Headphone recommendations

Posted by: BlueJays1

Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 04:01 PM

I am interested in getting some full size headphones. Not sure if I want sealed or open style. My budget is between $200 - $250 including any applicable taxes and shipping. I will not be using a headphone amp, they will be powered by my avr. Comfort, efficiency and sound quality are most important. Most likely I will have to order online since my selections locally are limited to only a few stores.

Thanks in advance
Posted by: Family Man

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 05:15 PM

Dr., you should follow the link below. try these headphone and just marvel at the sound. PS, Open is the way to go.
http://www.gradolabs.com/frameset_main.htm
try them, you will be suprised and then the price point in Canada is 329 so it should be just over or under 250US. hope this helps.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 06:02 PM

I forgot to mention I am dealing with the Canadian dollar for my budget . Grados are a brand I am considering. I was also leaning towards an open style that you seem to prefer but I am open to anything at this point.
Posted by: alan

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 06:15 PM

Hi Dr. House,

The open-air types are usually by far the most comfortable. I've used a pair of Grado SR-125's for years. Keep in mind that as with loudspeakers, there is no necessary correlation between sound quality and price. For example, apart from a somewhat exaggerated deep bass response, the Koss PortaPros are very neutral and wide-range and are a remarkable bargain. They are also extremely comfortable and are sensitive enough to use with portable players. Sennheiser is another excellent brand.

Comfort is paramount. I've heard 'phones I've liked but they're so uncomfortable that after 15 minutes, your head feels as if it's in a vice.

Regards,
Posted by: Family Man

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 06:20 PM

I tried the new monster headphones (sealed). http://www.monstercable.com/productdisplay.asp?pin=3808
I found them too unnatural, like being inside the speaker. love the grado's. i haven't tried the AKG 701 or 702 but they are double the grado. I find that for the difference the 325 play like the grado reference series almost to a point of very little difference but for the price i think they are great.

you should visit http://www.headphones.com
excellent reference site.
Posted by: Wid

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 06:23 PM

Check these out for an inexpensive set of good sounding headphones.

For a higher HP end that's in the Grado family check out these phones. I know they do international shipping.
Posted by: grunt

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 06:40 PM

I agree with Mark that open is the way to go. IMO they’re much more natural sounding and you don’t get that pressurized feeling during loud passages like when your ear is totally enclosed. However, one drawback to open is that they don’t attenuate outside noise so they work best in a quiet area. This is also an advantage if you need to hear the doorbell/phone ring or are just paranoid like me and don’t want anyone sneaking up on you. ;\)

You could also look at Sennheiser:

http://www.sennheiserusa.com/newsite/category.asp?transid=cat0

I liked the sound of the Grados but can’t stand wearing on ear headphones so they were a no-go.

I have the Sennheiser HD600 but these are similar but maybe a little above your price range.

http://www.sennheiserusa.com/newsite/productdetail.asp?transid=newHD-3

I’ve worn mine for over 16 hours without even noticing they are there. The felt pads allow me to wear reading glasses with no discomfort. On several occasions I’ve had the headphones yanked from my head when I walked off forgetting I had them on.

One problem for some of the Sennheisers is their high impedance causing them not to work well with portable devices unless using a separate amp. However, mine work just fine with my Denon 2807 receiver. I don’t think any of the Grados have impedance issues.

Cheers,
Dean
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 06:59 PM

Thanks everyone for your input.

I found this site online that would deliver to my area. They carry Grado and Sennheiser products. I am not sure how competitive their prices are.

The Grado SR-125's and Sennheiser HD555 are the top models that would fall within my price range.

I will also look into Koss and AKG dealers.


http://www.planetofsoundonline.com/view.php?m=b71ba7e6f2

http://www.planetofsoundonline.com/view.php?m=5fca6ce7a8

Closed style

http://www.planetofsoundonline.com/view.php?m=7791c92399
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 09:34 PM

Costco sells Koss headphones including the PortaPro which are all within my price range.

http://www.costco.ca/Common/Category.asp...8-Cat80&topnav=
Posted by: Wid

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 09:42 PM


They are a decent sounding headphone for the money.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 09:48 PM

 Originally Posted By: wid

They are a decent sounding headphone for the money.


