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Looking for Recommendations/Questions: New Balanced Headphones

  1. RowBearToe
    Hey guys,

    I'm very new to the headphone game and am looking for recommendations/have some questions. I'm looking for over the ear headphones to be used in two scenarios. First, utilizing the balanced output from my Pioneer XDP-300R DAP. The second being from the 1/4" phones output from my Marantz PM5005 amp which is driven by my Music Hall mmf-2.2 record player. I currently have a set of Bose OE2 headphones. I had standard headphones prior to that, received the Bose set as a gift, and they really made me start to appreciate higher sound quality. I like the Bose, but am looking to take advantage of the improved sound quality the balanced output is said to provide. My budget is preferably in the $150-300 range.

    1. Is it even possible to have one set of headphones to use from a balanced output AND a 1/4" headphone output?
    2. Do you have any recommendations? Could be specific models or even just brands. I honestly don't even know the tiers of brands available.
    3. Is there anywhere in the DC Metro, Northern VA, Annapolis, Baltimore, Fredericksburg, Richmond areas that I could go to test out some different headphone options?

    Any help is much appreciated, thanks!
  2. Christoph
    1) a) You can either buy a headphone with a detachable cable and buy two cables, one balanced and one single ended 1/4".
    b) You can buy e.g. a headphone with a balanced cable and an balanced to 1/4" adapter. But i don't know a balanced headphone within this price range (<300$). Can it be a used one?
    2) What are you hearing preferences? Open or closed ?
  3. RowBearToe
    Yeah, I guess I missed some other helpful details, sorry. I'd be using them mostly at work, in an office, so I need closed headphones. That being said, I'm not really a fan of noise cancelling phones, but could be persuaded to get some. Also, I listen to all types of music, mostly Soul, Funk, Hip-Hop, Rock, Pop, Blues. I listen to Electronic, Country and Jazz on occasion, but not nearly as often.

    I'm definitely open to buying used if necessary. What is the typical price range for balanced phones? I just kind of assumed I'd be able to get some in that range. I could go higher if necessary, but prefer to keep it in the <$300 range.

    If I get one set of balanced headphones for the 2 scenarios, would I need to change anything regarding my setup of the amp to use them without damaging either component?

    Thanks for your help!
  4. Christoph
    You find headphones with balanced cables in the more upper price range.
    Usually there are either two different cables in the package or a balanced cable and an adapter to 1/4".

    I would mainly focus on the headphones and only in a second step on the connection type.

    I personally like Beyerdynamic in this price range, for example the
    Beyerdynamic DT-1770 Pro is a closed headphone which i like for your mentioned music styles, however it doesn't come with a balanced cable nor have i found a balanced cable as an option from the manufacturer.
    You can google for 3rd party cable makers or when you are confident in DIY, make your own cable.

    Another closed headphone from Beyerdynamic is the T5P, there is also an optional balanced cable available, but this doesn't fit into your price range.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2019
    RowBearToe likes this.
  5. PopZeus
    If you’re a fan of bass, I would have to recommend the $200 usd Meze 99 Noir. Just pick up their balanced cable for an extra $50 and you’ll have, imho, one of the best closed back headphones one can get for under $300.
    RowBearToe likes this.
  6. Mhog55
    Meze 99 Noir and Audio Technica Ath-Msr7b can be used balanced. You will need to source a 2.5mm trrs balanced cable for either headphone. At both respective price points, I haven't heard any better closed backs. If you prefer bass, get the 99s. If you prefer treble, get the Msr7b. The mids on both headphones are fantastic.
    From my experience, a balanced connection provides greater separation between instruments, better treble extension, and a cleaner sound. I'm not talking a mind blowing experience, but it's noticeable imo. Another factor is the cable itself - quality and materials.
    RowBearToe likes this.
  7. turbomustang84
    Sennheiser HD-6XX and a balanced cable is under your price and is a great Headphone
    RowBearToe likes this.
  8. Mhog55
    OP wants closed cans.
    RowBearToe likes this.
  9. RowBearToe
    I'm assuming you meant the 770 Pro? As the 1770s are much more expensive. Just want to be sure I know what you were recommending before checking them out. Are there any places I should start or avoid when considering 3rd party cable vendors? Thanks for all of your help!

    Thanks for the recommendations! I've heard quite a bit about the 99 Noir so I'll definitely have to check them out. @Mhog55, any recommendations on where to pick up a balanced cable, or places to avoid?
  10. Christoph
    Initially i meant the DT 1770 PRO, but they are new over your budget, i know. Only used they would probably fit into your budget, therefore i asked previously if contition 'used' would be also an option.
    The DT 770 PRO are much cheaper as you have noticed, they are also not bad.
    Ideally you could try both before you buy if you have the chance.
    RowBearToe likes this.
  11. Mhog55
    As for balanced cables - It depends on which headphones you get. For the 99s, you can purchase them directly from Meze audio. The 50 dollar cable isn't half bad. It even pops up on Amazon from time to time. The Msr7b is a little more tricky, but it comes with a 4.4mm balanced cable in the box. Is your dap a 2.5mm or 4.4mm? You can use an adapter with the stock balanced cable. I didn't want to go that route, as I don't like having the extra piece connected, and I really don't know if it lessens the audio quality. I found a cable on ebay, but it costed 100 bucks. Likely because the Msr7b uses special connectors. Worth it to me though. Very nice cable from Luna Shops, and I own others as well.
    RowBearToe likes this.
  12. Mhog55
    Another option is the Sony mdr-1am2. It also comes with a balanced cable, but it's 4.4mm. I haven't listened to these, so I can't speak on how they sound.
    RowBearToe likes this.
  13. RowBearToe
    Gotcha, ok cool, just wanted to check. I'd definitely be open to some used 1770s but wanted to make sure that's what you meant. Thanks!

    The DAP is 2.55mm, and yeah I'd probably look for a separate cable as opposed to an adapter since the jacks have been known to be fragile on the 300R. I'll definitely check out Luna shops for cables, thanks!

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