why do these setups sound so mediocre?
Dec 4, 2010 at 12:20 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 85

danielghofrani

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Hey guys.
I was wondering if there are any of you out there who can help me with this. I dont own any fancy headphones or audio equipment yet but I am doing some research and auditioning to figure out what I like.
I currently listen with my laptop (dell vostro 3700) and sony MDRJ10L earphones. here are the things I have tried so far
headphones:
1- Shure SRH840                                      ~200$
2- Audio Technica ATH AD700                   ~120$
3- Sony extra bass MDRXB500                   ~80$
4- Beats by Dr.Dre Solo HD                        ~280$
 
 
sources :
Sony NWZE344B            ~100$
Cowon s9                      ~150$
apple Ipod Touch            ~250$
 apple ipod classic          ~279$
 
the sources of music are a few 96KHz 24 bit free samples I downloaded on a website and high quality flac files when using my laptop and on the mp3 players the files are mainly in mp3 format (the daps are not mine, naturally I did not have my music on them);
 
first thing to say that beats by Dr. Dre needed batteries and the hiss was deafening and I would not even buy them for 12$ I was so shocked when my friend told me he got them from futureshop for 279$.
 
also I was almost offended to find out that even the Shure SRH 840  can barely outperform my 12$ sony MDRJ10L earphones and my dell laptop.
 
none of those headphones could blow my earphones out the window. not even the 200$ shure or AD700s.
 
since I am an instrumentalist, after years of tuning ,studying timbre, blending in the orchestra,tonal balance and the tonal spectrum, I can say that I have sensitive ears and rather high expectations.
 
why cant these expensive devices blow my laptop and earphones out the window and put them to shame.what should I do if I want a source and headphone to have a superiour audio quality than my laptop like night and day, no contest?
 
what is going on?!! :frowning2: 
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 12:30 AM Post #2 of 85

Thecoolguy

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well, from what i've heard, the shures need an amp, so that could be one of the reasons they don't sound very good
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 12:43 AM Post #3 of 85

danielghofrani

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Quote:
well, from what i've heard, the shures need an amp, so that could be one of the reasons they don't sound very good



 
thanks a lot for the reply.
that might be true. I did not test it with a high quality expensive amp suh as burson audio or anything like that.
however I did use a fiio amp when I was listening to the SRH840.
I was NOT impressed.
 
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 12:58 AM Post #4 of 85

Region2

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Which FiiO amp?  The E5 doesn't count, it won't properly drive any headphone or really give it a worthwhile improvement, imo.  Then again, the SRH840 do not need to be amped.
 
If you're not impressed, you're not impressed.  I do not know how high your expectations were for these headphones.  A decent DAC can do wonders.  I'm not exactly thrilled with the headphone out of any computer.  And there are rather limitations due to the portable nature of DAPs.
 
If you're hoping to be impressed, you might want to check out some of the high end rigs at a head-fi meet.  Then again, the really high costs might make you have even higher standards and you'll be even less impressed.  I know that I do buy a lot of mid-fi because I'm a bit of a hoarder, but only the high end stuff really impresses me.  As I move up into the high-fi stuff it's hard to go down.
 
Personally, I don't even think it's a problem.  If you're fine with your Sony earbuds then enjoy them and you won't have to worry about hurting your wallet here.  That money can be used for a much better upgrade, more music 
o2smile.gif

 
Dec 4, 2010 at 1:49 AM Post #5 of 85

aryastark90

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I assume your plugging the headphone's directly into your laptop's headphone input. That's probably why they all sound bad. Ad700 is very revealing. Did you listen to it with the ipod touch or just the laptop? Could you tell a difference between each source? Also what music do you listen to?
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 1:55 AM Post #6 of 85

wind016

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^^^ I agree with the responses above and that maybe you're just the earbuds type of guy. I was. And i loved my Yuin PK1s, but in all honesty, there is little difference between the $160 Yuin ear buds and the $10 Sony ones. Side by side comparisons make you wonder if the price was worth it.
 
