or Connect
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Please recommend a headphone for listening to solo (classical) piano
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Please recommend a headphone for listening to solo (classical) piano - Page 3

post #31 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by juantendo8 View Post

 Others may disagree, but I find S-Logic among the weirdest and most unnatural phenomenon I have had the delight to listen to. Hope nobody reads this.

S-LOGIC effects each person differently. Depends on ear shape more than anything else.
post #32 of 104

My secret hate has been discovered! I guess it's truly a buyer beware deal. Unfortunately I can't really empathize much with those that like it, since I only have my pair of ears. And with that, I'm gone! ph34r.gif

post #33 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by juantendo8 View Post

My secret hate has been discovered! I guess it's truly a buyer beware deal. Unfortunately I can't really empathize much with those that like it, since I only have my pair of ears. And with that, I'm gone! ph34r.gif

And that's why I absolutely suggest people try before they buy with Ultrasone headphones (or shop somewhere with a return policy), because if your ears don't line up with whatever model they use to tune S-LOGIC, they'll either sound very harsh/shrill, or very boomy/muddy (it's usually towards the over-bright and shrill side though). And there is no changing this (okay I'm sure you could get cosmetic surgery, but that's a little drastic tongue_smile.gif).
post #34 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by juantendo8 View Post
598s, As I am not familiar

Let me give you the (hopefully informed) opinion of someone fairly intimately familiar with the piano both live and on recordings. Classical piano needs a neutral signature. A little bit of mid-forwardness is usually alright. Too much or too little of anything throws off the timbre completely. A "bright" or "dark" headphone is not good. A closed headphone is also undesirable, as classical music needs to sound spacious to be natural, unless you want it to sound like a tiny practice room. I am someone who regularly performs classical piano music, so I've had experience here. Keep in mind, there are badly recorded classical pieces where the timbre will be off no matter what, so I'm mostly basing this on my good Telarcs.

 

I personally find electrostats to be by far the most natural with piano and orchestra, but the HD598 is a fantastic choice for a more budget dynamic option. Grados are horrible, and Ultrasones would be among my last choices classical. Grado may sound okay for jazz piano, but that's because jazz piano is bright. It will ruin the timbre and it has far too many treble peaks compared to the relatively neutral HD598. I would say your gut instinct was correct.

 

Edit: As an addition, I want to add that mono recordings don't need particularly resolving headphones, but you should still aim for a mostly neutral signature. The Sennheisers are good for your better recordings and forgiving enough for your not so pristine ones. I wish all the great pianists of the 20th century had the recording technology available today. I can only imagine how hearing Richter or even Rachmaninoff recording for Telarc would sound.

Thank you very much for this input.  I get to hear piano live often enough, as I am a recording engineer. Agreed on electrostatc etc. Can't comment on Grados or HD598s, as I m not familiar enough with them.

 

Check out Telarc catalog a bit better - there IS a CD by Rachmaninov himself recorded in technology available today : 

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000009RCS?tag=collectorzapp-20

 

although possible only with the mighty help from the mechanical recording system 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_roll.

 

http://www.pianola.org/reproducing/reproducing_ampico.cfm

 

The same Welte piano rolls were used at least  one more time to "record" Rachmaninov  in modern technology, I am aware of Decca, which I have heard ( analog recording, Estonia 9' ) .

 

http://www.6moons.com/musicreviews/2009_september/grieg_3.html

 

One could pursue the matter of digital/Bosendorfer (Telarc) vs analog/Estonia 9' ( Decca/Ampico ) ad nuseam -

the typical piano related stuff Camille Saint Saens poked at with the inclusion of a very special species in his Carneval des Animaux, that is -  the pianists.

Either of these two recordings any listener who appreciates piano should find a treat because of the fantastic playing; if he or she is a real piano nut, will most likely end up with both versions.  Highly recommended.

post #35 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by juantendo8 View Post

Let me give you the (hopefully informed) opinion of someone fairly intimately familiar with the piano both live and on recordings. Classical piano needs a neutral signature. 

 

I'd also point out that most listeners don't like a perfectly flat frequency response. Lots about this if you google "house curve."  Even many theaters and auditoriums are adjusted to weight the bass more heavily and the treble less heavily than the mids. In fact, this might be why you like the HD598, which appears not to be flat, but has a tested signature closer to the characteristics of various recommended house curves. 

