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Please recommend a headphone for listening to solo (classical) piano - Page 6

post #76 of 104

I 2nd the vote for the HE-500's though I can't compare them with any other HP's since these are my first phones ever owned.  I listen to a lot of modern digital solo piano and piano chamber music recordings and the HE-500's are as faithful to true piano tone as any loudspeakers I've ever heard.

post #77 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbophead View Post

"warm neutral"?

Yes.. tongue.gif

post #78 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by LugBug1 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbophead View Post

"warm neutral"?

Yes.. tongue.gif

Hey, whatever.rolleyes.gif

post #79 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbophead View Post

Hey, whatever.rolleyes.gif

ok ok! I meant "warm natural" I was typing in a hurry... biggrin.gif

post #80 of 104
This is an interesting thread with some strong opinions. I think the best suggestion is to get a couple of different headphones and try them out. My conclusion is that until they are on your head playing your music through your system it's all speculation.

Here's my story. I am listening to a brand spanking new out of the box pair of Grado 325is that arrived 2 hours ago. So no breaking, no getting used to them, or any of that. I chose them because the Grado fans are passionate, really passionate, about them. The Grado haters hate them with huge hate. There is just no "Meh" about them. I was feeling kinda meh about my listening, so I thought I'd try them. I've got some history with the 60i so it's not a complete flyer.
Looking at my set up I see Sennheiser 800s (saw my ears off with diamond clarity), Audeze LCD-2 (2nd Ed) which I listened to for a year straight, thrilled with everything I heard - until about a month ago, then I started yawning. I have a very old pair of AKG 701 - snore. I take them out of the closet about twice a year and usually put them back the same day.
But as I listen to the 325s I think they are brilliant: Rattle's Bruckner 9th (my current favorite) was engaging, Schiff's Bach Well Tempered Klavier was great, and the new weirdy of the week, Recomposed by Max Richter, is doing surprisingly well. My very limited time says these Grados are just fine for classical music, and today I would recommend them.

But, and here is the point I'm making: that recommendation is today only and for me. The current state of my ears, the fact that I'm listening to very low volumes, a tinnitus flare up, etc. all factor into what I'm hearing. Take our recommendations as a rough guide, but let your ears be your guide. Let what you are listening for (are you listening for fun, as a recording engineer, discovering different styles, trying to make your library new all over, . . . ). All that factors in and puts simplistic, black and white statements in the trash. Grados are horrible for classical (that opinion is all over head-fi). Grados are great for classical (search and you'll find it - today I'd join). One might say that both cant be right, but they are once you factor everything else in from source (I'm mostly apple lossless and iTunes download), equipment (Schiit Bifrost and Lyr or my iPhone 4s) and the state of my ears.

So go buy what intrigues, buy from someplace that will let you return, and enjoy what you have at the moment. I'd hate to have you not enjoy the Senns because you think the Grados might be 4% better. I've been fortunate that I could indulge in multiple headphone and change the nature of my system with the switch of a plug (try that with floor standing speakers!), but the purpose is to get sounds to your ears so the music can move you. Anything recommended here will do that.

I don't know if this makes sense, but I hope you get the phones your gut tells you and that for however long you can you enjoy the music.
post #81 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddoyle777 View Post

Good post, and a lot of sense.

 

(I feel awful for joking about the 325's now...) I actually like Grado's and used to have RS1's, SR225's and have heard my dads 325's. I think they excel more with ensemble pieces rather than big orchestral though, string quartets sound very good indeed. I like the way they reproduce the timbre of strings, its really quite organic.

post #82 of 104
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the continued replies everyone!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by calaf View Post

HD650 would be a good choice, although if you were listening mainly to historical recordings I wonder if HD600 or HD580 would not offer you better value.

 

If you are willing to look into the used market, an even better value may be some vintage AKG (K340 or K240 Sextett): like the Senns, they have a relaxed tone which I find perfect with piano recordings, and at the same time they (usually) don't have the Senns dark color that may make an old mono recording sound downright muffled.