What model are you referring to?
Posted by: Wid

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 09:51 PM


The porta pro.
Posted by: doormat

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/20/09 11:53 PM

 Originally Posted By: wid
Check these out for an inexpensive set of good sounding headphones.

For a higher HP end that's in the Grado family check out these phones. I know they do international shipping.


I got a pair of those Alessandro MS1s a year or so ago and they sound great, via a Rx or just through an mp3 player. However, if you have a small head like mine they can be a little tight when compressed to fit (I have never tried headphones that fit well). I find that after about two hours I need to take 'em off for 10 minutes. Other than that caveat, I'm really happy with them.

The US$99 included shipping to Canada via USPS.
Posted by: Official Ninja

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/21/09 12:12 AM

Don't flame me, but Bose Tri-port headphones sound very nice and a light and comfortable. They sell in the US for around $130.

I don't think they call them tri-port anymore. Yeah, I just looked them up. They are called Around Ear Headphones now.
Posted by: davekro

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/21/09 12:31 AM

Dr,

These may be lower end or priced than you are looking for, but if someone is looking for a good sounding (great base) set of closed headphones, I recommend Panasonic RP-HT355. A friend highly recommended them so I tried them. I think they sound great. I don't mind the feel, but it would probably not be considered in the super comfortable 'I don't know they are there' category. They do not feel like a vise. ;o)But they were around $50 US incl. shipping ($15). I only use them on occasion when I want to watch an action movie when my wife has already gone to bed.
They have a volume switch too.

A posted this more for others that may be looking for an inexpensive pair of decent sounding head phones. I can't say how they would do for critical music listening as I have used them for that.
Posted by: JohnK

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/22/09 10:22 PM

Dr. Horse, the AKG K240 MKII phones are a top choice within your stated budget. They run about $150USD plus about $25-30 shipping to Canada.
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/23/09 08:53 AM

I used to use 240s as recording monitors and always found them amazingly comfortable...
Posted by: alan

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/23/09 09:06 AM

Hi,

The 240s have been in the AKG line for years and I agree that they're very comfortable. But when I tried them out they seemed to have some kind of midrangey aberration that seemed to emphasize tape hiss and upper octave noise. That's all I remember about those phones. . .and that was years ago, so perhaps the tonal balance has changed since then.

Alan
Posted by: Zimm

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/23/09 05:57 PM

I hate to do it, but i have to hate on the Grados a bit (SR 80s). First complaint, comfort. I may have freakish ears, but the driver surface rubs on my ears and aggravates me after...I don't know how long, but not long enough. Say 30 mins. But putting my freakish ears aside [cue Mark to add pic of crazy ears being put on the side] I don't prefer their imaging style. I could not put my finger on it until I read a pro review that put the problem characteristic into words. I prefer the imaging associated with stereo speakers - i.e., an image in front of you. The Grados are fantastic at sound reproduction freq by freq, but, as the author put it, they sound as if you are in the middle of the band, not looking at the band. Not sure how to better describe it - people love them - but for me the imaging is distracting.
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/23/09 06:19 PM

I already have this avatar I used to use. Golden Ears and all that....
Posted by: Adrian

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/23/09 07:28 PM

A mutated Ferengi?
Posted by: Wid

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/23/09 10:54 PM

 Originally Posted By: Zimm
I hate to do it, but i have to hate on the Grados a bit (SR 80s). First complaint, comfort. I may have freakish ears, but the driver surface rubs on my ears and aggravates me after...I don't know how long, but not long enough. Say 30 mins. But putting my freakish ears aside [cue Mark to add pic of crazy ears being put on the side] I don't prefer their imaging style. I could not put my finger on it until I read a pro review that put the problem characteristic into words. I prefer the imaging associated with stereo speakers - i.e., an image in front of you. The Grados are fantastic at sound reproduction freq by freq, but, as the author put it, they sound as if you are in the middle of the band, not looking at the band. Not sure how to better describe it - people love them - but for me the imaging is distracting.



No wonder, you have those little bitty baby ears \:D
Posted by: alan

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/24/09 08:55 AM

Hi Zimm,

Of course, what you point out is the downside of all headphone/earbud listening--the totally artificial image that spreads through your head from one ear to the other. At times, the intimacy is lovely, but overall it's peculiar and quite unlike how most of us (except band musicians) hear music.

