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$300 Cans for an extremely broad musical taste.

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Hello Head-fi, the cash is in and I'm looking to spend $300USD on some cans to last for a good while. 

To start, they will be amped from a NAD 7220PE where the headphone amp section specs are:

"Output impedance:  220ohms

Maximum output level: .10V into 600ohms

>500mV into 8ohms" 

That is taken straight out of the the technical sheet from their archive on the series. 

 

My source is a B&O Beogram RX2 with the number 5 cartridge for vinyl, and a 24bit Soundblaster (soon to be switched to a DAC cable) playing only lossless files (FLAC and Apple 320). 

 

My most favorite phones right now are the Sennheiser 414 (Amazingly clear vocals when amped, it's amazing! But they lack in the bass section), Yamaha YH-3 (Sound awesome with more modern music, and have a good amount of bass that is controlled! I love tuning into the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or other alternative rock bands and hip-hop on these guys, but they are also my favorite for jazz), Grado SR-80i (My main classic rock and blues cans, it's astounding how good how well they make Joan Osborne sound, and I've never heard B.B. King and Bob Dylan sound so good). My favorite speakers I've heard are my AR-18, but I am only really talking about bookshelves. They all are quite unique in sound signatures, but I love the sound of all of them. I have also heard several other Sennheiser cans, but nothing over the 280. I have listened to the Grado 325i at my local Hi-Fi shop and loved them, but only sampled blues music (due to time constraints and it's quite a drive away). My local guitar center didn't have any AKG up for sample.

 

Now I suppose it's time to drop the musical tastes, and with that I can say virtually anything. My playlist on shuffle will go from playing the Sleigh Bells to Thelonious Monk to Fred McDowell and then start playing The Beatles followed by Social D, Rick Wakeman and Regina Spektor. I love classical and opera as well as a lot of traditional music equally as much as contemporary music.

I love acoustic instruments and vocals. When listening I love a good bass, but very controlled and tight! I love to hear a good walking bass to my jazz and the lovely cellos going in an orchestrated piece. 

 

Right now I'm really looking at the Grado 325i and the AKG K701. I loved the sound of some good delta blues steel guitar on the Grados and their ability to mask old recordings. But I've heard many other good things about the AKG K701s when it comes to playing my beloved jazz and orchestrated master pieces.

Are there any other cans I'm over looking? They can be open, closed, or IEMs. Throw out any suggestions. I am located in Henderson, NV so if you know of any Hi-Fi shops to tune into cans please share the venue. I listened to the Grados at Premier Home Entertainment. 

 

Thanks guys! I really look forward to any suggestions you may have.

 

 

post #2 of 28

Would you consider buying used? Many people love the Stax SR-Lambda + transformer (should be around 300USB if I remember correctly, but they are quite hunted at this moment) and you do have an integrated amp to drive them. I haven't heard this combo myself, but I'm suggesting you to consider it because I have the Stax 3030 combo and in my system (CD player, cables...) it works extremely well with basically anything, from heavy metal to Chopin, so it might suit your wide musical tastes requirement very well.

Just a thought...

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Quichotte View Post

Would you consider buying used? Many people love the Stax SR-Lambda + transformer (should be around 300USB if I remember correctly, but they are quite hunted at this moment) and you do have an integrated amp to drive them. I haven't heard this combo myself, but I'm suggesting you to consider it because I have the Stax 3030 combo and in my system (CD player, cables...) it works extremely well with basically anything, from heavy metal to Chopin, so it might suit your wide musical tastes requirement very well.

Just a thought...


Used is fine as well, and I've actually never heard electrostatic headphones. The integrated amp I am using is certified to use them safely as well, though it is a low watt per channel (but it should drive them fine I should imagine).

My grandfather has an old set of Martin Logan electrostatic floor speakers, do they carry a similar sound signature? 

post #4 of 28

Even though it's an NAD, I wouldn't rely on those specs for comparisons to dedicated hp amp specs.  I'm sure it would drive a pair of 701s okay but it sounds like you want more than just "okay."  Based on your inquiry, I'd say you're into music enough that you'll be happy for a bit then want to upgrade. I agree with DQ in suggesting that you buy used.  You could grab some 701s or HD600s and still have a bit left for an amp or amp/dac that you're going to want to buy sooner or later anyway.  If you buy a used set and decide you don't like how they sound, you'll be able to resell them and lose little or no money if you get a good deal originally. 

 

Maybe someone who owns that NAD would be able to chime in and be more specific.  I've been fairly underwhelmed with hp amp sections from most integrateds that I've heard.  In most cases, they're an afterthought.   

