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Narrowing purchase to 4 AKG Headphones: Audiophile's Plea

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'm sure posts like these have been here a googol of times, but for the past 6 years I've been trying to find a decent headset and looking to get one soon. Narrowed down to:

AKG K240 MKII (Semi-Open)
AKG K242 HD (Semi-Open)

AKG K271 MKII (Closed)
AKG K172 HD (Closed)

I've heard that Semi-Open is the best of both worlds (Open/Closed) and would like to get them if they can live up to the legend that people make them out to be. Closed is said to offer the best experience reproducing Rich Bass. However, I've found that people's taste in music makes them biased towards their audio equipment. (Example: My friend who listens to Rock, Hip-Hop and Rap loves his Dre Beats Studio. I borrowed them one afternoon and found it failed, surprisingly the Bass reproduction, against my music library).

So, if it does helps, I'll try to give some insight to my Musical background: I listen to a range from Metal to Death Metal and enjoy powerful Music (Not lyrics, the actual music). I try not to sound stuck-up, snobby or anything, but I do have to explain it often to people I hang with so I just want to be very clear. I'm very, very picky about Music. I play Guitar, Bass, Drums, and Piano. Playing has made these instruments stand out more in my listening experience, especially the way its presented. I listen to all aspects of Music, I'm not a 'Bass Person' as some people say they are. I sense when Highs, Mids and Lows are off and the music I listen to usually has to flow very, very well and evenly (if that makes sense). I do work Studio a lot on my computer and I do know what I'm talking about when it comes to Music / Sound vs Systems vs Equalizers (Last time I posted something online, I was told my EQ settings were crap, but this listener had his set to +10 Everything Bass/Mids and -10 Treble so yea...). Fun Fact: I hate subwoofers with a passion save for the one in my 5.1 System, but then again I hate that one too. : )

So, again, Bass is not all I'm looking for, its just one of the Biggest problems I've been having recently with Headphones. (Will post links to songs and references from YouTube to present a clearer picture).

One of the key things that my last hundred headsets have had issues with is reproducing that rich Bass Hit from the Double Pedals, especially when some songs drop to single pedal hits, the bass sounds nearly the same. The sudden crushing Bass in certain songs during the Bridge and such also seems to suffer from this as well. Some headsets, the bass just sounds like mush. : (

Headphones like the Dre Beats Studio require batteries to power the Amp and ultimately the entire headphone set, which is.. retarded. I stay away from those types and Powered Noise Canceling Headphones. While they do their job, certain noise like say speech or uneven white noise outside the headset distorts horribly. I don't know a lot about Headphones, but I know I don't want to be hindered at the lack of batteries available.

I use my Car Stereo for reference since that's the cleanest way I can produce music at loud volumes, without disturbing neighbors at least : )

I know I'm going to need a Headphone AMP. I'm planning on getting the E11 (for convenience more than total audiophilism) for my iPod and because I do want to be able to plug in headphones for a quick listen rather than worrying about.

References:

Simple EQ:
      Bass| -1
        Mid| -2
    Treble| +0

Advanced EQ:
          70| -2.2
        180| -2.2
        320| -2.2
        600| -3.1
      1000| -4.0
      3000| -3.1
      6000| -1.9
    12000| +0.0
    14000| +0.0
    16000| +0.0

EQ Notes:
    Minor reduction of Bass for cleaner hits, Midrange lowered to clean up the Bass in some Metal songs.

Car:
    Stock Deck / Custom 4.0 Stereo Spearker System. Full Range, 2x Drivers each speaker (Tweek / Mid + Bass). (( NO SUBWOOFER ))

Home Theatre:
    500-Watt RMS 5.1 Surround System, (( Subwoofer: 188-Watt ))

 

---- [[ REFERENCES ]] ----


As I Lay Dying - Parallels

http://youtu.be/nLd6h5td8G4?hd=1
Note Double Bass is pronounced in this song, especially around 44 second mark when it slows. Punches very well.


A Day to Remember - You Be Tails, I'll Be Sonic
http://youtu.be/kgG-6qPOFP0?hd=1
Another Double Bass reference. Singers vocals are a little higher so as the drums aren't so drowned out.


