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Seeking suggestions for a "intro" level headphone, specifications within.

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

 

 

     A brief introduction is in order:  I have been lurking around this forum (and other sites) for a coulple of weeks now.  After some research and demo's I believe I have finally reached my limitation and so seek aid on this forum.  Currently, I am burdened with quite possibly the most hated headphones on this site (I'll let you geuss, they aren't Bose) and wish to delve into better equipment.

 

Intended uses:

Two primary purposes - Gaming and Music.  There is no particular order of importance, with several games I end up playing my own music in the backgroung anyway (though I play music less than i don't).

 

I want games to be immersive, FPS type genres are not uncommon but RTS and RPGs take precedence.

Genres for Music are semi-varied, I would say a good portion is instrumental or vocal.  I can say that I don't really listen to much Hip-Hop/Pop, and that Rap and Metal are almost completely absent. 

 

Priorities:

Price of course.  My total budget is somewhat conditional, but should not exceed $350 (would prefer it to be lower, around $200, this is an absolute maximum). 

Secondarily, I would like sound that is "transparent" and "neutral".  I realize these terms can really only apply to phones beyond my budget, but I can futher rank sound qualities.

I am not a basshead, and do not want overbearing/strong bass, but it's still quite important (especially for gaming).  I would also like to avoid sharp and harsh highs.  If it comes down to it, I would prefer a darker sound to a overly bright one.  I have a feeling mids are very important to my genres so I would least like to skimp on mids.

Comfort is also REALLY important, I'll have some comparisons later on.

Durability - A function of price.  I'm a poor student and don't plan on buying new Headphones every year (or maybe even every five).  I will very likely consider better options in the future, but for now pretend I will stay with these headphones indefinitely.

 

What I have considered/am considering:

Sony DRZX701* - Cheap, seemed comfortable in store, sounded alot better than what I had, from my phone no less!

Sennheiser HD 558, 598, 600, 650 - Read good things about these, however the price differences may become a prime determinant.

Shure Srh440 - Assuming I can find some, also only have read about them.

Denon - D1100* D2000* (More on these)

Beyerdynbamic DT 880 (Premium I belive).

 

What I am not considering:

Skullcandies, all the ones I've tried just don't seem very good.  Could just be limited selection.

Bose - They sure are comfy, but very overpriced.

Beats - Surprisingly not uncomfortable (I thought they looked it).  But I think why they aren't on my list is self explanatory (no offense).

Most things at BestBuy other than those prementioned Sonys.

 

Special Notes:

Those Sonys, being available at BestBuy, should be easy enough to use as "reference" phones for this posts purposes.  Easy to get a hold of and listen to.

 

The store likes Jazz, and they had literally just moved to a new location.

 

I have only had the fortune to try out those aforementioned Denons as well as the B&W p5s.

On the B&W - I found these to be quite comfy despite the fact I hate on ear headphones (Poor Grados :( ).  They seemed overly harsh but a tad lacking in detail (if that makes sense).  Maybe B&W will release better phones in the future, I'm not averse to waiting a bit.

 

I use these examples because it is to these phones I am limited.  I hope that readers are able to find similarities between these and their other experiences.

 

Denon D1100 (R was tagged at the end, no idea if that makes a difference).  These were better, but barely, than the Sonys.  This may be sure to not having a single song to refer to.  Whatever Jazz track they had was detailed and clear, mids seemed a little low I think (assuming I'm hearing "mids" correctly).  I found these to be as comfy as the Sony's but slightly less fatiguiging physically.  Could be due to quick in store adjustments.  $200

 

Denon D2000 - I found these to be a definitive step above the 1100's, but at a hefty price increase.  In store the bands were taped so I couldn't adjumst the band properly, more on why that's not an issue in a little bit.  They sounded lively, bass seemed controlled and present, but not overbearing.  Mids did not suffer so much recession.  I didn't really get to hear much highs with those tracks, but Cymbals sounded good at least (I really hope those qualify as highs).  $350

 

