Help me pick a set of high end headphones!
Nov 7, 2014 at 8:10 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15

dclaz

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Hey guys, soon enough I'll be getting what I hope to be a fairly decent headphone amp and DAC (The LH Labs Geek Pulse Xfi) and would love to pair it with a set particularly capable headphones. I'm hoping they will be a big upgrade from Sennheiser Momentums and Shure IEM's I've been using. Basically I'm after:
 
  1. Accuracy. I want the headphones to try and recreate the input signal as accurately as possible. 
  2. Build quality. If I'm paying a fortune for a premium set I'd love for it to not feel too cheap or plasticy. 
  3. Balanced inputs. While I don't buy the idea that 'fancy cables' improve sound quality (or even alter the signature/soundstage/etc) I would like to use balanced cables just for piece of mind (and because I can). Perhaps a silly requirement given my stance on cables, but hey, no ones perfect :p
  4. Comfort. I hear the Audeze LCD models can get a bit heavy, is this an issue for many people? Or is it something you just get used to?
  5. I think I want them to be 'open' but they do not necessarily need to be if there is an awesome closed set I should consider.
 
Musicwise, I listen to a lot of different genres. Lately it's been lots of rock and trip hop, but (here's the thing...) I honestly don't think the music type I listen to should determine what headphones I buy, because all the high end sets should be aiming to do the same thing - reproduce the music as accurately as possible. Is this an unreasonable position?
 
What's everyone's recommendations? I'm probably looking at sets like the HD800, Beyerdynamic T1, LCD 2, etc (The LCD 3/X/XC might be a little too pricey for me...) but would love to hear everyone's thoughts on the high end/flagship models with respect to my desires listed above. 
 
Cheers
 
Nov 7, 2014 at 10:04 AM Post #3 of 15

TwelveTrains

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I think the HD800 matches your criteria best. These are pretty much THE most accurate headphones I have heard. Also THE most comfortable. Light as a feather, and never clamp too hard.
 
Orthos tend to get heavy, so I tend not to like them as much.
 
Nov 7, 2014 at 8:34 PM Post #4 of 15

dclaz

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Beyer T1 or Hifiman HE560. Very comfortable, can be recabled for balanced with excellent results, and play well with all of genres.

 
I had forgotten about the HE560, seems to get pretty favourable reviews and is slightly cheaper too which is a bonus.
 
  I think the HD800 matches your criteria best. These are pretty much THE most accurate headphones I have heard. Also THE most comfortable. Light as a feather, and never clamp too hard.
 
Orthos tend to get heavy, so I tend not to like them as much.

 
I must admit the HD800 is at the top of my list given my own research, but I don't love the aesthetics. How does it feel (physically) in person?
 
Nov 7, 2014 at 10:42 PM Post #5 of 15

JoeDoe

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If I may, the 800 is certainly in a class all its own, however many have experienced the "love it or hate it" feeling because of its ultra revealing nature. Some have found it borderline unnatural. Just something to know.
 
Nov 7, 2014 at 10:47 PM Post #6 of 15

dclaz

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If I may, the 800 is certainly in a class all its own, however many have experienced the "love it or hate it" feeling because of its ultra revealing nature. Some have found it borderline unnatural. Just something to know.

I have definitely read a lot of testimony of this nature. I also imagine it is something you just get used to though.
 
Nov 7, 2014 at 11:35 PM Post #9 of 15

paradoxper

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Should have went with the Vali and HD800 with maybe a Gamma DAC.
 
Nov 7, 2014 at 11:49 PM Post #10 of 15

dclaz

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  Should have went with the Vali and HD800 with maybe a Gamma DAC.

 
That seems a bit specific? The DAC/amp I will be getting has plenty of power and nice specs (femtosecond clock etc) and I got it for what appears to be a bargain compared to other DAC's of similar specification.
 
And to be honest, I happen to think source gear (especially the DAC) starts to make very little difference once you past a certain point providing the designer and manufacturer are aiming to do what they are meant to, and that's recreating the input signal as accurately as possible. 
 
When I hear that 2 high end DAC's sound different, to me it can only mean 2 things. 1) The person making the comparison is wrong (and it is very easy to be wrong about things like this). 2) One of the DAC's must be doing an AWFUL job, which would make me wonder how it got passed any sort of quality control.
 
Nov 8, 2014 at 12:16 AM Post #11 of 15

paradoxper

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Sorry, my mind was in some tunes - I meant The Gungnir DAC.
 
Anyways, I just thought that'd be the better valued route, I'd take. 
 
Nov 8, 2014 at 12:40 AM Post #13 of 15

RingingEars

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Another vote for the HD800.
I was very concerned when I bought mine because of the comment about them being "peaky". I find them to be the most accurate headphones I've heard, Not peaky at all. Very resolving and clear. However they are very revealing. Bad recordings will sound bad. there's no forgiveness.
As far as aesthetics go I can relate to how you feel. I have always thought they were ugly... Until I actually got my hands on them. They look super in person. You have to appreciate the design and level of detail.
The build quality is superb, but FIY they are made of a type of plastic. I think they are a nylon/glass mix, but there again they are specifically designed that way to deaden vibration.
 
Nov 8, 2014 at 1:31 AM Post #14 of 15

Rhamnetin

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Any chance you can audition them before buying?  Since you want transparency, you can't go wrong with the Sennheiser HD 800.  Although I'd like to point out, not every high end headphone wants to be ultra transparent and realistic.  Some people adore the colorations of headphones like the Fostex TH900.  But for you, the HD 800 seems right up your alley. 
 

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