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Home use headphones, no HP amp, less than £50

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by Sun, Aug 12, 2005.

  1. Sun

    Sun
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    Hi,

    I've been searching and searching on headfi and here for a couple of days now and I'm getting more and more confused about what would be suitable for me, I'm hoping you guys can clear a few things up for me.

    Here is my situation:

    *Headphones for watching DVD's/TV and listening to CD's/MP3's at night when the wife and munchkin are asleep. It will be 50/50 films and music. A real mix of music stuff Basemant Jaxx, Beth Orton, Nirvana, films like Heat, Solaris, LOTR, So with all this in mind I imagine it needs to be a good all rounder really?

    *CD's will be from Marantz 5400 OSE CD player, DVD's via Yamaha HTR5640 Amp (both have a HP output so for CD's should I use the Yammy or the Marantz?)

    *Corded, won't be wandering around with them strapped to me heed.

    *I like the idea of closed back headphones so as not to disturb others but exactly how much sound is leaked in/out of open back headphones? Are we talking immense volumes where a bystander could hear everything or just a "tiss, tiss" sound ála eejits with poor headphones on the train? Are there any other pros/cons to the 2 different designs?

    *I will spend an absolute maximum of £50 delivered, nothing more, the quality is important to me but not to the extent I will pay anymore for a 1st set of headphones. I already use Koss Plugs for my Iriver IHP-140 and they sound good considering they were £15. Neither will I be considering a dedicated HP amp so there is no benefit in looking to save or look longterm for upgradability. I'm looking at this is my only HP purchase ever even if that doesn't turn out to be the case.

    So far I've considered the
    Sennheiser HD 497 Open Headphones
    Sennheiser HD 212 Stereo Headphones
    Sennheiser EH 150 Headphones
    Beyerdynamic DTX700 Trendline

    Now i'm stuck, can anyone answer my questions sufficently where I can make a calculated decision?

    Cheers
    Sun
     
  2. extremelydodgy

    extremelydodgy
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    Yes I know it's £2 over, but this is getting good reviews for 'genuinely' hi-fi listening. http://www.askdirect.co.uk/uview?call=ask.productSearch&id=6404&topcatid=2


    I have the closed back equivalent of this, and even that's pretty impressive technically although not bassy which many people like, and that's £45.


    Leakage-wise, it depends on how quiet your home is and how close your nearest and dearest will be. For example, I can hear the open Stax Omega II from the next room at night quite easily if I have the door open.


    Closed back phones (with the exception of very high-end models £1K and up) usually have a sonic compromise. You've got to want isolation in other words, and be willing to trade some SQ for lack of leakage.


    Out of what you listed, the HD497 is a pretty safe choice in terms of sonics. However the Beyerdynamic DT231 (£40) fits in the same way, an odd 'half-on, half-off the ear' kind of fit and I would say that the DT231 has better sound quality. The DT231 claims to be closed, but I find it practically as leaky as the HD497. Anyway, I'd suggest you try the phone linked above if you can. I've only tried the DTX700 in unsuitable surroundings, but what struck me most was the uncharacteristically flimsy build for a Beyerdynamic.
     
  3. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    I think that you're foolish to overlook the headphone amp option - I've just acquired one which will sell for around the £30-40 mark and it makes a huge difference. It's phenomenally better than standard equipment head-outs.

    I use this with some Sennheiser HD570s which are available discounted these days at around the £50 mark and are supremely comfortable. :)
     
  4. Sun

    Sun
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    extremelydodgy thanks for that, what is the model number of the closed back equivalent that you have? If it's £45 maybe Ill try that, my family will be upstairs so there's no chance of them hearing it when they're asleep I was more bothered about being annoying when they're in the room. The 485's look good on paper but I'll check out those Beyer's as well. Are the ones you have comfy for enough for a film?

    eviljohn2 it might be foolish longterm but shortterm while I have an incredibly strict budget and no experience of how good home headphones might sound I think it's sensible to go easy to start with. How do you find the 570's?

    The ability to be driven without a HP amp is probably the most important factor, will the HP's mentioned in this thread all be acceptable?
     
  5. extremelydodgy

    extremelydodgy
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    Look for the HD215 on the ASK website. You may be able to find it cheaper elsewhere... I've not looked hard, but I find them quite pleasant to do business with.


