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Just getting into higher end headphones and know nothing. Looking for around the ear at 250$-320$

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by im0watching0you, Aug 12, 2012.
  1. im0watching0you
    Got a pair of Bose AE2 headphones for my birthday an then learned that Bose is overpriced. So, I am looking for a new pair of headphones.

    I just use an iPod touch and Walkman for my music. I listen several hours a day primarily just at home but in the car also. It's almost all music. Enough so that is the only worthwhile thing to mention.

    320$ is my "Oh my god, I have NO money left these better be worth it" price. If spending that much will get me a superior product I will spend it but I will feel every single dime.

    My decision to go for around the ear rather than on or in is based upon the possibly wrong idea that that will give both me and everyone around me a quieter experience. When I have headphones on I want the world to drop away.

    My preferred genres are hard rock, movie score style stuff(all the orchestral epic sort of thing), and symphonic metal. That really is just about the breadth of my taste. But at 280$ I have a hard time believing their is a genre that won't sound amazing.

    I think that about covers it. If you need any more info just ask and I will try to get it for you. And if this is on the wrong area, I am sincerely sorry. I can only assume there are moderators that will spare a newbie and move this to the appropriate area. Excuse the possible spelling errors to... iPod plus sleep deprivation.
  2. obobskivich

    Overpriced relative to what? This seems like a bad reason to upgrade - and do know that there's a lot of irrational and inexperienced blind hatred directed towards Bose. They aren't bad headphones, and if you like how they sound, go with it. Especially if they were a gift; you paid nothing.

    First up - please don't listen to headphones if you're operating a car (it's illegal in most jurisdictions, and very dangerous, especially with the high isolating stuff I'm about to suggest).

    Secondly - $200-$300 is sadly becoming "entry level" for a lot of audiophiles (I don't agree with this, but that's how a lot of people are looking at things these days). That said, there are a few models I'd suggest (we'll get to that).

    Regarding on-ear, versus around-ear, no, that won't make a difference in terms of leakage or isolation. In-ears will have the best isolation you can buy, and there are plenty of very good on-ear cans that isolate very well, same as around-ears.

    Now, regarding what I'll suggest:

    - If you like how the Bose headphones sound, and want good noise isolation for use out and about (not while driving), the QC15 would be the step up. They fix the flaws associated with the AE2, and have ANC.

    - If you don't like how the Bose headphones sound, I would steer you in a few directions. The Kenwood KH-K1000 are my favorite closed headphones of all time (and do exceed your budget), and imho are a somewhat better headphone than the QC15. There's also a variety of different (but not head and shoulders better) cans that are around the same price as the AE2 you already have (Senn HD 280, M-Audio Q40, Creative Aurvana Live, etc).

    - You might also consider the Audio-Technica ESW9 as an on-ear, but they don't provide a ton of isolation compared to some of the above options.

    Other models that you might get pointed towards, that I admittedly haven't tried, include the Senn HD-25 and Beyerdynamic DT-770, which I would suggest you try out for yourself as well (but I won't suggest them up or down without having heard them). The Beyerdynamic DT1350 is also supposed to be a fairly good on-ear headphone (but again, haven't heard them).

    But I will say again, if you like how the AE2 sound, stick with them - you haven't been "ripped off" or anything of the sort, and they're not bad headphones by any means. At $150 they're a tad expensive (most headphones I would view as competitive cost between $100 and $130, but you have to remember that Bose fixes their prices, few of their competitors do), but not out of their league. If you have the extra coin, and the AE2 were purchased recently enough from Bose, they should still let you step them up to the QC for the difference, and the QC do improve on them. You cannot go "higher up" on that house sound ladder.

    Regarding what the K1000, QC15, etc get you over the AE2 - slightly better extension, slightly larger/better soundstage, maybe a touch more details, etc - it's marginal improvements for large cash outlay. The headphones that will really stand apart cost more, and/or are open-back (which are a bad idea for mobile use of any sort).

    Now, on top of all of this, I'd consider IEMs too - they offer better isolation, are more portable, and will survive more abuse (that's one of the biggest flaws to the Bose headphones - they aren't the most durable cans ever made). There's a separate sub-forum for IEMs, and a huge (I think it's up to 300) multi-way comparison between IEMs at all sorts of price points.
  3. im0watching0you
    First off, if I wanted to kill myself I could do it better ways than using headphones while driving. I was referring to being a passenger.

