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#259409 - 05/05/09 03:28 PM reference level headphones
Golden Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 138
Loc: Baltimore, MD
Hi All,

I am curious what reference level headphones you all suggest. Specifically, I have been thinking of getting a pair of Sennheiser 650, 600 or 595's to compliment the system I am setting up. For the numerous times that my girlfriend and I are "sharing" the living room couch.

I have heard the Sennhaiser 650's and was very impressed. That said, they are also significantly pricier than both the 600 and 595. Has anyone here compared the three models, and willing to comment on if the 650 is worth the extra money?

Are there other brands you would suggest as well, in the similar price and quality range ($300-$500)? I admittedly know very little about headphones.

Thanks,
Sam
_________________________
M60x2, VP150, M22x2
Sennheiser HD-595
Onkyo TX-SR507, PS3 (40gb)

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#259421 - 05/05/09 04:31 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Golden]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17775
Loc: NoVA
Be warned, open air headphones are just that--she'll be able to hear what you're listening to, I guarantee it.
_________________________
I am the Doctor, and THIS... is my SPOON!

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#259431 - 05/05/09 05:25 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Ken.C]
Zimm Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/08/08
Posts: 1361
Loc: New Orleans
 Originally Posted By: kcarlile
Be warned, open air headphones are just that--she'll be able to hear what you're listening to, I guarantee it.

Agreed. I like my Grados but the person next to you thinks it is blaring as it sounds 25% as loud outside the phone as inside.
_________________________
Panny 3000 PJ, 118" Carada, Denon 3300, PS3, Axiom QS8, PSB 5T, B&W sub, levitating speaker wire

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#259432 - 05/05/09 05:31 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Ken.C]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
Sennheiser 595's are good headphones if you don't have a dedicated headphone amp. However, after switching to the 650's, they tend to have a little too much emphasis on the mid-high end. 650's are more accurate in all forms of presentation.

If you're not willing to pay for a separate headphone amp, then don't get the 600's or 650's. The 650's are revealing enough where you'll want to upgrade your source, dac, and amp...so it's a bad road :D.

Open headphones are "open" they mean that there is nothing separating your ear (and the speakers) from the outside world. So people can hear you and you can hear others.

I encourage you to look on head-fi.org. A huge wealth of information over there...so start searching \:D

Some models you could look into would be Grado MS2i's (about your price range and don't need an amp) and Denon D2000's. D5000's are the same thing except with a few tweaks...no change in the driver. If you look into the Denon D2000's, you can do a mod called the markl mod.

That should get you started!
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#259433 - 05/05/09 06:15 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
Wid Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/22/03
Posts: 6720
Loc: The Peoples Republic of Il.
Grado MS2i's ???? Grado 325i's.
_________________________
Rick


"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." Sigmund Freud


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#259434 - 05/05/09 06:17 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
Not Grado MS2i's, those are Allesandro MS2i's. Grado 325's would be great. Allesandro is a different "flavor" of grado cans.
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#259435 - 05/05/09 06:19 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
For reference style headphones I would look at Sennheiser, Alessandro, Grado and AKG. I recently purchased a pair of Alessandro MS1 (they are an open style) and I am very impressed with the sound quality and the neutral presentation that they offer. For $100 USD approx they are of excellent value. They are easy to power as well and do not need a heaphone amp.
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Iím armed and Iím drinking. You donít want to listen to advice from me, amigo.

-Max Payne

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#259449 - 05/05/09 10:08 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Golden]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10388
Sam, if annoyance to someone sitting near you is a major factor, as it appears to be, you might, as Dr. Horse's friend might say, "reflect". As has already been mentioned, it would be quite apparent to someone there when using open-backed phones. Although they vary somewhat, when I tested with my SPL meter at about 1"(not precise, but in the ballpark)using a level of about 80dB, which is loud, but not dangerously so, the level from the open back was nearly the same at 1". Of course, it falls greatly with distance, but at about 3' it was around 20dB lower, which is very clearly audible, considering that typical speech is around 60-65dB.

If you're still going to use open-backed phones, I'd suggest the AKG K701s, listing around $500 but available as low as $250. Better bang for the buck comes with the Grado SR60i, for around $65-$70.
_________________________
-----------------------------------

Enjoy the music, not the equipment.



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#259450 - 05/05/09 10:15 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: JohnK]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
I wasn't really wowed at all with the AKG 701s, but that's just my opinion. Senns just have a fuller sound to me.

If you're really concerned about sound leakage, doing the "markl" mods to a Denon D2000 set of cans will most likely be your best bet. You can often buy them used from people on the for sale section on head-fi, even with the mod done. Just make sure it was done right.
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#259456 - 05/05/09 11:18 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
Golden Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 138
Loc: Baltimore, MD
Oh crap. So much for a productive work day tomorrow... Thanks for all the input! In terms of a separate amp, I pretty much intend to use the headphones directly outputing from the headphone jack on my Onkyo 606. Would this act in the same way, or is there a unique headphone amp you are talking about? Total rookie, I know...

