Headphones recommendation

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Crabcakez, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. Crabcakez

    Crabcakez Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Baltimore Maryland
    I just got a promotion and was looking at getting a new set of headphones. As of right now I’m looking at the Campfire Audio Cascade and the Beyerdynamic T5P.

    Currently I have a pair of V Moda Crossfade Wireless II which I like but I feel I get listening fatigue too quickly and would love a step up in sound. I like the idea of open backs but to be honest I’ll mostly be listening either while traveling or in bed next to my fiancé while she’s either sleeping or watching tv.

    I’d also like to point out that while I do sometimes use them with my vinyl setup, I’m mostly listening to Spotify Premium on my iPhone XR.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
  2. How are you going to plug the headphones into the iPhone? The Apple dongle thing? or a third-party dongle? or a larger third-party DAC/amp thing?

    An important factor is getting headphones that are efficient enough and suitable for what you're going to be driving them with. Many of the dongles are very wimpy. So you need efficient headphones.

    I don't know how well the Campfire Cascade does with being driven from a phone dongle. You'd need to ask Campfire Audio or someone who has it and uses it with an iPhone.
    displayname likes this.
  3. Crabcakez

    Crabcakez Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Baltimore Maryland
    Its funny you should mention, but I was thinking about getting the Dragonfly Red or Cobalt DAC but most of what I've read has been a total trash of the thing (and AQ in general). I also asked on reddit if using a DAC altogether for Spotify streaming would be a worth it or not and most people said to just spend the extra money on better headphones.

    So long story short, I'm not against using a DAC but was going to just use the Apple dongle.
  4. Ron Stone

    Ron Stone Offending Member

    Deep Maryland
    Considering your intended usage, I would ask a dedicated headphone board which brand or model was the most comfortable. That can be tricky with closed-back phones.
  5. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Portland, OR, USA
    For a portable device, I would strongly consider in-ear monitors. You don't look like a tool when wearing around headphones even bigger than a pair of "Beats", and a pair of Etymotic ER4s will give reference-grade audio (if not Shure or Klipsch with more consumer sound), while blocking out noise. Headphones tend to transmit mechanical noise when walking around with them on.

    Then forget the phone and add-in dongles and degraded compression of Bluetooth and recharging headphones, and use a player like a Sandisk Clip to play your own music, one where you don't have to unlock it and look at the screen just to change tracks.
  6. shrug: My dragonfly black v1.5 has been great.
    rodentdog and Ham Sandwich like this.
  7. RJL2424

    RJL2424 Forum Resident

    Here's the caveat with the Clip (and yes, even the currently available remaining models):

    They come with (relatively speaking) 16 GB or less internal memory. What's more, the 16 GB models do not have a microSD card slot at all while the smaller-capacity models, although they can technically accept up to a 32 GB microSDHC card (no official microSDXC support), limit the user to only 8 GB of accessible music total if those files are in MP3 format.

    Worse, the currently available Clip models have no Rockbox capability whatsoever (or rather no available Rockbox firmware whatsoever). That would have enabled support for larger-capacity cards and the removal of file access restrictions (however, 64 GB and higher cards must be reformatted to FAT32 from the exFAT default in order to use them in the player).

    Smartphones have no file size or total song amount restrictions. However, I wouldn't waste money on any higher-end headphones with the recent models since the DAC that's inside the Apple dongle is rather poor. In fact, many of the DACs inside of dongles are actually worse than those inside even the cheapest Bluetooth wireless earphones or headphones.
  8. When looking at headphones you need to consider the DAC and amp and headphones as a system. The whole system needs to work together and be in synergy. You can't have one part of the system compromise the rest. Pairing a really good headphone with an amp/DAC that can't adequately drive those headphones won't let the headphones demonstrate why they're really good. You need a good amp and DAC that will drive the headphones. Otherwise those good headphones are gone to waste.

