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Quality Headphones Specifically for Organ Music?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by xshadowcat, Oct 26, 2010.
  1. xShadowcat
    So, I was wondering what qualities a pair of headphones would have to have to be able to reproduce pipe organ music as accurately as possible. Obviously its impossible for a true recreation, as you can feel the vibrations all throughout your body when you are near one. I imagine quality sub-bass and separation of sound would be really important.
    Also, any suggestions on a pair of headphones? Again, this is solely when considering them for organ music. I would like to keep the suggestions under $200, with bonus points for being near $100 (or less, obviously). If there is a pair that is perfect for this application, I would be curious to hear about it though, even if its not in the price range.
    I'm not a fan of in-ear headphones, so I would prefer suggestions to be limited to over-ear phones (open or closed doesn't matter all that much to me this time around).
  2. ericj
    One of the customer testimonials for the Equation RP-21 is from a company that services pipe organs.
    It's about $90. The RP-22x is a little fuller sounding and costs about $110.
  3. beeman458
    xShadowcat wrote:
    So, I was wondering what qualities a pair of headphones would have to have to be able to reproduce pipe organ music as accurately as possible.
    FWIW, my opinion, here's how the chain goes: Quality of recording (Rip) or transport > DAC > Amp > headphone cable > Headphone > test ears > EQ to match hearing test > enjoy the organ music.
    The point, it's not "JUST" about the headphones when it comes to accurate reproduction.  The next point to consider, my apologies, but your budget won't get you what you're wanting.
  4. Argyris Contributor
    You're quite right about the sub-bass extension. Some of the larger organs have stops that extend below the normal human hearing threshold. You'll want to avoid mid bass bumps, as these can make the lower octaves sound bloated and slow. You'll also want smooth treble--organs, as you know, have lots of dissonant upper overtones, and a peaky, uneven treble will mess up the tonal balance and can make the sound shrill and fatiguing. Finally, as organs usually preside in huge venues, a large soundstage is a must in order to capture the sensation of space.
    If your budget allows I'd highly recommend you stretch for something like a Beyerdynamic DT880 or DENON AH-D2000--both are remarkably neutral and spacious and both have nice bass extension (the DENON much more so). You might find a good deal on used gear.
    Good luck.
  5. Ham Sandwich
    I'm a big fan of pipe organ music and I love my Denon D2000 with pipe organ.  It's the best headphone I've heard yet for pipe organ in the reasonably affordable category (sub $300 range).
    Bass extension is important in pipe organ music.  The bass needs to be there and extend down to the sub-bass region and below.  The D2000 does that.  You can hear when a 32-foot pipe is playing.  You don't actually hear the sub 20 Hz fundamental, but you will hear its effect on the bass and you will know that the 32-foot pipe is playing.  To actually "hear" the fundamental you need speakers and a sub and it's a frequency that you feel more than hear.  You can't get that with a headphone.  On a headphone a 20 Hz sound is going to sound like a flapping driver.  If you actually play that kind of sound loud enough to feel it with headphones the volume is probably going to be over 100 dB and that just ain't healthy for your ears.  So we have to make due with less on headphones.  Most headphones roll off the bass way too early and you'll never even know the 32-foot pipe is playing (seriously, you won't even know it is there).  The 32-foot notes just go missing cause they aren't reproduced.  The D2000 gives you those notes with enough authority and presence so that you know they are there.
    An example would be the passacaglia and fugue in c minor by Michael Murray on Telarc.  The beginning pedal solo has a 32-foot pipe.  But that sound and the pedals are rather soft at that point.  Still, with the D2000 you can hear that the 32-foot pipe is being used by its effect on the other pedal notes.  You hear a worbolling that affects the other pedal notes.  You know the 32-foot pipe is playing.  That is something that goes completely missing on many headphones.
    In the toccata and fugue in d minor by Michael Murray on Telarc you can hear the 32-foot pipe is there.  And you can hear the low sub-bass rumbling through the hall as the big powerful last chords fade away and reverberate.  That is absolutely amazing for a headphone.
    The D2000 also does a nice job with the soundstage necessary for an organ and the sense of space and hall effect as an organ sound reverberates.  It's a sound that can be spacious and away from the ears.  Some closed headphones can have a sound that is right on the ears and a sound that is pumped right to the ears.  The D2000 aren't like that.  The sound is spacious and away from the ears.  That allows for a nice soundstage.
    The caveat is that the D2000 needs an adequate amp to achieve all this.  It needs an adequate amp to be able to get the sub-bass.  When under-amped the low bass is not there with the right authority.  It also needs an adequate amp to get the soundstage to move away from the ears.  When under-amped the soundstage seems to come from closer to the ears, like closer to right on the ears.  Amp it adequately and the soundstage moves away from the ears a bit and gives the soundstage more space.  What is the minimum adequate amp for the D2000?  I don't know.  I haven't experimented with enough low end less expensive amps to know.  I do know that an iPod is not adequate.
    The D2000 also suffers from a recessed midrange.  I EQ mine (see my sig) to boost the upper midrange and get them to sound more flat to my ears.  With pipe organ I don't find it too critical to EQ the mids.  It is very definitely helpful to do the EQ boost, but I don't find it to be as necessary with pipe organ as I do with some other music.  So if you can't EQ them they will still be OK.  If you can EQ them with a suitable parametric software EQ then all the better.  The EQ boost is more critical with sounds like violins in a string quartet or orchestra where the recessed midrange can make the violins sound dull.
  6. xShadowcat
    Well, my current setup is iTouch 2nd Gen > Fiio L3 > High-end CMoy > ATH-A700
    I'll look into the D2000, $225 on amazon, so its not that much of a stretch.
  7. 1Time
    Best pipe organ music I heard was from an Ultrasone Proline 650.
  8. Organ-Man
    Thank you, Ham Sandwich. It's been 4 years since your post, can you now please comment on adequate amps in (say) the $300 or so range?
  9. Organ-Man
    The D2000 is discontinued according to Amazon. I am using the HD-650, is there something you recommend more highly for organ music? Thank you.
  10. Ham Sandwich
    Unfortunately, about a year after my post about the Denon I blew one of the drivers in my D2000 while playing organ music.  It died while Jean Guillou played Pictures at an Exhibition.  What a glorious way to go.  [​IMG]
    What happened is the amp was accidentally set to full maximum volume.  Hit play.  And oops!
    I replaced the D2000 with an LCD-2 and a Schiit Lyr amp.  The LCD-2 is better for pipe organ music than the Denon.  But also more expensive.
    I have a preference now for orthos.  My headphone recommendations for pipe organ music would be orthos.  Audeze if you can afford them.  A Mr Speakers modded Fostex T50RP on the lower cost end.  HiFiMan for something in between.  I haven't heard any of the Oppo orthos yet (PM-1, PM-2, or PM-3).  They'll probably be good for pipe organ. They're on my list to buy and try.  I'm also going to be getting a HiFiMan HE-560 soon, and I'll be trying it with some pipe organ music.
  11. zazex
    Sony MDR Z7

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