£150 to spend on new cans

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by fish99, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. fish99

    fish99
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    Hi,

    My current headphones are AKG K141s. The sound is nice enough to my inexperienced ear but they are damn uncomfortable, so I'm about to buy something better. To give you an idea what I like/don't like I'll just go through which other headphones I've used/owned -

    Grado SR80 (32 ohm) - too thin, bright and uncomfortable, with a narrow soundstage
    Sennheiser HD565 Ovations (150 ohm - used without amplification) - very good but don't excite me somehow - top end can be a touch harsh
    AKG K141 (55 ohm) - Nice, rhythmical but too bassy, coloured and uncomfortable
    Koss Porta Pros - Limited but exciting
    CX300 - harsh mids, can sound distorted, microphonics
    MX500 - plain poor, majorly lacking in bass
    EX71 - boomy bass, harsh top end, microphonics
    KSC-75 - great when modded to press on ears more, same exciting sound as Porta Pros

    I should mention my music tastes as well - mostly pop/rock with a bit of jazz + classical thrown in. Music I'm into at the moment would be - Muse, Radiohead, Killers, Beta Band, Catatonia, Amy Winehouse, Madeleine Peyroux and other similar stuff.

    I don't have a headphone amp and TBH I don't want to spend the extra to buy one, so we're only looking at how headphones will sound plugged straight into my Marantz CD6000 OSE LE and my PC. I also don't like closed headphones, or headphones that rest on the ear so we're looking for open-back circumaural. Here's what I'm looking at-

    Sennheiser HD600 (300 ohm) - the question here is are they still good without amplification, and do they suit my music?
    AKG K601 (120 ohm) - again I read they need amplification
    Sennheiser HD595 (50/120 ohm) - high sensitivity (112) may be a problem - may be too loud with my CDP based on how loud my K141s (sen:103) are on min volume (assuming those numbers are comparable)
    AKG K240 Studios (55 ohm) - likely to sound quite like my K141s, not exactly hi-fi
    Beyer DT880 (250 ohm) - high impedence a problem?
    Beyer DT860 Premium (32 ohm) - don't seem to get discussed much versus the higher impedence Beyers, plus I've never heard any Beyers
    Audio Technica ATH-AD900 (35 ohm) - know very little about these but they tick all the boxes
    Audio Technica ATH-AD700 (35 ohm) - same as above but cheaper

    Really could use some guidance here :lease:
    Cheers, Simon.
     
  2. mattski73

    mattski73
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    first of all, i have a few headphones with low impedance, but they still need my headphone am behind them to get any decent volume and sound out of them.

    why not hop over to Alessandro because they're having a 25% discount thing going on at the moment.

    get a pair of MS-2's which if I'm right, is a pair of customised Grado SR225's.

    www.alessandro.com

    but if i was you i'd get this bundle from jaben.

    http://www.jaben.net/shopping.html

    Bundle: Beyerdynamic DT 880 (2005 Edition) + CrossRoads MylarOne X3 Earphone
    [US$299.00] - Free International Shipping

    at the current exchange rate, that should be close to £150, and the bonus of getting a pair of CrossRoads MylarOne X3's, which are a great pair of IEM's. I should know, i've got a pair.

    so two pairs of good headphones, Beyer DT880's and a pair of CrossRoads, all for a ton fifty.
     
  3. fish99

    fish99
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    Thanks :)

    I guess my CDP must have an unusually loud headphone output then, because even on min volume it's nearly too loud for comfort with my K141s (sens:101) or my brothers HD565s (sens:96) . Maybe you mean connected to an MP3 player?

    That bundle does look good but I'm not sold on the descriptions I keep reading of the Beyer sound. Analytical and cold keep getting mentioned. I've also just been listenning to the HD565s for the last hour with a variety of music and it's really put me off any Sennheisers if they all sound like that. I dunno if they badly need amplification but the bass was cold and underplayed and the top end too sharp, plus there was no joy and life there.

    So I think it's now down to AKG K601s or one of the two Audio Technica cans depending on how much I want to spend. Think I'm going to go for the ATH-AD700s after reading how much the K601s need amplification.
     
  4. alexs2

    alexs2
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    You should try and get a listen to both the Grado SR 225,and the Sennheiser HD650 is just above your budget at £190 but well worth looking at.

    To get the best out of any headphones at this price level,a separate amp is almost always worthwhile,and I think the comment above from fish99 bears that out.
    These are 300ohm phones,and they do require a good amp to get anything like the best out of them.