    Anyways, thank you for your suggestions. I will research them and such. If I decide to move up from my AE2. This was just merely to see if I should be looking for something else after I heard constant mentions of the fashion accessory that is Bose.

    I am the sort of person who will buy the best they can. I hardly buy anything but when I do it is the epitomy(sp?) of creation. Or i like to think so at least. But it's sounding like the extra money I am putting in would really not be worth it... Though the Bose QC are looking interesting.

    Thanks for the advice then!
  4. obobskivich

    Aha, very good. It's just one of those comments I see and respond to in hopes that people aren't doing dangerous things (I see too many people listening to cans while driving).

    See, where are you getting the vitriol towards Bose? The simple question is - do you like how they sound? Who cares beyond that. :)

    That said, if you want true quiet in noisy environments (libraries, busses, trains, etc) the QC15 are a good upgrade over the AE2 (and far less microphonic). Downside is they eat batteries.
  5. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Both headphone should be easy to drive from your iPod and Walkman
    Audio Technica ATH-A900X.
    AKG K550, best price (for the K550) is ordering from Thomann, in Europe and shipping to the USA.
  6. obobskivich

    Forgot about both of those! Good catch!
  7. anwaypasible
    i dont want to comment about all the details in the post, but i do want to comment about 'Just getting into higher end headphones and know nothing.' in the forum thread topic.
    searching for speakers always starts out the same no matter if it is headphones or other speakers.
    look for a flat frequency response
    look for speakers that are loose and move freely (when audio is sent to them, not by pushing on the cone)
    there are three levels of loose:
    1. direct (think of this as the vocals)
    2. transient (think of this as the echo in a drum cymbal or any bell)
    3. nuance (think of this as the next step of lighter sounds, kinda like a breeze or microwave signal that cooks the food in the microwave because this is the one that lets more of the 'scoring' or '3d effects' out of the bag)
    not every speaker has all three.
    and just like any video game, each detail can have more or less quantity.
    headphones really only get one more 'thing' about the sound.
    either the sound is inside your head or the sound is pulled out from inside your head.
    dont forget some speakers need more power than other speakers, meaning some need an amplifier bigger than the one in your everyday portable player.
    a flat frequency response is important because it allows you to hear what the audio mastering wants you to hear.
    when everybody has a flat frequency response, everybody can share it the same.
    not everybody will hear it EXACTLY the same because their ears are different shapes and sizes.
    this is why people use software to change the sound, but in reality - when those people take those headphones off they will never-ever hear the sound the same again because their ear shape gets in the way all over again.
    it really isnt natural and because of that it is simply a gimmick.
    (perfectly flat frequency response, perfectly flat phase response and you are perfectly ready to listen to any rise or fall of volume per frequency or any degree of phase shift that happens in the real world recording or audio mastered final .. as long as the speakers and amplifer can hold on for the ride)
    some people will tell you to bring a digital sinewave sweep to listen for how flat the frequency response is.
    but really, there is a huge problem with amplifiers.
    if you play only one frequency, the amplifier might have extra voltage laying around inside the circuit and play that frequency louder than normal.
    when it is louder, it doesnt do you any good because the amplifier is lying to you.
    one frequency isnt always the same as sound with a wider band of any type of noise.
    that is why it is prefered to use pink noise because it has lots of frequencies playing, but not every single one at the same time.
    because each frequency isnt being played back at the exact same time, it can help prevent the opposite problem.
    the amplifer was low on voltage because it was trying to play everything, and when you pop in some regular music there are some spots louder than others because the amplifier has more voltage again.
    when pink noise is really flat, it doesnt sound like snow at all.
    it sounds like a soft hum of air from a fan that you cant hear, all you hear is the hum of the wind.
    the only way to get the pink noise to that high level of accuracy is to adjust the window and the gate until you find what matches the room the best.
    my bad.
    i was gonna stop after talking about the amplifier, but i know the people around here are defensive and i had to throw them a bone to keep them from assaulting me.

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