Zen Micro-?
Feb 26, 2006 at 2:49 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

Bob Mahoy

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I am looking for a good set of mid-fi open headphones for around $100. I know that the ms1s and hd555s are my best choices (tell me if I'm wrong).
I won't be using an amp, listen to a variety of music, possibly leaning towards rock, but not very heavy.

My problem is that I know headphones can sound very different driven from a zen micro then most other decent mp3 players. If anyone has experience with either of the above cans, both, or any others they would like to mention out of a zen micro without an amp, and can comment on any differences, please tell me. For example, I think super.fi 3s are much more sibilant out of a zen micro for some reason. (Should I have just gotten an ipod?)

Sorry if I wrote a little too much.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 3:04 AM Post #3 of 10

Bob Mahoy

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bump...I could have thought of a better title
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 3:13 AM Post #4 of 10

Bob Mahoy

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Thought I'd have a response by now
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 4:32 AM Post #5 of 10

skudmunky

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Well, I didn't really like the sound of the HD555s out of my Zen Micro. I just didn't like the laid back sound, I prefer the more aggressive, forward sound my portaPros give me. I really liked the way the AKG k240s sounded out of the ZM, I wish I'd had my CMoy on me when I had the chance to demo them. The k240s had a nice warm sound with nice bass, like my portaPros, but a more detailed presentation, which was pretty much what I was looking for.

You should try to find a place where you can demo and compare the headphones. A lot of Hi-Fi shops carry Grado and Sennheiser headphones, and some carry AKG also. The MS1s are only available from Alessandro though, so you'll have to take a bit of a leap if you buy those.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 7:00 AM Post #7 of 10

kdaq

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob Mahoy
...My problem is that I know headphones can sound very different driven from a zen micro then most other decent mp3 players. If anyone has experience with either of the above cans, both, or any others they would like to mention out of a zen micro without an amp, and can comment on any differences, please tell me. For example, I think super.fi 3s are much more sibilant out of a zen micro for some reason. (Should I have just gotten an ipod?)


Sound different driven from a micro than from other MP3 players? Sure, every device sounds a little different, but are you talking about a large difference in sound quality or signature in general? As for the sibilance thing with the super.fis, what was your other reference? Sure it's not just the song? Also, do you have EQ turned on?

The Zen micro doesn't accentuate sibilance. It's actually quite neutral, if not a bit warm. My Zen served as my main source for awhile. It's really surprisingly good. Sure, any decent outboard DAC will whip it in detail and soundstage, but it's definitely up there as far as DAPs go. I prefer it to a stock iPod hands down (notes have better definition and space, for example).

Without a separate headphone amp, the micro can only drive things so far. Might have trouble with the HD-555. It is a great match with the low-ohm MS-1, and this was my starter combo. They're both warm and musical, and just plain fun to listen to. Just make sure you get flat pads!
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 2:23 AM Post #8 of 10

Bob Mahoy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by kdaq
Sound different driven from a micro than from other MP3 players? Sure, every device sounds a little different, but are you talking about a large difference in sound quality or signature in general? As for the sibilance thing with the super.fis, what was your other reference? Sure it's not just the song? Also, do you have EQ turned on?

The Zen micro doesn't accentuate sibilance. It's actually quite neutral, if not a bit warm. My Zen served as my main source for awhile. It's really surprisingly good. Sure, any decent outboard DAC will whip it in detail and soundstage, but it's definitely up there as far as DAPs go. I prefer it to a stock iPod hands down (notes have better definition and space, for example).

Without a separate headphone amp, the micro can only drive things so far. Might have trouble with the HD-555. It is a great match with the low-ohm MS-1, and this was my starter combo. They're both warm and musical, and just plain fun to listen to. Just make sure you get flat pads!



What I was comparing my zen micro to was my brother's zen sleek, which for some reason I thought had a much warmer sound. (Sorry for being so ignorant, I'm still new to this). I now realise that he may have just had the bass boost on. Perhaps I'm more sensitive to higher frequencies? Or I'm used to cheap, muddy 'phones? My reference was my dad's qc2s, the only other working headphones in the house besides stock earbuds. That also could have been the problem; rolled off bose highs.

What I was talking about was sound signature, I just wanted to know how well the above headphones cooperated with the zen. The "synergy", you know?

And now I have another question: can you lead me to a hi-fi store? A brand name or something? I don't recall having ever seen one.

One last question is: how would the hd555s and k240s do with a cmoy amp? (I'm about to make one). But if I think the super. fis are sibilant, I don't think that the grado sound would be right for me.

Edit: thanks for the excellent reply, kdaq.
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 3:12 AM Post #9 of 10

kdaq

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob Mahoy
What I was comparing my zen micro to was my brother's zen sleek, which for some reason I thought had a much warmer sound. (Sorry for being so ignorant, I'm still new to this).


Nah man, it's good to see someone asking these questions! In the audio world there are just so many factors, sometimes it takes a bit of playing around to figure out what exactly is going on.

You certainly may be used to the sound of less-than-perfect phones. I know I was for quite awhile...higher end cans even sounded a little crappy and strange to me at first. Then I realized what I was hearing was more real and less showy, and that was a good thing.

As for the CMoy paired with the HD555 and k240, I haven't personally heard these cans, but I bet it would work just fine. The CMoy can easily drive middling and high impedance cans - it just lacks in current drive for low impendance stuff like Grados (though they certainly don't sound bad, just not as good as they could).

Now hi-fi stores, I wish I knew of more. It's not that big of a niche market, so you usually need to luck out with a ma & pop outlet nearby. I have noticed some decent cans at Cambridge Soundworks stores, though (Grados & Senns on the low- and mid-end), and these can be found in many malls and stand-alone locations. On the other hand, we have an awesome bunch of on-line vendors to sell us stuff as cheap as possible, and Head-Fi'ers all over the place that hold meets so you can listen to gear. Meets have influenced my buying a whole lot (read: acted as a catalyst in wallet explosion).

Don't totally discount Grados for fear of sibilance! The MS-1 paired with flat pads is less sibilant than some Senns I've heard. It's all about a front-row, rocky, exciting sound. Alessandro cans are Grado-manufactured, but treated to be a bit more neutral. Switching to flat pads from stock comfy or bowl pads kicks up the low end and tames the high end (it's a HUGE difference between pads, seriously).

I think this place is such a money pit cause we're all struggling to mate up different combinations of gear in just the right way - and the higher up the ladder you go, the harder it is, and the more variables there are.


*phew*, pardon my long post! Hope this helps
eggosmile.gif
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 3:32 AM Post #10 of 10

Bob Mahoy

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As you said: "You certainly may be used to the sound of less-than-perfect phones. I know I was for quite awhile...higher end cans even sounded a little crappy and strange to me at first. Then I realized what I was hearing was more real and less showy, and that was a good thing."

I agree, and cannot go back to earbuds. I just don't think the super.fis are for me.

Another reason I'm discounting grados is because I'd like to see what a good soundstage is like, and also because of their *ahem* great reputation for build quality. Not that I AM discounting them...I really wish i could just try them out, but I don't think alessandro has much of a return policy.

Additionally, It won't be possible for me to go to any meets.

And longer is better.

Thank you again!
 

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