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  1. #1
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    Smile Headphones - part of your optimal hifi set up puzzle

    I have read quite a number of reviews regarding various brands and models of headphones.

    I personally believe a really good pair of headphones can make the difference between a good and fantastic listening experience.

    There's various brands I have tried over the years, I keep going back to my Sennheisers.

    My two pairs are the 570 Symphony headphone, and the MX 880 ear buds.

    You can basically train yourself to prefer more bass, or more treble, or both. With that in mind, you will find out some brands more favorable to others.

    The three basic concepts I implore anyone who's new or not, to the shopping for your next set of head/bud phones :

    1. Audition, audition, audition. There's no need to hurry to make such an important decision as this, especially if you plan to fork out a bit of money for it. For health and safety reasons, it is unlikely you will be able to test out ear bud headphones (ones that go into the canal in the ear). However the headphones should be fine. Try various brands, try 2-3 at least of each of the brands that impress you the most. Even try out the ones way beyond your planned budget. The idea is to find out what variations there is. There's no point to starve yourself of a potential good listening experience.

    2. If you have friends who have brands/models that you can't audition in the shop, try them out.

    3. According to "health experts" of various sources, it is not recommended to listen more than 30 continuous minutes through headphones at any one time. Bacteria will form in the ear canal which could cause health issues.

    You may not be in a situation where you will be in front of speakers, and will need to enjoy your music in a private, quiet environment.

    I thought much about headphone amplifiers, to be the jury is still out. In my case, a $300 pair of Sennheiser 570s ended up sounding substantially better with headphone amps ? hmm not really, and the amp costs over $1000.

    The fact remains there is no way I can guarrantee I can carry around my headphone amps whenever I need to listen to music through my headphones. Personally I believe it's more worthwhile
    to invest in a much superior pair, such as the 800's.

    Sure I would expect many of our beloved members on this awesome site, will swear by the headphone amps and not to dismiss them. I would agree that everyone 'should' try out headphone amps to experience if the difference is worth the investment. It also depends on the rest of your equipment and the headphones that you currently trying to improve.

    Just my personal preference, if I do get too impressed by the headphone amp addition, I will end up too dependent on them.

    My current pre-power and speaker set up, make it impossible to find a headphone set to out perform them. Not without paying for a pair 10-15 times the price of the rest of my system. It would just be a case of dimishing returns which is the point I'd rather not try to dwell too far into.

    All the best to make a worthwhile investment of time and money to your next pair of headphones.
    Current System :

    Xindak XA8800MNE Mono Block Power Amplifier
    Cambridge Audio 840E Pre Amplifier
    Cambridge Audio 840C CD Player and DAC
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 MK-II
    Pioneer DVR-640H (250 GB HDD)
    Foxtel Digital
    Samsung LCD 40in LA40M81BDX
    Sony PS 3 (source - CD/SACD/DVD/Blu-Ray)
    XLO Interconnects & speaker cables
    Sonos Wireless Music System

    Upgrade Path :

    1. Power regulation system

  2. #2
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    I don't like headphones. I never have. I gave a pair of Stax phones to a buddy with complaining neighbors. The sense of sound coming from inside my head has always seemed kind of creepy to me.
    With that said. Health problems and repeated hospital visits have prompted me to investigate and invest in some headphones and a portable music player. I bought a Sansa ClipZip player (4GB) a 32GB micro SD card and a pair of Grado SR60i's. I'm not unhappy with either.
    The Sansa now has 36GB of space for FLAC (yes it works with FLAC files) files and the Grado's do a decent job of presenting the music. The combo has come in very handy for long chemotherapy sessions.
    ARC SP9 MKIII, VPI HW19, Rega RB300
    Marcof PPA1, Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon carts, Yamaha DVD-S1800
    Behringer UCA222, Emotiva XDA-2, HiFimeDIY
    Accuphase T101, Teac V-7010, Nak ZX-7. LX-5, Behringer DSP1124P
    Front: Magnepan 1.7, DBX 223SX, 2 modified Dynaco MK3's, 2, 12" DIY TL subs (Pass El-Pipe-O) 2 bridged Crown XLS-402
    Rear/HT: Emotiva UMC200, Acoustat Model 1/SPW-1, Behringer CX2310, 2 Adcom GFA-545

  3. #3
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    Hi Joe, hope you have a speedy recovery, and all goes well.

