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New to Forums - Looking for good NC cans with portable amp

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone,

 

What a fantastic site you have here.

 

I was thinking of getting the PSB M4U 2 headphones and a portable amp for general use and for travel.

 

I've also got some AKG-K401 headphones, and when paired with the Nokia Lumia 920 I find the sound a little quiet. So I am thinking a quality amp is the way to go, such as this one:

http://www.headstage.com/The-Arrow-Amp/Headstage-Arrow-4T::10144.html?XTCsid=f50d8c1c9602e93c0826215b8c19a7c8

 

The K401s sound fine on my desktop PC, but I am finding that I get a bit fatigued after about an hour, in that the music begins to loose body and detail and becomes more noisy. Will a quality amp resolve this issue? Or, do I need better quality headphones and an amp?

 

Cheers,

Nick

post #2 of 13

What kind of sound do you want?

 

For NC headphones with non fatiguing sound, I recommend sony mdr-1rnc. You won't need an amp for the sonys, but if you do want a portable amp, I suggest Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII. But if you want warmer sound, Arrow 4 seems fine too.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi Kim,

 

That is a great question and I'll try to answer with my limited experience and vocabulary.

 

I would say a full natural sound that has great separation of each individual instrument, but which can express the overall harmonics that result from the interaction of all the instruments. I guess this statement can be said to be the aim of all good headphones, but I am using it to describe the level of quality I want, I guess. The phones need to accomplish this pretty well.

 

With a good recording, this results in the least amount of fatigue over time, as my ears don't begin to tire from a less clear articulation of each sound. I think that is what is going on, although I'm not at all sure why something that sounds okay to begin with would sound ordinary and noisy after an hour (similar quality of recording I think, and the same type of music).

 

The kind of music I can relate this to is The Police, Talking Heads, Beck, some world music by Ayub Ogada, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, etc.

 

If we take the track Obiero, sung by Ayub Ogada, and I play a flac version from VLC on my desktop PC through my AKG K401s, the base vocal track is quite flat with little harmony. When it gets layered with an organ, the layers are quite harmonic and with the organ (and some reverb(?) are quite rich and warm(?) in comparison to without. However, I would like a bit more depth and richness across all the range on the track. So that the voice is less flat and has more rumble or depth. So, enhancing the sound to help it be more full but without changing it, so that it doesn't become coloured(?).

 

I don't know if it is the recording and devices that aren't delivering good sound, or if my ears just tire and have had enough sound for a while because they aren't used to listening to music for such long periods (I haven't listened regularly to music for many years). Listening to movies is no problem.

 

So, to answer your question, I like good bass and deeper trebble (a richer trebble rather , so that each is very clear but the bass is not fuzzy or dullish, nor is the trebble too bright or lightweight. I would say I like to be in the mid-range with good bass and some great highlights. I think I might tire from too bright a sound. Or, too flat a sound.

 

I don't think I'm a bass head at all but I do like it to be punchy and full.

 

I hope this helps, Kim.


Edited by gxtoast - 6/24/13 at 7:36am
post #4 of 13

Ok. It sounds like you want some colored mids. Generally, a headphone is more tiresome if they are really good in clarity. You want a full sounding and rich headphone. I understand that you might not have been able to describe a sound, but MDR-1R seems fine. There aren't may options for NC, and MDR-1RNC seems to be the one that fits your criteria the most. If you drop the NC requirement, I could probably give you better options.

 

Anyways, I'll do a mini review on it's sound: I don't own these. My friend does, so my experience is limited.

Warm and thick sound with rich vocals and bass. Treble is non fatiguing and smooth. Decent clarity and imaging ability. Great NC, almost as good as BOSE NC. Does this sound like what you want?

post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by kimvictor View Post

Ok. It sounds like you want some colored mids. Generally, a headphone is more tiresome if they are really good in clarity. You want a full sounding and rich headphone. I understand that you might not have been able to describe a sound, but MDR-1R seems fine. There aren't may options for NC, and MDR-1RNC seems to be the one that fits your criteria the most. If you drop the NC requirement, I could probably give you better options.

