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Best headphones for opera within sub $400 price range with sub $350 amp/dac combo

Poll Results: Best for opera:

 
  • 2% (1)
    DT880
  • 0% (0)
    DT990
  • 2% (1)
    HE-4
  • 47% (18)
    HE-400
  • 5% (2)
    HD598
  • 18% (7)
    HD600
  • 0% (0)
    K550
  • 23% (9)
    Q701
38 Total Votes  
post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 

I have finally realized that it will take time before I can afford the system I have been researching and really dream of  - so I need to find a good compromise until I start making the big bucks ;-) 

 

I have looked at:

 

HD598

Q701

HE-400

HE-4

K550

DT880

DT990

 

What often happens when I listen to opera, is that the sound is too big for most headphones, and they start distorting - especially when dramatic tenors and sopranos sing. It can be solved by turning down the volume significantly, but I often want the sound to be full and loud. I feel that it is often due to a lack of middle and bottom and too much focus on raw bass and treble. I want the warmth to remain and the sound to remain big, detailed and powerful. 

 

 

I am aware that some of the headphones may require significant amplification, and that it may not be had within my price range, please consider this when voting.

 

 

PS: Is this website legit: http://onecv.info/hifiman-he500-headphones-electronics_p5717.html?offer_id=B005DL2JCI !?

 

Thanks in advance!!

Adam


Edited by AdamFrandsen - 9/15/12 at 9:52pm
post #2 of 53

I've owned the Q701, HD 580, DT 880, and DT 990. Of the four, I think the HD 580/600 would have the most weighty/lush sound. The HD 650 is darker and might do what you're looking for better, but is out of your price range unless buying used or refurbished. 

 

The HE-400 is also supposedly really good, but I haven't heard it. I do own the HE-6 and love it though.

 

I've had good experiences with Audio-GD equipment. I think that one of their entry level all in ones would be a good buy at the $350 price point. They can drive any of the headphones on your list with power to spare.

 

I also like the Audinst HUD MX-1 as a cheaper option with a smaller form factor, but it doesn't have as much functionality (no fixed line out, no digital input toggle switch). It's power swing is also lower, but it will still give you enough for the headphones you've listed.

post #3 of 53

Heya,

 

Everything you're asking for in a headphone, a planar magnetic does best: mids.

 

The Hifiman HE-400 is phenomenal for this, and everything really. It truly is an excellent headphone. I would put you on the Hifiman HE-400 with a Music Streamer II (DAC) and Little Dot MK I+ (AMP), or possibly an NFB12.1 (or 15.1), or even a simple Fiio E10 or E17, or possibly a Maverick D1.

 

Alternatives: AudioTechnica AD900 and Sennheiser HD600 and Beyer DT880. Substitute Little Dot MKIII for the higher impedance headphones.

 

Very best,

post #4 of 53
Thread Starter 

Thank you both for the great answers! I think I am now settled on the Hifiman, but I have one question - the he-4 sell for almost the same price as the he-400, is it a better headphone? I see the frequency response is larger... 

 

But let us say I go with HE-400, what of the following setups would be best:

 

$694 excl. ship. and cables = MacBook Pro -> MusicStreamer II -> Little Dot  MK+1 -> HE-400

$757 excl. ship. and cables = MacBook Pro -> MusicStreamer II -> Little Dot  MKIII -> HE-400

$598 - 643 excl. ship. = MacBook Pro -> Maverick D1  -> HE-400

$614 excl. ship. = MacBook Pro -> NFB 12.1 -> HE-400

$634 excl. ship. = MacBook Pro -> NFB 15.1  -> HE-400

 

I  am leaning mostly towards the Maverick since it is the cheapest, looks sturdy, has great features and is all-in-one. 

 

After spending hours on the internet browsing pictures and reviews I almost wanted to pull the trigger on the K550's with an Audioquest Dragonfly - I just think those headphones look stunning. But, I am sure they cannot compete with the he-400... Also not sure if I believe that such a small device as the Dragonfly can provide a big sound.

post #5 of 53

The Dragonfly is receiving excellent reviews with good measurements.  I would seriously consider it.

post #6 of 53

I was disappointed in the review in Stereophile.  It did not address the headphone amp section in the Dragonfly.

post #7 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamFrandsen View Post

Thank you both for the great answers! I think I am now settled on the Hifiman, but I have one question - the he-4 sell for almost the same price as the he-400, is it a better headphone? I see the frequency response is larger... 

 

But let us say I go with HE-400, what of the following setups would be best:

 

$694 excl. ship. and cables = MacBook Pro -> MusicStreamer II -> Little Dot  MK+1 -> HE-400

$757 excl. ship. and cables = MacBook Pro -> MusicStreamer II -> Little Dot  MKIII -> HE-400

$598 - 643 excl. ship. = MacBook Pro -> Maverick D1  -> HE-400

$614 excl. ship. = MacBook Pro -> NFB 12.1 -> HE-400

$634 excl. ship. = MacBook Pro -> NFB 15.1  -> HE-400

 

I  am leaning mostly towards the Maverick since it is the cheapest, looks sturdy, has great features and is all-in-one. 

 

After spending hours on the internet browsing pictures and reviews I almost wanted to pull the trigger on the K550's with an Audioquest Dragonfly - I just think those headphones look stunning. But, I am sure they cannot compete with the he-400... Also not sure if I believe that such a small device as the Dragonfly can provide a big sound.

