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First good headphones?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I'm looking to purchase my first good headphones and would like to hear some recommendations. I'm currently using onboard audio (ALC1200), and don't have any kind of amp to go with. I'm willing to spend max. 300-500 euros total (headphones+amp?+?).

The headphones should be open or semi-open (low isolation). They should be good "all arounders" that do a decent job with any genre of music, movies, audiobooks, games, etc... The most important genres would be melodic and symphonic (and pretty much any other type of) metal. The headphones should also be comfortable.

I've noticed that mentioning metal usually gives you the instant "Get Grados!" response, but what about the other genres? Grados also don't look too comfortable to me, and I'm not sure if I like their build quality either. I'm currently interested in Beyerdynamic's DT 880 and AKG's K-601 / K-701, but I've heard they all require a good amp, which I don't have. So what headphones and other devices should I get? Is it even possible to fit anything reasonable in my budget? If not, what are the best cheaper solutions?

 

I'm NOT going to buy anything used or an amp that has visible tubes on it! ph34r.gif

 

Oh, and sorry if I wasn't supposed to start a new thread for this!

post #2 of 23

I love my Grados, but I don't think they'd necessarily be right for you.  And they're overpriced in Europe from what I've heard anyway.  Sennheisers in that price range are considered to be very good all-around performers (HD598, HD600, HD650).  The 598s wouldn't need an amp, per se, as they only run at 50 ohms, but would match up well with an inexpensive portable amp if you go that route.  The higher-end ones are 300 ohms, so they'd certainly need some sort of amplification.

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by dirkgently View Post

Sennheisers in that price range are considered to be very good all-around performers (HD598, HD600, HD650).  The 598s wouldn't need an amp, per se, as they only run at 50 ohms, but would match up well with an inexpensive portable amp if you go that route.  The higher-end ones are 300 ohms, so they'd certainly need some sort of amplification.


The HD598 might be a good and cheap solution when it comes to sound quality. However the build quality is a bit of a problem with the cheaper Sennheisers. I've seen many threads about HD5x5s and HD598s cracking easily. I would expect nearly 200 EUR headphones to be more durable than that.

 

post #4 of 23

 

 

Quote:
I'm NOT going to buy anything used or an amp that has visible tubes on it! 

You don't like seeing tubes? They glow!

post #5 of 23

DT880 is the better all rounder out of the two. Get a E7 DAC and a LittleDot MKIII.

post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluelessness View Post

Quote:


The HD598 might be a good and cheap solution when it comes to sound quality. However the build quality is a bit of a problem with the cheaper Sennheisers. I've seen many threads about HD5x5s and HD598s cracking easily. I would expect nearly 200 EUR headphones to be more durable than that.

 



The 598 cracking should be fixed.

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chicolom View Post

The 598 cracking should be fixed.

 

That's good to hear. However, I still have my doubts about the all plastic construction. And I've also heard that while being a good all arounder, the HD598 has problems with metal. But of course one has to compromise when looking for good all around headphones.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timestretch View Post

You don't like seeing tubes? They glow!

 

Tubes are too fragile and most of all too hifi looking for my desktop!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NinjaSquirt View Post

DT880 is the better all rounder out of the two. Get a E7 DAC and a LittleDot MKIII.


FiiO's are often recommended, but they are quite hard to find where I live.

 

How would something like the Nuforce Icon uDAC2 handle the DT880 250 ohm version? I would rather buy a cheap amp+DAC combo first, and add a better amp later if I feel the need to upgrade. A new sound card is also an option, but I also want some kind of a box with a volume knob. I would also connect a pair of lousy active speakers to the DAC/sound card.

 


Edited by Cluelessness - 12/11/11 at 4:50am
post #8 of 23
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cluelessness View Post

 

How would something like the Nuforce Icon uDAC2 handle the DT880 250 ohm version?


Not sure about that, but from the limited information I found, it does not look like it would be any better (if not worse) than a decent sound card. In my opinion, a good sound card that has a built-in headphone amplifier may be a better option if you have a desktop computer, and do not need portability. For example, the ASUS Xonar Essence STX looks good, but other cards are also worth considering. If you plan on buying an external amplifier, then even a cheap Xonar D1 is a decent option (I have it, and it has a good DAC for the price, but the headphone output is limited by its high impedance).

