Yet another headphone thread

So I looked into all of those and they appear to all be over the ear headphones. I will try some out, but I'm tempted, in the meantime, to either track down the MDR v150s or just cave and buy the Beats Solo.

Of the headphones mentioned, I think only the Senn HD600s really benefit from a separate headphone amp. Note that you don't need to spend a lot of money... one of the little $25 self-built Altoids tin amps are fine. There's a lot of audiophile nonsense about amplifiers. Anything competent (that is, non-hissy, and with enough power for your needs) is fine. The only REAL difference is whether to choose tube or solid state (at the low end), because they have a slightly different sound. High-end transistor amps can sound exactly like tubes, but those cost a LOT of money. Might as well just do a tube amp.

I <3 Tubes.

Just sayin.

Malor wrote:

Of the headphones mentioned, I think only the Senn HD600s really benefit from a separate headphone amp. Note that you don't need to spend a lot of money... one of the little $25 self-built Altoids tin amps are fine. There's a lot of audiophile nonsense about amplifiers. Anything competent (that is, non-hissy, and with enough power for your needs) is fine. The only REAL difference is whether to choose tube or solid state (at the low end), because they have a slightly different sound. High-end transistor amps can sound exactly like tubes, but those cost a LOT of money. Might as well just do a tube amp.

Funny you should mention that... I was just coming in here to mention I was about build a CMoy Pocket Amp. When I get done I'll run it through a frequency response and THD test at work and see what we find.

DSGamer wrote:

So I looked into all of those and they appear to all be over the ear headphones. I will try some out, but I'm tempted, in the meantime, to either track down the MDR v150s or just cave and buy the Beats Solo.

The Grados are on ear just like the MDR v150s. They are a bit more bulky, though. I never felt that the HD 428s that I used to have were more bulky than the MDR v150s. They are lighter and don't pinch your ears. You barely notice that they're on, especially compared to the MDR v150s. Is there a specific reason you don't want to go the over the ear route? Not all of them are that bulky.

Sennheiser makes some on ear portable headphones, but I don't think anyone here has tried them. They should give you much better bang for your buck than the Beats solo. The PX-100-II might be worth looking into since they are about 60 bucks. I guess they are open, though, and would leak sound to the outside world a bit.

Yeah, the Grados are on ear, but they're also waaaaaay uncomfortable.

Look into the 428's first if you're dead set on the on-ear type for whatever reason.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

The PX-100-II might be worth looking into since they are about 60 bucks. I guess they are open, though, and would leak sound to the outside world a bit.

I have the original PX-100's somewhere. They sound great, are super portable and lightweight, but the on-ear pads are kind of thin and they always eventually started to hurt my ears after about an hour.

Thin_J wrote:

I have the original PX-100's somewhere. They sound great, are super portable and lightweight, but the on-ear pads are kind of thin and they always eventually started to hurt my ears after about an hour.

That's good to know.

Oh, I should also mention that I have long experience with the HD600s; you can wear them all day in complete comfort, at least assuming you have a fairly normal head. I actually have quite a large head, and find them perfect in just about all respects, but I know heavyfeul had issues with them being too small and clamping too hard.

They're open, meaning the sound leaks out, but it's not audible at reasonable volume levels past a foot or two away.

My HD650s were a bit snug, but I'm hyper-sensitive to that. It's easily adjusted though as the expansion bands are strips of metal so you can gently relax the fit. The ear pads are super comfy velour though.

On the open design, it's funny. My family, or at least my kids, still don't get it. They grew so used to yelling at me when I was wearing my 280s that they still do with my 650s. They always look confused when I just softly say, "I can hear you fine" rather than respond with headphone voice.

So, is a question about wireless headphones anathema? I'm looking to pick up a pair so as not to drive my wife away when I'm playing Xenoblade Chronicles in the living room while she's knitting. A set of wireless headphones is one solution I've been batting around, and I'm wondering if there is a pair that isn't complete garbage.

We got my mother in law a set of these for christmas:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...
and she seems to love them, but then again she doesn't really give a sh*t as long as sound comes out.

I'm not under the illusion that a wireless set will hold up the quality of what you guys are talking about upthread, but it might be kind of nice if they don't sound like total crap, if that's possible.

Any suggestions?

For video games I really like my Turtle Beach X41's. That won't win any audiophile awards but they do a good job at what they are made for.

I believe Kleer tech is supposed to be one of the best as it can stream uncompressed CD quality audio and has less interference issues. I believe the Sennheiser RS160, RS170, RS180 use that tech. Sennheiser has a newer tech they are using in the RS220. They are very expensive.

I haven't tried any of it because I don't need it, and it's not worth the trade-offs to me.

Those old Sennheiser wireless headsets are crap. They sound horrible. I had a pair and disliked them immensely. The newer stuff may be better (but pricey).

So far, Astro has the best wireless implementation I have heard for gaming. I have not tried the new Turtle Beach stuff, but they do not have the same focus as Astro. Astro makes a simple quality product. TB loves to shoehorn in useless features.

I would get a wireless Mixamp from Astro. I love mine. The biggest drawback is that it is very picky about mics (maybe a voltage issue?). My current Zalman clip-on works great though.

