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My ears have grown out of onboard sound and Apple earbuds. I'm looking for the optimal...

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 

I was looking into the Koss Pro4AAAT or the Grado SR125i along with an Asus Xonar Essence STX. Any help would me much appreciated, as this is my first purchase of a non-integrated sound device. Thank you!

post #2 of 69

Instead of getting a soundcard, I suggest you get the FiiO E17 DAC/portable amp, which at times goes for $140, which has excellent functionality along with other potentially obvious benefits over the soundcard. 

 

In regards to headphones, it looks as though you're willing to go the distance, so I very strongly recommend the Brainwavz HM5's which you should purchase from MP4Nation.net.  Register to the site and subscribe so that they send you information on deals (they're really non-bothersome).  Also like them on Facebook for more deals/giveaways that they do.  Wait for a time that the headphones go on sale during pre-order (they go for $120 instead $140) and combine it with a potential deal (some of which go very fast when limited in amount) and you can get them for $110 or less which I have done over 9 times within the past half year or so now, or however long they've been out.  (They're essentially another version of the previously known Fischer Audio FA-003 headphones.)  For the deal during the pre-order period, you'd of course be in for quite the waiting period though.  It's worth it... 

 

Next down the list I really recommend the Sony MDR-7506's.  They are actually quite popular and go way back and you could find them always at around the $100 price point.  Very often they too go on sale, going for ridiculously low prices if you look around. 

 

There's a lot to say since you're just entering this world, especially about such accurately reproducing headphones like the Brainwavz HM5's, but for now, as for the reason for my recommendations, where I'm coming from, and a look into other options, check out the similar hunt I was in a while back, here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/529104/studio-worthy-headphones-of-up-to-200-update-i-got-the-ath-m50s-i-hate-them-why-thoughts.  You'd of course have to go completely through it for that intent.  I actually just now finally got to the bottom of it all and closed off the thread with the final post, as it pertains to the query anyway...  The search for me initially (as I think you would see) was for headphones at a price range of up to $150. 

 

 

PS- If you check out reviews of the Brainwavz HM5's, you'll see them often being compared with $300-$400 headphones, deservingly so.  You also shouldn't disregard comfortability as a factor because trust me, after a while, it becomes one.  It seems to have been more an issue for everyone else than it has even been for me in the past so my suggestions, especially the Brainwavz, really have that down.  Of course that's the last and final factor to consider, as it was for me as well. In any case, as it pertains to the HM5's, it was the first time for me that I found myself AGREEING COMPLETELY with pretty much ALL the reviews' pros and the detailed descriptions of the sound which were made (like regarding neutrality and the good of it).  Unfortunately though, because of your lack of experience, no matter what is said, it will still feel a bit like a blind leap of faith regardless of the headphones, although especially for ones like the Brainwavz from MP4Nation because of the necessary investment in time.  I mean, you could of course always just get them straight off of Amazon for $140, which is basically just the US warehouse of MP4Nation (they're located in Hong Kong).  That way, if you'd like, you could kinda test them out before going all in (although you probably shouldn't do that using your onboard sound). I mean, if and after you get the FiiO E17 or something like it, it's the means to test & pair anything and everything in the future.


Edited by Typhoon859 - 7/3/12 at 3:33pm
post #3 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Typhoon859 View Post

Instead of getting a soundcard, I suggest you get the FiiO E17 DAC/portable amp, which at times goes for $140, which has excellent functionality along with other potentially obvious benefits over the soundcard. 

 

In regards to headphones, it looks as though you're willing to go the distance, so I very strongly recommend the Brainwavz HM5's which you should purchase from MP4Nation.net.  Register to the site and subscribe so that they send you information on deals (they're really non-bothersome).  Also like them on Facebook for more deals/giveaways that they do.  Wait for a time that the headphones go on sale during pre-order (they go for $120 instead $140) and combine it with a potential deal (some of which go very fast when limited in amount) and you can get them for $110 or less which I have done over 9 times within the past half year or so now, or however long they've been out.  (They're essentially replicas of the Fischer Audio FA-003 headphones without any compromises.)  For the deal during the pre-order period, you'd of course be in for quite the waiting period though.  It's worth it... 

