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Advice needed for buying decent headphone & portable amp in San José area.

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I'd like to buy a good headphone with amplifier for use with my iPOD.

 

I am living in the Netherlands and I am regularly coming over to San José for work. There's no way for me to make the flight more comfortable than listening to good music!

 

I am flying back to the Netherlands on Wednesday and before then I hope to get better sound than that of the Apple earpods.

 

What type of headphone would be good for comfortable listening, open, closed, semi or probably earbuds? The air pressure in a plane is low and a little more power is needed to make it sound the same volume. I am looking for a portable amplifier also to enhance the battery life of the iPOD and have a better sound. My budget is around 300-400 USD.

 

Also where can I listen and compare headphones in or near San José?

 

Any advice would be great!

 

Regards,

Rolf

post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by RolfNoot View Post

Hi all,

 

I'd like to buy a good headphone with amplifier for use with my iPOD.

 

I am living in the Netherlands and I am regularly coming over to San José for work. There's no way for me to make the flight more comfortable than listening to good music!

 

I am flying back to the Netherlands on Wednesday and before then I hope to get better sound than that of the Apple earpods.

 

What type of headphone would be good for comfortable listening, open, closed, semi or probably earbuds? The air pressure in a plane is low and a little more power is needed to make it sound the same volume. I am looking for a portable amplifier also to enhance the battery life of the iPOD and have a better sound. My budget is around 300-400 USD.

 

Also where can I listen and compare headphones in or near San José?

 

Any advice would be great!

 

Regards,

Rolf

 

There are lots of amps and even more headphones out there, but here's a couple of thoughts.  

 

Air pressure in the plane doesn't affect volume by itself, it doesn't work like that.  The air pressure changes affects your ears temporarily, which can sound like a reduction in volume.  You can equalize the pressure in your ears to alleviate the problem.  But the noise in the plane covers a lot of music.  I've found that either IEMs that seal really well or active noise canceling  headphones make a huge difference.  Using an amp to try to get your music over the aircraft noise isn't a great idea though, you'll be listening pretty loudly.  

 

I just took four flights with a pair of Parrot Zik headphones that both seal and have active noise canceling.  They really made a huge difference.  The Parrot Zik headphones connect to iPods with a cable or Bluetooth.  If you have a iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad (any) they offer some unique control abilities as well. 

 

I was walking through an airport with mine on my head when I spotted them in a Shaper Image store in the airport.  You could demo them there.

 

I don't think an amp alone will make you happy, though. 

 

Amps don't enhance iPod battery life noticeably. 

post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by RolfNoot View Post

I'd like to buy a good headphone with amplifier for use with my iPOD.

I am living in the Netherlands and I am regularly coming over to San José for work. There's no way for me to make the flight more comfortable than listening to good music!

I am flying back to the Netherlands on Wednesday and before then I hope to get better sound than that of the Apple earpods.

What type of headphone would be good for comfortable listening, open, closed, semi or probably earbuds? The air pressure in a plane is low and a little more power is needed to make it sound the same volume. I am looking for a portable amplifier also to enhance the battery life of the iPOD and have a better sound. My budget is around 300-400 USD.

Also where can I listen and compare headphones in or near San José?

There are no good places in the U.S.A. for demoing headphones.

Bestbuy has demos hook up, but Bestbuy is over priced and do not carry the headphone brands I would buy (mostly).

Frys Electronics sells JVC HA-S400 headphone for around $50, they are folding headphone, so easy to carry around for traveling.

(I own the JVC-HA-S500, great traveling headphones).

If you hook up an external portable headphone amplifier up to the iPods LOD port, it will bypass the iPods internal headphone amplifier and might(?) extend the battery life of the iPod.

They sell portable batteries for connecting to the iPod's USB port.

The Fiio E11 portable headphone amplifier sells for around $60, just buy some extra batteries (BL-5B) for it.

You can also get a simple AC battery charger to recharge the spare battery (or batteries).

Need the Fiio L cable to connect the iPods LOD port to an external headphone amplifier.

Most of the good headphone amplifier stuff is usually mail ordered, so you would be able to receive anything until at least Wednesday.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies so far!

 

Probably I'll go to BestBuy do do some listening. I've been at Fry's already but I didn't find any good demoing station except a Dr Dré Beats one. The rest didn't convince me really. The headphone's were kinda messy lying everywhere.

 

From my electronic engineers point of view, I really think driving 30mW avg. to the earbuds over 8 hours really makes a difference in battery life.

 

The Parrot Zik has a built in amplifier so that is good. As far as I can see there's no Sharper Image Store at SFO, unfortunate.

 

Any more input is well received!

post #5 of 12

The Guitar Center stores carry a lot of nice headphones, but their prices are really high, they might let you test a headphone in the store before buying.