There have been various attempts over the years to electronically alter the headphone presentation to move the headphone image out front, like a loudspeaker presentation. Dolby Headphone is a recent processor mode that attempts that and more. My own AV receiver isn't equipped so I haven't been able to try it out to see if it's effective.

Has anyone else on the forum tried Dolby Headphone??

Regards,

Alan
Posted by: Zimm

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/24/09 12:06 PM

Alan, am I wrong to believe the Grados have this "centered" characteristic more than their competitors? I thought it was just their style. I have a pair of ear-buds that make a better image, but not in the same class in terms of accuracy. If most higher-end phones have the same imaging as Grado, then I can only complain about the comfort, because the actual sound is very accurate, even through my AVR headphone output. (And again, I have the 80's; that is far from the best they have to offer.)

I'd like to try the Dolby headphones for surround sound, but don't see how they could pull it off with drives so close to your ear.
Posted by: pmbuko

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/24/09 02:18 PM

The "in-your-head" effect is the nature of the beast. You can't get around it without creative mixing and/or pychoacoustic processing (Pink Floyd!) to move the sound outside your noggin. In fact, if any headphones do NOT suffer from this effect, I'd guess there was something wrong with them. ;\)
Posted by: Zimm

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/24/09 03:06 PM

Don't know about that from my experiences with headphones. But I don't claim to be a headphone expert so I'll sit back and learn a bit.
Posted by: grunt

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/24/09 03:16 PM

 Originally Posted By: Zimm

…Grado, then I can only complain about the comfort, because the actual sound is very accurate.


Comfort was my only complaint about the Grados. Having those things sitting on my “Yoda” ears was just to distracting.

As Peter said the “in-your-head” effect is to some degree unavoidable. I have noticed a couple of things about it. For me it’s much more noticeable if I’m switching back and for between headphones and speakers. However, listening exclusively on headphones for a month I’ve pretty much forgotten what I’m missing not using speakers. Also, open air headphone help to minimize this for me though others mileage may vary.

I’ve also noticed that a couple of the Digital Signal Proccessing (DSP) modes on my Denon do greatly enhance the spacial presentation of some recordings. For example the “Jazz Club” mode sounds very good for recordings that belong in that type of environment. The “Virtual” setting really enhances some movies and TV shows. In some cases sounds do seem to come from the front or back and high or low but certainly not to the extent that the QS8s are capable of. This setting is more variable I guess depended on the recording.

I don’t have the “Headphone” setting that Alan mentioned. However, although I don’t have one I understand that some headphone amps have a setting that allows crosstalk between the L/R channels to simulate sound reaching both ears from each speaker. As I understand it this is supposed to help things sound more “speaker-like.”
Posted by: Zimm

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/24/09 03:57 PM

Cool.
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/24/09 05:37 PM

It's always about being "cool" with you, isn't it Charles?

If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?

Can we all chip in and get that baby on the patch??
Posted by: Zimm

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/24/09 07:54 PM

He ate the patch - and yes that worked!
Posted by: Captain4105

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/25/09 04:36 AM

Does anyone have personal experience with simulated "surround sound" earphones? I am unfamiliar with those offerings but I understand they exist. Are they too phony or do they have a reasonable approximation for surround affects (I'm thinking classical)?....Lee
Posted by: Spoiler

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/25/09 06:58 AM


I read that most headphone enthusiasts (some over at head-fi) seem to agree that 'surround sound' or 5.1 headphones are a marketing idea that simply doesn't work well. While there are some models with 4 or 5 drivers on each side, they simply don't beat a quality pair of stereo cans. My experience is limited, but I do have a pair of each type, and have tried different sound settings through my Creative X-fi software, and I agree.

I tested with sound effects and positional cues in PC gaming software.





Posted by: alan

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/25/09 10:20 AM

Hi Zimm,

Yes, the Grados tend to be very accurate, although I haven't heard all their models. Certainly the 125s are quite neutral and accurate, like your 80s.

