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Recommendations for an entry-level newborn!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I currently have an Astro A40 Original/2011 Edition (I know, I know, they're horrible. I was braindead when I bought them) hooked up to my laptop via a 3.5mm cord. Simple and quite functional. But I'm looking to move away from these clunky headphones to something that's, quite frankly, lighter on my head. Which is why I've come up with the following combination:

Grado SR60i + Audioquest Dragonfly 1.2

The Grado is a stylish headphone, light on the head, and with seemingly good characteristics for such a cheap headphone. It's got some flaws but quite frankly, I probably won't mind them except the cups. I'm thinking about buying the Grado L Cushion Cups since I've read many people do that. The Audioquest Dragonfly has more or less only had good reviews and since I don't want something that's easily compatible with a laptop/desktop and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg, it seems like a good choice.

Do you experts have any other recommendations or should I stick with this? : )
post #2 of 15
What kind of music do you listen to? Grados are great for all kinds of rock.

The Dragonfly seems like an excellent choice. Although my suggestion would be to consider the version 1 instead off Amazon instead so that you have more money to put towards your headphone budget, depending on your musical tastes though.

L-Cush pads are not just about comfort with Grados. They will also open up the detail just a touch.
post #3 of 15

I can't recommend Grado headphones just because of how uncomfortable I find them. Unless you're willing to mod them by attaching some cushions to the headband and maybe swapping out the pads if they bother you, I don't recommend them. Even despite the comfort issues, not really the best headphones for the entry-level, IMO. You don't need an external DAC unless the onboard DAC on your motherboard is ridiculously awful and generates interference/noise. If it was made in the last few years, you probably shouldn't worry about it.

 

As far as open headphones go, AKG K240 and Audio Technica ATH-AD700x aren't bad choices, but for the budding audiophile, I think Creative Aurvana Live! and Sony MDR-V6s are good, too, albeit closed.

 

I don't necessarily recommend against Grados if you find them reasonably comfortable, but if you don't, try modding them if you don't mind doing that - particularly if you want to mess with the enclosures.


Edited by Dragonzeanse - 4/19/14 at 10:17pm
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you both for taking your time helping me. I usually listen to rock, metal, electronica and classical. Some other genres every now and then, but those are the primary ones. I've decided on the Dragonfly more or less no mater what, specifically V1.2 as the first version suffers from a lot of problems and the first version is more expensive. My on-board sound card isn't much to brag about and I've always wanted to try some form of DAC/AMP and with them combined into one small package, how can I say no to that?

I've heard good things about the Sony MDR-V6's but they're not readily available in my country (Sweden) and so I'm afraid they might end up costing more than what they're worth (it'll set me back about 110 US Dollars, roughly converted). At that point, I'd just get a DT770 Pro.

Since I've never tried a Grado before I'm quite interested in them. The only other headphone I've looked at extensively is a pair of DT770 Pro's which doesn't cost much more. Only 20-30 Dollars more (again, roughly converted). At that point, would it be better to get the DT770 Pro's instead? Do they offer a substantially better sound than the Grado's?
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Alright, change of plans. I've narrowed down my selection to two: The Onkyo ES-FC300 and the AKG K550. Both look very well, sound very well and have a lot of favorable reviews. Now, I'm wondering, which one is the better choice, price not accounted for?
Edited by alabrand - 4/20/14 at 9:01am
post #6 of 15
The Grados can be a love 'em or hate 'em kind of headphone, and they really are most popular for rock--not so much an all arounder. I'd go with one of the others.

Innerfidelity has reviews of all the others--by the same reviewer--so that could help to understand differences between them:
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/delightful-onkyo-es-fc300-and-es-hf300
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/audio-technica-ath-m50
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/solid-sony-mdr-1r-mdr-1rbt-and-mdr-1nc
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/wonderfully-competent-akg-k550-sealed-headphone
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hmm... Seems like the K550 is not for me then, as I have a rather small head and my ears aren't the biggest around. That basically narrows it even further down to the FC300 and the MDR-1R. They're pretty much the same price so which one should I get?
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by alabrand View Post

Alright, change of plans. I've narrowed down my selection to two: The Onkyo ES-FC300 and the AKG K550. Both look very well, sound very well and have a lot of favorable reviews. Now, I'm wondering, which one is the better choice, price not accounted for?