    Couple of reviews:
    http://www.trustedreviews.com/article.aspx?art=1311
    http://phonephile.blogspot.com/2005/06/sennheiser-hd215-headphones.html


    You'll notice that both of the reviews make pointed reference to a flattish sound. The phone does very deep bass, but does not emphasise it like many 'consumer' headphones. So if that's not what you're looking for, steer clear. Surprising for a headphone orientated towards DJ's actually, and all the more surprising as it looks a bit silly on the head IMO (DJ phones are supposed to be blingin', no?). Still, pretty comfy, does isolate effectively, has excellent clarity for the money especially for a truly closed phone at this price so is definitely worth looking at. If you're in London / Tottenham Court Road, I'm fairly sure that ASK had both 485 and 215 out on a 'tree' so you could listen to them. Take printouts of the website prices as they'll be higher in-store.


    Oh I almost forgot. From my comments on this board, you might think I'm some sort of anti-Sony guy but I'm not slow to point out their good stuff when it really is good. Not only do I have their most expensive phone (the custom-fitted Qualia 010), but I also have one of their cheapest lying around and you know what, it's not half bad. If you're thinking of spending way less than £50, the <£20 MDR-XD200 is if not astonishingly so, then it is at least very, very decent for the money. It's not the sharpest nor the highest resolution phone, but very listenable in a mild, warm sort of way. There's an interesting 'movie' switch which releases a vent which ramps up bass in a passive way. It doesn't isolate, but it's not too bad at the leakage. It's also pretty comfy as well. It's not better than the HD497 or the DT231, but it gets pretty close and is definitely more comfy for much less. If you're lucky, ASK might have one of them out for listening too.


    Are the HD497, HD215, HD485, HD212, DT231, DTX700 and MDR-XD200 headphones suitable for driving from a fixed domestic source without an amp? In terms of power requirement, surely. In terms of quality? Variable. Contrary to many claims, the headphone out stage on many recievers can be so similar to a decent budget HP amp so as to make getting one separately a waste. However, many of them suck too.
     
  6. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    I had the same attitude of not adding a headamp immediately but they're definitely worth the comparatively small investment at some point in the future.

    When I was buying mine I tried the Sennheiser models:
    HD570
    HD555
    HD280 Pro
    and another one which I forget (it was a Senn dealer :blush: ).

    The 280pro are the only sealed models in that lineup and definitely sounded the best and can be bought for about £80 online which is over your budget. The 555s are supposed to replace the 570s but I really thought they sounded enclosed and dark which wasn't for me. The 570s were a great compromise for me at only £50 and are the most comfortable cans I've tried - a factor not to be underestimated. :)
     
  7. Sun

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    Great stuff from both of you, I'm now down to one of the following Senn's 497, 215 or 485. Not certain which way to go so far, I like bass sure but I don't want it to ride all over everything else. The 497's can be had for £31 delivered, 215 - £40 (edit I see the 212 can be had for £30 isn't that the previous version of the 215? is the 215 significantly better?), 485 - £47. I imagine the pricier the better is the general rule of thumb with Sennheisers's? I'm still not 100% if I need/want them closed or not, it's tricky. I really need to try both types to get an idea.

    I don't mind if they're not DJ blingin, I'll be able to do my best Live Aid impressions at home with them regardless, Bono has nothing on me. I've taken the info on the Sony's onboard and will try and track some down, I see Amazon have them for only £20, they might be destined for the wife then as she needs some for piano playing.

    As it happens I work at Chancey Lane so I can pop down TCR to ASK this week and check them out, that would be ideal really.

    Thanks very much for your help, I'll post back with my findings upon purchase.
     
  8. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Definitely try some open/closed designs as they're very different in presentation and comfort. My experience wasn't really that the expensive Senns were better - I bought the cheapest pair on offer! :)
     
  9. junya

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    Hello Sun. Just wondering how you got on, as I'm also looking for a sub £50 paid or headphones for the same purposes you are. At the moment I'm swaying towards the HD215's.
     
  10. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    for cheap headphone amps look to the pro sector, Behringer, Samson etc lots of nice ones there.
     