 

I don't listen to mainly historical recordings. Only around 40% are historical. Around 25% will be absolutely contemporary recordings released in the last year or so.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LugBug1 View Post

Just my $699 worth... The HE500's are my go to hp's for piano music. I think the orthos range are more forgiving in general with nasty recordings including old ones. But give the hifimans a half decent recording and they produce piano very elegantly indeed. They are very balanced and produce solo instruments very well. The piano is such a fickle instrument on recordings and very rarely do you find what pleases you most. Some like a warm punchy sound, others like sharp brighter clanks! Regarding the Sennheisers, The 650's are one of the great hp's that reproduce good and bad recordings in a none fatiguing, pleasant way and I would also recommend these. FWIW I would avoid the SR325's if listening to old piano recordings unless you've taken some strong painkillers prior eek.gif.  I used to listen to some modern (always warmer) piano with the RS1's and they were very good, but  give them older harsher stuff and noooo nooo.. "HELP!" I would shout, then my wife would come running in and find me in the fetal position curled in the corner kicking my Grado's away from me. (yes I am prone to exaggeration)

 

I may get shot down with this one but I also find the LCD2's very good with piano. They would also be kinder to older recordings. They don't have quite the sparkle of the HE500's,  but they offer a nice warm neutral response. (both the orthos hp's mentioned are not the most comfortable compared to dynamics)

 

(I'm a Schumann/Schubert kind of guy normal_smile%20.gif)

 

I can't afford the HE-500, at least not new. I can however afford the HE-300 and these have indeed been recommended to me.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoom25 View Post

 

Make sure to get a good amp if you get 650's

 

I will. Not right now - those 650's will be unamped for a couple of months while I save up. But eventually I do plan on getting a good amp. On this note: do I need a DAC too? I'm listening from a laptop, but it's a 'premium' multimedia laptop that's a 2012 model (so it has the latest motherboard and sound chip technology). It would make it much easier on my wallet if I could just buy an amp and not a dac!

post #83 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddoyle777 View Post

This is an interesting thread with some strong opinions. I think the best suggestion is to get a couple of different headphones and try them out. My conclusion is that until they are on your head playing your music through your system it's all speculation.
Here's my story. I am listening to a brand spanking new out of the box pair of Grado 325is that arrived 2 hours ago. So no breaking, no getting used to them, or any of that. I chose them because the Grado fans are passionate, really passionate, about them. The Grado haters hate them with huge hate. There is just no "Meh" about them. I was feeling kinda meh about my listening, so I thought I'd try them. I've got some history with the 60i so it's not a complete flyer.
Looking at my set up I see Sennheiser 800s (saw my ears off with diamond clarity), Audeze LCD-2 (2nd Ed) which I listened to for a year straight, thrilled with everything I heard - until about a month ago, then I started yawning. I have a very old pair of AKG 701 - snore. I take them out of the closet about twice a year and usually put them back the same day.
But as I listen to the 325s I think they are brilliant: Rattle's Bruckner 9th (my current favorite) was engaging, Schiff's Bach Well Tempered Klavier was great, and the new weirdy of the week, Recomposed by Max Richter, is doing surprisingly well. My very limited time says these Grados are just fine for classical music, and today I would recommend them.
But, and here is the point I'm making: that recommendation is today only and for me. The current state of my ears, the fact that I'm listening to very low volumes, a tinnitus flare up, etc. all factor into what I'm hearing. Take our recommendations as a rough guide, but let your ears be your guide. Let what you are listening for (are you listening for fun, as a recording engineer, discovering different styles, trying to make your library new all over, . . . ). All that factors in and puts simplistic, black and white statements in the trash. Grados are horrible for classical (that opinion is all over head-fi). Grados are great for classical (search and you'll find it - today I'd join). One might say that both cant be right, but they are once you factor everything else in from source (I'm mostly apple lossless and iTunes download), equipment (Schiit Bifrost and Lyr or my iPhone 4s) and the state of my ears.
So go buy what intrigues, buy from someplace that will let you return, and enjoy what you have at the moment. I'd hate to have you not enjoy the Senns because you think the Grados might be 4% better. I've been fortunate that I could indulge in multiple headphone and change the nature of my system with the switch of a plug (try that with floor standing speakers!), but the purpose is to get sounds to your ears so the music can move you. Anything recommended here will do that.
I don't know if this makes sense, but I hope you get the phones your gut tells you and that for however long you can you enjoy the music.

