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Filling a Specific Headphone Need

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I've found myself in a bit of a pickle.

 

I just started a new job where I'm wearing headphones and listening to music/podcasts for 8.5 hours at a time with 5-10 minute breaks thrown in every once and a while.  My job also requires me to listen for (sometimes quiet) announcements over PA speakers that might pertain to me.  This led me to initially buy some PortaPros (which I love) but am now starting to feel the strain of discomfort after a long day of wearing them.  To make things worse I wear them even longer when I come home because my wife is asleep by that point.  By the time I'm in bed I've had my ears squeezed for almost 10 hours a day.  I need some help.

 

What I'm looking for are some headphones that excel in comfort, sound quality, and value but not in isolation.  This has made reading through some reviews difficult for me since my needs are so specific.  It also wouldn't hurt if they were decent for mixing as a supplement to the monitors connected to my recording setup.

 

Some additional details:

- At work I listen through a Sansa Fuze

- I'm not looking at investing in a separate headphone amp for portable use (I have a mixer at home)

- value is important but I would consider spending up to $250

- the music I enjoy filters through the indie spectrum so tends to vary from lots of acoustic folk to buzzy, reverby electro stuff

- it seems like circumaural open-backed phones would be best for isolation and comfort so that's mostly what I've been looking at

- I've heard enough about Grados being uncomfortable that I think I can (unfortunately) rule those out

 

Here are some of the phones I'm deciding between (suggestions would be incredible too!)

 

- Audio Technica ATH-AD700: I'm a little concerned about bass response and bigness but they look good for quality and comfort.

- AKG K242HD: Heard these might be a good alternative to the 702s that wouldn't need amping

- Koss UR 40: I read that the drivers are the same as the portapros (which I know I like)

- Koss UR 55: Seems like this might be higher quality or better comfort than the 40s

- Sennheiser HD448, HD595, HD598: I'm so stumped with these.  I've seen different recommendations for midrange Sennheisers that contrast them with brighter Grado-like sound (like the portapros) by saying they are smoother and more mellow.  Also I'm afraid that even the lower impedance headphones of theirs might only really shine through a higher output device than my Sansa Fuze.  If there are other recommendations that any of you might have to help me clarify this I would really appreciate it.

 

I hope I'm not ruffling any feathers by posting in the main channel here, I just wanted access to the best opinions I could get, and I figured that this was the place.  Realize that by helping me you're not only helping to open up my listening world to a new set of experiences but you're also saving my pretty little ears from a lot of vice-like pain.

post #2 of 18

Heya,

 

HD598 would the Sennheiser for you, if you wanted a Sennheiser.

DT880 would be the Beyer for you, if you wanted a Beyer.

D900 would be the AudioTechnica for you, if you wanted an AudioTechnica.

HFI 2400 would be the Ultrasone for you, if you wanted an Ultrasone.

FA-011 would be the Fischer Audio for you, if you wanted a Fischer Audio.

 

Very best,

post #3 of 18

If you're looking for the equivalent of the Portapro that isn't uncomfortable, you'd be hard pressed to do better than the Sennheiser PX100.  They never feel like they are on your head, and I find I could wear them forever without discomfort.

post #4 of 18

Well i got the AKG k242HD myself and i love them! Very good with vocals and instruments and overall a very natural sounding can. Comfort is superb i think! They are light and self adjusting and i can wear them for days without breaking a sweat.

 

The downside is that they need an amp for my needs..But if you can live with a litter lower volume and if you have a mixer at home, this might not be a problem.

post #5 of 18

You might watch the for sale forum for a used pair of beyerdynamics. They are exceptionally comfortable and used dt880's or dt990's should fall in your budget.

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the quick response, guys!  While I slept the head-fi fairies visited me with some wisdom.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post

Heya,

 

HD598 would the Sennheiser for you, if you wanted a Sennheiser.

DT880 would be the Beyer for you, if you wanted a Beyer.

D900 would be the AudioTechnica for you, if you wanted an AudioTechnica.

HFI 2400 would be the Ultrasone for you, if you wanted an Ultrasone.

FA-011 would be the Fischer Audio for you, if you wanted a Fischer Audio.

