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Starter Headphones: K240 vs Q40 vs DT 770 vs HD 25-1 II

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm a college student and classical music lover in need of some peace and quiet. I'm looking to spend between $100 and $200 for a decent set of headphones. I have a few preferences:

  • Noise Isolation
  • Would rather not buy an amp just yet
  • Looking for dorm-room durability (which is why Grados aren't on my starter list)

 

I've read threads here for about 8 hours today, and I've come up with the following list of things I think I'd like:

 

I got my love of classical from my father's large music collection, which played through a decent, if nearly antique, old-school analog amp (not sure exactly what parts, but I will probably never like anything as much as that particular tone since I grew up on it). Since starting my search for headphones and listening to all the ones I can borrow, I've been very disappointed. I figured headphones ought to sound better than speakers, but I've been in for some reality education.

 

Let me say that I've currently got a pair of 2-week-old AKG K77s, which I like for the most part. They are OK for the price ($50), but the mids are just a little smeared in intense songs. The noise isolation is excellent; I cannot hear my roommates address me.  I'm also concerned about the very light plastic construction. I don't know if I've burned them in long enough (probably under 100 hrs of music), but I'm pretty sure I should return them and go with something better.

 

I have one more problem: my HP desktop's integrated soundcard is garbage, so I've been using the (surprisingly) half-decent output of my HTC Magic phone to play FLAC's through the K77s. This means I would rather NOT get phones that require an amp right off the bat.

 

The return cutoff for the K77 is drawing near. Any opinions/suggestions?

post #2 of 18

If you're willing to give up the noise isolation the HD555's are excellent for this type of music, as they are fairly well-rounded frequency-wise and have a very wide soundstage. I have a friend who listens almost exclusively to classical music and he loves them.

post #3 of 18

As a comparrison the MS1s make my AKG 77s sound really really bad listening to them back to back. Not even close. However after comming home and using the 77s first to watch a movie or listen to music before switching to my MS1s they sound fine. They are great value, I don't think they'll fall apart, they are my knock around - let other people use them headphones. All the headphones on your list are better than the 77s from what Ive listened to (the 240s and HD 25s) or read about here. The Shure 440s were good for me without an amp - don't know about your phone though. rather than spend $179 on headphones perhaps a $100 pair with a $60 amp would give you better results for the same price? Knowing what I do now I would include an amp personally in my setup. If you are specifically getting a more expensive pair of headphones now that dont need amping so that you can get a good amp for them later - there is probably no point if they work fine without one. Also I find my K77s bad at isolating noise, most other full size headphones Ive had were way better - Shure 440, 840, even my Sony XDs blocked out more sound.


Edited by JJBug - 10/9/10 at 7:34pm
post #4 of 18

Well, I don't know how much this helps, but I've had ALL of those except for the Q40.

I'm going with the AKG 240 and I like them a lot so far. I listened to them for 6 hours on my first day! They're also dirt cheap at $70-$99!!

 

They have a LOT of bass, but it seems to be more controlled with an amp. I haven't yet used them without one yet, but should be OK. Vocal quality is excellent. There seems to be a very, very slight bump in the mid-range or so it seems. The highs are about the same as SRH-840. Just at the point where they would fatigue my ears. I don't find the highs rolled off at all and I don't understand why people say this. Maybe compared to a Beyer DT-990 or SR-80!

 

Sennheiser HD-25-1 II I immediately hated. Vocals seemed a bit "off" for some reason. Maybe I had a bad pair, but they were not worth what I paid. Just ignore me since everyone and their mother seems to love them. They're also well built and quite small for portable use.

 

DT-770 was OK for me, but despite the 32 ohm rating I found them hard to drive. Vocal quality on them was very poor to me. I guess i'm too picky. The bass seemed very well controlled and not overkill. I was able to max out the volume on my Ipod Touch and TOTAL Airhead and it wasn't even that loud. Seriously!

 

Q40 sounds very, very interesting. I read reports of sibilance, so this has scared me away for awhile. If they're better then the SRH-840 for small heads I may try them.

 

Without an amp I don't suggest the DT-770 32 ohm AT ALL. AKG 240 for classical gets my vote! They're also cheap and extremely comfortable! They do need some burn-in though I think. The soundstage is also pretty good.

 

AKG 240 is also semi-open, but doesn't seem to leak sound as much as it should. Not sure about the isolation yet sorry.

 

AKG 240 reminds me of the SRH-840 in some ways, but has more bass, probably not as accurate when it comes to the bass though. The 240 is far more comfortable though and a lot cheaper.

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

Interesting. I thought the K240 S was supposedly for professional studio monitoring, so I'm surprised to hear that it's bassy. But I don't think I would mind if it's not overpowering.

Folks praising the HD25-1 II's cite its use in sports broadcasting and similar applications, so well-built, comfy and inaccurate sound is plausible.

 

Missed JJBug's reply:

I must just not know what good sound isolation sounds like. I'm listening to the K77s now, and I like them well enough. I'm just not blown away as I wish to be. As for amps, any ideas of what would go well with K240s?