Regardless, I think if I stick with the Sennheiser I will probably go with the 595's since this is really a secondary pursuit (at the moment anyhow... audio hobbies seem to have a way of collecting), and I'd rather put the money saved towards my future towers. She can deal with any leakage... I hope.

It will be fun researching these other brands though, thanks for the push in their direction.

- Sam
_________________________
M60x2, VP150, M22x2
Sennheiser HD-595
Onkyo TX-SR507, PS3 (40gb)

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#259457 - 05/05/09 11:39 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Golden]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10388
Sam, some high impedance/low sensitivity phones don't work well with portable players, but the headphone outputs on typical receivers, including your 606, should work well with most, including the two I mentioned. Beware of the hype from some sellers making claims about mysterious sound improvements if you buy the special amplifiers that they sell.

If you're looking to save money, compared to the original amount that you mentioned, give particular attention to the Grado.
_________________________
-----------------------------------

Enjoy the music, not the equipment.



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#259459 - 05/05/09 11:52 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: JohnK]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
I was most happy with the Sennheiser 595's I had. Owned them for over two years and for about a year and a half they ran straight from my receiver and I was perfectly happy with them.

You can't go wrong with the 595's. The 595's are also very good with games and movies. You probably can't with grado's either, but some don't like grados as much.

What music do you listen to the most?
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#259462 - 05/06/09 12:06 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
Golden Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 138
Loc: Baltimore, MD
It's a decent mix of music these days, although I find myself listening to a lot of folksy stuff (Garcia, Rice, Bella Fleck), blues and classical. On the flip side of that, I also love the White Stripes, Shins, Postal Service, Belle and Sabastion, etc. Not really hard rock or metal. Think the 595's are up for that?

I don't think I would ever really use them without being hooked up to the receiver, since when I'm on the move I tend to prefer in-ear headphones. And I'm in Baltimore city... and would rather keep a low electronics profile while outside... ha ha.

Any specific online dealers you can recommend? So far it looks like ebay is coming up with the lowest prices.

- Sam
_________________________
M60x2, VP150, M22x2
Sennheiser HD-595
Onkyo TX-SR507, PS3 (40gb)

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#259464 - 05/06/09 01:07 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Golden]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
 Originally Posted By: Golden
It's a decent mix of music these days, although I find myself listening to a lot of folksy stuff (Garcia, Rice, Bella Fleck), blues and classical. On the flip side of that, I also love the White Stripes, Shins, Postal Service, Belle and Sabastion, etc. Not really hard rock or metal. Think the 595's are up for that?

I don't think I would ever really use them without being hooked up to the receiver, since when I'm on the move I tend to prefer in-ear headphones. And I'm in Baltimore city... and would rather keep a low electronics profile while outside... ha ha.

Any specific online dealers you can recommend? So far it looks like ebay is coming up with the lowest prices.

- Sam


Senns trounce grados in classical and blues. If you were more of a rock guy it would be more of a toss up.

Look in the "For sale" section on head-fi.org. Otherwise, Amazon.com seems to have the most consistently competitive prices.
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#259467 - 05/06/09 07:07 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
Wid Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/22/03
Posts: 6720
Loc: The Peoples Republic of Il.

Not much of a classical listener but Grados do very well with the Blues.
_________________________
Rick


"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." Sigmund Freud


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#259478 - 05/06/09 08:43 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Wid]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
The one thing I don't like about the Alessandro MS1 is the cord. On my brothers set of Sennheisers (not sure on the model) the cord is detachable and is only connected to the one side (very nice feature). On my Alessandro MS1 the cord has a Y portion so 2 cables run to each the L and R. You have much less flexibility with the cord this way and sometimes I find that they cross eachother which is annoying.
_________________________
Iím armed and Iím drinking. You donít want to listen to advice from me, amigo.

-Max Payne

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#259479 - 05/06/09 08:59 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
EFalardeau Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 3270
Loc: Laval, Quebec, Canada
On the cord side, only the Sennheiser "studio monitoring" series (HD595 is a good example) has that type of connector. The others (HD600/650) have the Y-split cables.
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Audiobytes! 2M22! 2VP150!

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#259481 - 05/06/09 09:14 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
PeterChenoweth Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
I simply adore my HD650's.

I bought both AKG701's and the HD650's last year and spent a couple of weeks listening to both. I also bought a handful of headphone amps too, as I knew that both headphones really needed amplification. And they both do, no question.

The AKG701's are more clinical; good bass, clean midrange, but nearly too-bright highs for me. They are absolutely lovely headphones to behold - they're built well and look 'expensive'. The HD650's are different. They don't look all that special. Just like big black headphones. Their sound is more 'laid back', but not too much. Strong and powerful bass, beautifully warm midrange (but not too warm), and clean controlled highs. The real test came with music that involved rich & detailed midrange stuff - Diana Krall's voice, YoYo Ma's cello, etc. On those, the HD really shined over the AKG's. Stunningly beautiful.

