I came across this website and its enormous database of headphones when Gizmodo posted a video of the Thunderpants closed-back DIY conversion by smeggy. Since that time I have been considering upgrading my headphones- I realized that they are getting on in age and unfortunately are showing a lot of wear and tear in their six years of excellent service.
I currently use a pair of Sennheiser HD-555's and I listen to music exclusively through my desktop PC. I keep my audio on my desktop for convenience sake but all files are copies from my physical albums. I use EAC (Exact Audio Copy) and exclusively use FLAC for lossless audio. I use an Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card as well. While I wouldn't consider myself an audiophile, I do have an appreciation for music and respect the significantly higher quality sound you get from lossless audio, coupled with proper amplification and a good set of headphones.
I am looking for a proper upgrade from my HD-555's and I am by no means bound to the Sennheiser brand name. I am very curious about magnetic planar ear speakers but realize that new sets from Stax are far outside my budget- but I noticed that the Buy/Sell forum has some interesting deals on HifiMan HE-5LE and HE-6 sets, as well as some interesting Stax packages under $800. My HD-555's were only $150 and while I would like to avoid spending $800- it could be justified if I could hear an honest difference. Reasonably speaking I would like to try and operate in and around a $500 budget- the HE-5's without amplification can sometimes fall into that range. Some version 1 Audeze LCD 2 also seem to hover around $600.
I am looking strictly for open-back design, I have tried half a dozen pairs of closed-back headphones and could never bear them for more than fifteen minutes ("hot ears"). I listen to music for hours at a time, and my 555's show that in the fairly extensive wear and tear on them (~35 hours per week x 6 years = ~10,000 hours). I like engaging headphones, which means warm sound is not frowned upon, my 555's had adequate bass but I think that I am ready to take the next step up in headphones.
Headphones of particular interest:
- AKG 701/702.
- Sennheiser HD 650/600.
- Hifiman HE-5Le (used) + amp [is it a justifiable improvement/difference?]
I am open to suggestions/brands of course.
On the question of amplification: Is this something worth looking into for non magnepan headphones? I should hope that the headphone amp built into the sound card should be adequate for my needs.