Headphone suggestions: Budget $300 (Giver or take $30)
Nov 3, 2009 at 7:27 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

CyberAthlete

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Posts
388
Likes
84
Hi everyone,
my first post here, but have been a huge audiophile for ever. I own a pair of Sennheiser HD555 that are only used with my Harman Kardon AVR 220 receiver. I use them mainly for games (Halo, Call of Duty, Gears of War etc..) and I love to crank up the volume to the extent my ears can bear.

My problem is that 1) The receiver has to be at -25 to get good volume on the headphones. That's almost 60% of the receivers total power. (starts at -75 and goes to +10). I just purchased the Fiio E5 from Amazon today, so maybe that will help.

2) If there is rumbling within a game (due to grenades or explosions) the headphones start to pop unless I turn the volume down. They just can't handle bass (not even in rock band, any time I play the bass pedal in the training room, and it emanates the sound of a real bass drum, the headphone just pops).

They sound fantastic otherwise, I am extremely happy with the clarity of sound they have. But with some of my favorite games coming out with sequels, and improved graphics. I want to experience them the way they're meant to be experienced.

Games that I'll be playing:
Halo 3 ODST
Modern Warfare 2
God of War 1 and 2 HD (re released for PS3)
God of War 3
Killzone 2
Uncharted 1 and 2
Gears of War 2 (online)

I play them with volume being driven by my amp at around 70% of it's total (around the -18 to -16 mark). Anything beyond that and they start popping bad.

In your experience: will Fiio E5 make a difference on the Sennheiser HD555 running through a amp Harman Kardon AVR 220?

Or shall I look to invest in one of the following that I've been researching:

Ultrasone HFI-680 or HFI-780
Ultrasone Pro 650 or Pro 750
Beyerdynamic DT 990
Shure SRH840
Sennheiser HD650 (I know that they have 300 ohms of resistance, but will my current receiver be able to run them)?


Please advise. Thank you in advance!
 
Nov 3, 2009 at 7:52 PM Post #2 of 13

1Time

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 1, 2005
Posts
4,661
Likes
23
Welcome.

You may have a problem with your H/K receiver. It seems to not be functioning properly. It should be able to drive easy to drive headphones like the HD555 without issue. I doubt the popping problem is caused by the HD555.

I suggest not buying the E5 or any headphones until you determine whether the problem is with your receiver or the HD555. If your receiver can't properly handle the HD555, it's not at all likely it will handle the DT990 or HD650 well.
 
Nov 3, 2009 at 8:40 PM Post #3 of 13

ph0rk

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Aug 28, 2003
Posts
2,152
Likes
18
it isn't really the receiver's total power, just the power allotted to the headphone out. Most recent HK receivers use some sot of dB below max output, so you still have about 25 dB of headroom - that is ok.

It could be that your headphones aren't very sensitive (I'm not familiar with the HD555 in particular, and the specs available online aren't that informative), and volume matching the headphone out with the speaker outs depends on many factors - speaker efficiency plays a part, too.

Try the headphones with a different setup (like your soundcard's headphone out) to see if the popping issue persists.
 
Nov 3, 2009 at 9:10 PM Post #4 of 13

wantmyf1

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 17, 2009
Posts
758
Likes
12
I have a Harman Kardon sr125 and I've had it up to -8 and there was no sound distortion. Are you using any sort of bass boost or anything? That could be enough to produce distortion from the amp and/or the headphones.
 
Nov 3, 2009 at 9:13 PM Post #5 of 13

CyberAthlete

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Posts
388
Likes
84
I have the bass level at max, but then again one needs to do that in order to get decent bass. I will try the headphones out with my MP3 player and my PC tonight and see if there is a difference. Thanks for the response guys.
 
Nov 3, 2009 at 10:49 PM Post #6 of 13

somestranger26

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 6, 2007
Posts
1,257
Likes
48
Quote:

Originally Posted by CyberAthlete /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I have the bass level at max, but then again one needs to do that in order to get decent bass. I will try the headphones out with my MP3 player and my PC tonight and see if there is a difference. Thanks for the response guys.


Likely the problem: "I have the bass level at max." If you're setting the bass level on the receiver, try setting it to be ±0 (the default position) and see if you're still experiencing the distortion issue. If on your computer, disable any sort of bass boost as this can cause clipping in the digital domain which can result in the pops/distortion you're hearing.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CyberAthlete
That's almost 60% of the receivers total power. (starts at -75 and goes to +10).


Just FYI, volume doesn't work that way. It's probably more like 20% of the receiver's headphone output power since dB SPL are measured on a logarithmic scale. That is, each decibel is increasingly louder than the last and requires a proportional amount of power.

If you're still going to buy new headphones, you can get the PRO 900 used for $330 (Routinely ≈$350) and they would trash the other Ultrasone options.
 
Nov 3, 2009 at 11:19 PM Post #7 of 13

Lou Erickson

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 6, 2003
Posts
388
Likes
13
I've used the HD555 for gaming, and never had to fiddle the bass like that, or to do so to listen to music well. The HD555 shouldn't require the knob on your reciever to be at half or more.

I listen to music with mine at less than 20% volume, and game with them only slightly higher.

I haven't tired them with a modern reciever, though.

Consider trying them direct out of your PC, if you can, to see if it's the reciever or the settings there causing the problem.
 
Nov 4, 2009 at 1:52 AM Post #8 of 13

Ko Nectic Jazz

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 19, 2004
Posts
489
Likes
10
Location
Paris
I can tell I'll never play to a game with another headphone than my Proline 650!
biggrin.gif

Especially on FPS games. Dt990 is not bad, but the soundstage is not so helpful.
Proline 650 bass can challenge with DT990's. Pure textured rumbling not muddy bass that gives you chills!
 
Nov 4, 2009 at 4:48 PM Post #11 of 13

wantmyf1

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 17, 2009
Posts
758
Likes
12
Quote:

Originally Posted by CyberAthlete /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I have the bass level at max, but then again one needs to do that in order to get decent bass. I will try the headphones out with my MP3 player and my PC tonight and see if there is a difference. Thanks for the response guys.


I would go to the source where you discovered the problem. I would agree with somestranger26. Turn the bass to 0 or whatever the default level is and crank the amp to the level where you noticed the distortion previously. You have a good idea on trying your headphone on other sources, I would also try a different set of phones with your amp. It could be your amp that is the problem. Try the different phones with different bass settings and actually try to recreate the problem. If you can't recreate the distortion you can pretty safely rule out the amp as the source of the problem.
 
Nov 4, 2009 at 5:42 PM Post #12 of 13

CyberAthlete

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Posts
388
Likes
84
Thanks for the response. I hooked my headphones to my PC. Wow, for one, now I can actually hear how inferior a 128kbps rip is. HD555 sounded worlds apart from my basic PC Sennheiser over the head, head set (mic + headphones).

The problem is that these headphones on their own lack bass (reverb and oomph). Subtle bass is there. I played David Guetta's "Sexy Bitch" and sampled some other tracks as well. They sounded fine, but then again, not as boomy as they should be. This could be due to the open air design. Which is why I guess I am looking to invest in a closed set now.

I'll try a different amp tonight (I have an Onkyo receiver as well, to which my PS3 is attached. Don't ask, separate rooms, that's why). I will test out the God of war 3 demo on it and see what my findings are.

Bottom line is, my HD555 lack bass, and if it's too much in a song or movie they pop.

Ppl have been also recommending the Beyerdynamic DT 880. They look really nice, how's the sound stage? Can they emulate surround sound as well as other headphones? Thanks!
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top