Headphones/amp

Posted by: spiffnme

Headphones/amp - 04/19/13 01:57 PM

I'm buying my first pair of headphones. It's primarily for using while sitting at my desk working, so I'll be using them with my computer.

Q#1: Do I really need a headphone amp, or is straight off the motherboard (or soundcard) ok?

Q#1b: If so, what do you recommend, knowing that this will essentially be soley for at my desk with my computer?

fyi...getting the audio-technica ATH-A900X headphones.
Posted by: spiffnme

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/19/13 02:02 PM

I should mention budget...REALLY don't want to spend over $100 on an amp (if I need one).
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/19/13 05:10 PM

The Audio Technica AD and A series have a reputation of being easy to drive. Both of these series have really great soundstage. But I did notice from your post the model number looks to have changed with the X added at the end. Is this a new model of the 900 series. What are their specs?

I prefer solid state headphone amps for inefficient headphones and low impedance headphones. OTL amps with high impedance headphones kick some but too.

For a headphone, desktop setup I also like the looks of glowing vacuum tubes.
Posted by: spiffnme

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/19/13 06:08 PM

SPECIFICATIONS
TYPE Closed-back Dynamic, Double Air Damping System
DRIVER DIAMETER 53 mm
FREQUENCY RESPONSE 5 40,000 Hz
MAXIMUM INPUT POWER 2,000 mW
SENSITIVITY 100 dB/mW
IMPEDANCE 42 ohms
WEIGHT 330 g
CABLE 3.0 m
CONNECTOR 3.5 mm gold-plated stereo plug
ACCESSORY INCLUDED Detachable 1/4" (6.3 mm) adapter
Posted by: fredk

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/19/13 06:20 PM

Originally Posted By: spiffnme
...
Q#1: Do I really need a headphone amp, or is straight off the motherboard (or soundcard) ok?
...

::insert look of horror here::

My god man, you can't do that! First you have to go through an outboard audiopile DAC, then through levitating cables (sorry, you'll have to track the monk down yourself) into a special headphone tube amp and then use really expensive Sennheisers.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/19/13 06:23 PM

Yeah, you will be fine playing them directly from the soundcard of your computer.

My experience with headphones and headphone amps is that they can indeed make a difference (good or bad) depending on the headphone, most notably in the bass response.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/19/13 06:25 PM

Originally Posted By: fredk
Originally Posted By: spiffnme
...
Q#1: Do I really need a headphone amp, or is straight off the motherboard (or soundcard) ok?
...

::insert look of horror here::

My god man, you can't do that! First you have to go through an outboard audiopile DAC, then through levitating cables (sorry, you'll have to track the monk down yourself) into a special headphone tube amp and then use really expensive Sennheisers.


Tube amps and the higher end Senns 600 and above sound pretty darn good.
Posted by: fredk

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/19/13 07:39 PM

Just think how much better they would sound with those levitating cables. grin
Posted by: spiffnme

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/20/13 01:10 AM

OK...got the headphones today.

First impressions:

1) highs: nice. no complaints.

2) mid-range bass is a little "bloaty"...hard to describe. Keeps the mids from sounding super clear.

3) low-end. Being as how these are my first pair of headphones, I'm not sure what headphones are supposed to be capable of when it comes to bass. That said, the attack/punchiness of the bass is a little lacking. When listening to the Propellerheads' "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (my go-to track for bass) it's clear and tight, but doesn't have that ass-kicking, bitch slapping bass I LOVE from that song. Again, not sure what headphones are supposed to be capable of in regards to bass though.

4) As much as I'd love them to, they aren't going to recreate the experience of my beloved M60+EP500 combo.

5) they're BIG! If for no other reason, I may have to return them as they're just a tad too big and there's no way to adjust them at all (is that as odd as I think or are most headphones non-adjustable?) I'll be wearing these for up to 8+ hours per day. The ATH-900X's are a wee bit big and tend to slide down over my ears putting pressure on the top of my ears. That starts to get uncomfortable after an hour or so.

Now as far as listening straight off my motherboard...

I found some tracks when pushed a little too hard started to distort badly. Distortion through speakers is bad, through headphones it's borderline painful. Like nails on a chalkboard. Bleck!

Would a supercheap (Creative Audigy SE) soundcard fix the distortion issues?

I'm bummed about the size issue, as I got a crazy good deal on these at Best Buy ($159 vs $299 msrp - gotta love open box stuff!) If I return them, I'm likely going to pick up the Sennheiser HD-598's. Anyone know anything about those? I tried them on and they were super comfortable at the store (and they're adjustable).
Posted by: spiffnme

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/20/13 01:36 AM

wow...just listened to "Rewrite" by Paul Simon. It's like I'd never heard it before. SPECTACULAR with headphones! Wow! "Cloreen Bacon Skin" (Prince)* is sounding pretty damn good too.


*a funky, nearly 16 minute track with Morris Day on drums and Prince playing the bass as he just talk/sings a bunch of weird stuff. You gotta really love weird funk/Prince stuff to dig it. LOL!
Posted by: JohnK

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/20/13 02:02 AM

Craig, if you'd have mentioned that open-back headphones(which I much prefer)such as the HD-598 were okay with you, I'd have made some suggestions. You'll probably like the 598 and since it has a slightly higher sensitivity than the ATH-900s there should be even less problem driving them to high levels. Watch your hearing though; headphones can be dangerous in that regard.
Posted by: spiffnme

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/20/13 02:35 AM

I'm open to any suggestions that can be purchased at Best Buy/Magnolia. I have a gift card that I'm using. wink
Posted by: JohnK

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/20/13 03:24 AM

Took a look at what's available there, and the 598 would seem to be the best choice.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/20/13 12:35 PM

If you are looking for a sound that most closely resembles Axioms tonal signature IMO they would be pretty much all Grado's and to a lesser extent some of the Shure headphones.

I love the warm and non-fatiguing character a lot of the Senn headphones have. Their high impedance models sound terrific with tube amps.
Posted by: spiffnme

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/20/13 10:05 PM

Just ordered a ASUS Xonar DGX soundcard. It was inexpensive and includes a built in headphone amp. I figure that should cover my needs. I'm not looking for anything high-end/amazing.

I'm falling in love with the 900x headphones though. Really bummed they don't fit right! Maybe I should start taking some HGH...doesn't that make your head get bigger? LOL.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/21/13 08:02 AM

Try the rubber band mod. I have used it on the AD700, which is pictured.

Posted by: spiffnme

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/21/13 06:33 PM

Dude...genius. You just saved me a bunch of money with a rubber band. Worked like a charm. smile
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Headphones/amp - 04/22/13 07:25 AM

Originally Posted By: spiffnme
You just saved me a bunch of money with a rubber band.

This is both "why and how" I don't have kids.