New Headphone recommendations for semi-newbie
Jun 9, 2002 at 8:23 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 33


100+ Head-Fier
Feb 14, 2002
I got into the audiophile scene a little bit about 5 months ago, and ordered some KSC-35s after some recommendations. I love these cans, as they sound really good ... but I think im going to use them for mostly portable now and get something to use for my computer for all the time use. My budget is ~>$100 US, and I want some full sized cans that are closed or leak very little, as I will be going to college in a couple months and want to be able to listen to music or play games whenever I want without me having to worry about disturbing anyone (or noise disturbing me for that matter) ... or opened cans that leak very little. Comfort is a very important factor too as I will want to be able to wear them for extended periods of time since I will be using them for all my music and games. I would prefer they sound as good or better than the KSC-35, but I'm not sure that possible for less than $100. I heard something about the Koss UR-40, but I don't know if those are any good or not.
Jun 9, 2002 at 8:45 PM Post #3 of 33
Yeah, right from my Soundblaster Audigy, so a long cord would be a good idea, but I already have a 10ft extention cord that I have for my KSC-35s, so its no big deal. I might get a something where i can have my cans and speakers plugged up at the same times, but I very rarely use my speakers now because of my KSC-35s. Pretty much all my Cambridge Soundworks speakers are good for are window's system sounds.
Jun 9, 2002 at 10:52 PM Post #4 of 33
You might consider the Sony MDR-V6/7506. I hear they're fairly easy to drive. I would recommend the Sennheiser HD 280s, but they pretty much require an amp.
Jun 9, 2002 at 11:16 PM Post #5 of 33
Thanks for the suggestion. I have been doing some reading and the V6's are on the top of my list right now. I don't have enought money for an amp (cheapest I have seen are $100), and I'm not sure how they would work with a computer. I'm also open to open cans that have low leakage, as they generally sound better. I have heard the Senn HD 497 and Grado SR60 are the best sounding sub $100 cans, but I don't know how much they leak ... Senn has a mail in rebated for the month of June too, but that won't do me much good if they leak too much.
Anyway thank for the advice.
Jun 10, 2002 at 2:03 AM Post #7 of 33
Let me try to nip this insidious "280 needs an amp" stuff in the bud! I've spent the weekend listening to the 280s with and without my JMT amp, and though the 280s gain a bit more soundstage with an amp, they sound perfectly decent directly out of my 5 mW/channel Sony CD player. No reason to avoid the 280s out of fear that you need an amp...

The Sony V6s (which sound generally worse that the 280s) have an impedance of 63 ohms --- exactly 1 Ohm less than the HD 280s impedance of 64 Ohms! I trust that no one will argue that ONE OHM makes the difference here?

I feel that any set of cans under 100 Ohms impedance deliver at least adequate performance without an amp. In the case of the 280s, I would say you're getting about 85-90% capability from em without an amp; about the same as you get from the V6s (in my subjective opinion) and more than enough performance to make you a happy camper. Especially since the soundstage is much broader than the Sonys, and the treble far less harsh. The 280s do cost more, but I don't think Wallstreet should rule em out on the basis of the "needs an amp" theory...
Jun 10, 2002 at 2:36 AM Post #8 of 33
I don't think impedence is the sole measure of whether a portable can drive the a pair of headphones. For example, my Koss Portapros (also 64 ohms) sounds much fuller out of my portable than the 280s, which as I said sound very thin. Of course, when I hook up to my home receiver it's a different story, the 280s dominate. Further, my Hd 202s sound fuller out of the portable as well.

Consider home loudspeakers, many of them are 8 ohms yet require varying wattage to drive them properly.

I can only speak from personal experience, but I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my META42 so I can use the 280s with my portable. And no, I don't care that I look incredibly silly wearing the giant 280s on the subway.
Jun 10, 2002 at 3:34 AM Post #9 of 33
I would recommend the Audio Technica ATH-A55 at

I really do love these headphones. I primarily listen to them at my computer, and they sound great. Very easily driven. They are closed headphones. They provide an impressive soundstage that is great for gaming. I've used them to play Morrowind, and it provides a good sence of location of the origins of sound. It comes as close to surround sound as two speakers can come.

