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Recommendaiton for my listener profile

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi all!

 

I'm new to this community and I was hoing to get a few recommendations to steer my thoughts on buying a new pair of headphones. I'll give you a bit of history and facts to give you an idea of my listener profile.

 

Here is a link to my Last.FM profile, so you can have an idea of my musical tastes. I enjoy rock (classic rock, for the most part), electronic music, jazz and classical, mostly, with regular incursions into metal, pop and j.pop. Iconic bands/artists include Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Nine Inch Nails, Miles Davis, Bach, Tom Waits, Massive Attack, Air, Bjork, Opeth, Porcupine Tree, nothing too out of the ordinary.

 

Years ago, I bought a pair of Sennheiser HD570, which I liked quite a lot back then. I don't remember how they sounded exactly, but these were my first pair of quality headphones.

 

I did some home studio recording for a couple of years and bought myself Mackie HR824 studio monitors, which I still have. I still enjoy those a lot, though I rarely sit in front of this computer anymore. Those are my go-to speakers when I want to have a good listening session anyway.

 

In the living room, I use Energy CF-30s, their CC-10 center speaker and their CSW-C8 subwoofer. Pretty decent, for the price. I use that for my home cinema as well as with my turntable. Not the ideal setup, but it'll do for now. I hope to make a listening room someday, in the basement, where I'd really love a vintage sound system, perhaps with 70s Tannoys or Celestion. Long term project.

 

Right now, when I listen to music, it's 80 % of the time at the office, while working, often streaming from my own Shoutcast server. I got a pair of Klipsch Image S4, plugged in my HTC Desire HD (probably going to replace soon). I was satisfied at first, but now, I find it really unconfortable after an hour or so. I'd like to use those only on the bus/airplane.

 

Recently, I had a chance to listen to a pair of Grado S325i. I was really impressed...  they were tested directly from my HTC Desire HD, with no amp. I played a couple of 320 kpbs mp3 files (I tried the APX double-blind test and was never able to differentiate mp3s from FLACs - so I still use MP3).

 

So now, I'm looking to get a new pair of headphones. Good ones. I'd like something confortable, since I'm going to wear this hours everyday. My budget is more or less 300$. Could go a bit higher if it's really worth it. I work in a closed, silent office. I will play mp3 files from a portable phone. I own the HTC Desire HD, but will be looking for a replacement in the coming weeks. I was hoping to get a few suggestions from the Head-Fi community :

 

- Any phone better than the others for music playback?

- Considering my ears won't make any difference between a flac file and a properly ripped mp3, do I need to consider buying a DAC?

- Headphone amplifiers? If this is needed: I'd like to spend most of the budget on the cans. Is there a cheap but efficient solution?

- Models that comes to mind?

- Any good reads to suggest?

 

Thanks, everyone!
 

Rob

post #2 of 9

HTC is apparently one of the better-sounding smartphones, but I cannot speak from experience.

 

You say the SR325i sounds good from this, but there's a chance the cheaper SR80i might too - the phone's output might be the weak link with anything much grander than the SR80i.

 

Another similar one is the Audio-Technica ATH-700 (now the 700X) - try and find a purple ATH-700 if you can though as the newer version doesn't sound so good. These make your bare head feel uncomfortable when you take them off - they're that lovely to wear!

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveHiFi View Post
 

HTC is apparently one of the better-sounding smartphones, but I cannot speak from experience.

 

You say the SR325i sounds good from this, but there's a chance the cheaper SR80i might too - the phone's output might be the weak link with anything much grander than the SR80i.

 

Another similar one is the Audio-Technica ATH-700 (now the 700X) - try and find a purple ATH-700 if you can though as the newer version doesn't sound so good. These make your bare head feel uncomfortable when you take them off - they're that lovely to wear!


Thanks for your reply, Steve.

 

I'm giving a hard look at the Grado. I don't want to spend 100$ and find myself wanting for "more".

 

If I want to use a headphone amplifier + SR325i, or perhaps the PSB M4U that I'm reading about, will I get a significant improvement in sound quality? If so, I'd rather opt for these options.

post #4 of 9

You'll be laughing with the M4U2, they sound amazing. They're a bit big and flashy though, probably good for staying in the office!

 

Have a look at the Fiio E18 'Kunlun', it might act as a DAC and amp which goes with your phone, check here -

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690036/fiio-e18-does-your-smartphone-work-with-it-for-usb-audio-tell-us-about-it-here-and-we-will-award-you-10-internets

 

If you're after the best quality possible, this route might be the way to go.

