Please help a newbie choose the right gear
Oct 12, 2010 at 2:43 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 21

v1ks

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G'evening Head-Fiers!
 
I love music, can't live without it, be it at home or on the road, I must have it with me, else I end up with some tune ringing in my head over and over and I can't bloody get it out.
smily_headphones1.gif

 
I recently got rid of my Symbian phone and made an upgrade to an Android one (HTC Desire, aka Google Nexus One). First piece of software I got was a decent Media player that supports lossless audio (Meridian Media Player).
 
Now I've come to a point where I no longer wish to listen to my tunes with the cheapo bundled headphones or getting cheapo replacements when those die. So I would like get some recommendations and suggestions, if possible, from you, hard-core head-fiers.
 
The question that bothers me the most is just how much can I realistically expect to get out (in terms of sound quality) of a device whos main function is not to play back music?
 
I've done some research and homework and have put my eye on a pair of AKG K450 (or K370 from their in-canal phones), so any comments or alternatives of those would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks a bunch!
 
 
 
Vic
 
Oct 12, 2010 at 2:56 PM Post #2 of 21

basementdweller

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Well, I do have an HDC HD2 and I gave it a listen with my rather expensive Sennheiser IE8 just to make sure my perception isn't totally off.  I stand by my previous statement about my phone: I cannot find any source in the house that sounds worse...from TV's headphone out too 10 year old DAP.  Now I don't know how much the Desire shares with the HD2, but in all honesty, while listening through the phone, I cannot tell much difference between my $5 freebie earbuds and my $400 IEMs.  Others have stated that the source is important, but until I listened through my phone, I honestly can say that none of my DAPs are really worlds apart, but this thing is in a very bad way.
 
Oct 12, 2010 at 2:58 PM Post #3 of 21

basementdweller

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Crap, I forgot my point.  I wouldn't spend a lot on earphones that are tied directly to this phone unless you have other sources or can barrow a pair of higher end phones to verify that the Desire and HD2 are different.
 
Oct 12, 2010 at 3:21 PM Post #4 of 21

meltdown100

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The newer phones like yours should be pretty competitive in terms of sound quality and capability for music playback versus all but a few of the better portable players. The first things you can do which are inexpensive, and will provide better sound quality: see if android plays a lossless format or has an app that does and hopefully also gives you decent playback software, and make sure your MP3 bitrate is at least >200 Kbps. I had to re-rip a few hundred CDs once i realized how bad my 192kbps sounded on better equipment. Second, better headphones. There are a lot of cheaper options (under $100) that will give you very good sound. I have the head-direct RE0's, for about $80 they're stellar, though not for bass-heads. Read some reviews here to see of you think you'll like them.

The next step, like I took, is getting a separate portable player and running a line-out dock into a headphone amp, with a rockboxed older iPod and an amp like the PA2V2 or the mini3 you'll have very decent portable sound.
 
Oct 13, 2010 at 1:05 AM Post #5 of 21

v1ks

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Hi all!
 
Thanks for the replies I've received so far.
As far as phones go, I guess Desire can be compared with HD2 as they run on the same 1Ghz Snapdragon CPU, although Desire was released later and runs on Android and not MS Mobile. Thanks for the advice though, I will take the my Desire with the stock earbuds to a store and see is my flac's sound any different on $100+ headphones. (I'm fairly certain they will though, they do sound better even on a cheap pair of Sennheiser's that I have for my PC).
 
As for Android playing lossless... it does, yes, it was actually the first software I bought off the Android market (although not all of my music is in flac). One thing it is missing badly is an equalizer. Still haven't found a player that both plays lossless and offers a (working) equalizer.
 
And god, I wish I was a bass-head, that would make things so much easier (due to the limited choice of headphones I have availble in my middle of nowhere), but no, sadly I need something that is more or less decent across the board as, depending on my mood, I can listen to anything from hardtrance to metal, to southern rock, to blues and top it off with Mozart's Requiem. Only exception is rap and hip-hop which I quite simply can not digest (mostly because I can't force myself to listen about drugs, big asses and $$$ for longer than 90sec.)
 
You just made me ask another question... What's with the older gen iPods I keep seeing here? Is it because they sound better or because they are cheaper... or?
 
 
Thanks!
 
 
Vic
 
Oct 13, 2010 at 1:13 AM Post #6 of 21

meraki

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You can install rockbox on older generation ipods (www.rockbox.org), which expands the ipod's library of media codecs, such as flac, ogg, etc... also there are a few companies that do internal mods to them more info could be find here if youd like:http://redwineaudio.com/products/imod
 
Oct 13, 2010 at 2:34 AM Post #7 of 21

v1ks

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Oh, I see... I thought with rockbox you were referring to some sort of hard carry-case :facepalm: shows you just how noob I am, hehe. I'll check out the link, thank you. In the meanwhile the search for those headphones continue!
 
