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  1. #1
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    Full-Size (circumaural) Closed Headphones - iPod

    I want to buy a good pair of headphones for using with my iPod. I realise for the best sound quality I should go supra-aural (open), but the main reason I've chosen 'closed' headphones is because I'll mainly be using them whilst travelling, so don't want everyone else to hear.

    I've been doing a bit of research and from what I can tell I should be looking for something with 32 Ohm, as anything more with an iPod would require a separate headphone amp to get the best out of the headphones.

    I don't want to spend crazy money, but I'm open to suggestions. The ones I've been looking at are as follows (approx. $99 - $300):

    Audio Technica ATH-M50 or ATH-A700
    AKG K 271
    Denon AH-D2000
    Shure SRH440
    Sennheiser HD 280 Pro or HD 448

    The problem I'm having is that I've read lots of different reviews, but no particular pair stands out from the crowd in the given price categories - one pair scoring 95% on one site, 80% on another and 3 out of 5 (60%) on another.

    I have quite a wide taste in music, so I'm looking for something that sounds good across the board - Hip-Hop/Rap, R&B, Reggae/Ska, Heavy Metal, Acoustic, Pop, Classical etc.

    Any help that anyone can provide, audiophile or otherwise, will be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Hello PCHall!! First of all, welcome to AR!!

    I am a bit of a headphone buff, and there are a couple others here who can chime in. As much as I hate to re-direct you away from our great site, Head-Fi.org would be a great place for insight.

    Of your listed models, I would strongly recommend the AKG K271 or the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro.

    I own a pair of AKG K240. Legendary. They are open back however. I have heard the K271 extensively, and while I'm not a fan of the closed design, was quite impressed.

    I also own a pair of Senn HD 280 Pro. This is the only pair of closed back cans I have ever been able to listen to for any longer than a few minutes. Perhaps that's an endorsement in itself.

    Both companies offer parts and service with these models, despite the K271 being discontinued, Actually, Senn and AKG are notorious for stocking parts on discontinued models.

    I would say that both models can provide enjoyment for the genres you've listed, but the Sennheiser's will be more forgiving. Specifically, if you're playing a lo-res file, the Sennheiser's will do a good job to deliver something sweet sounding. The AKG's on the other hand, are VERY true to the source. In other words, junk in, junk out. If you're listening to MP3 files, this can often be a deal breaker.

    That said, I would prefer the AKG's with all things being equal. Eventually, I will budget myself for my "dream" pair of headphones. The AKG K240 Sextett LP.

    As far as impedance is concerned, the Senn's are 64 ohms and the AKG's are 55 ohms. IMO, if you want the headphones to act as designed, you MUST get an amp. Infact. even at 32 ohms I still endorse a headphone amp. This is a debatable topic, but most headphone-centric audiophiles would agree, particularily when an Ipod is concerned.

    Might I suggest a great amp for a great price? The PA2V2 is a real giant killer. The owner, designer and sole employee Gary is available by email. He's super personable and hand builds each unit. I use one of these with my AKG K240, rated at 55 ohms sensitivity. Superb power, more than one would need while still maintaining great fidelity.

    Check his site here.

    Anymore questions feel free to post, hopefully some of the others will chime in also.

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    Thanks for that poppachubby, appreciated.

    To be honest, I would prefer to go for the open design, but when I think of how I'll be using them (travelling), the closed design seems the best option - I know how annoying it can be to hear someone else's music!

    Just out of interest, what would you suggest on the open design. Again, I've been doing some research and the Grado's seem to stand out a mile eventhough they don't seem to be high on comfort?

    Approx. how much are we talking for a headphone amp (ballpark)?

  4. #4
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCHall
    Thanks for that poppachubby, appreciated.

    To be honest, I would prefer to go for the open design, but when I think of how I'll be using them (travelling), the closed design seems the best option - I know how annoying it can be to hear someone else's music!
    Hey no prob. Yes for travelling closed are the way to go...unfortuneatly.


    Just out of interest, what would you suggest on the open design. Again, I've been doing some research and the Grado's seem to stand out a mile eventhough they don't seem to be high on comfort?
    Well, I am not researched on the new or state of the art market. I think most offerings from Sennheiser or AKG are a good bet. Another pair of closed cans that I dig are the AKG K81 or K181. Check em out. Of course, I love my AKG K240S. Please note the S designation which stands for Studio, at 55ohms. There is a pair of M series, for Monitor at 600ohms!! I think you can understand the issue with 600ohms and an Ipod, or headphone amp for that matter.

    The K240S are not the greatest cans ever made...BUT...they are incredibly comfortable, sporting the classic AKG engineering/design. They are also incredibly accurate to the source, but as I already explained, this can be problematic if you use lo-res files.

    My favorite analogy of the K240S has to do with presentation. They are super fun to listen to, although not technically perfect. The K240S are like a cool rock band, they may be a bit sloppy or make a mistake, but will entertain you to no end. The more esoteric offerings will be more like a classical orchestra. Everything perfect and in it's place, but not much fun to watch.

    It's all a matter of taste in the end.

    Both of these rec's appear on the usual auction sites. Under $100 used or just over for new. Again, Head-Fi can help you here with some newer suggestions. As for Grado's, they are a VERY specific sound and feel. I would not suggest a purchase without an audition.


