Headphone Upgrade Options

Jamok23

Estimable
Dec 26, 2014
13
0
4,560
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Hey guys, i hope that i have posted this in the correct category, but if i havent please feel free to move it.

I am in the progress of upgrading my current headphones, and i would like some input and help with what i should upgrade to.

I am using a pair of Sennheiser HD 215 that i bought back at release in 2005, so 11 years ago haha. surprisingly they havent gone down in price though.

so, what im looking for. comfort over anything. I game a lot,i listen to alot of music, and a little bit of video/audio editing. They MUST be circumaural, seriously the bigger cups the better (haha). I have 25mm stretchers in my ears and my sennheisers have only just started to fit perfectly, because the pads have worn down that much and i refuse to change them. The Sennheiser HD 800 appear to be the perfect size, but for £650, no thank you.

After comfort, they must be open back headphones, as i recently had a son and need to be able to hear outside games and music if he needs me, (and a bigger sound stage wouldnt hurt).

As for sound, im pretty lenient, so long as they offer an accurate representation of the recorded sounds, im happy.

I have been looking at headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT990 and the Phillips SHP9500, but there is no where near me that sells them, so i cant try them out, and no one i know owns any. So im relying on the mass of knowledge on the internet, which headphones would you recommend, which would you tell me to definitely stay away from and stuff like that.

my budget is about £100 but that may move if i find the perfect set of headphones.

So im hoping you guys will be able to help me out with some ideas, or give me some feedback on headphones that you use.

Thanks, and i hope to hear from you soon. :)


Obviously
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
things are what they are. another options is of course to use what you have now and wait a bit till you get get a soundcard or cheaper amp (30-50gbp range). if you want a vast improvement over what you have now it may be worth waiting a bit longer. of course i'm not forcing your hand, its your own decision to make and i'll give you a few other things to think about.

if you do not have large ears and do not mind a closed headphone that may get a bit hot after long sessions the m50 may certainly be in your budget range. i own a pair myself. not bad cans if you can get them cheap enough.

creative aurvana live is cheap enough but not sure if its really going to be a big upgrade for you or not.

i dont know anything about these models.. but in budget and also listed as budget recommendations by others are perhaps the hfi-580 from ultrasone, headphones by krk. not sure how they compare with what you have now though.

also to note: headphone technology doesnt change that much which is why its not uncommon to see models being listed for 10 years and longer. slight variations over the years and some minor changes but the same basic thing. that and headphones based on previous headphone designs are common in the industry. an example of this is how the sennheiser pc363d headset, game zero headset, pc350se headset and hd555/595 headphones are all very similar to eachother
 

Jamok23

Estimable
Dec 26, 2014
13
0
4,560
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hey ssddx, thanks for your quick answer. At the minute its simply plug and play, but i can buy an amp if the headphones are worth it
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
i'm not so familiar with the phillips but the dt990 (or dt880) are good choices. the 990 is v-shaped with bright vibrant treble and good bass levels with good soundstaging and great comfort. can be a bit cold and not everyone likes bright detailed treble. the 880 is of a similar nature but is a bit more neutral in signature with not as bright treble and not quite as much bass.

990 is a great price in uk generally compared to other products. not sure about the 880.

i would however suggest an amplifier for them. fiio e12, e09k, schiit magni, o2 or similar
 

Jamok23

Estimable
Dec 26, 2014
13
0
4,560
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thank you for your answers, i have 2 questions, just mostly out of curiosity, aside from the beyerdyamics, are there any other headphones you would recommend, or for that price, do you think they would be the best? And, as you may have guessed, im not well versed in the audio side of electronics, and in saying that, what purpose does an amp provide? thanks
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
well, hd598 are nice neutral signature headphones that are easy to power but since you placed lots of emphasis on big earcups i figured the huge cups on the beyers would be more your style.

if you want a less bassy and more treble / mid focused sound the akg cans like q701 are not bad although they will really reveal poor quality content and need a good amp to sound good. on a similar note, the ad500x, ad700x and ad900x are nice bass light cans with big pads. not everyone likes the headband (its a love it or hate it scenario).

a dac (digital to analog converter) converts the all digital signal from your pc to an analog electrical signal which speakers can use. this signal is low power and can not power anything so an amplifier increases the power so that it may drive drivers (speakers). generally the amp found on your motherboard soundcard is not all that powerful and is only good for low end headsets and headphones which are easy to power. some hifi headphones need more power to run than the soundcard can provide which is why an amplifier is often suggested. in some cases just having a decent soundcard like the creative z which has a decent amplifier on it is good enough, although its not quite enough for things like the dt990/q701.

generally if the signal is not strong enough to power headphones you may get a low volume output, tinny sound or weak bass output.
 

Jamok23

Estimable
Dec 26, 2014
13
0
4,560
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ill be honest, i love he black version of the dt990 pro headphones. Ahhh, i think im beginning to understand, so would i need to purchase a dac and an amp, or do amps have a built in dac? im sorry about all the questions, i would just hate to buy expensive headphones and have them not work properly because i dont understand how to set them up correctly :p
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
the onboard audio on your motherboard is essentially a dac+amp+software. the same is true with soundcards. if the quality of your onboard is fine, you could get by with just an amplifier. the reason why people use separate external dac's and amps is because they want something higher quality. yes, they do make combo dac+amp units as well.

what route you go also depends on what features you want. external dac's are stereo only [unless using razer virtual surround software] while a soundcard or onboard could have virtual surround built in.
 