    Unfortunately I'm not an Apple phone user. I'm not familiar with the Apple Lightning dongles and amp/DAC devices. I get to listen to Lightning connected portable gear occasionally at meets. But that is it. It's not a segment of the market that I'm familiar with. So I don't know what Lightning connection gear to recommend. I have been exploring USB-C dongles for my Pixel 3 phone and my USB-C Chromebook. But USB-C dongles and Lightning dongles while very similar are not directly equivalent. The world of headphone dongles is much suck and little good. It's not a segment of the audiophile market that I'm happy to explore.

    You do need to consider the amp/DAC side to make sure that whatever headphones you choose are driven adequately and to an adequate sound quality. You can plug in a $1500 Focal Clear or $4000 Focal Utopia in an Apple dongle and I could find a $500 headphone plugged into either a $500 Chord Mojo or $400 iFi xDSD that sounds better. Just plugging a really good headphone into an Apple dongle isn't a guarantee of audio enlightenment.

    The other option to go is IEMs (in ear monitors). IEMs are very easy to drive and don't require much of an amp to drive them well. An Apple dongle can do reasonably well. But IEMs are annoying to fit into your ears and can be uncomfortable for some people. Plus they also will have microphonic cable issues (you'll hear when the cable rubs against your clothing or blankets). I can plop full size headphones on my head and be comfortable and listening right away. With IEMs it is a ritual to get them in the ears and situated. Unless you get custom molds for your ears. Custom IEMs require a visit to an audiologist to get a mold which costs some money plus the cost of getting the IEM maker to make a custom IEM from that mold.

    I'd contact Campfire Audio and ask what they consider a minimally suitable dongle or amp/dac for use with the iPhone and the Cascade. Just to get a baseline for what you're kinda looking at. I kinda doubt the Apple Lightning dongle will be adequate, but maybe it is? Only way to know is to ask Campfire and users who have the headphone. Or to try it yourself.
    Mike-48 likes this.
  9. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Carpenters Fan

    Concerning players where you don't have to unlock it to do the basic functions, the Sony players with touchscreens (like the NW-A45 which I have) also have physical buttons for the basic functions (power, play/pause, next track, last track, volume control, and hold) that can be used when the touchscreen is not on (the touchscreen can be woken up by touching the power button). Concerning using headphones with it, I use Koss PortaPros and the Koss KPH-30ik (both 60 ohm) with mine and it has no problem driving them. It sounds loud enough for me at a volume setting of 40 (out of 120).
  10. Dougr33

    Dougr33 Forum Resident

    Twin Cities, MN
    Etymotic ER4SR and Dragonfly Red. I haven't seen a bad review of either, and don't underestimate the AQ positives of no outside noise (and sitting next to your fiance with regular headphones is going to leak a lot of noise).
  11. Crabcakez

    Crabcakez Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Baltimore Maryland
    I’d say 90% of listening will be at home. A handful of times per year I travel for work, etc.

    You know, when considering an audio player outside my smartphone I never thought of the benefit of not having to unlock it to get in to change the music... However, at least on the iPhone, you can change tracks within an album/playlist without unlocking.
  12. Crabcakez

    Crabcakez Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Baltimore Maryland
    I guess with anything else some people love it and some people hate it. In most of what I read the bitterness was with their pricing.

    I think what I’ll end up doing is getting the new headphones and just demoing one of them at my local shop.
  13. wellers73

    wellers73 Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    I use Westone IEMs when traveling/commuting, either the universal fit W60 or the custom molded ES60. Very happy with both. I’ve also used Etymotics, but ultimately found the deep fit uncomfortable. When commuting, I use either the Apple dongle, a Dragonfly Red, or occasionally a Chord Mojo. The Dragonfly is a nice balance between convenience and sound quality, but I still find it a bit finicky when navigating the NYC subways. I often just prefer to use the Apple dongle, even with my relatively high-end IEMs. It drives them pretty well, and sounds way better than any audiophile would expect for the price.
  14. Dougr33

