Headphones: can of worms time? looking at under $500

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by McGuy, Mar 19, 2017 at 4:43 PM.

  1. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    That BB has some good ones but could use more diversity.

    Decibel Audio on Milwaukee has a wall of Grados
    Audio Consultants on Randolph has Grados, B&W, Sennheisers and some others
    Saturday Audio Exchange has some too, mostly Grados...
    If you go into Music Direct, you'll be amazed at the customer service.
     
    McGuy likes this.
  2. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    Those have been on there a long time, make sure to test them. 598 open version isn't bad, they're designed to sound enjoyable/inoffensive and theyre super comfortable. That said, if youre looking into $500 or even $200-300, you can do a lot better because you're entering the low end audiophile zone which is vastly different than the 598 zone (I just left that zone)
     
  3. McGuy

    McGuy Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    hm...too much to consider! I do appreciate all the advice though!
     
  4. BMWCCA

    BMWCCA Member

    Location:
    Central Virginia
    Good price. Do they come with the original packaging?
    Sennheiser Product Authentication
     
  5. gslasor

    gslasor Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Canada
    I found the 598s to sound much better with an amp incidentally.

    The NAD and Hifimans get a lot of love though.
     
  6. husafreak

    husafreak Active Member

    Location:
    NorCal, Bay Area
    I think you are smart to buy a set of inexpensive, used, but well regarded cans (like the 598's you saw). Then I recommend you wait for a Head Fi meet in Chicago or go to a really well stocked dealer and sit down with a playlist on your phone or DAP or Ipod or whatever works and listen to as many $400-500 headphones as you can. Make a day of it. Pick a favorite. These threads are always similar with a bewildering array of suggestions. But headphone listening is way more personal than speakers. You really should try before you buy. Get comfy headphones that sound good and isolate or not due to your requirements. How they look may factor in too. My 2c.
     
    billnunan likes this.
  7. husafreak

    husafreak Active Member

    Location:
    NorCal, Bay Area
    That said, back when I asked very specifically for a recommendation, Ham Sandwich recommended the Fostex TH-X00's to me as sold by Massdrop. I waited for a long time but when I got them they really changed my whole attitude about headphone listening. I love them for my music. But I do think I was lucky to get a real knowledgeable expert reply. They are closed back headphones. I have since gotten IEM's and open back headphones after much auditioning. There are a lot of us with more than one set of headphones.
     
  8. In fairness, I was using them with an amp. I'd love to get a pair of 650s, given the love they get, but the 598s didn't do much for me.
     
  9. Very good point. I wouldn't buy used or new headphones from Craigslist if I was aware that those headphones had known counterfeits. The Sennheiser HD598 have known counterfeits. Lots of headphone brands and models have known counterfeits. Popular models by Sony, AKG, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Shure, and others. So be careful if buying from Craigslist or eBay or other places where counterfeits can get sold. Buy from authorized dealers you can trust. The counterfeits are complete garbage and do not have the sound quality of the real things.

    A google search on the brand and model of headphone along with the words "fake" or "counterfeit" or similar words can help you find out if there are known counterfeits. But such a search won't catch all models that have counterfeits.
     
  10. gslasor

    gslasor Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Canada
    In fairness also, I've since gone Grado RS1e ... :laugh:
     
    Rusty Shackleford likes this.
  11. That is true. Which is one reason I initially suggested the HD600 or HD650. Because the MC2105 had a headphone jack that was powered by the speaker amp and a resistor network. Unfortunately, once I looked at the manual I saw that McIntosh said it was designed for low impedance headphones. So likely not a suitable pairing for the HD600/HD650.

    I first got the HD580 back in the late 90s. Used them with a Pioneer receiver that had the headphone jack powered by a resistor network from the speaker amp. Worked well. That's how most headphone jacks were done back then. Dedicated headphone amps for home audiophile use were rare and not common.
     
  12. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    I've been experimenting, I had the 598s and upgraded recently. Have been switching/trying to decide between 600s and 650s. I dont know if this makes sense but 650s seem to be the 598 version of 600s; I find 650s to be more similar to 598s than 600s. People argue about it all the time but I do hear a "veil" on the 650s, just like the 598s; the 600's are nothing like that.
     
  13. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    Used also comes with aother risk on certain Sennheiser lines like the 6XX. It's really easy to swap out 580, 600 or 650 drivers in any of them. So in theory, you could buy a pair of 650s with 580 drivers because the guy bought 650s, took the drivers out for his 580s and resold the 650s with his 580 drivers in them
     
  14. McGuy

    McGuy Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    good points. I was thinking, since I do have two headphones jacks - amp and preamp, is there any reason I would actually NEED a headphone amp? I just saw this Little Dot on amazon and though it was cool because of the tubes. But is it necessary?
     
