JANDL100

Headphone Heaven

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I've been increasingly into headphones for the last 2 or 3 years and have been investigating the various technologies and makes.

It's the wife's fault - she's a late riser and I'm an early one.  And being unwilling to wait to start the music until 11-ish when she gets up headphones are the logical way to go.

Here's the 4 I seem to have settled with for now ...

gzxpaI3.jpg

I guess the leader of the pack are Grado PS1000.  Very clean and open and detailed and dynamic.  They also cost the most, which is a bit of a disappointment!
They do suffer a little from the distinctive Grado Treble, which is a little on the enthusiastic side for my tastes, but some careful fettling (I shan't mention cables on the Wam) and they are just fine and dandy.

Stax SR3 electrostatics live in the conservatory along, usually, with the Fostex TH600.
The Stax are awesome for transparency, but can't really be regarded as all-rounders as they do lack heft in the bass and rather water down big dynamic swings when they can get a bit strident.  Still great fun to listen to on a lot of material, though.
The Fostex TH600 are marvellous for when closed-back is necessary (the Grados and Stax leak an amazing amount of sound).  I got them after owning and liking Fostex T50RPmk3, similar sound but even better.

And finally Even H1.  These have settled in the bedroom, fed by a portable CD player!  They have a little in-line widget which provides a hearing test and corrective DSP.  You press the button and a series of 8 music tones are played at increasing volume.  You press the button again when you can hear each one.  This is done for left and right.  Works well, but they do like to add a bit of extra bass.  A pleasant listen.  They may become increasingly useful as the years go by.

I've tried various planar magnetic from Audeze and Hifiman.  But have come to the conclusion that they are not for me - I almost always hear a layer of "smooth" that comes between me and the music.  Some people love them, but I miss the final layer of dynamic resolution.

In the main system, usually with the Grado PS1000 I use a Lehmann Black Cube Linear headphone amp which I am very pleased with.
The Stax (which require a pukka power amp) are fed from a Topping VX1 (25wpc).

Edited by JANDL100
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Super Wammer

I have the Stax SR3's, what energiser do you use with yours Jerry? I use the SRD6, and yes they are very revealing of detail, and great fun to listen to, also as mine have a passive energiser, they sound better after being on for a while.

Edited by greybeard

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SRD5 energiser with mine.
I might investigate others if they come along on eBay at an appropriate time!

I tend to leave them on charge all the time but not convinced it makes much if any difference.

Edited by JANDL100

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I actually think headphones have their place as well. They are very convenient and can sound extremely good, especially for picking out that very low-level detail. Im working my way through most but coming to the conclusion that I dont have any firm favourites, yet. Ive just had a set of Sennheiser HD660s (tried the 600s, 650s and 700s) and I actually thought that they may have been the best of the lot for me anyway, but not enough for me to keep long term. I also think I prefer closed-back headphones in general. So far all have had their quirks that have kept me from being a total headphone convert, but I still have a pile here which I use quite frequently. I even like a few of the cheaper ones which have stuck with me for some time, the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x is one, they just do a lot right and are very cheap in comparison to a lot.

Still working my way up to perhaps getting hold of a set of Fostex 900s, although I did try the latest Denon flagship model which to me sounded nice but way too safe. Some of the trouble is I think that I dont even have these headphones long enough for their sound to break in and open up either, but you usually get an idea if you're going to like something long term from the offset, even with their newness quibbles.

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>> Some of the trouble is I think that I dont even have these headphones long enough for their sound to break in and open up

Headphone break-in can sometimes totally transform the sound, imo.

I've bought several used on eBay which sounded awful - pretty obvious why they were sold!  They must have taken them out of the box and thought "Yuk, horrid" and put them on eBay.
But a few days of continuous running in and suddenly the positive reviews make sense.

Edited by JANDL100
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35 minutes ago, JANDL100 said:

>> Some of the trouble is I think that I dont even have these headphones long enough for their sound to break in and open up

Headphone break-in can sometimes totally transform the sound, imo. 

I've bought several used on eBay which sounded awful - pretty obvious why they were sold!  They must have taken them out of the box and thought "Yuk, horrid" and put them on eBay.
But a few days of continuous running in and suddenly the positive reviews make sense.

Yeah, I am well aware of this, half the time I'm not patient enough to stick with it. But I got a pile of hi-fi stuff here and if it doesn't wow me out of the box (or even second-hand buys) it doesn't stay, but I do try to look hard for the why I should keeps. I just want to put on a set of headphones and think I never want to take these off :) As obviously most of us do with our gear. I'm a tough critic, but so far I can't say I've been totally blown away with any headphones. Yet the try Fostex or Stax, the 900s and L700s seem to be the show stoppers there. But you've still have to not be too distracted by how they feel on your head, so comfort/fit is another huge factor, plus the really good ones are not exactly cheap either. Then a lot of these open types are often as audible to anyone else in the room as they are to you so it can be a funny old game the headphone one. Plus open cans bass doesn't seem as good in general, but at least they let you hear things in the room / around you. If I could find a great pair that made me forget about any of its disadvantages I might become a total convert.

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Hmm.
Seems like you are looking for perfection.

Best of luck with that! :D

  • Haha 1

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8 minutes ago, JANDL100 said:

Hmm.
Seems like you are looking for perfection.

Best of luck with that! :D

I know, I know, it doesn't exist. But for me, it does on some level. I've made some choices with other equipment that does however make me want to listen to music (all) non-stop, just haven't found that completely with headphones, yet. But I still do use them a lot. They don't have to be perfect but for me, there needs to be something there that makes me really want to keep coming back and listening to them.  

Edited by eddie-baby

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4 minutes ago, eddie-baby said:

I know, I know, it doesn't exist. But for me, it does on some level. I've made some choices with other equipment that does however make me want to listen to music (all) non-stop, just haven't found that completely with headphones, yet. But I still do use them a lot. They don't have to be perfect but for me, there needs to be something there that makes me really want to keep coming back and listening to them.  

Yes, I think I understand.

That's probably why I have 4 pairs and all are in regular use.  That's an admission that none of them totally hit the spot.
Horses for courses and all that.

But I do need headphones, wouldn't want to be without music while the mrs is asleep in the mornings.

Edited by JANDL100
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Just now, JANDL100 said:

Horses for courses and all that.

I guess Im after the impossibility of that one trick pony (or thoroughbred :) ) that does it all. There are some good jack of all trades in audio gear though, and it's usually the costlier gear as well. But until I can find a pair that make me completely engrossed by the music and tick the other boxes of don't really mind wearing them for extended periods etc, I'll just keep quietly searching for now.  

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Sounds like you both need the Focal Stellia. Sorry for your wallets :-)

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On 20/03/2019 at 09:50, eddie-baby said:

I guess Im after the impossibility of that one trick pony (or thoroughbred :) ) that does it all. There are some good jack of all trades in audio gear though, and it's usually the costlier gear as well. But until I can find a pair that make me completely engrossed by the music and tick the other boxes of don't really mind wearing them for extended periods etc, I'll just keep quietly searching for now.  

Ed try & have a listen to the black Sennheiser HD800S driven by a very good headphone amp - such as the Cayin valve unit.
Tremendous slam & dynamics with great detail & no hard bright treble. The 800S are fussy about how they're driven but when right they are superb.
 

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68DA9CD1-47D0-4964-A825-5F6D35E311F4.jpe

you need something like this to drive Stax properly and you will discover soggy bass is a thing of the past.

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