Headphone recommendations, please ..
post-179014
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 14

frogboy51

New Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 8, 2002
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Joined
Sep 8, 2002
Posts
5
Likes
0
I'm a 51 year old *seasoned* audiophile. I haven't purchased a set of headphones in about 10 years. My setup is a Toshiba 5109 dvd/cd player, hooked up to a Denon 4800 receiver. I guess I've quieted down, over the years .. I enjoy listening to Tangerine Dream, Patrick O'hearn, classical. I'd like to purchase a good set of headphones, under $500. The headphones would be conected to my Denon, all the time. I've done alot of reading, but, no comparison listening yet. The ATW-WT100's seem very interesting. Would anyone care to suggest something?? Thanks ..
 
     Share This Post       
post-179074
Post #2 of 14

mkmelt

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 14, 2002
Messages
907
Reaction score
16
Joined
Jun 14, 2002
Posts
907
Likes
16
I was in a similar position a number of months back. I started reading the posts on this forum, going back many months looking for good advice on headphones. I was trying to upgrade from a pair of 25 year old Yahama YH-1 headphones, and was not sure where to start.

I think you should be able to get the headphone/amp combination that meets your needs within your $500 budget.

You did not state whether you want the headphones to be fully sealed, partially sealed, or open designs. The fully sealed type isolate the listener from outside sounds and also don't leak sound into the surrounding area to disturb other people. Many of today's top of the line headphones are open designs, that offer little sound isolation for the listener and leak sound, at least a little bit.

Here is my short list of headphones that you should consider, prices are estimates:

Sennheiser HD-580: $140
Sennheiser HD-600: $240
Grado RS-1: $500
AKG-K1000: $500

With most of these, you are going to want to get a dedicated headphone amplifier to get the best sound from these, although any of them will provide adequate levels of volume connected to your Denon, all except the K1000s. These require an amplifier of at least 10 watts/channel @ 8 ohms, as these headphones are actually miniature loudspeakers that hang just to the side of your head, and slightly off of your ears.

The reasons to consider getting a headphone amplifier include:

- Improved clarity at all levels
- Improved bass response: deeper, tighter, more extended bass
- Better dynamics, able to respond to momentary musical peaks with very realistic, unstrained audio output.

Also, some amps include special circuits for crossfeed. You can read about the goal and benefits of crossfeeding portions of each channel to the opposite ear here and especially on the following site: www.headphone.com

This site is also an excellent source for technical specifications on a number of different brands and model of headphone.

You will read alot of information on this board about upgrading headphone cables to improve the sound of certain models, especially the HD-600s. I suggest that you pick the headphones, then research getting a good amplifier, before worrying about replacing the standard cables.

What did I decide to get? Thats easy, HD-600s. I am very satisfied with my purchase. I did not need an amp because I power them through vintage solid state and tube powered integrated amplifiers and especially a Fisher tube powered receiver.

Sometimes I have need to plug the HD-600s into my Denon DCD-1500 CD player (circa 1986) or my Denon DRM-710 cassette deck(circa 1991), both can provide adequate listening levels, but fall way short of the listening experience of combining the HD-600s with one of my amps or receivers.

If you have ever been curious about the merits of tube audio, but did not want to deal with the cost, space, cooling requirements of tube gear, look into getting a tube powered headphone amplifier. You can get all of the benefits of tube audio sound without the burden of high costs, large heavy tube power amplifiers, and a thermal output can that help heat your home. There are some new manufacture tube amplifers made specifically for headphones can be purchased new for under $500, even less if you buy used.

There is alot of good information on this board about both tube and solid state amplifiers for headphones.

Good luck and let us know what you ultimately decide.
 
     Share This Post       
post-179078
Post #3 of 14

dougli

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 3, 2002
Messages
543
Reaction score
10
Joined
May 3, 2002
Posts
543
Likes
10
Welcome to Head-Fi. Sorry about your wallet...

Since you are of the audiophile persuasion, is there a particular reason why you have decided not to use a headphone amp?

However, the W100s should give a decent sound straight out of your receiver. But there's better sound yet untapped...
 
