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Which Headphones For Everyday Use?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,

 

I'm looking to see which headphones are best to use for everyday listening of lots of different genres of music. A little first about my setup and what I currently use.

 

I do probably 80% of my listening on my computer and the other 20% on my smartphone. On my PC I have a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface as I also make music on my computer. This outputs to a pair of M-Audio AV30 speakers but I primarily use my Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones to act as monitors for when I'm making music. When I just want to listen to music as normal through iTunes etc then I have a pair of Philips Fidelio X1 headphones. As for my smartphone, I am using a pair of Sony MDR-10RBT bluetooth headphones with a Sony Xperia Z2 phone.

 

Anyway, the reason I'm asking is because I can't decide which of the two headphones to use when listening to music on my computer. I play a game called Audiosurf 2 a lot and so I probably play this for about 3-4 hours a day listening to various albums. I have a very wide range of music I like listening to and so rather than having a pair of headphones that are best for any one particular genre, I'd prefer something that can handle anything I throw at it. Today I was listening to Sunn O)))'s album Flight of The Behemoth which is very bass-heavy and distorted and while the Philips headphones had a lower bass sound, they sounded more sludgy and muddy which I assume is because they are a warmer headphone and open-backed. Whereas the Audio Technica headphones didn't sound as bass-heavy (something that Sunn O))) are known for) but they did provide a lot more detail and texture.

 

As for when I am making music and listening to a playback or mixing it, then I still notice the AT's tend to have more detail and texture but less bass and warmth whereas the Philips' are much warmer but I don't know if they replicate the sound you might get from a hi-fi very well. 

 

I should also mention that the music files tend to be MP3's of 320kbps quality and I know this isn't the most high-fidelity sound (probably WAV or FLAC for this) but due to restrictions of space on my hard drive, I have to use MP3's as I have literally hundreds of albums that I am listening to.

 

Should I stick with the Audio Technica's purely for monitoring and making music and then just use the Philips for music playback or perhaps use the AT's for both or is there one fantastic pair of headphones out there that will do everything?

 

Thanks for any info.

post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by AfxTwn View Post
 

Hi everyone,

 

I'm looking to see which headphones are best to use for everyday listening of lots of different genres of music. A little first about my setup and what I currently use.

 

I do probably 80% of my listening on my computer and the other 20% on my smartphone. On my PC I have a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface as I also make music on my computer. This outputs to a pair of M-Audio AV30 speakers but I primarily use my Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones to act as monitors for when I'm making music. When I just want to listen to music as normal through iTunes etc then I have a pair of Philips Fidelio X1 headphones. As for my smartphone, I am using a pair of Sony MDR-10RBT bluetooth headphones with a Sony Xperia Z2 phone.

 

Anyway, the reason I'm asking is because I can't decide which of the two headphones to use when listening to music on my computer. I play a game called Audiosurf 2 a lot and so I probably play this for about 3-4 hours a day listening to various albums. I have a very wide range of music I like listening to and so rather than having a pair of headphones that are best for any one particular genre, I'd prefer something that can handle anything I throw at it. Today I was listening to Sunn O)))'s album Flight of The Behemoth which is very bass-heavy and distorted and while the Philips headphones had a lower bass sound, they sounded more sludgy and muddy which I assume is because they are a warmer headphone and open-backed. Whereas the Audio Technica headphones didn't sound as bass-heavy (something that Sunn O))) are known for) but they did provide a lot more detail and texture.

 

As for when I am making music and listening to a playback or mixing it, then I still notice the AT's tend to have more detail and texture but less bass and warmth whereas the Philips' are much warmer but I don't know if they replicate the sound you might get from a hi-fi very well. 

 

I should also mention that the music files tend to be MP3's of 320kbps quality and I know this isn't the most high-fidelity sound (probably WAV or FLAC for this) but due to restrictions of space on my hard drive, I have to use MP3's as I have literally hundreds of albums that I am listening to.

 

Should I stick with the Audio Technica's purely for monitoring and making music and then just use the Philips for music playback or perhaps use the AT's for both or is there one fantastic pair of headphones out there that will do everything?

 

Thanks for any info.

 

Use both for studio work, with an emphasis on the M50's analytical qualities. The X1 should be merely a second perspective of how it might sound to the average listener.

 

As for casual listening, only you can decide what your preferences are. Typically, different genres sound best with different sound signatures.

 

There is an endless array of all-rounder headphones which sound good with many or all genres, but I would need to know more about your circumstances to assist you.

