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Introducing myself, looking for entry-level headphones under $200, and help with my setup

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hi all, this is my first post and introduction to the community. I apologize for asking any previously answered questions—I will try to be as specific to my situation as possible.

 

Some background info:

I am a full-time student in dental school at UIC-Chicago. I commute daily so I listen to a lot of music. My first experience with quality gear was borrowing my fiancé’s Shure IEMs.  I was instantly hooked (compared to my stock phone earbuds) and began my quest to find pure audio-bliss.

 

What I listen to:

I listen to mostly electronic/house music (two of my favorites are Underworld and anything mixed by John Digweed). I also listen to a fair amount of alternative rock (Tool, NIN).  I don’t limit myself to a single genre--I appreciate classical music as well.

I am also an avid PC/console gamer.

 

My current equipment/setup:

For my daily commute I use Shure SE215’s with a Sansa Clip+ loaded with FLAC files. I am very happy with the sound quality and isolation. The file size is becoming an issue, so I am debating if I should convert them to 320kbit. I use dbPoweramp. Would I notice a significant change in quality?

 

At home I have a Pioneer VSX-820 receiver/amp with an Energy 5.1 system (bookshelf speakers and a stand-alone woofer). This is hooked up to my PC via HDMI from my video card. I do not have a dedicated sound card, but my understanding is that with the higher-end video cards connected with HDMI, a stand-alone sound card is not necessary.

 

I also have another PC that I use frequently for gaming and music. I would like to use my new headphones with this PC. I have a decent graphics card with HDMI output, but no DAC or amp.

 

My questions:

1. I am looking for my first pair of quality headphones. They should be comfortable for longer sessions and I would prefer larger over-ear (aesthetics/looks not a concern for me). My budget is under $200. I am fine with used if they are in excellent condition. I am leaning towards the ATH-M50s as I have heard they are good for electronic music.

 

2. The PC that I use frequently for gaming and listening to music does not have a dedicated sound card, but does have a decent graphics card. Should I be using a DAC and amp with this setup? If so, can you recommend a good entry-level setup?

 

3. Are there any other resources (other than Head-Fi) that you would recommend for me to educate myself about basic audio/acoustic principles? I would like to be able to look at the specifications of audio equipment and objectively evaluate their properties and sound qualities.

 

4. How many sets of headphones do you own? I am curious if it is more typical to have one or two good pairs or do you find it beneficial to hold on to many sets?

 

Thank you in advance for any advice/suggestions!

post #2 of 4

1) I'm not a fan of the M50s personally.  They do sound great, but I don't like the pads.  Pleather pads make my head too hot.  When I bought my first full size set, I went with the Beyerdynamic DT770s instead after listening to both.

 

1b) I'm absolutely certain that there are vendors in Chi-Town that sell both and will let you listen and compare the 2.  Guitar Center is one, but I'd bet that there are others.  I recommend giving them a listen (as well as any others they have in that price range) to compare them yourself.  What sounds good to me might be bliss for you, or it might be garbage to you.

 

2) With no dedicated sound card, you are almost certainly better off with an external DAC/AMP for your gaming PC.  If you have the space, get something like an Asus Xonar DG for an internal sound card.  Decent card with an amp that will power everything within your price range for sure.  If you want a more universal solution (something you can use with your PC, but also take with you on the road), look into a FiiO E07K or E17.  Hook it up to your PC via USB to use as a DAC/AMP and use a LOD cable (currently out of stock on Amazon, but you can undoubtedly find it or something better on eBay) with your Clip+ when you're on the go.

 

3) I'm sure there are, but I tend to stick here as there is a vast amount of knowledge here.

 

4) Currently 3 (JVC HA-R55X (bought when I thought I toasted my Beyers when modifying them, needed something for travel), Grado SR225i (fully open, only use them when there's not a lot of sound around me and no one to bother), Beyerdynamic DT770-Pro 80 (used when I really want to hear the bass)), always on the lookout for #4 (which may end up being the Beyer DT880 or 990).

 

Also to your point of hooking up a separate system via HDMI to your PC: Unless I'm very mistaken, HDMI is transmitting a purely digital signal and the receiver you're plugging into is doing all of the work.  It's a good way to go, but I don't believe the quality of your video card has anything to do with the quality of the music you hear.

post #3 of 4

The ATH-M50 are great set of headphones at the price so I would suggest those.

 

 

And as far your 4th question if I had the money to burn I would keep multiple headphones for different purposes. As it is I have a pair of Jaybird Bluebud x for earphone use in the gym and a pair of Ultimate ear 350. I have a pair of V-moda Crossfade M-100 as well. Now if I had more money to burn on headphones I probably would get an open set of Sennheiser HD650 or maybe the HD598  as well. I would also just would love the get a pair of V-moda M-80 for on ear headphones for summer since as of September around 63 degrees weather my ears sweat with the M-100. I would also get the V-moda crossfade LP2 since I would want a good pair for thumping bass

post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by rutger413 View Post

I am also an avid PC/console gamer.

 

 Sansa Clip+ loaded with FLAC files. I am very happy with the sound quality and isolation. The file size is becoming an issue, so I am debating if I should convert them to 320kbit.

 

At home I have a Pioneer VSX-820 receiver/amp with an Energy 5.1 system. This is hooked up to my PC via HDMI from my video card.

 

I also have another PC that I use frequently for gaming and music. I would like to use my new headphones with this PC. I have a decent graphics card with HDMI output, but no DAC or amp.

 

My questions:

1. I am looking for my first pair of quality headphones. They should be comfortable for longer sessions and I would prefer larger over-ear

 

2.If so, can you recommend a good entry-level setup?

 

4. How many sets of headphones do you own? I am curious if it is more typical to have one or two good pairs or do you find it beneficial to hold on to many sets?

If your running out of storage room on the Clip+, why not just get a larger micro-SD memory card?

or do you not even has a memory card in it?

 

Sennheiser HD558 open headphones, $131.26 at Amazon.

Asus Xonar DG (PCI) sound card, $25.99 and there is a $10 mail in rebate this month.

 

The DG's basic headphone amplifier can easily drive the 50-Ohm HD558 headphones.

The HD558s could also be used with the Pioneer receiver and the Clip +.

 

Here is an aftermaket cable ($19.60) for the HD558 that comes with a 3.5mm plug, it would make it easier to use the HD558 with the Clip+ and the DG, the HD558 standard (factory cable) 1/4" plug would plug right into the Pioneer.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/261255113290?var=560215640802&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

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