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Total headphone rookie here! How do I choose a headphone/amp combo?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by audionoobie123, Feb 2, 2013.
  1. audionoobie123
    Hi there,
    I'm looking to buy a nice pair of headphones. Most I'll be listening to stuff on my laptop at home but I'd like to get a pair that I wouldn't feel ridiculous bringing to a coffee shop.
    My budget is around $600-1000 total. From what I read it seems like a lot of upper-middle-end headphones require you to buy an amp, but I can't tell how nice of an amp I need. Say I wanted to buy a pair of Sennheiser HD650's. What sort of portable amp would I be looking at buying?
    I'm open to recommendations, I only mention the senns because they're listed as "#1" on the site.
    I'm going to be listening to stuff entirely on my laptop (Macbook Pro) so I don't know if that changes anything. Does using an amp mean I plug it into the audio jack on my computer but then use a lower volume setting on my laptop so it doesn't distort or something?
  2. disastermouse
    The HD 650s will sound good even with an Fii0 E9 (my first amp), but I've heard that they scale well with better amps. I've only had two amps so I can't say from direct experience.

    The HD 650s were my initiation to a totally different level of sound and music enjoyment from what I'd heard before. They lack a little of the 'zing' and energy of some others, but they're also very non-fatiguing in sound signature and overall physical comfort. As much as I love my HiFiMan HE 500, their weight will occasionally drive me back to the HD 650s for a session every now and again.

    I got mine used from Amazon Warehouse (I think) for $320 - and the E9 is only $109. You may want a DAC as well. In my case my DAC is more expensive than either of my amps.

    If you haven't heard the HD 650s, I look forward to hearing your impressions if you do get them.
  3. disastermouse
    Oh, I just wanted to add that I got my HE 500 significantly cheaper than retail as an Amazon Warehouse Open Box Refurb due to VERY minor scuffs on the headband - so look for deals!
  4. zuk0v
    Why do you want a portable amp? Curious, because the HD650 would be a rather...unpopular choice for portable use.
    I own the HD650s + FiiO e7/e9 combo and I am very pleased with the sound. I've been told they are great for a beginner's foray into hi-fi audio, and I must agree, although I only own the HD650's, Fiio e7/e9, and AKG K550's, so I don't know much about what a higher cost will do for you.
  5. audionoobie123
    Thanks guys. How do you make a decision about getting a DAC as well?
    zuk0v, not committed to the HD650's just have heard nice sounding senns in the past before that's all. Open to suggestions for more portable choices.
  6. devhen
    If you want portability you should probably look into closed headphones instead of open ones.
  7. disastermouse
    It depends on what sort of portability you want. If you need them to be 'portable' such that they are easily transportable, I'd imagine a Dragonfly, HD 650, and a small (powerful and somewhat expensive) amp would be fine. If you need your sound isolated so others don't hear you or you need any measure of weather resistance, the HD 650 won't work at all.

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