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-   -   High end headphone advice needed ! (http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum/showthread.php?t=71341)

azoth 12-17-2012 11:24 AM

High end headphone advice needed !
 
Hi All,

I've optimised my headphone search into a metaphorical cul-de-sac http://cdn.static-avforums.com/forum...s/confused.gif

I've viewed the graph comparisons, read the subjective listener impressions, viewed (but not listened to) models instore and generally spent far too much time trying to make an informed decision about my first set of proper high end headphones.

I've owned rather nice IEMs (Phonaks, Hifimans, Shures), swapped a few headphone amps and spent far too much time reading audiophile blogs. Then I got a bit bored of the fanboyism and went off in search of something sensibly priced, well built and neutral.

I'm looking for a pair of neutral, highly detailed headphones for general home listening, primarily for prog metal, post rock, electronica, classical (modern composition) and world music. Basically anything featured in The Wire magazine. I'm not a bass head an didn't rate Sennheiser Momentums, Sennheiser Amperiors and UE6000s (passive mode) when I tested them out recently - too much booming bass. Having said that I do like well defined, articulate bass, just in intended quantities, not boosted because its the current trend.

Right now I intend to power my headphones with a Minibox E+, but in the near future I want to get an O2 / ODAC combo - a chain that ensures that I hear my music without colouring, exactly as the recording engineer intended. So the final piece of the puzzle is which pair of headphones to get. Based on my neutral / detailed requirement I've been gravitating towards the Sennheiser HD600, but there's something that makes me balk at spending 300 quid on a 16 year old headphone which used to cost a hundred quid+ less a few years ago. I understand the benefits of driver matching, the amazing sound signature, etc but I'm wondering if for the money I can do a bit better.

I've also considered the Hifiman HE-400 and HE-500 series, though the 500s are getting very pricy and I'd rather not spend THAT much on headphones. Although buying the 500s via Head Direct's ebay store makes the price a bit more palatable. Basically I'd say top end of my budget is about £400 if I can get away with it (though spending less is of course welcome).

Am I missing anything for consideration ? Or have I covered all the bases ? Someone considered Beyer DT880s, but they have non-removable cables and I figure that being able to swap cables means being able to fix parts of the headphone that fail.

Your advice is much appreciated.

Azoth

IDvsEGO 12-17-2012 12:31 PM

try the Skullcandy Hesh, its sublime.


just kidding. I dont spend a lot of time int hat price range because the cost/benefit falls off drastically at around $150-200. And I get bored with stuff too fast to invest that much money. But from what I have read you are looking at the heavy hitters. as far as the age of design, do not let that alter your decision. Its speakers. there havent been groundbreaking tech advances or anything. 70's era sound gear has a pretty avid following because a lot of people actually dislike the "advances". Its headphones, not a car. get what sounds good.

azoth 12-17-2012 04:53 PM

Trouble is there's hardly any places in the UK that allow you to test, and the rest don't allow you to return headphones for hygiene reasons (which is fair enough). And there aren't any Head Fi type meets that I'm aware of. So testing them before buying is a bit of a challenge.

IDvsEGO 12-17-2012 05:30 PM

well, thats kind of part of the hobby. Chasing the sound. Most people never really have it, they just decide to stop because they cant chase anymore.

choose a well known one so that you can resell it for not much loss. the money you lose is an experience that gets you closer to your headphone goal. Consider buying used as well. buy a used one. if you love it you can keep it or resell it and buy a brand new one with confidence. You will loose little, if any, money on the scenario.

WalkGood 12-17-2012 06:17 PM

azoth welcome to abi :)
While I've not checked in long time AFAIK there are headphone meets in the UK but they might not be in your area. Last one that I had heard of you can read about here. I'm sure if you contact some of those guys they can keep you appraised of small meets as well.

Back on track ...

Hereís what I see you saying
- Budget £400 or $647.92
- I want detailed headphones (indicating highs)
- Well defined, articulate bass (indicating quality not quantity)

What I did not read is anything about midrange. Does this mean you like a V-shaped sound signature? I hope not, because the HD600s are definitely not that at all, they sound very nice across the sound spectrum but a little light on bass to my ears and thatís why I prefer the HD650s over them, much warmer with the same detail IMO. The 600s are often considered to be one of the most neutral headphones. Side note; mids are very important because this part of the sound spectrum is where the most audible parts of human voice and the essential sounds emitted by musical instruments our ears hear.

If you do like a nice neutral sound then yes you should be looking at the 600s and I wouldnít worry about when they were designed. If the price is a little too high then look for some second hand ones or refurbished. Are they worth it, I think so but only you can tell for sure. One very nice thing about Sennís is that they sell cables, ear-pads, drivers, every part that one needs to fix them if need be. That said, I hate the fact that Senn enforced their dealers to sell at MSRP, in the past they sold below it and there were great deals to be found.

There are other headphones that accomplish what you want but Iím probably not the best person to recommend these as I donít like them much even though I've tried many of them. For example: Grados, AKG, dt-880, etc. etc. Ö

singha 12-17-2012 10:45 PM

I am pretty sure you will like the HD600s more than the HD650, since you thought the Amperiors have too much bass. I had both for a while but ended up selling the HD600s. In all honesty, I liked the 600s more but sold it because I was an elitis.

Have you looked into the Shure 940? For some reason, these have fallen out of favor since coming out and I have been seen them used in the 170s. They are by no means bass heavy and seem to match your needs.

Other than that, the usual suspects would be the DT880, AD900, He-500 but I can't vouch for then.

azoth 12-18-2012 01:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WalkGood (Post 628550)
azoth welcome to abi :)
While I've not checked in long time AFAIK there are headphone meets in the UK but they might not be in your area. Last one that I had heard of you can read about here. I'm sure if you contact some of those guys they can keep you appraised of small meets as well.