    The choice of amps around is pretty large now,with everything from £50 portables etc like the CMoy and the various clones,through the Chinese sourced valved or transistor models around the £100 mark,and upwards through the Slee etc in the £300-400 region.....and of course on from there.
     
  5. mattski73

    mattski73
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  6. fish99

    fish99
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    Thanks for the replies :)

    Wow that is a good deal on those HD650s. Only issue with Sennheisers is whether their sound will suit my music which is mostly light rock and pop. I was listenning to Catatonia and Muse on the HD565s and it was doing nothing for them, it was almost unpleasant (classical on the other hand sounded beautiful). Cerys Matthews voice was screechy (extra screechy I should say) and as for the cymbals, it sounded like a fight in a drum shop ;) Plus Muse had no energy. As you say that could well be due to no amplification, but I don't really have the money to spend right now on an amp. I just want to be rid of the discomfort from my K141s and to get a less muddy sound.

    I couldn't buy Grado again after owning the SR80s, I found they worked with maybe 20% of my music but ruined the other 80%. Plus they were very uncomfortable even after bending the headband. I must have had them 6 months and the comfort level never increased.

    Anyway, I had already ordered the ATH-AD700s before the above 2 posts, so we'll have to see how I get on with them. They can always go back if they're not my cup of tea.
     
  7. alexs2

    alexs2
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    A very good deal indeed,and one that I wouldnt mind having a look at either.

    I don't think you'd have too much of a problem with the sound balance...I like a mixture of jazz,rock and piano,and the Sennheisers seem fine on those,certainly never sharp or screechy,but the important thing is to try and get a listen before buying,if you did ever choose to try them.
     
  8. mattski73

    mattski73
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    but.........but the HD650's might need a headphone amp to brign out their best. that's what they say.

    but blow it, get them anyway, worry about an amp later.
     
  9. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Exactly what I've said above....they DO require a proper amp to get anything like the best out of them,although there is nothing to stop you using them without,assuming the headphone outlet is capable of driving them.

    Being honest,even an iPod headphone outlet will run them,but as before,not to anything like as good as they can produce.

    The difference between my 600's run off a good headphone amp and something less,even with the iPod as a source,is immediately noticeable,and when switching from say an Earmax to a much better headphone amp...again,very noticeable,so the 650s would be expected to do better.
     
  10. Scottyyy

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    HD650's is what I'd go for.

    The reason for that is because I'm a fan of their sound signature. Dark, with excellent bass and mids. Also, the fact that when you throw a VERY good setup at them, they will scale like no other. Especially when balanced and recabled. They sound good out of a half decent headphone amp and a good sound card. But when you get a high quality DAC, balanced amp, recabled by someone like Apuresound, then they REALLY shine.

    Go for SR225's if you're looking for something more bright though.
     
  11. fish99

    fish99
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    Well anyway, the money is spent now, so unless I hate the Audio Technicas I've ordered when they turn up tomorrow, it doesn't matter.

    I think the problem with the HD565s I'm using is they might be too transparent, and maybe Catatonia don't have the best quality recordings. Nevertheless just about all music I've tried is more enjoyable on my K141s than the Sennheisers, and yet the HD565s were IIRC the HD580 equivalent of their day and cost double what I paid for the K141s. There's no doubt the Sennheisers are more analytical, less coloured and bring out more detail, in fact I would say there's no doubt the Sennheisers sound better but nevertheless the AKGs are more enjoyable. I dunno - the AKGs are more ryhthmical, and cohesive, plus they're not short on bass. They sound much more like my MA B2 speakers.

    I wouldn't want to spend £160 on some HD650s, the same again on a headphone amp, only to find that I had a great sounding setup that I didn't enjoy. There's obviously a good chance the HD600/650 would have a similar sound signature to these HD565s.
     
  12. Scottyyy

    Scottyyy
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    I have had the AD700's and they are very nice headphones. Best soundstage I've ever heard and lots of detail. Also extremely comfortable.
     
  13. fish99

    fish99
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    Got the ATH-AD700s and actually not that impressed so far. Rather bright across the board and sibilant with some recordings. Deep bass seems a little weak too. I'll give them 48 hrs continuous burn-in and if they haven't started to loosen up a little I think I'll have to return them.

    Starting to think I should just get the K240 Studios since they're basically a comfortable and more open version of what I already have and love, the K141s.
     
