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Best Laptop Driven Headphones for around £150 for Watching TV Series

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I've only recently been exposed to good earphones and headphones. I got a pair of sound magic E10s and was really impressed by the sound quality but then last week I walked into an apple store and listened to some music on a pair of Dr. Dre solo HDs and was just blown away. I really didn't know such great sound quality existed till then.

I've read a number of posts with negative comments about the Dr. Dre headphones but for someone used to really low quality audio, it really changed the way I think about headphones.

So I want to ask for some recommendations for headphones under £150 ($250) though I might be able to go slightly higher (£200). I primarily watch HD content through my laptop, mainly TV series via bluray or netflix. I like a relaxing, soothing sound so maybe good bass would be important for this?

I've been looking at a few headphones in my price range including Sennheiser HD 558 and HD 598, AKG K550, PSB M4U 1 etc.. but I'm not sure if it's worth getting any of them since they'll be driven by a laptop?

Any recommendations?
Edited by PTom - 10/20/13 at 6:50am
post #2 of 22

Do you care if they're open or closed?

 

If you don't, I would recommend the Fidelio X1. Right in your budget, easy to drive, and seems especially good for movies.

 

A couple reviews:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/670318/philips-fidelio-x1-review-comparison

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/big-bottom-and-lively-top-philips-fidelio-x1


Edited by viralcow - 10/20/13 at 9:24am
post #3 of 22

If you're gonna listen to headphones only from your laptop, don't expect very good audio even if you buy good headphones. Laptop makes a very bad source. You will need to spent at least another £150 to decently improve the sound with a dac/amp. 

 

The Dr. Dre solo are a basshead headphones and to me they don't compare to any of my headphones but the XB500 that cost 100 € less. People new to high quality audio usualy crave for more bass and the Dr.Dre fill their needs. However there are tons of better headphones for that money out there. If you want headphones with a slight emphasis on bass, I would recomend the Beyerdynamic DT 770 pro or the Audio Technica ATH-50. You might wan't to look at the Grado headphones (80 or 125), although they are quite discomfortable to me. From the headphones you listed above I own the HD558 and I have to warn you that they are very linear and the bass is somewhat thin. They are more focused on mids. 

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by viralcow View Post
 

Do you care if they're open or closed?

 

If you don't, I would recommend the Fidelio X1. Right in your budget, easy to drive, and seems especially good for movies.

 

A couple reviews:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/670318/philips-fidelio-x1-review-comparison

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/big-bottom-and-lively-top-philips-fidelio-x1

Wow, these seem like really good value for money, there seem to be  a number people favourably comparing these to the much more expensive HD 650 and AKG 701.


Edited by PTom - 10/20/13 at 10:55am
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrezicR View Post
 

If you're gonna listen to headphones only from your laptop, don't expect very good audio even if you buy good headphones. Laptop makes a very bad source. You will need to spent at least another £150 to decently improve the sound with a dac/amp. 

 

The Dr. Dre solo are a basshead headphones and to me they don't compare to any of my headphones but the XB500 that cost 100 € less. People new to high quality audio usualy crave for more bass and the Dr.Dre fill their needs. However there are tons of better headphones for that money out there. If you want headphones with a slight emphasis on bass, I would recomend the Beyerdynamic DT 770 pro or the Audio Technica ATH-50. You might wan't to look at the Grado headphones (80 or 125), although they are quite discomfortable to me. From the headphones you listed above I own the HD558 and I have to warn you that they are very linear and the bass is somewhat thin. They are more focused on mids. 

So in your opinion, without getting a dac/amp would it be a waste to get a £150 headphone and probably better to get something cheaper like the XB500. In other words will there be a huge difference in sound quality between a £150 headphone and say an £80 headphone if driven by a laptop.

post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by PTom View Post
 

So in your opinion, without getting a dac/amp would it be a waste to get a £150 headphone and probably better to get something cheaper like the XB500. In other words will there be a huge difference in sound quality between a £150 headphone and say an £80 headphone driven by a laptop.

 

In most cases, no.

 

DAC's are more of a bottleneck than a drag on overall performance, unless your internal laptop dac is horrid (which is generally not the case if you have a decent laptop). Buy a good pair of headphones first, then worry about DAC's and amps later. You'll find that per dollar (or pound) the improvement you get in SQ, while significant, is much less for a DAC than for a good pair of headphones.

