Best over ear headphones (best clarity for music/movies)
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pellryan

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I've saved 500 dollars for new headphones. I want the best ones money can buy. I'd love to have the surround sound technology, but I'd like to see what people who actually know what they're talking about would suggest. They're for listening to music/watching movies from my laptop. I've read that the higher end models require amplifiers, and I would prefer if the headphones had those built in. I'd like to hear your suggestion for your top pick not based on my preferences, as well as your suggestion based on what I've said. Thanks for the help!
 
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Kernmac

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[size=10pt]Couple of thoughts.[/size]
 
[size=10pt]Firstly, as everyone knows surround sound is designed to simulate sounds coming from different directions, including behind you.  Speakers do this well, headphones don’t.  Also when was the last time you were listening to live music and the singer and guitarist were placed in front of you and the drummer was situated behind you?  Surround sound and music aren't overly compatible.  Every headphone decision is a compromise with other aspects.  [/size]
[size=10pt]Here is a quote from a recent review of a surround sound gaming headphone which sums it up pretty well.[/size]
[size=medium]“If you're looking for a good headset to complement your gaming, the Logitech G35s are excellent — but keep them in stereo mode, and leave the surround sound for speakers.” [/size]
[size=10pt]Secondly, there is no "best money can buy", it is all subjective.  What is the best food you can buy?   What is the best car you can buy?[/size]
[size=10pt]You say you don't want a dedicated amp, and that is fine, however the sources you will be using will have a significant impact on the sound that comes out of any headphone you choose.  Unless your lap top has sufficient power, then you will be better off with an efficient headphone, rather than one that is harder to drive.  As you correctly have identified many "higher end" headphones are inefficient (require a dedicated amp to sound their best).  Not many headphones have built in amps and nor is this necessary (or even desirable), your laptop has some amp capacity, just maybe not enough to drive many "higher end" inefficient headphones. Laptops are not known for their great sound as a general rule, but that will depend on your sound card to some degree.[/size]
[size=10pt]If you are inexperienced with headphones, my advice is not to spend your $500 budget, particularly as your source is probably not great.  There are plenty of very good sounding headphones that are efficient at half your budget.[/size]
[size=10pt]My advice is search around the Headfi site a little and look for good efficient headphones (lower impedance is a good place to start but not the whole story) that are pitched at the $150-$300 as that is where you will get your best bang for your buck.  [/size]
[size=10pt]A couple to consider are:[/size]
[size=10pt]OPEN- if isolation is not an issue.  ATH AD900, Senn HD 598[/size]
[size=10pt]CLOSED-if isolation and sound leakage are an issue (and as a generalization more impactful bass for your movies, however at a loss of soundstage or "air"- again a generalization)  Ultrasone (most HFI and Pros, however as you climb they become a bit more amp dependent) Beyer DT250 (80 ohm)[/size]
[size=10pt]Others can chime in with their suggestions. [/size]
 
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BotByte

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Long story short:
 
No "surround sound" with headphones, or speakers for that matter.
 
Get:
ATH-AD900 - open, great soundstage for that "surround sound", need to be amped a little. Very comfy for a long wear. I can for about 5 hours
FiiO E7 - desktop amp
FiiO E9 - portable amp to work with E7. Without it, the E7 is kinda boring and this will give you a lot for your money
 
The amp isn't really needed but will add a good amount of quality and can be connected Via Usb to bypass you MoBo soundcard.
 
Other can choice, keep the amps though:
ATH-A900 - closed, but same as AD900 but not a big of s soundstage and more for music
HD598 - open, good for music, gaming and movies. Comfy with more "around ear, without touching ear" feel to oppose the A and AD series which touch the ear directly. Personal preference here.
 
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TheWuss

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Quote:
I've saved 500 dollars for new headphones. I want the best ones money can buy.
then, you're a tenth of the way there. 
   

 
(someone had to do it.)
 
 
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Quote:
I've saved 500 dollars for new headphones. I want the best ones money can buy. I'd love to have the surround sound technology, but I'd like to see what people who actually know what they're talking about would suggest. They're for listening to music/watching movies from my laptop. I've read that the higher end models require amplifiers, and I would prefer if the headphones had those built in. I'd like to hear your suggestion for your top pick not based on my preferences, as well as your suggestion based on what I've said. Thanks for the help!

Heya,
 
Before even getting into headphones, there's an issue here. You may spend whatever you want on headphones, but they're going to sound like junk and you'll be wondering why you spent hundreds of dollars when you hear wretched audio coming out of your laptop as your source. I can't stress enough that if you're going to jump into higher end headphones, having a good DAC is going to be paramount. Poor audio quality as a source coming over expensive high end headphones will sound like butt. So would tell you to either extend your budget and get mid-level headphones ($300ish) and get a quality DAC (and potentially AMP built in too) to cover your bases. May need to jump to $600 as a budget to do this and not essentially waste money on something not as good.

Surround sound technology is a market term. There's no such thing. Most drivers in a headphone is two and very few at that. Surround sound positioning is done via software/emulation. It's not a hardware thing unless you physically have 6 or 7 speakers (ie, drivers) surrounding you with discrete audio from each one. That's real hardware surround. Everything else, everything, is emulated. And can be done on simply two drivers. That's why it works in headphones, and is marketed as `surround' when it's no more special than any pair of headphones. For this you need the right software, or hardware (soundcard, or DAC capable of similar feat).
 
That said, I'll just throw this out there as a recommendation.
 
Matrix Cube DAC + BeyerDynamic DT990 600ohm or Sennheiser HD600 (or 650's if budget permits).
 
The Cube is a great DAC, plenty of inputs, and it's built in amplifier is more than enough to power those headphones.
 
Very best,
 
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maverickronin

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You need to do it with a DSP.
 
Check out this thread.
 
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pellryan

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Would you mind explaining what a DAC is/does? What would be your recommendations as far as one with an amp as well?
 
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pellryan

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Quote:
Heya,
 
Before even getting into headphones, there's an issue here. You may spend whatever you want on headphones, but they're going to sound like junk and you'll be wondering why you spent hundreds of dollars when you hear wretched audio coming out of your laptop as your source. I can't stress enough that if you're going to jump into higher end headphones, having a good DAC is going to be paramount. Poor audio quality as a source coming over expensive high end headphones will sound like butt. So would tell you to either extend your budget and get mid-level headphones ($300ish) and get a quality DAC (and potentially AMP built in too) to cover your bases. May need to jump to $600 as a budget to do this and not essentially waste money on something not as good.

Surround sound technology is a market term. There's no such thing. Most drivers in a headphone is two and very few at that. Surround sound positioning is done via software/emulation. It's not a hardware thing unless you physically have 6 or 7 speakers (ie, drivers) surrounding you with discrete audio from each one. That's real hardware surround. Everything else, everything, is emulated. And can be done on simply two drivers. That's why it works in headphones, and is marketed as `surround' when it's no more special than any pair of headphones. For this you need the right software, or hardware (soundcard, or DAC capable of similar feat).
 
That said, I'll just throw this out there as a recommendation.
 
Matrix Cube DAC + BeyerDynamic DT990 600ohm or Sennheiser HD600 (or 650's if budget permits).
 
The Cube is a great DAC, plenty of inputs, and it's built in amplifier is more than enough to power those headphones.
 
Very best,


What is your opinion on this DAC Amp?
http://www.amazon.com/NuForce-uDAC-2-Black-Headphone-24bit/dp/B003Y5FRNS/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1311544665&sr=1-3
It's 130. I'm only looking to spend between 100 and 150 for a DAC, and would obviously like to get the best value for my money. Thanks!
 
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maverickronin

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