  14. fish99

    fish99
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    Hmmm... it's gonna be a tough one whether to send these back or not. No doubt they are bright and at the very top end there is a touch of sibilance, but on the other hand the soundstage is excellent and they are very clear, and the detail is a step beyond anything else I've heard. With the right recording they sound superb - No Surprises by Radiohead has never sounded better, I can pick out the xylpohpone as clear as anything all the way through, and I can hear Toms acoustic guitar which is lost on the other headphones I've used. On a poor recording though, which sadly seems to include all my Muse albums, they come across as harsh. Classical is amazingly clear but there's just a hint of noise on voices, I don't know if that's compression on the CD. Jeff Waynes War of the Worlds is wonderful on them.

    Funny thing is there's plenty of bass on some music, yet it sounds badly lacking on others.

    Think I'll continue burning them in over the weekend and decide later.
     
  15. fish99

    fish99
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    Been doing lots more testing. You'll excuse me if I keep comparing them to the AKGs and Sennheiser I've got here, but that's all I've got to compare them to.

    After using the AD700s for a few days, going back to the AKGs was a shock, almost like listenning to music underwater :D So much bass, way too much, heavy mids and just a very deep sound overall. Low mids sound quite muddy. Funny how you don't notice it when they're the only cans you listen too for ages. The Sennheisers, very good bass/mid/trebble balance, but I can now hear why people say Sennheiser have a veiled sound. Also sound a little mechanical and the bass is quite cold, and failed to 'rock' with Muse. Finally the AD700s - by far the clearest and the most natural presentation, but there's no denying the lack of bass, and in some music (esp some guitar bands) the soundstage is so wide the instruments no longer form a whole. A bit bright at the top end too.

    So none of them are ideal, and should I send the AD700s back (I'm edging that way) I don't really know what to try next :rolleyes:

    edit: One thing I've noticed, if the AD700s are pressed to the ears then the low mids and bass become more pronounced and warm and the overall balance is pretty good. Dunno if they could be modded somehow to achieve this, maybe by removing some of the padding. Not sure what is causing the sound to change, the distance between drivers and ears or the better seal.
     
  16. fish99

    fish99
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    Just wanted to update this thread. Firstly the ATH-AD700 are going back. They don't sit square to the sides of my head, this diagram explains better but there's a strong seal below my ears and a weak one above, since the pressure is lower.

    [​IMG]

    If you bend the top bars a little to correct this then the bass goes up 20% and the lower mids sound less thin (although the harsh highs remain). A real shame they have no adjustment in the axis shown.

    2nd thing - StevieDvd has very generously lent me a White Noise headphone amp (still getting to grips with it but it largely removed the 'underwater' sound from my K141s) and I've decided to get a headphone amp myself in the near future. This means my headphone choice has opened back up to include everything that's open back and circumaural regardless of impedence.

    My budget will probably even stretch to the K701 (£180ish) but my reservations about the top-end AKGs (inc K601s) are the descriptions of them being a little analytical and bass shy which sounds a bit like the ATs. It may come down to HD600 vs HD650, and then most of the people on head-fi who have both say they use the 600s more, so that's probably my first choice at the moment. I'll have to read up on the Beyers.

    edit:updated diagram
     
  17. fish99

    fish99
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    After reading endless threads on Head-Fi, the AKG K601s are back in the picture, joining the HD600 and HD650. Apparently the K601 have a bit more bass than the K701s (although it doesn't go as deep), plus I don't mind the softer top end. I definitely don't want a sharp top end or a lack of bass after the Audio Technicas.

    My only concerns with the HD650 is people keep saying they are hard to get the best out of - for instance whatever I buy I'm not going to recable them. Plus there's an issue with the newer HD650s maybe having HD580 drivers in them - I'd find it hard to order them until this is cleared up. Soundwise they are spoken of as being dark and the bass maybe overpowering the mids and top end a bit, hence why people recable them with silver. I don't mind bass though - owned quite a few sets of speakers now and they all seem to have plenty of bass so I don't see why headphones shouldn't.

    HD600 are definitely a contender still. Maybe they would be less forgiving of poor recordings than the HD650s, but that's not a good reason to avoid them. They also look nicer. Does sound like the HD650s have the better soundstage though.

    Really hard to make a decision just based on comments on Head-Fi, but that's what I'm stuck with. Probably just favouring the AKGs at the moment for their soundstage and styling.
     
  18. fish99

    fish99
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    In the end I decided none of the top-end headphones were what I was looking for. They all had issues - DT880 has the sharp top end, DT770 has the boomy base and is closed back, the HD600/650 I couldn't buy because I just don't like these HD565s of my brothers I've got here for anything except classical and jazz (don't get me wrong they are fantastic with classical), they sound sort of metallic, and there's some peaks in the mid range which really grate with many recordings. My main gripe though is that they just don't portray energy and rhythm. The K701/K601s I don't think the large soundstage would work for most of my music, plus again they are supposed to have quite a bright top end. Grados/Audio Technica I've owned and didn't like.

