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Thread: best headphones

  1. #1
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    best headphones

    Hi everyone,
    I consider myself to be an audio enthusiast. I do some sound engineering from time to time and love to listen to music. What is the best pair of headphones for under $400. I have heard good things about Sennheiser, AKG, and Grado...

    Thanks,
    PC

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    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrick201009
    Hi everyone,
    I consider myself to be an audio enthusiast. I do some sound engineering from time to time and love to listen to music. What is the best pair of headphones for under $400. I have heard good things about Sennheiser, AKG, and Grado...

    Thanks,
    PC
    You work occasionaly as a sound engineer and you're asking about good headphones UNDER 400? Tell us a bit about what you have used in your work, what you have liked and disliked as a sound engineer. From this I can maybe lead you to something you will enjoy, your question is far too ambiguous, particularily from an engineer.

  3. #3
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    I'll go one further and ask what sort of music you're working on. Some 'phones sound just great for rock-n-roll and others do well with chamber music. Like speakers, I don't there's a one size fits all category....Tho, spitteth thou, prithee...
    "The great tragedy of science--the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."--T. Huxley

  4. #4
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    My recommendation is Sennheiser HD-650, I believe they are under $400.00 if you look but if not see if the HD-600 is still around. Best sounding headphones I've yet to hear.
    Mark Levinson #512 SACD & 532h power
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    Like I said, I do a little sound engineering from time to time, but I'm not an expert. I mainly use Mackie equipment and EV speakers (not the best stuff, but relatively inexpensive)
    Anyway, I am into rock music, not classical music. I am not looking for a pair of headphones to monitor sound at live events, really just looking for a nice sounding pair of decent headphones for listening to music...

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    You must be referring to Mackie because E-V is not cheap and it sounds very good. Because it's Pro sound it sometimes doesn't play that low but the frequencies covered are mostly great. I've also heard some folded horns that slammed some bass but the box was the size of a double door refrigerator. Their compression horns & drivers are excellent.

    Sennheiser HD series are just great headphones that are as at home with Rob Zombie and Led Zepplin as they are with Mozart. They have tight bass with good detail and extended highs. The sound stage is large and open. But they are accurate, so if you are really asking for a pair of colored up cans with exaggerated bass the Senns aren't for you.

    I saw a pair of $50.00 Sony's the other day that sounded impressive for the money. They were on a display and the description talked about their design to deliver extra bass. The demo was some Hip Hop song but the bass was deep and surprisingly they did it without covering up too much of the mids and highs. The ear pads look like soft leather pillows. I would have liked to have heard them on some good gear for a real evaluation. Some have been saying Sony had some good cans, I won't be so quick to dismiss next time. I'm sure the demo was to show the best of the cans but what impressed me was how deep and clean the bass was, not just a bloated boom.
    Mark Levinson #512 SACD & 532h power
    Pass Labs XP-10 preamp
    Clearaudio Performance DC & Maestro v2 E, AcousTech Ph-1p
    Clarus Crimson loom - AC outlet to speaker terminal
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    Revel S30's & SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
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  7. #7
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    I agree with Peabody, Senns are great cans. Personally, get yourself a pair of AKG K240S. They are extremely natural and detailed. You can listen for hours with no fatigue or discomfort, designed for long sessions. Bass response is accurate and balanced. They have been discontinued but you can still get a new pair on the grey market. Ebay has them for $100 plus shipping. As an engineer, you will appreciate what these cans will do for your music. Just make sure your source is up to snuff because they will reveal weakness with great ease.

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    what would you recommend between the AKG K240S and the Sennheiser HD600?

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    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Tough call, they both really deliver. You could add in things like design and looks, plus hard specs to help decide. I am biased to the AKG but obviously the Senns rock too.

