This is my first post here, so please bear with me if I don't get things straight from the first time
My problem: on this moment I own a Beyerdynamic DT770 32 Ohm (Limited Edition), running it straight from my onboard soundcard in my PC. Sound quality is good enough for me, so that's not a big issue. The issue is with isolation: I don't play sound or music through the headphones all the time, and when my brother or father puts on a loud voice I can hear them through the phones. This is of course logical, since they were designed as headphones and not as ear muffs/ear defenders.
The reason why I still wear my phones when I'm working on my PC is to have a feeling of safety, of something having over my ears. I have Asperger's Syndrome, with a light degree of sound sensitivity (depends on a day-to-day basis). One day I have no problems, the other day I'd like having silence when I'm coming at home from work. Before I get labelled or looked upon: I work on the IT-department of one of the public broadcasters in Belgium, managing the same issues as my colleagues on the department. I go eat with them by lunch time, I communicate with them about issues and problems so I'm not a geek sitting in front of my desk just focusing on my computer. I try to adapt as well as possible, but this requires a lot of my physical energy. I could ask for a easier job which doesn't drain my energy as much, but then I can't deal with the interesting things anymore I like in this job. So I've learned to deal with it, and choosing other ways to comfort myself as much as possible.
Back to the headphones part: in brief, I'm looking for a headphone somewhere between a decent can (take my DT770's as reference in sound quality) and ear muffs for use at home (mostly on computer). As my onboard sound won't be able to drive most of these phones, suggestions for a suitable USB DAC are very much appreciated. I've selected some candidates, and maybe some more suggestions from other users could be added ?
1) Beyerdynamic DT300 / Clockaudio AH-1000 :
The Beyerdynamic DT300 would have been my number 1 choice since it combines all of my needs:
* Good isolation, since the surrounding shells themselves are ear defenders (original: Artilux Arton Pocket 2000, until 2009 also sold by Howard Leight in the US as the Thunder 29)
* Decent sound quality, since the drivers are those of the DT150.
Beyer discontinued them sometime in 2005/2006 and second-hand units only appear rarely on Ebay. I could build my own pair since I know what's in them, but with my lacking DIY skills I'd like to leave that to the professionals and buy a complete set instead.
Luckily, a UK-based firm known for its microphones, Clockaudio decided to fill this gap and created the H1000 and AH-3000:
The AH-3000 has active noise-cancelling while the H1000 relies on passive reduction only (which is good enough for me). I wonder though if they still use the Beyer DT150 drivers or their own custom ones ? The phones also are delivered unterminated, which is not a good thing for me (as I lack DIY skills to terminate them myself). I already mailed them and asked whether I could order a 3.5 mm terminated version from factory, but didn't receive a reply since. I will try to mail the distributor here in Belgium and see how that works out.
2. Sennheiser HME 100/110
The Sennheiser HME 100 (blue ones) and 110 (black ones) are actually headsets for use in general aviation aircraft. Sometimes these headsets (or their active noise-cancelling variants like the HMEC 460) are used in competitive gaming series like ESWC, so they seem to have some decent sound quality or otherwise gamers would't use them.. It's possible they are required to wear them because of sponsor deals, but then Sennheiser would have been sure of it's gaming and sound capabilities. I won't be using them for gaming personally, so I want to know if their sound quality is about the same level as my Beyers. Yes, the sound may be a bit muffled as you would expect from this kind of headsets, but not that the sound is like 100 meters further down the road..
3. Plantronics GameCom Commander
Yet another headset which is rather game-oriented, but offers every other quality I'm looking for:
Some people might recognise the design from Formula 1 or loud concerts where staff wear headsets, because this phone is not a Plantronics original. The headset is derived from the Riedel MAX headsets, which are amongst others used by Williams F1 and Force India.
Why I started this topic instead of buying the Plantronics ? Look at all those cables and proprietary connectors ! I like to have just one cable with 1 output (2 if it's a headset), and not all sorts of stuff in between them. I regret that I didn't order my DT770's with a coiled cable instead of a straight one which I have now, I don't want to make the same mistake again.
To round it all up, here's a summary of what I want to ask:
1) What are some good sound-isolating headphones, with more isolation than the standard Beyer DT770 ? The sound quality has to be at least as good as the DT770.
2) What are some good DAC's to drive those headphones ?
3) My budget: I want to spend at most EUR 300 (USD 410 at today's exchange rate) for headphones, and another EUR 175 (USD 240) for a DAC. I still have some room to spend more for the amp if needed.
4) I don't want any IEM suggestions, like I explained above: I like something over my ears and dislike anything in my ear canal.