Best headphone for jazz and female vocalists??
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botchki

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New to headphones/amps but am getting into it as my system does not have a jack and at times I'd like the option of phones. I listen to a lot of jazz, some alternative, and many female vocalists and am looking for opinions on phones, amps, combos, that work well for my tastes in music. Listened to Hd 600's as well as Grado Rs 1 today at a store using a Bryston amp and Linn Cd player and prefered the Grado's quite a bit though thought at times they were too harsh maybe or bright as people put it, whereas the HD 600's were too laid back/distant, muddy, and kind of slow. I've read where people say Grado's are the best for rock, so how about jazz and vocals?? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
 
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gloco

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Maybe the AKG K501's which work very well with laid back music like jazz and easy listening, as well as classical. Look into auditioning those. The Sennheiser's won't sound muddy or bass heavy (slow response) with the right amp.
 
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Blighty

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The RS-1 is wonderful for both Jazz and Female Vocals. It offers a pretty neutral sound with a slight hint of warmth which many people appreciate and find pleasurable. For a warmer, lusher, romanticized midrange, you may wish to go with the Audio-Technica ATH-W100 headphone. Both have midrange magic in spades and would be perfect for vocals. The RS-1 has a little more sophisticated treble with that sparkle I like but is not as full-bodied as the W100 in sound. You cannot go wrong with either for your listening preferences in my opinion.
 
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shivohum

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I'd recommend the Alessandro-Grado Music Series Pro over the W100 for jazz and female vocals. I've owned both, and from what I remember of the AG MSP, it has the edge here, although I think the W100 is definitely better for symphonic music, which is my main listening preference. Still, the W100 is an excellent if idiosyncratic choice, too, and is half the price.
 
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gryphon1972

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yeah.....W100 is a great choice.......wonderful sounding.....great if you want a musical experience...
 
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My Grado 325's make vocals and jazz sound very smooth. As a hybrid (Jazz/ Downbeat/ Lounge) example: Skye Edwards voice of Morcheeba sounds silky and smooth. Check out the Big Calm album and I think you'll hear what I'm talking about.

Namastay,
Cheeba-Fi

 
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I'd have to suggest Stax electrostatics, I think they're really gorgeous with female vocals and the limited amounts of jazz that I've listened to. They work well with that sort of lighter acoustic music. Plus, you don't have to worry about an amp. They do sound considerably different from any dynamic phones that I've listened to (e.g. Sennheiser 580's, 600's), and some might not like them, but still, have a listen, hear for yourself.
Andrew
 
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...Stax suggestion is spot-on, if you don't mind the lack of any serious bass. I second the W100 suggestion, too, though it may not please you with your alternative material. The Stax's will resolve crunchy distorted guitars like no other cans (Fugazi's feedback symphonies never sounded better). RS-1's are great, but they were ultimately too harshly bright for me. Get them if you have a great source.

Your cheapest viable option is probably the W100's.

- Matt
 
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dougli

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OK, I'll be the wet blanket on the gradually-building W100 fire. I just finished comparing that phone to the HD600 and DT931, driven by a Corda Blue, using female vocalists' recordings, some jazz. What I found is that if all you're focused on is the female voice, such as an a capella recording, they do well. But as soon as you start adding instruments, especially a full band of whatever makeup, the W100 looses its edge. When that happens, I can not ignore the undesirable ways that the W100 handles all of the other sound. But it does seem to me that the people who like these phones are able to enjoy the unique overall musical experience that they give. That experience either grabs you, or it repels you. Not much middle ground. They do seem to show up for sale used fairly often, so you might give them a try that way for a little less money.
 
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I have to put in a vote for AKG K501s. I listen to alot of female jazz vocalists and alot of jazz in general, from bigband to combo jazz. The K501 is the best I have found for female vocals, as far as naturalness and clarity of the midrange. The K501 is excellent for small group jazz, the definition and detail is amazing. These don't have the bass of a Sennheiser HD580 or 600 as far as quantity goes, the extension is there, just not as much. I would say the bass is tighter and more natural to me than Sennheiser. I dont think you could go wrong with a set of Sennheiser's (HD580 or 600) or Grado 325s. The Grado 325s are a great headphone too, but if all I listened to was jazz and female vocals, the AKG would be my choice. I find the K501s work well for most classical music as well. Just my 2 cents.
 
