Recommendations for a newb
Feb 25, 2009 at 7:06 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 57

KONAKONA

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Well after using some cheap lil' koss earbuds (Or IEMs as you folks call them) I recently bought a set of portapros. I love the sound and now I'm getting into all this high quality audio stuff. Of course, these portapros leak more sound then a waterfall over a dam, so I was thinking for my next set I would get some nice big somewhat isolating cans.

Most of the music I listen to is some variant of techno (Happy hardcore, trancecore, vocal trance, eurobeat, and a little bit of hardstyle), but I also listen to good bits of other music (rock, metal, reggae, J-pop, classical) so I don't know if the cans in question could be chosen by the music I listen too at all.
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So I'm guessing they would have to be very good all-rounders (although my preference would be for extra bass if I had to choose). My price range is around $0-$150, but $100 would be nice if there is not a $50 improvement after that. Likewise, if there are major improvements at $200 then I might consider it. The upper limit is definitely $200 though.

I've heard that some headphones like sennheisers are sort of "boring" and what not. I've also heard that these portapros on my head are very "fun" headphones. I'm not quite sure what you all mean by 'fun', but I quite like these portapros so more of this 'fun' stuff would be in order.

I also heard that some headphones really need a amp to get them sounding good. If they are absolutely required then I could probably do one of those DIY in a mint can ones, but please take that extra 20-30 or so dollars into consideration of the final price.
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(Sorry for the essay post. Also, first post yay!)
 
Feb 25, 2009 at 7:32 AM Post #2 of 57

obobskivich

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honestly, I would not go on what you've read/heard from other users, in terms of a 'phone being boring or fun, I'd go by what your ears are telling you

in your $100-ish price range, you've got some good options:

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
M-Audio Studiophile Q40
Denon AH-D1001

and theres a few open cans that will probably get suggested (regardless of how many times you say you want isolation) such as the:

Grado SR-60
Allesandro MS-1 (dollar says this is suggested before March)
Sennheiser HD-555

none of those are bad options, and I would suggest you try to audition as many of them as possible, if not other cans as well (for example I've ommited Ultrasone and Beyerdynamic from my list, because I know next to nothing about Ultrasone and Beyerdynamic, I'm only suggesting you go audition products that I know exist in your price range, and aren't total drab (for example SkullCandy, which massively underperform for the money))

now, at the $200 range, you do get some more interesting full-size options, such as the Denon AH-D2000, Beyerdynamic DT-770, Sennheiser HD-595, Grado SR-225i, and so on (two of those are open, you'll find that most higher end 'phones tend to be open, except JVC, AT, Kenwood, and Denon)

I'd suggest you try to audition as many of those as possible as well, just to see if you feel the difference is worth the extra money


the cmoy is a great amplifier, and should drive everything listed above without an issue, just be weary of some stuff in that price range, like the AKG K701 (around $220), which is notoriously hard to drive, I don't suggest them at all as a result (as the associated equipment for them is quite pricey, so you'll be looking at $400-$800 instead of $200)

no headphone inherently "needs a discrete headphone amplifier" (read: dynamic headphones), however many have improved performance with an amplifier better matched to the electromechanical characteristics of a given hp, basically what this means is (going back to that AKG example) if the amplifier isn't a good match, it'll have trouble getting "top performance" (in terms of the hp's sounding like the manufacturer intended), because the amplifier will have trouble driving into them (another example is Sennheiser HD 580/600/650's, driven off of a PC sound card, usually lack bass energy, as the low frequency rolls off quite drastically, purely as the result of the opamps not being ideal for driving such a load)

one final note, be weary of calling earbuds IEMs, theres quite a difference (its two differnt types of earphone, buds are similar to what you get with an ipod, IEMs are more like earplugs with speakers in them, and ECHs somewhere in between)
 
Feb 25, 2009 at 7:57 AM Post #4 of 57

KONAKONA

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When you say audition, where is a good place to do this? There are not many places I can think of that sell good headphones around where I live. In fact, the only place I would think would sell anything is guitar center. :\

I usually listen to my music on either my iaudio 7 or my computer. I use the inter-graded audio on my computer though. Quick browse over to my MB's manufacture site says its a "Realtek ALC889A codec". Flame away at that I guess.

