HD497's + MiniDisc - good combo?
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Superbaldguy

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I see the impedance of the 497's is a low 32 ohms, which, usually, is indicative of a good headphone to couple with rather weak (Sony!) MD headphone amps. What is the sensitivity of the 497's? Do many Head-Fi people use these headphones for MD listening, and how well do they work?
 
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Steve999

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Most of my listening is on minidisc portables (I have hundreds of minidiscs), and my headphone choices have been made accordingly. The Sehnheiser HD 497s, Sony MDR-V6s, and Grado SR60s are all incredible (but very different from one another) through a minidisc portable. To specifically answer your question, the sound of the Sennheiser HD 497 is incredible and plenty, plenty loud through a minidisc portable.

The caveat I always give for the HD 497 is the comfort issue. For some they are comfortable, for me they were not comfortable out of the box. If it's a problem for you, you can stretch them and make them very comfortable, you can, but it is a LONG TERM PROJECT. A basketball helps.
 
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GanChan

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It is curious that some of the people who say the 497 is not uncomfortable on them also claim to have large heads/ears. Is it possible that it's the angle of the earcups that contributes to the "vice-like" grip? In which case, individual comfort might depend on the angle and shape of your ears even more than the size of the head.

I may have to order a pair just to satisfy my curiosity....
 
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Magicthyse

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It's actually the one-piece headband that doesn't quite cater for the bowlingballheads out there. It's clever in execution though - allows them to spend money on where it counts - the drivers.

The only caveat on top of the caveat
is not to be too enthusiastic when 'stretching out' the headband. It is one strip of plastic after all.

The 497 can be driven perfectly well with a Minidisc. It has reasonable impedance and a high efficiency. And above all, it sounds pretty good. Just keep your hands off the bass EQ and you won't experience any clipping.
 
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GanChan

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I just brought home a pair of 497s from Circuit City. Either someone had previously stretched them out and returned them, or I'm just a freak, but they fit perfectly on my head right out of the box! I don't forget I'm wearing them or anything, but they don't press any harder than my V6s.

So for a few lucky heads out there, there IS hope!

By the way, I like these phones. They have a broader soundstage than V6 -- the sound seems centered slightly in front of me, as opposed to simply sitting in my right and left ears. A little less detail, but more warmth and kinder to vocals, old/noisy recordings, etc. Right now the sound is a little mids-oriented, but I imagine with a break-in period the top and bottom will work their way to the surface, yes? Still, they sound pretty darn good right out of the box, even if I do have to crank my volume a tad higher than I do with V6 (probably perceived brightness is a factor there too.)
 
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andrzejpw

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Hmm, if you let them burn in for a while, I think that brightness may be tamed.
 
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GanChan

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Perhaps. But even if my V6s tame themselves slightly, there's still the soudstage issue, and 497 seems to be doing a better job of that.

Update: After only a few hours of burn-in, the 497's highs and lows are beginning to say hello to me....even if they'll never have the Sony's deep bass....
 
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Does anyone have a sensitivity figure? The 497's sound very intriguing.....
 
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The claimed sensitivity is 112 dB at 1V, which I think someone said translates into about 97dB by more traditional measures.
 
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Thanks for the info.

That rating doesn't qualify the HD497's as being efficient enough to use with MiniDisc, especially with the typical 5 mW headphone amps on Sony units; I'd need about 102 -104 dB @ 1 mW for this to work, adequately.

Of course, there's always the possibility of using an amp, which always improves performance. I'm surprised that a 32-ohm impedance phone doesn't have more output.
 
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Sennhesier's sensitivity ratings are odd. Darned if I know how to convert it. But for me, they are way way way way more than loud and strong and efficient enough for a 5 mw minidisc portable, unless you want to fry your ears to pieces. I have the MZ-N505 and MZ N707, they truly have no problem whatsoever driving the HD 497. None at all. Honest. Really.


As a point of reference, if you were silly enough to go out and buy Consumer Report's "best buy" MDR-CD180 (as I was), you would find that it was not efficient enough to go to loud levels on a minidisc portable. Sony rates the CD180 at 98 efficiency db in the traditional units. The HD 497s are TREMENDOUSLY more efficient than the CD180s. So I have to venture to guess the proper traditional efficiency rating of the Sennheisers is much greater than 97db. Ballparking it by ear, the Sennheisers are very similar in efficiency to the Grado SR60s and Sony MDR V6s, they're approximately the same. (These are two other phones that are driven easily by portables, that my minidisc portables drive VERY easily.)
 
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Maybe the 97 dB rating is a bit short of the actual sensitivity.

BTW, can your MD units drive the V6's to decent levels? The specs say 106 dB, but doesn't indicate if that's a 1 mW input. I've read a *lot* of positive reviews on these.
 
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GanChan

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I don't know much about MD players, but my stupid little RCA PCDP does just fine with both the V6 and the 497. On my home stereo, I find that I have to crank the 497 just a teensy bit higher to get the same perceived power, but that's all.

I was A/B-ing these to see which one I should hang onto, and so far have found the following:

V6 - More clarity/detail, a little more sense of power, more extreme lows and highs. More aggressive. Acoustic impression: Sitting at the mixing board in a recording studio.

497 - More soundstage, nicer mids (IMO), more forgiving to noisy or harsh sources. More laid-back. Acoustic impression: Sitting in front of the performers in a live venue.

I'm going to have to keep both of these, aren't I?

Sigh.
 
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GanChan

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Just out of curiosity, how do you find yourself using them? Which headphone do you prefer for which music and/or situations?

I think the 497 may become my movie & classical headphone, for example, using V6 for more "in your face" stuff.
 
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