 

Heya,

 

HE-400 with Maverick or NFB12 would be stellar. Gobs of current, those two solid states can supply plenty.

 

Very best,

post #8 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamFrandsen View Post

Thank you both for the great answers! I think I am now settled on the Hifiman, but I have one question - the he-4 sell for almost the same price as the he-400, is it a better headphone? I see the frequency response is larger... 

 

But let us say I go with HE-400, what of the following setups would be best:

 

$694 excl. ship. and cables = MacBook Pro -> MusicStreamer II -> Little Dot  MK+1 -> HE-400

$757 excl. ship. and cables = MacBook Pro -> MusicStreamer II -> Little Dot  MKIII -> HE-400

$598 - 643 excl. ship. = MacBook Pro -> Maverick D1  -> HE-400

$614 excl. ship. = MacBook Pro -> NFB 12.1 -> HE-400

$634 excl. ship. = MacBook Pro -> NFB 15.1  -> HE-400

 

I  am leaning mostly towards the Maverick since it is the cheapest, looks sturdy, has great features and is all-in-one. 

 

After spending hours on the internet browsing pictures and reviews I almost wanted to pull the trigger on the K550's with an Audioquest Dragonfly - I just think those headphones look stunning. But, I am sure they cannot compete with the he-400... Also not sure if I believe that such a small device as the Dragonfly can provide a big sound.

 

NFB-12 looks better on paper. It has a better dac section (dual Wolfson 8741 vs the unnamed chip in the D1), does 24/96 over USB instead of 16/44, better SNR (118 vs 96), and probably outputs more power. 

The NFB-15 uses a new USB chip that supports 24/192. No other differences. Higher up the line are the Sabre based NFB-11 and the NFB-5 with upgraded parts and digital buttons.

 

I ultimately went with the Audio GD out of laziness. If you're planning on getting speakers, you can hit a switch on the front of the NFB-12 to toggle your headphones/lineout instead of having to reach over and unplug your headphones. Wish every audio manufacturer would include that option. 

post #9 of 53
Thread Starter 

Man, the NFB-11.32 looks great! And the price is very decent... I might go with that, anyone knows how long it will take for them to get it to me here in philadelphia? Also, why does the usb chip go up to 384 when the dac chip only supports 192?

 

Also, how about the he-4 - is it the better headphone of the two?

 

Thanks!

post #10 of 53
Thread Starter 

Disregard the above, I have now read sufficient to want the he-400 over the he-4's. 

 

I am looking at he-400 (399) plus NFB-11.3 (299) totals 698... I am actually excited about that! 

 

Ordering tomorrow I think - ONE question though, if I move back to europe in a year can i run the NFB there? What kind of power adapter do I need?

 

-Adam

post #11 of 53

You'll need a step up transformer that can do 110 V to 220 V if you get the US version. Alternatively, you can get the 220 V version and a step down transformer for 220 V to 110 V instead.

 

As for the USB chip in the NFB-11.32, it's mainly for handling 32 bit audio. The 384 kHz bit is to mainly reduce jitter over USB. Audio GD has had issues with other USB chips in Sabre dacs in the past, with the original NFB-11 having it's USB input removed after one revision.

post #12 of 53
Thread Starter 

Now is there perhaps another recommendation, one that has the voltage switch built in or uses an adapter... If nothing in the same league, then ok.

 

How about the Nuforce HD - it is within the same price range...

 

EDIT: Just read that it doesn't have the juice to drive the he-400, which sounds strange to me given the efficiency of the headphones and the 

 

  • 288mW rms @ 30 Ohm
  • 210mW rms @ 120 Ohm

of the amp...


Edited by AdamFrandsen - 9/16/12 at 10:55pm
post #13 of 53

Alternative tip (for thought): Get a normal bias Stax Lambda with energizer and connect it to your Cambridge (off the speaker taps). Best in class (eg, price) midrange and amaaaaazing vocals. Of course, these can only be bought used...

post #14 of 53
Thread Starter 

Never thought that you could do that, awesome though - unfortunately my cambridge gear is at my moms place in Denmark. I have lived here in the US for the past 5 years, and I am not sure when/if I will be going back home. I listened to the sr-507, I believe it was, this march when I was in Japan, and I really liked them - not sure if they are similar to the lambda. I also listened to the SR-007's with the SRM-007 amp, and really was quite disappointed. When I compared it to the HD800 with the Luxman P-1u playing the same recording, I clearly favoured the HD800's - no comparison really in my opinion. So in other words, when I have enough money to buy something in that price range, I will likely buy the HD800's or a pair of LCD-3's perhaps - havent heard them yet. The SR-009 are just too expensive that I will ever consider them, though they may be the best. 

 

I am really having a hard time deciding what to do here... Maybe I will just go with the Dragonfly + K550 in the end. It is cheaper than any solution with the HE-400s plus dac plus amp plus cables... I don't feel that I can afford more than $650 all-in-all right now. I would buy the NFB 15.1 and the HE-400s, but the shipping time bothers me.

post #15 of 53

All headphones listed are highly regarded around these places and should be "good" for what you're looking for. You should try and listen to a few of them if at all possible before making a decision. If you cannot, as I suggested, any of them should be cool - sound signature preferences and nuances only come buy from empirical experience. Buy one +dac/amp, go listen to some great music and forget this forum, at least until you're ready to "upgrade" :)

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