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    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    You have to be careful matching the application with Sennheiser, or any other audiophile grade headphone. Most of them are 300 ohm phones, and as such will do MUCH better with a headphone amp. The little op amps in MP3 players will either not have enough gain, or be pushed to stress trying to drive them. If your looking for a good can from Senn that will work with these players then you gotta go with the 595/555 series. Or even lower down the chain a Senn HD-280 pro. If your going to be in a noisy enviroment the go with the 280 as it shuts out the world like nobody's business.
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  11. #11
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    You have to be careful matching the application with Sennheiser, or any other audiophile grade headphone. Most of them are 300 ohm phones, and as such will do MUCH better with a headphone amp. The little op amps in MP3 players will either not have enough gain, or be pushed to stress trying to drive them. If your looking for a good can from Senn that will work with these players then you gotta go with the 595/555 series. Or even lower down the chain a Senn HD-280 pro. If your going to be in a noisy enviroment the go with the 280 as it shuts out the world like nobody's business.

    Great point Geoffcin. Patrick, if you go with the AKG watch for the "S" in the model. AKG K240S are the "studio" version at 55ohms. Still difficult for a typical portable to drive, but I'm assuming you're looking for a pair to go with your system. AKG K240M, that's right, "M", are the monitor version and as Geoffcin said, are actually 600 ohms. These are typically used by professionals, as you know they run gear in series and such.
    I own both, I have a headphone amp that I use at home and with my portable, however the 240's stay at home.

  12. #12
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    Great point Geoffcin. Patrick, if you go with the AKG watch for the "S" in the model. AKG K240S are the "studio" version at 55ohms. Still difficult for a typical portable to drive, but I'm assuming you're looking for a pair to go with your system. AKG K240M, that's right, "M", are the monitor version and as Geoffcin said, are actually 600 ohms. These are typically used by professionals, as you know they run gear in series and such.
    I own both, I have a headphone amp that I use at home and with my portable, however the 240's stay at home.

    600 Ohms?....Yikes! You ain't driving that with no Ipod!

    The 55 ohm studio should do fine as my 50 ohm Senn's play just fine with my Sansa view.

    Also if your going to spend some big $$$, I would audition the cans for a day or more. I was almost sold on the 650's but a day with them left me feeling they were too laid back for my tastes. My 595's are much more lively, (some 'phile types would say agressive), but I like them that way! The 280's are a bit more laid back, but much preferable if your in a uncontrolled noise enviorment.
    Audio;
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    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
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  13. #13
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Actually yes, my pick for Sennheiser would be the HD-280. Great set. I'm surprised you are content with 50 ohms from your source Geoff. I drive everything up to and including 32 ohms with a source, after this the amp comes out. Even some 32's get the amp treatment. The pair I can't get away from right now for portable use are my AKG K-66. Particularily for rock, they never fail to impress me. I drive these with the amp for ultimate rock supremacy. Damn it, AKG -66?!?!? Headbang time y'all!!!!
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  14. #14
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    Actually yes, my pick for Sennheiser would be the HD-280. Great set. I'm surprised you are content with 50 ohms from your source Geoff. I drive everything up to and including 32 ohms with a source, after this the amp comes out. Even some 32's get the amp treatment. The pair I can't get away from right now for portable use are my AKG K-66. Particularily for rock, they never fail to impress me. I drive these with the amp for ultimate rock supremacy. Damn it, AKG -66?!?!? Headbang time y'all!!!!
    It's better this way. 50ohms limits the SPL somewhat, and the 595's are capable of enormous SPL. Although I like them a lot, phones are really not my forte so I don't even have a headphone amp. I'm actually as we speak in the market for a decent DAC to run my HD-Radio source through, so I was thinking to get one that had a decent 'phone amp in it too. Any suggestions?
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
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  15. #15
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    It's better this way. 50ohms limits the SPL somewhat, and the 595's are capable of enormous SPL. Although I like them a lot, phones are really not my forte so I don't even have a headphone amp. I'm actually as we speak in the market for a decent DAC to run my HD-Radio source through, so I was thinking to get one that had a decent 'phone amp in it too. Any suggestions?
    What in/out requirements do you have for the DAC? I am not familiar at all with HD-Radio. I noticed your thread but haven't bothered to look, I'll check it out. I think I have something in mind for you, a nice little hand built unit by an exacting Canadian audio nut. He sells direct through Ebay, however, let me know what you need from the DAC...