As for the isolation, I guess it would be a bit of both. The little kosses I have (Sparkplugs) do a fantastic job at keeping other people from hearing what I hear. (It takes just about max volume for other people to hear them) But I can't exactly hide big cans (well maybe I could if I tried hard enough....), so I don't need ultra isolation like those. If I had to choose it would be me over them though; keep them out.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Feb 25, 2009 at 8:02 AM Post #5 of 57

obobskivich

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guitarcenter is a great place, they'll have "professional" headphones, like the HD 280's or Q40's (should sell Ultrasones, the one near me loves Ultrasone and Beyer)

"inter-graded" audio?
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honestly theres nothing inherently evil about onboard audio, check the digital audio primer (wander over the computer audio forum, if you can't find it on the first few pages, look up member "FallenAngel", its linked in their sig (as FA is the author as well)) for some more details and decent intro to computer audio

given that it doesn't sound like you need isolation from loud noises, like riding a train or similar (where you should have the hp block noise with design, not with blasting volume (as the blasting volume will make you deaf)), more or less anything "closed" that isn't Denon would work (Denon hp's are closed principle, but not sealed, which is something you learn when you rip them apart), the HD 280's are amazingly isolated (I believe its somewhere around -32 dB), while the Q40's, D1001's, DT770's, etc will block noise from the outside, but it isn't massive (like maybe -10 dB)
 
Feb 25, 2009 at 8:24 AM Post #6 of 57

KONAKONA

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So if I go down to guitar center then they will let me hook up my MP3 player and listen to them? Shows how often I get out.

Also, that digital audio thread is long, but I don't think it mentioned anything about sound quality from things like MP3 players and what-not. What do you guys regard the sound quality on these things? Would the limiting factor become the soundcard/MP3 player with some of these headphones?
 
Feb 25, 2009 at 12:55 PM Post #7 of 57

obobskivich

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the limiting factor is whatever the lowest quality piece of the signal chain is, for example if your mp3s are encoded in 128kbps, they're likely the limiting factor, if your soundcard or mp3 player has distortion on the output, its likely the limiting factor, etc

as far as what your local guitar center will let you do, I'm not 100%, I've gotten some sales people at the one near me to let me plug my equipment into their equipment, some of them will let me do pretty insane stuff with their equipment (the more relaxed ones, that realize its demo equipment, and they don't personally own it, and that its PA equipment, so its pretty hard to break), I've gotten other reps who refuse to let me even turn some of the stuff on (the more uptight ones, who are over-protective)

I'd just go in honestly, and ask them, they might even have a demo system setup for headphones, or otherwise let you use their gear as a source component (if you don't have a source), any good salesman should let you play with their products before buying, just to entice you
 
Feb 25, 2009 at 2:34 PM Post #8 of 57

paaj

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just pay them a visit, see what they let you do, and maybe they even know other stores nearby that sell audio equipment.
 
Feb 25, 2009 at 11:34 PM Post #9 of 57

KONAKONA

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I'll see if I can head down there this weekend, try out the 280s and the Q40s n' see if one of them catches my ear over the other.

Oh, and this thread got pushed down 3 pages in one day. Quite the traffic you got going here.
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EDIT: whoops, forgot part of my post.

As for the quality bit, the music files I have range anywhere from MP3 128, to MP3 320, FLAC, and TTA. Right now most of it is probably around MP3 192 or so, but I'm working on getting more lossless stuff in my collection.
 
Feb 27, 2009 at 9:50 PM Post #11 of 57

KONAKONA

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Well I did some sound comparisons with VBR OGG, and TTA/FLAC, as well as some high quality MP3 (256vbr and up, but nothing to compare it to.)

With the exception of one sound in one song sounding a bit louder in TTA/FLAC, I didn't hear anything noticeable myself. This might be the setup, and it might be me. Either way, I'll probably just get the best quality I can find until I start having space issues.
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Also, I've heard a bit about beyerdynamic DT770 pro. Looks like they can be had for about 150$ on ebay, so I thought it'd be worth looking into as well. I've also heard about 'darth beyers', would someone care to explain?

If GC lets me audition the phones then I'll probably try the Q40s, HD280s, and possibly DT770s and maybe even some grados if they have them. (Even though I know that I wouldn't be getting them because they are open, lots of people round here like them and it'd be nice to know what they sound like in person) Heck, I'll probably audition until they kick me out.
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I just got 80$ and I might be able to be at around 120 by the end of the weekend. I have lots of other things that need my financial attention right now though (Computer, car, other audio stuff) so I don't know how soon I'll be getting anything.

EDIT: forgot to finish my post again.

The Fiio amps are dirt cheap, they any good? Certainly not for driving any big 'spensive wallet destroying cans, but more like sum cheap buds, and maybe one of the above listed cans.
 
Feb 27, 2009 at 10:37 PM Post #14 of 57

Almoxil

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The M-Audio Q40s (already recommended above) are great cans for bass, but the bass may shadow other frequencies with some kiinds of music. Nothing that a bit EQ'ing on your iAudio7 can't fix...
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If you can find them within your budget, I definitely recommend auditioning Ultrasone HFI-580, 680 or 780. I have the latter, and it's got great bass which don't mask other frequencies like the Q40s do. No EQ needed straight out of my Cowon D2 (I imagine the same applies to your iAudio7).
 
Feb 27, 2009 at 11:23 PM Post #15 of 57

KONAKONA

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Thats one of the things I like about my portapros; I don't need to EQ them when I listen at normal volume. With the SPs I have to gain the low and high and kill the mid, plus some extra bass effects. >_>

Oh, I might audition some open cans, but I am not buying any.
 

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