  11. podium73

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    Hi,
    I'm telling you these are a great buy - Beyerdynamic DT231 £40.
    Used them almost every night for the last two years with no probs.
    Sound quality is great and they are very comfortable, I can have them on for 3 hours at a time.
    Have had a few Sennheiser, sony, headphones over the years and to be honest they were just all right...
    If your on a tight budget without compromise try the Beyer DT231
     
  12. extremelydodgy

    extremelydodgy
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    The 231's leak. Apart from that they're good.
     
  13. JayCee

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    Surely these aren't needed?
    If you have a good quality amp to begin with........a good pair of headphones with good sensitivity and of the right impedance is all you need?
    They're just another piece in the chain to colour the sound.
     
  14. nsherin

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    Haven't used a headphone amp myself, TBH. I found the headphone stage on my old Yamaha HTR-5540RDS AV receiver and on my current NAD C320BEE amp to be more than good enough to my ears. I'm using a pair of 3 year old Sony MDR-CD-480s. Very comfortable and they get a hell of a lot of use. Lovely sound too - not too fatiguing and a nice punchy bass. A bit silverly and bling (a couple of my colleagues had a great laugh when I put them on at work the other day (was testing a new PC setup for the music department - I work in a school), but I like 'em. Trying to explain decent gear/sound quality was lost on them....
     
  15. Reano

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    ;) what you don't know may actually be a lot better. I have had various amps and CD players with headphone out and they are not as good as a good headphone amp.

    "They're just another piece in the chain to colour the sound..." Think about it this way the av amp etc that you have is in the chain between the CD source and then the headphone out it has. If you put the headphone amp between the cd source and the amp, the headphone amp will usually have a 'tape-out' that is passive and just passes the signal out to the amp so you can listen to the speakers when you want but when you want private listening it will allow you to listen to an amp actually dedicated to reproducing the sound for headphone use. Not for cinema, 5 speakers, radio, etc all in all it actually has 'less' colouration than the av amp does :)

    As for headphones around £50 you can always go second hand too (remembering you can always change ear pads, etc) plus they would have already been burned in by the previous user. If possible I would try to stretch my budget up c£20 (if possible) and see if you can get some 2nd hand Senn 590 or Grado sr80 they will be worth it. No point going easy as someone said get the best you can afford now that way you are listening to the music you brought as close to what the artist intended as possible.

    I will describe what I mean if you have poor headphones you listen to the music and are detatched and easily leave the listening session after 15 mins. When you have a good headphone setup. YOu melti into the music sometimes just lost. For example I mainly listen to R&B, Jazz and some classics and once I put on Pink Floyd's 'Great Gig in the sky' and was just lost in the music I felt like I was being haunted way after listening to it! You hear things come from behind you, next to you, etc trust me, get the best you can afford even if it means going second-hand...
     
  16. WhyAyeMan

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    The HD497 from askdirect for £30 are about the best bang for the buck there is IMO.
     
  17. Sun

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    Hi,

    I completely forgot to post back in this thread, sorry. My headphone purhcase got delayed as it happens until November anyway. For the last 4 weeks though I've been the proud owner of a pair of Sennheiser HD485 - with free stand! They were £44 from www.discountdiscs.co.uk , quick service, no complaints.

    This is my first serious headphone purchase, I can only compare them to my Koss Plugs. They certainly have plenty of bass but are not bass heavy, don't expect riced-up-corsa-6x9-bass but they fill out the bass rhythms nicely. They have sounded a little cloudy at times but have begun to show this less and less, I imagine this is some form of running in. Treble is good and soundstage & direction are excellent, I find them equally good for films as for music, I watched Lemony Snickett's with them on the other day and found the directional effects to be very convincing despite only being fed a 2 channel source.

    Aesthetically they are very nice, very sexy but you couldn't really wear them in public, they are home headphones, too big for portability. They are very light and comfy, I have worn them for 3 hours straight with no problem, your ears are enclosed by very comfy pads. I predominantly run them from my Yamaha RX-V657 which has no problem in providing the neccessary volume, they sound esxpecially good via PureDirect mode. Although they are closed headphones they do leak a fair ammount of noise, enough for people to work out what you're listening too but fortunately they don't let a lot of noise in though.

    I know they're not the last word in headphones but in the < £50 arena I have no hesitation in recommending them.
     
  18. Gullanian

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    Have you thought about a 2nd hand pair off ebay?
     

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