In THIS case though, I can not see how you would prefer the Sony MDRJ10L to the AD700. What did you not like? The AD700s are just better in every aspect. The Sonys have a high rate of distortion. Buying a DAC will clear the hums from your computer and refine the sound altogether
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 5:47 AM Post #7 of 85

z50j

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from what I see you are comparing earbuds (open with no bass) to full-sized circum aural (closed and bassy)
 
maybe your the kind of guy that would think Grados are too bassy. when auditioning gear you must use music you know at at least 128kbps bit rate.
I think SR80's will be your thing :wink:
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 7:40 AM Post #8 of 85

Slaughter

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Just be happy that cheap earbuds sound good to you. If you are not hearing a difference there is no need to keep searching.
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 7:55 AM Post #9 of 85

Deep Funk

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Quote:
Just be happy that cheap earbuds sound good to you. If you are not hearing a difference there is no need to keep searching.

Indeed...
 
Also, the headphone out of the PC is only sufficient. If you really want to put those 'big' headphones to the test just use a CD-player with decent amplification (integrated stereo amplifier or integrated receiver) for a decent set can be found utterly cheap. You can add a decent DAC as a finishing touch. 
 
You can even use a discman connected to a integrated stereo amplifier or integrated receiver. For a long time I used the headphone out of my CD-player and that worked well too. The built in amplifier was decent to say the least.  
 
After that you can test listen with the portable set up and than you should know if you need a decent portable amplifier.
 
I once met a guy who used a DT770 600 ohms to his iPhone, right...
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 10:13 AM Post #10 of 85

danielghofrani

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Quote:
I assume your plugging the headphone's directly into your laptop's headphone input. That's probably why they all sound bad. Ad700 is very revealing. Did you listen to it with the ipod touch or just the laptop? Could you tell a difference between each source? Also what music do you listen to?



   as I mentioned I used the high resolution samples avalible on a website as well as some CD quality music. I did not compare the touch to my laptop but I did compare my laptop to the S9 and I would say they are in the same league.
 


Quote:
^^^ I agree with the responses above and that maybe you're just the earbuds type of guy. I was. And i loved my Yuin PK1s, but in all honesty, there is little difference between the $160 Yuin ear buds and the $10 Sony ones. Side by side comparisons make you wonder if the price was worth it.
 
In THIS case though, I can not see how you would prefer the Sony MDRJ10L to the AD700. What did you not like? The AD700s are just better in every aspect. The Sonys have a high rate of distortion. Buying a DAC will clear the hums from your computer and refine the sound altogether


thanks for the info on Yuin earbuds and Sony ones.
I do not "prefer" the sony MDRJ10L to AD700!!! 
smily_headphones1.gif
I rather think the performance increase is very negligible. I just felt that the AD700 was far from what I heard in the reviews and all that.
 


 
Quote:
Just be happy that cheap earbuds sound good to you. If you are not hearing a difference there is no need to keep searching.



  Thanks for your reply. I am nut happy with the earbuds at all. I want good sound. I want a sound that is at least close to the real orchestra.
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 10:24 AM Post #11 of 85

danielghofrani

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Quote:
Quote:
Just be happy that cheap earbuds sound good to you. If you are not hearing a difference there is no need to keep searching.

Indeed...
 
Also, the headphone out of the PC is only sufficient. If you really want to put those 'big' headphones to the test just use a CD-player with decent amplification (integrated stereo amplifier or integrated receiver) for a decent set can be found utterly cheap. You can add a decent DAC as a finishing touch. 
 
You can even use a discman connected to a integrated stereo amplifier or integrated receiver. For a long time I used the headphone out of my CD-player and that worked well too. The built in amplifier was decent to say the least.  
 
After that you can test listen with the portable set up and than you should know if you need a decent portable amplifier.
 
I once met a guy who used a DT770 600 ohms to his iPhone, right...



Thanks a lot your post makes a lot of sense. I would love to hear some higher end setups.
yest I think I used the E5. the tiny little battery powered amp. but it, paired with my laptop could get the volume to ear splitting levels.
the suggestion for CD player is nice but I am reluctant for 2 reasons:
1- currently I am a student and I dont have a big enough room for a "setup" its just my laptop on a desk.
2- CDs can only support 16 bit sound and it still could be OK but I have a lot of music on my laptop, I dont feel like burning all of them to disks.
so pretty much I want to run my computer as a source. the coaxial and optical connections are not for me.
 
