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1st time investor in quality headphones, need advice on specs

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

I'm looking to invest in some headphones (preferably under $200) and I was wondering what sort of specs I should be looking for in terms of impedance, sensitivity, etc. I am not a huge audiophile and use my headphones mostly for listening to music on my computer or my phone. I also would like something that isn't too bulky or heavy, as that has been a turnoff from previous headphones. This may have been answered before, I'm still very new to this type of forum. I listen to rock of the volbeat, korn, chevelle variety and like some bass in my music, so I was wondering what things I should really focus on. I am also possibly looking for something that might have a mic attachment, or imbedded mic in it, as I do skype from time to time, and would like a pair that has that capability. If there aren't headphones available that meet your ideal criteria, then the mic is pretty optional at this point. Not much of a gamer, so I don't really need that capability. Aesthetically, the two that appeal to me the most are Nixon Troopers and Razer's new Blackshark. Two fairly different models I know, but so far, those two have caught my eye the most. 


Thanks in advance for your advice. 

post #2 of 2



First, I would say that you should not even look at most specs on a headphone, as they are generally lies. The only ones I would say you should pay any attention to, and even then, with a grain of salt, is the sensitivity and impedance. Those two values, together, will tell you if the headphone might need or at least benefit from an amplifier. Higher sensitivity values mean it's going to get louder for less energy, so that means less amplification needs (higher than 96db/mw is likely going to be loud without power needs; lower than that, like 80's, is very hard to drive without a good amount of power). Higher impedance values means more resistance, so it will take a little more power to over come said resistance, to generate the sound levels. Impedance is used to match the driver to the amplifier in use; the point is so that the amplifier doesn't kill itself trying to drive the load, not for "sound quality" purposes. Higher impedance does not mean high quality, it's simply a way to match an amplifier to a headphone properly. Just like in speakers. Anyhow, even high impedance headphones can get loud without an amplifier, if they're sensitive. And like wise, a low impedance headphone might not get very loud if it has low sensitivity. So the two values should be looked at together. I would put more weight on sensitivity than impedance when it comes to forming an idea of just how loud the headphone will be without an amplifier.


For the headphone itself, consider these questions:


Open back or Closed back? (Do you need isolation, or do you want to hear the environment around you, leak is not an issue, etc)

You already mentioned you like them a little bassy, so that's covered; but what about brightness? Are you sensitive to treble?

Are you willing to pick up a small DAC/AMP ($50~70) perhaps to aid in driving your headphone properly? (or a new $30 sound card?)


As for a microphone, I suggest the ModMic, it can be attached to any headphone and is a boom mic, perfect for everything really.


Without knowing the above, here's some headphone suggestions:


Beyer DT770 PRO 80ohm

Beyer DT990 PRO 250ohm

Ultrasone PRO 750

Ultrasone HFI 2400

AudioTechnica A900X

Samson SR850

Brainwavz HM5

Philips Uptowns

M-Audio Q40


I would really put you on a Fiio E10 for the computer. Or a simple Xonar DG sound card (has an onboard amplifier).


Very best,

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