Headphones for Classical Music -- Which are best and how much will I need to invest?
Nov 20, 2011 at 11:29 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 26

Fasolt

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Hello everyone,
 
Here's the back story:
I currently own a pair of Sennheiser HD 25s, which seem to be a very good compromise between portability and sound quality. However, I have gone to many concerts lately and have been wondering whether it's not possible to find headphones which sound even more realistic, immediate and, well, wider, for lack of a better word.
I own a pair of AKG K701s, but I used them as portable headphones, which is clearly not what they were made for: One can does not produce any sound any more. I drove them with a pretty cheap amp (Project head box), and wasn't too happy; although the detail was fantastic, the treble was a bit headache-inducing and the bass rarely showed up (though it was great when it did).
 
What I am looking for:
Very good headphones to replace a loud speaker system. They can be huge and bulky; the HD25's will come with me when travelling. The source will be (ripped FLAC) CDs played through a laptop. I listen to classical music, but in a diverse range: Both large orchestral works and chamber music, as well as some vocal music.
Sound-wise I would like the detail to be as good as possible, and the soundstage to be large -- I liked the K701s in that regard. If the K701s are considered highly realistic, though, then I wouldn't mind a pair of headphones which cheat a little by producing more bass and less treble.
 
I would like to ask you experts what I need to produce good sound. I imagine I would need both a DAC to produce decent sound from the laptop and a good amp, right? Can I get away with less than, say £400 (or 500 euros)? (of course, even less would be good...)
 
Thank you very much in advance,
Fasolt
 
Nov 20, 2011 at 11:34 AM Post #2 of 26

vyyye

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I have no idea but these might help
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/195589/classical-music-shootout-ad2000-hd650-600-k701-k501-sorry-longwinded
http://www.head-fi.org/t/548827/what-are-your-top-5-headphones-for-classical-music
http://www.head-fi.org/t/570969/headphones-for-classical-music
 
Nov 20, 2011 at 11:37 AM Post #3 of 26

MalVeauX

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Heya,
 
Hifiman HE-500 on the Schiit Bifrost & Schiit Lyr. But this is probably beyond your budget. But who knows, it's worth mention if you want something really great for an inexpensive (relatively, for it's quality) high end entry setup.
 
The K701's sound stage wasn't realistic, it was synthetic sounding, by the way.
 
Sounds like you enjoy "V" shape frequency response, more treble and more bass.
 
Why not get a K702 since you already liked it?
 
Anyhow, some suggestions:
 
Sennheiser HD600
Hifiman HE-300
Fischer Audio FA-002W
Ultrasone HFI 2400
Denon D5000
Beyer DT880
AKG K702
Audio Technica AD900
 
Very best,
 
Nov 20, 2011 at 1:30 PM Post #4 of 26

Acix

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fasolt /img/forum/go_quote.gif

I would like to ask you experts what I need to produce good sound. I imagine I would need both a DAC to produce decent sound from the laptop and a good amp, right? Can I get away with less than, say £400 (or 500 euros)? (of course, even less would be good...)
 
Thank you very much in advance,
Fasolt


 
You can get the K-702 with the Apogee Duet (if you're using a Mac computer ). You can try the FS forum.
 
Nov 20, 2011 at 2:11 PM Post #5 of 26

PurpleAngel

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Audio Technica just came out with new closed headphones.
A500X, A700X and A900X.
 
Nov 20, 2011 at 2:37 PM Post #6 of 26

a1joe507

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I'm chiming in due to my experience as a serious classical musician who once studied in a conservatory.  Given what you have described, you would like cans that can be driven w/o an amp, that have clarity without clinical treble and without sacrificing bass. Also, open soundstage is a must.  Although these things in one can, without an amp is difficult to get, especially at the ~$250 price point, I think MalVeauX's recommendations for the AT-AD900 (not to be confused with the AT-A900 [notice the absence of a "D" between "A" and "9"], which is a closed back phone that sounds a bit different) is probably a good start for you. 
 
About the same price (or less, depending on where you get them) as the 701s, efficient enough to be driven w/o an amp, and will probably have the sort of soundstage with clarity that you crave.  
 
If you cannot make a meet to try these out, you could audition these via HeadRoom (headphone.com), as they have a 30-day return privilege on items sold through them.
 
