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General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Mon 14th Jan '08 6:47PM
4213 Posts
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7th Apr '03
I have just ordered some rather extravagant Sennheiser HD600 open backed headphones from play.com (Expect a review soon).
Before you condemn me too much for spending 140 on headphones, I was intending to get some 595 or 555, but play have been sold out of them for the past month and as they sell Sennheiser for half the price of everywhere else I decided go up a model rather than pay an inflated price for 595s elsewhere (Of course I could have waited another month, but where is the fun in that).
Naturally being the obsessive maven that I am I had to do vast amounts of reasearch before committing to the pair that I was going to buy and this put me into the whacky world of the "Audiophile".
High end headphones are something that I haven't really delved into before, but it came as no surprise to see quite how much nonsense that people will talk.
On AVforums and headphone.com it's quite common for people to recommend that you buy a pair of 60 headphones and couple it with a 500 headphone amplifier. In fact it is quite common to see people recommending 2.5K valve headphone amps or portable headphone amps for iPods.
None of this is a surprise after all some audiophiles claims are so ludicrous that James Randi has started calling people out via his million dollar challenge . Where it is a real pain in the arse is when you actually try and get some useful advice on Hi-Fi which despite the ludicrous numbers of magazines and forums on the subject proves virtually impossible. Much of the available information seems to be written with the intrinsic belief that if you can't hear a difference then you must be some kind of philistine.
The only thing I have been able to glean with any authority (Other than that fact that as I suspected Sennheiser are the defacto standard for high end cans) is that many integrated amp manufacturers stick crappy components into the headphone sections of their amps to keep costs down on the basis that people don't audition them when they go to buy an amp. This may well be true, but luckily I have a good quality firewire audio interface attached to my PC which I can use to compare and contrast to my NAD amp in the lounge before I consider a separate headphone amp.
A review written by a sound engineer from Sound on Sound convinced me that the HD600s were a good choice for me, but I would love to find a place where I can be sure of finding decent information about Hi-Fi without all the nonsense.
    

Epicure_mammon
I'm not crazy cause I take the RIGHT pills :)
Tue 15th Jan '08 8:57AM
140 Posts
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Member Since
12th Dec '06
I couldn't agree more. I've been looking for a set of decent HiFi speakers for a while now. Whilst the sound is obviously the most important aspect I also want them to look good so I'm not embarrassed by two huge monstrosities either side of my telly. I was quite surprised at how much people are prepared to spend on speakers which are, frankly, shoddy - and how much more they're prepared to spend on speakers which whilst not shoddy are so overspec'ed for a domestic Hifi system.

I've given up and am going the self build route - mostly cause it sounds like a fun thing to do, I'm not yet delusional enough to think its going to save me money. Now I need to remember how to solve partial differential equations so that I can model the Transmission line design I'm considering!

When your headphones arrive I'd love to read a mini review. Would be interesting to see what you think.
  

Emo Squid
sanctus, sanctus, sanctus
Tue 15th Jan '08 10:56AM
624 Posts
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23rd Feb '07


Epicure_mammon was bold enough to comment:
I've been looking for a set of decent HiFi speakers for a while now.



Yours for 35k a pair(!):

http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/display.aspx?infid=1729&sc=hf

Unfortunately, you can expect to pay double that for amplifiers that would do them justice. My old boss had some in his listening room; hooked up to a rather fancy turntable. Dark Side of the Moon pumping through those beasts sounded like nothing I've heard before or since. Although, I recently had the oppertunity to hear a string quartet recorded through an anologue Neve desk, using vintage Neumann mics/Telefunken preamps and monitored through Dynaudio's flagship studio monitors. That was pretty special!
If you're interested in cutting-edge loudspeaker technology, check out L' Acoustics website - pioneers of the cylindrical wavefront line-array systems that only lose 3dB per doubling of distance.
I'd also be keen to read your review, as after ten years of dedication to Sennheiser, I've switched to Bayer DT250's for my recording work and never looked back. They are infinitely less tiring on the ears.

Valve amplifiers for iPods?? I find the idea of listening to MP3s etc on high-end gear hilarious!

EDIT: Whole-heartedly agree with you comments about the magazines/forums, General.

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Tue 15th Jan '08 2:38PM
4213 Posts
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Member Since
7th Apr '03
MMmmmmmmm

I love B&W.
I know a chap who has some 800's which have the same innards as the Nautilus.
I have to make do with some lowly 601 book shelves at the moment though I aspire to some floor standers when I have the space.

Epicure if you want to make some decent speakers these guys do some interesting kits

https://secure.wilmslow-audio.co.uk/catalog

My bruv in law is currently doing a home made sub project which is quite interesting:

http://www.btinternet.com/~richard.d.miles/DS12s/DS12s.html

Squid: Interesting you should mention the DT250s. I'm going be borrowing some DT150s from a mate which I will probably use for comparing and contrasting when I do a review.

My choices have been a little bit coloured by the fact that I want to use the headphones for audio, cinema and gaming as well as mixing the music I do at home, so I didn't want to go for anything too overtly "exciting" and flattering, but at the same time I didn't want anything that was so revealing that it tired me out after half an hour.

I have a set of Shure canalphones for portable use and they are pretty darn good.
iRivers used to have SPDIF outputs which you could use with a battery powered DAC to get some pretty good audio on the move, but with the amount of background noise you have to deal with in an urban environment I don't think it is worth spending the money on the fidelity of your source.
    