 

Next down the list I really recommend the Sony MDR-7506's.  They are actually quite popular and go way back and you could find them always at around the $100 price point.  Very often they too go on sale, going for ridiculously low prices if you look around. 

 

There's a lot to say since you're just entering this world, especially about such accurately reproducing headphones like the Brainwavz HM5's, but for now, as for the reason for my recommendations, where I'm coming from, and a look into other options, check out the similar hunt I was in a while back, here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/529104/studio-worthy-headphones-of-up-to-200-update-i-got-the-ath-m50s-i-hate-them-why-thoughts.  You'd of course have to go completely through it for that intent.  I actually just now finally got to the bottom of it all and closed off the thread with the final post, as it pertains to the query anyway...  The search for me initially (as I think you would see) was for headphones at a price range of up to $150. 

 

 

PS- If you check out reviews of the Brainwavz HM5's, you'll see them often being compared with $300-$400 headphones, deservingly so.  You also shouldn't disregard comfortability as a factor because trust me, after a while, it becomes one.  It seems to have been more an issue for everyone else than it has even been for me in the past so my suggestions, especially the Brainwavz, really have that down.  Of course that's the last and final factor to consider, as it was for me as well. In any case, as it pertains to the HM5's, it was the first time for me that I found myself AGREEING COMPLETELY with pretty much ALL the reviews' pros and the detailed descriptions of the sound which were made (like regarding neutrality and the good of it).  Unfortunately though, because of your lack of experience, no matter what is said, it will still feel a bit like a blind leap of faith regardless of the headphones, although especially for ones like the Brainwavz from MP4Nation because of the necessary investment in time.  I mean, you could of course always just get them straight off of Amazon for $140, which is basically just the US warehouse of MP4Nation (they're located in Hong Kong).  That way, if you'd like, you could audition them (although you shouldn't do that using your onboard sound).

 

Edit: Sorry I edited it so much time after the initial post (17 min) XD

 

 

 

he didnt even mention what his preferred sound signature is lol...

post #4 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post

 

 

 

he didnt even mention what his preferred sound signature is lol...

 

I have no issue with the e17. It's a great place to get started on a portable amp/dac. But we do need to know your preferred sound signature. 

post #5 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post

 

 

 

he didnt even mention what his preferred sound signature is lol...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post

 

I have no issue with the e17. It's a great place to get started on a portable amp/dac. But we do need to know your preferred sound signature. 

 

Did you guys not read his post?!  How in the world would he know?!  He probably doesn't know what that even entails!...

 

Right now I think it's best to get him started looking at specific types of headphones and seeing people's opinions on them.  From that, he should be able to gather some idea on what kind of sound each of the cans may exemplify.  I always recommend starting (and finishing tbh) with neutral cans so that the person can have an idea of what his/her music ACTUALLY sounds like.  Then, if it's purely for the listening experience for a specific genre, maybe then they may make the choice of other kinds of headphones which fit their casual listening preferences. 

 

In my opinion, colored sound always gets boring to the point of actually being dreadful after a while, and it very rarely actually works for all genres.  It's nice to listen to what your headphones/speakers are actually being fed so you can enjoy each thing based on its own merit, with what IT has to offer instead of the forced sound of the listening device.  You know, maybe that's a bit exaggerated but its for the point...


Edited by Typhoon859 - 6/6/12 at 1:30pm
post #6 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Typhoon859 View Post

 

Did you guys not read his post?!  How in the world would he know?!  He probably doesn't know what that even entails!...

 

Right now I think it's best to get him started looking at specific types of headphones and seeing people's opinions on them.  From that, he should be able to gather some idea on what kind of sound each of the cans may exemplify.  I always recommend starting (and finishing tbh) with neutral cans so that the person can have an idea of what his/her music ACTUALLY sounds like.  Then, if it's purely for the listening experience for a specific genre, maybe then they may make the choice of other kinds of headphones which fit their casual listening preferences. 

 

In my opinion, colored sound always gets boring to the point of actually being dreadful after a while, and it very rarely actually works for all genres.  It's nice to listen to what your headphones/speakers are actually being fed so you can enjoy each thing based on its own merit, with what IT has to offer instead of the forced sound of the listening device.  You know, maybe that's a bit exaggerated but its for the point...

