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A high-end phone with sonics similar to the hfi-780 - does it exist?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello All,

 

I've stalked this forum for some time, and I've recently decided to join the community so that I may take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience here (and hopefully give back as my experience here grows). 

 

I hope I am not treading worn ground with this topic; searching the forum, I did not come across a straightforward answer to this perhaps peculiar question. 

 

As the title implies, I am seeking the best equipment upgrade from the perspective of someone who is absolutely smitten with the sonic characteristics of the Ultrasone hfi-780. I listen mainly to technical rock and more uptempo material, in addition to gaming, and in these areas the ultrasones have been phenomenal. Since they are quite efficient, I've not yet ventured into the world of amplification (though I understand that some recommendations here may require a good desktop amp).

 

The reason I am asking about an upgrade is the comfort issue. It breaks my heart to say it, but even after modding these using the well-known Beyer velour earpad swap, in addition to replacing the headband with one from a Sennheiser 650, they still wear on my (regular sized) ears and the crown of my skull in a displeasing way. For the record, my headphones are not my only head gear (I wear glasses full-time). 

 

I tried a lateral move in terms of product class to the Phillips Citiscape Uptown, and while these are some of the most fantastically comfortable headphones I've ever warn, the sound in comparison is wooly at worst, and too warm at best. They simply lack the speed, articulation and impact I get with my go-to musical material when compared to the 780. 

 

What makes this question perhaps unusual is that I'm looking to jump several classes at once with my next upgrade. While I do not consider myself an audiophile strictly, I spend a considerable amount of time in headphones, and a good portion of that time is critical listening. I'm looking for an investment.

I'm willing to spend around 1K for a total system, ideally with somewhere around a 70/30 split between headphone and amplification in terms of price breakdown (if an amplifier is absolutely suggested). I state this because it seems some people will argue that one should purchase an extremely expensive amp which makes even cheap phones sound very good, and others will argue the quality of the transducer should be first considered, before amplification. I tend to fall in the latter category, since I feel I will be more sensitive to the character of the headphone than the amp driving them.

 

Not to belabor the point, these are the most important aspects of this hypothetical steup for me:

 

  • Speed/detail - superb transient resolution.
  • Impactful, up-front presentation - I don't mind if this comes at the expense of soundstage. I desire strong bass extension and resolution, with a solid, balanced presence. I'm no basshead, but I want the punch to be there. 
  • Long-term comfort - something very plush, like the Uptowns.
  • Moderately efficient - I would prefer them to not require powerful amplification.

 

Closed or semi-open are the ideal candidates here, since I would like to recluse myself to The Dillinger Escape Plan while my girlfriend watches Idol, but I am open to any type in this sense. I should mention that these will be, long term, how I will consume audio from my PC. So I'm not terribly worried about size/portability issues.

 

Hopefully I've laid out my case clearly (please let me know if not!). Does anyone know of a set of cans (or cans with amp) that fit this bill? If there's a group of individuals best suited to point me in the right direction here, it's you guys.

 

Thanks a ton for the time and considerations!

post #2 of 11

Since you're into modding, have you considered transplanting the 780's drivers into a more comfortable housing?

 

Maybe you could consider one of Ultrasone's Pro series headphones, their housings are shaped differently so you might find them more comfortable.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the fast reply. 
While I did venture into some light modding, these were very easy. I think moving the drivers to different housing without some knowledge would effect the sound in unpredictable ways. 

 

The PRO line was on my list, but I've read many threads of people stating that these are more "DJ" or bass-heavy types, good for hip-hop or electronic music. This has made me think twice about them as an upgrade to the 780.

post #4 of 11

The Pro 750 is an upgrade of the HiFi 780 in all respects from comfort to durability to kit and in sound.  Unlike the 780, it needs an amp or you lose its bass..

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks again!
 

I'll certainly keep this information in mind during my continued search. These can be had for around 250, it looks like. I understand that this isn't really a "problem", but I've budgeted around 1K, and let me tell you, I'm eager to spend all of it if it can get me even better quality while keeping this target in mind  :)

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

I should really be more helpful here:

I'm looking at the AuDEZE LCD-2. These are a big investment, but I'm actually looking for something in the 500+ range. Are there shining examples of the above desires in this category?
This is difficult to parse, because it seems like when you get to this level, the conversation centers around "neutrality" almost to the exclusion of many other factors. I appreciate this, of course, but weighting it relative to my experience with lower-end phones is difficult as you might expect.

I know comparing the LCD-2's or their peers to the 780 might be like comparing a Kia to a Ferrari, but if anyone can take a crack at it...


Edited by azeral - 7/27/12 at 4:57pm
post #7 of 11

The fact is that the 780 is a colored, fun headphone.  As you near the $1,000 level with good cans you are not going to find such an animal.  Sure some of these cans may be slightly colored, but we are talking relatively small degrees and subtleties.  Folks that spend this kind of cash want accurate, extended, clear, deep, etc.  On the other hand, I see the 780 as the closed can answer to the Grado SR line--with a bit more bass.


Edited by KG Jag - 7/27/12 at 5:21pm
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

I do understand that the 780 is a very non-neutral can. What I'm interested in are its fundamentally admirable qualities in a (very) high end phone:
Speed, impact, and detail.

Are these qualities somehow mutually-exclusive to neutrality?

 

It seems as though the holy grail of the high-end is faithful reproduction and representation of the source material.
Since my source material is typically aggressive, at this level, am I asking the wrong question?

I mean, if I want snap and speed, should I just be looking for a phone which is most accurate and neutral, and let my source material provide the qualities I'm looking for while the transducers work their magic?

 

There has to be something out there in this range which is "exciting" while keeping the qualities you suggest buyers at this level typically want. 


Edited by azeral - 7/27/12 at 5:57pm
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by azeral View Post

I do understand that the 780 is a very non-neutral can. What I'm interested in are its fundamentally admirable qualities in a (very) high end phone:
Speed, impact, and detail.

Are these qualities somehow mutually-exclusive to neutrality?

 

No--but not every quality can, even in the $700 and up range will have all those things--or at least to the level you might be seeking.

 

It seems as though the holy grail of the high-end is faithful reproduction and representation of the source material.
Since my source material is typically aggressive, at this level, am I asking the wrong question?

 

No--but the answer is likely to depend on the quality of your source material and/or whether you want to bump up (or down) any aspect of it as laid down in the recording.  If yes--this can be prompted by personal preference or recording/mastering decisions that were bad or which you would simply do differently.

 

I mean, if I want snap and speed, should I just be looking for a phone which is most accurate and neutral, and let my source material provide the qualities I'm looking for while the transducers work their magic?

 

Your money = your choice.  Even quality high end cans have relative strengths and weaknesses.  Certainly not all are fast (especially relative to their peers).

 

There has to be something out there in this range which is "exciting" while keeping the qualities you suggest buyers at this level typically want. 

 

You might want to take your questions to the Summit Fi section of the forum.  In general the $1,000 is at about the upper limit for this forum section.  Once you get beyond the RS1i, Tesla, HE-500 and LCD-2, you're in the wrong place.  In fact most folks that hang out here probably don't have much, if any, head time with any of these cans.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

I'm detecting some hostility here for some reason, but very well, I'll take this elsewhere. 
 

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by azeral View Post

I'm detecting some hostility here for some reason, but very well, I'll take this elsewhere. 
 


Your detector is off.  Just a suggestion of what might be the best place to get a helpful answer to your question.

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