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New to high quality audio.

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

So recently I spent time with a friend that had some crazy record playing business that had the best audio quality I've ever heard on anything in my life. Call me a born again virgin. Now I'm interested in getting into the scene myself because I love music and know there's a better way. I don't have the money for any top of the line business or for an actual speaker setup, so I figured I'd look into headphones.

 

Personally I'm a fan of closed-back, over-ear headphones. I have about $200-250 to work with, but I know essentially nothing about audio other than I like it. Looking around so far I've seen a few more basic models mentioned frequently--the ATH M50X and the Bayerdynamic DT770 Pro. I presently listen to mostly crappy quality (pandora), but am looking into getting a separate hard drive for flac files specifically.

 

I listen to rock, downtempo, classical, and sort of anything else other than country so long as it's "good." What I'm wondering is whether I should get something that requires an amp (no research completed yet), or if something independent would work best. My plan is to mainly use it with my computer (onboard sound presently, but that can change easily), but also to be able to use with my phone or godawful work computer. My inner nerd wants the best of the best, but being rational I'm thinking of getting something on the lower high quality side (so I won't have to upgrade) to break me into the business. Would the models mentioned be good for that? If so, which is better for my needs? If not, what would work better?

 

Let me know if any extra info will help. Thanks!

post #2 of 19

The DT 770 is far to big to use as a portable or even when on the go.

 

What sound signature do you prefer?  From the cans you mentioned, it appears to be a "V" shaped on with enhanced bass & treble, but with recessed mids. 

 

Check out the buying guide:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/a/headphone-buying-guide

 

Although it was more insturctive before the efficiency (need for an amp) ratings were removed for more cans--including those in your price range, it is still helpful.

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response, that link was very helpful. The only thing I'm unsure of is what sound signature I'm looking for. The music I listen to can sometimes be very bass-centric, but it's in an articulate way (think Primus or Pink Floyd), so I want to be able to hear that clearly and feel it too... but I don't want, say, hip-hop levels of bass. V-shaped sounds like it would be right, but I don't know enough about audio to be sure. I'm thinking mid-range is somewhat important for the average things I listen to. My goal is to have the music sound natural/as intended, but I also understand that every band has different intentions about this.

 

Considerations:

Location: Home, work, and vacations. Portable in the sense that I can take them with me, not in the folding up way (although that's not a problem).

Budget: $300. Can hit $350 with sufficient reason, but would prefer not to.

Music: Mostly varying levels of rock (Primus, Pink Floyd), as well as downtempo music (Lovage, FC/Kahuna).

Sound Signature: Unsure.

Type: Over Ear. Closed back.

 

I'm still researching but so far some model's I've encountered that interest me are the KEF M500 (Sounded perfect until I found out it's on-ear rather than over-ear... deal breaker), and the Sennheiser Momentum. So much research to be done... I appreciate the help though!

post #4 of 19

hi there,

 

i would recommend NAD VISO HP50 or the V-Moda Crossfade M-100.. they both sound great and fits your requirements and budget..

 

good luck!

post #5 of 19

I second the NAD VISO HP50.

post #6 of 19

Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro. Its price is just shy of your budget. If you're listening out of your computer, it should be enough to drive them. Although, I think you might want a dedicated amp later down the line. The Objective2 amplifier is about the cheapest I can recommend for something like that.

post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonzeanse View Post
 

Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro. Its price is just shy of your budget. If you're listening out of your computer, it should be enough to drive them. Although, I think you might want a dedicated amp later down the line. The Objective2 amplifier is about the cheapest I can recommend for something like that.


I would not recommend a 250 Ohm can without an amp or sound card with a built in amp.

 

I would be helpful to know what will be feeding and driving these cans.  Also you have mentioned only closed cans.  Is that what you want?  The DT 880 is semi-open.

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamza View Post
 

So recently I spent time with a friend that had some crazy record playing business that had the best audio quality I've ever heard on anything in my life. Call me a born again virgin. Now I'm interested in getting into the scene myself because I love music and know there's a better way. I don't have the money for any top of the line business or for an actual speaker setup, so I figured I'd look into headphones.

 

Personally I'm a fan of closed-back, over-ear headphones. I have about $200-250 to work with, but I know essentially nothing about audio other than I like it. Looking around so far I've seen a few more basic models mentioned frequently--the ATH M50X and the Bayerdynamic DT770 Pro. I presently listen to mostly crappy quality (pandora), but am looking into getting a separate hard drive for flac files specifically.

