looking for best over-ear headphones (no amp) - expert help needed

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by D.N.A., Oct 26, 2011.

  1. D.N.A.

    D.N.A. New Member

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    Hi

    I'm looking for the best over-ear, closed or semi headphones (sound, build quality and comfy cups being in mind) with no amp needed, below 150 quid. I would mostly use it with an iPhone, Macbook and Home Theater, also for travelling on a plane or train, walking to work, etc. Foldability is a plus but not an absolute must.

    I'm listening to all kinds of music, mostly hip hop and electronic (house, trance, etc.), not so much classical. I'd like to have a fair amount of bass but I don't want it totally overpowering my music, so I'm not looking for the beats by dre bass monster experience but I don't want to be lacking it either. I'm looking for spacious sound, nice detail and the ability to handle deep bass with depth, precision and clarity, and without boominess (like someone said earlier).

    Came across these cans while browsing and I would appreciate some thoughts on them and maybe some other recommendations:

    Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO Headset - 80 OHM or 32 maybe (like the look)
    ATH-M50
    AKG K 271 and K701
    Technics DH1200E-S (50Ω and read really good things about them) - thoughts?

    Shure 840
    Audio Technica ATH-A500

    Many thanks

    PS: a very small amp might be considered if necessary.
     
  2. Ian Hifi

    Ian Hifi Super Moderator

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    Hi DNA, if you are planning to use your headphones on planes, you definitely need a closed back headphone, as opposed to open back. The majority of headphones at 80 ohms, or below, will usually drive perfectly well without an amp. However, a DAC/Amp will boost the sound quality, and also has the effect of reducing laptop background noise.

    I think there might be one issue you need to consider before deciding what best suits you. As mentioned above, Open back headphones are not ideal for travelling on public transport because anyone around you can hear them too. By the same measure, they also allow a degree of outside ambient sound to come in, and that can be very important if your walk to work involves negotiating busy roads.

    Have you read the reviews of the best open and closed headphones on our store? This is a good starting point as we've reviewed what we consider to be the best of the best.

    You have listed some decent sets of headphones but some definite pros and cons with them. I guess it will come down to what is most important to you.

    The Beyer Dynamics DT770 Pro are border line without an amp. At 80 ohms you will get some stuff that is very low volume. The DT 770 Premiums at 32 ohms are always going to handle the source signal, and they are a nice low power pair of headphones, but as with their bigger brothers, not exactly the most portable, especially when travelling.

    ATH-M50's might be close to your requirements, definitely. Comfy for long periods, accurate sound, and good bottom end. They also fold up.

    AKG K 271 and 701's. Definitely tick some of the boxes but possibly a bit big and fragile for the wear and tear that comes with airports and air travel.

    The Shure 840's are also pretty good on the majority of your requirements. Well made, great sound stage, easy to drive without an amp, and portable.

    Talking here in the office, another possibility has been mentioned.
    The Ultrasone 780's. Having looked at all of the specification you have mentioned, these probably come the closest to, not only covering all the bases, but covering them all well. Good construction, low impedance so no need for an amp, really accurate sound, and a really big sound stage. For home cinema listening, these headphones get very close to the kind of cinematic surround-sound vibe you get from open backed headphones. They are portable, fold up, and nice looking to boot.
     
  3. D.N.A.

    D.N.A. New Member

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    thanks a lot for ur reply, much appreciated.

    care to comment on the Technics DH1200? Any of you know anything about it?
     
  4. Ian Hifi

    Ian Hifi Super Moderator

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    The Technics DH1200 are unfortunately a model non of us at HH have much knowledge of. We have around 600 different headphone models in stock and we always pass new stuff around, however, Technics are not a brand we deal with and subsequently, there are non in stock for us to play with.:D

    Check out DJ Headphone Reviews , they are a good source of feedback on some of the brands we don't stock at Hifi Headphones
     
  5. D.N.A.

    D.N.A. New Member

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    After reading some more and struggling between the 770s and the 840s, I went with the Shure and purchased a pair today for 115 quid. We'll see how the perform and I'll let you know. Thanks for the help again.
     
  6. Ian Hifi

    Ian Hifi Super Moderator

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    Always great to get some feedback on the forum, and very useful for other members too.:cool:
     
  7. D.N.A.

    D.N.A. New Member

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    The DPD courier just missed me yesterday but today I finally got the Shure 840s.