 

Very best,


Thanks for the flurry of recommendations.  I tried a set of my friend's lower end (~$90) Sennheiser closed back phones last night and they had an extremely strong clamping pressure on my head.  Without trying some of these phones first this was the sort of thing I was afraid of.  I have definitely heard the HD598 are comfortable, but I wonder how they compare to some other designs.  I also read about a few niggling comfort concerns in the differences between the AD700s and the AD900s.  If it's the difference between "outstanding" and "remarkable" than I guess it's not a big deal, but I know the price difference is almost $100 where I've checked.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpearce View Post

If you're looking for the equivalent of the Portapro that isn't uncomfortable, you'd be hard pressed to do better than the Sennheiser PX100.  They never feel like they are on your head, and I find I could wear them forever without discomfort.


My concern with the PX100s is that they are similarly on-ear and might give me the same problem after a long period I had with the portapros.  Ideally I'll be taking the big headphones to work but will be able to sneak in a relief pair (like the koss ones) if I get too fatigued.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Arvan View Post

Well i got the AKG k242HD myself and i love them! Very good with vocals and instruments and overall a very natural sounding can. Comfort is superb i think! They are light and self adjusting and i can wear them for days without breaking a sweat.

 

The downside is that they need an amp for my needs..But if you can live with a litter lower volume and if you have a mixer at home, this might not be a problem.


I was concerned about the need for an amp with those headphones.  I don't need them to always sound their best but to sound very good at work and really good at home.  As long as they aren't too weak with an mp3 player I would be allright.  I can't blow my ears off with volume at work anyway.  If they are quieter but not necessarily weak or struggling then i think they would work out.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by skozsert View Post

You might watch the for sale forum for a used pair of beyerdynamics. They are exceptionally comfortable and used dt880's or dt990's should fall in your budget.

 

I hadn't really considered the dt880s before seeing yours and MalVeauX's recommendations.  They do seem to be a bit on the pricey side but seem to be pretty popular around this site.  I tried a quick search on ebay and the prices seem decent but it seems like there are a lot of older models thrown in there.  I'm a bit worried too about them being more isolating than other headphones based on some comments I've read.  Are they specifically for bass lovers, or is that my misconception?

 

 

 

Thanks again for the posts.  I'm still floating indecisively between a few options.  The AD700s seem like they might have a slight comfort edge over their pricier cousins the AD900s.  If anyone reading this thinks the quality outweighs those factors for them I'd LOVE to hear it.  The Sennheisers are also tempting but I feel like I would need a strong recommendation based on comparison to choose them.  The AKG k242HDs sound promising but despite their low-ish impedance it seems most people recommend them amped.  Lastly the DT880s/DT990s are more of an unknown to me.  If anyone could help clear these factors up via a comparison I would be forever grately.  Thanks for the help so far.
 

 

post #7 of 18

Superlux HD-668B semi-open headphones, no need for an amp.

Well under your $250 budget.

post #8 of 18

One Audio Technica's AD series headphones really would be perfect for this.  They're very open, so hearing announcements won't be a problem at all (when i listen to more minimal music with the AD900 I can hear my overhead fan going).  I haven't heard the AD700, but the genre range you specified kiiind of sounds great on the 900.  Oh--and they're definitely the most comfortable headphone I've tried on so far (Includes some DT series Beyers).

post #9 of 18

I haven't heard the dt990s so I can't really comment on them, but they are supposed to be a more lively or fun presentation. The dt880s are fairly neutral. Trebles are slightly boosted but not ear piercing to me, bass is pretty good for an open phone. These are by no means bass monsters. I would pick the Beyers over the AD700s in comfort, the headband on the AD700s is kind of odd and doesn't clamp very securely on my head.

post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for the help, all.  Reading a bit about the Superlux HD-668B definitely made those looks tempting but I'd be concerned about the clamping force over the many hours.

 

I ended up biting the bullet and ordering some AD900s.  I think they should provide all the comfort I'm looking for without any doubts about build quality or size.  Now I just have to wait for the long week or so for Amazon and Beach Camera to figure out how to send them to me and I'll be golden.  I can't wait to burn them in and then really put them through their paces. 

 

Thanks for the help, guys.

post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by beeeatsme View Post

Thanks again for the help, all.  Reading a bit about the Superlux HD-668B definitely made those looks tempting but I'd be concerned about the clamping force over the many hours.

 

I ended up biting the bullet and ordering some AD900s.  I think they should provide all the comfort I'm looking for without any doubts about build quality or size.  Now I just have to wait for the long week or so for Amazon and Beach Camera to figure out how to send them to me and I'll be golden.  I can't wait to burn them in and then really put them through their paces. 

 

Thanks for the help, guys.