 

Are you planning on buying new headphones in the immediate future? If not, you'll have to compromise with what you have. If so, what is your budget?

 

Do you want an accurate, neutral, balanced headphone, or something more fun and colored?

 

I do find it a little odd that you record your own music, yet haven't gotten at least one external hard drive. Backing up your data is well worth the trouble.

 

I'm sure you already know this: never, ever use lossy file formats to record, mix, and master audio. Hopefully, it's just songs by other artists that are in MP3. If you want to get serious, you'll eventually want to at least rip your CDs to lossless to have a flawless backup that can be converted to any other format.

 

Sweet. I have two-disc limited editions of Sunn O)))'s Black One and Altar albums.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks very much for the detailed reply. I'm not looking to buy any headphones just yet, maybe in a couple of months or so and I'd probably have a budget of about £200-250 (I'm in the UK). I did have a pair of AKG K550's but I found them to be too harsh with high frequencies for my liking and so I bought the Philips X1's and really like their warm sound but this comes at somewhat of a cost of a lack of detail and neutrality.

 

As for the external hard drive thing, sorry what I meant was that I have one hard drive for all my MP3's (songs by other artists as you mentioned) and one for my own music and again another for games and computer programs etc. All my hard drive's are internal except one external one on which the MP3's are stored. I have tried ripping my CD's to Apple lossless but the game Audiosurf 2 I mentioned won't play these files properly. I know that I could just play the music on my computer through iTunes but I like playing the game as it gives me something to do while listening to music and weirdly helps me concentrate more on the music and different sounds. If I try reading something and have the music on in the background then I tend to zone-out of the music and just get absorbed in whatever I'm reading. Alternatively if I don't do anything and just listen to the music then my mind starts to wander and so I find the game helps me focus. Yes I am a freak lol.

 

As for Sunn O))), I'm in the process of acquiring all their albums and so far only have the Flight of The Behemoth's one and White One but I'll get the others in due course. I have a very eclectic taste which can be heavier, industrial stuff or metal or hip hop or electronic or folk or classical etc etc. Too many albums to mention but it's my one real passion. I would get a decent hi-fi system but as I live in an apartment I have neighbors to contend with and I'm one of the very few considerate people that doesn't want to disturb their neighbors with music and so I always put headphones on.

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by AfxTwn View Post
 

Thanks very much for the detailed reply. I'm not looking to buy any headphones just yet, maybe in a couple of months or so and I'd probably have a budget of about £200-250 (I'm in the UK). I did have a pair of AKG K550's but I found them to be too harsh with high frequencies for my liking and so I bought the Philips X1's and really like their warm sound but this comes at somewhat of a cost of a lack of detail and neutrality.

 

As for the external hard drive thing, sorry what I meant was that I have one hard drive for all my MP3's (songs by other artists as you mentioned) and one for my own music and again another for games and computer programs etc. All my hard drive's are internal except one external one on which the MP3's are stored. I have tried ripping my CD's to Apple lossless but the game Audiosurf 2 I mentioned won't play these files properly. I know that I could just play the music on my computer through iTunes but I like playing the game as it gives me something to do while listening to music and weirdly helps me concentrate more on the music and different sounds. If I try reading something and have the music on in the background then I tend to zone-out of the music and just get absorbed in whatever I'm reading. Alternatively if I don't do anything and just listen to the music then my mind starts to wander and so I find the game helps me focus. Yes I am a freak lol.

 

As for Sunn O))), I'm in the process of acquiring all their albums and so far only have the Flight of The Behemoth's one and White One but I'll get the others in due course. I have a very eclectic taste which can be heavier, industrial stuff or metal or hip hop or electronic or folk or classical etc etc. Too many albums to mention but it's my one real passion. I would get a decent hi-fi system but as I live in an apartment I have neighbors to contend with and I'm one of the very few considerate people that doesn't want to disturb their neighbors with music and so I always put headphones on.

 

Okay, so your budget is in the $400 range.


When you are ready to upgrade, check out reviews for the following models, to get a better idea of what you're looking for.


Focal Spirit Professional
HiFiMAN HE-400
MrSpeakers Mad Dog
Sennheiser HD 600/650
V-MODA Crossfade M-100

 

(Those are just a few off the top of my head.)


You should also consider eventually investing in an amplifier and a DAC. (We can discuss that when the time comes.)


I strongly recommend dBpoweramp for ripping CDs and converting files.


Do you know what audio formats the software supports?

