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First outing as a buyer, potentially HD650's but...

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

Anyways, I have around £230 to spend on a pair of headphones.

I've been reading on these forums for the past few days and reading reviews as to all headphones in this price range from the HD 650's/600's to the K701/2's to others that have been name dropped. Here are my issues:

1. My main usage will be on my MacBook/future iPad. However, I'm aware these headphones use 300 ohms, which apparently is a lot, but I've heard that they still sound much better than a default pair of headphones with an MP3 player and at the end of the day - I'm not a pro. But is it an issue I should be overly concerned with?

2. I will be using these 50% of the time where there is a T.V generally being played at a reasonable volume (I do this because I have a table that I use to plan at, just to clarify which is in the same room as the home T.V).

3. My main tastes are underground hip hop artists, but I have some Miles Davis to Marvin Gaye to Oasis in my collection. But certainly hip hop will be the main focus.

Questions:

1. Will these headphones play well with 192kbps files or will they sound terrible due to the files not being lossless? Remember, I'm a first time buyer, I want to have headphones that massively outweigh the iPod ones I've had for years but I'm not going to be mixing or anything.

2. Should I reconsider the open headphone purchase seeing as I won't be in a quiet environment for 50% of the time? Will I hear the tele lots or will there be a nice medium?

3. If I should reconsider and get a closed set of headphones, which would you recommend in this price range?

4. Are these one of the best sets for hip hop (in the price range)?

I've heard they're pretty good at a lot of genres which I like a lot. I'll be going to listen to a pair on friday if I can. If not, I'll be purchasing at the weekend over the Internet.

All helpful comments very much appreciated, I'd read around even more but I have limited free time and I want them ASAP!

Thanks
post #2 of 24
The problem with open headphones in an environment with other people is twofold : you hear them and they hear you. In this case both could be trouble. In my experience the senns when driven to proper listening levels leak quite a lot of sound, enough to annoy people in the same room. They do not isolate well, so you will also hear the tv (not to mention, the people annoyed by your music will turn the sound on the TV up, causing you to crank the phones, causing them to turn the TV up and so forth... )

Get some decent, easy to drive closed headphones. I would advise you to check out the senn hd201's, they are dirt cheap and work fine. If you like them, be happy and don't worry about audiophile ****, everything above that level costs more and more for less and less value added.
post #3 of 24
No amp, don't bother running the 650s. Find something easy to drive. Closed - check the Shure SRH-840 or some Ultrasone models possibly?
post #4 of 24
1. 192kbps files will not sound atrocious but you certainly won't be getting the most out of 650 if you intend to listen to mere snappy 192kbps mp3's or alike. At least try to upgrade your sources to 320kbps or even lossless if space is not a concern. I cannot hear any sonic difference b/w lossless and 320kbps mp3's ripped using LAME but otherwise from songs were not ripped from LAME.

2. Depends how noisy your room or environment is. Closed back cans aren't a bad choice if you're having 2nd thoughts.

3. Denon d5k sounds like it's within the limit of your budget and it's generally well-favoured around here for its bassy and impactful presentation so it's a no brainer start if you're just starting out. I'd just throw in Ultrasones should you demand better isolation than Denon's counterparts.
post #5 of 24
I don't think you should worry too much about sound leakage, etc. Get headphones that you like...sound quality should be the most important thing.

Let me tell you from my experience during the past month or so after trying many headphones at JR.

If you want headphones with a punchy bass, go with a beyerdynamic 880pro or a denon ah-d2000, however, i prefer the beyerdynamic for a bigger sound stage and overall smooth sound. I mentioned the 880s and ah-d2000 because they sell for a reasonable price and drive pretty nicely without an amp; although, they should be hooked up to an amp for the best sound quality. besides, i didn't think you wanted something for $300+, so why bother!

if you want something really precise, get the HD650s. I bought the 650s because I wanted something at the top of the line...something precise and accurate. I don't see the 650s as headphones, I see them as a rare jewel. If you want the best listening experience, go with the HD650s. I didn't buy them just because they're considered one of the best, rather I appreciate the hard work and time artists spend on their songs, therefore I want to treat the music right because once you treat music right, it does the same to you.

If you ask me to compare the bass between the beyer 880 pro and hd650, the beyer obviously wins. There IS superb bass present in the hd650, but it's precises and accurate bass...some bass the artist technically produced while making his or her song...so it's not just extra bass for bass heads, but it's the most accurate bass you'll hear. it's not bass that headphones produce, it's the bass from the song itself.

now it's up to you to decide what you want to get!

the price difference from a 880 and a 650 is approximately $80.


