Help! Need headphones + amp, ~400 dollars to spend
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twomonger

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Hello all, this is my first post here and I'm pretty new to headphones.
 
I own a pair of Sony MDR-V6s for general listening/iPod use and I think I'll continue to use them when I'm taking the train/walking to class etc. but for the next year I want a pair of headphones that will be with me for the long haul.
 
I listen to a lot of different music--I have an unhealthy obsession with Elliott Smith and love classical piano music, Debussy, Chopin, Arvo Part. Much of the time I'm listening to instrumental hip-hop or electronic music like Gold Panda, devonwho, Samiyam. I'm also a just-starting-out beatmaker and spend a lot of time fiddling around in Ableton, and I want these headphones to be awesome not only in music-listening but music-making as well.
 
Here's an example of music I want to really be blown away by when listening through new headphones: http://soundcloud.com/constrobuz/i-know
 
I listen to music out of a 13 inch Macbook Pro--does this necessitate buying an amp for high quality headphones?
 
Some headphones I'm looking at are the Denon AHD2000 and AKG K701s. I've never listened to the higher-end Sennheiser models (such as the HD650) but I've been told that the sound is amazingly warm and awesome, like rolling around in a vat of hot butter or something. And how do these compare to Shure or Audio Technica? I'm pretty befuddled.
 
I have a pair of Grado SR-60is that I bought last year but unfortunately I (a) find these a bit uncomfortable and (b) not bass intensive enough for my liking.
 
Basically I want these headphones to be the new love of my life. I'm spending a lot of time evaluating the decision over which ones to buy and I'd really appreciate some direction on which headphones to buy.
 
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2enty3

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You definitely don't want the 701's because in my experience they are very similar to the Grado SR80, meaning you won't get the bass you're looking for.
 
Otherwise I have heard other members saying the Denon AHD2000's are quite bassy.You might want to check out beyerdynamic (DT880/DT990 ?) or Ultrasone which are often said to be quite bassy. Also the Sony XB series are, as their name suggests, quite bassy.
 
As for amp requirements, I will safely say that it would be greatly suggested.
 
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twomonger

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Thanks for the help! Any suggestions regarding which amps are best?
 
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2enty3

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^^ hmmm....sounds legit.

 
Sorry, But I also have very limited knowledge on amps. I only have the NFB-12 and nothing to compare to, so I really can't help you too much.
Hopefully, Another more knowledgeable member might be able to help you.
 
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MalVeauX

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Quote:
Thanks for the help! Any suggestions regarding which amps are best?

Heya,
 
I listened to that song you posted. You basically want headphones that can handle electronica with a lot of bass. But you also want something that can perform a render of a piano concert. You are in luck my friend, because that's what I listen to as well. Stuff like OceanLab, BT, Deadmau5, etc, dub and house mixes. But I also listen to a lot of piano, some more recent stuff like Ludovico Einaudi for example (my favorite, example song would be `Ora'). One of my favorite headphones for this kind of spread are my BeyerDyanmic DT990's. I get the high end and a rich low end with a massive sound stage and super comfort. You can get them used for around $200 usually (and some are for sale in the for sale forum right now I believe). As for amping them, that depends on the impedance you buy. If you get the 32ohm impedance, you may not need an amp so you could use your budget to buy new. Or get new with an entry level DAC/AMP to drive it and replace your laptop's DAC, such as a FiiO E7 or Nuforce Icon (both in the $100 range). Or you could get the 250~600ohm impedance DT990's and a more serious amp, but again, you won't need a huge amp to drive these--they're relatively easy to drive I find. I have a Vivid V1 Tech portable amp that drives my DT990's 600ohm no problem and it's a little portable amp. So an E7 would be a good starting point for you. I recommend the DT990 600ohm with an amplifier (like the FiiO E7, or simply jump straight to a FiiO E9 if your budget permits). It's one of the best entry level ways to get some serious oumph in every department of audio.
 
DT990 600ohm (new)
FiiO E7 (new)
 
That meets your budget.
 
If you want more power, the FiiO E9 (new) is an incredible solid state amp for it's price. A bit more over your budget, but that's because everything is new.
 
Very best,
 
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twomonger

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Thanks for all the help! How exactly does increased impedance influence sound? Would the DT990 600 ohm with the E7 amp be similar to the 32 ohm? Do you think it's worth the price difference?
 
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2enty3

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From my limited audition with the dt990 premium version and the DT990 250ohm(?) version, I found that the 600ohm had drastically less bass quantity then the lower impedance version. This was with an amp. I found that the 600 ohm version is slightly more neutral compared to the the 250ohm. The bass quality is something I can't comment on, since the environment I listened to them in were less than ideal for analyzing detail. But either one had plenty of bass compared to other, more neutral, headphones.
 
But with an E7, it might be possible to increase bass with its "bass-boost" option that I have read about. But I have no experience with the E7, so don't take my word for it.
 
(?) = (the 2005 edition)
 
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MalVeauX

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Quote:
From my limited audition with the dt990 premium version and the DT990 250ohm(?) version, I found that the 600ohm had drastically less bass quantity then the lower impedance version. This was with an amp. I found that the 600 ohm version is slightly more neutral compared to the the 250ohm. The bass quality is something I can't comment on, since the environment I listened to them in were less than ideal for analyzing detail. But either one had plenty of bass compared to other, more neutral, headphones.
 
But with an E7, it might be possible to increase bass with its "bass-boost" option that I have read about. But I have no experience with the E7, so don't take my word for it.
 
(?) = (the 2005 edition)

Oddly most people have said that they find the 600ohm version of the DT990 to be the bassiest and best quality of bass of the line.
 