    Well new equipment is being released each year that can do more, store more, play more types, sound better, and some even more compact. The newer iPods are less than half the size of a matchbox. I don't like those players that small and thin. Drop it once, or something drops on it, it can break it.

    The good news about the high end ear phones is that they are a fraction of the cost of high end headphones.

    From where I am coming from, since I enjoy listening to music, I might as well invest my hard earned money in something I enjoy.
    If it means making a good investment and perhaps get the more expensive option in order to get a better listening experience, then why not.
    Current System :

    Xindak XA8800MNE Mono Block Power Amplifier
    Cambridge Audio 840E Pre Amplifier
    Cambridge Audio 840C CD Player and DAC
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 MK-II
    Pioneer DVR-640H (250 GB HDD)
    Foxtel Digital
    Samsung LCD 40in LA40M81BDX
    Sony PS 3 (source - CD/SACD/DVD/Blu-Ray)
    XLO Interconnects & speaker cables
    Sonos Wireless Music System

    Upgrade Path :

    1. Power regulation system

  4. #4
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    I have been searching for a decent pair of headphones for sometime, I usually wear them at the gym with my iPod and I find that when I am running that the headphones tend to slip out of my ears (I currently have the ones that wrap around the back of the ear with buds that rest in the ears) which is a little annoying and the ones that go over your ears make my head and ears uncomfortably warm when my body temp rises. Are there any decent headphones out there that will offer quality sound without falling out of my ears or getting all sweaty from covering my ears?

  5. #5
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    Hi Lizard.

    I know what you mean, there are two types of the earphones
    that you can get. There's the more common flat ones, that could/would slip out of your ears. Then there's the deeper more egonomic ones that can slip all the way into your ear canal.

    Stay away from those deep canal ones, because they can cause damage to your eardrum as they are closer to them, plus bacteria that forms from frequent earphone use is increased with that particular design.

    You can buy the small sponges that slip perfectly over the flatter faced common earphones so they are less likely to slip out of your ears.

    If they still slip out, I guess when you're at home, you can add a little bit of cotton or tissue next to the area where they may slip out so they don't slip out as often.

    I found Senheisser to be a good reliable brand, most of the higher range is not too heavy on the base, so those don't apply to people who love the extra bass bass bass...

    If you want clarity, the Sens are worth a shot.
    Current System :

    Xindak XA8800MNE Mono Block Power Amplifier
    Cambridge Audio 840E Pre Amplifier
    Cambridge Audio 840C CD Player and DAC
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 MK-II
    Pioneer DVR-640H (250 GB HDD)
    Foxtel Digital
    Samsung LCD 40in LA40M81BDX
    Sony PS 3 (source - CD/SACD/DVD/Blu-Ray)
    XLO Interconnects & speaker cables
    Sonos Wireless Music System

    Upgrade Path :

    1. Power regulation system

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by OzzieAudiophile View Post
    Hi Lizard.
    Stay away from those deep canal ones, because they can cause damage to your eardrum as they are closer to them, plus bacteria that forms from frequent earphone use is increased with that particular design.
    I would never consider sticking anything besides a q-tip in my ear, it's too risky plus my hearing is bad enough from jamming (love it, but man those amps can be killer) I will look into the brands you suggested. I have been thinking about inventing something that you can wear that hooks into your music device besides regular headphones but I am still in the brain development phase of it. Thanks for the reply.

  7. #7
    Forum Regular winston's Avatar
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    stay strong Joe, good luck

    OZZIE@
    Stay away from those deep canal ones, because they can cause damage to your eardrum as they are closer to them, plus bacteria that forms from frequent earphone use is increased with that particular design.
    kind of makes me wonder sometimes how they keep those deep canal ones in, for hours on hours!!

    just over the spring break holiday I was talking to my son about the time spent on his PS-3 on line gaming communication without longer breaks, (as it seems to me that only the Headphone & head set gets tired when the batteries runs low "I mean he never does"

    as for me I'm all for open cans 100%, the leakage isn't a problem at home, I mostly used my own space for my (canjam),
    Chet Baker-Trumpet
    Pepper Adams-Baritone Sax
    Herbie Mann-Flute
    Bill Evans-Piano
    Paul Chambers-Bass & Connie Kay-Drums
    (....ALONE TOGETHER....) DEC. 30 1958
    produced by...Orrin Keepnews...

  8. #8
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    I am still looking for what I can live with...

