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Yet another noob looking for recommendations

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hey guys... long time lurker, first time poster here. I will apologize in advance for what will inevitably become the wall of text I'm about to leave here... please, continue at your own risk...

So here's the story: 

I'm looking at dipping my toes into the sea of higher grade headphones and figured there was no better place for me to ask about some recommendations. Before you go all "putsb" on me I'll let you know I have been browsing the site on and off for about a year now. I've read numerous threads and reviews as well as comparisons between different brands/models for different sound signatures... but I thought I'd go ahead and see if I can get a few opinions tailored to my own specific set of criteria. 

I'm also aware that audio, and headphones in specific are a very "personal" and subjective purchase... what sounds amazing to one person may not be all that great of even downright horrid in someone else's opinion. That's why I'll try and explain what it is I'm looking for as specifically as possible... to try and give those of you with years of experience and knowledge a little something "more" to go by than just "wutz teh bestest headphonez 4 $100? LOL"

I'll start with this. I've owned all kinds of garbage headphones in the past. From the cheap throwaways to the "I paid  Wal-Mart way more for these than I should have and they suck"s. The "best" sounding cans I've owned have been a set of Sony XD-200's I picked up for $20. You can now see how far down the ladder I am. However, despite being cheap these sound better than some JVC's I spent almost a hundred bucks on. They're also convenient because they're always cheap and if something goes wrong, I can just grab another set and be on my merry way again. My issues with them is that they lack any high end whatsoever without some serious EQ boosting and the mids sound realllly tinny if you don't cut them. The bass is also quite "boomy" and tends to seep into the rest of the sound moreso than I'm comfortable with.
 

That leads me into what I'm looking for in terms of sound. I'm not a basshead, but I do prefer a well rounded sound. I use subwoofers in my home and car audio setup but I generally keep them toned down so that they fill in the bottom end instead of overpowering it, or in the case of my car... hear me coming from a block away. I reallllly like my highs crisp.

In every generic EQ setting, either in the car or at home, I always boost to highs to max or one step below max to get a nice, clear top end. In multi bands and parametrics I usually apply a hefty boost around 6k and a steady climb into the upper reaches, be it 16k or beyond. What may be too much treble for others is usually exactly what I'm looking for. The only time I've founds myself cutting the highs is when I took the mid and HF horn out of an old set of Cerwin Vega D5 home speakers and fashioned a homemade box out of an old 15 watt guitar amp and and jacked it directly into my JVC mini system. Without that 12" Cerwin woofer behind them they just washed everything else in a see of brash. Luckily, I fixed the crossover from the speakers into the box with them... So I can tone them down with the turn of a dial.

Mids are fine as long as they're not tinny. When getting into decent heaphones I doubt that's much of a worry though. I sure "you get what you pay for" is a somewhat apt expression unless we're talking Bose or Beats.

I listen to mainly Prog/Psych/Classic Rock and Metal. Tool, Rush, Zep, Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, Floyd, Primus, NIN, Mudvayne, Sabbath, In Flames, I Mother Earth, ... you get the point... maybe. I take the occasional dip into electronica, industrial or DnB but it certainly isn't my priority. I'm a guitarist and a drummer so I have a tendency to get really into heavy riffs accompanied by driving beats. I'm also a fan of detailed cymbal work and that's probably where my love of highs come in. I like to hear the bell hits and the splash of the hats pushing me through the song. I also like a big crash hit to sound like a big crash hit instead of a random pizzle in the background. I don't care about being "surrounded" by sound as much as I care about being able to hear the parts I want to hear as accurately and as detailed as I can. 

Also, I'm Canadian. I live in a small town on the East Coast and there's absolutely garbage here in terms of any sort of gear. Even the shops in the city (2 hours away) are relative crap. The best options I have locally are Sennheisers of the 400 series. Even that would involve a day trip though, so I suppose my purchase will be made online. 

I'm looking to spend anywhere in the $100-$200 CDN range...Post shipping. I want to get decent 'phones, but I don't want to go overboard just yet. I'm sure the future will suck enough money out of me. I have a bad tendency to become very involved in things that I enjoy immensely.. Sound and Music definitely fall into that category.

I have formed my own opinions about a couple sets of 'phones but I'm not going to reveal them just yet. I'd rather see what the rest of you think/feel before I go and derail things into a "thumbs up/thumbs down" discussion.

Thank you all very much for any and all insight you can provide me. I've really enjoyed reading from the site over the last few months and you can be sure I'll hang around for a long while yet to come.

As a final note, I'll leave a couple YT links for those of you outside the Canadian circle who may not have heard of a band I think were severely underrated in their time. It's also an accurate sample pulled directly from the "most listened to" section of my playlist to serve in forming any recommendations/opinions you may have.