It's why I have the can. And I'm completely satisfied with it. It's not hard to drive, contrary to the 600ohm rating (not that 600ohms is hard to push, and they're not very insensitive cans).
 
 
Quote:
Thanks for all the help! How exactly does increased impedance influence sound? Would the DT990 600 ohm with the E7 amp be similar to the 32 ohm? Do you think it's worth the price difference?
 
Impedance simply makes it so more power is required to push the driver. Typically it's because the rest of the components involved are of higher quality, but also it's to reduce certain noise and artifact that isn't amplified enough to show up in the render of sound at higher impedance. Typically with a good DAC and a good AMP, a high impedance headphone should be pretty close to silent when a track has a silent moment. Depending on the price difference, I would say yes. You don't need an amp at all if you get the 32ohm version. That can save you money if you're on a very tight budget with no plan or thought to upgrade in the future anything you have. If you think for a second you may invest later into some more components (DAC, AMP, etc) then I would climb the impedance ladder on this particular headphone. If the price difference is huge (like $100 huge) then sure, save that money, get the 32ohm. If the price difference is insignificant ($20) then get the higher premium with higher impedance set--and simply know you will need an amplifier. But again, you don't need a massive amplifier. You'll hear a lot of huge amp combinations for a 600ohm headphone, but again, it's not exactly as simple as that. If the numbers were able to tell you if a headphone will properly drive only at a specific energy input, then we wouldn't have to even try things. But as it is, you'll get a high impedance headphone and not need much amplification, and likewise, a low impedance headphone that needs a lot of amplification to achieve the volumes. Based on my equipment setup, of course I think it's worth the price. But that's not everyone's opinion, merely mine. My low impedance Ultrasone Pro 900's have low impedance, but I definitely notice a difference in the bass when I have an amplifier on it, even when the volume at listening perception is the same. So a low impedance DT990 may, or may not, sound different with minor amplification. This is why I suggest simply getting the best possible headphone with your money if that line interests you--so I suggest the 600ohm.
 
Very best,
 
 
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Quote:
Thanks for the help! Any suggestions regarding which amps are best?

This is an easy one.... get the Yulong U100.
 
 

 
 
 
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Chris_Himself

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HD600 + iBasso D4
 
HD600 might be the only Sennheiser I like these days other than what the HD800 might sound like to me. Beautiful neutral, yet engaging headphone, built like a tank, and with upgradeable cables in case upgraditis kicks in and you don't want to commit to new cans just yet.
 
The iBasso is a great deal, can be used as a portable, and rollable opamps means you can alter your sonic signature and even get close to a tube sound. You also can use it with a laptop on the go with other headphones for portable listening sessions in a library or cafe
 
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kiteki

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Guys stop recommending portable amps, portable amps are about the best possible sound quality you can get out of something the size of a pack of cigarettes, the end!
 
Yeah... an iBasso or Fiio can power the HD650, DT990 etc.... if you want... but really I think desktop amps (with no size constraints) offer much better price to performance ratios.  I haven't heard many portable amps, but I wasn't very impressed with what I heard... sorry about my scorn :)
 
 
 
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Quote:
Guys stop recommending portable amps, portable amps are about the best possible sound quality you can get out of something the size of a pack of cigarettes, the end!
 
Yeah... an iBasso or Fiio can power the HD650, DT990 etc.... if you want... but really I think desktop amps (with no size constraints) offer much better price to performance ratios.  I haven't heard many portable amps, but I wasn't very impressed with what I heard... sorry about my scorn :)
 
 

 
I mean some portables can get pretty good these days plus his Macbook Pro is his primary source of music. You can even build Cmoys that sound better than some desktop amps That plus the E7/E9 combo or an iBasso includes a DAC which lets him build a high quality sound from the ground up as opposed to amplifying his macbook pro signal.


Quote:
 
 
I listen to music out of a 13 inch Macbook Pro--does this necessitate buying an amp for high quality headphones?


 
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twomonger

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Thanks for all the feedback guys--really helpful. Right now I'm trying to decide between the HD600, DT990, and Denon D2000, and I'm leaning towards either the HD600 or the DT990. Still have to do more research in terms of amps.
 
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Quote:
Thanks for all the feedback guys--really helpful. Right now I'm trying to decide between the HD600, DT990, and Denon D2000, and I'm leaning towards either the HD600 or the DT990. Still have to do more research in terms of amps.

Heya,
 
I have the DT990's and the HD580's (which are pretty much HD600's).
 
Two very different headphones. The DT990 is bassier by far and can be bright at high volumes, but not in a bad way. The HD580 (HD600) is a pretty neutral headphone, so nothing really sticks out--and that's its strength. I primarily use my DT990's because I prefer to hear more of a quality low end with almost all things I listen to. I only keep my HD580's (HD600) because they're neutral and make excellent reference headphones to compare things to. So depending on what kind of sound you're looking for keep that in mind. If you want neutral, get the HD600. It does everything pretty well. If you want something more colored to bass, the DT990 is the one to get. A used HD600 goes for $200USD roughly. A used DT990 goes for $200USD roughly. So the deciding factor really comes down to sound signature, comfort and style. Both are very comfortable and easy to wear for long hours. I think the Beyers win in the style department though. Both are very ruggedly constructed and solidly built, so will last (my HD580's are over 10 years old, no damage and I used them for thousands of hours). So again, simple decision. Want more bass? DT990. Want neutral? HD600.
 
Very best,
 
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HD600 or DT990(600 Ohm) + Matrix M Stage.
 
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