    Approx. how much are we talking for a headphone amp (ballpark)?
    The PA2V2 that I linked you to ships brand new for $60 CDN. I have no other suggestions for a budget headphone amp, this thing is simply the best under $100 IMO.

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    OK, makes sense. From what you're saying, and from what I've read, there's no point going over a certain limit price-wise for the application I'm looking for, as it would simply be a waste of money.

    Thanks for your help. I'm off to look at your suggestions and do a little more research.

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    I have the Grado 125s which are very nice but depending on how fat your head is and how big your ears are can get annoying after many hours. Rat Shack has replacement pads that fit and feel better. As far as open design goes, you can hear what is going on around you more than others can hear the music.

    Great detail and bass performance!

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    Hyfi - thanks for your input.

    If I was to go for the 'open' design, just how much external noise do they give out? As I said above, when travelling (train, metro, flights), I know how annoying it can be to hear someone else's music for several hours!

    I've also been looking at the AKG K240 MKII (semi-open, circumaural design, 55 Ohms), which seems to get 'rave' reviews and at approx. €90-120, quite reasonably priced as well.

  8. #8
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCHall
    I've also been looking at the AKG K240 MKII (semi-open, circumaural design, 55 Ohms), which seems to get 'rave' reviews and at approx. 90-120, quite reasonably priced as well.
    i FIGURED YOU WOULD BE BACK TO INQUIRE ABOUT THOSE. Oops, caps...sorry.

    Bang for buck, those redesigned K240's are fantastic. They are indeed everything that you are reading.

    I can't lie to you, Grado make some fantatsic cans. The SR-60/80 are also fantastic value in terms of price/performance. My only concern is that you will find them uncomfortable. Many people complain about discomfort after a long session. Assuming your flights are a couple of hours minimum, you should be seeking comfort as one of your top criteria.

    The other issue is that Grado have developed a house sound. It begins at the SR-60 right on up to their best models. For some, it's the only way to listen while others detest it.

    As I said, an audition of a pair would be the best way to go. Perhaps you don't have a local dealer. You could make your purchase of a new pair, from somewhere on the net with a good return policy.

    Anyhow, I am a biased fan, so I digress. The K240 MKII are a wonderful sounding set of cans. The comfort level is thorugh the roof, designed with studio musicians and professionals in mind. Once again, like their predecessor, very revealing so consider your source material carefully. Listening to CD's will be like hearing your favorite albums for the first time. They will present everything that's audible in the mix, and in a forward and fun manner.

    Whichever way you go, consider "burn-in" after your purchase. This is not voodoo and I am a big fan. Check this site out and download the frequency generator, it's free and will help to bring out the best in your cans without having to listen for hours and hours.

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    The flights I'm taking are normally between 6-9hrs, so comfort is certainly an issue, not that I'd be listening for 9hrs straight!! That was my main concern with the Grado's, as comfort doesn't seem to be high on their agenda and, as you say, they have a distinctive sound (love 'em or loathe 'em).

    I live in Europe (Brussels), so I've found a distributor, which rather handily is only 5-10mins. from my house. I'm off there today to try these out, both the 240's and the 271's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PCHall
    The flights I'm taking are normally between 6-9hrs, so comfort is certainly an issue, not that I'd be listening for 9hrs straight!! That was my main concern with the Grado's, as comfort doesn't seem to be high on their agenda and, as you say, they have a distinctive sound (love 'em or loathe 'em).

    I live in Europe (Brussels), so I've found a distributor, which rather handily is only 5-10mins. from my house. I'm off there today to try these out, both the 240's and the 271's.
    You would probably be better off with something other than Grado for travel and extended listening, but you would love them for home-couple hours at a time. I like being aware of my surroundings and able to hear what is going on as opposed to not having a clue what is going on around me with closed cans but they are more comfortable.

  11. #11
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCHall
    The flights I'm taking are normally between 6-9hrs, so comfort is certainly an issue, not that I'd be listening for 9hrs straight!! That was my main concern with the Grado's, as comfort doesn't seem to be high on their agenda and, as you say, they have a distinctive sound (love 'em or loathe 'em).

    I live in Europe (Brussels), so I've found a distributor, which rather handily is only 5-10mins. from my house. I'm off there today to try these out, both the 240's and the 271's.
    Well done. Auditioning is the key to this hobby, in terms of deciding what you like, but more importantly, what you don't like. Make sure you take with you EXACTLY what will be going on the flights. Your Ipod presumably and perhaps a portable CDplayer.

    You may find with a nice set of cans, particularily the revealing type, that there is much worth in CDs and a decent portable. I personally use both MP3 and portable CD.

    Please post your thoughts of todays session. Good luck!

    Oh and BTW, see if they have the K81 / 181 DJ. Good closed design.

    Chubbs

  12. #12
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyfi
    You would probably be better off with something other than Grado for travel and extended listening, but you would love them for home-couple hours at a time. I like being aware of my surroundings and able to hear what is going on as opposed to not having a clue what is going on around me with closed cans but they are more comfortable.

    I have read that if your head is shaped a certain way, they are comfortable. How long do you find you can listen before that's a factor?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    I have read that if your head is shaped a certain way, they are comfortable. How long do you find you can listen before that's a factor?
    I can't really answer the question. My main system has nothing for Headphones, only the HT Receiver so I rarely listen to the cans anymore. I did use them with my older Hafler 945 pre-tuner which I may just put in the mix for a spell.

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