 

I listen to rock, downtempo, classical, and sort of anything else other than country so long as it's "good." What I'm wondering is whether I should get something that requires an amp (no research completed yet), or if something independent would work best. My plan is to mainly use it with my computer (onboard sound presently, but that can change easily), but also to be able to use with my phone or godawful work computer. My inner nerd wants the best of the best, but being rational I'm thinking of getting something on the lower high quality side (so I won't have to upgrade) to break me into the business. Would the models mentioned be good for that? If so, which is better for my needs? If not, what would work better?

 

Let me know if any extra info will help. Thanks!

 

1. Headphone efficiency. You can get a headphone that's relatively easy to drive, that way you can make do with a simple and relatively inexpensive portable DAC-HPamp, like Ibasso's D-Zero ($100) and D42 Mamba ($200), or sometimes just with your phone (which phone does well depends, of course, but variances are not as wide nowadays as they all tend to use DAC+HPamp chips with hardly any difference in output power and distortion levels.

 

2. Easily transportable. You can then leave a cable plugged into a USB port in the back of your computer at home and at work, transporting both headphone and portable DAC-HPamp (and perhaps the portable HDD for work) between both places and just hooking up the other end to the DAC-HPamp. Here's a what I use around the house: primarily for my laptop when I'm working in my home office (or I might bring the DAC-Hpamp with me), but in the photo I used it with my Android (as there was no space for the laptop) while I worked on my gaming PC (testing intake fans for noise and how well they can feed the rad in the exhaust with the case door over the intake fans closed). If I had a desktop computer at work instead of using my own laptop, I'd just leave a cable hooked up and bring the DAC-HPamp home everyday.

 

 

3. Surround Sound simulation - SPDIF vs USB. Note however that if you intend to use the same DAC-HPamp for gaming and specifically with virtual surround simulation, such a signal from the DSP (even the one on the motherboard) will not travel over USB. If you do intend to use it as such at home, best get one that has SPDIF (optical or coaxial, depending on what your motherboard or soundcard has) input, as normally such a processed signal can be sent out through this type of digital transfer. One example is the Ibasso D12, which has both types of SPDIF as well as USB (for your office computer). As for whether you should go for a soundcard, I'd say check your motherboard first before buying - it might have Dolby Headphone from the manufacturer, or alternately, a (typically) "red" motherboard from MSI, Asus, Gigabyte, or even ASRock will have Creative EAX in the on-board sound DSP (not to mention a more powerful headphone amplifier than what you can find on other motherboards), and the microATX and some ATX versions might actually cost around the same price as a soundcard (at least before you factor in buying a new OS disk if you use Windows instead of Linux). As an alternative to both, if you have a DAC-HPamp that has SPDIF input anyway, you can use one of those USB drive-sized external USB soundcards if they have SPDIF output. These have the DSP chip in them, so they can interface with the computer via USB and their DSP can apply Dolby Headphone on the in-game audio, and send the sound out of the combo earphone/SPDIF output going to your DAC-HPamp. I use the Xonar U3, which has the SPDIF output, although I just hook up my IEMs directly into that.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 7/30/14 at 1:11am
post #9 of 19

http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-HPH-MT220-monitor-over-ear-headphones/dp/B00B44N0DA

 

this can sounds GREAT off your fone /ipad/ laptop/destop/ sansa clip...

one of my fav closed cans. 

 

v comfy...quite light...u can toss it into your duffle bag.

 

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by KG Jag View Post
 


I would not recommend a 250 Ohm can without an amp or sound card with a built in amp.

 

I would be helpful to know what will be feeding and driving these cans.  Also you have mentioned only closed cans.  Is that what you want?  The DT 880 is semi-open.


I didn't either until I heard these ones. Like I said, an amp will do better than onboard or a sound card. But they sound just fine. Impedance isn't the only factor that determines whether or not something is difficult to drive.

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonzeanse View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KG Jag View Post
 


I would not recommend a 250 Ohm can without an amp or sound card with a built in amp.

 

I would be helpful to know what will be feeding and driving these cans.  Also you have mentioned only closed cans.  Is that what you want?  The DT 880 is semi-open.


I didn't either until I heard these ones. Like I said, an amp will do better than onboard or a sound card. But they sound just fine. Impedance isn't the only factor that determines whether or not something is difficult to drive.


Yes--sensativity rating (in this case a low--not good--rating of 96 dB) is also important.   But I know of no 250 Ohm can with a high enough senativity rating to sound as it should out of a no/low amped source. 
 