 

Then the other factor is the volume at which people listen to music. Most people don't perceive low frequencies and treble as well at low volumes. So for listeners who listen to their headphones louder vs. softer, a different frequency response may be better suited. And then we all tend to hear different frequencies with some variation in volume. So a neutral headphone doesn't guarantee the listener perceives a flat response--they may not actually hear the music as it was intended to be heard. 

 

But maybe you are right. For those that study classical music seriously and intend to incorporate what they hear into their playing, a more neutral sound signature that best approximates the recording might be better (assuming one can trust the accuracy of the recording). But I would imagine most people on head-fi are looking to enjoy their music, not study it.  After all, isn't art meant to be experienced? 

post #36 of 104

Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in. Now I'm obligated to get both the decca and telarc recordings. This will be a very nice listen biggrin.gif. Many thanks.

post #37 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

 

I'd also point out that most listeners don't like a perfectly flat frequency response. Lots about this if you google "house curve."  Even many theaters and auditoriums are adjusted to weight the bass more heavily and the treble less heavily than the mids. In fact, this might be why you like the HD598, which appears not to be flat, but has a tested signature closer to the characteristics of various recommended house curves. 

 

Then the other factor is the volume at which people listen to music. Most people don't perceive low frequencies and treble as well at low volumes. So for listeners who listen to their headphones louder vs. softer, a different frequency response may be better suited. And then we all tend to hear different frequencies with some variation in volume. So a neutral headphone doesn't guarantee the listener perceives a flat response--they may not actually hear the music as it was intended to be heard. 

 

But maybe you are right. For those that study classical music seriously and intend to incorporate what they hear into their playing, a more neutral sound signature that best approximates the recording might be better (assuming one can trust the accuracy of the recording). But I would imagine most people on head-fi are looking to enjoy their music, not study it.  After all, isn't art meant to be experienced? 

 

I do a ton of comparative listening and the like since I actually study some of these pieces. I suppose this is a large part of why I prefer a flatter signature (whatever your compensation curve may be). I need a clear lens so to speak, so that I don't tint (much) all these interpretations of the same piece. 

 

One point that I would bring up is that any live recording should sound like a live recording and a classical studio recording is supposed to emulate a live recording. This is not necessarily true for many studio recordings of other genres where after effects and filters may be added. To tie this all together, my main point is that classical music through more colored headphones is fine if you enjoy it. Just don't expect to get a particularly faithful reproduction of the recording if you do or be pleased for long if it is something you want to pursue with great seriousness. I learned this the long way, but I am glad I did. Now I can appreciate where I am and what I have much more.   

post #38 of 104

double post


Edited by analogsurviver - 10/12/12 at 11:57pm
post #39 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by juantendo8 View Post

Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in. Now I'm obligated to get both the decca and telarc recordings. This will be a very nice listen biggrin.gif. Many thanks.

You welcome. You never know when you will accidentally step on some "mine" as a consequence of your own doing. Enjoy the recordings ! 

 

And welcome to the (electrostatic) mob. After the first listen to the hisstorical mono piano recording you will hear firsthand why mono can be torture on phones.

 

No words can prepare you for what to expect from particularly Telarc Rach in technical terms; suffice to say it is one of the most dynamic piano recording in entire recording history. Hope your "mob member" is high enough in hierarchy to do this extraordinary recording justice - most can't.


Edited by analogsurviver - 10/13/12 at 12:37am
post #40 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by juantendo8 View Post

Let me give you the (hopefully informed) opinion of someone fairly intimately familiar with the piano both live and on recordings. Classical piano needs a neutral signature. A little bit of mid-forwardness is usually alright. Too much or too little of anything throws off the timbre completely. A "bright" or "dark" headphone is not good. A closed headphone is also undesirable, as classical music needs to sound spacious to be natural, unless you want it to sound like a tiny practice room. I am someone who regularly performs classical piano music, so I've had experience here. Keep in mind, there are badly recorded classical pieces where the timbre will be off no matter what, so I'm mostly basing this on my good Telarcs.