 

Music is my true passion as well, and I love nearly all of it. Check out my profile for a genre list.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the headphone recommendations, I'll have a look through some reviews. I have thought about a DAC but I thought perhaps my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 would do the same thing and be just as good? At the moment I get my music from Microsoft Zune/Xbox Music subscription but this is in WMA DRM format and so I am forced to use some software called Soundtaxi in order to convert the files to DRM-free WMA files for the purpose of being able to play them in the Audiosurf 2 game (this is a game on the Steam platform). Audiosurf 2 is still in beta stage so is a little buggy. It is supposed to be able to play Apple lossless files but I found it to cause the game to crash. It seems more stable with MP3's. After converting all my music to ALAC files and having the game crash/freeze, I then spent an age converting them all back to MP3's so I don't really want to have to go through all that again.

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by AfxTwn View Post
 

Thanks for the headphone recommendations, I'll have a look through some reviews. I have thought about a DAC but I thought perhaps my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 would do the same thing and be just as good? At the moment I get my music from Microsoft Zune/Xbox Music subscription but this is in WMA DRM format and so I am forced to use some software called Soundtaxi in order to convert the files to DRM-free WMA files for the purpose of being able to play them in the Audiosurf 2 game (this is a game on the Steam platform). Audiosurf 2 is still in beta stage so is a little buggy. It is supposed to be able to play Apple lossless files but I found it to cause the game to crash. It seems more stable with MP3's. After converting all my music to ALAC files and having the game crash/freeze, I then spent an age converting them all back to MP3's so I don't really want to have to go through all that again.

 

DACs range from $20 all the way up to $200,000. What you have could be just as good as some of the cheaper ones, but if you want a high fidelity experience, you will eventually need to upgrade your entire system. It all depends on how far you want to go.

 

I only buy CDs and occasional downloads (lossless if available)...I guess if it's just for casual use with that game, you don't need the highest quality stuff.

 

When you converted your music to ALAC, what did you convert it from? You can only convert lossless formats to other lossless formats without losing quality.

 

You can't convert a lossy file (like MP3, WMA or AAC) to another lossy format without damaging the audio quality. Only convert from lossless, if you can help it.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

I think I'll be fine with the MP3's downloads and rip CD's into a lossless format. The music that I convert are WMA files from Xbox Music, I have a monthly subscription which allows me to download as much music as I want. The WMA files I download are 256kbps so I suppose converting them to 320kbps MP3's isn't doing much good. I convert them to MP3's so they're compatible with the game.

 

I know the better option would be to buy lossless downloads or at least 320kbps MP3's but I usually just buy the CD if it's a band or music I really like. As I get so much music from my Xbox Music subscription, I could never afford to buy the same amount as CD's or MP3's. It's a trade off between getting all the music I want for a very good price but having it in a lower quality.

 

Plus I am fast running out of room for all my CD's lol. I have about 700 or so albums and my bookshelves are buckling under the pressure, I'd love to get more but don't know where to put them.

 

Music is far too addictive!

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by AfxTwn View Post
 

I think I'll be fine with the MP3's downloads and rip CD's into a lossless format. The music that I convert are WMA files from Xbox Music, I have a monthly subscription which allows me to download as much music as I want. The WMA files I download are 256kbps so I suppose converting them to 320kbps MP3's isn't doing much good. I convert them to MP3's so they're compatible with the game.

 

I know the better option would be to buy lossless downloads or at least 320kbps MP3's but I usually just buy the CD if it's a band or music I really like. As I get so much music from my Xbox Music subscription, I could never afford to buy the same amount as CD's or MP3's. It's a trade off between getting all the music I want for a very good price but having it in a lower quality.

 

Plus I am fast running out of room for all my CD's lol. I have about 700 or so albums and my bookshelves are buckling under the pressure, I'd love to get more but don't know where to put them.

 

Music is far too addictive!

 

Yeah, I spent $20-30K on my music collection (mostly CDs) and kind of regret it...

 

Converting lossy to lossy will always damage the sound quality, though you may not notice it as much as you would on a high-end system.

 

By the way, you may have noticed the notice in my signature instructing people to properly quote/tag me in their replies. The only reason I even saw yours was because I went to my profile and noticed this thread was updated. I post a lot around here, but don't receive email notifications when people don't quote me.

 

Also, Boards Of Canada is my favorite electronica band! (I'm telling you this because of the Aphex Twin reference in your username.)


Edited by Music Alchemist - 7/27/14 at 8:52pm
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