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Please recommend a headphone for listening to solo (classical) piano

post #1 of 104
Thread Starter 

I will be purchasing a headphone and mainly listen to solo classical piano (and some piano concertos too, but that's not primary).

 

I am considering the Senn HD598. Would you guys recommend it for this purpose?

 

What else should I be considering?

 

Budget is $250.

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

 

Btw... just as an interesting question: Most of the recordings I listen to are from the 50s, 60s and 70s (some even older!) and aren't great recordings. Around 40% of the stuff I listen to is in MONO. Is it true that a $250 headphone will fare the same as $20 headphones on such recordings? In that case, I may not buy 'audiophile' headphones at all.


Edited by Atriya - 10/10/12 at 8:49am
post #2 of 104

For piano - a good recording will really make the piano sound particularly realistic on a Grado SR325is (I have not tried the SR225i - which is cheaper, but also rates very highly)

post #3 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by talisman42 View Post

For piano - a good recording will really make the piano sound particularly realistic on a Grado SR325is (I have not tried the SR225i - which is cheaper, but also rates very highly)

Interesting. The impression I get on these forums is that Grados are best for rock / metal type music. Is that true?

post #4 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atriya View Post

Interesting. The impression I get on these forums is that Grados are best for rock / metal type music. Is that true?


Wasn't Mozart a rock star during his time? wink_face.gif

 

 

But to also answer your OP, the HD598 is good, too - and you'll probably get more expansive soundstage.


Edited by talisman42 - 10/10/12 at 9:35am
post #5 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atriya View Post

I will be purchasing a headphone and mainly listen to solo classical piano (and some piano concertos too, but that's not primary).

 

I am considering the Senn HD598. Would you guys recommend it for this purpose?

 

What else should I be considering?

 

Budget is $250.

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

 

Btw... just as an interesting question: Most of the recordings I listen to are from the 50s, 60s and 70s (some even older!) and aren't great recordings. Around 40% of the stuff I listen to is in MONO. Is it true that a $250 headphone will fare the same as $20 headphones on such recordings? In that case, I may not buy 'audiophile' headphones at all.

Oh dear ... headphones and mono do not mix well. 50s, 60s and 70s did produce great stereo recordings capable of stunning realism on headphones, but I get an impression you are about to listen to great masters of the piano, more or less regardless of the audio quality of the recording(s). Once upon a time I was working in CD retail, selling lots of historic recordings transferred to  CD, originally recorded as early as 1902.  The better the headphone - the less enjoyable you might find the overall experience. Mono can sound absolutely fantastic on speakers, the most realistic reproduction I ever heard was a 78 RPM record recorded in 1942 in La Scala, Milan, Italy - on the behemoth original Martin Logan Statement speaker system ( a six figure affair, sold in extremely small numbers ) - the realism was PALPABLE, better than any stereo I ever heard.

 

The same recording on headphones was - torture. Extreme in the head localization and every imperfection of the vynil ruthlessly revealed. Make yourself a favour, find a delar who will let you try the phones you are considering , with the sample of your own  ( mono ) CDs ( or whatever medium your piano is on ) - and then decide if it is headphones you want for your purpose. 

 

It would be a shame if technicalities get too much in the way of really appreciating the piano artistry of say Yudina ...or whoever you might want to listen to.

post #6 of 104
Try the Koss Tony Bennett Signature - they will switch into mono, and sound relatively good doing so. Grado is a good suggestion too - the rock/metal trope is inaccurate and over-generalized. SR-225 would be my pick within your budget (they are better than the TBSE to a degree (not as much as the price delta would imply), but open, and don't have a mono switch). You might also try some DSP plug-ins for foobar or similar to help deal with spatialization and playback of mono on headphones.
post #7 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogsurviver View Post

Oh dear ... headphones and mono do not mix well. 50s, 60s and 70s did produce great stereo recordings capable of stunning realism on headphones, but I get an impression you are about to listen to great masters of the piano, more or less regardless of the audio quality of the recording(s). Once upon a time I was working in CD retail, selling lots of historic recordings transferred to  CD, originally recorded as early as 1902.  The better the headphone - the less enjoyable you might find the overall experience. Mono can sound absolutely fantastic on speakers, the most realistic reproduction I ever heard was a 78 RPM record recorded in 1942 in La Scala, Milan, Italy - on the behemoth original Martin Logan Statement speaker system ( a six figure affair, sold in extremely small numbers ) - the realism was PALPABLE, better than any stereo I ever heard.

 

The same recording on headphones was - torture. Extreme in the head localization and every imperfection of the vynil ruthlessly revealed. Make yourself a favour, find a delar who will let you try the phones you are considering , with the sample of your own  ( mono ) CDs ( or whatever medium your piano is on ) - and then decide if it is headphones you want for your purpose. 