If you find the output power of the sound card lacking, you can also buy a desktop headphone amplifier later if necessary.

 


Edited by stv014 - 12/11/11 at 5:20am
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post


Not sure about that, but from the limited information I found, it does not look like it would be any better (if not worse) than a decent sound card. In my opinion, a good sound card that has a built-in headphone amplifier may be a better option if you have a desktop computer, and do not need portability. For example, the ASUS Xonar Essence STX looks good, but other cards are also worth considering. If you plan on buying an external amplifier, then even a cheap Xonar D1 is a decent option (I have it, and it has a good DAC for the price, but the headphone output is limited by its high impedance).

If you find the output power of the sound card lacking, you can also buy a desktop headphone amplifier later if necessary.

 

 

STX is also a bit more expensive than the uDAC2. Is there a good external alternative to the STX in the 200-300 EUR price range? Yes, I'm currently using a desktop computer, but I don't want to end up buying both a desktop DAC and an expensive sound card in the near future. Plus, a sound card doesn't have a volume knob. smile.gif


Edited by Cluelessness - 12/11/11 at 6:49am
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluelessness View Post

 

STX is also a bit more expensive than the uDAC2. Is there a good external alternative to the STX in the 200-300 EUR price range? Yes, I'm currently using a desktop computer, but I don't want to end up buying both a desktop DAC and an expensive sound card in the near future. Plus, a sound card doesn't have a volume knob. smile.gif



The DAC on the STX is really good and the amp is decent, plus you get Dolby Surround for games and movies. Later on when you dig deeper into the audio money-pit you can just get a good amp and pair it with the STX.

 

I would say the STX is a really good bang for the buck option.

post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guldkrull View Post



The DAC on the STX is really good and the amp is decent, plus you get Dolby Surround for games and movies. Later on when you dig deeper into the audio money-pit you can just get a good amp and pair it with the STX.

 

I would say the STX is a really good bang for the buck option.



Am I the only one who really dislikes Dolby Surround? It sounds like everything I hear is encased in a huge tin can and I'm outside of it.

post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by vyyye View Post



Am I the only one who really dislikes Dolby Surround? It sounds like everything I hear is encased in a huge tin can and I'm outside of it.



No I hate it too(for music), but it's helpful in games.

post #13 of 23
My suggestion is getting a HD 650 + NFB-12. I personally got the HD 650 for 280 EUR, and the NFB-12 for 175 EUR.
Together they are reaching the upper bounds of your budget, but will give you something phenomenal in return.

The HD 650'd have incredible mids and bass, and the treble is very good as well. They are a bit dark, and are less good at bright music such as metal. However in my experience metal is still quite good on these cans.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guldkrull View Post



The DAC on the STX is really good and the amp is decent, plus you get Dolby Surround for games and movies. Later on when you dig deeper into the audio money-pit you can just get a good amp and pair it with the STX.

 

I would say the STX is a really good bang for the buck option.


I never really doubted the quality of the DAC on the STX. The problem is you can use the STX only on a desktop computer. Currently that's all I need, but if I end up getting an external DAC in the future, wouldn't it make the STX kind of useless? However, if the STX really is the best option in the < 300 EUR price range, I'm ok with getting one. I'm just not fully convinced yet. I've never used DS and I doubt that I would need it.

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 

I guess I'm down to two options.

 

1) HD598 + Xonar DG

+ Cheap!

+ DG's builtin amp should drive the HD598s ok?

+ DG's DAC is propably somewhat better than the ALC1200's

- Build quality?

- Only software volume control

 

2) DT880 pro 250ohm + something worth 0-300 euros

+ Overall better headphones than the HD598?

- A lot harder to drive?

- What to get with them?

 

I'm currently thinking the best reason to go with the HD598s is to save money. Everyone is telling me that unless you get this and that with the DT880s, they will suck. So is there a cheap way to get the DT880s on par with HD598s sound quality wise?

 

EDIT:

Or let's put it this way. If I decide to go with headphones and a new sound card, should I get HD598 + Xonar DG, DT880 pro 250ohm + Xonar STX or maybe even HD598 + STX?


Edited by Cluelessness - 12/12/11 at 9:53am
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