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What headphones will likely outperform a Sennheiser HD650 with Zu Mobius cable

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I am looking to improve the fuzzy/warm midbass and LFs these give me while maintaining the pleasantly engaging mids, acceptable clarity/resolution and dynamics. However, if I can improve upon the latter too, then great. I have a custom built tube amp and for now I prefer to stick with using tubes. I realize that using tubes does not help the HD650s.  But I have the same overall impression when they are plugged into my portable gear with or without my SS portable amps. I should point out that my current digital sources are as follows:

 

1) Main system - Exemplar modded DVD 5910 with tube output stage and balance out option. Also have an APL modded Philips SACD 1000 with tube output stage.  It's on its last legs and will eventually be paperweight.  However, if I am good, it's playback is oh so good for only about 20-25 minutes each day until it decides it wants to rest ;-)

2) Office system - APL modded Pioneer 563a (SS mods only)

3) Portable system - iPhone 3GS to RSA P51 Mustang or iQube V1

 

As to sonics, I prefer a smooth, natural presentation.  I am lucky that I am exposed to the sounds of non-amplified natural voices and instruments (orchestra, quartets, small ensemble, piano, etc.) 3 - 5 times per week, and these are my sonic reference when evaluating if i keep or replace audio gear. Don't get me wrong. I like to rock/funk/groove out and also listen to great thumping soundtracks. However, it is a high priority that my system get the tonal balance and natural timbre of voices and instruments first. I figure if a system can get these right, then recordings of amplified or electronically processed voices or electronic instruments will sound they way they were recorded - good or bad.

 

So please suggest away without concern for cost.  However ,as the world of IEMs have made consistently shown, great sound and high prices do necessarily go hand in hand.  TIA.


Edited by ctm - 9/24/10 at 10:20am
post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 

Ok, I revised the title so that it is not seen as an ad.  I will be keeping the HD650.  However, I am now open to auditioning better headphones.  So with respect to the sonic preferences I detailed above, please reply with your recommendations.  Thanks again.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

The input from those who have crossed the same path would be much appreciated.  It is like from briefly scanning through posts and doing some searches the following may be suggested: TI, LCD2, HD800, etc.  Are there others that fall int he category of:

1) cost no object headphones

2) those that fall between the price ranges of used HD650 with upgraded cables to the $1K+ prices of these top cans

 

Thanks in advance.

post #4 of 13

I would add the ATH-W1000X to your list based on your musical preferences, but wait for a better USD/Yen exchange rate.  Cheers.


Edited by Ridleyguy - 9/25/10 at 8:56am
post #5 of 13

Sony R10 may fit in your request of top tier headphone, and the description of what you like although they are several orders of magnitude more expensive than the other 3 at ~$5000-6500.

 

Could you give more details on your tube amp? Do you know the topology? Perhaps most importantly is it OTL or transformer coupled output? Does it employ global feedback? 

 

I have had "iffy" results with the R10 on my OTL/no global feedback monster. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Very weird. They seem to work better from amps with lower output impedance. My general impression of the Audeez LCD2 (although I have only heard them for a few min) is that they also work better out of an amp that can provide more current than an OTL. They seem to be very inefficient headphones.

post #6 of 13
post #7 of 13

Find yourself a set of Joseph Grado Signature HP-1000 headphones (either the HP-1 or HP-2 versions) . Unfortunately, prices have been driven up by collectors, so you may have quite a search. There is an excellent review on Headphonereviews.org under the heading Grado HP1000 by Senior Member 003.

 

Good listening

post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikongod View Post

Could you give more details on your tube amp? Do you know the topology? Perhaps most importantly is it OTL or transformer coupled output? Does it employ global feedback? 


This is what I was wondering, too.  Have you ever tried plugging your HD-650 into a desktop solid state amp?  If you can go to a meet, you might be surprised at what chips will do to the low end on a HD-650.  I've heard portables struggle with a HD-650, but something like a Beta22 puts real low-end authority into the HD-650.


Edited by Uncle Erik - 9/26/10 at 11:42am
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

nikongod & Uncle Erik - I updated my signature to detail the amps I am using.  Those most often used with the HD650s are the transformer coupled and the portable units, and I agree that portables don't do as well with the HD650s.  Still my iQube is a better match than the P51 Mustang. 

 

..... Anyone have experience with the  Pico, RSA Protector or Lisa?

 

As to desktop amps, my transformer coupled unit is significantly farther ahead in SQ than the iQube.  The Cary amp serves as the controller for a second system.  I have never really been impressed by its headphone out performance.  It was most used with my K1000's via the speaker taps before I sold them.

 

VonRip - I would welcome and HP-1 or HP-2.  However, it may be elusive due to lack of availability and cost.  For now, the quest could be for a set of high value headphones that equal of better the performances of sub $1k headphones.  A colleague who is the principal percussionist for our symphony orchestra swears by the pitch definition, musicality and finesse of the AKG 702. 

 

..... Anyone compare this to any of the following: TI, LCD2, HD800, ATH-W1000X?  Any other suggestios?

 

..... For those who has compared them, just how close does the AKG702 (with the right amp) get to the R10 or HP-1 of HP-2?


Edited by ctm - 9/29/10 at 10:38pm
post #10 of 13

5687 (or equivalent) gain/driver for el84 to transformer output? Neat!

 

As long as it has a low impedance secondary I'd try the low impedance headphones.

 

OOh, the Hd600 and/or 800 may also fit the bill, for a high impedance alternative

post #11 of 13

ctm - Thanks for your reply, I do of course have a set of Grado HP-2s as well as Sennheiser HD-650s and the Senns are not even in the same league in terms of SQ. However, in terms of user comfort the HD-650s are indeed a hard headphone to better. I am very impressed by your profile and because of such audiophile roots I might consider parting with my HP-2s. I have no interest talking to groupies or collectors, but these headphones have quite a story, so if you haven't found something else of interest send me a PM.  

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

nikongod - Glad you can appreciate the merits of the design of my headphone amp.

 

VonRip - Thanks for sharing your findings when comparing the HP-2s with more familiar headphones.  I am curious if you've A/B'd your headphone with the TI, LCD2, HD800, ATH-W1000X or AKG 702?  If so can you please detail your impressions? 

 

Btw, one set of headphones that gets recommendations are the Denon HD-7000's, which are impressive - sonically and aesthetically.  In particular, they have impressive midbass and LF response.  Definitely lots of wow factor in this regard and lots of people love that.  I am, however, not a fan. 

 

So what is it with the HD7k you ask?  I began this thread by clarifying what my sonic priorities are.  With respect to the Denon, it has to do with pitch definition and no matter what low imp amp I've used (SS or tube) it is just a bit on the plump side from midbass on down.  To further illustrate this, I have a colleague who is close friends with the principal double bassist and the principal percussionist for our superb metropolitan symphony and he shared with me after we got to talking about the Denons that these musicians also felt that although these headphones instantly capture your attention, their performance is overdone in certain frequency ranges.  For them, this is most evident when they hear great reference recordings of instrument with which they are the intimately familiar.  I mentioned the AKG 702 because the they repeatedly note that when used with their custom transformer coupled tube amps, they are more accurate/neutral and therefore, have better overall pitch definition than the Denons, and they tried a few different types of amps with the HD7ks.


Edited by ctm - 9/29/10 at 10:39pm
post #13 of 13

ctm - Sorry, but I can't provide impressions regarding your referenced list of headphones as I have not had the opportunity to listen and compare. In looking at nikongod 's avatar I note that he is shown wearing a set of JG HP-1000 's so you might ask his impressions?

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