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Headphone Nirvana

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by kingcobbler, Mar 3, 2005.

  1. kingcobbler

    kingcobbler
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    As you can see from my sig. I can play movies big and loud, but when the wife and kids go to bed and I want to listen to music it has to be headphones.

    Currently I have a pair of slightly worn Sennheiser HD520 II plugged into my Yamaha DSP-A2 amp.

    What I need is advice on how to get the best sound for music. I am currently intending to buy some Sennheiser hd650's, but what else.....

    Should I buy a better lead and what about a dedicated headphone amp ? What are the gains like in having a headphone amp ?? help please.

    As for budget... no idea but as a guess, once the new headphones are paid for (Approx £250 ??) I could spare another £250 but as I say thats a guess.
     
  2. alexs2

    alexs2
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    There are a couple of routes you could take....dynamic or electrostatic phones.....at around £500 all in,you could get to the lower end of the Stax range for electrostatic phones,and I'm sure that someone will give you a good rundown on those.

    My own preference is for dynamic phones,and the Sennheiser 600/650's should be in your range....both are excellent,with a very nice overall sound balance,and easy on the head as well.
    You could also look at Beyer and Grado,both having a good range for you to look at.

    I wouldn't go for the lead upgrades immediately....use the phones for a while if you do buy the Sennheisers,and take your time over choices....if you buy these,or any other good set of dynamic phones,you will need a headphone amp.

    At up to £300,there is quite a range,from MF XCans,and Creeks,through to used Earmaxs,and Slee amps,plus all of the others you'll find here.

    It would be worth your while having a look at the following also:

    www.ipodstudio.com
    www.head-fi.org
     
  3. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    It's not always easy to say whether a headphone amp will be of significant benefit or not, as it depends so strongly on whether the manufacturer of what you would otherwise be using to drive your headphones actually bothered to include a good headphone stage. Most manufacturers don't, but a few do.

    I pretty much agree with alexs2, I think: consider a "low-end" Stax system, or go for Sennheiser HD600 or HD650. Personally I use HD650 with a Graham Slee Projects "Solo" headphone amp, and it sounds pretty damn good. The "basic" Solo costs about £330. The only difference between that and the "full" version is the external power supply, which you can buy as a separate upgrade later if you like.

    See here: http://www.gspaudio.co.uk/preamps/headphone.htm


    The Earmax also gets rave reviews, and, with a pair of fairly high-impedance 'phones like the HD600 and HD650 you could probably get away with using the "standard" Earmax rather than the Earmax Pro, which gets it within shouting distance of your price range. (£375 new). There have been a couple advertised on hififorsale.com lately:

    http://www.adverts.hififorsale.com/results.asp?dbfield=All&dbsearch=earmax

    Or try here: http://www.stoneaudio.co.uk/stoneaudio/products/browser2.asp?ManufacturerID=52


    If you shop around a bit you should be able to buy HD650 'phones for less than £200, or HD600 for about £150, or possibly less. Try, for example: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=3274&item=5756601663&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW


    There is one other thing you might want to consider, though. If you primarily want to listen to films over headphones then the experience can be enhanced considerably by using a Dolby Headphone system. I don't know if your processor/receiver supports Dolby Headphone. If it doesn't then you might want to consider one of the all-in-one Dolby Headphone set-ups like the Philips SBCHD1500 (see http://www.consumer.philips.com/consumer/catalog/product.jsp?language=en&country=GB&catalogType=CONSUMER&productId=SBCHD1500_05_GB_CONSUMER ) or the Pioneer SE-DIR800C (see http://www.pioneer.co.uk/uk/product_detail.jsp?product_id=8330&taxonomy_id=42-67 ).
     
  4. Suave

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    Hi,

    In addition to the HD650/HD600 also have a look at some of the high end Audio Technica headphones only from Japan - they make some sublime sets and you can check out a full range of them at www.audiocubes.com. My only reservation about the Senn's is I feel that are better suited to classical and mellow music. They do not do that well with rock/pop music and are certainly not designed for movie watching as they are very accurate music sets. I watch alot of DD/DTS movies via headphones and have the Pioneer SE-DIR800C's which are great for the money and they are wireless. If you want high end surround sound via headhones look at the Audio Technica ATH-DCL3000 and the AKG Audiosphere II's. You can get Stax electrostatics from $289 to $689 (within your budget if you are flexible). Check out the Audio Technica ATH-A1000 Limited Edition Art Headphone ($369). Hope that helps..

    Suave!
     
  5. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I'm not in any way dismissing the AT phones,but would say that the Sennheisers do very well on rock and metal....their performance is dependent on good source material and good amplification....I use mine for everything from jazz(metheny etc) to metal(incl metallica etc)and I don't think anyone would describe the latter as mellow....they just need good quality sources....I use an Earmax,and Teac VRDS/P-Tech P1A/P3A for mine...not cheap but very effective with Senn 600s,and well capable for rock.
     
  6. ipodstudio

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    kingcobbler, for the HD650s you'll need an amp if you're going to use the ipod as the source as the ipod cannot drive HD650s to any acceptable degree.
    In the price range you're talking, I would take advantage of this group buy we're organising. You'll get a fantastic little amp at a great discount, and it's perfectly matched for both the HD650s and the ipod.

    Here's a few pics of that amp:

    [​IMG]

    Here's the old version which one of my moderators at the ipod studio used with his ipod until he recently upgraded to the 2005 model above. (the group buy is for the new model above which has variable bass boost ((handy with an ipod))

    [​IMG]

    It's also a great little home amp, despite it's tiny size.
     

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