Hey, been following the forum and head-fi "gear" rankings for a couple of years now whenever I'm interested in some new head gear, but this will be my first time asking a question on the forums!
I'm currently using a pair of "soundstage-modified" HD 595s (removed the isolation stuff on the outside of the speakers, and it truly imporoved the clarity, much to my liking), with an Asus Xonar essence stx card. This is a combo I'v fallen very much in love with over the past two years or so I have had it.
I also have a laptop (Asus g74sx) that I'm now working from more and more, thus I'm listening to music from it more then previously. The onboard soundcard is plenty good to drive simple earplugs, which is what I have used so far, but it's useless for my 595s. In addition, the 595s are leaking so much sound it's not possible to use them in an office or on public transport.This is why I have been considering buying a pair of noise-canceling headphones, and I have had my eye on the HD380 pros. A friend of mine has the Bose QuietComfort 15, and he's very happy with them, but the 380s, being almost half the price, are more tempting. I'm also not requireing complete 100% sound isolation, some slight leakage is fine, as long as I can listen to music next to another person without annoying him.
I read on several of the reviews on the HD380 pro that they really do require an amp, and when that's a recommendation less mentioned for the 595s, I assume I'm really going to need one for the 380s as I know my 595s absolutely require one to function propperly. If I were to buy a pair of 380s, they would be used 95% of the time on my laptop. Initially i was intrigued by the FiiO e11, but I later realized it's not ideal for laptop use due to the way the charging works, as well as the lack of DAC.
I read on one of the 380 reviews that "at least a FiiO E7 is required to drive them propperly", so I checked out the E7 and it seems like a pretty decent choice. However I have also read some reviews claiming the E7s are not nessescarily much better than what you would find onboard some laptops. Sadly I have no idea what onboard soundcard the g74sx have, and the only thing I have to compare it to, is the fact my 595s run horribly on it. I thus assume the FiiO E7 will be a significant upgrade, but I cant really know.
Would anyone have any suggestions or ideas as to what I should do? I'm not interested in spending more than 100$ on the amp, which is why the E7 seems so nice. It also has to be portable, preferably also usable with my phone (currently HTC desire HD), though I'm much less dependant on the quality improvement there.
How are the 380s compared to 595s, easier or more difficult to drive without the amp?
Does E7 seem like a good choice, and is it likely it's sigificantly bettter than the asus g74sx laptop onboard sound controller?
Finally, with my described situation, is there any other headphones or amps I should be considering?