     Share This Post       
post-179084
Post #4 of 14

kelly

Herr Babelfish der Übersetzer, he wore a whipped-cream-covered tutu for this title.
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
Messages
5,435
Reaction score
11
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
Posts
5,435
Likes
11
It is, in my view, senseless to spend $500 and not by an amp. However, if your budget is $500, you could still include a small amp with a more moderate price on headphones. Here are some options I'd consider:

Stax Classic II (includes amp; from Japan or importer)

Beyerdynamic DT931 (from German importer) and META42 amp (built by someone else) w/ 120 ohm adapter

Sennheiser HD600 (from German importer) and META42 amp (built by someone else)

Etymotic ER-4S (from HeadRoom) and META42 amp (built by someone else)

These options should all keep you close to $500. Spending more will get you more but I'd spend more on the amplifier before considering the exotic and more expensive headphones.
 
     Share This Post       
post-179092
Post #5 of 14

M Rael

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 19, 2001
Messages
675
Reaction score
10
Joined
Aug 19, 2001
Posts
675
Likes
10
Quote:

Originally posted by dougli
Welcome to Head-Fi. Sorry about your wallet...


I still chuckle when I see such comments. I think it was Homer Simpson who said, 'Its funny because its true'

Yo frogboy51:
if you want to demo some electrostatics with one of the fine Stax dedicated tube amps lets me know. Maybe we can arrange some sort of deal. I have a Stax SRM-T1 amp and 303 Classic earspeakers I am selling. Otherwise, mkmelt spelled out all the important initial considerations. Beyond that, follow Kelly's advice. Consider buying used gear; I have found the denizens of the head-fi Gear for Sale forums to be good people and relaible about there wares. Dont fret if your initial purchase still leaves you curious about other gear combinations. In the meantime we will all be here waiting, and laughing to ourselves. I remember one day long ago I timidly dipped my toe into the headphone underworld here at head-fi and then next thing you know I was acting like Mark Spitz.
 
     Share This Post       
post-179228
Post #6 of 14

frogboy51

New Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 8, 2002
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Joined
Sep 8, 2002
Posts
5
Likes
0
Sorry, for the confusion. In a nutshell, I was trying to say that these headphones would not be used with a portable player. I figured, that I would just connect them to the Denon receiver. So let's make that, under $500 for the headphones and I don't mind spending additional monies, for the "extra's". I'm pretty sure, that I'm looking for a fully sealed design. I know I like the "total isolation" feel. I seem to be edging towards the W100's. What would I need to power these phones??
I belong to an Audi car club, so I'm used to the mods and Mad Money spent on doodads.
 
     Share This Post       
post-179229
Post #7 of 14

Eagle_Driver

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Messages
6,447
Reaction score
25
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
6,447
Likes
25
Quote:

Originally posted by frogboy51
I'm a 51 year old *seasoned* audiophile. I haven't purchased a set of headphones in about 10 years. My setup is a Toshiba 5109 dvd/cd player, hooked up to a Denon 4800 receiver. I guess I've quieted down, over the years .. I enjoy listening to Tangerine Dream, Patrick O'hearn, classical. I'd like to purchase a good set of headphones, under $500. The headphones would be conected to my Denon, all the time. I've done alot of reading, but, no comparison listening yet. The ATW-WT100's seem very interesting. Would anyone care to suggest something?? Thanks ..


First of all, most headphone output jacks on components are mediocre at best. That includes the one on your Denon receiver. And if anything receiver headphone jacks have very poor damping - they are wired to the loudspeaker amplifier section, with crappy-quality resistors wired in series. At the receiver jacks' worst even the very best headphones will sound as crappy as a typical low-to-mid-priced pair of headphones connected to a middle-of-the-road dedicated headphone amp.

And because the receiver headphone jacks are almost always crappy-performing, you might as well drop one of the zeros from the price figure - so that the only headphones that you should consider all cost under $50, even if the headphones themselves in that price range are wretched.

But on the other hand, the jack on your Denon may be good enough to warrant a good-performing set of headphones for $100 to $150. Don't spend much more than that unless you're also using a dedicated headphone amp.
 
     Share This Post       
post-179272
Post #8 of 14

NotoriousBIG_PJ

Step 1: Plug power cable into wall. Step 2: Plug other end of power cable into....umm.... Step 0.5: Order something to power with power cable.
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Messages
3,487
Reaction score
18
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Posts
3,487
Likes
18
Good headphones still sound better then crappy headphones when both are hooked up to crappy sources... of course the potential of the good headphones is not being tapped but at least they look nice.


Biggie.
 