 

It would be a shame if technicalities get too much in the way of really appreciating the piano artistry of say Yudina ...or whoever you might want to listen to.

 

Thanks. That's good and honest advice. You're right - I do intend to listen to Cortot, Rachmaninoff, Hoffman, maybe even Yudina as you suggest, who recorded in mono.

 

However, that's around 40% and around 60% of what I will listen to will be stereo... Richter, Horowitz, Gould... EARLY stereo, but stereo nevertheless. Would you say the HD598 is a good choice for listening to solo piano in this case, or should I be considering the Grados, as suggested in this thread?

 

Trying them out might be difficult. I'm new to the place I live in and don't know my way around local stores. I was planning to buy online.

post #8 of 104

try a pair of maddogs, if you want a full bodied and well textured piano, and sennheiser hd598's of you want nice soundstage, I personal say go for the maddogs, better detail, more full in the lower mids, perfect for piano.

post #9 of 104

I have been listening to a tape modded 595 (which is supposed to sound like a 598) and grado RS1i lately. 

 

Not really classical piano, but I listen to a fair bit of jazz piano work, and the grados definitely get the timbre of the piano so much closer, imo.  And especially in solo music, I think the grado's sound a lot better with their more forward presentation.

post #10 of 104

I still find that Kempfs 1951-1956 Beethoven Sonatas sound good in mono with my Ultrasone HFI-780s because of the S Logic Plus effect (even Schnabel's 1935 sonatas are OK, although better with a little EQ to reduce the hiss).  Know that Ultrasones do tend to color the sound a little (which might be a considered an understatement smile.gif  ).  

 

I've never tried the spatialization DSP effects obo mentions (me thinks I need to with my other phones), but that sounds like a great help to improve the experience. 

post #11 of 104

I really don't understand this headphones are bad in mono post.  IME, not true.

 

I've owned the 598's, this is supposed to be the closest Sennheiser to the Grado sound but I did not find that to be the case.  Still veiled sounding on solo classical piano recordings.  I want the upper register sparkle of a Steinway, Faziloi, Bechstien, etc.  The 598 did not give me this.   

 

I prefer my Grado 325is.

 

Buy from a site that offers a sensible return policy.  Obviously, you need to hear for yourself.

 

BTW, I'm excited about the Hyperion series of CDs encompasing piano transcriptions of Bach, mostly organ pieces.  Great sound and mostly excellent interpretations of Busoni, Grainger, Saint-Saens, Isidor Philip, Kabalevsky and so on.

 

Best wishes.

post #12 of 104

Heya,

 

I would suggest you look at dark headphones for piano. If you get something terribly bright, you're going to cringe the whole time. Piano shouldn't be piercing on the treble side, but recordings often are very hissy, and will sting on high notes with a bright headphone. I wouldn't get a Grado or HD598 for this.

 

Some suggestions:

 

T50RP modded (mad dog). It's a darker headphone, with delicious mids for piano, and a good low register.

AudioTechnica A900X. Warm, mellow, not quite dark, but not as bright as some others, it does very nice with piano.

Hifiman HE-300 revision 2. It's a little darker than other headphones in it's category and less expensive and easier to drive (no amp needed).

 

Very best,

post #13 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbophead View Post

I really don't understand this headphones are bad in mono post.  IME, not true.

 

I've owned the 598's, this is supposed to be the closest Sennheiser to the Grado sound but I did not find that to be the case.  Still veiled sounding on solo classical piano recordings.  I want the upper register sparkle of a Steinway, Faziloi, Bechstien, etc.  The 598 did not give me this.   

 

I prefer my Grado 325is.

 

Buy from a site that offers a sensible return policy.  Obviously, you need to hear for yourself.

 

BTW, I'm excited about the Hyperion series of CDs encompasing piano transcriptions of Bach, mostly organ pieces.  Great sound and mostly excellent interpretations of Busoni, Grainger, Saint-Saens, Isidor Philip, Kabalevsky and so on.

 

Best wishes.

 

Thanks to everyone who has replied so far. I am now seriously considering the Grado SR325is (although it will stretch my budget a bit). A very closely related and similarly priced headphone is the Alessandro-Grado Music Series TWO, so I'm considering that as well. It apparently has a better soundstage and less-harsh treble.

post #14 of 104

hmmm....slightly forgiving can for bad/old recordings...n yet reasonable sounding for good recordings.

how about a philips uptown..?

 

popcorn.gif

post #15 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbophead View Post

I really don't understand this headphones are bad in mono post.  IME, not true.

 

 

 

 

Not true why? Mono is horrible on headphones.

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