Hello everyone - I thought I would do a long introduction...sorry if it's too much!
I have been a member of the forum for some time, with a long absence.
After a long time of moving around, new jobs, marriage, the big C twice and a little girl I'm slowly coming back to the world of hifi. Eventually moved my hifi system half way round the world (Australia) where I live now and started using (and upgrading) it this year.
Since I was about 6 (Sony WM-4 Walkman) I've been a big fan of personal music. My parents and other family members didn't really listen to music much (other than in the background) so I used headphones A LOT much to my mother's dismay and warnings of bad hearing later on in life (she was probably right).
My first "serious" pair of headphones (after many a Sony fontopia earphone) was a Luigi Colani Sony item (in ear) which was really the first time I remember thinking "Gee, this really sounds better". A lot of mileage later and some superglue attempts that pair was dead and the next one was (Sony's) MDR-V3 which was then replaced by the same when it too "died". Boys will be boys I guess.
Throughout university (and walking around a lot) I went back to earphones listening to mainly minidisc and then came the iPod with the pathetic white thingys soon replaced by a pair of Sennheiser PX100s.
After that I really got into home audio (and had a home of my own to listen to that audio) so didn't really do headphones until I moved to Australia (without said audio equipment initially). For the move I prepared myself with a pair of Sennheiser HD650 and an iBasso Cobra D10.
Which is where your help is appreciated:
I still have the HD650s. The iBasso I donated to a friend to use with HD598s (as it seemed to really make them sound better while it never really did anything to improve the 650s. I have tried desperately to like to 650s but I've decided that they are not for me. Without even delving into the sound they make (which without a headphone amp sounds bright and glossy to me), I cannot seem to be able to wear them for more than 20 minutes without getting a headache. So I have decided it's time for a new pair of cans and knowing how important amplification is I have also decided to invest in a headphone amp. I have an Audible Illusions L-1 preamp is supposed to have a "good headphone stage" but to be honest I haven't observed that.
I am looking for a pair of headphones that are, first and foremost, comfortable. I want over ear and not on ear. Not sure if closed or open are best but I seem to be leaning towards closed (probably because the Senns are open and I find even a bit of outside noise really distracting). I listen to most genres, mostly jazz, female vocal, classic rock and pop with very little classical. Not all my recordings are audiophile ones.
I would mainly use headphones at night and I would like something with warm and fuzzy sound, valvey type sound that I can fall asleep with. I'm not interested in critical listening, lots of detail or analytical cans as my hifi does that plenty if I want it to with speakers. I would like to put them on, forget they're there and relax as much as possible. If there is a pair that actually hover just over your ears without actually touching it would be perfect (I know there isn't). I listen at low to medium volumes so cans must have enough resolution so that I'm not forced to crank it up too much.
Budget wise I am happy spending in the HD800s / AT-W5000s price range. I am not familiar at all with newer "planar" headphones and firms like Audeze or Hifiman and what the pros/cons are. I will be in London this weekend so plan to track down somewhere to listen to them if possible (any tips from any Londoners as to any shops would be great).
As far as Headphone amps go, the amp doesn't have to be portable (in the walking with an ipod sense) or battery operated but it would be nice if it is smaller than a full size component so that I can take it with me on trips easily. I don't need digital inputs or DAC function as that is covered already so analogue inputs are fine. I only need 1 pair of inputs and don't need an output.
So the search begins. Any (seriously ... any) advice is very appreciated by this newbie who feels really out of his depth!