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Best headphone + amp for £200-250 ($350-400)?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by caeciro, Apr 29, 2011.
  1. Caeciro
    New to this forum, been lurking for quite some time now, trying to research into some headphones. I'd really appreciate some help with this :)
    I'm a 17 year old student, I have a job and I'm saving up for a really, really good set of cans. I'm mainly going to use them to listen to music directly from my laptop (Macbook Pro) or my iPod at home. I don't want anything portable, because I'll just be sitting around. 
    Headphones that have caught my eye most are the Shure SRH840s and the AKG K701s
    I don't have an amp, so I would either need to do without or invest in one. I don't have a price limit, although I would like to spend around £200-250 in total. I think this is around $330-400.
    Advice is highly appreciated. I listen to mostly alternative rock, post-rock, electronic and a bit of house.  
    Recommendations for headphones + amp, or just headphones without amp PLEASE!
    Thanks for your time
  2. colmustard
    Given your music taste I would not recommend the k701, you want something more neutral that can perform well on a broad scale of genres. I cannot speak on the shure's because I've never heard them.
    In my opinion (alot of ppl disagree) the k701 really only sparkles with acoustic, instrumental, and live recordings, and will sound very sibilant and harsh with post rock/alternative, and very lacking with electronic.
    I would instead like to suggest the following setup which I think would fit your needs very well and will run you roughly $400 - $450 without shipping/tax costs depending on where you buy from. The prices below are from amazon, but can be found for much cheaper on these forums or from other dealers.
    DAC: FiiO e7 (you can use this as a portable amp on the go!) ~ $100
    AMP: FiiO e9 (desktop pre-amp, the e7 docks into the e9) ~ $130
    Headphones: Beyerdynamic dt880 pro (250 ohm version) ~ $220
    Now if you are willing to up your budget by $50 I would say go with the 600 ohm premium version of this headphone, the e9 is able to drive them quite well. I've compared the k701 and dt880 side by side and the dt880 is a much better much more neutral all rounder. They sound detailed and analytical when they need to, while remaining fun and engaging with most everything I throw at them. They are also damn comfortable [​IMG]
  3. Caeciro
    Thanks for the advice, I definitely think I'll invest in the FiiO's
    I am a little bit wary about the Beyerdynamics though, I've heard they are sterile and cold sounding. I'm not into music production, just listening. Are these, in yours (or anyone elses) opinion, the best headphones in the price bracket? 
  4. TMRaven
    You can always get a tube amp for them.  There's a couple good quality cheap tube amps out there.  The tubes will naturally help subdue the brightness and smooth out the sound.  Most people would probably call the k701 more sterile and cold sounding than dt880.
    Here's a nice writeup comparing the akg k701, beyerdynamic dt880 and sennheiser hd650:
  5. colmustard
    I completely agree that the k701 is certainly more sterile and analytical, I currently own both and the dt880 has a slightly more narrow soundstage and is more engaging. What I love best about the dt880 is the midrange, vocals and guitar are spot on. Pretty much as long as you have high quality recordings you won't feel the dt880 lacking or "sterile" sounding except with bass heavy and electronic music. Don't get me wrong it will still sound good with those genres but not ideal or engaging as with rock and other instrumental genres.
    I think that if your looking for a truly colored and fun headphone you should look into some grados, ultrasones, or perhaps some lower tier denons. That being said I think that the description of "sterile" sounding is very misleading and is easy to perceive as making music unenjoyable while this is nowhere near the case. Instead I would describe it as more "relaxed" sounding as opposed to in your face sounding. Oh and they will be picky with the quality of the recordings you throw its way.
    Honestly I would try out the beyers or the shures, order them from amazon and if they do turn out to not be what you had in mind you can simply return them and get your money back. That's what I did with my hfi-2400s and I decided they weren't for me and I got my money back and used it for the pro 900 [​IMG]
  6. Caeciro
    And if we're talking about headphones without an amp, what's my best bet?

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