Regarding comfort, everyone's head is a different shape and the pinnae (no smart remarks!)--the external ears--are also every shape and size (just ask Prince Charles!). What fits one person may be acutely uncomfortable to another.

There is a lot of interesting research going into manipulating "head-transfer" effects and equations to move sound outside the headphone or to simulate a 5.1 experience from two stereo speakers.

The reason that all headphones provide extreme separation compared to speaker playback is that when you listen with loudspeakers, the sound from the left speaker hits your left ear first, then travels around your head to your right ear a few milliseconds later. The sound from the right ear. . .etc, etc., so if you think about it, the brain interprets this crosstalk between channels and your ears as reduced separation between the left and right channels.

In ear-bud or headphone listening, the sound from the left and right channels is preserved and delivered direct to each ear, with none of the crosstalk between ears that occurs with speaker playback. Over the years, there have been a number of different speakers (Polk being one) and processors (Carver's "Sonic Holography") that included crosstalk cancellation circuits to correct for that problem in speaker playback. But those generated other problems. . .

Cheers,
Alan
Posted by: Zimm

Re: Headphone recommendations - 03/25/09 11:44 AM

Very interesting. Thanks for the insight.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/01/09 09:08 PM

I have narrowed my choices down based on ordering from the online store below.

Choice #1 - Koss Porta Pro ($69) + Alessandro Music Series One ($119) = $188 CAD + shipping

Choice #2 - Grado SR125 ($169) = $169 CAD + shipping

Choice #3 - Grado SR125i ($199) = $199 CAD + shipping

http://stereotypeaudio.com/store/index.php?manufacturers_id=&osCsid=7f5aba6ab7329d97e5f7822915843ba7

Any thoughts?

Thanks again!


Posted by: JohnK

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/01/09 09:50 PM

Doc, if you can really make good use of two sets, then your choice #1 is obviously the way to go. I'd suggest, however, going with the SR60i rather than the Alessandro, since it has the improved driver and body, while the Alessandro is still based on the older SR60.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/01/09 10:07 PM

Thanks for that information and suggestion Johnk \:\) . The SR60i are priced at $119 (same as the Alessandro MS1). I am leaning towards choice 1 (Koss,MS1/SR60i). It would be fun just to compare the 2 especially since the Porta Pros are half the price. However, if the Grado SR125 are much better than the above 3 then I would just go with them.
Posted by: Wid

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/01/09 10:12 PM


The Koss and Grado are so similar I would get one or the other. The SR60s are a couple steps up from the Porta Pro. If you want a set of Koss also get the Koss KSC75. They are every bit as good as the Porta Pro imo.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/01/09 10:33 PM

Thanks for that suggestion wid. The Koss models Porta Pro/KSC75 I think would work very well for travelling and for the outdoors. I was thinking I could dedicate the other pair to strictly the HT.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/02/09 02:13 PM

So after much debate I have finally decided on the Alessandro MS1 + Grado Bowl Pads (stock pad for the 80/125). After reading many subjective opinions on various boards the MS1 are comparable to the SR80/SR125 models. The MS1 were often described as offering the most neutral presentation between the SR60/80 which is what I am looking for. I also read on a few occasions that the MS1 is rebadged model of the SR125 but still not sure?

I placed my order at stereotype audio (never heard of this place until a few days ago). Ordering was secure (from what I know) and navigation of the website is very easy. Shipping costs were $12.16 which is more than reasonable IMO and I received an invoice in the email with an order # after completion. So far so good. Looking forward to receiving the cans.

Depending how all this goes, I will look into getting the Koss headphones for more portable use in the future.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/02/09 04:18 PM

I received my shipping notification already . Excellent service from stereotype audio customer support so far! I am hoping they arrive before the weekend. \:\)
Posted by: Zimm

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/02/09 04:20 PM

I seldom do it, but last night I used my Grado 80's for a while, and I must say they were more comfortable than I had remembered. I used them for about an hour without issue, and they sound as detailed as anything I've ever heard. Still prefer speakers, but very good sound.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/02/09 04:56 PM

Zimm,

The Deaf Monk needs to get into the headphone industry designing levitating Scandium wire for headphones . His next project should be to come up with a levitating power cord for ultimate performance ! He would make a fortune. \:D
Posted by: Zimm