Jamok23

Estimable
Dec 26, 2014
13
0
4,560
0
i was looking at the dt990 on amazon and it came up with a bundle, the headphones and a fiio e10k, it says its an amp dac combo, but would it be one that you would recommend?
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
by the specs the e10k should be capable of powering the 990-250, though not everyone seems to agree. my first choices would be the schiit magni or o2 but remember those are amps only so would rely on the quality of your onboard audio as well. fiios products arent high end, but they certainly generally have good value for the price paid.
 

Jamok23

Estimable
Dec 26, 2014
13
0
4,560
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I was just thinking, I have a focusrite scarlett solo audio interface for my microphone, it has a 6.35mm headphone connector on the front, so would it be possible to buy a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter and use that audio interface as an amp for the headphones, or would it be best just to buy a separate amp for speakers and leave the audio interface for my microphone?
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
pc->solo->amp->headphones
while the solo may power some of the easier to power headphones i doubt it has the umph to power much more.
yes, 1/8 to 1/4 adapters (3.5 to 6.3) are common as dirt if you need them.

if you want to use the solo output (for live listening to your voice as you record WITHOUT delay (if you go through pc sometimes theres a delay) you dont want a dac+amp but an amp only as only an amp can connect to the output of the solo.

amp only? i'd reach for a schiit magni 2, o2 or maybe the fiio e12 (but the e12 has an issue where it *may* have hum while charging but goes away when on battery) or possibly the fiio e09k desktop amp. first choice would be the magni or o2 though.
 

Jamok23

Estimable
Dec 26, 2014
13
0
4,560
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Hey, after looking up everything, it turns out they both headphones AND an amp isn't in my budget. So what would you recommend as the best headphones to be plugged into my on board audio? Thanks
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
unfortunately many of the other options i am familliar with which compare are priced higher than beyer in uk where beyer cans are for some reason vastly cheaper than they are here in comparison. for example the hd598 is much more than the dt990 or dt770. almost half the cost of an amplifier more.

technically the hd518 is under 100gbp and is half decent but considering its uk price is much inflated (normally the hd598 compares with dt990 price.. the 518 is three rungs down from that. same drivers so similar sound but poorer build quality and pads). should be fine with most onboard.

likewise the m50x is in budget and is easily powered however the dt770 is a much nicer headphone. if you could manage even a cheap amplifier like the fiio a3 or perhaps one of the budget tube amps (or if you did not care about voice-delay and did not intend to connect directly to your scarlett, the xonar dg may even work sufficiently though not great.

of course there may be other deals lurking.. but i'm not familiar with a whole big list of headphones and what is cheap in different countries so i can only offer you a few ideas.
 

Jamok23

Estimable
Dec 26, 2014
13
0
4,560
0
Unfortunately, still out of my price range :/ I thought I could get about £200 together, £100 for headphones, and £100 for amp, but due to personal circumstances, I only have £100 for both. So I can either find a good set of headphones that don't need an amp, or a budget amp, and budget headphones :/ things are not looking good haha
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
things are what they are. another options is of course to use what you have now and wait a bit till you get get a soundcard or cheaper amp (30-50gbp range). if you want a vast improvement over what you have now it may be worth waiting a bit longer. of course i'm not forcing your hand, its your own decision to make and i'll give you a few other things to think about.

if you do not have large ears and do not mind a closed headphone that may get a bit hot after long sessions the m50 may certainly be in your budget range. i own a pair myself. not bad cans if you can get them cheap enough.

creative aurvana live is cheap enough but not sure if its really going to be a big upgrade for you or not.

i dont know anything about these models.. but in budget and also listed as budget recommendations by others are perhaps the hfi-580 from ultrasone, headphones by krk. not sure how they compare with what you have now though.

also to note: headphone technology doesnt change that much which is why its not uncommon to see models being listed for 10 years and longer. slight variations over the years and some minor changes but the same basic thing. that and headphones based on previous headphone designs are common in the industry. an example of this is how the sennheiser pc363d headset, game zero headset, pc350se headset and hd555/595 headphones are all very similar to eachother
 

Jamok23

Estimable
Dec 26, 2014
13
0
4,560
0
Yeah, I'm beginning to think that it may just be best to wait and save haha. I was considering just going the line of gaming headset and maybe buying a wireless corsair void, as gaming headsets have made vast improvements in recent years. But I'm still not set.

And unfortunately I do have big ears, I have stretchers and no matter how soft the cushions, it still hurts when wearing headphones, so I need very large headphones, (and I had big ears to begin with haha) and I do need the open back so I can hear my son if he cries at night.

If I upgrade my headphones, I need it to be a noticeable difference on my sennheiser hd215's otherwise, what's the point.

So Im not 100% yet, but I'll either buy the corsair void headset, or save and get the dt990 with a decent amp.

Seriously thank you for all your help, you may have guessed, but I know nothing about audio haha. Literally 11 years ago, I got my first wage, from my first job and bought the most expensive headphones in the shop (£85) and ive been using them since :p
 
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