 

 

yes, like you, i personally also prefer neutral sounding headphone but i only know this after trying out a couple of headphones with different sound signatures. a lot of people like bassy headphones, at least for the casual listeners. when i first started, i always thought bass heavy= better. a neutral sounding headphone may be boring for him, and i think he knows enough to know what bass, mid, and treble are if hes coming to this site, so he should be fine describing what he wants, maybe not to the extent you guys do but still...

post #7 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post

 

 

yes, like you, i personally also prefer neutral sounding headphone but i only know this after trying out a couple of headphones with different sound signatures. a lot of people like bassy headphones, at least for the casual listeners. when i first started, i always thought bass heavy= better. a neutral sounding headphone may be boring for him, and i think he knows enough to know what bass, mid, and treble are if hes coming to this site, so he should be fine describing what he wants, maybe not to the extent you guys do but still...

Well, maybe.  I'm not here to judge, lol.  I just think if he wanted to describe that, he would've already.  I think he was trying to make that point with the Apple earbuds... 

 

Coming from what he says he is, I REALLY doubt he would have such an experience with like the Sony MDR-7506's...  Those themselves have relatively boosted and fun sounding bass so I doubt it would be an issue. 

 

I know what you're saying and my experience was the same.  Does that mean it was the right chain of events as means to get to an end?  I don't know if I would say so.  This is why I'm suggesting that perhaps, just logically, it actually makes sense to start in the way I described.  Other people I've seen (perhaps in some cases with a little explanation) who started with neutral never went astray.  How is it a good thing wasting your time with Beats only to realize that they're crap?  You know what I mean? 

 

We're here to make the proper recommendations, not make sales, so in this case, it's not always best to cater to the customers potentially undeveloped perspective and maybe try to guide them in the right direction.  I get where you're coming from though, truly. 

 

In any case, this whole conversation is a moot point in itself because the main reason I jumped in in making a suggestion is because I see the person was willing to go the distance.  If he gets the FiiO E17 amp, then he's essentially free with the Brainwavz HM5's which I suggested to go for any sound that he likes.  If in the beginning he'll really want to push that bass for the fun of it, he can!  He'll then set the bass boost to +6 dB and the headphones will deliver.  I like those cans because they're truly neutral, not flat, meaning they're very flexible.  They can naturally replicate what other headphones may forcefully do, creating more of like a cheaper sound.  Of course to those who may not understand, it may not come across in that way but to the little extent that the difference becomes at that point, I think it's fairly easy to put into perspective.

 

So, especially in the beginning, I just think there's no way you can go wrong with this combo because there are just so many elements to learn from this that it pretty much covers your entire basis of any other judgements you may need to make in the future.

post #8 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Typhoon859 View Post

Well, maybe.  I'm not here to judge, lol.  I just think if he wanted to describe that, he would've already.  I think he was trying to make that point with the Apple earbuds... 

 

Coming from what he says he is, I REALLY doubt he would have such an experience with like the Sony MDR-7506's...  Those themselves have relatively boosted and fun sounding bass so I doubt it would be an issue. 

 

I know what you're saying and my experience was the same.  Does that mean it was the right chain of events as means to get to an end?  I don't know if I would say so.  This is why I'm suggesting that perhaps, just logically, it actually makes sense to start in the way I described.  Other people I've seen (perhaps in some cases with a little explanation) who started with neutral never went astray.  How is it a good thing wasting your time with Beats only to realize that they're crap?  You know what I mean? 

 

We're here to make the proper recommendations, not make sales, so in this case, it's not always best to cater to the customers potentially undeveloped perspective and maybe try to guide them in the right direction.  I get where you're coming from though, truly. 

 

In any case, this whole conversation is a moot point in itself because the main reason I jumped in in making a suggestion is because I see the person was willing to go the distance.  If he gets the FiiO E17 amp, then he's essentially free with the Brainwavz HM5's which I suggested to go for any sound that he likes.  If in the beginning he'll really want to push that bass for the fun of it, he can!  He'll then set the bass boost to +6 dB and the headphones will deliver.  I like those cans because they're truly neutral, not flat, meaning they're very flexible.  They can naturally replicate what other headphones may forcefully do, creating more of like a cheaper sound.  Of course to those who may not understand, it may not come across in that way but to the little extent that the difference becomes at that point, I think it's fairly easy to put into perspective.