  15. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    It depends on the headphones, amp/preamp and setup. I think it's important to remember that a lot of the headphone community has evolved into primarily people with desktop/computer setups so it is necessary for them because a phone/tablet or computer cant drive high impedance or planar magnetic headphones..
    If youre looking at 598s, the amp and preamp jacks you already have will probably work fine. But you can also use a headphone amp as a preamp/tube buffer into your main system as long as it has some sort of line/pre out. I have a Bravo Ocean Tube amp I sometimes use as a tube buffer, I go back and forth on whether it makes my music sound better. I lean toward yes with digital music, no with vinyl.
     
  16. McGuy

    McGuy Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    Thanks! I'm 90% vinyl listening. Guess I can try them out and see. Considering a pair of Grado 325i now, found a pair for $150 locally from the dean of a local large university. It's between those and the Senn 598 for $75. decisions...
     
  17. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    Are those the 325s on CL? Tell him you'll give him $50 because theyre repaired with SCOTCH TAPE!

    *I JUST sold my mint black 598s on Thrusday, too. Would have preferred a local sale. Also checkout the AVExchange on Reddit, every headphone you can imagine is on there every week.
     
  18. McGuy

    McGuy Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    I saw that. From what he said, the tape is only to hold on the tip. The original tip fell off so he used a coat hanger tip. I already contacted grado who (a) confirmed these are not counterfeit and (b) they'll send me replacement tips for free!
     
    beercanchicken likes this.
  19. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    They look nice, I couldnt even see what he was talking about. So a pretty good score if they work well.
    There another pair of 225s for pretty cheap and are fairly close to my house. But I'm pretty sure the 225s arent well regarded...
    I auditioned a bunch of them once and was only impresed by the 80e and either the 225 or 325, I cant remeber which; I need to take notes and write stuff down.
     
    McGuy likes this.
  20. IanL

    IanL Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oneonta, NY USA
    Just wanted to mention I used to have a McIntosh MC2105, and I used the headphone jack on it for my Sennheiser 600's. It has plenty of power, and sounded pretty decent most of the time. However, it is a dark sound. Kind of like that amp is driving loudspeakers, the headphone output has that same character. Combined with the 600's, which can also have a dark sound, it may be too much warmth for some. I wouldn't call it a perfect pairing, but I liked it more than some other amps on my 600's. I recently bought a Schiit Valhalla 2 for my 600's, and the pairing is pretty ideal. I am still evaluating what I think of the Valhalla (it isn't very refined, so far) but it already feels like a very good value for the build quality and ability to roll tubes.
     
    beercanchicken likes this.
  21. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago

    I think tubes and 600s would sound excellent. I'm debating doing this right now. I had 600s, then got 650s because I thought they'd be a "warmer/bassier 600" (I'm not a basshead) but I find the 600s have way better detail. And while the 600s are pretty nuetral and the bass is less pronounced, it's just way punchier than the 650s, which is what I really like. Throwing some tubes at them to give them a bit more character seems like the ideal plan. Its a shame theyre so ugly.
     
  22. murphythecat

    murphythecat Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Canada
    best headphone for the money under 500$ if you have a suitable amp: HD650.
    AKG K701 is also very good and demand slightly less from a amp.

    if you dont have a suitable amp, raise your budget a triffle, get a ifi mircro ican SE or a schiit jotunheim + hd650.
     
    beercanchicken likes this.
  23. Edgard Varese

    Edgard Varese It's too late to stop now

    If you haven't heard Grados, be prepared for up-front, in your face sound. And those 325's tend to be bright. I swear by my RS1i's, however. :)
     
  24. gslasor

    gslasor Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Canada
    Depends what you like. I have the 598s and my dad has the 325is. I think the 325is sound better (they are brighter but more detailed), and don't -need- an amp. The 598s technically don't either (At least mine [Special Editions] don't), and have a bigger soundstage, but they are a less exciting listen IMO. What Hi-fi, for instance, called them "boring", which I would agree with if they aren't amped. Even amped, they are on the dark side. The 325is are sometimes called "too bright" or "bass deficient", but I don't find this to be the case once they're broken in and especially not with an amp. The bass doesn't go super low, but it is punchy and "fun". The 598s are hardly bass monsters, and definitely have less punch.

    $150 is a good deal for the 325is, and they sound great. Also, the Little Dot Mk1+ is wonderful driving Grados (I use one with my RS1es), and cheap.

    Audition both if possible, but I think the Grados are a better investment if you can spare the $75.
     
  25. whaiyun

    whaiyun Forum Resident

    Location:
    Windsor/Detroit
    I like my Sennheiser HD-6XX from Massdrop. I'm using a Schiit Vali 2 to drive them.
     

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