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Need help in getting directions about some nonprofessional, high-end, full-sized headphones for home use (music only)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello everybody,

 

I have been researching this topic and going through this website for a while now, and the time has finally come for me to choose a pair of headphones. I know that the best place to get an advice for this topic is here in head-fi.org and that is why I started this thread. :) (btw excuse me for my writing, I'm not a native speaker)

Before I go buy a pair of headphones, I will surely obey the golden rule and try them out first. However, there are many choices and I want to narrow down the possibilities before going for a test. I tried to make it clear what exactly I'm looking for, so that you guys can help me more easily.

This is going to be a long post, since there are many things that I don't know, but lets start by telling you what I'm looking for. The headphones I'm interesting in should be:

 

1. Nonprofessional - I will use them only for pleasure, to enjoy the music itself. (I'm not interested in monitor, studio, DJ headphones etc.)

2. High end - Well, I do not know if "High-end" or "audiophile" will by the best way to describe them, but I am definitely interested in headphones that will deliver the optimal sound, which probably means $500+. When I say optimal I mean that headphones for $5000 will probably sound better than some for $500, but do they sound 10 times better?

3. Full-sized - I believe they are also called over-ear or around-the-ear. - No comment here, that is what I prefer :)

4. Music only - I will not use them for movies, games or anything other than music.

5. Home use - I will NOT use the headphones outdoors. I like to sit back at home and enjoy the music, with my eyes closed, without anything or anyone around me, so I can focus on the sound. 

a. I do not care how they look (its not a fashion show and I will use them at home)

b. I have no worries of annoying others around me (in case of open headphones)

 

What I do care about is sound stage and sound quality, which raises my first questionIs it true that open headphones have better soundstage?

I dont need the bass to be big and heavy, but I cannot say that I do not care about the bass, because when I tried HD595, I found out that they have no bass at all! ..and I think that kills the dynamics of music.

The source is my computer with the appropriate records, software and settings. I will also buy a DAC in the near future. And that brings me to the next question - When do I need an amplifier? Can we say that the headphones with low impedance (25-50 ohms) do not need an amp and they cannot benefit as much as the higher impedance headphones? 

My third question is kind of related to the first and second - Are the "home" headphones better than the ones referred from the manufacturer as "portable" in terms of sound quality? 

I see that usualy the portable headphones are closed (not to disturbed the others outdoors), low impedance (so that they can be used with portable devices) and pretty (because they are worn in public). So is it a downside (in regards to sound quality) if the headphones are closed and with low impedance?

 

I'm sure that similar topics exist in the forum and I'm sorry if I'm annoying you, but I wasnt able to find exactly what I was looking for. I'm sure that the answers to my 3 question will help me get some directions in choosing a nice pair of headphones, and I hope that the 4 directions that I stated above will make it easier for you guys to recommend me some specific models :)

Thanks in advance!


Edited by MMB1 - 11/8/13 at 8:47am
post #2 of 10

My suggestion is to acquire the Sennheiser HD600 and a decent amp like the O2+ODAC Combo from JDS Labs.  Total cost new will be around $600.  What you will end up with is one of the best headphones for the money ( clarity, coherence, soundstage, and attach ) as well as one of the best amps for the money ( check out the various links to it on the web ).

 

The HD600 is extremely well made, comfortable. and quite honestly one of the best headphones of our time.  The HD650 does sound a bit more fun, but it adds more cost which is why I did not suggest it.

 

It has plenty of bass, excellent midrange for vocals, rock, and guitar, while taming the treble making it easy to listen to for hours.

 

There are a ton of options out there, but to my ears and many others' the HD600 and HD650 are some of the best headphones to date.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the suggestion :) However, it would be great if someone can answer my questions, so that I can reach the conclusion myself as well. Other suggestions from other members are also welcomed, so that a comparison could be made.  :)


Edited by MMB1 - 11/10/13 at 4:36am
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

I was actually thinking of some headphones that could work without an amp, but still... I dont know which headphones require an amp and if the ones that dont require are better or worse (or this is not a factor at all)...

post #5 of 10

good if u disclose what genre of music u prefer...

open cans let sound out..and into the cups, u might not fear disturbing others, but outside noise can interfere in your sonic pleasure too...is this a concern to u?

