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Please help: quiet headphones for travel by bike and train

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hello to all,

 

This is my first post on this forum and as my name says, I'm listening to flat portable music gear: an iPod classic 120 with standard white earphones from the box. I want to do something about it, but first I need some expert advice. Let me explain:

 

I'm an audiophile music lover at home. I have had several different sets, including hi end amps and a great set of speakers. Used records and CDs. Lately with kids and a busy job I find myself listening to music only while travelling, not so much at home.

 

So I'd like to have audiophile music while travelling. So far I've read on the internet that my iPod will do fine, provided it's paired with a good amp and headphones.

 

Here are my requirements for the headphones:

- they should be quiet for my surroundings. I want to listen to them while on the commuter train, in a silent first class section where one is not allowed to talk or make other noises. I'd also like to listen to them at home in a quiet room without bothering my wife.

- They should not harm my ears. I'm in for an ear-safe experience. I'm 43 and I want to make it to 80 without a hearing aid.

- It should be portable enough (read: not too heavy and not too bulky) to carry with me on a typical working day: bike 5 miles, train 30 minutes, bike 3 miles and vice versa

 

Headphones + amp should cost no more than 500 Euros/dollars. However, if I can get away with about 250~300 that would be even better. I've read about the Electric Avenues PA2V2, so maybe that and a $200 set of headphones will do?

 

Based on what I read so far, it looks as though I'm looking for over-ear, sound closed headphones. But I don't know zip about what closed or open / half open does with sound quality and soundstage.

 

Please help!

 

Thanks!


Edited by FlatListener - 10/27/12 at 5:37pm
post #2 of 15
I know there a bunch of headphones on the market that will good for what you are needing, you will soon will have a bunch of recomendations, but IMHO , doesnt matter what HP you end buying, i would strongly recomend buying a pair of Koss Ksc75. Dont be fooled by the price, they are one if not the Best Bang for the Buck in audio.

Very light, ultra portable, once ypu figure how to clip them behind your ears there are easy to use , ultra light, they sound fantastic for the price, cheap.

Yes, you will soon will have a bunch of better HP recomended, but for $15 bucks its all about SQ Price Ratio. Check them out. Could use them as spare HP's or maybe you will end using them a lot more that you would thougt. Very good cheap sounding HP. Think about it as having a very good sounding, cheap backup phone to use at home. Good luck man smily_headphones1.gif
Edited by rickdohc - 10/27/12 at 5:57pm
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi Rick,

For 22 Euro's I just ordered the Koss KSC75, although this guy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1BpoIvh81U) said that these are a very open type of HP's and that other people sitting close by can hear the music too. So there goes my #1 requirement, quiet HP's for my surroundings.
Question #1: are the Koss KSC75 good enough to tell Lossless from MP3-256kbit?
Question #2: is it true they don't need an amp so I can just use them bare on my iPod Classic?

There is another thing. I searched this forum extensively before starting this topic and I found this:
http://www.head-fi.org/a/a-hopefully-helpful-headphone-buying-guide-for-newbies-by-boomana
He says the following about amps: "Sure, they’ll make your headphones louder, but loudness does not equal sound quality, which is the real purpose of amplification."
He also says: "A properly driven headphone sounds amazing at very low volumes." And this is exactly what I want. I want to save my ears, be very silent and still enjoy high quality sound at low volumes.
Question #3: What could be the perfect HP/amp for that? Closed, low volume, high quality
Question #4: Can any HP at low volumes offer a good soundstage experience, or is this impossible? I know a home audiophile set can do it.

Thank you so much!

 

post #4 of 15
You would also fare well with (and I picked these as they should be easily available in your region) the HD25-1 II OR the more expensive newer version the Amperior.

They have a split headband which is nice for a secure fit while riding your bike. They are closed. They are on ear. They are durable and portable.

The sound is fantastic on the HD25 and supposed to be even better on the newer amperior (sorry haven't tried them but I take their word for it).

You could prolly do both (the koss) and the amperior due to the low price of the Koss.

You can get a Fiio E6 amp for cheap to give them a boost or an E11. Great portable amps at a good price. Be sure and order a Line Out Dock cable (LOD Cable). The Fiio L3 will work with our iDevices.