 

I personally find electrostats to be by far the most natural with piano and orchestra, but the HD598 is a fantastic choice for a more budget dynamic option. Grados are horrible, and Ultrasones would be among my last choices classical. Grado may sound okay for jazz piano, but that's because jazz piano is bright. It will ruin the timbre and it has far too many treble peaks compared to the relatively neutral HD598. I would say your gut instinct was correct.

 

Edit: As an addition, I want to add that mono recordings don't need particularly resolving headphones, but you should still aim for a mostly neutral signature. The Sennheisers are good for your better recordings and forgiving enough for your not so pristine ones. I wish all the great pianists of the 20th century had the recording technology available today. I can only imagine how hearing Richter or even Rachmaninoff recording for Telarc would sound.

 

Okay! So I suppose that everyone at this point has forgotten all about me, the Original Poster. :P On this thread so far we've had some talk of Grados. Then some talk about Ultrasones and a discussion of their unique technologies, particularly as applied to mono recordings. And a comparison of Grados and Ultrasones. Then juantendo8 changed the direction a bit with his post, quoted above, recommending the HD598 over Grados and Ultrasones. We then had a discussion about neutrality and it's subjectivity. We also discovered a fantastic Rach recording - many thanks for this.

 

Unfortunately, I, the OP, am probably more confused now about my choice of headphone than when I started this thread. :P

 

It seems to me though that Grados and Ultrasones are rather subjective - some people hate their 'sound', some people love them. There was even a post explaining how Ultrasone technology works differently on different people.

 

To stay on the 'safe' side, since I'll only be buying ONE headphone in the next 2 years at least, I'm still leaning towards the HD598, which appears to be less controversial.

 

In the meantime, does anyone have an opinion about FA-003s for classical piano? They seem to be highly regarded.

post #41 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atriya View Post

 

Okay! So I suppose that everyone at this point has forgotten all about me, the Original Poster. :P On this thread so far we've had some talk of Grados. Then some talk about Ultrasones and a discussion of their unique technologies, particularly as applied to mono recordings. And a comparison of Grados and Ultrasones. Then juantendo8 changed the direction a bit with his post, quoted above, recommending the HD598 over Grados and Ultrasones. We then had a discussion about neutrality and it's subjectivity. We also discovered a fantastic Rach recording - many thanks for this.

 

Unfortunately, I, the OP, am probably more confused now about my choice of headphone than when I started this thread. :P

 

It seems to me though that Grados and Ultrasones are rather subjective - some people hate their 'sound', some people love them. There was even a post explaining how Ultrasone technology works differently on different people.

 

To stay on the 'safe' side, since I'll only be buying ONE headphone in the next 2 years at least, I'm still leaning towards the HD598, which appears to be less controversial.

 

In the meantime, does anyone have an opinion about FA-003s for classical piano? They seem to be highly regarded.

 

Sorry for that tangent. If you are buying one headphone, I would still go for the 598 or 558, because it is a pretty solid well-rounder along with its classical prowess. My opinion on the FA-003 is that they are good for classical and many things... but not quite as pleasant for classical as the Sennheisers because of their closed nature. If you need isolation and to save money, it is a great choice. It is slightly reminiscent of a closed and less technical HD600, one of my favorite headphones.

 

 There is a clone of the FA-003 called the Brainwavz HM5 and another one even cheaper called the Digitech Monitor Headphones from Jaycar. At least the HM5 can be found on amazon, but don't know where to get the Jaycar variant.

 

Edit: They are on the Jaycar website (duh!) listed for $99, but currently out of stock.


Edited by juantendo8 - 10/13/12 at 9:08am
post #42 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by juantendo8 View Post

 

Sorry for that tangent. If you are buying one headphone, I would still go for the 598 or 558, because it is a pretty solid well-rounder along with its classical prowess. My opinion on the FA-003 is that they are good for classical and many things... but not quite as pleasant for classical as the Sennheisers because of their closed nature. If you need isolation and to save money, it is a great choice. It is slightly reminiscent of a closed and less technical HD600, one of my favorite headphones.

 

 There is a clone of the FA-003 called the Brainwavz HM5 and another one even cheaper called the Digitech Monitor Headphones from Jaycar. At least the HM5 can be found on amazon, but don't know where to get the Jaycar variant.