Denon D7000 - I found these to be better than the 2000s (one would hope so!).  Hard to explain how I thought they were better.  They just seemed more refined in every way.  I like the wood look (admittedly looks aren't really important).  They also seem to be essentially the same thing as the 2000s as far as comfort and shap go, so I use them as the reference of comfort for both itself and the D2000.  Initial fit was poor, but once properly adjusted to my head I hardly felt them.  $1000  (I'm not even seriously considering these for that reason)

 

Amps and DACs:

I don't have the budget for these quite yet (though I may be able to just make my own amp) and I know that many of these (particularly the Senns and that Denon) require amplification to sound their best.  DACs should also make a difference, I am currently limited to my onboard sound (which I feel is pretty decent actually) and so a new DAC isn't super important.

However, if you have any suggestions for good n' cheap ones I'd like to know.

 

Closing comments:

I hope that post provides sufficient information so that this forum may offer suggestions (more importantly, is motivated to do so).  I will take every comment with a grain of salt.  I mean no offese, but this is the Internet afterall.  Laslty, this is asking for suggestions of headphones I should seek to try out, not direclty buy from the internet.  I feel that I will have to at least try something similar before seperating with over $100. 

 

Please note that the likliest candidate for purchase are those Sonys closely followed by the Denon D1100.

 

And with that wall of text I thank you for any comments/questions/suggestions!

 

Edited for readability.


Edited by AValidName - 12/4/11 at 4:20pm
post #2 of 9

a newbies perspective inc :)

 

I recently dropped ~350 on an Asus xonar essence stx and a pair of sennheiser hd 598s. I absolutely love this simple setup. Its outstanding for gaming, recently I have been playing a lot of Skyrim/MW3 and this setup preforms beautifully. I really don't think you can go wrong with this setup, and can always buy a cheaper xonar soundcard, or a slightly cheaper set of cans to save money. 

 

I was doing a lot of research (which I hadn't previously, and got burned a few times buying gaming headsets) and honestly I kept getting overwhelmed. This site has a lot of great threads discussing this same topic, but the more I read the more I felt like I was going in circles. So I just said screw it, and made a purchase. 

 

From what I can gather, nobody can really recommend a perfect setup for someone else, they can give you good advice, but to me its a little trial and error. No budget conscious wants to hear this, but everybody has different tastes. I'm already wanting to buy another set of cans, that doesnt mean Im unhappy.Thats just the way it is, there is always an upgrade or another soundstage to explore.   

 

post #3 of 9

Sennheiser HD-558 (50-Ohm), go to Electronic Expo website, use the coupon code "BOUNTII", good price

 

Asus Xonar DG (PCI), comes with a half-way decent headphone amplifier, rated up to 150-Ohms.

Does Dolby Headphone surround sound.

 

total for everything $142-$160

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

So it appears the Senns are well received.

 

To Davisman, thanks for you reply.  I know I'll eventually HAVE to just buy something but at this level of money I want to overload myself with too much information to make the best decision.  I completely understand the overwhelming feeling on this forum.  Thank you for the suggestion, just one question:  Have you tried other models of the HD Senns and do you find that the cost of the 598s is worth it compared to the 558s?

 

To PurpleAngel.  I have looked at the Xonar DG before, I'm not sure if you know, but do the other models (DX1 DT[?]) offer any distinct advantages over the DG?  Would it still be a good idea to get a seperate amp?

 

To Both.  I had been also thinking about an external Amp/DAC, would that be a poorer choice on my budget?

 

Thanks for the replies.  Any narrowing down at all is great.

post #5 of 9

I actually am buying some senn hd 558s for a christmas present. I plan to try them out a bit before I wrap them. I was curious about that as well. From what I have read, most claim the 598s do preform better, whether its worth the extra money is subjective.

 

probably the 558s would be a better place to start. Then upgrade later if you find them lacking. Its what I would do if I could do it over again. Or pick up a set of 595s slightly used. You can really save money that way, but have to be careful and not buy some knockoffs. I will say that I dislike the color scheme of the 598s, they seem tacky to me in person, pictures online really did them justice imo. 