Honestly those two above are perfect for your use.
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlatListener View Post

Hi Rick,


For 22 Euro's I just ordered the Koss KSC75, although this guy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1BpoIvh81U) said that these are a very open type of HP's and that other people sitting close by can hear the music too. So there goes my #1 requirement, quiet HP's for my surroundings.

Question #1: are the Koss KSC75 good enough to tell Lossless from MP3-256kbit?

Question #2: is it true they don't need an amp so I can just use them bare on my iPod Classic?


There is another thing. I searched this forum extensively before starting this topic and I found this:
http://www.head-fi.org/a/a-hopefully-helpful-headphone-buying-guide-for-newbies-by-boomana

He says the following about amps: "Sure, they’ll make your headphones louder, but loudness does not equal sound quality, which is the real purpose of amplification."

He also says: "A properly driven headphone sounds amazing at very low volumes." And this is exactly what I want. I want to save my ears, be very silent and still enjoy high quality sound at low volumes.

Question #3: What could be the perfect HP/amp for that? Closed, low volume, high quality

Question #4: Can any HP at low volumes offer a good soundstage experience, or is this impossible? I know a home audiophile set can do it.


Thank you so much!


 


No, they dont require an amp. Yes, they are good enough to hear the diference between a bad and a good mp3 file or flac, The reason its recomended its because its very cheap but they sound very good. I got a few headphones and iems and these koss are keepers even if i got better sounding stuff, why? SQ price ratio, its insane how good they sound for 15 bucks.

Yes, they leak, but again, follow Doc recomendatio and buy a hd25 and pair it with a ksc75, So when you are not on the mood of using a full HP just clip those koss and you will enjoy the sound of them, they just make you smile. You can use both with or without an amp or buy a fiio e6.
post #6 of 15
I must add something here, I am not sure or imo its not safe riding a bike every day with heaphones that would cancel a lot of noise while riding a bike, imo you need a good sounding phone that would not isloate like a full HP while ridding, you want and must be aware of your sourroundings while ridding on the streets.

Also, in my experience, when i am at home there are many times i rather use the koss than a full Hp, why? I can hear or be aware if my wife or my kid is talking to me, i just turn down the music and keep talking to them, with a full HP i am like. " wait, what did you said? Wait, Are you talking to me?" and you know how those girls can get mad if you are not paying atention to her. Yes, there are times where i can throw my full hp on and forget about anything else, but sometimes i want to hear music or watch youtube or whatevers, and stillmbe aware of whats hapenning in house. So imo, get a full HP and a koss.


Hd25 for the train and forget about anything else and enjoy music, Koss for ridding or walking on the streets, even at home when you dont want to isolate your self and still be aware of whats going on at house. They both compliment each other.

Comming from earbuds, those koss will surprise you.
Edited by rickdohc - 10/28/12 at 7:09am
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

@Doc: I'll check out the HD25-1 II. Thanks for the suggestion.

@Rick: I expect to take delivery of my Koss KSC75 HP's next tuesday. I decided that for 30 Euro's (it's what I paid) I had to check them out.

 

@All: I don't use any open headphones while riding on my bike. Why? It's because the wind noise makes me turn up the volume so high that it will damage my ears. So basically I want a good closed set for the train. And maybe I can use those on the bike too, provided they isolate well. My bike route is on a safe cycle path, no cars, no hazards.

 

Maybe I should tell you that I already have some (very slight) ear damage, in that I hear a high frequency tone all the time, very softly. I would estimate it at approx. 16-20 kHz, it resembles the noise that I used to hear as a kid when I walked into a room where CRT Television was playing. I only hear this noise in silent rooms and while lying in bed of course.

 

Anyway I'll check out the Koss first, maybe it's OK in a quiet train if the volume is turned quite low.

 

I'm still open for other suggestions regarding a closed set of HP's with amp that give me great soundstage experience at low volumes.

 

Thank you!


Edited by FlatListener - 10/28/12 at 10:04am
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi

 

After reading more about the HD-25-1 II and the Amperior I feel it may not be for me. I read about accurate but strong details, while usually I prefer a warmer sound. This is why I started reading about the Beyerdynamics 1350. It's supposed to be warmer and with lots of detail, but seems incoherent, not able to compose the details together to an integral sound. I still feel it may be more what I'm looking for in an audio playing device.

