Suggestion: go to www.head-fi.org, or www.headwize.com, and peruse their chat forums.
LOTS of great info, but warning: lots of opinions.
A lot of what you might want is based on several questions, including music preference, need or not for TOTAL quiet (IE, can result in closed ear vs. open ear 'phones), personal sound preferences, etc etc.
See what you can find for reviews and comments, and see how they might jibe or not with your musical views and priorities.
Lots of luck ! It's a GREAT trip IMO.
Todd - chams_uk
I'm with Todd. www.head-fi.org is the place to go for this question, not that I would discourage headphone-talk over here. I've kind of gone off the deep ends with the headphone / headphone amp / replacements cables end of this fine hobby, but it has been a great journey.
All of the above is true. To get your feet wet, you probably can't go wrong with either the Senn HD-600s if you like a little more laid back sound, or a high end Grado if you want a more forward sound. Either one will want a good amp like a Maxed out home or Grado. Or maybe Stax Electrostats if you can handle the freight. As Bill said, you can go overboard here as well. Hi, my name is Michael and I am a headphone-oholic!!! Have fun.
I'd avoid wireless headphones. If you do get a nice pair of wired headphones, you may want to consider getting a dedicated headphone amp. I like the Grado RS1s. I had the Sennheiser HD600s and they were too laid back. I also had the Stax Omega II/SR007t combo and that was breathtaking but that combo may cost more than you're looking for. With the Grados I am using an Emmeline XP7 headphone amp.
I have the Sennheiser HD580's and I love them. Got them from a dealer who advertizes here on Audiogon for $159 [new], which is the best deal I've found. The 600's sound a little bit better, but they are quite a bit more expensive, although the same dealer lists the 600's at $259, which is also the best deal I've seen. I ordered several sets of the 580's and they were shipped promptly, arrived in perfect shape, etc. I gave some of them away as gifts and everyone loves them, can't believe the quality,
etc. I don't use an amplifier and don't really feel the need. I put the bulk
of my money into my main system, so I don't want to get too deep into the headphone thing -- I just want a pair that sound great without much trouble and the 580's fit the bill perfectly. Plugged into my system, a computer, or an ipod, they go plenty loud and -- sound REALLY, REALLY,
REALLY good. IMO, you'll have to spend quite a bit of money to outdo
the 580's. If you are game, though -- listen to the 600's and the more
Senheiser HD 600 or Grado RS-1 with Musical Fidelity V3 Headphone amplifier.
If you go with Sennheiser, the new model, HD650 is a big step up from the HD600 or HD580. I agree that the the step from 580 to 600 is small, but the 650's are truly world class, but now you're looking at $350 and then it would be a shame to not amp them properly with something like an Emmaline XP-7 ($500 headphone amp) or a PPA which is a DIY amp (see jmtaudio.com) for a little less. It's all a matter of whether you want to jump in toe first or head first (no pun intended, actually) and what sorts of applications you'll be using the cans for. Head-fi is the place to go because you will get all sorts of ideas about what you can do with any budget.
Yup, yup - Head-fi is highly recommended for your journey.
One (more) thing to think about up front is desired and/or required separation from the outside world. My son needed headphones @ college that wouldn't bleed too much - early-to-bed roommate and all that. Wound up w/ the HD580s (for much, much less than $159) and he's thrilled. I spent most of a week after the holidays listening to them on & off before he went back to school - and they sure do sound quite OK for inexpensive sound blockers. Oh, and think about ergonomics & fit on/over your ears - for long term use that does make a difference.
>>the HD580s (for much, much less than $159)<<
Stinkfish -- where did you get them? I'm thinking about giving some
more away as gifts. Thanks.
A little while ago I was looking for a headphone set for the bedroom. I borrowed a pair of Sennheiser 600 and an Xcan2 from a local dealer. Not having been much exposed to headphones, I was blown away by the Senn. After a couple of days, though, I got tired of that "too much in my head" sound.
I then tried the Stax Sr-404 with the Srm-006t amp, and found them to be very pleasant to wear and listen to. While they're not dynamic headphones, every sound is reproduced accurately and lively enough to be true to the recordings without that "too much in my head" that made the Senn a little tiresome for me.
I was fortunate enough to find a used set from a dealer in Ny for a very reasonable price. AudioCube from Japan also carries the whole Stax headphone line. I've recently ordered an extension cable from them and the service is recommendable. The Stax are great if you listen to headphones on a regular basis or long sessions. I've also seen them used here on Audiogon, highly recommended.
Great responses all. The Senn 580's may be a budget champ for many a folks' tastes. And it gets even better with aftermarket replacement cords (Cardas, Stefan Audio Arts, Zu, Moon Audio, Clou, Jan Meier, etc etc).
Regarding the "in your head" thing, sometimes crossfeed circuits can help with this. I personally have never heard one, so I can't say for sure how well they work. But some of the DIY's, Headroom's, Meier's, and more have this standard or as an option. But this is a good overall point: you give up certain speaker/room type of sound, but gain some detail and purity (IMO) with headphone listening in general.
Classicjazz: I also have an XP-7. I use it in my bedroom with closed phones (Sony CD-3000's or AT A900's) so as not to bother the better half. Wmcmanus: $500 is the cost of the unit battery-powered; the AC power supply adds another $200.
I also give a vote for the Senn 650; I use it (and a soon-to-come AKG K-1000) with an Audio-Valve RKV Mk II in the "main" system.
Dang, I love this stuff ! :-)
HD 580 are great headphones,the HD 600 has more open top end but dollar for dollar the HD580 is unbeatable..