The AKG's were fantastic headphones, but they weren't quite the 'nth' degree of amazing (to me). I would have been quite happy to keep the AKG's, but the HD's just did it for me. I'm also a fan of B&W speakers, which are a tad too warm for some. So it is entirely likely that the HD's just meshed better with my brain. YMMV, of course.

So I returned the AKG's and kept the HD's. I have mine powered by a Little Dot MKII Tube amp. It is my office setup, and I dare say that it rivals the sonic bliss of my M80v2 setup at home.

And the others are absolutely correct about open-back headphones. Most 'audiophile quality' headphones are open-back. Which means you can more-or-less hear everything around you while you're wearing them. And the sound from the headphones escapes into the surrounding environment as well. If the goal here is for you to be able to pulverize your eardrums while your significant other sits at the other end of the couch in sonic ignorance, you need to look for sealed headphones. Otherwise, they will hear your music. HD650's, AKG701's, and all Grados (I think) are open designs.

If you're looking for sources for headphones, check out HeadRoom. They are a great company to deal with and their prices are usually competitive. All they do are headphones & accessories, so they know their stuff. They will stand behind their 30-day return policy and will help you with questions or problems, unlike what can happen with Fleabay. Feel free to email them and describe what you want to do, and they will most certainly recommend certain models that will fit your budget & desires. And no, I don't have any relationship with them other than being a satisfied customer.

Good luck! And don't spend too much time over on Head-fi. That place will suck your wallet dry. \:D ;\)
_________________________
M80v2 | VP150v2 | QS8v2
SVS Pci+ 20-39
Emotiva UMC-1 & LPA-1
M22ti + T-Amp, in the Office

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#259484 - 05/06/09 09:40 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: PeterChenoweth]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
Golden,

If you are going to be using your receiver make sure to measure the distance from the headphone jack to your seating position. You might need to buy an extension for your headphones. In my own experience using a receiver it is always better to have more cord unlike using a portable device or computer.
_________________________
Iím armed and Iím drinking. You donít want to listen to advice from me, amigo.

-Max Payne

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#259507 - 05/06/09 12:53 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Golden]
Spoiler Offline
aficionado

Registered: 01/03/06
Posts: 680
Loc: South Florida

I considered the AKG 701's but almost every review I read suggested the their sound greatly benefits from the use of a headphone amp, which I didn't want to get into. I settled on the Audio-Technica A900, which I'm happy with. I agree with the magicman's suggestion of considering the Denon D2000's as well.
_________________________
Epic 80 / SVS PB13 Ultra
Denon 3805 / M2200 Outlaw Monos /
Sammy 55" LED

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#259519 - 05/06/09 02:23 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Wid]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
 Originally Posted By: wid

Not much of a classical listener but Grados do very well with the Blues.


Yep, Grados are very good at blues too. I probably should have said they just trounce them in "classical".
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#259520 - 05/06/09 02:48 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
Golden Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 138
Loc: Baltimore, MD
So one pair of 595's that I am looking at is 50 ohm, rather than 120 ohm. How much will that change performance compared to the more standard 120 ohm 595 sets?


Edited by Golden (05/06/09 02:48 PM)
_________________________
M60x2, VP150, M22x2
Sennheiser HD-595
Onkyo TX-SR507, PS3 (40gb)

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#259523 - 05/06/09 03:11 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: JohnK]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
 Originally Posted By: JohnK
... as Dr. Horse's friend might say, "reflect"


so when are you going to admit that you are bbigwyres \:\)
_________________________
Iím armed and Iím drinking. You donít want to listen to advice from me, amigo.

-Max Payne

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#259524 - 05/06/09 03:14 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Golden]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
 Originally Posted By: Golden
So one pair of 595's that I am looking at is 50 ohm, rather than 120 ohm. How much will that change performance compared to the more standard 120 ohm 595 sets?


The 50 ohm is the popular one that is easy to drive, you want those. In the end, it doesn't matter that much. If you buy it from any store they will most likely be 50 ohm.
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#259566 - 05/06/09 10:02 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10388
Naw, although I'm tickled by his "Dr. Horse" line(as you also were since you used it as a sig line for a while afterward), even in the interests of comedic relief I couldn't stomach praising audio technology that's obsolescent(e.g., "vynyl")or never was(e.g., "wyres").
_________________________
-----------------------------------

Enjoy the music, not the equipment.



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#259567 - 05/06/09 10:11 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: JohnK]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
 Originally Posted By: JohnK
Naw, although I'm tickled by his "Dr. Horse" line(as you also were since you used it as a sig line for a while afterward), even in the interests of comedic relief I couldn't stomach praising audio technology that's obsolescent(e.g., "vynyl")or never was(e.g., "wyres").


bbigwyres does have his moments of brilliance with his sircrack and dr. horse comments :)...lol...oh how can I forget audiopile
_________________________
Iím armed and Iím drinking. You donít want to listen to advice from me, amigo.

