Soundstage without Fatigue
Mar 23, 2006 at 5:32 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

mbritt

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I am thinking about taking my musical listening up a few notches and would like some advice. First, let me tell you that I listen to everything from Johnny Cash to Nine Inch Nails. I find myself listening to James Blunt and Ray Lamontagne a lot lately as well as Tom Petty but I also like the Gorillaz and quite a few "down tempo" artists like Portishead (I warned you I am all over place musically).

My main music listening is from Apple Loss-less encoded songs through the airport express via optical out to my home stereo (Axiom Speakers). I also have Swan's multimedia speakers for my desktop. The have an amazing soundstage (I hope that is the word I am looking for). I can close my eyes and I swear the singer is directly in front of me (not to the sides where the speakers are) and each background singer and instrument is coming from a different location. I want that same experience with my new headphone system. BTW, my current headphones are Grado SR60's and also the ER6i's for sound isolation on airplanes. Both have nice sounds but they seem to place everything inside my head. I use these phones mostly with my 60Gb iPod Video or laptop.

Another issue I would like to address is listening fatigue (still not sure of proper audiophile terminology). On a lot of home systems or listening in the car I get annoyed at shrill highs. Examples include the high harmonica notes from Blues Travelers, guitar licks from White Stripes and especially the crescendo towards the end of Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt (this taxes a lot of speakers as well). Portishead can also sound shrill on some systems.

I went back to the shop where I bought my Grado's and auditioned the 225 and 325i. I am really a sucker for the retro design especially the aluminum on the 325i's. Everyone talks about how good the 225's are but I thought they sounded really shrill and made me wince during the Hurt crescendo. I tried the 325i's and thought they were very listen-able and exposed more of the nuance than I get out of my 60's but there still doesn't seem to be the soundstage I am after. I realize that my experience is exactly opposite of everyone posting on all the headphone forums where they think the 325i's are too harsh and the 225's are smoother. Oh well.

After a lot of reading and research I am leaning towards the following choices:

HD595 - good impact and exciting with a large soundstage and a little more base, easy to drive without being amped. Also great price point for me

HD650 - mellows out the shrill highs and exposes every nuance in the mids. Maybe lacks some of the base and soundstage - top of budget and not good for laptop or iPod without amp

AKG 701 - Seems to merge the best of both Senn's with a higher price. Worried about the fatigue caused by bright or shrill notes. Seems to be OK without amp - also at top of price range

DT880 - Stacks up pretty well in areas that are important but I am worried about fatigue. Might be too shrill. Not sure about un-amped.

AKG K271S - almost an afterthought but I really like the retro look and the idea of closed headphone for some situations.

Also under consideration is the Desktop Millet Hybrid Amp. I like the idea of keeping all the clarity and warming up or neutralizing some of the shrillness from the highs. I plan on purchasing it later as an upgrade path to one of the above headphones so that I don't give my wife a heart attack or have to sleep on the couch for several months (ah but it would be in sweet sweet musical isolation - almost worth it).

There you have it. Since I can't audition all of these headphones at once, even in Los Angeles, I will need to rely on help from those of you with experience.

thanks
 
Mar 23, 2006 at 5:36 PM Post #2 of 12

JahJahBinks

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I don't think K701 has "bright or shrill notes", it is definitely not as bright as my Grado 60. (just to give you an idea Grado 60 is not close to some of the truly bright Grado cans)
 
Mar 23, 2006 at 5:56 PM Post #3 of 12

guynamedjohn

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I second that, the 701 is anything but shrill. As far as fatigue goes I can listen to them all night - the fatigue comes from having to get up and go to work.
 
Mar 23, 2006 at 7:14 PM Post #4 of 12

darkninja67

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the DT880s need an amp. They are decent with my X5 into my AE-1 but better from a dedicated CDp into my A-E-1. Great cans though.
 
Mar 23, 2006 at 7:48 PM Post #5 of 12
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If you like the Grado sound but want more soundstage, consider having a pair modified by Headphile to have the deep cups. I had my HF-1's modified with the deep wood (Maple), and it really expanded the soundstage, which now extends out from both ears...really nice.
 
Mar 23, 2006 at 8:55 PM Post #6 of 12

F107plus5

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I also have Axiom speakers as my home system, and that being the case, I went on a search to find just those cans that mimic the Axiom sound: A bit foreward and perhaps(to some)a bit br....br...uh,...bright.

My system uses M50s and M3s, so I wanted something not quite as br...uh, and not as foreward as the M2s thru M80s; so I ended up with Alessandro MS1s.

In my old house with a smaller listening room, I had just M3s as mains and I know exactly what you mean about soundstage and imaging: Flawless!! In my new larger home with acoustically challenged surroundings.....not so good.

The Alessandros don't give anywhere near as good a soundstage as the M3s did, but they don't fall too far behind the M50s in my current set-up. And; they sound close enough to my beloved Axioms that all's well in my universe!

....and they don't need an amp!

MS1s today, MS2s to follow!!
 
Mar 23, 2006 at 9:09 PM Post #7 of 12

mbritt

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Quote:

Originally Posted by matt8268
If you like the Grado sound but want more soundstage, consider having a pair modified by Headphile to have the deep cups. I had my HF-1's modified with the deep wood (Maple), and it really expanded the soundstage, which now extends out from both ears...really nice.


I hadn't thought of that option. It may be a little more involved than I want to get into at this time but it is nice to know in case I end searching for the audio holy grail
rs1smile.gif
.

Based on these responses, I am now leaning heavily towards the 701's. Anyone know where I can hear a pair in LA?
 
Mar 24, 2006 at 5:24 PM Post #8 of 12

DevilDog

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Don't the 701s need a serious amp to sound their best? It seems like I remember hearing that somewhere.
I'd go with HD-595s. Never shrill, good soundstage.
 
Mar 24, 2006 at 6:20 PM Post #10 of 12

Glod

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I do not like to be short in recommendations, because I hate short descriptions my self.
icon10.gif
. However in this case it is easy: What you need is, a very good source, a Singlepower amp and the HD650 (perhaps with an aftermarket cable, though not necessary) - period.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Mar 24, 2006 at 6:34 PM Post #11 of 12

fmplautus

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IMHO and having owned several different Sennheisers, I would not say that soundstage, per se, is a merit of the Sennheiser line. I owned the 600 for several years, and they always sounded and felt constricted. Some folks here more "depth" in the Senn soundstage. I hear narrowness and congestion.

The single greatest of soundstaging in headphonedom is the AKG K-1000. Once you hear it, things just fall into place. That's because of the overall design of the K-1000, which is radically unique. Sadly, the K-1000 was too radical and revealing for its time. Just now, the headphone public is finally waking up to what it has lost for the K-1000 is no longer in production.

k1000smile.gif
 
Mar 24, 2006 at 11:30 PM Post #12 of 12

DevilDog

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Quote:

Originally Posted by fmplautus
The single greatest of soundstaging in headphonedom is the AKG K-1000. Once you hear it, things just fall into place. That's because of the overall design of the K-1000, which is radically unique. Sadly, the K-1000 was too radical and revealing for its time. Just now, the headphone public is finally waking up to what it has lost for the K-1000 is no longer in production.

k1000smile.gif



If soundstage is your only criteria, yeah, go with the K-1000. I love the K-1000! I didn't know how much he wanted to spend. You're getting into the big bucks after buying a $1200 headphone and at least a $2000 amp for them.
But yeah, if ya got the bucks, go for the K-1000.
 

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