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Best over-ear headphones (or buds) +amp for opera? Noise reduction, $500 total

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Hi!!

 

I'm an opera singer, so I do a LOT of listening, much of it with headphones on long plane flights.  I'm *not* a big-time audiophile, but I've noticed that with voices (especially big Wagnerian ones!) sound quality makes a huge difference.  I just discovered Pristine Classical, for example, and listening to his remasters I was stunned at the difference between those clean, wonderful transfers and the sound on my current CD recordings... and that's probably just 16-bit FLAC, not 24.

 

caveat: I am not a "serious audiophile" or studio technician, but I have some rudimentary knowledge of physics.  

 

So, I'm a Mac user, usually listening with a 1st-gen Macbook Air. I will be listening pretty often to 16-bit FLAC, 24-bit FLAC, or CDs.

 

I'm looking for over-the-ear headphones in the $100-400 range. (willing to go to $500-ish for combined cost of headphones + DAC/amp) 

 

Noise cancellation is a must for travel.  I'd like to be able to turn the NR off to get better sound quality, when I'm *not* on a plane and I want to do some serious listening.

 

Earbuds are OK, if the quality/value and NR ability is the same (I don't know if that's actually possible, really?)

 

I'm thinking I probably want a (portable!!) amp, given the *wide* dynamic range of most classical recordings-- I'm constantly having to tweak volume right now, to hear the soft things without deafening myself when the loud stuff hits. I'm concerned about high impedance headphones + amp or DAC/amp draining battery life on the Macbook, though.

 

Considering the Apogee One because of its onboard mic and decent price (?) -- but I'll post a thread for microphone recommendations separately, and see how things add up. 

 

I'm reading up about amp choice relating to headphone impedance, so if folks want to pair recommendations that'd be super.

 

Looks aren't an issue (despite being a Mac user, I kind of hate paying a huge "price bump" on something just because it looks cool) and I'll have to try things out for weight/comfort.

 

Thanks for any help you can offer,

 

--Cari


Edited by carimcaskill - 6/15/14 at 12:35am
post #2 of 3

Honestly if you're that concerned with isolation, I'd go with a pair of nice universal IEMs or customs. They isolate well, provide excellent sound-quality, and travel easily.

 

For universals, I recommend the Earsonics SM64 (little more fun) or Etymotics ER4 (little more analytical). Excellent detail and clarity that don't fatigue. Both would certainly benefit from an amp like the Fiio E12, or JDS Labs C5 or since you're mostly listening through your MB (like I do) an amp/DAC like the Dragonfly V1.2 or JDS C5D would seriously benefit as well. The most expensive setup of the gear I mentioned would still come in under $500 if you don't mind going secondhand. Otherwise a new pair of ER4s and a Dragonfly would set you back about $400

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thanks much, will look @IEMs (I prefer them anyway). :)

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