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Looking for Headphones (and DAC?), $900 Budget... Go Crazy Folks!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I am in the market to get a set of nice, comfortable headphones, and probably a DAC to go with it.  I have owned several pairs of headphones over the years, mostly sub-$100 Sennheisers.  I'm not married to that brand, they just happened to be the ones I picked at the time.  I have also ordered a couple of sets from Amazon in the $100-$200 range that I have had to return because they just weren't comfortable.  The issue is that I have a rather large noggin, and either my ears get pinned down and start to ache, or the clamping force on my skull/neck around my ears gives me a headache after a few minutes.  


I have a pair of UE TripleFi 10's that I am quite fond of, and are nice for on the go (especially after that noisy-ass stock cable fell apart), but I want something that I can listen to at my desk at work, or at my desk at home.  They don't have to be portable, since I have the UEs, but it'd be nice if they were sturdy enough for me to carry home on the bus for weekend use (probably wouldn't transport them every day).  


I'm not sure whether I want open or closed.  Ideally, I'd want open, since I hear they give superior sound stage, and I already get a very closed sound with my UEs.  I do sit near other people at work, so I am concerned about driving other people crazy with any noise bleed through.  I don't typically listen all that loud, but I am sensitive to annoying environmental noise, like other people's loud-ass earphones, so I don't want to be that guy to other people when I get super annoyed with that guy myself.  


So, comfort is key, but obviously I don't want to drop nearly a grand on a set of headphones and DAC that sound like tin cans just because they are comfortable.  I listen to  music from acoustic, folky, bluegrassy stuff to electronic, ambient, sort of poppy stuff.  I like stuff with a lot of dynamic range and rhythms, but not stuff with over-powering bass (no dubstep, Daft Punk is too pounding for me, etc).  Some of the stuff I have been listening to a lot lately is Punch Brothers (anything by Chris Thile), Radical Face, The Civil Wars, The Head and the Heart, The Goat Rodeo Sessions (the more acoustic end) to Dawn of Midi, Electric President, The Shins, Cloud Cult, Vampire Weekend, Explosions in the Sky, etc.


So, nothing too fast, nothing with a lot of distortion.  I do love rhythms and the bass (as an instrument), so the low end is important, but like I said, I am susceptible to being over-powered by bass (I think my ears are especially sensitive to pressure changes, which tons of bass causes).  


So, go hog wild with recommendations.  I'm open to anything up to $900, but that is a pretty hard upper limit.  If I can get great sound and comfort for less, I'm open to that as well.


edit:  I should probably add a note about the DAC or amp situation.  I have tried using my UEs directly connected to my computer's tower at work and the output was atrocious (I usually use my cellphone to listen to music at work, considering). It is a Dell tower with probably the lowest end sound card possible.  I have a MBP at home that I would probably use mainly for these things.  I'm not sure what the best setup would be (DAC only, AMP only, both, neither, other, additional superfluous list item).

Edited by realityinabox - 2/22/14 at 6:47am
post #2 of 11

I'd recommend the Sennheiser HD650. It's a warm sounding, accurate set of cans. They'll run you about $500 new. I'm not sure if you mentioned needing a portable DAC. If you want an easy, clean desktop DAC, a cheap option would be the Schiit Modi. These headphones are 300 ohms, so you'll be wanting an amp as well. Luckily, the Schiit Magni is made to pair with the Modi. They cost $99 each. So right now you're looking at about $700 for a very capable setup. That leaves a bit of room for aftermarket cables or possibly a better amp, or just $200 in your pocket. 

post #3 of 11

hifiman he-500. Very genre-friendly headphone. It's also probably the best value in near-high end headphones. A good amount of people even prefer it to the Audeze phones and hifiman's own flagship, the he-6. Also, once you go orthodynamic, you'll never go back! They have this special sound that's so smooth and effortless.


This should a good read:


post #4 of 11

Open model: HD600

Closed model: DT770

Interesting compromise to consider: ZMF T50RP



Amp / DAC: O2 + ODAC (with the more powerful plug if you buy higher impedance models such as HD6x0)


No Hifimans or Audeze as they're all too heavy.

post #5 of 11

Get the HD600 $400 (might be able to find this even cheaper)

DAC:  Schiit Modi $99

Amp:  Schiit Asgard 2 $250


Congrats, you now have to $150 to spend on booze (kidding of course).  Also you can buy some nice RCA cables on www.monoprice.com for 5 bucks.

post #6 of 11

Sennheiser HD600s are currently $300 new at Magnolia 

post #7 of 11
Originally Posted by NotaLefty View Post

Sennheiser HD600s are currently $300 new at Magnolia 
You sure about that? I thought i saw them for $400. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/over-the-ear-stereo-headphones/9265109.p?id=1218071606593&skuId=9265109&st=hd%20600&cp=1&lp=3
Edited by Byrnie - 2/23/14 at 6:11am
post #8 of 11
Yup. I was there yesterday.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Could I get a recommendation for some closed headphones?  As I said in the OP, I'm worried that open ones will drive my co-workers mad.


Are the Mr. Speakers Alpha Dogs that much better than the Mad Dogs?

post #10 of 11
There the alpha dogs and the beyer t70p. I don't know how either of them sounds like, unfortunately
post #11 of 11
Originally Posted by b0000 View Post

There the alpha dogs and the beyer t70p. I don't know how either of them sounds like, unfortunately

I hear the T70 and T70p sound boring and that they don't sound particularly good for any genre (not to say they sound bad at all).  I really want to hear these bad boys myself but haven't had the chance yet and given they're price point I don't want to take a chance on them either.

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