     Share This Post       
post-179296
Post #9 of 14

gloco

Only one ban in 5000 attempts!
Joined
Oct 19, 2001
Messages
7,047
Reaction score
18
Joined
Oct 19, 2001
Posts
7,047
Likes
18
I definitely suggest trying out whatever headphones your interested in. Check out www.headphone.com you can return any can you didn't like within 30 days if you're not happy with them. Also, run searches on the W100's, they appear to be hit or miss depending on the kind of music you listen to. I also suggest the AKG k501's for the genres of music you listen to.
 
     Share This Post       
post-179298
Post #10 of 14

puppyslugg

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 31, 2002
Messages
1,642
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jan 31, 2002
Posts
1,642
Likes
10
Quote:

Originally posted by frogboy51
I'm pretty sure, that I'm looking for a fully sealed design. I know I like the "total isolation" feel.


That sounds like the ety4s.
 
     Share This Post       
post-179301
Post #11 of 14

kelly

Herr Babelfish der Übersetzer, he wore a whipped-cream-covered tutu for this title.
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
Messages
5,435
Reaction score
11
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
Posts
5,435
Likes
11
My favorite closed headphones (in this order):
Sony R10 $4000 (a bit overpriced, IMHFO)
Audio Technica W2002 $800 (not accurate but nice)
Etymotic ER-4S $329 (most accurate on the list)
Beyerdynamic DT250-80 $170 (best for poor sources or unamped)
Beyerdynamic DT770 $170 (known as being a bit bass heavy)
Audio Technica W100 $330 (overrated)
Sony MDR-V6, MDR-7506 $60 (more accurate than most but not really nice)

Of course, I'd rather have open headphones myself. If you have a quiet enough environment and don't have to worry about disturbing others, reconsider this.
 
     Share This Post       
post-179397
Post #12 of 14

Tomcat

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 26, 2001
Messages
1,273
Reaction score
11
Joined
Jun 26, 2001
Posts
1,273
Likes
11
Quote:

What would I need to power these phones??


frogboy51,

any headphone jack ought to work fine with the W100. It is as or even more efficient than the Beyer DT-250-80 that kelly mentioned and works very well without a headphone amp. It doesn't need a lot of power (or voltage swing). I prefer the W100 without headphone amp to many highly regarded headphones with headphone amp. That's how good, accurate and forgiving the W100 is. To my ears, the very best components tend to be the most forgiving as well. They don't introduce any nasty distortions and inaccuracies of their own. They leave the signal unscathed. They offer musicality instead of hi-fi sound.

If you needed a little push in the W100's general direction, my review might provide it.
 
     Share This Post       
post-179420
Post #13 of 14

Nick Dangerous

Mr. Tuberrific
Joined
Nov 19, 2001
Messages
2,623
Reaction score
27
Joined
Nov 19, 2001
Posts
2,623
Likes
27
My .2c

Tangerine Dream, Patrick O' Hearn, and classical? You're talking my language. I bet you have some other stuff in your library like Steve Roach, Robert Rich, and probably a few Musical Starstreams discs to boot.

Hmmm... classical and analog synths...

In my experience, tube amplification delivers an ideal amount of liquidity, warmth, and "aliveness" that lends a greater sense of realism to this sort of music. Tubes really bring out the soul of the Moog in Wendy Carlos's best works... not to mention being particularly excellent for engaging the natural sounding characteristics in the instruments of classical works. I think a tubed headphone amp may be in your future.

As for your choice of headphone, the W100 is a pretty beast (good conversation piece) and more than a few people enjoy the way they sound, but for a closed can they do not keep very much exterior noise out.

If the "total isolation feel" is really what you are after, nothing beats the Etymotics. It jacks the music directly into the center of your brain. You don't hear the music with Etys, you *are* the music.
 
     Share This Post       
post-179726
Post #14 of 14

frogboy51

New Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 8, 2002
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Joined
Sep 8, 2002
Posts
5
Likes
0
Thank you, one and all, for all of your responses. This is what all forums should be about. Different people, different opinions, but, no animosity towards the difference. Life would be pretty boring, if everyone thought the same. But, I digress ..
I've decided to purchase the W100's. Honestly, I've never sampled these phones, so I maybe taking a chance. We'll see ... A headphone amp?? Again, differing opinions. I'll break in the W100's first, then see what happens. In the meantime, I'll keep reading/researching, to increase my knowledge and to further my confusion.
Thanks Tomcat, for the excellent W100 review.
Thanks Nick, for the musical suggestions (I'll take more of those).
If anyone is interested in some excellent HT forums, try Hometheaterspot, or Hometheaterforum.
For all Audi inquires/ways to empty your pockets, there's the one and only Audiworld.

Al ..
 
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top