Emo Squid
sanctus, sanctus, sanctus
Tue 15th Jan '08 4:06PM
624 Posts
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Member Since
23rd Feb '07


General was bold enough to comment:

I have to make do with some lowly 601 book shelves...



Personally, for the money, I don't think you can beat them. I used to have some quite old B&Ws and they were lovely. I used them until the cones literally disintegrated!
These days, I spend so much time making things sound nice that I have no choice but to make my hi-fi needs a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. You certainly wont catch me spending 13k on 'interconnects' as Nautilus man did! Directional cables indeed... pah!

Desert Creature
Boof boof, sproing!
Wed 16th Jan '08 12:17AM
101 Posts
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Member Since
9th Oct '07
I'm very happy with my Senn HD570s, a little bass light maybe but crystal clear and the most comfortable headphones I've ever worn. They are an open back design so not really usefull for recording purposes though.

For mobile music listenning I've always used the sort of in-ear phones which are kind of in-ear but have a band over the head. I'd like to be able to use ear canal (clasic in-ear type, Sony Phontopia) headphones but I find that they point backwards in my ear and I have to physically point and shove them down my external acoustic meatus (thank you wikipedia) to get any sort of tone at all.

I think earbuds would solve my problem but no one is going to let me audition them on hygene grounds. Are any TDDO peeps using earbuds? If so, what do you think? Sony or Apple seem the most obvious high street brands to go for but there's the more muso option of Sure.
  

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Wed 16th Jan '08 12:43AM
4213 Posts
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Member Since
7th Apr '03
I use Shure E3C canalphones and I love them. You can get about 5 different kinds of bud types for them including triple flanged and foam so you should be able to find something that suits and they sound great.

I borrowed some 570's when I was considering what to buy and they were one of the things that made my mind up.
    

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Wed 16th Jan '08 1:50PM
4213 Posts
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Member Since
7th Apr '03
Just got my HD600s.

Had a first listen to some music from my laptop which made me aware of how crap the noise floor is, but now I'm having a go on a colleagues iPod and I must say I'm impressed though you do need to wind it right up to get any level out of them.

Full review when I get home.
    

Malcolm*
My ape goosed a Bishop. Who are you?
Wed 6th Feb '08 11:37AM
1673 Posts
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3rd Jun '03
I've just (today) received my Shure canalphones. In fact, based on General's review I went looking for the E3Cs but they appear to be discontinued so I was directed towards the SE210 instead.

After a huge amount of fiddling and experimenting - crikey, that was annoying - I think I've managed to get them to fit properly. (The squashy foam ends were the only ones that worked.) So I tried them when out walking, to sample their noise-reduction wonders, and it was awful. I can only liken the effect to that of wearing an enormous stethoscope. Because they work by blocking your ears up to stop sound getting in, the effect was just like when you have ears full of water or something - every time my foot hit the pavement it was amplified into an enormous pounding sound, and the noise of the cable brushing against my coat was magnified into a very loud scratching and rustling. Perhaps they did succeed in blocking out other noise, but the amount of noise they introduced in this way was far, far worse.

So I fall on your mercy, you types who have tried these things and got them to work - what's the answer? Is it really true that the only way they're anything approaching useable is if you sit still in one place and make sure nothing moves in your vicinity?

Please, someone tell me I haven't just wasted a load of money...
   

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Wed 6th Feb '08 1:14PM
4213 Posts
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Member Since
7th Apr '03
A terrible plight to be sure Mr Malcolm however I may be able to be of some assistance.

I currently have EC3s which don't seem to cause to much of a problem, but the Sonys which I had beforehand were terrible for this.

It's generally referred to as cable handling noise and you find some manufacturers quote it on their headphone specs.

Personally I use triple flanged plugs or small soft silicone, so I can't vouch for the foam ones at all as I don't really like them.

There are two things you can do to reduce the handling noise.
The first thing is to realise that the cable of the headphones is acting like a guitar string with one end anchored to your lug holes so make sure that you keep the cable relatively slack. If you tuck all the spare cable into your pocket so the cable is taut then it will transmit a lot of sound.

The second thing is that you have to wear ear canal phones in a different way to ear buds. Run the cable up the back of your ear and over the top so the cables are pointing upwards out of the phones. Firstly this should make it a bit easier if you want to get the silicone sleeves in (you get used to them after a couple of days) and secondly your ears act as a shock absorber for all that nasty cable noise. You may think they look a bit stupid like this but the isolation is much better.
    

Malcolm*
My ape goosed a Bishop. Who are you?
Thu 7th Feb '08 12:14PM
1673 Posts
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3rd Jun '03
Thanks General - that does indeed seem to have improved things a fair bit. I would now go so far as to recommend the SE210s as a good buy. I still get the loud low-pitched boom of every footstep vibrating through my body, but I suspect you can probably get used to that & learn to ignore it.

I'd like to use the silicone bits as they'd be much less fiddly than the squashy foam ones, but can't get them to work properly at all - the best sound I can achieve sounds something like a Victorian wax cylinder being played through a walkie talkie and over a telephone. Any tips there?
   

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Fri 22nd Feb '08 12:32PM
4213 Posts
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7th Apr '03
If anyone else is interested in canal phones then CNET have a roundup: http://reviews.cnet.co.uk/accessories/0,39100116,49295684,00.htm
    

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