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Twill's picture
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Headphone Newby

I'm thinking of plunging in to the headphone pool. Increasingly I can't listen to my hi-fi as I'd like because the best time for enjoying music is after my little one has gone to bed. The thing is, I know nothing about headphones, and particularly what type I need and where the value in the market is.

I know I like B&W speakers, but I wonder how much of the price of their p3's is style and Apple-bating, and how much is channeled in to the out and out sound. Plus which, do I lose massively on sound quality by going for a portable option like the p3's. Would I get the same sound quality from a much cheaper pair of 'home only' behemoth cans from Grado or similar?

Portability would be nice, and I'd pay a bit extra for it, but most of my listening is likely to be at home, so I wouldn't want portability if it cost me heavily in sound quality.

Grado seem like a good option for pure home use, but then how leaky are those open backs? Everything you read says they make a hell of a lot of noise.

Thoughts welcome. Definitely a newby in this area. I'm sure there's a sweet spot in the headphone market though, like every other, where price and performance meet. As it's my first delve in to cans, I won't be looking to go too crazy on price, tending more toward the lower or lower/mid range.

Trefor Patten's picture
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RE: Headphone Newby

What is apple-bating? Anything like apple-bobbing???

Anyhoo. Draw up a short list from reviews and then have a listen at a dealership. Sennheiser, AKG, Klipsch make great phones, which is best is down to personal taste. If I had lottery winner cash, I would rush out and buy Sennheiser's HD800 with a matching dedicated amp immediately. As things are, I 'make do' with AKG 451s - absolutely fantastic for the money. BTW a friend has the P3s and when I listened to them I thought they were magnificent, but the AKGs were almost as good for considerably less moolah. Others may not agree.

Twill's picture
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RE: Headphone Newby

A fair point. I was going for a pithy phrase that would describe how Apple, and many Apple friendly companies, make fantastic products that are undoubtidly at or near top of the class, but which also tend to bang an extra few £'s on the price for no apparent reason. I wonder if B&W are moving in to this market. I mean, I'm sure the A7 is fantastic sounding, but is £700 for an Airplay speaker that does little else and is a 1-box solution ever really acceptable?

Apple-bating was my effort to capture this tendancy by suggesting companies that bate their consumers, or 'hook' them if you prefer. It didn't really wor,.

anyway, don't want to sideline my own thread. I will look again at the AKG 451s. I must admit to having done a double take when I read their review and then saw the price.

No substitute for listening as you suggest.

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RE: Headphone Newby

The best to max out value the full size SoundMAGICs are pretty stunning. The closed HP100 is pretty neutral, the bass is deep and very smooth but isn't that in your face (feels about right). The open back (which doesn't leak too much) HP200 is warmer in general but has an even more sparkly high end. Both are very good on high frequencies which is where B&Ws fall down a bit for me.

Portable wise the Sennheiser Momentum is pretty lovely, but doesn't fold down at all and has a slightly bloated upper bass (still miles better than any other portable set I've heard and when you're out and about that bass punch comes in handy. Most of the low end grados might be called 'Over-ear', but they are not that big and quite a few people (including myself) find them very painful after a short time because the extremely hard foam presses your ears into your head unless your ears are tiny. I quite like Grado sound, but to be fair it's all about strong mids and once you realise the bass is a tad on the unrefined side it can get kinda grating, unless we're talking about the PS-500 / PS-1000

If you want to stick to larger sized headphones then my best recommendations are: The two SoundMAGICs (mentioned above), Sennheiser HD600/HD650, Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro Limited Edition, German MAESTRO GMP 8.35D, Hifiman HE-400

Those range from £170-400, what is your budget btw?

 

Twill's picture
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RE: Headphone Newby

I guess the budget would be up to £150 approx'. Although I haven't had even a modestly good pair of cans before, so I'll be looking to spend as little as possible initially. If they work for me as a way of listening to music, and the idea takes off, I may invest more later, but as I'm not sure yet how much use I'll get out of them, I'll probably go for the double value end as a 'toe in the water' exercise.

This is why the AKG K451s look good. A formerly £100+ pair for £50ish.

Anonymous
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RE: Headphone Newby

I love the AKG K451s. Down side is recessed treble but you can EQ that up anyway. Bargain. There are currently some open box ones on eBay for £45 delivered. Smile

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