 

--------

 the hd600 hd650 are well loved for their musicality for 500ish budget...by people who also own top of the line headfones. :P

 

--------

post #6 of 10

Is it true that open headphones have better soundstage?
 - Yes, this is in general true. There may be exceptions and a $1000 closed headphone may easily beat a $100 open headphone.

 

When do I need an amplifier?
 - You will always need an amplifier. Your soundcard, mp3-player, phone ect. already have built in amplifiers (and DAC), but for some headphones they will not deliver enough power or have a too high output impedance. To find out how much power you need you have to look at both sensitivity and the ohm rating of your headphone. High ohm rating and/or low sensitivity needs more power than the oposite. Where to draw the line is hard to say, but anything over 80 ohm will most likely benefit from more power than your usual soundcard can deliver. When it comes to output impedance you want headphones with at least 8 times higher ohm rating.

 

Are the "home" headphones better than the ones referred from the manufacturer as "portable" in terms of sound quality?
 - At the same price, the answer will usually be yes, but not always. Headphones marked as portable often comes with low impedance, shorter cable, closed design and smaller size/foldable ect.

post #7 of 10
Hiya, welcome to headfi, I am sorry about your wallet.
 

2. High end - Well, I do not know if "High-end" or "audiophile" will by the best way to describe them, but I am definitely interested in headphones that will deliver the optimal sound, which probably means $500+. When I say optimal I mean that headphones for $5000 will probably sound better than some for $500, but do they sound 10 times better?

When the price goes up, the materials used for construction of headphone would vary from the low end headphones. For example, the design and construction of the drivers for HD 800 are different from HD 558 (Google about ortho phones such as HE 400 or LCD 2). Being said that, the higher end gear normally would sound better. But there are other factors such as quality of music file, dac/amp also influence the sound quality.

 

Is it true that open headphones have better soundstage? yes

 

When do I need an amplifier?

It is better to have a dac/amp and bypass the onboard soundcard, because the sound quality of headphone is normally improved by an external dac/amp compared to onboard soundcard.

 

Can we say that the headphones with low impedance (25-50 ohms) do not need an amp and they cannot benefit as much as the higher impedance headphones? 

wrong. Two of my cans belong to the range impedance that you mentioned. But a dac/amp makes much improvement in sound quality. Sensitivity or efficiency of a headphone should also be considered along with impedance while selecting an amp for driving a particular headphone.

 

with your budget, you can get new HE 400 and it can be easily driven by E 10 or E17.


Edited by rubinstein - 11/11/13 at 2:11pm
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your help! After reading all the reviews and consulting personally with people that own many different headphones and can compare them, I managed to narrow down my choices to 3 headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD600 and AKG Q701. There isn't a place in my city where I can go listen to any of these headphones, but according to the opinion of people who own all 3 of them, it turns out that they are equally good. There are of course some differences - Q701 has a bigger stage, but the HDs has better imaging, HD600 has a more neutral sounding than HD650, etc. However, it wasn't possible to say that one is better than the others; the MSRP was also the same for all of them... Another interesting fact was that (according to the people that have all the 3 headphones) Q701 is harder to drive than the HDs, although the HDs are about 300ohms, and Q701 is just 62ohms. 

At the end, I have found a great discount on the Q701, which made them 30% cheaper than the 2 HDs. This was the fact that actually weighted down in favor of the Q701 and I ended up buying them.

About the DAC and AMP... I was thinking of purchasing Schiit Magni & Modi, since many people told me that are the best value for the price. However, I turned out that the retailer’s price for Schiit in Europe was twice as big (or even more) than the price in the USA. That is why I decided to use my backup plan and got FiiO E17 with the dock station E09k.

In conclusion, I should say that I’m happy with my purchase and I have reached my goal. The headphones sound great and the FiiO complement them perfectly. I could recommend this setup to anyone who is in my situation (looking for similar thing).

Regards!


Edited by MMB1 - 11/26/13 at 8:38am
post #9 of 10
post #10 of 10

I prefer the sound of the HD650, but for the added cost most people save money going with the HD600.  The HD650 is more clear to my ears with more natural sounding treble.

 

The Q701 is also great, but lacks a little of the low end that the HD650/HD600 have.  Plus the Q701 is not built as sturdy.

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