 

However, I also read reports that it needs an amp to fully unleash its capabilities. So far I have seen good reports about the following amps, all under/approx. 200~250 price range:

- Jan Meier Corda Headsix

- Jan Meier Corda 2StepDance

- Jan Meier Corda Quickstep (supposedly less prone to RF invasions)

- iBasso T5

- Leckerton Audio UHA-4(OPA209) (although it doesn't seem to be available at this time)

- FiiO E17 or other

 

- HP-P1 seems excellent but way out of my price range
 

Question 1: Would the Beyer 1350 satisfy my needs?

Question 2: Which of these amp (or any other amp for that matter) would be ideal to power the Beyer 1350?

 

Thank you.


Edited by FlatListener - 10/30/12 at 2:31am
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

Took delivery of my Koss  KSC75 on-ear clips. Wow! What a bass! I know I'll be much happier listening to my iPod to begin with. There is a massive difference now between Apple Lossless format and even 320kbit MP3's. There not even remotely comparable. Well maybe I got carried away there a bit, but really there's no going back to mp3's now. So far I listened to the following albums:

o Marillion - "Clutching at Straws" (MP3-320) and "Script for a Jester's Tear" (Lossless and MP3-320)

o Dire Straits - "Brothers in Arms"

o Adele - 19 & 21

 

I'm impressed. I still intend to get a real HQ rig, but this investment has not been for nothing. Thanks!

post #10 of 15

Good to know Bro!  Those little Koss are very good.

 

ok, let me give you another advice, ok?   You trusted us with the Koss and you like it right?  ok,  so heres is what i would do with your money.

 

IMHO,

 

 

If you want, you can spend 300 bucks on a phone, no probem, its your money and you got the money right?  But those Koss are an example that you really dont need a ton of cash or a "hi-fi" set to enjoy music, so if you want to save some HUGE cash, and even have more money left for you to buy more audio things, IMHO go get and buy your self a pair of JVC's S500

 

Yea,  JVc's, doesnt sound "hi-fi" uhh?? ...i am not kidding, those BLOWS those Koss, they got nothing on the S500 cause they are crazy good, the bass goes lower, bigger, better and more quality, gots better mids and highs.   how much they cost?   $80 bucks,   whats the "catch"?, you got to buy then from Japan, BUT for now and while you wait you got those Koss to have some fun with them until you get your JVC`s.

 

 

With the rest of your money, buy a Fiio E17,  thats not only an Amp, its a DAC. Its ultra light and portable and you can use it on your PC/laptop,  that Fiio paired with your S500 will be mind blowing, all for less than a pair of those Beyers.

 

i must be clear, i am not saying that the JVC are better, no. but IMHO they are very good and paired with the E17 i am comfident you will be blown away, the JVc's are small and portable too. and you will STILL have more money left over for maybe more CD's/DVD's or whatever you want to spend your left over money.

 

You will hear/read some haters saying that they are overhyped without even owning them,  they will also argue that there are no reviews on youtube and whatever balbalblas,  thats not a valid argument, there a tons of reviews on youtube about crapy headphones and iems, so that means NOTHING.

 

 

In any case, i have not heard those Beyers and i have no doubts they are awesome,t my buddy Doc gots them and he also has Jvc's and could be more helpfull.

 

Hope it helps
 


Edited by rickdohc - 10/30/12 at 7:18am
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlatListener View Post

I read about accurate but strong details, while usually I prefer a warmer sound. This is why I started reading about the Beyerdynamics 1350. It's supposed to be warmer and with lots of detail

That is exactly why you would prefer the 1350. They are warmer. A tad bit more laid back in the treble with nicely detailed midrange. A they are pretty neutral sounding and have nice bass quality without any extra bass emphasis.

I use my DT1350 portably from my iTouch using the Fiio E11 amp or direct from my Sansa Clip with no amp (yes that's right no amp). They are efficient and are not hard to drive despite the 80ohm resistance.

The E17 would prolly be find but if you don't need a DAC there is no point. The e11 is also 35% more powerful. Check out this thread here.

Havent tried those other portables so can't advise there but the linked thread above is interesting reading.
Edited by Doc-holliday - 10/30/12 at 8:47am
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you Rick and Doc for your advice,

 

First I apologise for staying away for so long: Rick's reply notification landed in my spam folder and I just read it.

