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torifile
2011-01-25, 22:04
Any suggestions? I don't want to have to use an amp. Price range up to $200. TIA.

Maciej
2011-01-26, 19:39
Most of the good closed stuff gets pricey, but for a closed, cheap and good headphone I'd recommend these (http://www.headphone.com/headphones/sony-mdr-v6.php) or these (http://www.headphone.com/headphones/sony-mdr-7506.php). They're nearly the same thing and pretty good. I don't think you're really an audiphile and since you don't wanna use an amp these should serve pretty well. I've got a pair of 7506 - they were one of my first headphones.

torifile
2011-01-26, 20:25
I think I'm a burgeoning audiophile, tbh. I am constantly looking to eek out just a little more sound from the music I'm listening to. The problem, in my mind, is my audio source. All my music is ripped to my iPhone in some lossy format except for a handful of albums that are lossless. I'm mobile when I'm listening so an amp would seem excessive. :lol: But I'm keen on learning what an amp would do for me given my audio source.

Maciej
2011-01-26, 20:56
I was worried I'd get a response along those lines. This hobby is really somewhat of an enigma to me. At times I'm really into it, but always at the back of my mind I'm worried that I'll end up fooling myself into there being a difference between different phones, formats, amps, dacs, and so on; I'm always concerned about the psychosomatic affect - and my wallet! Anyway, I'm slowly progressing through various headphones but only on my first amp/DAC combo (desktop units).

Personally I don't have a portable amp; my source is either an iPhone or an iPod, but I also don't have on-the-go headphones that require an amp. I use in ear monitors, the Etymotic ER-4Ps (http://www.headphone.com/headphones/etymotic-er-4p.php). One problem with the iPhone/iPod is that the built-in digital audio converter isn't audiophile grade (nor should it be) but this problem is really compounded by the fact that you can't get digital audio out of the iPod. Most people just use a line out into a portable amp (some even rip their music in .WAV [IIRC]) but that's really overkill unless you have an on-the-go rig that needs some real juice. A device like this (http://www.headphone.com/accessories/sendstation-ipod-pocket-dock-usb-white.php) will bypass the built in amp but not the digital audio converter, so I believe even with a device like this anything above 320kbps is just semantics, although I could be wrong about that last point.

Having said all that an amp can still make a world of difference, if your headphones need one. Headphones with low sensitivity (generally correlates with impedance, but not always) really need an amp to recreate the full detail of your music. That's probably the simplest way I can put it.

Is there a specific reason you a looking at closed headphones? They can sound "compressed" or "closed in" and most of the good stuff needs an amp to reach it's full potential, or at least that's what I read (I certainly haven't experienced nearly as many headphones as the guys on Head-Fi.org). People generally seem to be fans of the open style 'phones, they open up the soundstage. I'd recommend going browsing through their forums(head-fi.org), if you've got the time to pick through the some of the garbage posts there are a number of helpful posts written by generally experienced people. Though one thing you should keep in mind is that people's ears all hear differently, and opinions are like assholes... etc. I've tried to encompass some of my impressions into this post but I know it doesn't do justice to all the various stuff I've read - I'm just not very good at recalling all the minutiae.

torifile
2011-01-26, 22:33
I want closed because I worry about sound bleed with open cans. I've got a pair of Sennheiser 238's that are pretty good but I know I'm missing a lot of stuff in the music.

I was reading a review of one of the Sony's you linked earlier and then I came across the Shure 440. Reading reviews of those led me to the Shure 840s. People say that the 840's don't have the smaller soundstage problem of some other closed 'phones so I'm reading more about them now. I wish there was a place around here where I could try some high end headphones out. :grumble: There's nothing local at all so I've got to rely on the impressions of others.

Another thing about the 840's is that they don't seem to need an amp to be properly powered. Eventually, when my kids are older and I don't need to be so worried about one of them waking up randomly, I'd like to get a real audio setup. I figure there's no way I can be any sort of audiophile without one. :lol:

torifile
2011-01-29, 15:32
Ok, let's open up this discussion to include good open headphones. I'm intrigued by the Sennheiser HD595. They're really affordable right now due to the 598's being recently released. Any thoughts on that?

sunrain
2011-01-29, 17:17
Just another word on headphone amps. The main quality improvement that they provide is adequately powering the size drivers that closed (and other large) headphones have. So even though I'm not a fan of compressed formats, the amp would make your lossy files sound better (just from the standpoint of adequate power for the headphones). Of course you're right, that you'd see an even bigger jump from better source files. Also, as Macie basically said, lots of audiophiles gripe about the DAC and lack of shielding in Apple products. Your iPod/iPhone is only set up to provide adequate power to in-ear headphones and some of the smaller over ear designs.

My general opinion would be that, while I have a pretty fussy listening setup at home, I accept a certain trade-off in fidelity for the awesome mobility that portable devices give us. IMO, with high end equipment, the value per dollar greatly decreases as you go up in price. For example, a piece of equipment that costs twice as much as another may only sound slightly better, but this is what being an audiophile is all about. How much slightly better you want to get is all about your enthusiasm and wallet.