 

A very good post. Everything you've said makes perfect sense and I am trying to buy from someplace that lets me return. And yes - ultimately it's the music, and not the headphone that matters. Thanks for your reply!

post #84 of 104

I'll throw in another recommendation for the 325is. I listen to my ultrasones a lot more but that's because they're my out-and-about cans. When i actually have a chance to sit down and listen to my grado's its a treat. I do not listen to too much solo piano music, but the pieces i have heard sound great. Some of the lower octaves on the piano just sound so rich. Rachmaninoff's 'prelude in c sharp minor' builds up SO much tension in the music and releases it all on one note and it only feels right on my 325is'. The ultrasones just dont give the same effect.

 

Also if you like string instruments then the 325is' are just butter. And of course, this is all... my opinion.

post #85 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atriya View Post

Thanks for the continued replies everyone!

 

 

I don't listen to mainly historical recordings. Only around 40% are historical. Around 25% will be absolutely contemporary recordings released in the last year or so.

 

 

I can't afford the HE-500, at least not new. I can however afford the HE-300 and these have indeed been recommended to me.

 

 

I will. Not right now - those 650's will be unamped for a couple of months while I save up. But eventually I do plan on getting a good amp. On this note: do I need a DAC too? I'm listening from a laptop, but it's a 'premium' multimedia laptop that's a 2012 model (so it has the latest motherboard and sound chip technology). It would make it much easier on my wallet if I could just buy an amp and not a dac!

 

Couple of things:

 

+1 for the HE-500, if you're considering these for the future. It sounds great with everything, it's like an open, better sounding Denon - great all-rounder

 

The output jack and DAC on laptop are just additional parts thrown in by manufacturers. My macbook pro has one of the better outs of all the laptops I used to hear music off in the past, but still no match for an external DAC and AMP.

 

The best cheap hardware I can think of is the Fiio E10 (Built in AMP and DAC - with two gain settings). I have it and it works quite nicely, especially for the price. It goes for around $70. I use it with my D2000, KNS 8400 and also have used it with HE-500 (managed to sound decent) until I got O2. Also Mike from Headfonia said that the HD 650 sounded alright with the E10.

 

I highly recommend getting a DAC and AMP if you plan on getting 650's. Those are 300 ohms, and the laptop amp's are usually suited to drive low impedance, efficient cans. 650 off a laptop is a terrible idea. Also to make the 650's sound really good, you'll need a decent amp.

 

HE-400 off E10 is a really good combination from what I've heard, and HE-400 is much less pickier about amps then 650  

 

post #86 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoom25 View Post

 

Couple of things:

 

+1 for the HE-500, if you're considering these for the future. It sounds great with everything, it's like an open, better sounding Denon - great all-rounder

 

The output jack and DAC on laptop are just additional parts thrown in by manufacturers. My macbook pro has one of the better outs of all the laptops I used to hear music off in the past, but still no match for an external DAC and AMP.

 

The best cheap hardware I can think of is the Fiio E10 (Built in AMP and DAC - with two gain settings). I have it and it works quite nicely, especially for the price. It goes for around $70. I use it with my D2000, KNS 8400 and also have used it with HE-500 (managed to sound decent) until I got O2. Also Mike from Headfonia said that the HD 650 sounded alright with the E10.

 

I highly recommend getting a DAC and AMP if you plan on getting 650's. Those are 300 ohms, and the laptop amp's are usually suited to drive low impedance, efficient cans. 650 off a laptop is a terrible idea. Also to make the 650's sound really good, you'll need a decent amp.

 

HE-400 off E10 is a really good combination from what I've heard, and HE-400 is much less pickier about amps then 650  

 

 

The thing is... a pair of factory refurbished 650s are available for $310 from Dakmart, which I think is a good deal. I can't find such a deal on the HE-400, and HE-500 is way to expensive to even consider.

 

Instead of the E10, I could even get the E17, which is supposed to be better. But I'm not sure if an E17 is enough to drive an HD650. If I didn't need the DAC, I could get the E11 amp, which is supposed to be a better amp than the one the E17 contains (Mike says so). But the E11 is just an amp - no DAC included, so I'd have to use the laptop DAC.

