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Cost-no-object cans

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

What are the top of the heap, other than Stax? And how much $ are we talking - the $1000 range.

 

I have a $30K main system and am looking at the prospect of having to do a lot more listening with headphones - which right now I use only at the office. I listen to AT 900 Ltds there. Just looking for a couple general suggestions to get some research started.

 

(I guess I'm also interested in some amp suggestions.  Are there any 45 or 2A3 SETs designed specifically with headphone output in mind?  I know SETs inside out and have had many 45 amps (and a few 2A3) and never had one that even had a headphone output.)

post #2 of 20

Sennheiser - HD800 ~$1400

Grado - PS1000 ~$1700

Beyerdynamic - T1 ~$1300

Audeze - LCD2  ~$950

Hifiman - HE6  ~$1000

Denon - D7000 ~$650

Ultrasone - Ed8 ~1300 & Ed10 ~$2700

Sony - Z1000 ~$500

 

AKG, A-T and others remain unchanged.

post #3 of 20

Audio technica L3000 (2850)

Song MDR-R10 (5000+?)

AKG K1000 (700)

 

And i dont think there are any SET 2A3 dedicated headphone amps around as they deliver too much power.


Edited by yifu - 1/12/11 at 5:30pm
post #4 of 20

Hey Inburrito, would you mind purchasing two pairs of the headphones suggested? One for you, and one for me? We can collaborate and share our impressions and thoughts on the headphones, bettering our musical interests and the head-fi community. I would suggest the LCD2 or HE6.

post #5 of 20

As with the top of the line headphone amps, there is the Apex Pinnacle (10000) and the Singlepower ES 1 (can be configured in excess of 13000) among some others. So a high-fi headphone setup of DAC, cables, amps, dedicated power supply, CD player/digital transport/turnable and the headphone itself will set you back 30k.


Edited by yifu - 1/12/11 at 5:35pm
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by dub Beatz View Post

Hey Inburrito, would you mind purchasing two pairs of the headphones suggested? One for you, and one for me? We can collaborate and share our impressions and thoughts on the headphones, bettering our musical interests and the head-fi community. I would suggest the LCD2 or HE6.


im with you dubs

 

good luck with your search sir - you are well beyond my comprehension of what i would spend.

post #7 of 20

I'd say that the Beyerdynamic T5p probably belong on the list too.  They don't seem to get a lot of love, however, probably due to being large and expensive for closed 'phones.  They've got to be among the top on the list for headphones not to disturb others at home, however.

post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 

I thought $1000 was the top of the top.  Meaning $500 used.  Guess I was wrong.

 

I am not rich.  Actually, adding it up, my system is more like $25K retail, and since I built some of it (Audio Note DAC) and bought other stuff used, I spent more like $15K, over several years.

 

It's too bad there is almost no way to listen to these high-end cans.  I bet I would really like the electrostats, but what a gamble to buy new.

 

As for power, I thought there were some power-hungry cans that could eat a watt or two.  Maybe not.  I am really a newbie in the headphone arena, as you can tell.  I bought my AT 900s after some research 5 years ago and they are the only high-end cans I've had.  A year later I built the SEX amp.  This combo is quite good, actually, and maybe it's good enough.

post #9 of 20

Haha thats the problem with most people who think headphones/IEMs dont cost a lot. I mean they do cost less than the top of the line speaker setups but even a tiny custom IEM like the JH16 pro costs 1600 dollars so its not be under estimated. The Stax electrostats cost even more than the headphones listed in previous threads. You could fly to Japan as Stax is based off there and have places for you to try them out!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by inburrito View Post

I thought $1000 was the top of the top.  Meaning $500 used.  Guess I was wrong.

 

I am not rich.  Actually, adding it up, my system is more like $25K retail, and since I built some of it (Audio Note DAC) and bought other stuff used, I spent more like $15K, over several years.

 

It's too bad there is almost no way to listen to these high-end cans.  I bet I would really like the electrostats, but what a gamble to buy new.

 

As for power, I thought there were some power-hungry cans that could eat a watt or two.  Maybe not.  I am really a newbie in the headphone arena, as you can tell.  I bought my AT 900s after some research 5 years ago and they are the only high-end cans I've had.  A year later I built the SEX amp.  This combo is quite good, actually, and maybe it's good enough.

post #10 of 20

I should add that in some ways even headphones like the HD 800 haven't completely eclipsed their predecessors.  I like the mids of the HD 600 more than the HD 800 (never heard the HD 650), and there's probably plenty that would argue that lesser models of their favorite flavor of headphones eclipse higher placed models of other brands (Denon D2000 vs. HD 650, for example).

 

I've got something like a $6500 main system (at least that's what it would have cost in the '90s, today it'd easily be far north of $10000), although truth be told that cost certainly isn't a reliable indicator of performance at any level, and particularly above a few thousand.  Anyway, I find the HD 800 and T1 (the only headphones on that list that I've heard) to fall far, far short of the experience (and quality) my speakers provide.  Sure, I would love to have one of them, but they'd alone eclipse what I paid for my system in its entirety.  At that point, I had a revelation with my HD 600s and realized that I'm not going to find a worthwhile upgrade without spending more money than would make sense to me.