 

I'm a bit confused after listening to the Koss phones for about a week: some of my ear damage came back. That is, I hear a high-frequency tone all day without having earphones on. It's slowly coming back to normal, but it scares me and I'm unsure if I should buy any earphones now at all.

I know about many people that develop ear damage by listening to ear phones at too high volumes and don't realise what they're doing until it's too late. But I was forewarned and I took it easy on the volume and still got the ear damage back. Maybe these ear phones are so good, that turning up the volume goes unnoticed because they even sound balanced and natural at higher volumes.

 

Anyway I've decided to wait for a couple of weeks to see if the ears get back to normal and then check out the 1350's.

 

I really appreciate your help here and I will get back to you if I buy other headphones to report about how I like them.

post #13 of 15
Little hearing health tip. The better the isolation in noisy environments, the better it is on your hearing. If you are in a noisy environment like lets say a busy shoping center at 70 to 80db. You have your Koss on which has very little isolation if any at all. The tendancy is to crank up the music to much higher volume to your surroundings so that you no longer hear those surroundings. You are now at dangerous listening levels. This is how people can really damage their ears when listening to headphones with no isolation in public/noisy environments.

That is why you have what is called tinitis in your ears right now. They are pissed at you for doing what I just described.

Take the DT1350 example above. They are one of the best portables around in terms of isolation which is probably due to the extra thick cups and the metal cosmetic faceplate even on top of that cup. By properly positioning the pads on your ears, you can reduce the outside noise of that same environment to very low levels. You can now enjoy your music without cranking it up and damaging your ears and best of all the music can still sound "loud" to you this way too without being harmful if kept at a reasonable range.

What you also should know is that your ear adjusts a muscle to restrict the amount of sound coming in in a loud area to protect its self. So in a noisy environment the ear has already closed up a bit inside to prevent the already lout environment from causing damage and now you are just fighting against you own ear when adding even more sound to overcome the inability to hear your music.

Anyway. Moral of the story...... get phones with better isolation and you will be doing your ears a favor. Tinitus is something you can look up and often just goes away but if you are concerned about it ask a doctor (not some guy who calls him self Doc-holliday biggrin.gif)
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks Doc and Rick!

 

Based upon what I've read so far, the Beyer 1350's look to be my best bet, sorry for not following your advice Rick. I haven't listened to them yet, but I will go to a local reseller soon. Now I need a good shot at which amp to use:

 

My objective is to get a portable sound setup that is so quiet / isolated that I can keep the volume low and still get a great soundstage listening experience.  It's meant for listening in places outside home (train, bus, library) or at home but away from large amplifiers, like in bed before going to sleep.

 

#1 - Fiio E11 and E17

Doc already suggested the E11, Rick suggested the E17. This probably is a good brand then, eh? I don't need a DAC, so that would point towards the E11. However, I really have to know that I can turn down the volume low enough without getting channel imbalance in the pot. Therefore, the AMP should not be too powerful, if combined with either the KOSS or the Beyer 1350.

 

#2 - What about Jan Meier AMPs? Quickstep appears to be good. They are way more expensive. ARe they worth it?

 

#3 - RF influence

I wish to listen to the set on the train, there will be many mobile telephones running. I need an AMP that is not sensitive to RF signals.

 

#4 - Price (here in the netherlands)

The Beyer 1350's are about 250-300 Euro's.

The Fiio E11 is about 80 Euro's, E17 about 160 Euro's

Jan meier Quickstep 345 Euro's (ouch!)

 

I look forward to your opinions.

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

So a lot has happened in between. I ordered a DT1350 and listened to that for a couple of weeks. I noticed the headphone feed from a decent hifi set is worlds better than my iPod mini jack. So I ordered the FiiO E12 and FiiO E17. Yes I do hear improvement, much better definition, instrument separation. Not much gain in soundstage but the 1350s don't excel in that anyway.

 

My problem is that at low volumes, there isn't much difference between the bare iPod and any of the FiiO  amps. It still sounds a bit dull. So I wonder is this because any HP will sound dull at low volumes or should I return the DT1350s and get another HP?

 

Any suggestions? Of course I would need a HP that meets the same demands:

- warm sound

- closed HP

 

Oh and the volume I listened to on the train is 15 on the FiiO E17.

 

Thanks!
 

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