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Old 11-16-11, 01:18 PM   #1
Dheorl
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One for the audiophiles out there

Hey guys nd gals,

I've been looking for a new set of headphones recently because quite simply my current ones (Sennheiser CX300II - some cheap in ear ones) just aren't cutting it any more.

I want ones which I can use for some nice loud music in my room without all my housemates hating me for it, whilst also being able to use them at the gym (where they more often than not have their own rubbish music blaring out).

They therefore need good sound isolation and great sound quality. I don't want to spend too much (£200ish) but want something quality. Is in ear the way to go at this price and requirements? I'd kinda like to try some over the head ones but just not sure?

So yea, any recommendations on a) what type and b) specific models would be great.

Thanks.
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Old 11-16-11, 01:19 PM   #2
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Do you want in ear or full coverage?
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Old 11-16-11, 01:24 PM   #3
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Do you want in ear or full coverage?

I've never had full coverage before and would love to try them if the sound quality and comfort is going to be better (also they look freaking cool imo) but am worried they won't have enough sound isolation for my requirements.
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Old 11-16-11, 03:26 PM   #4
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Imo, full coverage sounds better and is much, much more comfortable. I would bring a friend along to a store to try some, and have them help judge the bleed through.

I had a nice pair of full coverage Seins (moderately priced - about $100 10 yrs ago, they finally died about a year ago). They had excellent bass and were super comfy. But they were not very private - if I was listening in bed while my wife was trying to fall asleep they were too loud for her; same if we were sitting on the couch and she was trying to read.

Having said that, unless you are worried about someone sitting right next to you it shouldn't be that big of an issue. If you are listening loud enough to disturb people in another room, or with a tv on, etc. you are gonna have much bigger problems with tinnitus and deafness down the road! Don't ask me, ask Pete Townsend.

I don't have specific models to recommend but Seinh. is great. I'd look at Grado, although they may be too pricey (they have been for me). Keep in mind what the impedance is - most should be fine with portable devices, but for use with a home stereo, depending on the match with your system you may need an amp to boost the signal.
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Old 11-16-11, 03:42 PM   #5
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Koss Pro 4AAs are back in production. They set the standard for studio headphones.

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Old 11-16-11, 04:27 PM   #6
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Koss Pro 4AAs are back in production. They set the standard for studio headphones.

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Old 11-16-11, 04:29 PM   #7
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those look tasty - I would love them as a replacement for my old Seins, which had a perforated shell over the ears, which I imagine would allow sound to escape - these look as if they might keep the sound in better...just a guess.
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Old 11-16-11, 04:40 PM   #8
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I want ones which I can use for some nice loud music in my room without all my housemates hating me for it, whilst also being able to use them at the gym (where they more often than not have their own rubbish music blaring out).
Dheorl, while some of the options already listed are nice they would be absolutely ridiculous for the gym (e.g. the Koss suggestion). IMO you are definitely looking at IEMs (in ear monitors) if you want to block out unwanted noise @ the gym while also not bothering your roommates. I have versions from Etymotic, Shure, and Ultimate Ears. They all make an excellent product. What is more critical is the fit. Personally, I think if you're going to spend this amount of cash then you should be looking at custom IEMs. A custom IEM involves taking an ear impression and then moulding the ear-bud to perfectly fit your ear. This will result in optimal fit (no falling out @ the gym) and sound quality. You can either re-shell existing phones or buy new ones. Amp City is a UK firm that offers custom re-shelling. If you can pick up a used set of Ultimate Ears triplefi or similar and then spend 160 on the reshell then you will be extremely happy.

If the reshell option is too spendy then take a look at the brands I previously mentioned (Westone & others also make good options). Head-Fi is IMO the best forum to do your research and get more suggestions.

Oh yeah, one more thing. IEMs are extremely prone to microphonics i.e. a stiff cord rubbing against clothing can easily be heard. Since you are planning to be active with these phones then you'll want a cord option that wraps around the ear which cuts down on the vibrations. Etymotic's stock wire is very bad r.e. microphonics... IIRC the Westone cord is supposed to be very good. Please note that this is not a cable debate (electrons moving along a wire)... this is a mechanical vibration issue.

