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Need recommendation on Headphones Plz

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by AMDPower, 17 May 2006.

  1. AMDPower

    Mobster

    Joined: 24 Feb 2004

    Posts: 2,645

    Hi

    think its about time to upgrade my sound on my pc, unfortunately because the family will not tolerate a large sound system( specially as no one really likes classical music), so its headphones for me. After a little research i have just become more confused on what to get, i am very new to all these terms of bass, treble, open closed and so on. I practically on listen to only classical music, games and some movies and all this is via some cheap sony headphones that was given to me, only one of the earphones work :o :o

    so really need a very good headphones with excellent sound quality, that is good for classical music(specially Vivaldi) and games, and some movies.

    my budget is £100 and only if i had to £150, and that is only if the sound quality would be amazing for that price, considering i was on some cheap cheap cheap earphones(never even knew that head phones could be that expensive). Also i don't have a separate sound card on my pc at the moment, was thinking of getting Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Music - Retail (SC-034-CL), but this would come after i get the earphones or would it be better to get a separate amp or something??

    so i have narrowed it down to

    Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro studio / broadcast headphones £79.99


    Beyerdynamic DT770 Premium audiophile headphones £130-140

    Beyerdynamic DT 880 Headphones DT880 £159

    Beyerdynamic DT880 Premium audiophile headphones £199 (heard this is best for classical)???<--- only if i REALLLLLLLY had to.

    i have not got a clue what the difference between premium and pro means, but which would be best to get, i would want something best for classical,games but the Beyerdynamic DT880 Premium is £200 :eek: . Would any of the above even work with an onboard sound card?? also what does semi-open mean??

    anything else anyone would recommend? as you have gathered i am a NOVICE when it comes to music equipment.

    thanks for any help. :)
     
    Last edited: 17 May 2006
  2. Nelly

    Soldato

    Joined: 19 Dec 2003

    Posts: 7,012

    Location: Grimsby, UK

    I'm currently in the same situation as you, have been looking at various headphones over the last few weeks.

    There is a website totally dedicated to headphones, some of the guys on their own 5+ sets of expensive headphones! :eek:

    http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=2

    Some good personal reviews from alot of people, just do a search on the ones your interested in & read! ;)
     
  3. TooNice

    Hitman

    Joined: 7 Mar 2006

    Posts: 546

    I would recommend the DT880 over the DT770 for classical. Beyerdynamic do not have any product called DT880 "Premium" AFAIK. Are those price list from the same website? If not, then I assume that the "Premium" is simply the website's way of saying that those are Beyerdynamic reference product.
    If they are from the same website, then it is possible that they are differentiating between the older edition and the 2006 edition: Beyerdynamic recently updated their product (although they kept the same name). That is why you can get the DT880 for as little as £140, some places are just clearing the old stock. The concensus is that the at under £150, the DT880 is a bargain, even if you end up with the older edition. It is assumed the now one improved a little, but you pay a severe big premium for it.

    Here's my take (I'll mention three cans at three different price point):
    - AKG K501 (under £100).
    - DT880 old edition (£150).
    - Sennheiser HD650 (£200 - need some hunting).

    Don't let the price fool you, the K501 are very capable cans. The Sennheiser HD650 has by far the strongest bass of the three, you may, or may not like that (for music, although it is handy for games/movies). However, all three are fairly demanding cans. I've not tried the K501 or the HD650 on an onboard source, but I can assure you that the DT880 will sound aweful out of an onboard sound card. Despite not being an "audiophile" grade source, the Xtreme Music alone will make a very significant improvement. Yes an amp will be nice, but keep in mind that even the cheapest headphone amp is going to set you back about £40+ (then you need to put a few quid towards a mini-to-mini cable). My advice is to get the headphones together with the sound card first, and enjoy those for a while.