I am guessing that if I have a DAC/amp the sound would be better but I dont have one and I have not listened to one yet.
 


Quote:
from what I see you are comparing earbuds (open with no bass) to full-sized circum aural (closed and bassy)
 
maybe your the kind of guy that would think Grados are too bassy. when auditioning gear you must use music you know at at least 128kbps bit rate.
I think SR80's will be your thing :wink:



 


Quote:
Which FiiO amp?  The E5 doesn't count, it won't properly drive any headphone or really give it a worthwhile improvement, imo.  Then again, the SRH840 do not need to be amped.
 
If you're not impressed, you're not impressed.  I do not know how high your expectations were for these headphones.  A decent DAC can do wonders.  I'm not exactly thrilled with the headphone out of any computer.  And there are rather limitations due to the portable nature of DAPs.
 
If you're hoping to be impressed, you might want to check out some of the high end rigs at a head-fi meet.  Then again, the really high costs might make you have even higher standards and you'll be even less impressed.  I know that I do buy a lot of mid-fi because I'm a bit of a hoarder, but only the high end stuff really impresses me.  As I move up into the high-fi stuff it's hard to go down.
 
Personally, I don't even think it's a problem.  If you're fine with your Sony earbuds then enjoy them and you won't have to worry about hurting your wallet here.  That money can be used for a much better upgrade, more music 
o2smile.gif



 
Dec 4, 2010 at 11:37 AM Post #12 of 85

VulgarDisplay

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Quote:
Thanks a lot your post makes a lot of sense. I would love to hear some higher end setups.
yest I think I used the E5. the tiny little battery powered amp. but it, paired with my laptop could get the volume to ear splitting levels.
the suggestion for CD player is nice but I am reluctant for 2 reasons:
1- currently I am a student and I dont have a big enough room for a "setup" its just my laptop on a desk.
2- CDs can only support 16 bit sound and it still could be OK but I have a lot of music on my laptop, I dont feel like burning all of them to disks.
so pretty much I want to run my computer as a source. the coaxial and optical connections are not for me.
 
I am guessing that if I have a DAC/amp the sound would be better but I dont have one and I have not listened to one yet.


Earsplitting volume in no way means good quality signal or sufficient power for a pair of headphones.  It may take a while to train your ears to pick up new details that are actually being played through better gear, but once you start hearing them it's hard to go back.  
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 11:42 AM Post #13 of 85

Deep Funk

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Take it easy, if you can find a good integrated stereo amplifier or receiver with a digital connection for the PC, decent amplification system and good headphone out you could be set. 
 
If you are on a budget there are still plenty of options, new and used. HiFi gear ages very fast these days so you can find something decent for not too much and still use it for later set ups when you need the connections and options of your integrated...
 
Good luck...
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 12:21 PM Post #14 of 85

danielghofrani

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Quote:
Earsplitting volume in no way means good quality signal or sufficient power for a pair of headphones.  It may take a while to train your ears to pick up new details that are actually being played through better gear, but once you start hearing them it's hard to go back.  


wow I just learned alot from the first line :wink:
yes you are right . one reason that I have a hard time listening to music is that I have played in live concert bands and orchestras and I have played music for so long that I know the real sound of instruments.
moreover, since I have been playing the Santur for 10 years (requires tuning of 72 strings, 4 strings each note), my ears pick up distortion easily.
 
Dec 4, 2010 at 1:30 PM Post #15 of 85

VulgarDisplay

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Maybe you can't hear the difference because it's being drowned out by your condescending attitude?  j/k.  Couldn't not repond lol.  
 
Anyways, the reason why these setups are not sounding good to you is more than likely because you have been hearing this stuff live for so long.  Something is pretty much always going to be lost in translation from live to speakers.  The real trick is to find the pair of headphones that pleases your ear in spite of it's audible differences to live materials.  Good luck finding it...  
 

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