EDIT: I hope I don't have to say this, but to keep it safe, you need an AMP if you're looking for an audiophile...Even something small as a HD555, you can't drive it to it's best without a proper amp.

There are AMPS out there that sell for a reasonable price...so don't think you need a top of the line amp to drive an audiophile to it's best.
post #6 of 24
Hello fellow Brit! Welcome to Head-Fi! (Sorry about your wallet)

£230 is a decent budget to work with especially if you're not averse to considering used gear. Tell me though, some info from my questions about your info.

1) During the times when you'll be using this headphone rig, will you be in the house? You mention your iPad/Macbook, but is wall power an option? If you're also intending to use the headphones for out-and-about portable use in additon to at home then we (the great unwashed masses of headphone geeks, nerds, gurus and fools) have to operate from a very different starting point before we start spamming you with "buy what I like because I like it" and varients thereof. You're going to get A LOT of names thrown at you like bricks in this thread based on what other people own and like, with greater or lesser consideration to your situation. Take all opinions with a pinch of salt and if you possibly can (and you can) listen before you buy.

2) The TV need not be a major consideration unless it plays rather loud (TV sound will intrude on you through your headphones) or sound which might disturb the TV-viewers would be ill-apt (sound from your headphones will intrude on the viewers) Which way round would it be? Open backed headphones (almost) always sound better per £ than closed ones.

3) You love hip-hop. Are you a basshead? That is, does a bass response which: A) goes very low. B) Has a very clean articulate quality. or C) Hits you with a big whack. You main preference? (at your budget, you'll have difficulty getting any combination of two which isn't A+B [see below about Stax])

All other practical considerations aside, at £230, I'd be heading for, no doubt in my mind, a Stax 2020 Basic or 2050 Basic system (used). These pop up on ebay.co.uk or indeed here in the For Sale Forum with no degree of magical rarity (although there will always be Stax gold diggers on ebay expecting megabucks for unremarkable gear, so watch out for them). That though, is just my heavily biased personal opinion. (Big Stax fan)


In response to your questions:

1) So long as they're not awful, even lossy audio files will sound better through a decent set of headphones.

2) Again, how loud is the television? Is it always on?

3) You should certainly be open to the idea of closed, as it were. Isolation is very often worth the loss of sound quality which comes from "closing in".

4) The HD650 are excellent all-round, with an additional fullness in the low end over the HD600 which will serve well for your choice in music, but they really will not perform at all from the ouput of something like a laptop.


See what you think on Friday, but listen for as long as you can. "New Toy Syndrome" often makes things seem better than they might be.
post #7 of 24
192kbps, hiphop and use around a blaring TVs, possibly public spaces? Doesn't sound like the 650's at all. Plus running the 650's out of a laptop will sound better than an iBuds, but not much better than headphones that cost $100-200. I don't think the HD650's has enough punch and bass extension either to be amazing for hiphop... hmm... disorganized thoughts, but I certainly won't recommend the 650's at all in your situation. Get something $100-200 like a Audio Technica M50 or else pay up for a full setup with a good amp, DAC and HD650's or DT880/900...
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by joomongj View Post
1. 192kbps files will not sound atrocious but you certainly won't be getting the most out of 650 if you intend to listen to mere snappy 192kbps mp3's or alike. At least try to upgrade your sources to 320kbps or even lossless if space is not a concern. I cannot hear any sonic difference b/w lossless and 320kbps mp3's ripped using LAME but otherwise from songs were not ripped from LAME.

2. Depends how noisy your room or environment is. Closed back cans aren't a bad choice if you're having 2nd thoughts.

3. Denon d5k sounds like it's within the limit of your budget and it's generally well-favoured around here for its bassy and impactful presentation so it's a no brainer start if you're just starting out. I'd just throw in Ultrasones should you demand better isolation than Denon's counterparts.
I second the Denon AHD5000's

Though some 32ohm Beyerdynamic DT880's should work well for you too.
post #9 of 24
I would recommend a closed can which will help block external sounds. I would consider the K271 which sound very good from an iPod and even better with an amp. I also really liked the DT150, although its a little on the heavy side and not the most ergonomic fit.
post #10 of 24
AT-M50's + ibasso t3 woould be a sick combo Velcro the ibasso to the ipad and come out under budget
post #11 of 24
Out of HD650 and K701 - I prefer the K701 for hip hop. Hip hop recordings generally have adequate bass levels recorded so that the K701 doesn't sound bass light in this situation. Secondly - hip hop has a lot of sub-bass detail that the HD650 may miss and the K701 will not. Thirdly the neutral and airy presentation of the K701 suit the aggressive and angry vocal style of some of the hip hop legends - opening them up so you can feel the pain and anger/malice as intended. Sadly without a decent amplifier they will not shine.