    Budget well, it is very easy to overshoot your budget. Your ears may thank you, but your wallet won't ;)
     
  4. AMDPower

    Mobster

    Joined: 24 Feb 2004

    Posts: 2,645

    thanks for all your help guys

    @Toonice

    thank for you imput mate, it seems that its going to be out - DT880 old and Sennheiser HD650 for me then, but a question that i have is would the sound quality of the HD650 be much better than the DT880, if not then i would just get a DT880 and a sound card. I dont mind paying for the HD650 only if its much better for classical and games. are the HD650 confortable to wear for long periods??

    also are all these headsets surround sound?

    also could i just get a amp and cables rather than the sound card, or would i need both for best sound quality?

    thanks again
     
    Last edited: 17 May 2006
  5. fish99

    Soldato

    Joined: 19 May 2005

    Posts: 5,053

    Location: Doncaster

    None of them are surround sound, they're all stereo, as is the music you'll be playing through them. The last thing you want with stereo music, especially classical, is surround sound, it'll ruin the soundstage.

    X-Fi is probably the best choice if games are involved, and it'll do a nice surround sound trick when gaming on stereo headphones that'll sound like you've got surround sound, but without ruining your stereo music. There are better sound cards for music, but they're significantly inferior in games.

    Don't know much about Beyer headphones, but Sennheiser are certainly often recommended for classical. You probably can't go wrong with either.

    You definitely don't want to be plugging them into onboard sound btw. X-Fi is a better option. A good DAC would be an even better option, and if your onboard has digital out, then you don't necessarily need the X-Fi. Then maybe a headphone amp connected to the DAC, but that's getting pricey.
     
  6. spirit

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 1,884

    grado sr80's/125s lovely sound
     
  7. fish99

    Soldato

    Joined: 19 May 2005

    Posts: 5,053

    Location: Doncaster

    Grados are a bit bright for classical. The Alessandros are modded Grados which are supposed to tame the bright highs, and are cheaper because of Grados stupid UK prices. Alessandro Music Series One are $99 us dollars delivered to the UK (£60). They're supposed to fit somewhere between SR80 (£90) and SR125 (£110) sound quality wise, so they're a bargain compared to regular Grados-

    http://www.alessandro-products.com/headphones.html
     
  8. spirit

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 1,884

    only bad thing is the foam can be really uncomfortable at first, and can hurt after using it for long periods.
     
  9. Greenlizard0

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 15 Mar 2004

    Posts: 28,141

    Location: Liverpool

    I started a thread last week about this very dilemma!!clicky

    I went for they Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro's and mate, now they've burned in slightly they sound just simply amazing. I'm re-listening to music and finding that a lot of it has a whole different dimension to it! They're awesome and I would deffo recommend them :)
     
  10. Twoshots

    Associate

    Joined: 14 Nov 2005

    Posts: 71

    Cant go wrong with the Beyers 770 pro.. loads of bass just loads if you like it.
    i have them and an x-fi and its just rocks. will buy them again and again/
    great for games too.
     
  11. TooNice

    Hitman

    Joined: 7 Mar 2006

    Posts: 546

    There seem to be more people who like the HD650 than the DT880 and I would be more interested in the HD650 than the DT880 if I was to get another pair of headphones (I have listenned to them both, and a bunch of others, but I ended up with the AKG K701). That said, they are only "much" better if your personal preference lean to their sound.. they are more or less in the same class. So there are people who prefer the DT880 to the HD650. The DT880 is a bit brighter, and the HD650 quite a bit darker (more high vs more low), and -may- be slightly less fatiguing (athough the DT880 are nowhere as bright as the Grado). If you can't audition both before you make the purchase, you are not likely to be disappointed with either to be honest.
    Oh, and if you meant that getting the HD650 would mean that you won't be able to get the soundcard, then I would definitely back the DT880+Sound card combo.

    The Grado/Alessandro/DT770 are generally not considered classical cans. They are good cans, and -will- sound considerably better than whatever low end headphones you've been using of of course.. but do prefer my AKGs to my Grado for instrumentals and games.
     
    Last edited: 17 May 2006
  12. -Ad-

    Capodecina

    Joined: 4 Nov 2004

    Posts: 13,900

    Location: Aberdeen

    Gotta agree here, as grado's are simply stunning cans. Il eventually try a pair of beyers, but the grado sound is soo sublime that i don't see any point on downgrading :D

    Plus the MS-1's are only ~£70 from allessandro themselves, which saves you some money for a soundcard, and a cheap headphone amp (search for CMOY), and go to http://www.evilfire.com/. Highly regarded, but not a well known cmoy amp, and im getting one this summer.
     
  13. fish99

    Soldato

    Joined: 19 May 2005

    Posts: 5,053

    Location: Doncaster

    Just wanted to agree that Grados don't suit classical or indeed games.
     