Combine on board audio (lousy source--even with high quality music files/sources) and no amp (inadequate power to properly drive the can to where it is able to reach the sound for which it is  designed) means you are wasting your money on a $250 can, when one costing under a $100 (say the UE 6000 or CAL!) will deliver the same quality, if not better, sound with this set-up.

 

Add a modest amp and a decent sound card/external DAC, the equation reverses and the DT 880 comes to play in the way it was designed.  Remember that the DT 880 is a lower Ohm version of the 600 Ohm former flagship of the Beyer line.  See:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13#user_DT880

 

"...250 ohms and 600 ohms models are designed to be paired with an amplifier."


Edited by KG Jag - 7/30/14 at 12:31pm
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by KG Jag View Post
 


Yes--sensativity rating (in this case a low--not good--rating of 96 dB) is also important.   But I know of no 250 Ohm can with a high enough senativity rating to sound as it should out of a no/low amped source. 
 

Combine on board audio (lousy source--even with high quality music files/sources) and no amp (inadequate power to properly drive the can to where it is able to reach the sound for which it is  designed) means you are wasting your money on a $250 can, when one costing under a $100 (say the UE 6000 or CAL!) will deliver the same quality, if not better, sound with this set-up.

 

Add a modest amp and a decent sound card/external DAC, the equation reverses and the DT 880 comes to play in the way it was designed.  Remember that the DT 880 is a lower Ohm version of the 600 Ohm former flagship of the Beyer line.  See:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13#user_DT880

 

"...250 ohms and 600 ohms models are designed to be paired with an amplifier."


I'm not saying it doesn't need one. But I guess you're right; if it really needs an amp to sound worth it to begin with, it's probably not worth buying, given the OP's budget.

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks for all the info, guys. The NAD VISO HP50 sounds great, but lawd it's ugly. The crossfade looks better aesthetically, but doesn't seem to have the detaching cable. I might just have to get over myself and focus on the function (god forbid I focus on the music). The DT 880 pro is semi-open, and I'm looking for full-closed so I'm not sure that's what I'm looking for. The idea of having an amp to power or...amplify.. the awesome of whatever headphones I get is intriguing. Does having an amp make any headphones better, or just specific ones? If it makes a considerable difference I'll probably end up looking into it anyway.

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamza View Post
 

Wow, thanks for all the info, guys. The NAD VISO HP50 sounds great, but lawd it's ugly. The crossfade looks better aesthetically, but doesn't seem to have the detaching cable. I might just have to get over myself and focus on the function (god forbid I focus on the music). The DT 880 pro is semi-open, and I'm looking for full-closed so I'm not sure that's what I'm looking for. The idea of having an amp to power or...amplify.. the awesome of whatever headphones I get is intriguing. Does having an amp make any headphones better, or just specific ones? If it makes a considerable difference I'll probably end up looking into it anyway.


Some headphones are easy to drive, some--not-so-much, and some are very difficult to drive.

 

If you’re looking for headphones to use with a portable player or laptop, stick to the range of 16 – 32 ohms with a sensitivity (efficiency) rating of at least 100 dB/mW. In part because these are conservative standards, there are some higher impedance headphones, up to 80 ohms or so, that are efficient enough to work well with at least some portable gear—especially if you don’t like it very loud. But, in general, the lower the impedance the better the match with battery powered devices.

 

The NAD VISO HP50 are 32 Ohms and have a sensitivity rating of 100 dB.  So it does not need an amp from almost any device.

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Okay, so I got those NAD VISO HP50 headphones in the mail a few hours ago. Been listening for ~20-30 minutes. Sound quality is good, there's definitely a clear distinction between where sounds are coming from and it feels very natural sounding. I am having an issue with comfort, though. These pads kind of press into my ears a little too much. They feel kind of shallow, which presses my ears against my head too much for the long periods of listening I suspect I'll be doing. Cable's not very long, either; it did come with a nifty case for the various short cables and connectors though which is pretty nice. The biggest problem is the one I suspected I'd have to begin with (other than the ear comfort), which is that now I want better headphones. I need better source quality, only have a handful of flac files..

 

Out of curiosity, is there another set of headphones that compare in quality with more comfort? I plan on giving these a week or so of listening before I decide if I keep them, but they're pretty irritating on my ears physically so far. Alternatively larger earcups would be fantastic if such a thing exists.


Edited by Mamza - 8/6/14 at 4:37pm
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