Edited by bendodge - 10/9/10 at 8:00pm
post #6 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bendodge View Post

Interesting. I thought the K240 S was supposedly for professional studio monitoring, so I'm surprised to hear that it's bassy. But I don't think I would mind if it's not overpowering.

It is and I'm surprised it has so much bass for it being listed as a studio monitor! From what i've read, the 271 is the closed version and has much less bass. The K240 is supposed to be more fun. I still find it doesn't lack in mids and highs at all so far. So far it has never been overpowering, which is definitely what I like. I hate massive amounts of bass ruining my music. If it wasn't for the bass, it would be a VERY neutral headphone. Best thing about this headphone for me is the vocal quality. Sounds great for female vocals and especially classical music.

 

The K240 should sound fine without an amp since it's only 50 ohms. I think from what I read the bass is more controlled with an amp. A $20 E5 amp might work. I use a $99 Total Airhead and it's one of my favorite amps. I accidentally killed mine once and I ended up buying the same one again!

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 

Ok, so if I go with the K240s, can you recommend any budget PC sound cards I might pair with it?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829270008

How does that look?

post #8 of 18

There is a Denon AH D1001 in the F/S section that would make a pair of excellent introduction phones.

post #9 of 18

FWIR and for dorm room durability, I suggest considering the HD25-1 II over the others. The K240S is semi-open. I use a B-stock Prodigy HD2 sound card and consider it an excellent value at $69 shipped or less - eBay.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bendodge View Post

Ok, so if I go with the K240s, can you recommend any budget PC sound cards I might pair with it?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829270008

How does that look?

post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 

Can anyone tell me the difference between the K240 MKII and the Studio? The specs look identical, but the MKII costs 50% more and comes with extra accessories.

post #11 of 18

There is no difference in sound quality. The only difference is that the K240 MKII comes with an extra cable and an extra pair of velour pads as an option. The K240 studio's cable is not coiled and has pleather earpads. They're comfortable to me and i've worn them for 5 hours last night. The design is also a bit different I think. I expected my K240 Studio to not have a removable cable, but it does have one. I got mine for $70 as coming without the original box. When I got it, it still had the box and was new. Strange.

 

I really love these headphones now. Haven't had a headphone this comfortable since I had my DT-990 years ago. They do need burn-in though.


Edited by tdockweiler - 10/10/10 at 2:55pm
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

Sweetness. I was doing vocal practice yesterday with the K77's on (playing a reference track), and decided that I did not like the fact that I cannot hear myself. Yes, I could theoretically hook up a proper monitoring system, but that's not a priority for a college student.

 

Anyway, thank you folks for all the input. I'll soon be reading the threads on burn-in to see how to do it right. I'll also look into a Prodigy HD2 for my PC.

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

I got the K240 Studio and I love them! I've listened for hundreds of hours to different music and devices, and I discovered a few things:

 

-My PC's sound card (Realtek HD something or other) is actually pretty good. The K77's were lying.

-The MyTouch 3G had a terrible sound card. The K77's were lying again.

-The FiiO E5 sounds like mud.

-The K240s sounded awesome at the start, and now they sound normal. All the other students just happened to get a bad pair of whatever. :P

-Owl City's music is actually very, very complex. You just can't hear half the tracks on most consumer cans.

-Some of my favorite classical recordings keep making this page-turning sound right behind my head. It can be a bit eerie sometimes.

-I even enjoy wearing the K240s without playing anything through them, as a sort of ear-warmer/ear-hug thing. Is that weird? I just sort of automatically put them on at my desk.

-Semi-open is actually very nice. It takes the edge off the background noise, but I can still hear the phone ring.

 

Sorry to bump an old thread, but I just wanted to say "thank you."


Edited by bendodge - 2/25/12 at 8:08pm
post #14 of 18

Consider FiiO E10 (DAC-Amp). I found E10 much better sounding than my onboard soundcard, no hiss and much better instrument separation (which work very nice with complex classic passage). It's about $80 I think.
Glad you like your K240s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bendodge View Post

I got the K240 Studio and I love them! I've listened for hundreds of hours to different music and devices, and I discovered a few things:

 

-My PC's sound card (Realtek HD something or other) is actually pretty good. The K77's were lying.

-The MyTouch 3G had a terrible sound card. The K77's were lying again.

-The FiiO E5 sounds like mud.

-The K240s sounded awesome at the start, and now they sound normal. All the other students just happened to get a bad pair of whatever. :P

-Owl City's music is actually very, very complex. You just can't hear half the tracks on most consumer cans.

-Some of my favorite classical recordings keep making this page-turning sound right behind my head. It can be a bit eerie sometimes.

-I even enjoy wearing the K240s without playing anything through them, as a sort of ear-warmer/ear-hug thing. Is that weird? I just sort of automatically put them on at my desk.

-Semi-open is actually very nice. It takes the edge off the background noise, but I can still hear the phone ring.

 

Sorry to bump an old thread, but I just wanted to say "thank you."



 

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jipan View Post

Consider FiiO E10 (DAC-Amp). I found E10 much better sounding than my onboard soundcard, no hiss and much better instrument separation (which work very nice with complex classic passage). It's about $80 I think.
Glad you like your K240s.



 


I agree.  The FiiO E10 works well with my K240 Mk II.

 

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