Headphone Snobbery

The new AKG 701’s which were $450 when they were first introduced a year or so ago, are now below $300 and up the anti beyond anything else available at the moment. They are incredibly comfortable as well.

The Total Bithead is an absolute must to drive these.

Google search the 701’s. They are the current state of the art.

I have been using the Razer Barracuda headphones/soundcard combo.
It’s awesome. When I first got them, I was playing around and found that if I turn them up about 3/4 of the way you don’t even need to wear them to hear them. I’ve had people in the next room tell me to turn them down while I was watching a movie.


I just came across this page through your internal linkage and as a regular reader (which in itself should tell you something) and fellow enthusiast as far as computers, programming and headphones go, I feel almost obligated to express, for the very first time, that your (guessing its yours) claim #3 at the start of this article is way, way off mark. It just so happens I’m also (and probably foremost) a hi-end enthusiast and to draw any parallel whatsoever between any headphones and a pair of high-end floor standing speakers (paired with adequate amp of course) is pure nonsense.

While certainly, good headset will give great and realistic sound, they will never, ever come anywhere close to delivering a listening experience you get with good speakers because it is physically impossible, and should therefore never be expected either. Headphones will only be able to deliver so much to the ears, while good speakers will also provide, quite literally, some good vibrations to the entire body to go with whatever ears are receiving.

That is much the same as saying good speakers will make you feel you’re right there in the crowd when listening to a live record recorded in a big venue. That might be a commonly used phrase, but it is of course total rubbish.

Just so it is mentioned as background info, I own BW 804S floor standing speakers (~$5000) and Sennheiser HD 595 (~$300) headphones.

Save a lot of money, and get better sounding headphones. Don’t go to the high end consumer store. Go to the professional audio store, and buy what the pros do. They are better sounding and more durable.

Personally, I like the Sony MDR-7506 for about $100.

My headphones are the 30 year old Beyer Dynamic DT440s. The foam ear pads disintegrate with time. I have replaced them twice and I need to do this again soon (they are still available direct from Beyer UK). The headphone cable also started to give trouble with an intermittent connection and frequent crackling, and when I opened them up to investigate I noticed that the foam ballast around the transducers was disintegrating into grey powder.

I did consider sending them to Beyer UK to be reconditioned, or just ordering a replacement cable (also still available direct). I was seriously tempted by the offer of part-exchanging them for the latest version of the DT440 at 50% discount (direct from Beyer) but decided that with this as a fall back option I could do no harm in attempting a repair myself.

The decayed ballast was replaced with some (probably stiffer) foam I happened to have to hand, roughly cut to fit. I couldn’t find a similarly sized twin screened cable to match the original in my local electronics store so instead I went for a round quad core cable with overall screening and paired up two conductors for each channel.

I was staggered by the improvement that I had effected for less than 5. Whereas before there was a background hiss in addition to the crackling that occurred when the cable was moved, now there was silence, except for the music which came through with a clarity long since forgotten. I guess they must have sounded this good 30 years ago, but I really can’t remember!

Although I am sure there are much better headphones available now, mine were highly rated when I bought them and they still sound good today. So, before junking a pair of tired old cans I’d definitely recommend doing what I did. You may be surprised!

I don’t have any personal experience with Bose noise canceling headphones, but my impression of that Bose has a reputation of being overpriced for their actual quality.

In terms of active noise canceling, I think companies like Sennheiser www.sennheiser.com and David Clark www.davidclark.com make professional aviation (classic high noise environment) noise canceling headphones, so might be a better bet.

I have two Sennheiser HD 570s that I bought about five years ago (refurbished, about $60 ea). Very nice phones and VERY comforable. I frequently wear these all day and barely even notice they’re there.

Has anyone had any experience or comments on the various BOSE noise canceling headphones. I know most everything from BOSE is pricey but are they worth it?

Hello melomens

Closed headphone due to social conflicts (open space), beyerDynamics DT660.
I ordered 1 USB DAC/AMP on ebay (HA-INFO NG27).
I set a bs2b alsa plugin.

The budget is not too heavy and the quality is good.

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An amplifier is only really needed if you have high impedance headphones like the Sennheiser above. Most sound cards aren’t powerful enough to drive such headphones by themselves.

For regular low impedance headphones it’s not necessary to get an amplifier.

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an amp is definitely necessary with high impedance headphones, the difference is astronomical!

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I have 3 good, inexpensive recommendations:

  1. I have a pair of Sony MDR-7506 headphones I bought in 1994. They are sill made, and are great. I paid $170, now they are about $100. Downside: Replaceable ear pads only last 5-10 years.

  2. Etymotic MC-5. About $50-80. Great noise isolating in ear. Downside: They take a little time to get used to the fit. They go in deep. I call them my brain pokers.

  3. Bravo Audio V2. This is a class A amplifier with a tube preamp section.Downside: Since it is class A, sound is great, but it runs hot. Be careful where you touch.

If you care about sound quality, stay away from noise cancelling and go with noise isolating. Because of how they work, they must mix the sound you want with the cancelling signal, then use their own amplifiers. This means that you are limited by the amplifiers that fir inside the headphones and need to be built to conserve little batteries that also fit in the headphones.

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be great to see an update on this. eg. anybody use Radio Shack’s - Nick Cannons NCredible1 (no joke I hear they’re good even from Radio Shit.)

Beats are worthless plastic crap.

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Anybody has some good information about long term effects of wearing headphones on daily basis for 9 hours? What about ventilation (especially with plugs), could this result into some problems?

Well, I decided to try the Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 based on wirecutter’s rec.

I figured why not, it’s been a while, plus I don’t have any high end closed back headphones… this model actually comes in both closed and open configs which is cool.

and @otoc I found this on healthy long term use of headphones… the TL;DR seems to be, just don’t listen at super loud volumes? Which seems like common sense to me. I have sensitive ears and I get ringing in my ears from any exposure to really loud sounds at multi hour long concerts, etc.

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