What you need to consider are the Denons - my defacto Hip Hop headphone is the D7000 - They perform well without amps.
post #12 of 24
I wouldn't say there is no point running HD650 un-amped, they still sound great but are showing you a small percentage of what you spent your money on. A lot of people act as though HD650 will sound awful without a dedicated amp and it's not true. Those people are use to hearing it with one and are comparing them against themselves at full potential rather than against other phones. I've tried my HD650 unamped from my computers hp out and my daps - it still sounded good, but not if you try it straight after listening to them amped as they should be.

Hip Hop is good with HD650 - they have abundant bass of great quality - but there are better options for it. For my money it is hard to find a better match for hip hop than Grado/Alessandros with Flat Pads - which will do a lot better without an amp than the higher impedence phones you mentioned.

The setting issue is a bigger one though. While you probably won't be able to hear a moderately volumed TV with them running, the people watching the TV will be able to hear your music. That goes for Grados as well as the Senns or AKGs you mentioned.

If you don't want to annoy those around you, some quality IEMs or closed cans may serve better.

EDIT:

I would add that IMO you NEED to use either LAME VBR, 320kbps or lossless with headphones of the sort of calibre we're discussing. Better phones will just show off the deficiencies of low bit rates even more.
post #13 of 24
Generally for Hip Hop I prefer closed phones. I would deifnitely say that the HD650 is not the best option for Hip Hop... but it's still a good one. But if you plan to focus on this one genre, there are a lot of other options that are a better buy IMO.

One of which is the Beyer DT770-250 (which is actually a lot cheaper). You'll also definitely want something closed as you are not going to be in a quiet environment.

Now, a lot of people are going to shoot me for this, but I would actually say the Beats Studios is a better buy for you. *flame away*

Lastly, many people say the HD650 is very revealing and will reveal impurities in your low bitrate MP3s, but I personally thought the HD650 made even my 128kbps bitrate MP3s sound better than I ever heard them. That's not just a result of the HD650 sounding plain good -- I've had some good highend phones make my low bitrates sound bad. I found the HD650 made them sound good.


Other options I'd recommend for you for what I perceive your needs to be
(noisy environment, portable, on-the-go, no-amp)

* ATH M50
* Shure SRH750 DJ
* AKG K518 DJ
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by EddieE View Post
I wouldn't say there is no point running HD650 un-amped, they still sound great but are showing you a small percentage of what you spent your money on. A lot of people act as though HD650 will sound awful without a dedicated amp and it's not true. Those people are use to hearing it with one and are comparing them against themselves at full potential rather than against other phones. I've tried my HD650 unamped from my computers hp out and my daps - it still sounded good, but not if you try it straight after listening to them amped as they should be.

Hip Hop is good with HD650 - they have abundant bass of great quality - but there are better options for it. For my money it is hard to find a better match for hip hop than Grado/Alessandros with Flat Pads - which will do a lot better without an amp than the higher impedence phones you mentioned.

The setting issue is a bigger one though. While you probably won't be able to hear a moderately volumed TV with them running, the people watching the TV will be able to hear your music. That goes for Grados as well as the Senns or AKGs you mentioned.

If you don't want to annoy those around you, some quality IEMs or closed cans may serve better.

EDIT:

I would add that IMO you NEED to use either LAME VBR, 320kbps or lossless with headphones of the sort of calibre we're discussing. Better phones will just show off the deficiencies of low bit rates even more.
While the HD650s sound fine unamped, you won't get high volume out of them, and if you try to push it you start to clip and distort. For a bass-heavy genre like hiphop, you definitely need the amping as bass requires the most juice in the spectrum. Not enough juice means the bass distorts really fast or just has no power, or both.

I am generally not a big believer in need uber amps but for some kinds of songs on certain headphones amping is necessary. The HD650 definitely will need amping if you want to use it properly for Hip Hop. I find the HD650 is fine unamped out of a Nano 2G for music that isn't particularly bassy.
post #15 of 24
^ You're right about all of that.

My argument wasn't that the HD650 should not be amped (it certainly should) just that a lot of the comments that it sounds awful unamped comes from people doing a comparrison between them amped, and then immediately unamped, at which point of course they sound awful relatively.

But with no experience with them (or even a day not listening to them) and plug them into a dap, I think some would be surprised how good they can sound. Plug them into a good amp again and the illusion is shattered, but if you never knew them any better, you'd probably be pretty chuffed with them.

Are they worth getting if you don't have an amp.... hmmm... probably not, especially if (as you rightly point out) you are to be listening to music which is very bass-lead.

I'll repeat my initial hip hop recomendation - Grado/Alessandros with Flats seriously bring the house down with that sort of music.
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