Contemplating an upgrade to higher sound quality headphone for around 200
May 15, 2013 at 10:15 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

Hifi Man

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[size=13.600000381469727px]I've sampled a couple higher end headphones (See my profile for details). And while I'm satisfied with my AKG K240 headphones, I am interested in what other options are for higher sound quality. I don't think I would choose to upgrade immediately, probably sometime in the future, but I don't know when[/size]
 
The headphones I'm considering are Beyerdynamic DT770, Sennheiser HD598, AKG K701. 
 
Isolation isn't a concern, neither is portability. I have a pair of around the house headphones (AKG K240), and a pair of on-the-go headphones (Sony V6). These will mainly be used for music listening and probably for gaming too.
 
[size=13.600000381469727px]I'm looking for the most comfortable headphones. [/size]
 
I was thinking about getting a FiiO 09 or E17 if the need arises. I'll probably be mainly using these with my desktop or laptop computer. My other sources are FiiO E11, Go Dap Gd-03, and iPod Classic 160 gigs.
 
I do listen to music in 320 kbps
 
[size=13.600000381469727px]I mainly listen to metal and shoegaze (See my last fm in my signature to get more details)[/size]
 
[size=13.600000381469727px]I want headphones where the sound isn't too aggressive so I can listen for long periods in comfort (so I guess that would disclude the grados), but not so lay'd back that it sounds dark or recessed. [/size]
 
[size=13.600000381469727px]I'm looking for good soundstage (so that would disclude the Grados). I want to hear the entire soundstage of the music with good clarity and spaciousness.[/size]
 
 
[size=13.600000381469727px]I'm looking for the highest sound quality I can get for around 200 dollars (and if they require a decent amp like the FiiO E09 or E17, then I'll probably consider getting those).[/size]
 
May 15, 2013 at 10:54 AM Post #2 of 6

kramer5150

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Quote:
[size=13.600000381469727px]I've sampled a couple higher end headphones (See my profile for details). And while I'm satisfied with my AKG K240 headphones, I am interested in what other options are for higher sound quality. I don't think I would choose to upgrade immediately, probably sometime in the future, but I don't know when[/size]
 
The headphones I'm considering are Beyerdynamic DT770, Sennheiser HD598, AKG K701. 
 
Isolation isn't a concern, neither is portability. I have a pair of around the house headphones (AKG K240), and a pair of on-the-go headphones (Sony V6). These will mainly be used for music listening and probably for gaming too.
 
[size=13.600000381469727px]I'm looking for the most comfortable headphones. [/size]
 
I was thinking about getting a FiiO 09 or E17 if the need arises. I'll probably be mainly using these with my desktop or laptop computer. My other sources are FiiO E11, Go Dap Gd-03, and iPod Classic 160 gigs.
 
I do listen to music in 320 kbps
 
[size=13.600000381469727px]I mainly listen to metal and shoegaze (See my last fm in my signature to get more details)[/size]
 
[size=13.600000381469727px]I want headphones where the sound isn't too aggressive so I can listen for long periods in comfort (so I guess that would disclude the grados), but not so lay'd back that it sounds dark or recessed. [/size]
 
[size=13.600000381469727px]I'm looking for good soundstage (so that would disclude the Grados). I want to hear the entire soundstage of the music with good clarity and spaciousness.[/size]
 
 
[size=13.600000381469727px]I'm looking for the highest sound quality I can get for around 200 dollars (and if they require a decent amp like the FiiO E09 or E17, then I'll probably consider getting those).[/size]

k701 and the Quncy model come to mind immediately.  I own and use both K701 and 240s regularly.  The K701 is a significant jump up from the K240s in terms of soundstage, spectral accuracy, and detail resolution.  The 701 is flatter and more accurate, it sounds more like whats upstream amp & sourcing it... which is a double edged sword.  Those who take the time to system tweek + tune will be rewarded.  While the K240s will always color the sound with its spectral presentation.  Yes the K240s is sucessfully marketed as a studio monitor.  Ignore the general miss-conception that a studio monitor is flat or accurate.   The 240s is a good example of a monitor thats not the flattest or most accurate in the price range were talking.  That badge goes to the K701.
 
Those are good enough starter amps on a budget, but these cans scale up noticeably with better amps and sources for sure.  I have found the K701 to lose its soundstage layering with lesser-capable amps.  By lesser-capable, I am talking about single OP-amp (cmoy), buffered single OP-amp kinds of affordable circuits.  Good circuits, loud, powerful, dynamic... but its not an issue of volume.
 
Don't fall into the flawed line of thinking that "A $200 headphone requires an $XX amp".  Thats simply not true.  There is no correlation between the $ spent on a headphone and what should be the $ spent on the amp/source used with it.  In other words, a well chosen $1000 amp paired with this $200 headphone is perfectly justifiable.
 