 

So, especially in the beginning, I just think there's no way you can go wrong with this combo because there are just so many elements to learn from this that it pretty much covers your entire basis of any other judgements you may need to make in the future.

 

 

 

i guess you are right, i didnt start with a neutral sounding headphone but do end up liking the neutral sounding signature for daily use, its fun to pump up some bass occassionally and thats why i just purchased the sony xb500 but i know for sure its not going to be my main headphone for daily use, either for home or portable. and for the e17, i have it and i like it. i think he will like it too. its a cool little gadget. the hm5, i have never tried it but all reviews i read were pretty much saying how neutral it is so i can assume its very neutral sounding.

post #9 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post

 

 

 

i guess you are right, i didnt start with a neutral sounding headphone but do end up liking the neutral sounding signature for daily use, its fun to pump up some bass occassionally and thats why i just purchased the sony xb500 but i know for sure its not going to be my main headphone for daily use, either for home or portable. and for the e17, i have it and i like it. i think he will like it too. its a cool little gadget. the hm5, i have never tried it but all reviews i read were pretty much saying how neutral it is so i can assume its very neutral sounding.


Lol, yup, as neutral as it gets.  I just don't like that word on its own because it makes them sound unappealing when in reality they're very pleasant and the soundstage is incredible!

 

PS- I wonder if the OP is going to respond... XD

post #10 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by eschi223 View Post

I was looking into the Koss Pro4AAAT or the Grado SR125i along with an Asus Xonar Essence STX. Any help would me much appreciated, as this is my first purchase of a non-integrated sound device. Thank you!

 

OP - Before you start narrowing anything down - might pay to list:

 

- main genres of music you listen to

- listening environment (do you need isolation <closed cans> or is open OK)

- do these need to be portable, or will main listening be at PC (I ask this because you mentioned a sound card)

- set-up solely for music, or is gaming an option?  Which is most important?

- what is your total budget?

- from any listening you've done so far, are there any clues you could give to signal listening preference?  Prefer bassy / detailed / strong mid-range emphasis (vocals etc) / more balanced?

- what is your source - PC?  iPod or MP3 player? etc .....

 

 

@typhoon859 - reason above is important to know is because without the info, you're really recommending in the dark.  He specifically mentioned a PC sound card in his original post, which does indicate PC - meaning could include gaming.  If that was the case, then the E17 is the last thing I'd be recommending (until we know one way or the other).  For me personally (after owning the HM5), I'd rather wait first to hear about his preferred genres.  Although some people have been 'comparing' the HM5 to cans in the $300-400 bracket - eg HD600, IMHO opinion they really aren't up there.  They are a great bargain for their price, and may suit OP's budget and taste well - but even then he should look at the Jaycar clones which are significantly cheaper anyway.  Lets wait and see if he replies with more info.

post #11 of 69
Thread Starter 

Sorry, I was at school today. I didn't get a chance to reply until now
I borrowed my friend's V-Moda Crossfade LP, which I thought were too bassy for me. I mostly listen to Classic Rock, Jazz, Ska, Folk, Rock, and some Classical. I do vary interest from genre to genre, so something that has as much versatility as possible would be nice.

Portability would be very useful, because I have a home-built desktop and a Macbook Pro, so it's not a necessity but it is very helpful.

Open cans would be fine.

For gaming, as long as the sound is good enough to make Amnesia's sound design shine, then I'm good with it for gaming. I'm not too picky about gaming sound. Music is more important for me.

Right now, I have $580 saved up, but I would only like to spend 300-350 max.

My sources would be my PC, my laptop, and my iPhone.

Again, sorry for taking so long to reply and having a vague post. I'm new to this! Thank you so much for the help though, I'll definitely be returning to this site often. Right now the HM5 and E17 seem like a good fit for me.
 

post #12 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by eschi223 View Post

Sorry, I was at school today. I didn't get a chance to reply until now
I borrowed my friend's V-Moda Crossfade LP, which I thought were too bassy for me. I mostly listen to Classic Rock, Jazz, Ska, Folk, Rock, and some Classical. I do vary interest from genre to genre, so something that has as much versatility as possible would be nice.