 

But then, I've only owned the FiiO e10 and ODAC, which are both "budget" dac's so I really don't know exactly how $300+ DAC's might improve the sound.

post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by PTom View Post

I've only recently been exposed to good earphones and headphones. I got a pair of sound magic E10s and was really impressed by the sound quality but then last week I walked into an apple store and listened to some music on a pair of Dr. Dre solo HDs and was just blown away. I really didn't know such great sound quality existed till then.
I've read a number of posts with negative comments about the Dr. Dre headphones but for someone used to really low quality audio, it really changed the way I think about headphones.
So I want to ask for some recommendations for headphones under £150 ($250) though I might be able to go slightly higher (£200). I primarily watch HD content through my laptop, mainly TV series via bluray or netflix. I like a relaxing, soothing sound so maybe good bass would be important for this?
I've been looking at a few headphones in my price range including Sennheiser HD 558 and HD 598, AKG K550, PSB M4U 1 etc.. but I'm not sure if it's worth getting any of them since they'll be driven by a laptop?

Sennheiser HD558

ElE EL-D02 USB/DAC/Amp, $20 on eBay.

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'm thinking of going for the Phillps X1, it's going for around $250 which seems like a good price? Any thoughts?

post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by PTom View Post
 

So in your opinion, without getting a dac/amp would it be a waste to get a £150 headphone and probably better to get something cheaper like the XB500. In other words will there be a huge difference in sound quality between a £150 headphone and say an £80 headphone if driven by a laptop.

Well, if you're going to buy only headphones without a dac/amp (without ever upgrading), I wouldn't pay that much for headphones. There will be a difference between £150 and £80 headphone, but it will be minor. For example, there was a very big improvement in my HD558 when I upgraded the laptop to a DAC/amp, however the difference between HD558 and HD650 (both on laptop) was only small. I'm not recomending the XB500 BTW, I think they are for bassheads only, I was just compering them to the Solo's.

post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by viralcow View Post
 

 

In most cases, no.

 

DAC's are more of a bottleneck than a drag on overall performance, unless your internal laptop dac is horrid (which is generally not the case if you have a decent laptop). Buy a good pair of headphones first, then worry about DAC's and amps later. You'll find that per dollar (or pound) the improvement you get in SQ, while significant, is much less for a DAC than for a good pair of headphones.

 

But then, I've only owned the FiiO e10 and ODAC, which are both "budget" dac's so I really don't know exactly how $300+ DAC's might improve the sound.

I found the dac in my laptop to be quite a bottleneck for me. I heard a significant difference when I went from my laptop to a soundcard on my desktop and then also on my Musical Fidelity M1 DAC. I don't know what kind of DAC my laptop had, but it was a normal cca 800 EUR HP laptop. Anyway, that is my experiance. However I agree, that per dollar, the biggest difference comes from headphones. 

post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by PTom View Post

I'm thinking of going for the Phillps X1, it's going for around $250 which seems like a good price? Any thoughts?

You never did comment on the open or closed issue that someone raised. Open headphones can have a nice soundstage, but they let in background noise from your environment and allow others to hear what you are listening to.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by PTom View Post

. . . . probably better to get something cheaper like the XB500.

Whatever you do, I would avoid the XB500. An extremely bass heavy headphone like that seems a bad choice to me for tv and movie watching where mids and highs are also important, especially if you want to hear dialogue.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


You never did comment on the open or closed issue that someone raised. Open headphones can have a nice soundstage, but they let in background noise from your environment and allow others to hear what you are listening to.

Good point! I live with my girlfriend and she's normally in the same room as me. So I guess I would need a closed headphone then which would rule out the X1, hd 558 and hd 598. So that leaves Beyerdynamic DT 770 pro (impedance too high??), Audio Technica ATH-50, AKG K550 or PSB M4U ? Which one would be the best or any other suggestions? 


Edited by PTom - 10/20/13 at 3:02pm
post #14 of 22
I like the DT770, M50, and K550 (have not heard the PSB). All would be good for movie watching, but the M50s, and the DT770s especially would benefit from a headphone amp.

What make/model laptop do you have?
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 

It's a macbook pro late 2011 model. I checked the audio and it says "Intel High Definition Audio".

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