Decided to go closed? That I can work with.

 

Between the two, there is no "better choice," given the minimalist criteria you've shared. If you're still after something lightweight, the Onkyo ES-FC300s are much lighter than the AKG K550s. I'd say the Onkyos are pretty warm-to-neutral sounding, and have slightly better isolation (-2dB difference). I can't speak from experience, but since the AKG K550s have larger drivers, they probably have a wider soundstage. I'd say treble is a little bit better on the ES-FC300s, but that's up to personal choice. Don't worry about the FC300s being an on-ear, by the way; the pads are big enough to accommodate your entire ear if you have medium-ish sized ears. My opinion is kind of slanted since I've bought FC300s and not K550s. Either is a good option.

 

EDIT: If you're looking at the Sony MDR-1Rs, I'd say they're more treble-friendly than the other two aforementioned headphones. FC300s are a little bit cheaper and they have the same driver size. The treble will sound better in things like rock and metal, i.e. something with a lot of cymbals, and other instruments that bring out the highs. FC300s would probably sound better for a wider range of genres because they sound more neutral. I haven't listened to the MDR-1Rs, but I don't really see any problem with them.


Edited by Dragonzeanse - 4/20/14 at 9:42am
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Nice with another input, much appreciated! But as you can see above I think I'll rule out the K550 due to my small head and not so large ears. I'm afraid the sound will suffer due to incorrect positioning. So at any rate, it stands between the FC300 and the MDR-1R. From what I have read they basically trade blows with each other and I can't go wrong with either one so I'll most likely go with the Onkyo as I much prefer it's looks over the Sony.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by alabrand View Post

Nice with another input, much appreciated! But as you can see above I think I'll rule out the K550 due to my small head and not so large ears. I'm afraid the sound will suffer due to incorrect positioning. So at any rate, it stands between the FC300 and the MDR-1R. From what I have read they basically trade blows with each other and I can't go wrong with either one so I'll most likely go with the Onkyo as I much prefer it's looks over the Sony.


I edited my post since you said that. The choice between the two headphones comes down to what music you listen to more than anything. I can recommend the ES-FC300s, though, but if you want a cable you can replace later on like on the MDR-1Rs, then buy from Sony. Onkyo sells extra cables but they're very expensive compared to 3.5mm options I've seen. They use MMCX connectors, a format less common in headphones than 3.5mm. You can still remove the cable, though.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Considering my Astro A40's are still in great condition after heavy usage and slight dropping to the floor, I'm not that afraid of accidentally breaking the cable and having to purchase a new one.

Thanks for all the help guys! I've settled for the FC300. smily_headphones1.gif
post #12 of 15

No problem, hope you enjoy them!

post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by alabrand View Post

Hmm... Seems like the K550 is not for me then, as I have a rather small head and my ears aren't the biggest around. That basically narrows it even further down to the FC300 and the MDR-1R. They're pretty much the same price so which one should I get?

 

I have not had a chance to try the MDR-1R, but the Onkyo FC 300s are excellent and compare well to phones beyond their price. Oops. I am late. I think you will enjoy the FC300s. Make sure you download the Onkyo equalizer, too.

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've found out more about DACS/AMPS and am curious as to which one I really should get as opposed to the Dragonfly V1.2. I know it has favorable reviews but if I can get something better for some more money or even less, then I'm all ears. The Schiit Magni+Modi combo seems really good because it's more or less at the same price as the Dragonfly, with shipping included.
Edited by alabrand - 4/21/14 at 12:06am
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Coinciding with me wanting to purchase a mobile playback device I've decided to go for a B&W P7 and a portable AMP/DAC that can also be used at home with the computer. Thanks for all the help guys!
Edited by alabrand - 4/21/14 at 8:58am
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