Oct 13, 2010 at 3:25 PM Post #8 of 21

meltdown100

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The 5 and 5.5 gen ipods are desirable because they're hard-drive based so have great storage capacity (and even even be upgraded to larger drives up to 240GB).
 
The big reason why these are desirable to those of us who care about sound is that they have a good DAC (digital-analog converter) chip made by Wolfson.  The DAC is the component that generates the analog sound from the digital data, so it is probably the most important component in your digital audio player when it comes to sound quality.
 
Rockbox is a firmware that basically gives you ultimate control over the hardware in supported players, it will give you file/folder drag and drop capability into the ipod, a really good EQ, etc.  And it supports formats like FLAC that are not natively supported by the ipod.
 
From what you describe about your music likes, and not being a bass-head (neither am I) - you might really like the RE0.  It's a very detailed IEM and has excellent midrange and treble, with a neutral bass presentation which will vary based on your source and how good you've got the tips sealed in your ear canals.  These might need to be tweaked with aftermarket tips to improve comfort depending on your ears.  To me, for the money, they're superb.
 
I was just like you not that long ago, and now I'm building amps and DACs and buying silver wire, etc. - so be warned, this is a very fun pursuit but also very hard on the wallet...!
 
Oct 14, 2010 at 12:01 PM Post #9 of 21

v1ks

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Sounds pretty much like getting a bicycle to save money on transport fares... It's a good idea in theory (and then you start dumping money into upgrades and extras, haha).
 
Thanks for the in depth explanation about iPods and RockBox, gives some thoughts to think about.
 
I looked up RE0 and yes, they do look like a nice option, sadly one that is out of my reach. I'm from the Eastern part of Europe and getting them here, plus the shipping fee just makes it too much hassle to be honest.
 
I've been speaking a lot with meraki who kindly offered his help and we've pretty much narrowed down to just two options (which are within my price range and are available locally).
 
The AKG K450 and Sennheiser HD238. I am leaning towards the second although the open-air design is a major concern. I travel by train.bus quite a lot and I really cant stand when I hear what other people are listening in their headphones, while having mine on... I'm just concerned that now I will be annoying other people
smily_headphones1.gif

 
Does anyone has anything to say about the K450s and HD238s?
 
Oct 14, 2010 at 12:58 PM Post #10 of 21

Negakinu

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Try starting out with a Sansa Clip+ mp3 player ($50, can be upgraded with MicroSD) and a Fischer Audio Eterna (fun, bassy), Fischer Audio Silver Bullet (fun, spacious) Head Direct RE0 (detailed, basslight), Brainwavz M2 (balanced) or Soundmagic PL50 (pretty balanced). You can work your way up from there.
smily_headphones1.gif
 Living in Eastern Europe is no excuse if you have an internet connection and Paypal. I even believe it would be easier for you to obtain Fischer Audio headphones than it is for me. 
 
In my opinion buying a good headphone for a bad source makes no sense. 
 
Oct 15, 2010 at 5:44 PM Post #11 of 21

meltdown100

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The Sansa clip is a good choice, and would be something that falls into the category of "better players" that I mentioned before. Not expensive either, so you're not breaking the bank to try it out. I've seen those go dirt cheap as refurbs.
 
Oct 17, 2010 at 7:44 AM Post #12 of 21

casioa5302ca

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x2 Sansa Clip+ and then rockbox.org plus microSDHC - you couldn´t go better (at least for start) and btw-even cheapo buddies which came with Clip+ aren´t bad at all....for "phones-which came-w/-player"...
 
phones: Sennheiser HD25 (C-II-coiled cable or 1-II straight cable) or ATH M50 or German Maestro GMP 8.35 D  as a closed-not only portables solutions, even all-rounders.
 
Oct 17, 2010 at 3:03 PM Post #14 of 21

v1ks

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Hey all!
 
Yeah, I've been reading into DAPs and Sansa does look like a decent choice. So I actually am considering getting one, although I'm not certain about the order. I still might get some headphones first and live for another month with a crappy source instead of getting both the DAP and cheaper headphones.
My budget is low, around $150 max... and my options are not all that large. Options are limited because shipping from US or UK is just too costly. We're talking about something like $40 that would be pretty much wasted on P&P...

 
Oct 17, 2010 at 3:51 PM Post #15 of 21

straden

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if you can extend budget to 250usd, you can get yourself audio technica ck10
although, I don't have experience with it people here like it alot and also thats one I would love to try out.
 

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