Older Newer





 

post #2 of 14

Quick, get a Grado 225i and don't look back.

 

If you just want to dip your toe into the

water then try an SR80i and pick up

a spare of bowl earpads so that you

can see whether you like the

stock pads (flat) or bowels.

 

You're a guitar man without a Grado

- fix that now! biggrin.gif

 

 


Edited by Gwarmi - 9/28/11 at 4:41am
post #3 of 14

Save yourself a lot of buying and selling and go straight for the jugular...

 

Dynamic: HD800 or LCD-2 R2  amped with a B22 or Liquid Fire.

 

Electrostatic: Stax SR009 amped by a BHSE or DIY T2.

(Alternative: HE90 amped by an Aristeus).

 

This will save a lot of hassle,    and, sorry about your wallet.

post #4 of 14

 mmmm.....Treble? As much as Grados are a little more fun orientated, you would definitely love them for their treble. They're famous for their mids (which ARE mind-blowing) and their treble is plentiful. If you get below a 125i, you'll have hardly any bass, so I would reccomend a 125i or 225i. (preferably 225i)

post #5 of 14

OP - might pay to mention if you prefer open or closed, and if you like circumaural or on-ear.

 

As you're in Canada - I'd sort of agree with Gwarmi (similar lines anyway) - and recommend the Alessandro MS1i.  I have them - excellent cans especially for rock, blues, even jazz.  I'm also a Floyd & PT fan - and the Alessandros do both well (although to be honest I quite like both with my HD600 as well).

 

Grado/Alessandro will give you detailed highs, a sweet mid range, and if you mod them a bit, quite visceral and hard hitting bass.  They're also very forward (you're on the stage - not sitting back from it).  Very, very good with classic rock and blues.  I listened to some Clapton and also Beth Hart tonight - just really good fun cans.

 

If you answer the question on circumaural and open v closed - it will help narrow the filed a little though.

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies so far...I think I'll hang back from the HD800's or SR009's 'ill I get my Christmas Bonus though :p.

@Brooko

 

TBH, I really don't care dude. As long as the sound is there. I've been using closed my entire audio life, but that doesn't mean I'm opposed to opens in any way. I just means I haven't seen any I've wanted to try around here. Not surprising, given the complete lack of any quality products in my area.

As far as on ear or circumaural goes, again, no preference. I'm far more interested in quality of sound than I am in isolation or filtration. From my fairly uneducated understanding however, I've heard closed backs can lead to resonance that may negatively effect sound quality/reproduction (yes/no?), so perhaps it's time to try some opens?  I use my 'phones almost exclusively in a closed, personal environment. I'm not going to be bugging anyone with any leakage nor is there any ambient noise I need to block out. I do use them at work from time to time, but I work a nice, quiet backshift and I'm not going to be getting on anyones nerves there either (they all blast their hip-hop thru the Skullcandys around their necks)

I also thought I'd mention, seeing as you hit the nail on the head, my educated impulse was to get Ms1i's. I've heard they mimic the sound of 225's and are much cheaper for us Northerners to get our hands on. My other thought, before a full consideration was to go with HD555's which I heard can be modded fairly easily to mimic 595's.

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

I also forgot to mention, being a guitar guy, I pretty much ride a semi every time I listen to SRV. Tracks like "Leave my little girl alone" or "Life by the drop" or "Brothers"... pretty much anything he ever touched gets plenty of air time around here.


Edited by Dazzlefraz - 9/28/11 at 5:26am
post #8 of 14

Ok - that might make things a little easier then :)

 

With the Grado/Alessandro - they're very open (sound - a lot - leaks both ways).  Also it takes a bit of time to get used to the comfort.  Some can't do it.  I ended up getting bowls for my MS1i and I can easily wear them now for 3-4 hours, but they're not Beyer/Sennheiser comfortable.

 

You can also get quite involved with modding them.  Between playing around with different pads, and then buying some Aluminium cups (off Twinster's MS2i), I've easily spent as much on extras as I did for the original cans - but it's been totally worth it.  These just sound fantastic now.

 

To give you an idea of how much I like them .....

I try to only have 2 full sized cans at any one time - currently have the MS1i, DT880s, and HD600's.  The DT880s are going - they are the most comfortable cans I own, have a fantastic signature - but I just simply couldn't part with my Alessandros now.  For rock, blues, anything fast paced with guitar - they really are THAT good IMO.

 

Here's how mine look when they started, and how they look now:

 

ms1-2.jpg

 

ms1-9.jpg

 

ms1-9a.jpg

 

(The colouration around the aluminium is actually reflection off the table)

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Awesome looking set of cans you've got there man.