Good luck! Sounds like you are starting down the wonderful path of clearing out your wallet for sound over the next few years.  What a wonderful path......
gs1000.gif

 
 
 
Nov 20, 2011 at 3:22 PM Post #7 of 26

scruffsaudio

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I have the Q701s which I primarily use to mix hybrid orchestral music. They really, really excel with orchestral / acoustic instruments. And they're not that tough to drive.... Apogee Duet or Apogee One are totally sufficient.
 
Nov 20, 2011 at 4:48 PM Post #8 of 26

robm321

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Quote:
AT-AD900 (not to be confused with the AT-A900 [notice the absence of a "D" between "A" and "9"], which is a closed back phone that sounds a bit different) is probably a good start for you. 
 
 


I agree
 
 
Nov 21, 2011 at 3:15 AM Post #9 of 26

Uncle Erik

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If you enjoyed the K-701, just get them fixed. You probably have a failed solder joint inside.

Find someone who works on guitar amps or a RSGB member. You jus need to open up the headphones and resolder. Inexpensive and someone might do it for free, even.
 
Nov 21, 2011 at 3:19 AM Post #10 of 26

Eric_C

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Do consider the DT880. The 250 ohms version is not that hard to drive, and I reckon it has more bass than the 701 (which I demo'd once, a long time ago). Gamers love the 880 for its soundstage, and I enjoy it for that and the occasional instrumental track, e.g. LOTR, Star Wars.
 
Nov 21, 2011 at 3:33 AM Post #11 of 26

Gwarmi

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Shure 940 and Audio Technica W1000X
 
Some of the best that happen to be closed.
 
Nov 29, 2011 at 8:04 AM Post #12 of 26

scruffsaudio

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Quote:
Do consider the DT880. The 250 ohms version is not that hard to drive, and I reckon it has more bass than the 701 (which I demo'd once, a long time ago). Gamers love the 880 for its soundstage, and I enjoy it for that and the occasional instrumental track, e.g. LOTR, Star Wars.


This is true, the 880 250 ohms model is rather easy to drive.
 
I'm working from memory of my departed 880s but I think the bass is no more and no less better/worse than burned in 701s. Neither set (after burn in) ever seriously wowed me with its bass, and neither ever disappointed me [as long as the source material was mixed well].
 
 
Nov 29, 2011 at 10:51 AM Post #13 of 26

Argyris

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Totally misread one of the responses (I need sleep), so I'll just put this in its place. I agree with UE--if nothing else, you'll at least have your K701 as a backup. As for the DT880, which got mentioned in this thread, from what I understand it's in the same vein as the K701. I've been fairly happy with mine, though the treble is definitely of the clinical variety. I've EQ'ed it using one of the guides on this forum and gotten good results. The DT880 has a lovely, wide soundstage, nice imaging, and good bass extension (though not gobs of bass quantity). I've used it mostly for classical and I really enjoy it.
 
Nov 29, 2011 at 8:24 PM Post #14 of 26

Eric_C

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Quote:
Totally misread one of the responses (I need sleep), so I'll just put this in its place. I agree with UE--if nothing else, you'll at least have your K701 as a backup. As for the DT880, which got mentioned in this thread, from what I understand it's in the same vein as the K701. I've been fairly happy with mine, though the treble is definitely of the clinical variety. I've EQ'ed it using one of the guides on this forum and gotten good results. The DT880 has a lovely, wide soundstage, nice imaging, and good bass extension (though not gobs of bass quantity). I've used it mostly for classical and I really enjoy it.



Which guide did you use? I've got a simple, 3-band analogue EQ at home so maybe I could give it a whirl.
 
Nov 29, 2011 at 8:53 PM Post #15 of 26

nikp

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Ah, classical music. You'll want a neutral headphone - it's the only way to go. Of the headphones I've heard, these are the best cans for classical music.
 
Imo, there are two kinds of people - 
1. those who want to relax and enjoy the overall classical performance
2. those who enjoys the tiny details in classical music.
 
Shure SRH940 - very good for solos (especially violins), not recommended for orchestras (bass is lacking and is below neutral, timpanis almost disappear)
 
The big TRIO:
  1. HD800 - massive soundstage, for full scale orchestras it's a 10/10 (1,2)
  2. DT880 - Very involving with classical music. I call it classical listening pleasure. (1)
  3. HD600 - One word to describe is it perfect. I can feel the bow scraping against the strings of the violin and the details is just overwhelming. Take out HD800's soundstage and you have the HD600. (2)
 
I belong to group number 2 and I preferred the HD600.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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