How do you assess headphones?

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by maxhash, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. maxhash

    maxhash New Member

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    Hi,

    How do you compile your top 10 headphone guide? Do you use same criteria to assess headphones?

    Thanks,
    M
     
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Top 10 headphones?

    This could be interesting. Would you want a list of just 10 headphones, including types you might never use, or would you prefer the top 10 full-size and top 10 portable? Or maybe further divided by closed and open types, or divided by headphones and ear canal types?

    Just some thoughts for what kind of list you might like...
     
  3. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    That is an interesting question!

    I guess the Top 10s are a combination of different ways of looking at choosing headphones. If you made a list of the very best headphones, it would probably make great reading. For most peoples wallets it would probably not be very useful as a buyers guide:)

    We try to play with all the headphones we can get our hands on, but possibly the most important thing is value. That could be sound quality or build quality if you live an extreme lifestyle. It could be awesome accuracy or a lot of smiles for the £$£.

    Different people want different things, if you categorise the cans and then ask how well you think they perform, considering their price, some stand out. Some brands try harder than others to please the eventual owner and some rely on marketing. We have a lot of repeat customers, many love providing feedback. It is quite fun to be involved with helping people enjoy their favourite music even more! Some headphones seem to please 99 out of 100 people and it would be strange not to recognise that.

    After weighing it all up, the headphones in the Top 10s are the ones which feel like great value for their cost, and therefore make a great recommendation. It is a different process from scientifically proving which headphones perform best. It's a bit more like saying which are your favourites. Around the office, we own a lot of the headphones from the Top 10s because we like them.

    The Top 10s help people easily pick a relevant headphone that they hopefully will like. If people need more specific advice for more specific needs they can ask questions here or give us a call:D

    I hope that helped?
     
  4. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    I would love to see dalethorns Top 10! Or a specific Top 5, like full size headphones:)
     
  5. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Dale's top 10 (Beware, this could cost real money)

    If I could afford it, I would get a Stax SR-009, then agonize over which amp to use with it. Such a terrible decision, I know.

    But with that out of the way, here's some thoughts.

    At the top, and based on everything I've heard, the Beyerdynamic T1, the Sennheiser HD800, the Grado PS1000, HiFiMan HE6, and Audeze LCD3. Ignoring electrostatics, since I mentioned the SR-009, and ignoring Ultrasone's flagships, these are the ones that I associate with the ultimate in dynamic or planar magnetic/orthodynamic sound. Except for Sennheiser and their HD800, which seems to be fixed in time now, the other brands seem to be evolving quickly. It's interesting that these would be so expensive and yet have such a wide variety of sound. Choose carefully!

    Below that, there are some popular brands I'm not familiar with such as Denon, Sony, Audio-Technica and AKG to name a few. But what stands out to me in the mid-to-upper-mid-price area are the Shure 940, the Sennheiser HD600 (or possibly 650), the Grado PS500, the B&W P5, and several Beyerdynamics. It's also interesting that the sound in this mid-price arena doesn't vary much more than the expensive headphones, and so people feel safer as a rule when taking a chance on one of these.

    Also in the mid-price area are the Beyerdynamic DT-48 series. Don't even go there unless you really know what you're doing. The struggle with these could take years off of your life.

    In the lower midrange area are headphones such as the Klipsch Image One, the Phiaton MS400, the VModa M80/V80, several Grados, and hundreds of others. In this price range, I'm more likely to use some EQ than with the higher-priced headphones, so I look for sound signatures that are smooth, where the EQ would not exaggerate existing bumps and dips in the frequency response.

    In my lowest range are portables such as the Sennheiser PX100ii and PX200ii. Those two are quite different in sound, but each has its advanages and I recommend them.

    I don't use IEM's so I can't comment on those. I have listened to several brands of headphones sold at the Apple store (the only headphone place where I can play my own music player with the headphones), and most of those are quite bassy, so I enable the iPod/iPhone bass reduction EQ and most of those actually sound pretty decent that way.
     
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