Back on track ...

Hereís what I see you saying
- Budget £400 or $647.92
- I want detailed headphones (indicating highs)
- Well defined, articulate bass (indicating quality not quantity)

What I did not read is anything about midrange. Does this mean you like a V-shaped sound signature? I hope not, because the HD600s are definitely not that at all, they sound very nice across the sound spectrum but a little light on bass to my ears and thatís why I prefer the HD650s over them, much warmer with the same detail IMO. The 600s are often considered to be one of the most neutral headphones. Side note; mids are very important because this part of the sound spectrum is where the most audible parts of human voice and the essential sounds emitted by musical instruments our ears hear.

If you do like a nice neutral sound then yes you should be looking at the 600s and I wouldnít worry about when they were designed. If the price is a little too high then look for some second hand ones or refurbished. Are they worth it, I think so but only you can tell for sure. One very nice thing about Sennís is that they sell cables, ear-pads, drivers, every part that one needs to fix them if need be. That said, I hate the fact that Senn enforced their dealers to sell at MSRP, in the past they sold below it and there were great deals to be found.

There are other headphones that accomplish what you want but Iím probably not the best person to recommend these as I donít like them much even though I've tried many of them. For example: Grados, AKG, dt-880, etc. etc. Ö

Thanks for the welcome ! Long time lurker, first time poster I guess...

I did forget to explicitly define the mids. Whilst I understand the benefits of a V shaped sound, I'd like my purchase to not artificially enhance or veil a particular frequency, hence my interest in something like the HD600s.

Thanks for the advice re the Senns. I have seen them lower than MSRP e.g. Superfi sells them for £250, Amazon for £290 (RRP is £370 I think). And there's a few used models on ebay too. I just want to make sure I've considered all the neutral possibilities on the market before buying :)

JK98 12-18-2012 03:00 PM

Don't spend too much. Spending twice as much as the HD598 costs might only get you a 15% increase in sound quality. For home use, if you want a comfortable neutral headphone with good midrange detail and good soundstage, you should consider the Sennheiser HD598 or perhaps the less expensive HD558. I don't have either of these, but do have an old discontinued open Sennheiser headphone similar to these.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sennheiser-H...5860488&sr=8-3

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sennheiser-H...5860488&sr=8-1



I suggest you read this.

http://www.head-fi.org/a/2012-head-f...guide-over-ear

sideways 12-18-2012 03:12 PM

The HD 555's have been perfectly adequate for my needs.

Check out the 555 to 595 mod in this thread if you decide to go that route.

WalkGood 12-18-2012 04:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JK98 (Post 628602)
Don't spend too much. Spending twice as much as the HD598 costs might only get you a 15% increase in sound quality. ...

I'm sure I asked you before, where do these numbers (15%) come from and IIRC you said personal experience. While it's great to have all that experience, my very little experience tells me the number you state is incorrect for me ... And I just don't see any science, study or solid enough proof backing that number.

skip252 12-18-2012 04:20 PM

The closest thing I have close to a neutral *high end* set of headphones is the ATH AD900. The scare quotes are because while I think they sound very good the price wouldn't put them in the high end category for a lot of people.

I have had the opportunity to listen to them vs. both the Senn 600 and 650. Both the Senns are somewhat better to my ears but the current pricing makes them a no go for me. It's not that I don't think they're worth it. My headphone budget just hasn't been right when I saw them at a great price.

WalkGood 12-18-2012 04:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by skip252 (Post 628615)
... I have had the opportunity to listen to them vs. both the Senn 600 and 650. Both the Senns are somewhat better to my ears but the current pricing makes them a no go for me. It's not that I don't think they're worth it. My headphone budget just hasn't been right when I saw them at a great price.

If you had to guess a percentage of difference like JK98 stated, what would it be? I would probably feel more comfortable using a variable between 20% to 30% or 30% to 40% (example only), and I'm not saying either of these is what I would state. In order for me to set that variable I'd have to do a volume matched side by side test which I can't because I don't own both pairs.

As I stated above used or refurbished if the price is right wouldn't be a bad way for one to go IMO, because all parts for senn's are available.

skip252 12-18-2012 06:07 PM

That's why I said "somewhat better". I don't really think you can assign a realistic number value when it comes to the type of differences I hear. I prefer the treble of the AD900 a bit more, the bass of the HD 600 a bit more. I like the overall sound of the HD650 the most. If I had to try to put a number value on the differences it would be in the 3%-5% range between them all.

To some that won't seem enough to justify the price differences but this would be one of the times it would seem worth it to me. If I had unlimited funds I'd have all 3. When I wanted a set that had better bass than the ATH AD700 my available funds would cover the AD900.

That doesn't take the Senns off my list. It just puts them in the "someday" category.:D

azoth 12-20-2012 05:53 AM

Thank you all for your suggestions - I'll have to go away and do some more thinking !

eskimo4130 12-27-2012 08:23 AM

Apart from classical and the world music you listed, i'm suprised you didn't favour the Momentum. It's definitely warm but i found it wonderful with guitars.
Good luck on your quest. I too am trying to not bother now.

WalkGood 12-27-2012 08:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by eskimo4130 (Post 629024)
Apart from classical and the world music you listed, i'm suprised you didn't favour the Momentum. It's definitely warm but i found it wonderful with guitars.
Good luck on your quest. I too am trying to not bother now.

I'm sure that numerous members and I would enjoy reading if you could start a new thread in the headphone forums called "Momentum," giving us your opinions on them. If you own another popular Senn phone you could even compare them to, that would be great. For example the HD650s which I own; I feel are warm with great bass, mids are excellent and the highs are not slouchy at all ...


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