-Max Payne

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#259648 - 05/07/09 11:32 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
Golden Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 138
Loc: Baltimore, MD
Well, I went ahead and purchased a pair of 595's. Thanks everyone for your input!
_________________________
M60x2, VP150, M22x2
Sennheiser HD-595
Onkyo TX-SR507, PS3 (40gb)

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#260485 - 05/15/09 05:51 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Golden]
Golden Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 138
Loc: Baltimore, MD
Just thought I'd update people to my impressions. Keep in my I am new to higher level headphones, so I think the 'wow' factor probably overshadows everything! Anyhow, being receiverless these last days has lent itself well to exploring the 595's. My friend also let me borrow his 650's for comparison.

The short of it: I can definitely tell a difference between them, even without an amp on the 650. But am I unhappy? Not in the least, since both headphones are simply stunning. As in, holy crap!

The major difference in my mind was that the 650 seems to be able to distinguish between noises better, so that the soundstage was just super super super clear. You could just hear even the most minute detail. Th 595 did a very good job of it, but on some tracks it was just a tad more.. grainy? That's gotta be the wrong word, because it sounds negative, and the 595's were still really excellent. In terms of sound though, I had a hard time telling any other differences (so far).

The only other thing was that the 650's sat better on my head and ears, but that was probably because they have been broken in a bit better.

Anyhow, I am very happy with the 595's and I don't think I would have spent the extra $250 on 650's if I had the option after doing the comparison. But now I have desktop amps running around my brain...
_________________________
M60x2, VP150, M22x2
Sennheiser HD-595
Onkyo TX-SR507, PS3 (40gb)

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#260525 - 05/15/09 10:43 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Golden]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
Nice impressions.

If you spent more time with the 595's and the 650's you will realize that the 595's have a more "forward" and "bright" sound. This means they have more emphasis on the highs than the 650's do. The 650's and 600's are a bit laid back.

Having been in the hobby for a while...the 595's can have a "honky" or "bloated" mid/upper range. This means its a little too emphasized and not as well defined. They are still excellent headphones. I was happy with them for a long long time. The 650's just excel at being much more refined - that is something you're only going to get more of if you invest in a good amp/source setup.

So, stay with the 595's and really get to know the sound signature, you'll enjoy them even more.

Congrats on the purchase!
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#260528 - 05/15/09 10:56 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
Stormin Offline
hobbyist

Registered: 03/21/09
Posts: 22
 Originally Posted By: danmagicman7
 Originally Posted By: Golden
It's a decent mix of music these days, although I find myself listening to a lot of folksy stuff (Garcia, Rice, Bella Fleck), blues and classical. On the flip side of that, I also love the White Stripes, Shins, Postal Service, Belle and Sabastion, etc. Not really hard rock or metal. Think the 595's are up for that?

I don't think I would ever really use them without being hooked up to the receiver, since when I'm on the move I tend to prefer in-ear headphones. And I'm in Baltimore city... and would rather keep a low electronics profile while outside... ha ha.

Any specific online dealers you can recommend? So far it looks like ebay is coming up with the lowest prices.

- Sam


Senns trounce grados in classical and blues. If you were more of a rock guy it would be more of a toss up.

Look in the "For sale" section on head-fi.org. Otherwise, Amazon.com seems to have the most consistently competitive prices.
I have a pair of Grado RS1's and love them for all sorts of music. They're great for rock, blues and classical although I've never done a direct comparison to Senn's I can't imagine being disappointed with them for any type of music. I've got a nice set of 3rd party circumaural pads that make them alot more comfortable and to my ear really improve the sound. Paired to a headfi amp this has been my listening station for the last few years... soon to be replaced by my yet-to-be-delivered axiom setup. Although I'll actually keep my listening station in my office for unobtrusive listening sessions \:\)
_________________________
M80's(2), VP150, QS8's(4), EP800
Denon 3808, PS3, Accuphase T11
Grado RS-1's

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#260536 - 05/16/09 01:46 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Stormin]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
 Originally Posted By: Stormin
I have a pair of Grado RS1's and love them for all sorts of music. They're great for rock, blues and classical although I've never done a direct comparison to Senn's I can't imagine being disappointed with them for any type of music. I've got a nice set of 3rd party circumaural pads that make them alot more comfortable and to my ear really improve the sound. Paired to a headfi amp this has been my listening station for the last few years... soon to be replaced by my yet-to-be-delivered axiom setup. Although I'll actually keep my listening station in my office for unobtrusive listening sessions \:\)


The RS1's are a bit of a different animal...once you get up in higher end grados they get a lot more balance to them. I wouldn't mind owning RS1's eventually, or their counterpart Alessandro MS Pro's.

Never give up on headphones, you'll never get the detail and intimacy with your music unless you drop tons and tons more on a speaker setup.
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#260615 - 05/17/09 09:27 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
Stormin Offline
hobbyist

Registered: 03/21/09
Posts: 22
I also have a pair of sr60's which make amazing sound for their price. The open design allows for impressive bass but unfortunately also makes them awkward to use in public. Hurt the ears after long listening sessions as well. Toyed with buying the GS1000's but figured I was content with the RS1's and many reviewers actually didn't like the sound of the GS1000's vs. the RS1's so I never pulled the trigger.
_________________________
M80's(2), VP150, QS8's(4), EP800
Denon 3808, PS3, Accuphase T11
Grado RS-1's

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#260631 - 05/17/09 03:41 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Stormin]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
Yeah, SR60's are decent. The highs are way too sharp for my tastes though.
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#260633 - 05/17/09 03:50 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
Wid Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/22/03
Posts: 6720
Loc: The Peoples Republic of Il.