 

Edit: They are on the Jaycar website (duh!) listed for $99, but currently out of stock.

 

Thanks. I'm a little concerned about buying from Jaycar or Brainwavz... as brands they are certainly not as well-known as Sennheiser, and since I'll be buying just one headphone I don't want to take a chance.

 

Still leaning towards the HD598.

 

In the meantime, what do you think of the Audio Technica ATH-AD900 for the purposes of classical piano (primary), symphony and concerto? They seem to be highly regarded as well, and in the same price bracket.

post #43 of 104

I unfortunately have not listened to that model specifically, only the AD700. The AD700 was pretty unpleasant for music as it had overly forward mids and bright treble, and next to no bass. The soundstage is pretty huge, though. I hear that the AD900 fixes a lot of these problems, but you will have to ask someone who is more familiar with it. If they upped the bass a bit and tamed the mids some, I could see it being a solid headphone for classical, although probably not as balanced sounding as the Sennheiser.

post #44 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atriya View Post

 

Thanks. I'm a little concerned about buying from Jaycar or Brainwavz... as brands they are certainly not as well-known as Sennheiser, and since I'll be buying just one headphone I don't want to take a chance.

 

Still leaning towards the HD598.

 

In the meantime, what do you think of the Audio Technica ATH-AD900 for the purposes of classical piano (primary), symphony and concerto? They seem to be highly regarded as well, and in the same price bracket.

 

Look at the AD900X, not the AD900. Newer model. There are some reviews here on head-fi for them. 

 

However, reading recommendations here and reviews there will only get you about 85% to 90% of the way. Headphone preference is so subjective that you have to hear them to really know for sure. For example, I just got some Grados. Absolutely love them and would use them to listen to anything. They are much better for me than I would have expected based on what I have read about them. Tried some KRKs. Didn't care for them, even though I thought for sure based on reviews that I would. 

 

So my advice--and I do this--is order two different pairs and return one. For example if you use Amazon or Fulfilled by Amazon (but not shipped by third party vendors), you can RMA a pair through Amazon easily enough (use their return label). Just keep the packaging and phones in mint condition. In your budget range, it is definitely worth the $10 cost of the return. 

post #45 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by juantendo8 View Post

 

I do a ton of comparative listening and the like since I actually study some of these pieces. I suppose this is a large part of why I prefer a flatter signature (whatever your compensation curve may be). I need a clear lens so to speak, so that I don't tint (much) all these interpretations of the same piece. 

 

One point that I would bring up is that any live recording should sound like a live recording and a classical studio recording is supposed to emulate a live recording. This is not necessarily true for many studio recordings of other genres where after effects and filters may be added. To tie this all together, my main point is that classical music through more colored headphones is fine if you enjoy it. Just don't expect to get a particularly faithful reproduction of the recording if you do or be pleased for long if it is something you want to pursue with great seriousness. I learned this the long way, but I am glad I did. Now I can appreciate where I am and what I have much more.   

 

Right. But realize your objectives for listening to music are what form your preference for headphones, and they will not be a good fit for everyone. One can be serious, but with different objectives. 

 

For example, I have an MA in Literature. Reading fiction like an English professor (always applying a critical lens) is quite different from reading it for pleasure, and different again from reading like a creative writer (reading for craft and author aesthetic). And in fact, I find that those other two analytical ways of reading get in the way of strictly reading for pleasure. 

 

Meanwhile, I'm not a serious student of music, but I'm "serious" aficionado of Beethoven's sonatas. I have a complete cycle of Kempff (1964-1965), three by Brendel (1996; 1984; 1962-64), and others (some of course did not quite complete the cycle): Schnabel, Gilels, Richter, Gulda, and Ashkenazy. I listen to these pretty seriously and compare them, but purely from a subjective perspective of enjoying the music, much like a wine tasting. And I like listening to them on different headphones with different responses because of the different nuances it brings to the experience. I really do not care which headphone experience is closer to the actual recorded performance.

 

So don't be quick to be so sure that your way is the best. It meets certain goals and values for listening to music. 


Edited by cel4145 - 10/13/12 at 10:28am
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Please recommend a headphone for listening to solo (classical) piano