Last edited by Greg_R; 11-16-11 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 11-16-11, 06:28 PM   #9
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Dheorl, while some of the options already listed are nice they would be absolutely ridiculous for the gym (e.g. the Koss suggestion).
Yea, the main reason why I haven't gone and bought over the head style ones is due to worry about when I'm outside my room because I haven't heard good things about noise isolation/leaking (I assume working in a quiet library with an open back style on would be out of the question).

I'd like to get away from in ear buds though as I often don't find them the comfiest of things. Not bad for a quick walk up to uni but for watching a movie or sitting listening to music whilst doing a few hours of work they are less than ideal.

I guess I could just get a pair of nice open backed over the head for in my room and keep my current in ear for everywhere else (they're not too bad, i'd just like better in some instances).
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Old 11-16-11, 06:49 PM   #10
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I'd go with two different pairs--one for home and one for the gym. I personally think open air sounds much better, and even though they're audible to people around you, it shouldn't be a big deal unless those people are always in the same room with you. I'd recommend the Sennheiser HD598's for home, or the 558's if you're on a budget.

As for the gym, some Sennheiser MX580's will do nicely. Although for workouts, I just make due with the Apple IPOD headphones.
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Old 11-16-11, 09:29 PM   #11
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Koss Pro 4AAs are back in production. They set the standard for studio headphones.

Wow. $99 msrp. Amazon has them for $75. Not bad when you consider I bought a pair about 1974/75 for $45 and I had to shop around without the internet to find them that cheap. They were amazing. After listening for awhile you had sweaty ears and lotsa extra ear wax, but man they sounded good. A little dog we had chewed them up for me about 1980. I later went thru other Koss headphones that we of the foam type. Very good but not quite there. They eventually dissolved from my skin oils. Been using walkman type foams and now ear buds since. I just might go for those Pro4AAs, but i don't listen to tunes as much as I used to. But if I got them, maybe I would!
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Old 11-17-11, 02:16 AM   #12
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I'm sucker for noise cancelling, because i practically live in the gym.

The pair i currently own now are the Klipsch s4i's. they're in ear, noise cancellings, and have a mic with volume/music controls. Easy to change the song or volume while hitting the weights.

I think they're pretty decent and could be something you'd be interested in.
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Old 11-17-11, 09:48 AM   #13
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For quality the standard in pro audio for years has been the Sony MDR7506 (which used to be the V6, then they were the V600 before finally becoming the 7506's). I have a couple of pairs I use for work (one pair of V6's I have had for 20 years and a pair of 7506's that I have had for about 10 years), very durable, excellent isolation (I am a live sound engineer, they have enough isolation that I can use them standing in front of a PA running at 106db). For a more comfortable in ear headphone, lots of people make them, Ultimate Ears, etc. My current personal fave is the JH audio ones, 16 drivers if I recall correctly http://www.jhaudio.com/. Several of the artists our company works with use them, the downside is that it is about a $150 investment to get molds done and then another $400-1400 depending on which ones you go with to have them made for you. For generic ear buds for the gym I would go with something cheap, the sweat will ruin them in pretty short order anyhow.

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Old 11-17-11, 09:18 PM   #14
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I take it you're in the U.K.? Over here in the USA the best place to find great full-coverage headphones is at a musical instrument store (Sam Ash or Guitar Center are two USA bemoths in this market). Regular audio has all gone "Ipod", with those tinney-sounding earplug headphones that have no fidelity whatsoever. Thanks to rap and Hip-hop, real headphones are still sold for use in DJ-ing kits (along with turntables for all my vinyl ). And there's a wide selection available; a budget of 200 pounds sterling (?) should get you a great selection to choose from. Check out your local guitar/keyboard/drum/orchestra instrument shops and you'll be pleasantly surprised. And don't count out Sennheisser; I've got a 12 year old pair of full-coverage 540's that still work great. Hope this helps.
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Old 11-18-11, 06:30 AM   #15
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Thanks for the suggestions so far guys. I have to admit, I'm tempted by a pair of lower end grado because they look awsome IMO and from what I've read, sound great. Only problem is only being able to use them in my room.

I'm by now means counting out Sennheisser, just saying the ones I have at the moment don't cut it. Been thinking about where I can look in real life for headphones to have a listen. There are still one or two proper music shops in my home town so might swing by them when I'm home on the weekend.

