Get yourself a Creek OBH-11 Headphone amp and Sennheiser 600's. You wouldn't be happier, unless you got a 45 based tube amp to drive them instead, but that's almost overkill. Cheers!
18 responses Add your response
I live in an apartment with thin walls so I am not able to listen to my main system late at night without incurring the wrath of my neighbors. Over the past few months, I have experimented with a number of headphones, starting with the Grado SR-325. The Grado's were eye-opening and led me to upgrade my then-cheap main system to compete. However, they are outclassed by the Sennheiser 600's I later purchased. The Senns have a very nice balanced sound suitable for all types of music--though the Grados do rock well (bass).
I prefer, however, my Stax Signature electrostatic headphones. They have much better bass than the Stax Professionals and a wonderfully smooth sound. Competitive with my new main system. Of course, these are substantially more expensive even used. I haven't heard the most recent Stax models so can't comment on them.
I originally just plugged the Grados and Sennheisers into the headphone jack on my computer's DVD-ROM drive. In comparison with my CDP, the sound quality is relatively poor. The out on my sound card was similar but added a lot of static. I don't think that if this were the only source you intended to use that it would justify expensive headphones.
Best of luck. --Scott
I can't say I've demoed loads of headphones, but Im super happy with my Sennheiser 600, and from what I've heard, they are really hard to beat at the price. I use them with Musical Fidelity xCans V2 - a nice upgrade. Also, it looks like someone is frequently selling new 600s on this site for $249 which is a bargain. Good luck.
The Sennheiser 600 is a great value, comparable in sound quality to the two wood-bodied Grados (can't recall their model numbers), at a slight sacrifice in build quality, for a significant reduction (percentage-wise) in cost. If you aren't also buying a headphone amp, you aren't doing these units justice.
An alternative at least worth looking into (if it is still in production) is the Koss electrostatic (ESP950, if memory serves), which comes with its own power unit. Sound quality is in the same league as the above, with the usual electrostatic pluses and minuses (surprising air for a pair of headphones, but a coolish bias). Not the same build quality as the 600 or the Grados, but a lifetime warranty (which Koss just cheerfully honored for me MANY years after purchase).
Well it depends on your budget and musical tastes. As several have ststed the Sennheiser 600 is a good phone, especially for classical and Jazz. The 580 are significantly cheaper and give you probably 80-90% of the 600's. Both of the Senn's sound much better with a dedicated headphone amp. many people like to mate it with tube electronics such as the MF xCan'x v.2 and ASL MG Head DT.
Grado Labs phones are very good especially for rock music. The 225 and 325 models are very good at a comparable price-point to the Senns. All Grado's are low impedance phones so can be driven without a HP amp, but do sound better with them. Some consider the 225 and especially 325 to be bright phones.The wooden Grado's, the RS-1 and RS-2 have a more mellow less strident top end.
You may also want to check out Alessandro Musucal products. They sell a line of the Grad's that have been modified for professional use. They tend to provide a little more detail without increased harshness. Their MS model I is similar to the Grado 80/125, MS model II to the Grado 325 and their MS Pro is a Grado RS-1. I actually own all of the Alessandro phones and so can attest to their musicality.
You can see the Alessandro products at: http://www.alessandro-products.com/main.html
Another set of phones that are a very good bargain are the Sony V6/7506 model. These are very common as monitoring phones and provide a very detailed presentation and are relatively inexpensive. They also fold up nicely, are built like a tank and also present a low impedance load. Thus they are quite nice for portable use.
Lastly you should go to:
and ask your question there. It is full of a group of the most knowledgeable headphone geeks on the planet. Happy listening.
I agree with Scott that you need to check the quality of the headphone driver on your PC before buying expensive headphones. I have (lowly) Sennheiser HD535s and they sound COMPLETELY different on my PC, my portable CD and direct from the headphone jack on my Marantz CD67SE. The Cd67 sound is leagues above the portable CDP, which in turn is a more modest step up from the PC.
The headphones may not be the weakest link ... you may do better buying a new source (even a standalone CDP with a variable volume headphone jack like my Marantz).
Well, here's the thing:
Right now my choices are down to Sennheiser 580 or 600. From what I"ve heard the 580s are practically the exact same as the hd-600s except the hd 600 are made of slightly better material instead of plastic. Is this worth the extra moola?
Also I listen to mainly classical/jazz + a little bit of rock every now and then. hehe. ;) Right now I"m looking into a headphone amp.......and looking to do a bit more research.
Would htere be anything that could compete on the Sennheiser 600 level besides electrostatic? Thanks for the advice guys!
Well I just got a pair of the 600s and a headroom home amp. the dealer selling the 600s here on Agon will do you right. And the sound is awesome! After telling me she can't here any differences in any of my new gear, she listened for about 10 seconds, started bopping around and after one song, took them off and said- "you gotta show me how to run these babies, they are awesone" and they are, right out of the box. Comfortable, detailed and musical, and the headroom home processing circuit gets rid of the music in between the ears problem with most phones.
I owe both the Sennheiser 600 and the Sennheiser HEV 70/60 (amplifier and headphones). The 600 is fantastic and a good option if you have a headphones output on your amplifier. However, most high end amplifier do not have such an output and a additional amplifier is required for the headphones. In that case the much more expensive HEV 70/60 combi is probably the best solution available (not to mention the Sennheiser Orpheus). The resolution of these headphones is incredible. The system offers extremely natural, transparent, distortion-free and balanced music reproduction for audiophile listening. Unfortunately this model is not available any more since the beginning of this year. There is a new wireless model, the IS 850. The frequency response is unfortunately only one third of the HEV 70/60.
I just purchased a set of Stax Omega's. The holy grail of headphones, no doubt. The price, here in the U.S. is insane ($6k) - but buying from Japan takes it down by more than 50%! I haven't listened to my, quite nice but not insane, stereo in weeks. I recently picked up a PS Audio Power Plant, to drive the Arcam 23 and the Stax amp.. god, help me.
The place to go for Stax in Japan is EIFL:
You'll literally save 50%, I kid you not. Koji, the owner is as upfront and honest as any I have dealt with. I recommend EIFL thoroughly, and have nothing whatsoever to gain by saying this..
So, if you've always wanted some great Stax headphones.. do it.. You can pick up the Signature system for probably $1000.. or the Omegas about triple that..
Check out www.headphone.com, they are the designers and builders of a very good line of headphone amps. I have their Cosmic, which I use with Senn 600's when traveling. When home, I have their Base Station 1, which is a seperate power source for the Cosmic (not a wall wart). That combination, is the best I have heard (can't comment on the electrostats, I have not heard them).
They also sell and rate many lines of headphones including Senn's, Grado, Stax, etc. The staff are also easy to talk to, very helpfull.
Try Sennheiser m@h80 headphones if you are buying them to listen to MP3s from a laptop computer, or even from a desktop PC. Sennheiser designed these specifically for listening with computers. They are lightweight, comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, efficient enough to provide a decent sound level without having to use a headphone amp, provide much better sound than Walkman-type headphones, but are still reasonably priced. They are not intended to compete with the sound quality of audiophile headphones such as the Sennheiser 600s, but they are better suited to use with computers, provide excellent sound for the price, and you don't have to worry about them too much if you're carrying them around with a laptop. I bought my son, who is a college student, a pair to go with his laptop, and he likes them a great deal. I think that J&R Music World carries them.