That, and active noise cancellation does tend to decrease SQ. Since it sounds like SQ is very important to you, have you considered just going with good headphones that have decent passive noise isolation?
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


That, and active noise cancellation does tend to decrease SQ. Since it sounds like SQ is very important to you, have you considered just going with good headphones that have decent passive noise isolation?

I know. I wonder why people think that NC is really good. I never liked NC headphones.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Awesome, thanks Kimvictor.

 

I think phones that are strongest in the mid range would be a fair assessment. Although, I was just listening to Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" track and had played around with the EQ so that it was a bit heavy in the mid (which might be said to be dark or muddy) and the effect was that the sound from the top-hat and other symbols from the drummer was not clear or precise enough, so I definitely don't want to compromise the trebble/upper tones too much.

 

Would it be fair to say that the AKG K-401s are tuned to the mid-range? I know that they were much more preferable to me than the K-501s, which I also listened to around the same time that I bought the K-401s (around 1999). I can't believe they have lasted fourteen years and still going strong.

 

Kim, I found a review of the Sony's by Tyll Hertsens at Inner Fidelity:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHEyNwnuIkU

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/solid-sony-mdr-1r-mdr-1rbt-and-mdr-1nc

 

Although, having read his comments about the Bose QC15 makes me curious. He rates them higher than the PSB 4MU 2, which is surprising considering that most on this forum seem to recommend the PSBs over them and most other NC cans.

 

He also reviewed the PSBs and found them to be too biased towards the upper mid and into the treble, which is definitely something I don't want.

 

Cel4145, I have thought about putting that money into excellent phones instead, for sure. I definitely do prefer open-back phones and getting some excellent open-backs would be great to replace the K-401s. I've read that the AKG K-701s are pretty good at their price-point and are better value for money than Senn HD600s for around the same price.

 

But, I think that before I fork out the money for around this much or higher, I need to probably go to some meets and get much more of an idea about what kind of sound I actually want.

 

If I could get some IEMs to stay in my ears then perhaps some of these for plane and other travel might be the way to go? I have a small head and most things don't fit my ears that well. Although, I haven't tried many IEMs at all.

 

One thing for sure, reading about this stuff isn't going to clarify much past a point until I can add some experience and testing with others who know more than I.


Edited by gxtoast - 6/24/13 at 8:17am
post #8 of 13

In terms of iem, SE215, or possibly SE535 can provide you with fatigue free, mid centric sound with NC level isolation. However, they do lack a bit in terms of clarity. Where are you located? You might be able to find shops/meets where you can demo some headphones and iems.

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm in Canberra, Australia. Unfortunately, the last remaining audiophile shop doesn't keep much stock of headphones anymore.

 

I am thinking of getting some phones while I am in Bangkok around early August, as I will be there for two weeks and can browse some of the really good stores.

 

I think custom IEMs might be the way to go.


Edited by gxtoast - 6/24/13 at 8:35am
post #10 of 13

Wow, that's a big leap in budget. Coming from $300 NC headphones to ciems? Anyways, they do isolate a lot of noise.

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

I just checked the prices on these and yeah, probably won't be getting any. Honestly, I don't know why customizing the shell has to result in such a big price. Maybe they don't just customize the shell. Anyway, I'll see if I can get some universals to fit.

post #12 of 13

Alright. Good luck!

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hey Guys,

 

I decided to check out non-nc headphones and tried the AKG K-550 and Sennheiser Momentum. The 550s are just too big for my head and I had to pretty much hold them in place to get the right seal. The Momentums were awesome and when I did an ABC between the 550, PSB and Momentum, the Momentum came out on top for all-round balance and clarity. Although, I thought the Momentum leaned toward music with a more natural sound such as acoustic and voice.

 

However, I'm thinking that because they are so balanced across the range, they might be a lot more flexible when used with EQ to enable them to give more bass when playing rock and electronic music, and more natural mids when playing acoustic or world music like Ayub Ogada. Perhaps the Momentum would go well with the VorzAMPduo, where the bass/treble adjustment might be enough to replace the need to EQ some genres, especially when a more solid and punchy Bass is required.

 

I'm certainly keen to hear about other amps that might be 95% as good as the Vorz (with Bass/Treble adjustment) and half the cost, too.


Edited by gxtoast - 6/27/13 at 5:50am
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