The more and more I dwell on it... the more I lean towards the Alessandros...I've heard so many great things with hardly any negative feedback. The price is also very attractive.

Opting for the Senn's I'm into the $175-200 range before shipping and I don't even break into the 600 series which is where I've read they shine in the "price to performance" area. I'd probably go for straight Grado's but what limited Canadian suppliers we do have are forced to charge a pretty hefty premium for them and I still have to factor in shipping.


On a more personal note, did you notice any significant change in sound when going from the comfies to the bowls? Also... you know anywhere that's still a reliable source for picking up a suitable headband pad nowadays?


Edited by Dazzlefraz - 9/28/11 at 5:42am
post #10 of 14

I think for any newbie or even seasoned pro, you can't go wrong with Grados. The only issue with Grados IMO is that they are over priced but if you stick to the cheaper models, that are less than $350, you should be fine. Even the cheapest Grados that are less than $100 are fine. I hope to get the 325 model for my laptop sometime next year.

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazzlefraz View Post

Awesome looking set of cans you've got there man.The more and more I dwell on it... the more I lean towards the Alessandros...I've heard so many great things with hardly any negative feedback. The price is also very attractive.Opting for the Senn's I'm into the $175-200 range before shipping and I don't even break into the 600 series which is where I've read they shine in the "price to performance" area. I'd probably go for straight Grado's but what limited Canadian suppliers we do have are forced to charge a pretty hefty premium for them and I still have to factor in shipping.

On a more personal note, did you notice any significant change in sound when going from the comfies to the bowls? Also... you know anywhere that's still a reliable source for picking up a suitable headband pad nowadays?


The headband I used is a Beyer replacement "snap-on" headband.  They're the standard ones that fit a DT770/DT880 Pro.  They're a perfect fit.  If you check out the SR60 modding thread - there are a few people doing custom headbands as well.

 

I found that for me the bowls gave a little more comfort - without destroying the sound.  Bass is till punchy. mids are still sweet and upfront, highs are still there - but not over emphasised.  YMMV with the pads.  TTVJ flats are supposed to be really good as well - although I've never tried them.

 

post #12 of 14

I seen you said you were from the east coast of Canada? Me too, it's pretty inconvenient for purchasing headphones down here. Just a fyi all my purchases were made off amazon, if you're looking for a site to buy what you inevitably decide on. :)

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

I thought I stop back in this thread and thank everyone for the suggestions. I ended ordering the ms1's from alessandro on the 4th and after a extended house party at customs they arrived today. 


I've put them through a fairly hefty gamut of my my most listened to and they do not disappoint. The best I've heard them sound yet was on "Leave my little girl alone". You were all correct. Feed these things some SRV guitar work and they kinda make you just sit back in awe.

I'll probably post in similar threads I've seen around, but for those who may happen across this thread while looking into Alessandro shipping to Canada questions...

I ordered on the 4th, they shipped on the 6th, arrived at customs on the 9th, stayed there for 6 days, left Montreal on the 15th and landed here on the 19th. It took 15 days total, and I got dinged by Customs for $25 or so. I should also mention this was with the "priority mail" shipping option. I ended up getting a free shipping upgrade because they had some "cosmetic defect" models laying around and gave me with free priority shipping instead of a discount.

Also, for anyone wondering, the defect was a slight over brush on the silver paint lining the word "alessandro" on one of the earcups. Barely noticeable and no impact on actual performance whatsoever.

Thanks again all, back to enjoying these phones full throttle for now...

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazzlefraz View Post

I thought I stop back in this thread and thank everyone for the suggestions. I ended ordering the ms1's from alessandro on the 4th and after a extended house party at customs they arrived today. I've put them through a fairly hefty gamut of my my most listened to and they do not disappoint. The best I've heard them sound yet was on "Leave my little girl alone". You were all correct. Feed these things some SRV guitar work and they kinda make you just sit back in awe.I'll probably post in similar threads I've seen around, but for those who may happen across this thread while looking into Alessandro shipping to Canada questions...I ordered on the 4th, they shipped on the 6th, arrived at customs on the 9th, stayed there for 6 days, left Montreal on the 15th and landed here on the 19th. It took 15 days total, and I got dinged by Customs for $25 or so. I should also mention this was with the "priority mail" shipping option. I ended up getting a free shipping upgrade because they had some "cosmetic defect" models laying around and gave me with free priority shipping instead of a discount.Also, for anyone wondering, the defect was a slight over brush on the silver paint lining the word "alessandro" on one of the earcups. Barely noticeable and no impact on actual performance whatsoever.Thanks again all, back to enjoying these phones full throttle for now...



I paid no taxes and no customs/imports duties on mine when i ordered them. I live in British Columbia. In total they were $98.50.

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