    Pretty neat package with detachable cable, nice carrying bag and and extra pair of ear pads. The packaging is not too fancy but it's a good standard. The cable is easy to install and it seems good quality. The plug is pretty big but I guess this headphone wasn't specifically made for portable usage. They are definitely big and weight a bit but they look nice and they are foldable. You'd probably have to take a rest after a few hours cuz ur head or neck might start hurting a bit in the beginning but i think u'll get use to the weight after a while. The build quality is quite good, I'd love to see less plastic stuff around and inside the headband and maybe a better, easier feeling while extending the headphone. I think there are to many moving parts, maybe it could be simpler like the DT770. I would also hide the little alien cables on the outside but they don't bother me much. I'd rather have velour pads because these leather pads seem to heat up a bit after long usage and they can get sweaty. The Shure 940 has velour pads which fit this one but people say it ruins the sound. The headband and the pads could be a tiny bit more comfortable but I'm supposing the weight has an effect on it too. The phones fit around ur ear nicely and it's stuck on ur head pretty safely. The sound is clear, pleasing and likeable, some peeps might want a little more bass but overall it feels natural and it has enough bass to give u the pleasure. Are the 770's heavier on the bass btw? The sound keeps getting better by the hour. I have my iPhone on max volume and it's just the right amount of loudness, maybe 1 or 2 levels down is still enough. On this volume the sound seems to leek out quite a bit so u can hear the music from outside pretty clear. It doesn't need an amp to have the kick but I would try how is it with a little more power. What would an amp do by the way? Does it effect the volume? If any, what amps would u recommend? Overall, I'd give the phones a 7.5-8 out of 10 but that's mostly because of the comfort. Pretty good product for the price.

    I have a logitech z-5500 speaker system connected to my telly with an optical cable. If I plug the headphones into the control panel or the telly, the volume is very low even on max. Why is that and how can I improve it to blow me away when listening to music or watching a movie? What would be a good way to listen to the music on my laptop with a more dramatic effect and higher volume?

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  8. Ian Hifi

    Ian Hifi Super Moderator

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    The Shure 840's are a low impedance headphone (44 ohms) so devices like your iphone will easily drive the headphones. However, TV headphone-outs often have a limited signal. That is to say, its not the same strength of signal that is powering your TV's external speakers, hence why your headphones are not getting much drive from that output.

    The quick fix would simply to buy a twin phono/female jack adaptor and take your audio feed directly from the phonos on the back of your TV. However, you are likely to incur a bit of background noise from the workings of the TV. A better solution, and one that will double up for your laptop, would be to buy a DAC/Amp.

    In the case of your TV, you would put the DAC/Amp between the TV headphone-out and your headphones. As well as giving you a really good signal to drive your headphones, the external DAC will help reduce the background noise from the TV. Same goes for your laptop. the hum of disc drives, whirring fans, dodgy shielding inside your laptop does often bleed through to the audio feed. Having an external DAC/Amp, not only gives you that extra amplification, but helps to irradiate background noise. The Fiio E& is a really good unit and very multi purpose.


    [​IMG]
    FiiO E7 Headphone Amplifier & USB Audio Decoder (DAC) in Black

    £64.99
     
  9. D.N.A.

    D.N.A. New Member

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    thx a lot, I bought these yesterday.

    I have another question:


    The shure 840 has nice sound but these cans are huge and I'd look a bit crazy out on the way, bus, plain, etc plus they are heavy, not super comfy and heat up a bit inside.

    Could u recommend something that doesn't look that huge on ur head, are lighter, very comfy, have good isolation and sound great?

    A couple phones I read about since:
    hd-25s, A and H xone xd-53, beyer dt770 / t50p / d1350, vmoda v80/m80 (any good?), akg 272 hd or Q 701, AT m50s.

    i dropped the ultrasone cuz i read a few negative things.

    What would u recommend? I like the idea of velour pads cuz they are soft and comfy but thats just a guess. I need something real comfy that isolates noise well, has a good sound and can be worn outside. Doesn't need to be small but I'd like something that adjust to my head properly cuz the shure's headband sticks out too much and theres a huge space in between. Quality matters lot.

    Thanks a lot and sorry to bother u with this again
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011
  10. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Just a little tip

    I noticed the headphones you mentioned, and one point you might take into account: Even though for example the Vmoda M80/V80 are much smaller overall than the Shure, they stick out to the sides quite a bit, so you would look just about as much an astronaut with those as any large headphone. So with any of your choices, you should look at a head-on profile.
     
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