 

Of course, everyone is different.  Of any of those headphones, I'd like to try the LCD-2 and HE-6 the most, since I'm a planar fan (my mains are Infinity Renaissance 90s).  I'd also like to try the closed cans listed, since I've started to annoy those around me with my open ones...  But regardless, unlike you, it's not likely I'll get any of them.

 

You know, there are meets where you can hear many of these headphones?  Also, if you live reasonably close to a major city, there's a good chance that there may be a dealer with many of these in stock.  It totally depends on where you live...  My city of 300,000 in the US - Lansing, Michigan - has no audio store whatsoever other than Best Buy & ABC Warehouse...  The population 50,000 city I'm in in Sweden has a hi-fi dealer right downtown near the bus station that has the HD 800, HD 600, T1, DT 880, DT 990, and AKG K701 all in stock, and plenty of lesser headphones too.  The big box stores have infiltrated here too, but not nearly to the same degree.

post #11 of 20

there is a pair of sennheiser orpheus headphones on ebay right now. they are said to be the best headphones in the world.

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowjuan View Post

there is a pair of sennheiser orpheus headphones on ebay right now. they are said to be the best headphones in the world.



Just saw that... /drool

post #13 of 20
Where to start.... First, there are a handful of 2A3 amps out there. I own one of them, a Moth Si2A3. They're out of production, but one or two turn up every year for sale. Wonderful amps - it took me over a year to locate and buy one. After Moth went under, the designer (Craig Uthus) started Eddie Current. I think one of the Balancing Act models can be ordered with 2A3 tubes. Check out his site and the Moth Museum there - I think you'll see much you'll like. Another designer in the same vein is Donald North. He produces a very nice 6H30 amp and I think he's working on a 2A3 amp for the K-1000. He is also into Audio Note (and has their 2A3 amp) so be sure to check him out.

If you do some DIY, browse the plans at HeadWize. There are some terrific tube designs there. You might also want to go back through Frank Cooter's posts and maybe talk to him. He does *amazing* work with all manner of SET/DHT tubes. You'll learn a lot and get turned on to the more obscure DHT tubes. He's a great resource.

As for headphones, there are plenty of expensive ones. The ones I think are pretty damned good include the Sennheiser HD-800, AKG K-1000, Stax Omega 2 Mk. 1, Sony R10, Grado HP-1000, and the Sennheiser HE60 and HE90. Stax has a new model almost out that I've heard good things about, too.

My beef with electrostats is that the amp options are pretty limited, expensive and very complicated. They do sound good, though. Personally, I like Frank Cooter's approach with tubes and lots of iron. Not cheap, but I think I'll eventually go in that direction for an "ultimate" electrostat amp in a year or two. We'll see, since I have a bunch of dynamic amps in need of building. smily_headphones1.gif

As for my rig, I usually run the Sennheiser HD-800 from an Eddie Current Zana Deux. That's a special amp. It's an OTL with low output impedance, thanks to the 6C33C output tubes. It's fast, detailed and neutral, but I think the 6SL7 driver adds just enough tube warmth to let you know you're not listening to chips. It's one of the best values out there and makes a fine preamp, as well.

Like you, I also love speakers. Lately, I've been running my ProAc Response 2.5 clones. I also have a pair of ESL-63s and everything but the cabinets for the Linkwitz Orion3.

You asked about a tough-to-drive headphone; that would be the AKG K-1000. They're earspeakers that fold out (very cool - look them up if you haven't seen a pair) that call for 8W of power. I like to run mine off the Si2A3's speaker taps. 3W is pretty good and they're delicious on DHT. The K-1000 also sounds awesome off the Audio Note. I think immtbiker has a K-1000 up for sale. You might want to check that out.

Anyhow, that should give you a few hours of browsing. smily_headphones1.gif And thanks for showing up! The noobs are great, but I love it when someone who has been in the hobby for awhile shows up.
post #14 of 20

Erik, for kicks you should get one of the little Dayton DTA-1 amps and see how it drives the K-1000s!  biggrin.gif

 

That's a serious inquiry, in fact.  It really would be interesting - the DTA-1 does a great job even with revealing planar tweeters (besides being lacking in power), so I think it would do quite well with headphones.  Heck, it can even run on 8 AA batteries - not to mention it's dual-voltage.  I brought mine with me to Sweden, in fact.

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 

First of all, this forum is really super. You guys have me excited about headphones!! The AKG K-1000 is what I had in mind in my "$1000 buys world-class headphones" mindset. I recall the glowing reviews from the early 2000s. I find out now they are no longer made.

 

I like my AT-900 Ltds again so I am leaning to trying the 1000s. I am also leaning to trying Stax. I have no opportunity to try any cans locally save Sennheiser. I listened to the 600s and 650s years ago. They are very good.

 

As for amps, that Woo Audio Electrostat amp looks very nice indeed. I have not really decided on how much $ I want to invest in the endeavor now.

 

I kind of wish I had not bought that Cayin iDac-1 but maybe it will impress me.  Or maybe I will just resell it.

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