The sound quality out of these headphones is great. Good, deep bass. The sound provides good details, without being analytical. Very musical. These headphones can be listened to for hours without fatigue. These headphones provide a warm sound. Good treble, but not heavy on it. Pretty good balance.

These headphones define comfort. I hardly notice that I'm even wearing them. They fit will on my head, but they don't grip my head or provide excess pressure on the side of my head.
Jun 10, 2002 at 4:37 AM Post #10 of 33
Thanks for the posts. I'm really considering the HD 280s now and I'll look into the ATH-A55, but I have to say I haven't heard anyone talking about them. I do play morrowind though, and it is a great game, but I think that music sound is more important for cans than gaming.
Also I have been hearing on the forums that the Audigy is a bad sound card to use for music with headphones and such. Should I replace my Audigy with a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz, or are there just people that hate Creative.
Oh and the HD 280s will be an improvement over the KSC-35 won't they ... I really don't want to spend this much money and they not be better, even though I'm going to need a closed set. Anyway thanks for the suggestions.
Jun 10, 2002 at 8:51 AM Post #11 of 33
The only reason that people haven't been talking about the ATH-A55 is because I'm the only person that has them. Tomcat has the predecesor A5. Other than that most people have the high end Audio Technica headphones. I think youll be happy with either one, but take a chance and join team AT. You won't regret it.
Jun 10, 2002 at 1:36 PM Post #12 of 33

Oh and the HD 280s will be an improvement over the KSC-35 won't they

A few points to mention:

1. The Senn 280's do not need an amp. While almost every headphone above 32 ohms impedance will benefit from an amp, it is definitely not a requirement to get decent sound out of the 280's. 'delenda est sony's assessment is absolutely accurate in that regard.

2. The 280's are big. This means that they will feel quite different on your head than your 'barely-there' KSC-35's. They are heavier, and put more pressure downward and inward on your head. This all contributes to their great isolation, but you may or may not like the feel. Not sound related, but a very real consideration for long listening sessions.

3. The 280's are closed. Closed cans sound different than open ones. If you need their benefits, then it's a no brainer. If you do not, then it becomes much more subjective.

The bottom line (for me, anyway) is that the Koss' sound great, and even better for the money they cost The Senn's are good too, but I am not sure that you will think they are 3x better, or even 2x better! I think it comes down to #3 above.

Get an audition before you buy. You will probably get an even better appreciation for how good the Koss' are.
Jun 10, 2002 at 1:47 PM Post #13 of 33
Thanks for the pointers jpelg. I'll see if I can test some cans at in some stores. I'm thinking that bestbuy is my best bet for testing, as I don't know of any audio stores in my area, but I know there have to be some. I'm in no hurry anyway ... I don't start college until about 2 more months, I just want to make sure I get plenty of research done.

Oh and dohimator can you do a review of the ATH-A55s, and compare it to the HD 280s ... it would be very helpfull, thanks.
Jun 10, 2002 at 1:52 PM Post #14 of 33
I think it comes down to what you mean by "need." In many ways, the 280s don't "need" an amp. You can play them through a portable and get decent, clean sound out of them. All I am saying, and I continue to stick by this, is that if you want to get performance from the 280s that will justify the $90 you spent on them, you better either have a portable amp, or run them from a source with a decent headphone output.

I'm curious to hear from others with the 280s... How do they sound to you out of a portable with no external amp?

BTW, I'm using a Slimx portable -- it would very well be that it has a particularly weak internal amp, but I thought the 280s were also not driven properly by my home cd player headphone output.
Jun 10, 2002 at 1:53 PM Post #15 of 33
wallstreet: Unfortunately, Best Buy doesn't have any headphones on display for demoing. Nor does that superstore chain allow such demoing at all. You either take it or leave it. That's clearly a shame, since that chain doesn't carry any of the good headphones that we recommend. In fact, nearly all of the headphones that superstore chain carries are either overpriced and underperforming (Senn HD 570 and Sony V700DJ come to mind) or are cheap and wretched (Street Styles from anyone and the Sony MDR-101LP come to mind).

Note that I mentioned only the selection available at the brick-and-mortar Best Buy superstores; some of the best-sounding headphones Best Buy sells (i.e. Senn HD 590) are available only through that superstore's Web site.

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