I'm surprised with that Dan. Seeing how you like Axiom I figured you would like them. I feel Grado gives the most Axiom like sound that I have heard. I doubt I've listen to as many different types, styles, models as you but I have heard my share.
_________________________
Rick


"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." Sigmund Freud


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#260634 - 05/17/09 04:12 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Wid]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
I have to agree with you wid. The sonic signature of my Allesandro MS1 ( which are part of the Grado family) would lean more to the Axiom sound than the Sennheiser headphones I have listened to which had a very noticable laid back quality to them.
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#260738 - 05/18/09 10:10 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
Stormin Offline
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Registered: 03/21/09
Posts: 22
I'm liking the comparison between Grado and Axiom as I like the Grado sound... excited for the delivery notice.
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#260752 - 05/19/09 01:46 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Stormin]
danmagicman7 Offline
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Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
To be honest, I haven't listened to my axioms in a long time, since my current dorm room setup does not allow room. With a 30 gallon fish tank and a ton of other stuff...yea.

I've just grown to really like my senns a lot. With a good tube amp, they are just awesome. A lot of the current music I'm listening to is just more suited for senns.

In addition, while the Grado "sound" may be very close to the axiom neutrality in the highs and midrange, the bass is a bit lacking, leaving a sound that doesn't have as much body as the senns. My Axiom setup has a sub, so that takes care of the low end.

My listening preferences change too....just grown to favor what the senns have to offer. I still love the Grados for rock.
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#260760 - 05/19/09 04:19 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
grunt Offline
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Registered: 12/04/06
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Loc: Nirvana
I really loved the sound of my sennheisers when I was stuck in a small bedroom but I still prefer the more 3D soundstage the Axioms produce. I never tried the Grados because I canít stand anything except Circumaural headphones.
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#260780 - 05/19/09 11:57 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: grunt]
Golden Offline
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Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 138
Loc: Baltimore, MD
So the obvious next question, now that I am hooked, is what beginner level amp would you all suggest? In the $200-300 range, if that exists.

Thoughts?
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#260790 - 05/19/09 01:19 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Golden]
EFalardeau Offline
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Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 3270
Loc: Laval, Quebec, Canada
For my HD-650, I am using a LittleDot Mk V.
For my PXC-250 (also 300Ohm) [used with iPod], I am using a LittleDot Mk I.
Both are solid states.

They are both bringing all the dynamics that they high-impedence headphones loses. I have also used by Mk V as pre-amp for my Audiobytes with great (and unexpected) success.
The Mk V is about 320$ (shipped) to US and Canada while the Mk I+ (better version of Mk I) is 180$ (shipped).

They also have a lot of tube models.

I have not experimented with a lot of different headamps, but theses exceeded my expectations and I have beed very happy with them for the past 4 months and not considering anything else.
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#260804 - 05/19/09 03:00 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: EFalardeau]
PeterChenoweth Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
+1 for the Litte Dot series of amps.

I have a Little Dot MK II that I've owned for a couple of years. I love it. Really makes my HD-650's sing, just as EF has described.

It would appear that the MK III is out now, which I'm assuming is an updated version.

And if you *do* buy one of these Little Dot's from eBay, that seller, 'Davidzhezhe' is one you want to do business with. I believe he is the official seller of these things. Shipping direct from China kind of freaked me out and I was a little hesitant. But I shouldn't have been. The transaction went as smoothly as anything you'd order from somewhere like Amazon. I'm very satisfied with the product and the service. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one if I needed to.

Good luck!
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#260805 - 05/19/09 03:04 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: EFalardeau]
BlueJays1 Offline
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Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
Little dots website is a bit unorthodox. How did you pay for your amps from then. There is a link to direct purchase which just brings up an email account and another link to ebay which you can purchase from them. BTW did you have to pay any duties/brokerage fees since you live in Canada?

I'm thinking about getting the little dot mk II since they don't cost very much.
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#260806 - 05/19/09 03:07 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
EFalardeau Offline
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Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 3270
Loc: Laval, Quebec, Canada
I agree with the "originality" of their web-site. Took me quite a while to find them (it is actually PeterChenoweth that gave it to me).
I used eBay. No duties or brokerage fee (I think they are paid by little-dot).
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#260807 - 05/19/09 03:09 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: EFalardeau]
BlueJays1 Offline
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Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
Cool! How long did it take for them to ship it...how many days until arrived?
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#260808 - 05/19/09 03:13 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
EFalardeau Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 3270
Loc: Laval, Quebec, Canada
I don't recall exactly, but I am pretty sure it was less than 10 days (shipping from the Pacific coast, and I am east).
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#260809 - 05/19/09 03:15 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
EFalardeau Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 3270
Loc: Laval, Quebec, Canada
Regarding brokerage fees. The charge for shipping is pretty steep so I think most of it is included in the shipping fee.
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Audiobytes! 2M22! 2VP150!