The old conventional wisdom is that RF wireless headphones will always sound like crap. The IR line-of-sight models will sound better but look funny. The Goodcans breakdown on wireless tech might be worth your while. They are positive on the Kleer technology and happy that Sennheiser's new models use this.

http://www.goodcans.com/#wireless

Oso wrote:

The old conventional wisdom is that RF wireless headphones will always sound like crap. The IR line-of-sight models will sound better but look funny. The Goodcans breakdown on wireless tech might be worth your while. They are positive on the Kleer technology and happy that Sennheiser's new models use this.

http://www.goodcans.com/#wireless

The X41s did kind of have sound issues. Background hiss, mainly. But I'll agree with Jeff that the Wireless Astro amp does pretty good for games. Pretty clean, although I do think I might have had it clip with movie audio before. But only in really loud spots.

The problem with most of the wireless headsets is that they're compressing the audio in the base station before sending it to the cans, so you get all the accumulated errors of its own compression, plus whatever compression was used in what you're listening to. This usually sounds like sh*t. If you can find a set of wireless headphones that ARE NOT BLUETOOTH (because Bluetooth mangles audio quality by using ATRAC compression), and only do lossless compression on their signal, then there's no reason why they couldn't sound as good as any wired headphone.

I don't know if any have actually been made, but such a thing is physically possible.

Malor wrote:

The problem with most of the wireless headsets is that they're compressing the audio in the base station before sending it to the cans, so you get all the accumulated errors of its own compression, plus whatever compression was used in what you're listening to. This usually sounds like sh*t. If you can find a set of wireless headphones that ARE NOT BLUETOOTH (because Bluetooth mangles audio quality by using ATRAC compression), and only do lossless compression on their signal, then there's no reason why they couldn't sound as good as any wired headphone.

I don't know if any have actually been made, but such a thing is physically possible.

I don't know how much compression the Astro setup does, but it uses the 5.8Ghz spectrum so that it's out of the busy 2.4Ghz band, and it's not bluetooth.

Thanks for the insight, guys. I will proceed with caution.

ATRAC compression is not necessarily a bad thing, but I doubt they use a very high sample rate on wireless implementations.

They don't, plus the fact that it's different compression than anyone else uses means that it damages already-compressed sound, like MP3s, more than basically anything else they could have chosen.

FYI: The KLEER technology that Sennheiser has recently started using sends CD-quality uncompressed signals.

People really seem to like them. I personally want a little more convincing, but it does look like KLEER is a technological step forward.

Sending the bits digitally, and converting them in the headphones, is no different than using, say, a USB DAC driving headphones. The DAC and headphone amp are (probably) on your head instead of on your desk, but it's the same thing. That could potentially offer extremely high-end sound.

I think they probably should have used FLAC, rather than sending them completely uncompressed... I suspect they're saying 'uncompressed' as a marketing bullet point, rather than out of true necessity. Lossless compression is, well, lossless. It does, however, add a touch of latency, so I suppose that might be what they were trying to avoid.

Oh, I just remembered, I've got a brand new pair of Ultimate Ears UE700's if anyone is interested in getting a pair for cheap.

My original pair went wonky and Logitech sent me a replacement under warranty... they sound great and are about as portable as dual driver IEMs go, problem is that I've pretty much decided that I'm done with IEMs for good.

I'm going to be doing a bunch of flying over the next few months, so what do people recommend for noise-cancelling headphones these days? Headphones that rest on your ears tend to hurt after a while, as I have a big head, and they're almost always too tight. I also have big ears, so headphones that claim to be around-the-ear (circumaural?) often aren't. I'm not looking for super-high fidelity. I'm mostly interested in durability and comfort.

Given those requirements, how do you feel about IEMs with a strong seal?

I'm not aware of full sized cans w/ active noise cancelling mojo other than something expensive like the Denon AH-NC800.

Since both the cables on my Sennheiser HD 428s and some Ultimate Ear IEMs went out a month ago, I've had to use the iPhone earbuds. I'm sick of them, so I ordered some Sennheiser HD 439s because they have a removable cord. They should be as good or better than the HD 428s in the sound/comfort department. Reviews are a bit scarce, so I don't know for sure. I like the fact that they have velour-ish earpads instead of the fake leathery stuff.

That removable cord is going to be a lifesaver. Even with using a little 3 inch adapter my cords still went out. I'll post some thoughts whenever I end up getting them.

FWIW, I just caved and bought the Beats by Dre Solos. They're comfortable and that's the #1 criteria. They sound good enough. I hate the price, but nothing I'd tried until then was as comfortable.

I would check out the Skullcandy Aviators. I thought they sounded fantastic. They sounded better to my ears, anyway, than the Beats and the Klipsch Image One. I took them all for a test spin against my HD428's and the Aviators were my favorite of the bunch and quite comfortable. They are certainly lighter than the Solos, are circumaural and, if I remember correctly, they had less clamping force than the beats.

On another note...I have had the chance to spend some quality time with the Razor Carcharias PC headset and the Tritton Detonator headset for the 360, so I will probably be posting some detailed thoughts on those soon. The Detonators are going directly back to the store, but I will probably hold on to the Carcharias for a while, as they are a good PC headset.

Just when I was going to purchase the 5.8 Mixamp, Astro is now only bundling it with the A40's.

If anyone has a 5.8 Mixamp that they are looking to sell, I'd be interested.

Scott128 wrote:

Just when I was going to purchase the 5.8 Mixamp, Astro is now only bundling it with the A40's.

If anyone has a 5.8 Mixamp that they are looking to sell, I'd be interested.

Wow, that's dirty/unfortunate. I've had the 5.8 for over a year now and I get saddened when I'm unable to use it. Good luck to you, it's a great device.