Non-amped classical cans?
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nobody020

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Hey guys,

I know the question has been asked many times, but I'm looking for a set of headphones that don't require an amp. I listen to almost exclusively classical music and jazz music.

I've read a lot about the Sennheiser HD-580s, but I'm not really prepared to invest in an amp to drive them at this point, since whatever I buy right now will be my first pair of good headphones.

Anyone have any definitive suggestions?
I've also read a lot about the Grado series, but as I understand, those series are better suited towards rock and pop music.

If anyone has any ideas, I'd be extremely grateful, as I've spent a few hours scouring these posts for some insight, but I've found nothing that matches my needs.

-nobody020
 
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daycart1

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Dear Nobody,

IMO: 1. It depends on your source. Older Sony pcdps, for example, do just fine with Senn 580's for classical music.
2. Grados are often a better fit with rock than other cans, but they are by no means inadequate with classical.
3. What is your budget? Almost everyone loves the Etys.
 
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nobody020

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As for budget, I'd like it to be somewhere less than 300 US dollars.

As for the etys, I don't really like the idea of sticking things into my ears to hear the music.

Any other suggestions?

I'm currently seriously considering a Alessandro MS-1, as it's relatively cheap and I've heard it's not quite as "in your face" as the Grado series?

I assume that the Hd-580 would be hard to drive with something like my Sound Blaster live though...

-nobody020
 
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sunshine

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IMO the Senn HD580/600 sound decent driven directly from the SB Audigy. There was more than adequate volume, albeit sounding a little thin. If I were in your shoes I would get them first and then an amp later when you have more funds.
 
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Magicthyse

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With the somewhat noisy output signal of the Sound Blaster (I have a couple of Live! Platinum and an Audigy Platimum, and stick to this statement), I'd say a Koss KSC-35 and an extension cord would be more than sufficient for classical / jazz listening.

At the most, employ a Grado SR60, which aren't that in your face - they're very good all-round phones. Anything better would IMHO be wasted on a relatively poor source like the SBLive!.
 
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kerelybonto

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nobody020, according to the people at Grado Labs, whom I asked, the Alessandro-Grado Music Series 'phones have slightly different sonic characteristics than their Grado Prestige/Reference Series counterparts. The Alessandro-Grados have a "brighter, more up front sound." Now, since many people think the regular Grados are already somewhat bright, and definitely aggressive, I doubt you'll want the Alessandro version.

If you wan to go this route, I recommend the Grado SR-80, the MS-1's standard equivalent. I own a pair of these cans and enjoy them immensely. They are easy to drive, and sound good out of even a portable source. I do, however, listen to different sorts of music than you, and the Grado headphones are generally regarded as too up-front for classical music.

The only other headphone I can comment on from first-hand experience is the Sony MDR-V6, which sounds similar to the Grados, but without the edge. They are also very easy drive; they're also closed, which could be either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your needs.

My experience in moving from bad to good headphones reminds me that a lot of the advice you get on this forum is a bit off-base for the audio neophyte. You've had it drilled into that the Sennheiser HD580/600 needs an amp; that's true, but it's misleading -- those cans will still sound good without one, probably much better than what you're used to. If you think that one of those is the long-term ideal for you, I'd advise you to go ahead and buy it. Then, when you feel like it, you can pick up an amp and make it sound even better.

kerleybonto
 
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SumB

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Quote:

I'm currently seriously considering a Alessandro MS-1, as it's relatively cheap and I've heard it's not quite as "in your face" as the Grado series?


The MS-1's are just as "up front" as the other low end Grado's.
 
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beowulf

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Quote:

Originally posted by nobody020
Hey guys,

I know the question has been asked many times, but I'm looking for a set of headphones that don't require an amp. I listen to almost exclusively classical music and jazz music.


You'll get tons of answers as everybody has a particular favorite. Personally, I also listen to a lot of classical and have found the Sony MDR-CD3000 and the Sennheiser HD-590 to be excellent for my music, without dedicated amplification.

You should at least try to listen to both models.
 
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bifcake

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If your budget is around $300, why not invest in a pair of hd580's ($140 on e-bay) and an amp like Creek OBH-11 for about $150? That would give you the best of both worlds.
 
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nobody020

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Thanks to everyone for their comments.

It looks like I'm going to stick with the entry level grado sr60 for right now because I know they're readily availble for a reasonable price, and I'm pretty sure that they'd be a significant upgrade from my sony clip-ons with one ear dead.

I might also try to get the Ksc-35s, but I don't know where i'll be able to find them. I live in Taiwan, so it's pretty hard for me to order stuff and have it mailed here. I know I've seen the ksc-55 here though, does anyone have any comments about that one?

-nobody020
 
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puppyslugg

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Don't count out the ety's. I felt the same way you did about having something stuck in my ear. But I gave into the rantings
of the people here and headwize, and I'm glad I did.
 
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Magicthyse

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55's (the ones with the street style headband) are fine too.

Can't be definitive, but 55's are probably the closest thing to the 35's in their new 'looks a bit like Sony' lineup.

I've always been meaning to try the 55's, cuz the 50's always threaten to fall off (note to MacDEF - they don't actually fall off unless you're jumping up and down really hard - but they constantly threaten to do so by flapping around on your ears), but haven't been able to find them here.

The 50's sound weaker than the 35's, probably due to the fit issue. The 55's should be better.
 
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MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by Magicthyse
Can't be definitive, but 55's are probably the closest thing to the 35's in their new 'looks a bit like Sony' lineup.


The 50 are the closest, in looks, fit, and sound. The 55 are like a vise grip!

Quote:

I've always been meaning to try the 55's, cuz the 50's always threaten to fall off (note to MacDEF - they don't actually fall off unless you're jumping up and down really hard - but they constantly threaten to do so by flapping around on your ears),


That's one reason I don't like the KSC-50. They're heavier, bulkier, and don't fit as well. They *do* fall off for me


Quote:

The 50's sound weaker than the 35's, probably due to the fit issue. The 55's should be better.


The KSC-55 are to far to the other extreme, IMO. Unless you have a very thin head, they actually hurt! The plastic headband digs into the back of your head. In addition, they press very tightly against your ears, so they end up being boomier than the 35 and 50.
 
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Magicthyse

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Darn. I heard they were over-secure... Surely there's something you can do about that? They bend at all?

I've also figured how to get 50's to stay on - you have to bend the clips in an s-shape (looking at the clip from the back).
 
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If you havent made your purchase yet, here's another 2c.

I'll second beowulf on the Senn HD590. Grado SR60 is a fine phone, but IMO HD590 outclasses it in almost every category including comfort. Both can be regarded as a touch upfront, but HD590 has more precise and refined presentation with tons of detail and IMO far better bass than SR60. Surely it is not a big surprise since HD590 costs about 2 times more, but if you have the cash it is worth it.
 
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