Portability would be very useful, because I have a home-built desktop and a Macbook Pro, so it's not a necessity but it is very helpful.

Open cans would be fine.

For gaming, as long as the sound is good enough to make Amnesia's sound design shine, then I'm good with it for gaming. I'm not too picky about gaming sound. Music is more important for me.

Right now, I have $580 saved up, but I would only like to spend 300-350 max.

My sources would be my PC, my laptop, and my iPhone.

Again, sorry for taking so long to reply and having a vague post. I'm new to this! Thank you so much for the help though, I'll definitely be returning to this site often. Right now the HM5 and E17 seem like a good fit for me.
 

 

 

glad to see his suggestion suits you, thats all that matters smily_headphones1.gif

post #13 of 69
Thread Starter 

The E17 just sold out on Amazon :(

 

Where should I buy it from? I'm fine with spending the extra 20 bucks on the HM5's to get them sooner, even with the extra 20 bucks they still seem like an incredible deal. AccessoryJack has a really low price on it, are they reliable?
 

post #14 of 69

@eschi223

 

Thanks - good post, lots of info.

 

For the sound card (assuming that you don't need positional accuracy for gaming), and that you want something that is portable for your laptop - 3 options at different price points:

Fiio E10 - requires power from USB cable - good entry level for PC / laptop - not suitable for ultra-portable (iPhone) ~ 80.00

Fiio E17 - battery powered, good dac and amp section, tone controls - suitable for PC, laptop and iPhone (amp only for the iPhone) ~ 150.00

Leckerton UHA-4 - battery powered, good dac and amp section, suitable for PC, laptop and iPhone (amp only for the iPhone) ~ 200.00

 

For the headphones - I'd give you a couple of closed options, and one open option (for your genres) - I've owned all of these:

HM5 - actually I'd buy the Jaycar equivalent Digitech (they're cheaper) see link below - closed, comfy (big cushions), quite balanced, great value for money - very high clamp force, a little hollowness in the bass, can get sweaty ~ USD 50.00 (at the moment).

http://www.jaycar.us/productView.asp?ID=AA2065&form=CAT2&SUBCATID=1015#4

Shure SRH840 - closed, great tonality, scale well, I found them comfortable (YMMV), quite well balanced - the only closed headphone I've since sold and seriously considered rebuying.  Usually sells around USD 130.00 (may need to search around for that price though)

Alessandro Ms1i - open, light, great for rock, jazz and blues, slightly agressive (puts you on stage with the band), involving, fun - more emphasis on mid-range and treble than the bass.  Highly moddable.  One of their biggest issues is comfort - you either get used to the Grado/Alessandro fit or you don't.  USD100-110 delivered.  I still see them as one of the one of the best value for money headphones for what they offer.

 

All 3 of above headphones don't need amping (from iPhone) - so your cheapest option would be E10 + whichever headpohone you prefer.  Or for your $250-300, get E10 + Digitech + MS1i, then you have a nice combo of gear that will compliment each other.

 

I haven't heard a lot of lower end Senn/other open cans - so maybe other could also shed light on alternate open options.  Hope this helps.

post #15 of 69

or op, you can be like me. fiio e17+ beyerdynamic dt990, just great sound overall. bass is tight, punchy, impactful, and deep, also plenty of bass for my own taste. mid is clear, clean and crisp. treble is nice, clear and clean again but not as emphasized as the bass and mid, thats my opinion. i know some other people may tell you they have harsh treble but i never experienced harsh treble with it. its also comfortable with its large earcups, doesnt really isolate well though since its open back. the soundstage i believe is the biggest among all my headphones but its also my only open back headphone. the sound is fun and rich and wont bore you, i recommend it.  


Edited by reddragon - 6/6/12 at 7:44pm
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  • My ears have grown out of onboard sound and Apple earbuds. I'm looking for the optimal price/performance option for headphones and a DAC/sound card/headphone amp for under $300.
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › My ears have grown out of onboard sound and Apple earbuds. I'm looking for the optimal price/performance option for headphones and a DAC/sound card/headphone amp for under $300.