  16. #16
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    What in/out requirements do you have for the DAC? I am not familiar at all with HD-Radio. I noticed your thread but haven't bothered to look, I'll check it out. I think I have something in mind for you, a nice little hand built unit by an exacting Canadian audio nut. He sells direct through Ebay, however, let me know what you need from the DAC...
    I need USB, Optical, and RCA inputs. I was looking at this device on Ebay;

    http://cgi.ebay.com/HLLY-HIGH-END-DM...item3ca6d5bd91

    It's got all I need, except I would prefer two Toslink inputs.
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  17. #17
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    I need USB, Optical, and RCA inputs. I was looking at this device on Ebay;

    http://cgi.ebay.com/HLLY-HIGH-END-DM...item3ca6d5bd91

    It's got all I need, except I would prefer two Toslink inputs.
    Geoffcin, this is the unit I will be getting shortly. I haven't decided if I want it from grant, or to roll the dice on a Chinese re-badge. Some advice to this point would be appreciated. The price point on this thing can't be beat. Tube and op's are changeable and it can function as a full-on pre-amp with a simple adjustment.

    Grant Fidelity: http://grantfidelity.com/site/Grant_...ty_Tube_DAC-09

    E-Bay Chinese Re-Badge: http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?...=STRK:MEWAX:IT


    Check this guys stuff out Geoffcin. This is that Canadian cat I was telling you about. Don't be fooled by price or appearance. These things perform. There are several different units. Throw on some vinyl, relax and browse. I've heard the Ultra Smoothie and the Thunderbolt. I thought of the Ultra Smoothie for you. My buddy swears by this stuff, I borrowed both and as a "headphone guy" was most impressed. Again, the price point is amazing. The guy who makes them is DEAD serious about his audio.

    Personal Audio: http://stores.shop.ebay.ca/Personal-Audio__W0QQ_armrsZ1

    "Ultra-Smoothie": http://cgi.ebay.ca/ULTRA-SMOOTHIE-S-...item4148e3b20d

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    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Hey Geoff, any thoughts? I know the Smoothie doesn't have all the features you want, but it's a killer headphone amp. Thought maybe it could be something different for you to consider outside of a traditional dac.

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    I know there's a big price difference between HD600's and the K-240's but the HD-600's are far more open. AKG sounds compressed in comparison. I personally feel the HD-600's are superior in overall frequency response and fidelity as well. AKG is what my HD-600's replaced. I also have a pair of 580's. I've driven the 580's with a receiver and even a tabletop HD radio with no problem. My friends I-pod seemed to do alright but my smaller mp3 players can't drive them like they can be driven.

    I believe Trends has a DAC/head amp available. I believe Benchmark also has all the features you want.
    Mark Levinson #512 SACD & 532h power
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  20. #20
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    Hey Geoff, any thoughts? I know the Smoothie doesn't have all the features you want, but it's a killer headphone amp. Thought maybe it could be something different for you to consider outside of a traditional dac.
    Thanks for the suggestions. None, but the one your getting has what I need so right now I'm keeping my options open. Right now I really only use my phones with the laptop and MP3 player and it works fine with both.
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

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    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    Thanks for the suggestions. None, but the one your getting has what I need so right now I'm keeping my options open. Right now I really only use my phones with the laptop and MP3 player and it works fine with both.
    Try the thunderbolt, you'll wonder how "fine" was ever good enough.