    So in the end I've ordered the K240 Studios, which should be pretty similar to my K141s but a little more open and, importantly, without the agony of being supra-aural. I was listenning to the K141s last night, and with StevieDvd's White Noise amp to clean up the bottom end they do sound fantastic. War of the Worlds was just amazing. The rhythm and energy is all there, and the bass is there too (not overblown, just the same amount as my MA B2s). For the music I listen to at the moment (Catatonia, Muse, Radiohead, Killers, Beta Band, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs etc) they are simply more enjoyable and more involving (to me), so the K240s should be the same but a bit better and without the comfort issues.

    I think I've realized that you can't get one set of cans that does everything. I'll get the HD600s or K701s in the future and use them just for classical/jazz. The K240s will be my pop/rock cans.

    Time to start looking for a headphone amp then... :) Little Dot 2+ looks interesting.

    p.s. Anyone want to buy some K141s? They're really comfortable, honest ;)
     
  19. tonyli3

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    Just been having a read through this thread and your decision to stick with another pair of AKG,you seem happy with the sound signature of your current headphones with the addition of the amp so i hope the 240's work well for you.
    I've owned lot's of can's at one time or another including most of those mentioned in this thread minus any AKG'S. About 7-8 months ago i decided to try some Ultrasone 2500's and to be honest i've not felt the urge to try anything else since. To my ears they suit any music,have an above average soundstage,very well defined bass,mids just a little forward in the mix[great for rock] are comfortable for me and even come with 2 cables[coiled and straight] together with spare ear cushions!
    Everyone's perception of what sounds right is different,so you only really get to know what suits your taste by extensive listening to many headphones,this can be VERY expensive as i have found out over the years.
    If you find yourself very happy with your new headphones i'd suggest just enjoying the music and not spending anymore money:) i'm happy now and do NOT intend buying any more for as long as possible,my best advice is to try and do the same.
     
  20. fish99

    fish99
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    Yeah think I'll be sticking with these K240 Studios for a while, 2 days burn in and they're sounding lovely. They're basically the K141s + comfort, which makes you wonder what the point of the agony inducing K141s is. I did have a very brief look at those Ultrasones a few weeks ago, but didn't give them much consideration because I mistook them for Dolby/3D headphones because of the S-Logic thing. Oops.

    I do like the sound signature of the K240s, and TBH I don't understand why people are so forgiving of headphones that are bass-shy since it ruins many types of music for me. Guess it depends what you listen to. If I bought some speakers that had as little bass as those ATH-AD700s, they'd be going straight back too.

    The K240s do definitely benefit from the White Noise amp though, so I need to sort out an amp now. Been reading up on the Little Dot 2+ and 2++, but in particular the 2+. Seems highly regarded and it's very reasonably priced (£70 delivered). I can live with the 'arcing' problem at that price, and I'm intrigued to hear the 'sweet tube sound'. Dunno if I can spend £250 for something like a Graham Slee Green to use with £70 headphones.
     
  21. tonyli3

    tonyli3
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    Pleased your happy with your new headphones,for some reason in 20 odd years of buying can's i've never owned AKG's? no reason its just never happened.
    On the subject of amps i did own one of the earlier revisions of the Slee Solo with seperate power supply,it was used in combination with Hd600's and Beyer dt990's both the newer 250ohm and older 600ohm models,the Solo did a fine job and i believe newer Graham Slee amps are considered a jump in performance over older one's so i doubt they would be anything less than very good.
    I have not followed the amp market over the last year or two so would not really have much idea about the many different one's available now,have fun and try to keep the wallet under control![as if i can talk]:)
     
  22. fish99

    fish99
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    Just thought I'd update this thread now I've had plenty of time with my new headphones. StevieDvd offered to sell me the WNA Mk1 he leant me, and although I wasn't sure at the time I'm delighted I took him up on the offer now since the K240s + WNA are a very nice pairing. I can really appreciate the enormous improvement in the bass the WNA makes on these phones. It's very nice being able to hear texture on bass guitars for the first time.

    I think it's safe to say that the best judge of how happy you are with an audio setup is how much you use it, and based on that I must be very happy with the new setup since I'm using my headphones most nights and going through my whole music collection :) The discomfort of the K141s is a thing of the past, and I've still got that energetic sound I love for my Muse albums. Result.
     

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