Top end headphones advise please

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Top end headphones advise please

Hello. This is my first post although I have been lurking for some while.
My earlier interest in Hi Fi has been rekindled , sort of, in that I am now listening quite a lot, more or less daily- or rather nightly-.
I am going to ask for advice and comments about my proposed purchase of headphones for this nightly listening. I am anticipating one of three high end phones.
1. Sennheiser 800
2. Beyer T1
3. Audeze LCD 3

Has anyone had experience of any of these?

I d like to explain my background, particularly so that no one wastes their time advising me to get speakers because phones are not real HiFi etc.
I live in a terraced house, and I listen late at night. Cannot listen to hi if classical music at any other time. I need to consider other household members etc.

I am familiar with the always ongoing debate about whether hi if is satisfied by digital reproduction , or whether valves, exotic mystical turntables and cables etc are needed to be a true audiophile. 30 or 40 years ago I indulged in the latter camp, owning quad valve amps, Decca London cartridges in Hadcock arm, Meridian M2 spiked speakers and exotic cables.
So, been there, got the T shirt.
And so it went on till the compact disc came along. I remember well, my fellow addict friend ( I think he is still an addict), and I making the long journey to London Oxford Street carrying an enormous cardboard box on to a bus and taking all those LPs into a store , exchanging same for compact discs- three Mahler symphonies in a little plastic bag.

I still have a large number of compact discs, played occasionally on a laptop, using a recent purchased DAC on My Grado phones.
I listen more on YouTube, ( I Pad and said DAC ),where I have discovered much wonderful new ( and old ) music. I am also investigating streaming.
Now I hanker for really top end headphones to make the best of this limited but unavoidable way of listening.

So, what do you chaps think?

Stax

Since you asked for top end and did not mention a budget, I suggest you also audition the Stax electrostatic headphones. You need to use them with one of their dedicated headphone amplifiers, so that adds to an already elevated price. But the sound is exceptionally clear.

See: https://www.staxusa.com/

Willem

Headhone advice

 

Try auditioning the Sennheiser Hd800S and the Hd800.The former has reputedly slightly more bass and somewhat less treble.

Some have issues re the Hd800 treble.

It can sound sharp through poorly executed headphone outputs. I find the Hd800 quite well balanced usually.

The Hd800 sounds great with an Oxygen O2 headphone amp, with regard to

Youtube, peforms satisfactorily from an Imac headphone jack. So the 800S or the Hd800 should be fine with your Dac.

I have not sampled a T1 nor an Audeze. The Audeze LCD3 is expensive.

They both are widely reported to have a considerably less impressive sound stage than the Hd800/S. 

Stax 009's have poor resonance control I once observed on comparative waterfall plots.

Electrostatic floor standing loudspeakers often measure the same chaotic

resonance, possibly due to the large floppy plastic driver, albeit usually at high sound levels, so maybe the Stax is fine at sensible volumes. High resonance sounds as "hash". Sterephile once opined that electrostatic hash is misinterpreted as high resolution reproduction by many audiophiles, so beware.

Sennheiser have a new electrostatic headphone with its own amp.

You could buy a mid price new car, for less than the Sen electrostatic.

Excessively priced headphones are subject to placebo effect in evaluations.

I paid nothing for my Hd800, or for several higher end less expensive phones, perks, but still like the Hd800 the most usually. You could try an Akg 702 or

712, they are bargain prices, but perform well. Many new planar magnetics

from Hifiman, Oppo etc, are reviewing well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleepless

Why change?

Don't know which Grado's you have, but there's a good chance that you're way into the area of diminishing returns. I bought Grado RS1s years ago after auditioning them against what were then the highest-end Sennheisers, can't recall which model. Differences were case of swings and roundabouts and on balance I just preferred the Grado's. 

Having said that, I've got, or have had, a couple of dozen pairs of phones ranging in price from $9 to $1000 and I find the correlation between price and performance very tenuous. I've had poor-sounding phones costing a few hundred and great sounding ones for less than $20. Swapping from one to another there's certainly a difference but not necessarily one of quality. Generally speaking, expensive phones tend to deliver cleaner and deeper bass I find, the rest is a toss-up. 

If you've got $1500, or whatever the Senns cost these days in the UK, burning a hole in your pocket, go for it - we've all been there. But I wouldn't anticipate a life-changing experience.

Thanks to all for your

Thanks to all for your replies. All points noted. You can probably glean from my earlier experiences of hi fi that law of diminishing returns is known to me and no doubt is still alive and well in today's hi fi. Ian aware too that the name of Stax is very high end in headphones, but Willem, they are too high for me. My other hobbies have cost me a bomb, indeed I have told my mates that when I die they must not let my wife sell my gear for the price I told her I paid for it.-lol Possibly not alone on this forum, from what I can see of the prices of some of the esoteric gear. My phones are Grado, SR80e. Quite a nice sound, especially since the purchase of the DAC. But in Southern England I might find it hard to get a comparison session of the shortlist above. I've requested a top hi fi outlet near to me already but I've not even had a reply. The only other shop near me indicates that the top phones are carried in their other branches. I'll see if they will afford me an audition ( they could arrange that their demo phones are sent to their branch for the purpose. I hope so, because I also intend to buy a top MP3 player which will play lossless files. The existence of these I have discovered since my first post- then I had thoughts of ripping my CDs to my desktop and then transferring the files to my I pad. But I've decided against that, because Apple seem to have made it too difficult. YouTube etc say it can be done, but I have concluded not to try. I think too much of a risk. Therefore, those ripped files ( in WAV ) will be played on the MP3 player, and the I pad will play me the YouTube music, and streaming if and when I get round to that. So, a fair bit of money is available for the hi fi outlets if they want to work a little for it. BTW, any recommendations or experiences of MP3 players capable of playing Hi Res files. Oh, decisions, decisions-lol

Why MP3?