  22. #22
    Forum Regular winston's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Mr Peabody]I know there's a big price difference between HD600's and the K-240's but the HD-600's are far more open. AKG sounds compressed in comparison. I personally feel the HD-600's are superior in overall frequency response and fidelity as well. AKG is what my HD-600's replaced. I also have a pair of 580's. I've driven the 580's with a receiver and even a tabletop HD radio with no problem. My friends I-pod seemed to do alright but my smaller mp3 players can't drive them like they can be driven.


    Patrick" save yourself the headache and frustration and give the HD-600 line a try out.
    to be honest" I am not the guy who like to recommend expensive AUDIO GEAR but from my experiences of trying to find THE BEST set of CAN'S FOR ME!! I have come to the conclusion that headphones are different animals"(so in short) let me say this..
    my impressions are done with the HD-650 and i have to thank Mr. Peabody" for that. also I now owned a set of the HD-600 the way i got these is a real Blessing.
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    Thanks for the insight everyone...
    I guess I eliminated AKG from my choices, but how about within the Sennheiser HD series lineup. I do not have a headphone amp and will mostly be playing music from an iPod or a computer. Does it still make sense to go for the 600s even without a headphone amp?

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    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Patrick" save yourself the headache and frustration and give the HD-600 line a try out.
    C'mon winston, I know you want to bring Patrick around to your suggestions, but do you think this might be a bit of overkill?

    "Headache and frustration" would be the last problems with a pair of AKG. Do you really feel that strongly against it? If anything, it could be a nice segway to something more high end. A means to appreciate and develop tastes.

    Anyhow, no sour grapes here. Patrick, Sennheiser have alot of great sets. You should firstly figure out which models fit your budget. Then, of those, which have specs that will fit the bill for your Ipod. With no amp, 32 ohms or less would be ideal. Keep in mind circum vs supra aural and comfort in general. I would most certainly suggest an amp, you won't get the full benefit of a full size set without one.

    Keep us posted.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    C'mon winston, I know you want to bring Patrick around to your suggestions, but do you think this might be a bit of overkill?

    * I do. Did he say before this he would be using an Ipod/computer and I missed it?

    "Headache and frustration" would be the last problems with a pair of AKG. Do you really feel that strongly against it? If anything, it could be a nice segway to something more high end. A means to appreciate and develop tastes.

    * My AKG would be even more difficult to drive than my HD-600's. You've used them more recent than I, would even AKG be a good suggestion?

    Anyhow, no sour grapes here. Patrick, Sennheiser have alot of great sets. You should firstly figure out which models fit your budget. Then, of those, which have specs that will fit the bill for your Ipod. With no amp, 32 ohms or less would be ideal. Keep in mind circum vs supra aural and comfort in general. I would most certainly suggest an amp, you won't get the full benefit of a full size set without one.

    Keep us posted.
    for modest use like with Ipod or computer I'd seriously look at the Sony for over the ear and maybe something from Shure for earbud style. I have portable Sennheiser but for $50.00 to $60.00 I think better can be found. I actually have some AKG earbuds I use with my mp3 player. They are pretty good. They have a big bass sound which probably appeal to most. I typically prefer a flatter response. I believe Shure is generally the pick for high quality earbud though.

    I'm surprised no Grado fan boys have arrived yet. I'm not a fan of the Grado sound but they are popular and I'd be remiss in not mentioning the SR-60's, I think a new model SR-60i is out now, which are over the ear and run about $70.00. Many feel these are a very good value for the money.

    I obviously am a Sennheiser fan but I wouldn't spend $400.00 to listen to an Ipod or computer. Although some of those Shure get up there.
    Mark Levinson #512 SACD & 532h power
    Pass Labs XP-10 preamp
    Clearaudio Performance DC & Maestro v2 E, AcousTech Ph-1p
    Clarus Crimson loom - AC outlet to speaker terminal
    JBL 4367's & SAM3ha
    Revel S30's & SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
    Transparent cables / Tributaries HDMI
    PS Audio Quintet & Surgex SA15&20

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