Open back headphones and in-ear headphone

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by pritchardbrown, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. pritchardbrown

    pritchardbrown New Member

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    I was looking for headphones for listening at home - mainly from my iPhone. Like everyone I listen to a bit of everything, but do listen to a lot of classical, often big symphonies or concertos and lots of opera and vocal. They would need to be comfortable as I can be listening for two to three hours at a time (so in ear-phones get painful) and probably not more that £150

    I also wanted to buy my son some in-ear headphones (he did well in his exams) but wanted something pretty robust. Again for an iPod. I was looking at the Phonak Audéo PFE Perfect Bass 012 but could stretch to more money. I did wonder about headphones with replaceable cables such as the Westone UM2 and if the replaceable cable means that the headphones are likely to have a longer life. In my limited experience it seems to be the cable connection into the headphone that goes first (I had some Klipsch over ear headphones that did that).

    Thanks for your help, Derek.
     
  2. Ian Hifi

    Ian Hifi Super Moderator

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    The first thing to consider when your main source of music is a portable/battery device like a phone or mp3 player, is the headphone impedance. (measured in ohms Ω.) It's advisable not to exceed 80Ω as some portable devices don't have a big enough signal output to run the headphones drivers at their optimum level.
    A headphones ohmage has no relevance to their clarity or quality of sound, it just relates to the signal needed to drive them.

    Looking at your musical tastes, many people are fans of open backed headphones when they enjoy the multi layered dynamics of classical, or indeed more contemporary music like Pink Floyd or Muse. Open backs give a big spatial sound, similar to the kind of dynamics you get with home cinema systems.

    The only really draw back with open backs is that they may limit where you are able to use them. For instance, they are not really conducive to use on planes, trains, buses, etc. As the name suggests, open backs have a perforated outside facure and they do have an amount of spill that is audible by other people in your immediate vicinity. However, if you are planning just to use them at home they do offer a wide and dynamic sound stage to enjoy your music.

    The ATH AD 700's are a super comfy model for prolonged listening. They are light on the head and fitted with velvet ear surrounds, so really comfy on the ears.


    Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 Open Back Hi-Fi Headphones (AD 700)

    £134.95

    The Sennheiser HD598's are another low impedance (50 ohms) headphone worth a look. Another model with velvet type ear surrounds that are like carpet slippers for the ears. Really comfortable for long periods, good build quality, and a typically rich Sennheiser sound.


    Sennheiser HD598 Open Back Dynamic Headphones (HD 598)

    £184.96

    If open backs are not going to be the best option, its worth having a look at the Ultrasone 780's. They are a closed back model so no sound spill but come pretty close to the same broad cinematic sound stage you get with open backed headphones. Portable, and very nicely made.


    Ultrasone HFI-780 Closed-Back Foldable Headphones (HFI 780)

    £159.95

    A final suggestion would be the German Maestro 8.35's. Very light and massively robust (we've jumped on a pair here in the office) Hand made in Germany, well engineered, and with a really accurate sound.

    GermanMAESTRO GMP 8.35 D Monitor Closed Headphones

    £159.00

    As for your questions about in-ear headphones, I think replaceable cables are very useful, but its always worth considering who is using them. My own personal bug bear is the confines of budget aircraft seats. Several times I have caught ear pieces in the nooks and crannys of seats, then stood up and pulled off the ear fitting. Replaceable cables are good for clumsy people like me.:rolleyes:
    They are generally a bit more expensive than non replaceable models but there are a few good exceptions available. The Shure SE 215's are a good option. Not only to they have replaceable cabling, but they cables they come with as standard are the same kevlar reinforced ones they fit to most professional in-ear monitors.


    Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones in Clear (SE 215)

    £99.95

    Finally, have a look at the Westone 1 True Fit. Not only are these a great sounding pair of headphones with a single armature driver, they are robust too. If you enlarge the photo on the website you can see just how well protected they are, at those usual fail points. (ie where cables go into the ear piece or the plug)


    Westone 1 True-Fit Single-Driver Earphones (Westone1)

    £109.96
     
  3. pritchardbrown

    pritchardbrown New Member

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    Thanks for that reply. The ATH AD 700's seem ideal for me and I like the look Sure SE215's as well - but the Sure 'phones are out of stock. Do you have idea when they would be in? Thanks, Derek
     
  4. pritchardbrown

    pritchardbrown New Member

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    Thanks Ian, that's the two headphones ordered
     
  5. Ian Hifi

    Ian Hifi Super Moderator

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    If you have a moment, it would be great to get some forum feedback from you, once you have had a chance to access the headphones.:)
     
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