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#260811 - 05/19/09 03:23 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: EFalardeau]
BlueJays1 Offline
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Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
Thanks..I wish they just had a "normal" checkout. I have never used ebay before... I do have paypal setup.
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#260822 - 05/19/09 05:06 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
Golden Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 138
Loc: Baltimore, MD
I got my Senn's off ebay, and it was also my first time using the service. I would not be scared of taking the ebay leap, except that now I actually surf it everyday and it is a money pit.

The ebay seller for the Little Dot suggested above says:

"International Buyers Ė Please Note:

* Import duties, taxes and charges are not included in the item price or shipping charges. These charges are the buyerís responsibility.
* Please check with your countryís customs office to determine what these additional costs will be prior to bidding/buying."

How does the Little Dot MK 2 compare to something like the HeadRoom Total Bithead that was mentioned earlier in the thread?

- Sam
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#260823 - 05/19/09 05:12 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
Well, here's a great excuse to post my tube amp.



It's a Woo Audio 6. I like it a lot.

I don't mean to bash Little Dot's in any way, I'm sure they sound fantastic, but one of the reasons I strayed away from them is that a few of them have had reported quality issues. While it's a slight chance you'll have any issues, just be aware that there have been quality problems. These amps come from China, while WooAudio is made in the good ol' USA.

Since my Tube amp was going to be a long time investment for me, I felt that I would go with something top of the line.
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#260825 - 05/19/09 05:24 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
PeterChenoweth Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
 Originally Posted By: Dr.House
Little dots website is a bit unorthodox. How did you pay for your amps from then. There is a link to direct purchase which just brings up an email account and another link to ebay which you can purchase from them. BTW did you have to pay any duties/brokerage fees since you live in Canada?

I'm thinking about getting the little dot mk II since they don't cost very much.


Indeed, it is a bit unorthodox. They don't really have a good website, which is probably my only complaint about the whole operation. That raised a few red flags with me.

You buy these on eBay - ideally from the seller that I pointed out (use the links). I know of no other way to do it. And yes - I agree - I'd prefer it if there was a more "normal" way to buy them, but I don't think there is. I have had enough bad run-ins with eBay that I generally avoid it. But for this, I made an exception. If you have questions or concerns about the amp or the transaction in general, I'd recommend emailing David. I asked several questions before hand, and his replies were always extremely prompt and courteous. He even emailed me a few weeks after the sale to make sure I was happy. Seems like a nice enough fellow.

As it turns out, the 'red flag' feelings that I had about it being eBay-only/direct-from-China/this-is-a-scam were unfounded. "Buy It now", got an emailed order invoice, paid via Paypal, a day later got a shipment notification w/ a tracking number, and 4/5 business days later the amp was sitting on my front porch. Easy as can be. But I do live in the US, so I don't know if there are additional fees for a Canadian shipment. I'm sure David could tell you. The only thing "unique" about the experience is that the package had several Chinese stamps/stickers on it from its travels. ;\)

But anyway, yes, I'm completely happy with my Little Dot MKII. I'd certainly buy another one. Like I said, I've been using mine for over a year now. I use mine at work, so it's fired up for 5/6 hours at a time, 2/3 days a week. Zero problems, still on the original tubes. Works just as it did the day I got it.
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#260827 - 05/19/09 05:32 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: PeterChenoweth]
PeterChenoweth Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
Regarding the Total Bithead, a couple of years ago I bought and returned one.

I just wasn't that impressed with it. The SQ was fine. It could certainly drive my HD-650's better than an iPod. But the tubes of the MKII add a richness (distortion - whatever!) that the Bithead didn't. A rich creaminess that I just love. Some hate it. Different strokes for different folks.

But the biggest problem I had with the BH was that it was extremely susceptible to GSM cell-phone interference. At the time I had a BlackBerry, which was in constant communication with the network. I couldn't put the 'Berry within 6 feet of the Total Bithead, else it'd pick up the dit-ditty-dit ditty-dit-dit-dit-ditty-dit GSM signals in the headphone output. And heaven forbid I got a phone call...
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#260828 - 05/19/09 05:34 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: PeterChenoweth]
PeterChenoweth Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
And Dan, those Woo amps are awesome. If I ever take my setup to the 'next level', that's where I'd go.

You've got a killer setup there!!
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#260830 - 05/19/09 05:54 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: PeterChenoweth]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
 Originally Posted By: PeterChenoweth
And Dan, those Woo amps are awesome. If I ever take my setup to the 'next level', that's where I'd go.

You've got a killer setup there!!


Thanks :-).

I also have a Lite DAC-AH that I've modded some. Anyone who wants to get a nice DAC and doesn't mind doing a little bit of soldering work for fun, the Lite DAC-AH is where its at. It's a NOS design (non oversampling) which basically works by having 8 DAC chips running in parallel for the analog output. The theory is that any artifacts in one chip get "evened out" by the rest. This gives a more organic sound.