Heya,

 

AD900's float on your head. Very comfortable. The AD500/700/900 all literally feel the same. They're light, barely touch your head, the cups are massive, soft, and they don't apply pressure any where that is significant. The only fault I can say is that they can get hot depending on the ambient temps or stillness of air. They sound great, have a huge sound stage, are good for everything and are airy and pretty clear. Good mids/highs. Bass is there, it's good, they're definitely not subwhoofers though. I think you'll be pleased with them in all regards. Make sure and let us know how they treat you and don't bother burning in, listen to them to burn in, and then report back.

 

Very best,

 

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post




Heya,

 

AD900's float on your head. Very comfortable. The AD500/700/900 all literally feel the same. They're light, barely touch your head, the cups are massive, soft, and they don't apply pressure any where that is significant. The only fault I can say is that they can get hot depending on the ambient temps or stillness of air. They sound great, have a huge sound stage, are good for everything and are airy and pretty clear. Good mids/highs. Bass is there, it's good, they're definitely not subwhoofers though. I think you'll be pleased with them in all regards. Make sure and let us know how they treat you and don't bother burning in, listen to them to burn in, and then report back.

 

Very best,

 

 

I will totally post back with impressions.  I'm very curious to see my reaction to them based on the highest-fi headphones/speakers I've heard in the past is.  I'm imagining less bassy but more presence than my sony mdr-v600s I picked up years ago and I'm hoping for more controlled bass and a lot more distinctive treble than the portapros.  I feel like I've got a good sense for their negatives so I'm excited to experience some of these positives I've heard about.

 

I haven't ever owned a set of cans that required burn-in before so I'm very interested to see how much I can notice the difference and how long all that will take.  I'm going to have to make some definite sacrifices in portability to use these at work (I see cable length being a real potential problem here) but I'm hoping that they'll be worth it.
 

 

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

Well I've got some impressions/updates/purchase info for you all now, and a new decision.

 

Well I have since received the AD900s and put them (and me) through their paces.  The mids of these unitsso far represent the best sound I've yet heard from a headphone.  I had a really great experience listening to Joanna Newsom's Ys album with them.  Unfortunately there are (or should I say were) some drawbacks.  For one these seem really skewed to classical or non-rock genres to me.  They have plenty of brightness and excellent instrument separation but the low end just felt barely-there to me.  Granted I was using these back and forth with my beloved portapros but still they lacked the impact or presence that really balances out a lot of rock music for me.  They also seemed quite bright to me so I had to eq them both ways for long listening sessions.  In order to compensate for the bass I found myself turning them up too loud which both caused me to get fatigued and to become worried that my coworkers would kill me (these are SUPER OPEN).  All in all I decided to return them.  I just can't use them at work and don't think I'll get enough use out of them at home to justify them.  Sad I know.

 

On Tacoboy's recommendation I picked up some cheap Superlux 668bs and have been enjoying those, although they don't quite fill my need.  Even with consistent overnight stretching sessions I've found them too tight.  It's enough to distract me from the music, which can be a real bummer.  I really enjoy their low end and find them very tight with great impact (which I attribute to the pretty tight seal).  Rolling off the highs with a simple eq, as suggested by the guy from Inner Fidelity, really helped make it a more balanced and less fatiguing phone.  The comfort just isn't there though, and the highs are still bright enough to be a bit grating over long periods.  Which brings me, without further delay, to my new big decision:

 

Would the Sennheiser HD598s or Denon D2000s better suit my needs?

 

I'm afraid that the Sennheisers might leak sound too much for the environment I'm in.  Some leakage is okay because of the ambient noise in the room, but if they are just as loud or almost as loud from the outside as from the inside it would be a major problem.  It was a problem with the AD900s.  From what I've read, the D2000s, though closed, are not very well isolated.  Instead of a problem, this would be a boon for me in the instance, since I still need to hear those pesky announcements when they are made.

 

My main concern with the hd598s is that their bass will be lacking (like the AD900s).  It's not a super common note in reviews for them, but since they are open I could imagine their impact being very low.  Any thoughts?  Also it would be nice to know how much they leak sound.

 

My main concern with the D2000s is over portability and comfort.  Since they have a double cable, which is apparently very thick and long, I would have to make do with coiling up the excess, which might add even more weight to them.  Also if the clamping force is too strong, along with the pleather ear cups then comfort could be a problem.  Both of these headphones are pretty often recommended from different outlets so hopefully either one will do me well, but I want the best I can get.  ;o]

 

One last thing.  I was considering getting my first portable headphone amp to pair along with one of these.  I know it's a huge subject, but would getting a cheap one like a Fiio e5 or even e11 be worth the investment?  Would the bass boost help fill out the hd598s?  Remember I'm pairing it with a Sansa Fuze if that matters.  Any cheap recommendations would be super helpful there as well.