OK, I'll bite. Why would you choose lossy old MP3 as a preferred format?

 

There are many reasonably-priced players that will handle FLAC files. Indeed with a free software player such as EAC, you can easily use your PC to rip from CD to FLAC files and then enjoy the latter in streamed CD-quality sound. And unlike MP3, you can compress or copy FLAC files, for example to a suitable NAS drive, with no loss in quality. I myself have ripped hundreds of my CDs to a Synology drive in this way, and they can be accessed from anywhere within my home network. All you need to buy is a FLAC-compatible streamer to connect to your DAC. In short, there's a whole world of hifi available outside the Apple "ecosystem".

 

This link will tell you more.

 

http://blog.dezfowler.com/2007/10/ripping-to-flac-with-exact-audio-copy....

Roderick

Roderick2 wrote:

Roderick2 wrote:

OK, I'll bite. Why would you choose lossy old MP3 as a preferred format?

 

 

Thanks for your suggestion, motivated ,I think, to give me a cheaper option for lossless music. However, I did say that MP3 player which will play lossless -WAV-.  They are out there.They use sd cards to carry the large files.They have high quality DACS built in, as I understand them.

I must say that the link you gave left this old dinosaur completely  in a fog. Lol

Hardly understood it.- My bad, not too technically minded.

Also,

I don,t think that it would meet my listening requirements, I.e  sat in armchair wearing headphones connected to small device - I pad or MP3 player-. Even a laptop on my knees is too wearying after a while.  There is no other hi fi system in the house etc, and I think your recommendation needs a larger player of some sort, does it?

Anyway, I envisage just headphones and MP3 player playing lossless-WAV- files. These files can be moved to and from the micro sd cards housed in the MP3 player from my computers external hard drive as required.

And doing it that way won't tax this old brain, which is the wrong side of 70.lol

Thanks again for your input.

 

 

 

 

 

Boys and their toys

Got a chuckle out of your 'when I die' bit, B. In the past couple of years my wife and I have gone onto a shared credit card account and she being of the bean-counter persuasion notices ever penny on it, so I can no longer sneak toys into the house undetected, or undervalued. Not that she ever gives me grief over my purchases, but the guilt involved (do I really need better binoculars?) is tough to bear.

I'm with Roderick on the mp3 player bit. Get something that plays flac files, burn your cds into flac format on your computer (there's freeware available to do this for you) and then load them onto your player and you've got a gizmo no bigger than a cigarette packet that (depending on what card you load into it) will hold at least 100 cds and give you lossless sound. To my ears, even 192kbps mp3 files are only satisfactory for car listening, they don't cut it on good phones.

There are several good and inexpensive flac players on the market, Colorfly, Sansa and FiiO all make entry-level players for under £100. My home system is pretty good and was pretty pricey but I'm more than happy sitting out on the deck on a summer's morning listening to music on a Colorfly with a small battery-powered headphone amp costing a fraction of what I paid for the main set-up.

Sansa's players are excellent in terms of sound and dirt cheap but don't last, FiiO I haven't tried, but the Colorfly C3 has outlasted two Sansas and still performs faultlessly. 

amplifier output impedance and headphone impedance

But watch output impedance of the player/headphone amplifier: http://nwavguy.blogspot.nl/2011/02/headphone-amp-impedance.html

Willem

Thanks for further comments,

Thanks for further comments, and noted. Willem has said elsewhere,I believe, that data storage is now cheap( and it is ), and so I've decided to go this route. I will rip my CDs ( not all ) to WAV . I tried the above method  to get flac files,but instead of flac files , I've got wavs. - told you I was technically challenged ,lol- Doesn't matter that l'll have wavs as I have a couple of external hard drives.

As I want to hear them, I will put the music pieces on a sd card. This will go into a Hi Res player, probably the Pioneer Xdp-100R.( it will also stream hi Res etc if I go there later ). This will play all files and has large storage. When I have got used to it with my Grado rs80e phones, then I will audition high end ones like sennheiser 800s and Oppo PM 1 or 2. I think this will be as Hi as I can go with my Fi without speakers. I also cannot use stand alone CD players or amplifers, they would be too large physically for my domestic set up.

I am looking forward to progressing this way, as I have recently played CDs in my desktop computer using headphones and a DAC, and this really got me thinking. My favourite Copland 3rd was Bernstein, but using this setup I dug out and played Copland conducting his 3rd on Sony disc( part of a set ), and the latter won hands down. The detail was incredible. How much more will I discover?

hires wisdom?

There are good scientific arguments in favour of the view that any resolution higher than redbook cd is a waste of money and resources, because of the limitations of human hearing.

I am not trying to persuade you away from the headphone idea, but did you ever consider a very high quality mini monitor speaker like the Harbeth P3ESR? I use them as desktop speakers, and they are extraordinary.

Willem

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