 

Now, my laptop is the HP Envy 15t (2012 model), which is a premium multimedia laptop designed to compete with the Macbook Pro. It may have a better sound chipset than regular laptops. But I'm not really sure if it's good enough for me to skip buying a DAC and instead buy just the E11 (or some other equivalent) amp.

post #87 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atriya View Post

 

The thing is... a pair of factory refurbished 650s are available for $310 from Dakmart, which I think is a good deal. I can't find such a deal on the HE-400, and HE-500 is way to expensive to even consider.

 

Instead of the E10, I could even get the E17, which is supposed to be better. But I'm not sure if an E17 is enough to drive an HD650. If I didn't need the DAC, I could get the E11 amp, which is supposed to be a better amp than the one the E17 contains (Mike says so). But the E11 is just an amp - no DAC included, so I'd have to use the laptop DAC.

 

Now, my laptop is the HP Envy 15t (2012 model), which is a premium multimedia laptop designed to compete with the Macbook Pro. It may have a better sound chipset than regular laptops. But I'm not really sure if it's good enough for me to skip buying a DAC and instead buy just the E11 (or some other equivalent) amp.

 

Is it the one that comes with beats audio? First of all, it's HP's consumer line. Second, since it's beats audio, the sound card settings lack customization, which negates the somewhat better sound over regular laptops with integrated sound chips.

post #88 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atriya View Post

 

The thing is... a pair of factory refurbished 650s are available for $310 from Dakmart, which I think is a good deal. I can't find such a deal on the HE-400, and HE-500 is way to expensive to even consider.

 

Instead of the E10, I could even get the E17, which is supposed to be better. But I'm not sure if an E17 is enough to drive an HD650. If I didn't need the DAC, I could get the E11 amp, which is supposed to be a better amp than the one the E17 contains (Mike says so). But the E11 is just an amp - no DAC included, so I'd have to use the laptop DAC.

 

Now, my laptop is the HP Envy 15t (2012 model), which is a premium multimedia laptop designed to compete with the Macbook Pro. It may have a better sound chipset than regular laptops. But I'm not really sure if it's good enough for me to skip buying a DAC and instead buy just the E11 (or some other equivalent) amp.

 

Since you're not opposed to buying used stuff, then why not HE-400. I've seen HE-400 go used as low as $320 here at head-fi sale forums. They also amp better then HD650. If you're gonna get a Fiio amp, definitely get HE-400. 

 

E11 alone is a bad idea. Trust me, the DAC's on laptop's can't compare, so much noise. Also the line out of your laptop is quite bad and amping that signal isn't gonna improve anything besides dynamic. You need a DAC for sure as well as an amp. The Digital process of the DAC might be okay in your laptop, however the analog processing is where laptop and general consumer products do really terrible. 

 

E17 has a better DAC out of them all. I'm not too sure about the power of E17, although I've generally heard good things about HE-400 and E17, especially E11.

 

post #89 of 104

Grados are surprisingly good for classical music, mainly due to their midrange. But the 598s are even better with a more accurate soundstage, less peaky treble range (for those contemporary/ post-romantic works which involve a lot of cymbals), and a larger bass presence (pretty much a must for certain music like Bach's).

 

Both are great cans for the genre though and the Grados, depending on th emodel you get, may be the better value. But the HD598s are just simply a better investment when you take into account comfort (no Grados can compare o.O ) and flexibility (above average in all genres, which is impressive). 

post #90 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbamg View Post

 

Is it the one that comes with beats audio? First of all, it's HP's consumer line. Second, since it's beats audio, the sound card settings lack customization, which negates the somewhat better sound over regular laptops with integrated sound chips.

 

HP has Beats Audio in both it's regular multimedia (Pavilion) line and premium multimedia (Envy) line. I have the Envy. These are more expensive than the Pavilions, have better build quality, etc. It's though true that the sounds card settings lack customization. :(

 

I have noticed something: on my old Dell laptop (Latitude D630), I needed to set the volume to around 50-60% of maximum to achieve my regular hearing volume on my 24ohm Sony headphones. On the Envy, barely 10% of the max volume provides the same hearing volume, on the same headphone. This seems to suggest it has a more powerful amp than regular laptops?

 

I don't know about the quality of its DAC though. On my old Sony headphones, I wouldn't hear the difference. But it might well be better than the 'average' laptop.

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