I finally got my "listening station" setup, and wanted to do a side-by-side comparison of my various headphones. I figured that since I went though all this, I would post my findings.
Me: 46 year old audiophile-wannabe. Why post my age? Because of the high-end falloff. I did a self-test of my hearing, and I think I'm still in the 16K range.
My setup. iMac running iTunes for Apple Lossless playback, and Songbird for 24/96 and 24/192 FLAC playback. FLAC files purchased on-line.
The iMac is connected via optical out to my Cambridge DAC 100. The DAC is analog-out to my new Woo Audio WA2.
Short version iMac/digital --> DAC 100 --> Woo Audio WA2
For this test, I did snippets of several songs, including:
Police: Walking On the Moon
Fleetwood Mac: The Chain (24/96 FLAC)
NIN: Down In It
Adele: Someone Like You
Skinny Puppy: Pro-Test
...and a handful of others...
Overall, the tests took about 90 minutes. Here's my notes/opinions on my various headphones with this setup, starting with the smallest/cheapest.
Polk 3000: Purchased these for working out in. The more you sweat, the better they stay on, and they have a great selection of ear-pieces. Not much to say about the performance, they're good, not sure if I'd say they're worth the cost to me.
Etymotic HF2: My choice for air travel. Good isolation, excellent sound. I was very impressed with how well these worked with the WA2. Easy to drive.
Koss Porta-Pro: My "i don't care how I treat them" headphones. For the price, and the size of the drivers, I really like these. They're small, they fold up, they're comfortable, and they really sound good. Surprisingly good low end for the size/cost. Of course, they don't compare to full-size, but they're great for wearing while working in the garage.
Grado SR60: My first set of "real" headphones. These are 10+ years old, I'm on my 3rd or 4th set of pads. Love them with my portable setup (ipod, etc.) but really did NOT like them on the Woo. They sounded so bright, almost tinny, like the bass was missing, or it was EQ'd like crazy at the top. Not a fan of that setup. Just to make sure they were still working OK, I put them back on my E17, and ahhhhhh, there's the sound I like. Not sure why they don't like the Woo.
Polk 8000: My "shut up, I'm working" headphones. They don't have the isolation of Bose, but I don't like Bose, ever have, never will. To me, the Polk 8000's are like the Beats headphones, they are easy to drive, and have a great low end. Great bass headphones, and the noise cancellation is a bonus. Sounded amazing on the Woo.
Sennheiser HD650. My "lie back in the leather chair and relax" headphones. The more I use them, the more I like them, so I was anxious to use them on the Woo, since this is my new home setup. Luckily I was not disappointed in the least. Listening to the break in Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" where the bass comes in... ahhhhhh, so wonderful. In my mind, the Hd650's should be welded into the jack on the WA2. I sampled a dozen or so songs and loved the detail. You really can hear the limits of the recording equipment on the early Beatles recordings. But I digress. I love the HD650/Woo Audio WA2 combo. Really makes me yearn for a set of HD800's.
So that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. If anyone would like more detail, please ask, I'd be more than happy to share.
Thanks for reading. And thanks for all the help in the last couple of years I've been reading head-hi.org.