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JaZZ

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4 Jazz Headphones


Sennheiser HD 600 – very good for jazz and especially voices, full, rich, noble sound, accurate and transparent, extended, quite neutral though slightly on the dark side; very comfortable
Points out sensuality and aesthetics

Stax – highly detailed, airy and fast, sparkling cymbals, very neutral mids, clear voices, lean bass with low impact (maybe not such a bad handicap in jazz); extremely open to external noises; very comfortable
Points out the analytical aspect

Grado – vivid and shiny, clear, transparent and detailed; sound very dependent on pad type: treble-friendly with bowl pads, quite well balanced with descrete upper mids and (impact)full bass with flat pads that bring the drivers closer to the ears, not the best for voices; comfort commonly rated as below average
Points out rhythm

AKG K 501 – highly detailed and transparent, balance towards the bright side, similarities to Stax, but very impactful and tight, though very lean, nevertheless extended bass, highly neutral mids, best for voices; low sensitivity; quite comfortable
Points out the analytical aspect
 
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Quote:

Originally posted by JaZZ
4 Jazz Headphones


Sennheiser HD 600 – very good for jazz and especially voices, full, rich, noble sound, accurate and transparent, extended, quite neutral though slightly on the dark side; very comfortable
Points out sensuality and aesthetics

Stax – highly detailed, airy and fast, sparkling cymbals, very neutral mids, clear voices, lean bass with low impact (maybe not such a bad handicap in jazz); extremely open to external noises; very comfortable
Points out the analytical aspect

Grado – vivid and shiny, clear, transparent and detailed; sound very dependent on pad type: treble-friendly with bowl pads, quite well balanced with descrete upper mids and (impact)full bass with flat pads that bring the drivers closer to the ears, not the best for voices; comfort commonly rated as below average
Points out rhythm

AKG K 501 – highly detailed and transparent, balance towards the bright side, similarities to Stax, but very impactful and tight, though very lean, nevertheless extended bass, highly neutral mids, best for voices; low sensitivity; quite comfortable
Points out the analytical aspect


Since about 85% of my listening is jazz, I can tell you that Jazz's comments are dead on. I'm partial to the Senn's and 501s. They're great for acoustic music. You can't go wrong with either.

One comment though--what are you going to drive them with? Based on your post, you don't seem to have a headphone amp. Given that you can only get the best from both headphones with an amp, you may need to look elsewhere if you don't plan on adding a headphone amp.

To complicate matter further, I really love the AKG K-1000s, especially with acoustic music. The soundstage is amazing, and I've never heard a piano sound as real as it does with these phones. Again, how you drive them will be a consideration.
 
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botchki

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Thanks for the replies. As of this moment I don't have an amp but am either going with the Gilmore amp that antness is building, a Corda Blue, or a used Melos Sha-1.

Have auditioned Senn HD600, Grado 325's, RS-1, and RS-2's at a hifi store over the last two days, and for my tastes much preferred the Grado's (Senns didn't do it for me...my perception were nice sound, but too laid back or muffled, slow or boring). The 325's had great detail but not the soundstage or bass that the RS-1 had, but were faster I thought than the other two. RS-1 brought in great soundstage, and deeper base, without sacrificing detail. RS-2 were a nice mix of both but on some things thought was too shrill. Liked them all though, and comfortwise didn't have any problems...worked for me, with RS-2 being the most comfortable.

As for other recommedations, there isn't anywhere around here to audition the AKG 501 or Stax, but the 501's sound good from what I've read and my tastes in music.
 
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Jeff Guidry

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botchki, I will give you a small warning based on my own experience. On an in store audition, the Grado's have an immediacy that is quite seductive. Upon taking them home and listening to them for a few weeks, the headphones began to sound harsh to me, and ultimately unlistenable.

Similarly, I purchased a used Senn HD580 without hearing them. On first listen, the sounded muffled and distant and not at all to my taste. After a few days of close listening, the Senns revealed a detailed and smooth sound that is very listenable to me.

You may well find that the Grados are the long term phone for you, but I recommend listening to both for at least a few weeks before you pass judgement.
 
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