Headphones vs. MP3 bitrates... how much headphone upgrade is worth it for me?
Jul 9, 2008 at 1:28 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 23

James_E

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Hi. Just recently found this forum and can see it's going to cost me some money if I'm not careful!

I've been thinking about getting some new phones, but I'm wondering how far to go with it for me considering that most of the time I listen to music on headphones it is MP3 from my iPod touch, unamped.

Most of my music is encoded MP3 at 192Kbps, some of it is at 300Kbps, and a small portion of it is 128Kbps. The 300K stuff is the stuff I've purchased recently and ripped. The 192/128 stuff is CDs I ripped years ago. I don't want to go re-rip everything.

Most of what I listen to is progressive/metal. Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Tool, Rush, Behemoth, Cradle of Filth, Project Failing Flesh, Lamb of God.. but I do definitely listen to all sorts of music. Prog/metal is dominant though and all of it is at 192Kbps or 300Kbps.

Currently I have SONY MDR-V400 from years ago, and some Sennheiser CX300. I like the CX300 since they were cheap, isolate reasonably well and are very portable (yeah I know they're not the best...). I'll probably keep those for my "put stuff in my pocket and go" rig. So I'm looking to possibly upgrade the cans for my at-work-during-the-day listening, and on airplanes when I travel for work (which is rare). Open headphones that others can hear are not a good option for me.

So.. given the quality of the music I have (the BITRATES people.. no comments needed on the bands lol), the fact that I'm unamped from an iPod touch, and my intended use... how much would a headphone upgrade help me out? How much of an upgrade would make sense and how much would be just stupid since my source and/or source bitrates would limit the quality anyway?

Thanks in advance for the advice.
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 1:34 AM Post #2 of 23

richierich

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If you're not going to re-rip your music then I wouldn't upgrade your headphones. If you do get better headphones, you are gonna re-rip your music out of frustration, because they will reveal crappy encoded music easily.
wink.gif
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 1:40 AM Post #3 of 23

Suntory_Times

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Try and get you're hands on a pair of AKG sextett's, there nor to revealing whilst bieng great for rock/metal. But will need an amp to frive them. IT all depends on you're budget
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 1:47 AM Post #4 of 23

aaron313

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It's all part of the audiophile process. Buy the headphones and train your ears to recognize deficiencies in bitrate, if possible. If you have the capabilities (money to afford diskspace? CDs to re-rip?) then you will gladly invest days (weeks, months?) in ripping files to lossless. In the end, you will smile.
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 1:49 AM Post #5 of 23

chinesekiwi

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Quote:

Originally Posted by richierich /img/forum/go_quote.gif
If you're not going to re-rip your music then I wouldn't upgrade your headphones. If you do get better headphones, you are gonna re-rip your music out of frustration, because they will reveal crappy encoded music easily.
wink.gif



And will also reveal clipping in songs as well.
wink.gif
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 2:11 AM Post #6 of 23

roethlar

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for those bands, you might consider one of the lower end Grados.. the SR60s or 80s have gotten good reviews and are, supposedly, good for that sort of music. I've listened to Porcupine Tree and Opeth on Grado 325is, and it was pleasant. Most of my stuff is lossless, and I have an amp, but if I had to dial everything back a few tech levels, I think the SR 80s straight out of an iPod would be alright.
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 2:32 AM Post #7 of 23

James_E

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And so it begins...

Re-ripping some of my Mozart to apple lossless right now. I'll do some Opeth and Porcupine Tree over the next few days. Maybe in a couple weeks when my kids have gone to visit grandparents for a week I'll have time to head to one of the higher-fi shops in downtown Toronto and do some comparisons.
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 2:33 AM Post #8 of 23

richierich

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Sounds good James, you're off to a great start! But sorry about your wallet
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Jul 9, 2008 at 2:59 AM Post #9 of 23

DevilDog

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I don't know what your source is. I'd guess that at work you may be using a computer, but it could be an ipod or something. That would help.
I think your bit rates are fine for quality headphones. 192 done right is very good. Some can hear the difference compared to lossless, some can't. Please notice, I said done right, using EAC or something like that.
So, having said all that, I'd say the Grado SR-225 would be right for you.
Good luck.
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 3:15 AM Post #10 of 23

nick20

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Quote:

Originally Posted by richierich /img/forum/go_quote.gif
If you're not going to re-rip your music then I wouldn't upgrade your headphones. If you do get better headphones, you are gonna re-rip your music out of frustration, because they will reveal crappy encoded music easily.
wink.gif



x2 Source and how well the music is ripped, pressed or whatever determines on the quality of headphones you might want.

If you re-rip to the best format (which I know none of, I use CD's) then upgrade your source with maybe an iMod, then upgrade your headphones.

Like the above poster mentioned, better headphones will reveal more...





-Nick
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 3:36 AM Post #11 of 23

bigizzy75

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I'm sorry to say this but none of the post with the exception of roehlar and devildog have given helpful information. The OP has made it clear that he wants to keep it simple and get his/her (not sure) money's worth on headphones using:

-ipod
-192 through 320 bit rate
-No Amp

stop suggesting him to change his formats. He asked a question answer his question, stop trying to change his question to get an answer. I am not trying to pick on anyone or start an arguement but I believe that should answer this very good question. Up to what headphones would work using a common player like ipod and using typical compressed bitrate being 192 through 320. it is up to the OP to decide whether they can listen to the difference when they actually try the suggestion. IF the can't then lucky them but we are not going to give someone blind advice.


again I apologize if I offended anyone and trust me I dont want to seem like some head-fi narc I just want his question to be answered because it seems like a very good and helpful question that can help other beginners in this hobby.


Let the OP catch the upgrade bug on their own don't just provoke it.
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 3:51 AM Post #12 of 23

knights

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i know lots of people here hate BOSE... but for the OP's sake; if you want the un-amp solution with your compress fiels i will recommend the TRIPORT AE...
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 3:59 AM Post #13 of 23

dvessel

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I agree with bigizzy75. Everyone makes it sound like using a lossless is mandatory to enjoy ones music. Well, it's not.

Too bad you don't want open headphones as that leaves out the Grados which I love.
 
Jul 9, 2008 at 5:56 AM Post #14 of 23

richierich

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My post was originally intended for the OP to re-rip the his collection that he ripped "years ago" @ 128k. Sorry for the confusion and I meant no harm
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Jul 9, 2008 at 6:22 AM Post #15 of 23

Asr

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Not familiar with the Sony V400 but some other headphone choices can definitely create more music enjoyment.
smily_headphones1.gif
I'd recommend a price cap at $200, as most of the ones more expensive than $200 will be brutal on MP3, especially 128 kb/s and 192 kb/s. (Incidentally it doesn't take much to reveal the bad SQ of 128 kb/s, you should be able hear the improvement of 192 kb/s on almost anything that costs more than $30.)

Un-amped from a DAP, there are two safe brands to select within, Audio-Technica and Grado (well and Denon too). I like Audio-Technica's ES7 which I own, it's closed (supra-aural) and fairly versatile among genres. Your music seems like it'd be great on a Grado but none of the Grado headphones are closed. If the closed criteria is an absolute requirement, I have nothing else to recommend under $200. I took a very circuitous path myself on inexpensive closed portable headphones throughout 2006 and 2007 and ultimately settled with the ES7 for its combo of sound and portability. The sound may not be to your preference (it's somewhat colored-sounding) but it wouldn't hurt to try.
 

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