 

I've owned both the 701s and HD600s.  The 600s are my only headphone now - I like them that much.  I can't give an opinion on the Grados but I know many here can.

 

Hope this helps just a bit...

post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuke View Post

Even though it's an NAD, I wouldn't rely on those specs for comparisons to dedicated hp amp specs.  I'm sure it would drive a pair of 701s okay but it sounds like you want more than just "okay."  Based on your inquiry, I'd say you're into music enough that you'll be happy for a bit then want to upgrade. I agree with DQ in suggesting that you buy used.  You could grab some 701s or HD600s and still have a bit left for an amp or amp/dac that you're going to want to buy sooner or later anyway.  If you buy a used set and decide you don't like how they sound, you'll be able to resell them and lose little or no money if you get a good deal originally. 

 

Maybe someone who owns that NAD would be able to chime in and be more specific.  I've been fairly underwhelmed with hp amp sections from most integrateds that I've heard.  In most cases, they're an afterthought.   

 

I've owned both the 701s and HD600s.  The 600s are my only headphone now - I like them that much.  I can't give an opinion on the Grados but I know many here can.

 

Hope this helps just a bit...


Thanks for the input, and I'd agree with you on the amp section for headphones. This unit has the best sound and gives a better sound then others amps I've from other integrated units (such as a Denon amp I also currently own). However, I do agree with you on picking up a dedicated headphone amp for listening, which I do plan on getting soon with the DAC cable. 

I'll have to call around town and see about tuning into a HD600, another loved headphone on this site. I'm going to keep looking in on the for sale section and on ebay to see if there are any deals to be had. I am totally fine though getting a lesser can buying new to support the various manufactures.

post #6 of 28

B&H sometimes has the HD600s for around $300.  I got a perfect used pair for $220 shipped on Audiogon.

post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuke View Post

B&H sometimes has the HD600s for around $300.  I got a perfect used pair for $220 shipped on Audiogon.


Thanks for the heads up, I'll see if guitar center has some up to give a listen. 

post #8 of 28

J&R will sell the HD650 for $319 shipped if you bargain them down. This is very good for the genres you mentioned. The K701 is nice but it's considerably brighter than the HD650 if you are sensitive to that.

post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tim3320070 View Post

J&R will sell the HD650 for $319 shipped if you bargain them down. This is very good for the genres you mentioned. The K701 is nice but it's considerably brighter than the HD650 if you are sensitive to that.


Wow, that's a great deal, I'm going to try and give them a listen before buying anything. I'm not really sensitive to bright headphones (HD414 and SR-80i don't cause me any problems). Thank you for that tip on the price, such a steal.

post #10 of 28

You'll want either the Sennheiser HD-600 or HD-650.  Both should work fine with your NAD and they will cover a broad range of music very, very well.

 

There isn't much difference between the two.  The HD-650 is a shade darker and a little smoother than the HD-600.  If the HD-600 is like looking through a clear pane of glass, the HD-650 would be a pane of glass tinted at maybe 5%.  But the two are very similar.  I go back and forth between which I liked better, but usually land on the side of the HD-600 because they cost less.  You can find a great used pair around $200, which is what I'd recommend.

post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

You'll want either the Sennheiser HD-600 or HD-650.  Both should work fine with your NAD and they will cover a broad range of music very, very well.

 

There isn't much difference between the two.  The HD-650 is a shade darker and a little smoother than the HD-600.  If the HD-600 is like looking through a clear pane of glass, the HD-650 would be a pane of glass tinted at maybe 5%.  But the two are very similar.  I go back and forth between which I liked better, but usually land on the side of the HD-600 because they cost less.  You can find a great used pair around $200, which is what I'd recommend.


Interesting analogy. That's a nice bit of savings, as it will allow some funds to be used for nice DAC. I see these things on the for sale thread all the time, so I'll look for a good pair.

 

Can anyone tell me the sound difference from the HD414 to the HD600s? I know they are miles apart in time, but those are the only open Sennheisers I've heard. 

post #12 of 28

um, the DT880 / 600 goes for $319......

post #13 of 28

um, who said anything about a Beyer 880?

post #14 of 28

People keep recommending the 600 ohm Beyers- yes they sound great (I own the DT770/600) but they need a real-deal amp to run them, no iPod will do it for these unless you like things at background volume levels.

I had the HD580 and the extra treble grain does add to acoustic instruments but I did not like it on vocals- the HD650 fixes this treble grain mostly- I think it's why people refer to the HD650 as smoother.

post #15 of 28

I\m surprised this hasn't been mentioned. The high output impedence of your amp means it won't go well with either the Grado or AKG  which are both low impedence (you should get a significant bass rolloff). If I were in your position, I would go for a Sennheiser HD650. 

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