Lady Gaga Gaga - Bad Romance (MUSIC VIDEO)

http://youtu.be/qrO4YZeyl0I?t=30s
Confusing reference, I know. Just mentioning at the 38 second mark it sounds like a Club when my speakers are cranked and this effect would be a bonus if I could find a Headset to replicate it.

As I Lay Dying - You Already Know What you Are (Medium Quality)

http://youtu.be/jdyth2SV-r8?t=40s
This is a short and very heavy song. At the Markers: 0:55 and 1:11 are the Crushing Bass effect I mentioned. It's hard to tell in the link I provided. This literally hits so hard on my stereo in my Car that mirror comes off and last week it broke the solders on my rear windshield. I tried this on my 5.1 System, most of the smaller/medium the pictures in the room fell off the wall along with the satelites on the TV Deck.

Sorry for Youtube references, I know they're not the best source of music quality, but it gives you an idea. (Last one is the best I could find at the time of posting).

I'm very open to feedback and suggestions. If AKG won't cut it, please reference a set that will (spending limit is AROUND $200+). Thank you very much for your time and hope to hear from you all.

post #2 of 8

I'm pretty negative on AKG due to their subpar build quality and what a pain repairs are on their headphones, and I would choose Grados over AKGs for AILD (metalcore in general) and Lady Gaga.  I've spent a good deal of time with AKG 701s and was not terribly impressed with them.  I generally find AKGs to be on the analytical side and lacking color and musicality... they're just not that interesting to listen to.

 

For $200, you can get new a SR225i on Amazon, which would be my first choice for the albums you've listed.  The 225i is bright and can be uncomfortable to wear until you're used to them, but handles detail and speed very well.  From there, you may eventually move onto HD650/HD800s, T1s, LCD2s, the HE5/6, etc.  The 225i is a very liveable headphone that handles most genres very well, particularly with modern releases and the skewed dynamics and compression everything comes out with now.  It benefits from a good DAC but doesn't really need much in the way of amping.  The 225i has decent bass, but I'm not much of a basshead.

 

Worst case scenario, if you live in the US, just order the one you like the most on Amazon.  If you don't like it, send it back and they'll charge a 15% restocking (iirc) no questions asked.  It comes out to $25-40ish at most with their shipping label, and Amazon is very good about refunds.  If you're listening at home, go with full open-ear.

 

Be careful about bass (through really loud playback) with headphones!  Speakers will be way better than headphones for bass, and if you try to get similar bass through headphones, you're going to give yourself premature hearing damage and loss.  I love loud music, too, but headphones aren't the right place to look for it.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the Speedy reply, looking at those now. I am aware of the Hearing Damage / Loss with headphones vs loud music. My job deals with noise sensitivity so I know the rules. : ) I'll repost when I'm done checking out the SR225i.

post #4 of 8

Heya,

 

So basically you want punchy accurate bass, not subwhoofer long decay bass. At least, I think that's what I understand from you. You're more interested in details and mids it seems, and then simply hearing impact and the instrument in the bass department, less so much hearing long bassy tones that just reverb. Again, I think this is what you're saying, simply in other words. So, if that's correct, consider the following:

 

From AKG, look at the AKG K272 HD. I selected that one specifically because it's closed (some privacy, isolation) and because it has velvet pads for comfort, less sweaty leather pads like others in the same range from AKG. Velour all the way. It also effects how mids/highs sounds, as well as bass. You may like this headphone's sound. It's a reference headphone. Comes with a case.

 

Next, look at the SRH940. It's over budget, but it's mids and highs are delicious and it has great impact for bass. I used it extensively to enjoy picking apart instrumental music and sound tracks and the detail and separation for the sound stage was rather impressive. It's also closed for privacy and has velour pads for comfort and also comes with a case.

 

Now look at the open air Sennheiser HD598. It has great forward mids and highs with capable bass. It's got a nice sound stage and is a good energetic headphone (for a Sennheiser that is). Velour pads for comfort.