 

The reason I purchased the xonar essence stx, was for its decent built in amp/dac. For the money ($178) I felt the package was hard to beat. It also does virtual surround that makes gaming/movies more pleasing. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but, If you try to go built in sound + extrernal amp/dac you will have to spend more money than what you can get the xonar essence stx for. And you wont get the best out of games. A portable solution many people recommend are the fiio e7/e9 and that combo is around $220. You do get some portability, and maybe someone else can chime on on the performance of the e7/e9 vs the xonar essence stx, but that would eat up 2/3 of your maximum budget and you still wouldn't have a set of headphones. 


Edited by davisman - 12/5/11 at 11:45am
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by davisman View Post

I actually am buying some senn hd 558s for a christmas present. I plan to try them out a bit before I wrap them. I was curious about that as well. From what I have read, most claim the 598s do preform better, whether its worth the extra money is subjective.

 

probably the 558s would be a better place to start. Then upgrade later if you find them lacking. Its what I would do if I could do it over again. Or pick up a set of 595s slightly used. You can really save money that way, but have to be careful and not buy some knockoffs. I will say that I dislike the color scheme of the 598s, they seem tacky to me in person, pictures online really did them justice imo. 

 

The reason I purchased the xonar essence stx, was for its decent built in amp/dac. For the money ($178) I felt the package was hard to beat. It also does virtual surround that makes gaming/movies more pleasing. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but, If you try to go built in sound + extrernal amp/dac you will have to spend more money than what you can get the xonar essence stx for. And you wont get the best out of games. A portable solution many people recommend are the fiio e7/e9 and that combo is around $220. You do get some portability, and maybe someone else can chime on on the performance of the e7/e9 vs the xonar essence stx, but that would eat up 2/3 of your maximum budget and you still wouldn't have a set of headphones. 

I've heard the Essence STX (& ST) use the same headphone amplifier chip as the E9.
 

 

 

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by AValidName View Post
So it appears the Senns are well received.

To Davisman, thanks for you reply.  I know I'll eventually HAVE to just buy something but at this level of money I want to overload myself with too much information to make the best decision.  I completely understand the overwhelming feeling on this forum.  Thank you for the suggestion, just one question:  Have you tried other models of the HD Senns and do you find that the cost of the 598s is worth it compared to the 558s?

To PurpleAngel.  I have looked at the Xonar DG before, I'm not sure if you know, but do the other models (DX1 DT[?]) offer any distinct advantages over the DG?  Would it still be a good idea to get a seperate amp?

To Both.  I had been also thinking about an external Amp/DAC, would that be a poorer choice on my budget?

Thanks for the replies.  Any narrowing down at all is great.

Most Xonar models (DS, DX, STX, ST, etc) use the C-Media CMI8788, the DG uses the CMI8786.

The CMI8786 is analog 5.1 speaker and great sound for DVD movies.

The CMI8788 is analog 7.1 speaker and great sound for Blu-ray movies.

The STX & ST only support analog 2.1, but their digital output supports up to digital 7.1 speaker

Most Xonars support Dolby Digital (& Dolby Headphone).

THE DS only has DTS, not Dolby.
The DS & DX do not come with a dedicated headphone amplifier, but will work with headphones in the 25 to 80-Ohm range.

The STX & ST have headphone amplifiers rated up to 600-Ohms.

 

I like the my STX because everything is built into one device, do not really need an external headphone amplifier.

Even if you did get a nice external headphone amplifier, you would normal hook it up to the STXs RCA jacks, which would be a stereo 2.0, fine for music.

But lots of of movies and some games can be 5.1 surround sound, or sound better using surround sound.

 

 

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

It does appear that even the Essence version of that line is far cheaper than a decent external.  I think I'll go ahead and buy that now and worry about the rest later.

 

You both find the Senns comfortable to wear for hours on end?

post #9 of 9

yep, I forget I have them on after a while. Can't ask more than that. 

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