You might consider holding off until your next return trip to San Jose, give you more time to research headphones and try mail ordering when you first arrive back to San Jose.

 

Sony Stores usually have headphone demos setup at their stores, the nearest Sony store is in Santa Clara at 2855 Stevens Creek Blvd.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Great advice, thanks!

 

I've also found Magnolia store, they seem to have some nice headphones: http://www.magnoliaav.com/products/accessories/headphones

Anyone experience with them?

post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by RolfNoot View Post

Great advice, thanks!

 

I've also found Magnolia store, they seem to have some nice headphones: http://www.magnoliaav.com/products/accessories/headphones

Anyone experience with them?

Magnolia sells the AKG Q701B for $400, you can mail order it for $240.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

That makes quite a lot difference. Probably gonna sleep some more nights on it...

 

As far as I've read now, noise cancellation headphones are best to use on planes. I've seen a nice review over here:

http://pulse2.com/2012/11/28/best-noise-canceling-headphones/

 

Gonna try some of them probably today if I can find,

post #9 of 12
Innerfidelity has measurements of many headphones, and the 2nd graph for each is an isolation measurement: http://www.innerfidelity.com/headphone-data-sheet-downloads

While the actual reduction db numbers may not quite be what you experience, those graphs are very useful for comparing headphones to each other. For example, I have a pair of Ultrasone HFI-780s that have fairly decent isolation for non-active noise cancelling headphones, and the graphs do reflect that in comparison to other headphones.

Some of the best noise cancelling experience I have had is with the Etymotic ER4P using their very spongy yellow foam plugs (see under accessories). I get a really good, deep seal with those and it screens out noise very well. See this review: http://www.head-fi.org/t/506087/review-etymotic-er4p-er4s-the-living-legends
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

There are no good places in the U.S.A. for demoing headphones.

Thats for sure!  The last big box store that I saw a headphone display had lots of low-grade headphones, and the demo system had one dead channel.

 

I know nothing about this place, never bought from them, but read their "Listening Guarantee" policy here:

http://www.headphonestore.com/why-buy-from-the-headphone-store/

 

Seems reasonable.  Amazon accepts returns too, if you buy directly from Amazon, their returns are pretty smooth, resellers can vary.

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Just did some listening at several places, Brookstone, Best Buy (with Magnolia in store) and Radio Shack.

 

At Brookstone I could hook up my own iPOD with music, I tested 4 headphones:

- Beats by Dr. Dre: overwelming uncontrolled bass, unable to hear the mids well but clear highs, although not sparkling. Comfortable though.

- AblePlanet NC200B: better controlled bass than Beats but missing punch. No sparkling highs either but agian comfortable.

- Klipsch Mode M40: I really liked it's sound. Very controlled lows, detailed mids and crispy highs. Some instruments (brass) I barely heard before stood out! But no way comfortable, the clamping tension much too high to let them on, not even for half an hour, Too bad!

- Parrot Zik: The most comfortable headphone I tried. Much better audio than Beats and AblePlanet, but not as good as the Klipsch IMO. Missed the mid details that were present at the Klipsch. Not convinced yet.

 

At Best Buy the only decent demoing station was Dr Dre's. I'm pretty sure the music on there station is well chosen and I bet all the amplifier inside really has some nice audio processing to cover op the pretty bad sound. The rest of their stations sucks, no good sound at every headphone I tried there. The label says: connect your own MP3 player but here wasn't even a plug to connect it to.

 

At my surprise I saw the Magnolia store inside Best Buy. They did have some nice headphones hanging there. I connected my iPOD but hell, only one channel was present. I called one of the employees (3 of them were talking behind the counter, not paying attention whatsoever) and he just listened. It took him quite a wile to figure out one channel wasn't actually present at all! Then he went away and came back one minute later. Yes I'm sure the cable is broken but can't fix it at this moment. He went back behind the counter to continue his conversation with the other employees, so I left....

 

Next I went to Radio Shack. I looked at the headphones, really not much there, besides all the Dr. Dré ones. The guy there step to me and really wanted to help me. I told him I didn't like the Dr. Dre headphones, but he really wanted to let me hear the pricey Dr Dré executive. He took a lot of effort to got a new one out of storeroom, unpack it and gave it to me. I listened but was not exited anyway.

 

It's incredible how eager the companies are to sell you this Dr. Dré stuff. It must be a reward or something for the employee if he sells one, otherwise I can't find a reason.

 

Okay so far, so good. No decision yet but an experience richer. Maybe next year when I come to visit I buy one....

post #12 of 12

Thomann in Europe has lots of nice headphones and good prices.

It was cheaper for me to buy 5 items and have it shipped to me in one box ($250) from Thomann in Europe to California, then to buy in the U.S.A ($360)

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