 

Gosh that was long.  Hope you guys still have some advice left in your tank!

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by beeeatsme View Post

Well I've got some impressions/updates/purchase info for you all now, and a new decision.

 

Well I have since received the AD900s and put them (and me) through their paces.  The mids of these unitsso far represent the best sound I've yet heard from a headphone.  I had a really great experience listening to Joanna Newsom's Ys album with them.  Unfortunately there are (or should I say were) some drawbacks.  For one these seem really skewed to classical or non-rock genres to me.  They have plenty of brightness and excellent instrument separation but the low end just felt barely-there to me.  Granted I was using these back and forth with my beloved portapros but still they lacked the impact or presence that really balances out a lot of rock music for me.  They also seemed quite bright to me so I had to eq them both ways for long listening sessions.  In order to compensate for the bass I found myself turning them up too loud which both caused me to get fatigued and to become worried that my coworkers would kill me (these are SUPER OPEN).  All in all I decided to return them.  I just can't use them at work and don't think I'll get enough use out of them at home to justify them.  Sad I know.

 

On Tacoboy's recommendation I picked up some cheap Superlux 668bs and have been enjoying those, although they don't quite fill my need.  Even with consistent overnight stretching sessions I've found them too tight.  It's enough to distract me from the music, which can be a real bummer.  I really enjoy their low end and find them very tight with great impact (which I attribute to the pretty tight seal).  Rolling off the highs with a simple eq, as suggested by the guy from Inner Fidelity, really helped make it a more balanced and less fatiguing phone.  The comfort just isn't there though, and the highs are still bright enough to be a bit grating over long periods.  Which brings me, without further delay, to my new big decision:

 

Would the Sennheiser HD598s or Denon D2000s better suit my needs?

 

I'm afraid that the Sennheisers might leak sound too much for the environment I'm in.  Some leakage is okay because of the ambient noise in the room, but if they are just as loud or almost as loud from the outside as from the inside it would be a major problem.  It was a problem with the AD900s.  From what I've read, the D2000s, though closed, are not very well isolated.  Instead of a problem, this would be a boon for me in the instance, since I still need to hear those pesky announcements when they are made.

 

My main concern with the hd598s is that their bass will be lacking (like the AD900s).  It's not a super common note in reviews for them, but since they are open I could imagine their impact being very low.  Any thoughts?  Also it would be nice to know how much they leak sound.

 

My main concern with the D2000s is over portability and comfort.  Since they have a double cable, which is apparently very thick and long, I would have to make do with coiling up the excess, which might add even more weight to them.  Also if the clamping force is too strong, along with the pleather ear cups then comfort could be a problem.  Both of these headphones are pretty often recommended from different outlets so hopefully either one will do me well, but I want the best I can get.  ;o]

 

One last thing.  I was considering getting my first portable headphone amp to pair along with one of these.  I know it's a huge subject, but would getting a cheap one like a Fiio e5 or even e11 be worth the investment?  Would the bass boost help fill out the hd598s?  Remember I'm pairing it with a Sansa Fuze if that matters.  Any cheap recommendations would be super helpful there as well.

 

Gosh that was long.  Hope you guys still have some advice left in your tank!

Sorry the HD-668Bs did not work out, personally I find the clamp just right.

Some people add Velour pads to the HD-668B, I'm assuming it makes for a softer feel.

AKG K240, K241 Velour replacement pads will work on the HD-668B.
 

 

post #15 of 18

Sorry you didn't like the AD900's. I have a pair and they are very bass light, but I enjoy the detail and precision so much I can overlook the small amount of bass. Plus what is there is pretty punchy and tight.

 

 

My go to headphones for office use is actually a pair of KSC75''s with the Parts Express Mini headphone headband. Yes, they are $20, but the clamping force is so small and they are so light, I wear them every day for 6-8 hours at a time with absolutely no fatigue. Plus they are semi open so I can hear others but it doesn't leak so badly that everyone can hear what I'm listening to. With some quarter modding and the Kramer mod (I've also modded mine to be a single sided entry cable) they sound pretty darn nice too, especially if you'll primarily use them for podcasts.

 

Plus with all the money you save by getting the KSC75's, you can always buy yourself some really nice mixing headphones!

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