  14. simisker

    Mobster

    Joined: 27 Oct 2002

    Posts: 3,536

    Location: At the fulcrum of humdrum

    Much as I love my DT 880s, I wouldn't recommend them unless used in conjunction with a decent headphone amp [e.g. a HeadRoom Micro Desktop or better], as their unusually high impedance means that most headphone outs can't drive them enough to deliver an accurate/detailed low-frequency response.

    And while they're gloriously neutral and a very good choice for studio reference [that's why I bought them] or appreciating classical music, I think there are more suitable headphones for gaming.

    Personally, I'd be interested in what the DT 770s can do, as I've read that they are more 'bass friendly'. I'm assuming that they're similarly comfortable to the 880s, and therefore won't fatigue the long-session gamer.

    [EDIT: Looks like the new 770s have 250ohm impedance, which puts them into "needs an amp" territory, though the black 770 Pros still have the more consumer-friendly 80ohm impedance.]
     
    Last edited: 17 May 2006
  15. AMDPower

    Mobster

    Joined: 24 Feb 2004

    Posts: 2,645

    guys thanks for all your inputs, i really appreciate it, although slightly confused now as where to go from here,

    i need a little explanations if its possible,

    have decided to get the Sennheiser HD650 only because they are good for classical music( found them for £169 on the bay + £12 delivery, i hope they are the rite ones) but now confused as how to proceed, i hope i would not be disappointed with these cans as many of you call them. So hear is the confusing part.

    Do i need to get a sound card + AMP + DAC??

    what is a DAC? is it really Needed? or can i just get a AMP and not get the other 2, and use the onbaord sound card instead + the AMP.

    or can i get away withthe AMP and DAC only??

    also what is a good AMP for about £100 or have looked on the net for HeadRoom Micro Desktop but cannot find a uk supplier or a price, have also looked at the CMOY amps but what the hell are they? they look like altoid sweets tin cans???

    Found Cmoy amps for about £40 delivered from the us, that is well cheap are they any good? can i get this and not the sound card instead?

    Also please could you recommend me a good sound card, as i am getting mixed responses in regards to the x-fi series.

    think i have to split this purchase into 2 bits, headphone + 1 other item and then any other further purchases.

    wow i never ever knew music could be so expensive, i am shocked :eek: . there are places selling £2000 dvd players, £7000 amp, and £3000+ pre-amps and a loooooooooads of other stuff. you need to spend about £50 grand to get the best setup and frankly i would put up a bit more and buy a ferrari. :)

    thanks guys and sorry for so many questions i really appreciate all the help
     
    Last edited: 18 May 2006
  16. TooNice

    Hitman

    Joined: 7 Mar 2006

    Posts: 546

    Technically, you can get low impedance (32ohm) version of all Beyerdynamic headphones. In fact, the new Beyer cans are very customisable... if you are willing to pay the premium for it: http://www.beyerdynamic.de/manufacture/popup.php

    But frankly speaking, I have tried the old DT880 with and without amp. Yes amping makes a difference (more than say, Grados). But they are certainly fine without. You don't need $600 headphone amp (that's how much the HeadRoom Desktop amp cost) to get very good sound out of the DT880 IMO. Sure a good tube amp and a nice DAC would make it sound -better-.. this is true with just about all "Reference" headphones to be honest (I am excluding the Grado/Alessandro here, since they are usually not classified as reference): HD650 are 300ohm, and the AKG K701, despite being 62ohm is still considered difficult to drive.

    [My opinion of the DT770 is that they are nice headphones for gaming/movies and some type of music in the sub £100 range.. But I prefered the DT990 and the HD650 when if cost wasn't an issue]

    @AMDPower: Technically, you can leave with just the headphones and sound card. Honestly, I think you should try that first. A source card is normally used as a source, although it can also amplify the sound to the extent that you can change volume irrespectively of what sound card you use. Some DACs can be used to replace the sound card altogether (USB DAC), although the power of their output can vary (they are often intended to be used with an amp, although some do have a headphone amp build in). Others still need a sound card to act as "transport". Dedicated amps still need a source since it only amplifies the source's signal.
    Basically, those are the main possible ways of connecting your setup:

    Sound Card (as source/and "amp") -> Headphone
    USB DAC (as source and "amp") -> Headphone
    USB DAC (as source) -> Dedicated Amp -> Headphone
    Sound Card (as source) -> Dedicated Amp -> Headphone
    Sound Card (as transport) -> Dedicated DAC (as source/"amp") -> Headphone
    Sound Card (as transport) -> Dedicated DAC (as source) -> Dedicated Amp -> Headphone.
    Note: For simplicity, I left the interconnects, that is, the cables out.

