I'm looking to buy a decent pair of headphones, (RS 180 vs. HD598 - undecided!) and I've read reviews that the higher-priced cans go to waste without a decent set of amplifiers. Meaning, there's not much use buying a decent pair of headphones if you’re only going to plug them into your laptop/computer or ipod. Is this true? If so, what would you recommend for a non-audiophile-yet-highly-recreational-user? My dad's a mastering engineer, and we've both been identified to have perfect pitch, so I'd like to think that I can notice the slightest differences, however I lack the audiophile jargon that might come along with users with high music involvement!
Both the RS180 and HD598 are good headphones that are easy to drive, my personal opinion is that I'd be less worried about the amp and more worried about you using the onboard motherboard DAC in your laptop/computer - some of those sound so awful is an achivement in itself.
So the short answer is no....
And just to make it clear - RS180 & 598 aren't high-end, they're "upper-middle-class" headphones designed to be easy to drive. Nothing wrong with that though, I think the 598 is a stellar performer.
x2 what TwoEars said: RS180 and 598 are not high end, not by a mile. The RS180 is wireless, which means (to most audiophiles) that it's not high enough fidelity--perhaps true, perhaps not, but what is certain is that such products are never marketed towards audiophiles. The bias against wireless is strong.
The 598 is only the top of the 5xx series from Sennheiser, which is then followed by the 6xx series, and then the HD 800. Consider the prices of the 6xx and 800 headphones; the 598 is definitely pitched much lower, although again, as what TwoEars said it is considered great value for money.
As your dad is a mastering engineer, I'm sure he can tell you that amps will only matter on a few occasions, e.g. if the headphones have a very low or high impedance that isn't within your player's means to handle, or are so low sensitivity that the volume is inaudible out of your player.
Thanks for both your replies. As said, I'm a humble rec-user; 'cans' is the furthest audiophile jargon I've used thus far. I had no idea there was lower-class; upper-lowerr class; middle-class; upper-middle-class &c &c. The point I aimed to drive home was just that I'd like to be careful when buying these two headphones b/c it's not pocket-change anymore.
Again, thank you for your replies. It looks like the 598 is the winner.