I think I prefer the look of the sony's to the koss ones suggested. Not a huge amount in it though so I guess it will come down to sound quality. I suppose I really just need to try and find somewhere to try some out in person.

Fell free to carry on giving tips on particular headphones/what to look for though. For instance someone said keep in mind the impedance. I know what impedance is from a purely electrical point of view but have no idea what to be looking for when it comes to headphones.
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Old 11-18-11, 05:16 PM   #16
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Dheorl, most upper-end phones are not sealed because reflecting the backwave from the driver off the outer cup reduces fidelity & it's hard to eliminate the problem. Beyerdynamic & Senn. do a good job with their sealed options (you have an 'open' Senn model). Note that we're in the realm of extreme picky-ness at this point.

Regarding impedance, read this as to the benefits of high-impedance phones. The thing to keep in mind is that even IEMs may be improved significantly with an external amp (distortion and bass are the two biggies that I've heard) and that certain IEMs (Etymotic ER-4S) are designed specifically for use with a headphone amp. Certain receivers, especially older 1970s vintage stuff, have good headphone jack outputs or you can buy dedicated amplifiers (portable or A/C power).

For the gym, you want a low-impedance option because your portable player is not going to be able to handle high impedance loads. You can still use a high impedance phone, it just won't have exceptional sound (maybe not an issue @ the gym).

Quote:
I'd like to get away from in ear buds though as I often don't find them the comfiest of things.
That's why I recommend the custom ear molds... they will fit perfectly. Also, have you tried real IEMs or just cheap ear buds? Most good IEMs come with a range of earbud (foam/rubber) insert sizes for comfort reasons. Try the earbuds and maybe save up for the ear impressions + reshell service?

Finally, note that the sealed cans & especially IEMs -really- block the noise. You will not hear someone knock on your door or talking to you at the gym (you'll need to remove them to have a conversation).
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Old 11-18-11, 05:48 PM   #17
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Beats by Dr. Dre.
You can buy a fake pair for like, $10 on eBay and the sound quality is amazing.
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Old 11-18-11, 07:14 PM   #18
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(you have an 'open' Senn model).

For the gym, you want a low-impedance option because your portable player is not going to be able to handle high impedance loads. You can still use a high impedance phone, it just won't have exceptional sound (maybe not an issue @ the gym).

That's why I recommend the custom ear molds... they will fit perfectly. Also, have you tried real IEMs or just cheap ear buds?
I actually have an in-ear Senn model, but still. They came with a variety of rubber outers but I'm just not a great fan of ahving things in my ears tbh. I put up with it but it's hardly ideal.

Would I get better sound quality using an amp with a high impedance set of 'phones than I would using just my portable player with a low impedance set?

For use in the gym I need all sound blocked out tbh, and I'm used to all sound being blocked out. With my current ones I've been happily sitting doing work with the kettle whistling next to me and my sister shouting at me without hearing a thing. They weren't even turned up that loud.

I've definately heard about open backed being better sound in general. I think I'm swinging towards getting a pair of open backed for the moment and keeping my current ones for use outside my room.
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Old 11-18-11, 07:18 PM   #19
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I've been looking for a new pair of headphones and I've run across a ton of great reviews for the Audio Technica ATH-M50. I haven't ordered them yet, so I'm just going off of the reviews here. Best Buy sells them, you could try them out on a receiver they have set up. Just don't buy them there, they're $40 cheaper on Amazon.

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Old 11-18-11, 07:36 PM   #20
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Beats by Dr. Dre.
You can buy a fake pair for like, $10 on eBay and the sound quality is amazing.
'

No, just no.....

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Old 11-18-11, 07:39 PM   #21
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For in ears I recommend the Shure SE425. http://www.amazon.com/Shure-SE425-CL...1666664&sr=8-1

They have amazing clarity and quality. I had a set, but none of the Shure SE line fit in my ear .

I sold all my headphones a couple months ago, and the only headphones I kept were my Sony MDR V6. http://www.amazon.com/Sony-MDR-V6-Mo...1666845&sr=1-1
I am in love with these! I love the sound and best of all they are only ~$70.
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