    Quote Originally Posted by winston View Post
    as for me I'm all for open cans 100%, the leakage isn't a problem at home, I mostly used my own space for my (canjam),
    I recently was loaned a couple of pair of headphones to try out. Sennheiser HD650's and AKG 701's. While I found the SQ of the AKG's only marginally better than the SH I found both unacceptable overall. The SH were much too compressing on my ears and the AKG's made my head and ears get too warm (body temp).

    I know I can't and wound use ear buds and that means open cans are my last option. Any suggestions?

    @Joe
    Keep your spirits up and keep jammin during therapy.
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  9. #9
    You play. I listen. Enochrome's Avatar
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    I am actually serious, even though it is a huge step down from a price point, but what about Koss Porta-Pro? They are crazy goofy looking, but most good over/or on the ear ones are no matter who makes them. I have not heard them myself, but they have received stellar reviews. I believe they are known to be extremely comfortable. Last, I believe Koss has a lifetime warranty.

    I am not a huge headphone listener and I rarely ever spend a lot money any headphones. The reason, I break to many and my hearing starts to get ruined. I do believe that a good headphone amp is essential for home listening. I also think, ironically, that it is easier on the ears because it takes out all the screeching of the highs.
    Main System: Exposure 2010s - VPI HW-19jr - Denon DL-103LC - ClearAudio Basic - Sony SCD-S7700 - PS Audio DLlll - Revel M20

  10. #10
    Forum Regular winston's Avatar
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    maverick TUBE DAC D2 DAC

    the maverick Tube Dac D2 dac is said to be decent economical Dac.Welcome to Maverick Audio | TubeMagic D1 DAC | TubeMagic D2 DAC | TubeMagic A1 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier has anyone "here" every had any experience with their products, (likes/dislikes if any??

    the one that caught my interest is the, (D2 DAC)
    Chet Baker-Trumpet
    Pepper Adams-Baritone Sax
    Herbie Mann-Flute
    Bill Evans-Piano
    Paul Chambers-Bass & Connie Kay-Drums
    (....ALONE TOGETHER....) DEC. 30 1958
    produced by...Orrin Keepnews...

  11. #11
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    Nice find and the price is right

    Quote Originally Posted by winston View Post
    the maverick Tube Dac D2 dac is said to be decent economical Dac.Welcome to Maverick Audio | TubeMagic D1 DAC | TubeMagic D2 DAC | TubeMagic A1 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier has anyone "here" every had any experience with their products, (likes/dislikes if any??

    the one that caught my interest is the, (D2 DAC)
    Ya, I can see why it caught your interest. I have never heard of them and don't know of anyone with any experience with Maverick.

    I tried to find what kind of tube it uses..AT,AX, etc.....but I could not find that data on the link.

    Winston, I did a search online and found a review by our own BR on the DAC1. You might want to give BR a shout.
    Last edited by LeRoy; 04-05-2012 at 05:45 PM. Reason: Add content
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  12. #12
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    has anyone tried the Westone ES5 custom in ear monitors?

    Saw a couple people with them recently.

    Also, found Sony - 900MHz Analog RF Wireless Headphones at Bestbuy.com right now for $64.99 from $120! Good deal, and they have coupons for the site that will work.

    Just thought I'd share

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizard54 View Post
    has anyone tried the Westone ES5 custom in ear monitors?

    Saw a couple people with them recently.

    Also, found Sony - 900MHz Analog RF Wireless Headphones at Bestbuy.com right now for $64.99 from $120! Good deal, and they have coupons for the site that will work.

    Just thought I'd share
    I have the ES5. They're very good though a little lacking on the top.

    I actually own the Westone 4 and prefer them in some ways. These are the 4-driver universals by Westone. The tone is more neutral in my opinion. The ES5 is a bit dark. The Westone 4 is the top universal in-ear from westone right now and as far as I know, that and the Sony XBA-4 are the only 4 driver universals around.

  14. #14
    music whore Happy Camper's Avatar
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    Over the years, I've been forced into headphones as my primary music rig. They aren't a comparison to speakers as they are two entirely different tools for the job. If you've not entered into the headphone world, there has been a huge advancement in quality, options, accessories, etc. If interested in that world, Head-Fi has a lot of good information and from a strictly musical presentation, have gotten much better. To the point that a modest investment will prove a much higher value than speakers.
    d HC b

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