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High end headphone advice needed !
azoth
post Dec 17 2012, 16:25
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Hi All,

I've optimised my headphone search into a metaphorical cul-de-sac sad.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
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AndyH-ha
post Dec 21 2012, 09:35
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My experience is based on the HD600 set I own. Maybe there is something wrong with it, but if so it does not show in any other aspect of performance.

I record LPs and cassettes, then clean up the recordings. Primarily I try to get rid of the media defects. Many of the older LPs have pretty high background noise. In particular, older recordings originally made to tape can have very audible tape hiss. Opinions vary on what should be done about this but I know it is generally possible to significantly reduce the hiss without hurting the music, and I find such recordings much more enjoyable without the hiss.

I used my Sennheiser HD600s for some years is some confusion. I processed the tape hiss, and any other HF noise to an inconsequential level on many recordings only to find the hiss still quite pronounced once the recording was on CD and playing on my living room speakers. I got into the habit of writing samples to CD-RW so I could test them on the speakers in order to get adequate NR in the final result.

The headphones were supposed to be so great, it could not be them, so I didn't know what else to do. Then I woke up one day, got a headphone extension cord, and found that outside my computer room, with the door closed, where I could no longer hear the computer fans, I could hear the hiss reasonably well on the headphones.

Then I tried a pair of Sony MDR-V900s. The hiss was considerably louder. The Sonys are closed back, the Sennheisers open back, but my listening position in the hallway seemed more than adequately quiet to accommodate open back phones. When I tried the Sony's in my normal seat near the computer, the hiss was still more audible than it was with the Sennheisers in the hallway where I could not hear the computer. Switching to the Sony's for repair work obviated the need to make test CDs.

On the replaceable cables: I've had trouble with two HD600 cables, in spite of taking pains to route the cables so they don't get pulled, stepped on, or otherwise abused. I had a pair of Audio Technicia phones for 15+ years with no cable problems. Eventually the AT headphones practically collapsed into a pile of dust but the cable was still fine. The AT cable was much heavier (but never a comfort problem) and highly coiled. It was not very long until stretched. It stretched quite a long distance but never had drooping cable to get caught on things, which probably added significantly to its reliability.
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Posts in this topic
- azoth   High end headphone advice needed !   Dec 17 2012, 16:25
- - extrabigmehdi   QUOTE (azoth @ Dec 17 2012, 15:25) I...   Dec 17 2012, 17:03
|- - azoth   QUOTE (extrabigmehdi @ Dec 17 2012, 16:03...   Dec 17 2012, 17:16
|- - extrabigmehdi   QUOTE (azoth @ Dec 17 2012, 16:16) I...   Dec 17 2012, 17:33
|- - azoth   QUOTE (extrabigmehdi @ Dec 17 2012, 16:33...   Dec 17 2012, 17:41
- - Carledwards   All things considered, the HD600 really is a good ...   Dec 17 2012, 18:25
|- - Nessuno   If you feel like opting for an IEM, my advice is f...   Dec 17 2012, 19:12
|- - azoth   QUOTE (Carledwards @ Dec 17 2012, 17:25) ...   Dec 17 2012, 20:33
|- - extrabigmehdi   QUOTE (azoth @ Dec 17 2012, 19:33) QUOTE ...   Dec 17 2012, 21:01
- - gregs1104   I have many of the popular brands here--from Cheap...   Dec 18 2012, 09:45
- - azoth   Would 240 be a reasonable cost for a brand new HD...   Dec 18 2012, 10:58
- - evereux   I'm gobsmacked at the price hike of the HD600....   Dec 18 2012, 11:26
|- - azoth   QUOTE (evereux @ Dec 18 2012, 10:26) I...   Dec 18 2012, 14:04
|- - extrabigmehdi   QUOTE (azoth @ Dec 18 2012, 13:04) Are th...   Dec 18 2012, 20:34
|- - azoth   QUOTE (extrabigmehdi @ Dec 18 2012, 19:34...   Dec 18 2012, 21:26
- - Porcus   I own a pair of ER-4's. They don't reach 2...   Dec 18 2012, 21:26
|- - mzil   QUOTE (Porcus @ Dec 18 2012, 16:26) I own...   Dec 18 2012, 21:56
||- - Porcus   I guess the OP will only be satisfied by the lack ...   Dec 19 2012, 02:35
||- - mzil   QUOTE (Porcus @ Dec 18 2012, 21:35) ...th...   Dec 21 2012, 01:19
||- - Nessuno   QUOTE (mzil @ Dec 21 2012, 01:19) QUOTE (...   Dec 21 2012, 09:13
||- - Porcus   QUOTE (mzil @ Dec 21 2012, 01:19) QUOTE (...   Dec 21 2012, 16:37
||- - mzil   QUOTE (Porcus @ Dec 21 2012, 11:37) Oh, y...   Dec 21 2012, 17:38
||- - mzil   QUOTE (mzil @ Dec 21 2012, 12:38) Oddly t...   Dec 27 2012, 04:31
||- - mzil   QUOTE (mzil @ Dec 26 2012, 23:31) QUOTE (...   Dec 27 2012, 22:58
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (Porcus @ Dec 18 2012, 15:26) I own...   Dec 20 2012, 14:21
- - sorabji   Hifiman HE500's are very good, save the peak @...   Dec 18 2012, 21:50
- - azoth   Thank you all for your replies, you've given m...   Dec 20 2012, 11:52
- - AndyH-ha   My experience is based on the HD600 set I own. May...   Dec 21 2012, 09:35
|- - extrabigmehdi   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Dec 21 2012, 08:35...   Dec 21 2012, 14:06
- - Mach-X   One thing to remember - music is mixed to be playe...   Dec 27 2012, 09:58
|- - johnb   QUOTE (Mach-X @ Dec 27 2012, 09:58) ...   Dec 27 2012, 10:43
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (Mach-X @ Dec 27 2012, 09:58) ...   Dec 27 2012, 12:09
- - markanini   Diffusie field EQ doesnt really adress Mach-X conc...   Dec 27 2012, 14:47
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (markanini @ Dec 27 2012, 14:47) Di...   Dec 27 2012, 19:20
|- - markanini   QUOTE (Nessuno @ Dec 27 2012, 20:20) In f...   Dec 27 2012, 20:04
- - Stop the Noise   I've owned a number of different cans over the...   Dec 28 2012, 05:31
- - Nessuno   QUOTE (Stop the Noise @ Dec 28 2012, 05:3...   Dec 28 2012, 18:51
- - Stop the Noise   QUOTE (Nessuno @ Dec 28 2012, 12:51) QUOT...   Dec 28 2012, 22:58
- - Nessuno   QUOTE (Stop the Noise @ Dec 28 2012, 22:5...   Dec 29 2012, 11:14


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