy 2 for a while until I get the money for 0404 USB if you say both cans sound significantly better with an amp.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
They only have Beyer DT250-250 on stock. Any opinions on these ones?
post #15 of 23

Salutari, tizule..

In English.. I'm located in Japan - A900 only 135-150 USD - I have them together with a Onkyo SE 150 PCI sound card (analog stereo out) and an Elekit tube phone amp. I can only recommend them - but be careful, they definitely benefit from good amplification. The sound is really good - at least to my ears, and they sound better than many more expensive phones...
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