While I haven't done a head-to-head with any other formidable oversampling DAC, I'm happy with mine. I saw a huge improvement over my Portable USB DAC when I had it.

If you get a good tube amp don't forget about getting a good source!

Garbage in, garbage out. So, that means if you're planning on running a tube amp off of the headphone out of your laptop...eeeghh. So, get a nice DAC :-).
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#260837 - 05/19/09 08:20 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
Thanks Peter and Dan for that info. Thats a really nice pic of your setup Dan \:\) . I'm not a ebay guy but looked into a bit further. Is there any really benefits to creating an ebay account for just one purchase because there is an option as "buy as guest" ?
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#260839 - 05/19/09 09:01 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
Thanks, that picture is actually 4 pictures in one. One with a flash, one without. Then a couple in complete darkness and long exposure. I made it so the ones that were in complete darkness were the only pictures with color, creating the cool look. I like that picture a lot \:D
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#260881 - 05/20/09 10:26 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
I just pulled the trigger on Little Dot MK III. Just received the confirmation email which confirmed the voltage specs, shipping details etc. The email also says that there will be final quality control check before shipping and that they will also be sending me the latest Little Dot MK III Reference Guide shortly.
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#260893 - 05/20/09 11:42 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
PeterChenoweth Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
 Originally Posted By: danmagicman7
Thanks, that picture is actually 4 pictures in one. One with a flash, one without. Then a couple in complete darkness and long exposure. I made it so the ones that were in complete darkness were the only pictures with color, creating the cool look. I like that picture a lot \:D


You sneaky little HDR'er. ;\)

I thought perhaps that photo had a bit of "digital-darkroom" to it. Good job. \:\)

And congrats, Dr. House! I hope your LD experience goes as well as mine has.
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#260927 - 05/20/09 02:54 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: PeterChenoweth]
Golden Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 138
Loc: Baltimore, MD
Very nice House! Please let us all know what your impressions are once you have had a chance to play around!
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#260929 - 05/20/09 03:05 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Golden]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
Contrats Dr. House. Take pictures \:D
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M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#260934 - 05/20/09 03:40 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: danmagicman7]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
I'll take some pics when it arrives in the next week or so. \:\) (hopefully in one piece - long journey for the package)
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#260939 - 05/20/09 05:01 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: Golden]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
 Originally Posted By: Golden
Very nice House! Please let us all know what your impressions are once you have had a chance to play around!


Thanks! I will come up with something once I get some time with it. There has been a lot of intersting talk about the whole tube vs solid state on this forum lately so I thought I would try one out and see for myself (something I don't need but oh well). The thing I like about this comparison for me is that room interaction will not be an issue since we are dealing with headphones. IMO room acoustics have a bigger impact on sound than anything else (speakers too of course). If we can take out the room acoustics I think I can gain a better understanding between the whole solid state vs tube debate and gain a better subjective opinion for my own sake.
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#261203 - 05/23/09 07:37 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
BlueJays1 Offline
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Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
O.k..now I have decided I am going to use a dedicated headphone setup. I want it compact so I need a MP3/video player. My #1 choice so far is the Cowon iAudio D2+ 16gb. I am also looking at Creative Zen, Sony Walkman and the Microsoft Zune models. Has anyone used any of these?
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#261217 - 05/23/09 11:52 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
BlueJays1 Offline
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Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
So I put an order in for a Cowon iAudio D2+. It should arrive around the same period as the LD MK III.

My setup will be as follows

Flac,mp3 --- Cowon D2+ ---- LD MK III --- Alessandro MS1
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#261224 - 05/24/09 06:31 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
EFalardeau Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 3270
Loc: Laval, Quebec, Canada
Sounds like a portable heaven! One more week to wait?
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#261777 - 05/29/09 02:10 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: EFalardeau]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
My MK III arrived today, slick looking amp . My first impressions after a little over an hours worth of use, from a sound standpoint is why do people call tube amps "warm". In fact what I am noticing is better seperation between instruments, greater dynamics and a bit punchier bass. So in fact what I am getting is more detail and a clearer presentation (over my solid state Denon avr headphone section). It really makes my MS1's sing. \:\) It kind of reminds me of those posts by Jakewash comparing his Denon to the Axiom amp with his Axiom speakers but this deals with headphones and a headphone amp ...just my initial impressions.

Pics coming soon....
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#261783 - 05/29/09 02:31 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
BlueJays1 Offline
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Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
I noticed these 4 little square thingy's came with the 3.5mm to rca cable. Can someone enlighten me what those are?
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#261794 - 05/29/09 05:49 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
EFalardeau Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 3270
Loc: Laval, Quebec, Canada
Cool!
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#261815 - 05/29/09 10:21 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: EFalardeau]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
Here is a picture



I have to say the Cowon iAudio D2+, LD MK III and the Alessandro MS1 makes for an awesome combo. I am still in shock at the dramatic improvement (totally subjective mind you) I am noticing in the sound quality with the MKIII and no it is not making my MS1's "warm" sounding

How about the cheap white, plastic banana stand \:D .
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#261816 - 05/29/09 10:38 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
St_PatGuy Offline
axiomite

Registered: 03/07/05
Posts: 7403
Loc: Glendale, Arizona
No, no, that's an ultra expensive audio-quality headphone stand!!