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/02/09 05:56 PM

Been there, done that. The Damn lawyers killed it. The levitating headphone wires kept tripping people since they cross the room. Big ugly thing. But that power cord issue might have wings.
Posted by: Adrian

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/02/09 06:04 PM

First levitating wires, now power cords with wings?
Posted by: Zimm

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/03/09 12:45 PM

We call them Cherub Power. But I fear the Monk is still off kilter from that April fools joke about the liquid speaker wires. He just keeps mumbling that a flux capacitor could make an electrified gel that could conduct sound without impedance. Not good.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/03/09 01:14 PM

Thanks again everyone for your input in this thread \:\) . My headphones arrived today in a very timely manner and came well packed. Kudos to stereotype audio! It has been a pleasure doing business with them. Here are some unpackaging pics of MS-1 \:\) (I will add throughout the day).

Pic #1





Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/03/09 01:23 PM

Pic # 2


Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/03/09 01:28 PM

Pic # 3


Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/03/09 01:47 PM

Pic # 4


Posted by: doormat

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/03/09 08:50 PM

I'm curious to hear your take on the difference between the stock pads and the Grado bowls.
Posted by: Wid

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/04/09 09:42 AM


No report yet? They must be keeping Doc busy \:\)
Posted by: Murph

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/06/09 09:10 AM

Perhaps he can't hear us. We'll have to chat louder.

Where is the report???
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/06/09 07:27 PM

WHAT!

Hahaha!

I am enjoying them! I have been using the MS1 with late night video gaming and music. My main criterions before buying headphones were able to use them without an external headphone amp, comfort and neutrality. I have used two sources which have been my computer using the 1/8 input and my Denon avr using the 1/4 adaptor through the headphone input. Both of which can power the MS1 to levels I would not normally listen to, making them easy to power. Both sources are dead silent and I get no hissing/humming or any other unwanted noises through the headphones.

The MS1 are comfortable but there was a getting use to period. Currently I am using the stock pads (comfies). The first time I put them on I felt some pressure in my head within the first hour. I wasn’t too surprised because my head is not used to having devices clamped to it. Over the next few days I did some slight adjustments and I actually find them quite comfortable now with no pressure feeling even after extended use. On a few occasions while focusing on something else I sometimes forget they are even on. I also have the bowl pads but have not used them yet.

I am seriously thinking about getting an extension for the cord. With computer use it is not an issue and it is too long but when using the Denon the cord length is “just” long enough to the seating position. If I would recline in the chair all the way the chord is taught and there is the possibility of the cord could rip out from the input. I would rather have a bit of length and drag the cord along the ground. I have also noticed were the Y begins to separate the left and right cable, the two cable twist onto one another. It’s not causing any problems other than a slight cosmetic indentation on the outside jacket where both cables touch each other.

Sound Quality
Bass is tight and accurate. Not over exaggerating nor overpowering the presentation. The last thing I wanted was a boomy sounding headphone. Some people might find it “weak” but to me it’s “just right”. The midrange is more pronounced, vocals /dialogue and guitars are especially sweet sounding. The MS1 have plenty of detail but I would like more emphasis on percussion instruments such as the high hat and crash cymbal for example. I am hoping to squeeze a little more detail out of them. I have read few subjective opinions that switching from the comfies to bowl pads will add more detail to the sound but I am not sure if that is the case or not (snake oil???).

This is my first “real” pair of headphones so I have nothing to compare them to other than stock headphones that came with tape walkmans from the 80’s and portable c.d players. Overall I find the MS1 an excellent sounding headphone that offers an extremely well balanced and neutral presentation. Now I need a headphone stand .



Posted by: JohnK

Re: Headphone recommendations - 04/06/09 10:10 PM

Doc, you can of course get a reasonably accurate idea if you're in a danger zone on sound level by positioning an SPL meter about a half inch from the pad while playing the material at the volume setting in question.

Since Grado supplies the flat pads with the 60/80/125, it would seem that the driver is designed to work best with the attenuation of the pad material over it taken into account. If the "bowl" or "doughnut" pad is used instead, presumably the upper frequencies will become more prominent(good or bad) because of the lack of attenuation without the intervening pad material.