 

Also check out the Grado SR225i. Very generous in the mids with plenty of detail, great for your types of music, with just the right bass and a good punch, without being a subwhoofer. Instrument reproduction, like guitar and drums are amazing on these. Again, very aggressive sound, very up front, can be fatiguing and comfort is questionable (relative).

 

Another headphone could be the BeyerDynamic DT880 PRO. Semi-open for sound stage, great mids and highs, very detailed yet fun, and a good strong bass, that punches and impacts, but doesn't linger and drown out the rest of the sound. Velour pads for comfort. This one would need an amp. I nabbed the link for the old PRO edition because it's less expensive, but otherwise still a great DT880 model.

 

Very best,

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Wow 32ohms Impedance?

 

? I've never really understood Impedance. I what it does, just not in the grand scheme of quality. When I was building my stereo, they said more was better. One of my friends mentioned Headphones should be lower, is this true?

 

A big issue with Open Back. Do they bleed much at medium/high volumes? While I will use them mostly at home, I'd carry them with my laptop and at work. I could get away with Semi-Open, but not Open. Besides my wife will surely notice the loudness. : )

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drac View Post

Wow 32ohms Impedance?

 

? I've never really understood Impedance. I what it does, just not in the grand scheme of quality. When I was building my stereo, they said more was better. One of my friends mentioned Headphones should be lower, is this true?

 

A big issue with Open Back. Do they bleed much at medium/high volumes? While I will use them mostly at home, I'd carry them with my laptop and at work. I could get away with Semi-Open, but not Open. Besides my wife will surely notice the loudness. : )


Heya,

 

I suggest you simply read up on technical data about Impedance, Ohm ratings, Sensitivity and how this effects sound. I'll save you a little hunting and just say, a lot of the high impedance stuff is really from yesteryear in terms of technology. You'll find a lot of today's high end stuff being low impedance, maybe less sensitive, but otherwise, normal sensitivities even--meaning, it doesn't take a lot of power to generate sound pressure. More is not better and lower is not better. It depends on what your other equipment is. Some amps are built for high impedance power output, others are not. You'd have to read what their power output rating is at each ohm level in their tech data sheet.

 

Open and Semi-Open all leak sound in and out. If this is at all a concern, simply go closed back. You lose a little sound stage, but depending which headphone you look at, it's not a massive drop in sound stage. Again, see the K272 HD and SRH940 above. The open headphones will have everyone hearing what you're hearing within the room, and possibly the next room with some (Grados...).

 

Other headphones for you to look at: Ultrasone HFI 780, BeyerDynamic DT770 32ohm, BeyerDynamic DT250, Denon D1100.

 

Very best,

 

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

I read the 32-Ohm Impedance was for better iPod / MP3 Mobile use. I'd use them more at my Computer for Music, Gaming, Mixing Music (Studio) and such, which why I was looking for 55-65 Ohms+. Would a 32-Ohm line be over powered by my Sound Card? (It pushes ALOT of power through the Ports)

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drac View Post

I read the 32-Ohm Impedance was for better iPod / MP3 Mobile use. I'd use them more at my Computer for Music, Gaming, Mixing Music (Studio) and such, which why I was looking for 55-65 Ohms+. Would a 32-Ohm line be over powered by my Sound Card? (It pushes ALOT of power through the Ports)


Heya,

 

iPod and other MP3 players have relatively low power output from their headphone jacks. That's why a lower impedance headphone that is sensitive would be used, so it could actually generate sound on it's lower power. A high impedance headphone would have very low volume on such a device. Again, it comes down to your equipment.

 

Higher impedance cans on your sound card aren't going to sound different in particular. And going from 30's to 60's ohms makes no difference, it just changes the power needed to generate the volume. And anything capable of it will do it, so you won't even know the difference between the sounds. Your sound card likely does not output a lot of power. I'm sure it can output sufficient power to drive a high impedance headphone though. Your sound card, whatever it is, would never be too much power for a low impedance headphone.


Just get a good headphone that pleases you. And perhaps start doing some research on how this equipment works, otherwise, it sounds like you're about to buy something based on a "I hear" and it's often, well, not correct at all.

 

Very best,

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