Headphones for - a-hem - mature acoustic/semi-acoustic music?
Mar 13, 2013 at 6:11 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


New Head-Fier
Mar 4, 2013
I hope this is an okay question, being almost kind of personal but that would hopefully invoke some of the good people here's knowledge and experience. I could seek out places to listen and will, but some thoughts to chew on first would be good.
These are the headphones I've got and a brief blurb about how they suit or don't suit me and their use. I think I'd like to spend £130 or so on one more set of headphones to complement what I have that would suit my not quite typical early middle age man's collection of CDs and mp3 files. I've got the 80 ohm Beyer Dynamic DT250/80ohms, Koss DJ100, Sony MA300, Koss Porta Pro, Koss KSC 75. Once eq'd right the Beyer are fine if a bit disappointing for someone used ot £30 'phones and who's blotted out the thought that some people pay £500 or a grand for headphones. I find that their bass is a bit light and that they are a bit too pronounced at about 1k, though as I know from being an acoustic guitar fan and owner a mid-range-biased sound can be illusory to an extent and stem from lack of or deliberately lessend bass. (It would be good to find a DT250 stockist, an actual shop, to check by inference whether mine have a fault.) The DJ100 are pretty good though toppy compared to the Beyers (I'd probably have liked them more if the Beyers hadn't spoiled me...) The Sony's suit my digital piano used with a Fiio E5 as the DT250 don't convey the bass on the piano at all well, in fact they sound pretty bad with the piano. I love the KSC 75 for walking into town with my Sansa Clip on, and at the tricky age of 41 with my subdued tastes revolving around acoustic guitar, voice and piano, minimally arranged and fairly quiet music the tiny cheap Koss earphones are hard to fault - i even like them more than the Porta Pro now which have suddenly started seeming too bassy for me. Obviously I can hear there's something missing from them, there'd have to be.
So, I don't need loads of bass, I'd hate that, but as much as I hear when I've got an electric bass on my lap and its amp on. I like volume enough to own two cheapish headphone amps, though I often turn everything down when listening to music intended to be quiet, a possibly too obscure example being Mid Air by Paul Buchanan, piano and voice with the odd overdub sounding wrong at any volume. I've kept my Neil Young albums but mostly don't bother with the distorted guitar ones now and I can no longer enjoy how badly recorded the noisier albums seem to be - I just can't hear the bass except to know it's there. Whereas the bass on Tea in the Sahara by The Police is the most well-recorded bass I've ever heard, and something I use to test my faffing with eq and new headphone purchases. Any electronic music I like is clean and unexciting - The Blue Nile, Halloween Alaska, Brian Eno.
I'm after headphones that sound on their own like the Beyer's do when (in Windows Media Player or Amarok) I boost at about 30hz by 4db, cut 2db at 1k and boost 8k and 16k by 2 and 4db, kind of like an intermittent 'smile'. If they were (if it's even possible) 32 or 16 ohm all the better, as although the experimenting has been interesting the amps do still feel an annoyance to have on me on a train etc. I use 320kb/s mp3 files on a Sansa Clip 4gb, a Kobo Arc Android tablet and a self-built pc running Linux Mint 14 KDE mostly using Amarok for music, sometimes Windows 8. I don't have hifi separates anymore, although I was thinking of getting an amp and CD player only. I've got no interest in vinyl at all - tried it again eight years back and couldn't be bothered with it compared to clicking on folders.
I think overall given the lack of neurosis in my tastes - no confusion, no drugs-spawned ideas - my question is almost like a litmus test for quality headphones (an Oasis or Foo fighters fan wouldn't need good heaphones would they!), though going by reviews of the Beyers and the Audio Technica M50s I nearly bought I am after a very, very slightly boosted bass and slightly doctored brightness. I was beginning to think my Sony headphones were the best all-rounders but after using the DT250 eq'd to my liking I can see the Sony are a bit muddy yet am curious about what Sony headphones at three or four times the price might be like, if any experienced buyers praise any particular model. I sent some Sennheiser HD25's back because i couldn't imagine liking them after burn-in, I gave a pair of their PX100's away and have left a pair of their HD202's at my parents' place and so I feel prejudiced against anything else they might have. I was underwhelmed by everything in one popular High Street store including their Bose 'phones.
I did a few months ago ask acoustic guitar buffs and digital piano users for recommendations on headphones but they cited the £30 headphones I'd been used to and I've been impressed by the obsession/attention to detail of people on this forum.
So, any ideas what I'd enjoy or maybe pointers for things in the spec sheets ot look for that should suit my needs?

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