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Where to go from Grado / AKG?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

Greetings Head-Fi'ers!  I have noticed the strengths and weaknesses of the following two headphones I currently own (using a Nuforce Icon HD amp) and am at the point where I can't just keep buying stuff and need some advice:

 

Grado SR325is

-----------

+ clarity, speed and effortless detail in the mids and highs... especially the highs where the realism is astonishing

+ close-in and aggressive sound that makes the music feel inside your head is thrilling

- soundstage is a little small sometimes

- tends to be bright up top with many recordings

- bass is quite rolled off under 100 hz and can sound flat

- quite uncomfortable after an hour use with the on-ear design

 

AKG Q701

-----------

+ huge soundstage (felt too big at first, but I'm used to and appreciate it now)

+ bass and midrange are substantial and balanced against the treble

+ very comfortable for me... my thick hair does not allow the headband to bother the top of my head

- factory frequency response has tubby mids and mid-bass that I have to tame with EQ, which makes the midrange sound slightly reticent

- highest highs not well detailed and unfortunately cannot be improved using EQ... sounds distorted up top

 

I like the way the Grados render the high end except that they are too forward with it, and are not adequately counter-balanced with bass while the AKG does not have enough detail / air in the highest highs.  By buying two pairs of audiophile cans for comparison, I have naturally trapped myself into seeing both as a compromise from one another because I like certain things about each.  I also tried a friend's Sennheiser HD600 and found it to have the veil many people describe; it just sounded like there was a towel between my ears and the music that was filtering and distorting the entire top half of the audio spectrum.  Comfort was fantastic, though.

 

Can someone recommend a headphone that combines the detail (not volume) of the highs and mids of the SR325is with the better bass and bigger soundstage of the Q701 that is reasonably comfortable for a four-hour session?  Although there is no perfect, that would be just about right and a headphone I would keep for a very long time.  I am willing to sell what I have to go upward if necessary.  Thanks!

post #2 of 33

Swnnheiser hd598

post #3 of 33

I'd start forgetting about exceeding the 325i standard of speed and clarity :-)

 

You're going to struggle to find it along with additional smoothness, overall comfort.

 

Only headphone that comes to mind would be the HD800 ~ ticks all the boxes

but you'll need the rig to match. Otherwise, it's time for compromise.

 

You've got good taste by the looks of it ~ but it's going to cost $$$ smile.gif

post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 

Gwarmi, I was afraid somebody would say that about the 325i !   :)

 

I have a hunch that the Nuforce Icon HD, with its external power supply and simple/pure design, could hold its own powering the HD800.  Is that something I should reconsider?

 

This has been a lot to learn, but I am definitely on the quest lately!

post #5 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by discombob View Post

Gwarmi, I was afraid somebody would say that about the 325i !   :)

 

I have a hunch that the Nuforce Icon HD, with its external power supply and simple/pure design, could hold its own powering the HD800.  Is that something I should reconsider?

 

This has been a lot to learn, but I am definitely on the quest lately!



No way, It's a great little combo unit but on the HD800 all you'll hear is a bagful of harshness.

 

Here are the specs from Nuforce

 

96mW rms @ 600 Ohm ~ You need about 10 x times that.

 

It does a terrible job of driving the LCD-2 too. Great mid range solution but it should be put back

in the box for a flagship.

 

I'm more or less in your situation ~ 325i/K601 are permanents with some borrowed cans here

or there for audition ~ but I'm yet to find something to exceed that combo in the one can.

 

HD800 or LCD-3, Hmmm, maybe the GS1000i.


Edited by Gwarmi - 11/12/11 at 8:13pm
post #6 of 33

 

 

My mistake, 

 

152mW rms @ 300 Ohm on Nuforce Icon for the HD800 wink.gif

 

Lot more milliwatts needed.

 

 

post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwarmi View Post

 

 

My mistake, 

 

152mW rms @ 300 Ohm on Nuforce Icon for the HD800 wink.gif

 

Lot more milliwatts needed.

 

 

 

Wow, you scared me. I thought someone was trying to drive an HD-800 with the Nuforce Icon Mobile. That thing can't even drive a DT-770 Pro 80 very well. Still like it though despite crap measurements. D2000/M50 fans would love it as a DAC.

 

I like the comment about the mid-bass on the Q701 that he has to tame. normal_smile%20.gif See..maybe it's not my imagination after all?

 

Honestly, I would borrow or steal another amp and see if the sound changes. Now I know that is hard to take, but that happened to me so many times it's not even funny. Disliked specific headphones until changing amps. Maybe the Icon HD isn't all that neutral? From what I've read it sounds pretty good.
 

 

post #8 of 33

Pretty excited over here with the new AKG pricing ~ $399 for the Q701 is a new Aussie special!

 

I know we're a good $100 off the pace some US dealers, but it's pretty good for down here!

 

Few of the higher end amps are entirely neutral either, the Burson 160 gets a 'reference' reputation

around here but it's really quite warm when you benchmark it with a lot of other Euro and Brit

amp models.

 

 

post #9 of 33

I would suggest trying the Sony MDR-SA5000 if you can; if fit/comfort isn't a problem, it might be what you're looking for (decent SS, lots of speed/clarity, very precise/sharp ("etched") mids/highs). Bass can be absolutely fantastic depending on the track, but can also be underwhelming, would not use the word "tubby" anywhere near it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #10 of 33

ATH-W1000

ATH-AD1000PRM

Tesla T1

 

If I were you, I would try some hybrid amp and some Grado mods (extenders, big cushions)  before.


Edited by kostalex - 11/13/11 at 2:58am
post #11 of 33
The Sony MDR-SA5000 is a good choice. I'll second that.

But I'd also take a hard look at the Sennheiser HD-650 and Beyerdynamic DT880. They've been around awhile and are awfully good headphones.
post #12 of 33

Sorry, I was wrong regarding ATH-AD1000PRM, it is not recommended.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kostalex View Post

ATH-W1000

ATH-AD1000PRM

Tesla T1

 

If I were you, I would try some hybrid amp and some Grado mods (extenders, big cushions)  before.



 

post #13 of 33

Erm, Gwarmi, where are you getting your numbers from? 500mw is the maximum input power the HD800s can take before the driver reaches its mechanical limits. 

They are only slightly less sensitive than the AKG flagships, which are only slightly less sensitive than the HD650s (going by sensitivity ratings here). You certainly don't need almost a watt of output to drive the HD800s.

post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willakan View Post

Erm, Gwarmi, where are you getting your numbers from? 500mw is the maximum input power the HD800s can take before the driver reaches its mechanical limits. 

They are only slightly less sensitive than the AKG flagships, which are only slightly less sensitive than the HD650s (going by sensitivity ratings here). You certainly don't need almost a watt of output to drive the HD800s.



I was thinking a nice headroom of 700mW at 300ohms would be nice on the amp, close enough smile.gif

 

Can never have too much grunt. 


Edited by Gwarmi - 11/13/11 at 3:54am
post #15 of 33

Nothing wrong with headroom per say, I just don't like it when people imply that headphones that are perfectly reasonable to drive require insanely powerful amplifiers, which are invariably stupidly expensive. Not as bad as the ortho crowd - do they listen at 130db or something? The current flagships always seem to require amping of magical proportions...

As it happens, I would agree with you that the Nuforce is a little on the power-lite side, but my main concern would be that every Nuforce product I've seen measured embarrassed itselfbiggrin.gif


Edited by Willakan - 11/13/11 at 5:27am
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