    Dougr33 Forum Resident

    Twin Cities, MN
    I will say that the buds supplied with the Etymotics (silicon flanged, "foam", and rubber-like) are ALL absolutely horrible. And they really need to be seated all the way into your ear canals for full benefit (real bass, and the best noise isolation available). Comply foams are very comfortable ,but don't last very long. I went with Shure Olives and have been happy for a few years now.
  15. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Portland, OR, USA
    I know right? Why do companies take a product, like my Rockboxed clip with MicroSD card slot, and then say "this product can be made worse, let's do it!". It's the Apple mentality of forcing a device upgrade for more flash, costing 10x the equivalent of a card. Same with phones: my Galaxy S5, rooted, waterproof, replaceable battery, headphone jack, microSD card, would last forever if they hadn't discontinued the OEM battery two years in.

    One exception is the replaceable cables now with the Shure IEMs (and now unwarranteed, so still a bonus for the company). I'd gotten about four warranty replacements on Shure E3 and E4s before expiration due to the cables crapping out.

    My own tip for using IEMs: get a cable clip, like one from a lavalier mic or call-center headset, and attach the wire to the back of your shirt collar, giving enough slack so you can move your head around, but taking the weight off the cable and your ears.

    Same here, toss the hard plastic earwax-pushers in the garbage. The yellow earplug-looking inserts (roll up and insert) are probably the most comfortable and effective, but don't last long.
  16. Brenald79

    Brenald79 Forum Resident

    Do you think the Dragonfly Black would be good enough for my Iphone and Seinheisser HD599s?
  17. gothictrade

    gothictrade Well-Known Member

    I just looked up the Campfire Cascade (?) headphones and they look pretty cool, but also a bit expensive. Do you feel they were worth the price point? Are you looking for something a bit less expensive but higher or equal quality, or are you looking to upgrade both in quality and in price-point?
  18. Crabcakez

    Crabcakez Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Baltimore Maryland
    I was just looking at reviews and specs and everyone was giving them really good reviews. If there were something of equal quality/specs and cheaper I’d obviously be interested but I’m prepared to spend that much.
  19. Front Row

    Front Row Active Member

    Chicago IL
    Anyone know about the Klipsch Heritage line? Or can I do better for less money?
  20. Most of the Klipsch Heritage headphone line is in-ears and wireless. The only current headphone in the line is the HP-3 which is $1300. There are reviews and impressions of the Klipsch Heritage HP-3 here. It's not a neutral headphone. Has a boosted bass.
    cjc and Front Row like this.
  21. cjc

    cjc Forum Resident

    Just got the Meze 99 Noir and they are VERY nice closed back headphones at the $200 range.
    Front Row likes this.
  22. Donald Reynolds

    Donald Reynolds New Member

    United States
    I have Meze Audio 99 Neo and i am really happy with them. Current price is $200. Here is useful review before buying them
    cjc likes this.
  23. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident

    Portland, Oregon
    People are recommending IEMs. I've had a pair of Westones and a pair of Shures. Both gave very good sound. Both became uncomfortable after half an hour or so, no matter which type of tips I used. (For me, only the triple-flange type would give a good seal.)

    In summary, IEMs are compact, don't require power, and can give fine sound as well as some noise reduction. On the other hand, they can be itchy and uncomfortable in the ears. De gustibus....
    Front Row likes this.
  24. RickH

    RickH Senior Member

    Raleigh, NC
    Status Audio’s CB-1 are highly-rated and will set you back $79. I got them on a Black Friday deal for $47 but that appears to have expired. Their closest competition is probably Audio Technica’s ATH-M50 but the Status Audios have better soundstaging for a lower price. I listen on an iPhone 7 to Amazon HD using a Liquid Spark amp, they sound really sweet! (However, I would assume what you’re looking at are in a whole other league, based on the price point.)
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019

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