That looks like a very nice set-up, Dr. House. Those Little Dot amps are very enticing and a good price, too. Enjoy!
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#261817 - 05/29/09 10:42 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: St_PatGuy]
CV Online   confused
Founder, Axiom Upgrade Club
shareholder in the making

Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 11200
Loc: Richland, WA, USA
I'll have to get a nice headphone setup one of these days. I really will.

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#261820 - 05/29/09 10:47 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: St_PatGuy]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
Yes they are nice and certainly well priced. A bargain IMO.
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#267091 - 07/24/09 08:29 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
oldskoolboarder Offline
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Registered: 05/25/03
Posts: 2181
Loc: Menlo Park, CA
 Originally Posted By: Dr.House
Here is a picture



I have to say the Cowon iAudio D2+, LD MK III and the Alessandro MS1 makes for an awesome combo. I am still in shock at the dramatic improvement (totally subjective mind you) I am noticing in the sound quality with the MKIII and no it is not making my MS1's "warm" sounding

How about the cheap white, plastic banana stand \:D .


Is that a DIY stand?

Another thumbs up for LD. I have the LD+ that I use w/ my Grado 325i's. I changed the tubes to 408As and also rolled the OPAMP. Big improvement, much more detail and warmth.

I hadn't used it in a while, in fact I was about to sell it. I've been using a Leckerton UHA-3 USB DAC at work and wanted an upgrade. Then I went off the deep end... Pretty much hours after I had already ordered a new iBasso D10, an offer came up for a Ray Samuels Hornet M in green, yes a green Hornet. Bought that too. Was planning on getting the Hornet M with the hopes that it's warm sound could replace my LD I+. After demo'ing all 3 of my portable amps, I decided to fire up the LD+ last night. Then I figured out why I like the LD so much. Sigh...gotta keep it.

All this on top of the fact that I also jumped on the TTVJ HF2, the special edition Grado. I'm at the back of the line so I probably won't get it for a while but at least I'm in line. I also have to stop reading about the new Shure 840's. Those sound great for the value as well.


Edited by oldskoolboarder (07/24/09 08:32 PM)

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#267097 - 07/24/09 09:20 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: oldskoolboarder]
BlueJays1 Offline
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Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
lol, no it is not a DIY stand. It is just a cheap ol` plastic banana stand that I am using temporarily. (used to hang a bunch of bananas on)...lol

Since the tip of the banana stand can possibly mark up or dent the headband I used some heat shrink tubing I had lying around, put it over the tip where the headpones hang from and stuffed it with cotton padding and then used a hair dryer to shrink it.

The metal banana stands are quite sleek looking actually. When I see one in a store I will pick one up. They are only a few dollars.

I would really like a wood headphone stand but in my searches they are like $50-$70.
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Iím armed and Iím drinking. You donít want to listen to advice from me, amigo.

-Max Payne

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#267114 - 07/24/09 11:01 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
oldskoolboarder Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 05/25/03
Posts: 2181
Loc: Menlo Park, CA
OK, you weren't kidding on the banana stand. That's hilarious. How much you wanna bet there's a forum for DIY banana stands some where? I always say, if there's some obscure hobby, there's a group of fanatics obsessing about it.

Some folks on head-fi had some interesting DIY stands. They used some laquered wood and cabinet/drawer pulls from Ikea. Looked really good.

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#267115 - 07/24/09 11:08 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: oldskoolboarder]
BlueJays1 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 4078
Loc: Porch,enjoying Bombay Sapphire
The search function at head-fi gives lots of info on banana stands and headphone stands in general. I believe that is where I got the idea to use them. I can only imagine what the nutcases over at head-fi do in their spare time .
_________________________
Iím armed and Iím drinking. You donít want to listen to advice from me, amigo.

-Max Payne

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#267117 - 07/24/09 11:40 PM Re: reference level headphones [Re: BlueJays1]
oldskoolboarder Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 05/25/03
Posts: 2181
Loc: Menlo Park, CA
Wow. It didn't occur to me to even use that as a search string. That's funny.

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#267129 - 07/25/09 07:00 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: oldskoolboarder]
MarkSJohnson Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 09/27/04
Posts: 10886
Loc: Central NH
Yes, we have no headphone stands........

Only Jack and Ray will get that one....
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::::::: No disrespect to Axiom, but my favorite woofer is my yellow lab :::::::

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#267137 - 07/25/09 09:16 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: MarkSJohnson]
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16273
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
Yes, we have no bananas today.

Does this mean I have the mind of an old man?
_________________________
"I wish I had documented moreÖ" said nobody on their death bed, ever.

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#267143 - 07/25/09 10:45 AM Re: reference level headphones [Re: pmbuko]
CV Online   confused
Founder, Axiom Upgrade Club
shareholder in the making

Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 11200
Loc: Richland, WA, USA
What, lecherous?

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