IMHO of course... good luck with your upgrades!!
 
May 15, 2013 at 2:46 PM Post #3 of 6

Hifi Man

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Quote:
k701 and the Quncy model come to mind immediately.  I own and use both K701 and 240s regularly.  The K701 is a significant jump up from the K240s in terms of soundstage, spectral accuracy, and detail resolution.  The 701 is flatter and more accurate, it sounds more like whats upstream amp & sourcing it... which is a double edged sword.  Those who take the time to system tweek + tune will be rewarded.  While the K240s will always color the sound with its spectral presentation.  Yes the K240s is sucessfully marketed as a studio monitor.  Ignore the general miss-conception that a studio monitor is flat or accurate.   The 240s is a good example of a monitor thats not the flattest or most accurate in the price range were talking.  That badge goes to the K701.
 
Those are good enough starter amps on a budget, but these cans scale up noticeably with better amps and sources for sure.  I have found the K701 to lose its soundstage layering with lesser-capable amps.  By lesser-capable, I am talking about single OP-amp (cmoy), buffered single OP-amp kinds of affordable circuits.  Good circuits, loud, powerful, dynamic... but its not an issue of volume.
 
Don't fall into the flawed line of thinking that "A $200 headphone requires an $XX amp".  Thats simply not true.  There is no correlation between the $ spent on a headphone and what should be the $ spent on the amp/source used with it.  In other words, a well chosen $1000 amp paired with this $200 headphone is perfectly justifiable.
 
IMHO of course... good luck with your upgrades!!

So in does the same logic apply so that a good pair of headphones will sound good with a 100 dollar amp instead of a 1000 dollar amp? 
 
May 15, 2013 at 3:03 PM Post #4 of 6

kramer5150

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So in does the same logic apply so that a good pair of headphones will sound good with a 100 dollar amp instead of a 1000 dollar amp? 

Absolutely... the RS-1 is a good example of that.  A well designed cmoy (single OP amp) circuit ($100) can sound surprisingly good with this ~$650 headphone. I am generally not a fan of Grados with high impedance OTL, capacitor coupled amps.  Its just (generally) not a good pairing.  Many of these kinds of amps can be found at / under the $1000 mark.  I would rather use a well designed Cmoy, or current-buffered, single OP-amp design, than a high impedance cap-coupled, OTL amp.
 
IMHO of course.... others will dispute this for certain.
 
The caveat though is that I admittedly have not heard every OTL tube amp out there.  So my opinions are limited to the experiences I have had with my Earmax and darkvoice 337.... 2 amps that IMHO don't sound good with my wood Grados.
 
This 18V Cmoy (OPA2107) sounds better with the RS1 than either of my much higher $$$ OTL tube amps.  I use output transformers with the 337 and RS1/K701 though, MUCH better sounding that way.  So I don't use it OTL with the RS1.

 
May 15, 2013 at 6:24 PM Post #5 of 6

Hifi Man

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Absolutely... the RS-1 is a good example of that.  A well designed cmoy (single OP amp) circuit ($100) can sound surprisingly good with this ~$650 headphone. I am generally not a fan of Grados with high impedance OTL, capacitor coupled amps.  Its just (generally) not a good pairing.  Many of these kinds of amps can be found at / under the $1000 mark.  I would rather use a well designed Cmoy, or current-buffered, single OP-amp design, than a high impedance cap-coupled, OTL amp.
 
IMHO of course.... others will dispute this for certain.
 
The caveat though is that I admittedly have not heard every OTL tube amp out there.  So my opinions are limited to the experiences I have had with my Earmax and darkvoice 337.... 2 amps that IMHO don't sound good with my wood Grados.
 
This 18V Cmoy (OPA2107) sounds better with the RS1 than either of my much higher $$$ OTL tube amps.  I use output transformers with the 337 and RS1/K701 though, MUCH better sounding that way.  So I don't use it OTL with the RS1.

I don't know what OTL means. I'm kind of looking around the 200 dollar range dude. Also the 100 dollar range for an amp, and 200-250 (only if necessary) for headphones. I don't want to jump super high up in quality anyways, I couldn't afford to do that anyways. Not to mention I said I was probably not going to do this anytime soon, just a reminder to anyone reading this. 
 
Also, how do the Q701 compare to beyerdynamics 880 and sennheiser 598?
 
May 16, 2013 at 6:59 PM Post #6 of 6

GaryPham

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HD598's are a great pair of headphones.  Very comfortable, smooth, great soundstage, and doesn't require amping.   However, you mentioned that you listnened to a lot of metal, and from what I been told by my cousin who owns a pair of 598s, their weakness is that they're a bit slow and can't quite keep up with fast metal.  This might be a dealbreaker for you if you require something that can keep up with fast metal.
 

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