    If you are serious about building your audio system around your computer, the last option is usually what you would eventually strive for.

    I'll explain a little about DAC (Digital to Analog Converter). If you want to listen to digitally stored music (i.e. CDs), then at some point those digital information will have to be converted to analog signals (sound). This is not done via magic, but usually through one (or more) chip.. that's the DAC. A better DAC, as you can imagine would usually result in better sound quality. Sound cards have built-in DACs, but you can also find dedicated DACs, which are generally considered superior. When you connect a sound card to a dedicated DAC (via a digital output), the sound card's DAC is bypassed. A USB DAC, is pretty much like a vanilla external sound card.

    Now I am going to talk a bit more about sound cards. First of all, if you are gaming, I would go X-Fi. The reason the X-Fi is generally not considered the best card for music, is because with the exception of the costly Elite Pro model, they don't have the competitive DAC.. compared to other sound cards. They also cost more than some non gaming cards. Still, the reason I think that the X-Fi make a good source is because you still have the option later on to go with a dedicated DAC which in all likelyhood will end up sounding better than other sound card anyway. However, there is no way to add EAX5 and CMSS for instance to your "audiophile" sound card. Now this is moot point if you don't game.. then by all mean go with an EMU/M-Audio card. Depending on the model, you may even save a few quids.

    Now onto amp. Cmoy's are some of the most basic amp out there. There are guides out there in how to build your own Cmoy, and most Cmoy you'll find are built by someone part time.. which is why you can sometime find some pretty groovy enclosures to them. Since I've not tried them, I can't comment on how much they sound though. A fairly well known alternative to the Cmoy is the Pocket Amp V2. Again, not heard them, but those two are considered viable entry level amp - search on Head-Fi for more info.

    If I was in your position, I would take the Headphone + Sound card as your first purchase. If you are happy, keep your cash. When/if you feel like an upgrade later on... well, the normal thing to do would be to get an amp. Personally, I am looking at the Zhalou DAC with an upgraded headphone amp option at the moment (seems like a great bargain).
     
    Last edited: 18 May 2006
  17. tom_nieto

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 11,421

    Location: Birmingham

    If you've got that much cash, spend £80 on headphones and £70 on a headphone amp. You should be able to pick up some Grado SR60/80 easily for that price.
     
  18. TooNice

    Hitman

    Joined: 7 Mar 2006

    Posts: 546

    I can assure you that unless you have a specific preference for the SR60 signature, that the HF-1 (and by association, the SR-225, which shouldn't be -too- far off) unamped outclass the SR60 with a $350 amp out of the same soundcard.
     
  19. devilkazuya

    Gangster

    Joined: 24 Jul 2005

    Posts: 484

    what is the advantage of having a headphone amp?

    i have grado sr125s and connect into the headphone jack of my x fi sound drive. What difference would having an amp make?
     
  20. fish99

    Soldato

    Joined: 19 May 2005

    Posts: 5,053

    Location: Doncaster

    Not much probably. Grados are easy to drive (32 ohm). Having said that Grado do make a headphone amp for their own headphones, so there obviously is a benefit, but it's probably quite small, especially with the headphones connected to an X-Fi. I wouldn't worry about it.

    As TooNice says, it'd be better to spend £160 on say Alessandro MS2i (same thing as Grado SR325i) than spending the same on SR60 and cheap headphone amp.

    Higher impedence headphones like Beyer/Sennheiser would benefit more from an amp in theory, but again the benefit is going to be quite subtle, not night and day. If you have a £1000 cd player, then yeah maybe it's worth it, but not plugged into a PC soundcard playing MP3s.

    I've heard my brothers HD565 (IIRC) Ovations (120 ohm) connected to a battery powered MP3 player (so very little power to drive anything) and they still sounded excellent.
     
    Last edited: 18 May 2006