 

Amps ensure that you're getting 100% from the headphones. There's a chance that any given headphone/phone combo is going to be lacking in power, making the sound thinner and more anaemic. The extremes of the frequency spectrum tend to be the first to suffer in these situations.


Edited by SteveHiFi - 5/9/14 at 9:03am
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveHiFi View Post
 

You'll be laughing with the M4U2, they sound amazing. They're a bit big and flashy though, probably good for staying in the office!

 

Have a look at the Fiio E18 'Kunlun', it might act as a DAC and amp which goes with your phone, check here -

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690036/fiio-e18-does-your-smartphone-work-with-it-for-usb-audio-tell-us-about-it-here-and-we-will-award-you-10-internets

 

If you're after the best quality possible, this route might be the way to go.

 

Amps ensure that you're getting 100% from the headphones. There's a chance that any given headphone/phone combo is going to be lacking in power, making the sound thinner and more anaemic. The extremes of the frequency spectrum tend to be the first to suffer in these situations.

 

Yeah, I was hoping to *not* have to pay all that much for a DAC/AMP.

 

Basically, if I'm looking at the PSB M4U2, and if I'm looking to use a phone as a player, the amp/dac is a must, right? What about the cheapest Fiio E6? Will it do enough of a good job to enjoy the headphones?

 

For my budget, which is 300$ total, would I be better off to stick with entry-level Grados?

 

Sorry, I learned the existence of headphone amps hours ago - still trying to figure out when it's "good to have" or "necessary to have", what's the difference between the models offered, etc.


Edited by quantaloup - 5/9/14 at 10:00am
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

After some reading, I'm leaning towards the PSB - M4U1 with the Fiio E11.

 

Any thoughts?

post #7 of 9

I've not tried the M4U1 but if it's anything like the 2 version (with noise cancelling off) then you'll be happy.

 

The E11 is a great little amp as well, with a bass boost it's easy to flick on - however, if your phone doesn't have a line-out socket this may degrade the signal a bit.

 

It looks like the Desire has only the headphone socket, so you're going through the phone's amp as well as the external amp. The line out socket would avoid the phone's amp.

 

If you listen to lossy files (128kbps and the like) then I don't think this is going to be much of an issue. If you want it as good as possible, consider getting a dedicated music player like Fiio's X3 and the M4U1. Or get a cheaper Fiio E5 or E6 for now and get the player later :o

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Batmilk View Post
 

I've not tried the M4U1 but if it's anything like the 2 version (with noise cancelling off) then you'll be happy.

 

The E11 is a great little amp as well, with a bass boost it's easy to flick on - however, if your phone doesn't have a line-out socket this may degrade the signal a bit.

 

It looks like the Desire has only the headphone socket, so you're going through the phone's amp as well as the external amp. The line out socket would avoid the phone's amp.

 

If you listen to lossy files (128kbps and the like) then I don't think this is going to be much of an issue. If you want it as good as possible, consider getting a dedicated music player like Fiio's X3 and the M4U1. Or get a cheaper Fiio E5 or E6 for now and get the player later :o

 

Hey! Thanks for your reply!

 

Do you know of any phone currently on the market with a line out? I'll do some research. I was thinking of getting their X3, maybe later... I could start with the E6, I guess. Though thinking about it as I type, I often stream music from the office PC from my shoutcast server... I'd use it with that PC quite often, too.

 

I do listen to lossy file (though 128 kbps is out of the question, come on - V0 or 320). I really can't pass Foobar's APX blind test and can't tell the difference between a 320 kpbs and a FLAC, even after trying with quite a few tracks on my HR824, so why bother...

 

Any other suggestions, considering the type of music I listen to?

 

Still leaning towards those PSB M4U1.

post #9 of 9

I don't know phones very well, I had a Nokia 6310 until last year! Maybe check to see what line out cables are available, and work backwards to the phones.

 

I didn't mean any insult by mentioning 128kbps (I guess it's tantamount to trolling here!), but I have some old files at this rate or 192. Better quality equipment is less forgiving, that's all! Perhaps you'll notice a few differences between flac and mp3 with an upgrade, but personally I think any difference is not worth the bother of ripping again if you already have 320 mp3s.

 

As for recommendations, try the SoundMAGIC HP100 which is cheaper than the M4U1 -

 

http://www.head-fi.org/products/soundmagic-hp100-premium-over-the-ear-folding-headphones-black

 

Or the open model they do -

 

http://www.head-fi.org/products/soundmagic-hp100-premium-over-the-ear-folding-headphones-black

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