Without an amp, I'd definitely go for the best Etymotics you can afford and then make sure your lossy files are ripped at AAC 192k/mp3 256k. The in-ear design would also solve your concerns about sound bleed (they make great earplugs too and use similar isolation design in their in-ear headphones). If you don't like in-ear design, I'd go for something like some Grado 325s (which I own). For their size, they actually do pretty well powered off an iPhone.

You mentioned the Sennheiser HD595. I'd say the Grado SR125 and these are pretty matched on price and quality. I've heard more often than not that Sennheisers don't do as well without a separate amp. I'd find a place that has both Grado's and Sennheiser headphones. Try them both and bring music you listen to for comparison.

I also know a guy who carries a Sound Devices 702 around with a headphone amp and Grado PS1000 headphones. There's a $4000 portable listening setup with few compromises (other than your empty wallet and constant fear of mugging). Some would call that crazy, but he's pretty happy with it.

Maciej
2011-01-29, 23:22
I'm thinking of picking up a portable amp, doing a diyMod on my old iPod and seeing where that takes me.

Tori, I hear good things about the ATH-AD700A (http://www.headphone.com/headphones/audio-technica-ath-ad700.php), but I don't have a pair. I don't have much experience with the Grado sound, their headphones make my ears hurt - not the most comfortable for my head.

Selecting a new phone is also dependent on the type of music you listen to; for my next phones I'm deciding between a pair of AKG 701's (http://www.amazon.com/AKG-K701-Studio-Headphones/dp/B000F7T4BE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1296361362&sr=8-1) and one of the Beyerdynamic models, possibly the 880 (http://www.headphone.com/headphones/beyerdynamic-dt-880---600-ohm.php) or 990 (http://www.headphone.com/headphones/beyerdynamic-dt-990---600-ohm.php).

torifile
2011-01-31, 23:01
I'm closing in on making a decision - the Shure SRH840. I got to listen to them today and they sounded great and seemed comfortable for the short time I wore them. Using my iPhone, they were plenty loud but I could see an amp helping. Now I'm just trying to make sure I'm not missing something by not going for some open cans. The Grado's are always an option but I've had the SR60s and 80s before (the 80s are broken now :() so I wanted something with a different sound.

torifile
2011-02-16, 23:34
I ended up getting the Shure SRH840s in case anyone was interested. They sound amazing but that's not such a feat coming from the other headphones I've been using. They are driven more than adequately from my iPhone and have a standard 1/8" jack as opposed to the 1/4" jacks on some of the other models I was looking at.


They are closed, which my wife appreciates since I like to listen to some music before going to bed. They list for $199 but I was able to get them from an eBay seller for $140 new (they are authorized resellers so the warranty is in place, too). I could have gotten them from J&R for $129 but they have been out of stock for several weeks and couldn't tell me when they'd be getting more in.

Lots of people over at head-fi recommended the Audio Technica M50's because they are slightly more portable but they didn't impress me as much when I listened to them.

Maciej
2011-02-16, 23:51
Sounds like a well thought out decision, good work, glad to hear you're happy.

On my end, I'm back to being content with my setup. It seems that like once or twice a year I get on a kick where I wanna buy audio equipment then forget about it again for the next ~6 months.

CitizenTony
2011-02-18, 23:18
I've been in the same boat looking for new headphones and wound up with a pair of Shure SRH440s myself. I got them over the 840s because of cost and when I tried them out at Guitar Center using my iPhone, the 440s were quite a bit louder at the same volume compared to the 840. So far they've been great, and I couldn't be happier. Guitar Center price matched an online sale so I got them for $60.

I also tried a pair of Sennheiser HD555s, but didn't like the open sound. Guess I'm just used to the closed headphones I've been listening to all of my life. I also found the HD555s a bit too bright for my liking.

torifile
2011-02-19, 22:19
I've been in the same boat looking for new headphones and wound up with a pair of Shure SRH440s myself. I got them over the 840s because of cost and when I tried them out at Guitar Center using my iPhone, the 440s were quite a bit louder at the same volume compared to the 840. So far they've been great, and I couldn't be happier. Guitar Center price matched an online sale so I got them for $60.

I also tried a pair of Sennheiser HD555s, but didn't like the open sound. Guess I'm just used to the closed headphones I've been listening to all of my life. I also found the HD555s a bit too bright for my liking.
I didn't even try the 440 I wish I would have because now that I'm up in the $100+ range for headphones I'm afraid I can never go back. :o

ast3r3x
2011-03-06, 12:25
A little late to the discussion but for people in the future, you aren't likely to beat the accuracy and sound quality of a pear of good in ear monitors. Maciej has a great pair with his ER-4P, which I was considering but I just couldn't justify the price for use with an iPhone, so I went with etymotic's HF5. They are less than half the price and very close in quality assuming you aren't using an amp with the 4P's. They are a wonderful alternative for great sound comparatively cheap. Plus, it has been my experience that etymotic really strives for accuracy as opposed to even quality companies like Shure who seem to have a slightly warmer sound…no where near Bose warmth, but I like pristine sound.

All that said, some people confuse IEMs for lack of bass, when really you can get bass, but you'll never feel it like you would from a speaker, or even maybe the little you can feel from wearing cans. Some people can't get past this.