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Best headphone under 500 euros w/o need for amplifier

somy

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#1
What do you think the best HiFi quality headphone under 500 euros which can be driven satisfactorily by MacBook without the need for external DAC/AMP?
My list consists of:
  • AKG K702
  • AKG K712 pro
  • Sennheiser hd 660S
  • Hifiman sundara
Any other options?
 

3125b

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#2
I don't know the performance of the MacBook audio output. I'm sure the DAC is fine, the big questions here are power and output impedance. Can't find anything about it.
The K712 Pro draws a fair amount of current, as do the Sundara and K702. The 660S with its high impedance might be less of a challenge if the output voltage is sufficient (maybe 2Vrms). I suspect the output will be severely current limited with low impedance cans.
Mentioning Sennheiser you might want to have a look at the HD560S, they should be reasonably easy to drive even from weak sources (but are susceptible to tonal changes with high output impedances, you might need to EQ them).
Of course there is a number of easy to drive headphones under 500€ available, if you could describe what you are looking for a little better that would be helpful. And of course testing them if possible would be the best thing to do.
 

Berwhale

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#3

AnalogSteph

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#4
No real reason to be limiting yourself to 150 ohms max unless you're a loud listener. The 300 ohm HD600 + HD650 are only like 2 dB less sensitive than the HD660S, and if you like a bit more treble the 250 ohm DT880 isn't far behind. I swear the ATH-R70x (470 ohm) is at least as loud as the Sennheisers, too, but be warned that they aren't good for large ears (~6 cm max).

Any of these should be loud enough on ~1 Vrms onboard outputs for most people. And if that won't do you can always add an external DAC / HPA.
 

Jimbob54

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#5
I swear the ATH-R70x (470 ohm) is at least as loud as the Sennheisers, too, but be warned that they aren't good for large ears (~6 cm max).
Amen- why do manufacturers persist in making pads/ cups that are neither on ear or over ear for people with BFG lugs? The R70 just about make the cut for (mostly) over ear for me- the HD6// are barely any better with some lobe squish.

I find the R70 need another hour on the dial more than 300 ohm Senns (800 for me) for roughly comparable volumes btw. But by no means impossible to drive from lower V devices
 

Bob-23

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#6
What do you think the best HiFi quality headphone under 500 euros which can be driven satisfactorily by MacBook without the need for external DAC/AMP?
My list consists of:
  • AKG K702
  • AKG K712 pro
  • Sennheiser hd 660S
  • Hifiman sundara
Any other options?
I'd simply try it out - and add a dac/amp if necessary. And it depends on what you like in a headphone.

With regard to the AKGs: Out of the box, the K712 may be 'better' - but when eq'd there shouldn't be any noticable difference to the K702. The often mentioned 'warmth' of the K702 might simply be an effect of the reduced highs. I doubt very much that paying the premium is worth it. But be aware that they need good recordings, and their strength lies in classical, jazz, instrumental. Sound stage is wide, some people even called the K702's sound stage 'overly wide' (I like it) and regard the (a bit reduced) sound stage of the K712 as better.

If you are looking for an good allrounder, I'd take the Fidelio X2HR into consideration - they are not picky at all with the music they accept, have good sound staging (a bit less than the K702, but very open) and good imaging, they go down in bass very deep - but they also like some eqing. Built quality is excellent, but that comes with a price: they are relatively heavy (contrary to the lightweigt K**s), clamping force is relatively high (can be reduced by bending the headband). Can quite easily be driven. For the price they are actually sold, it's a bargain. It seems to be difficult to get new pads, if the old ones are worn out (they seem to last a while, memory foam in them), at least the original ones; after market pads are available, but that may influence FR.
https://www.rtings.com/headphones/reviews/philips/fidelio-x2hr
https://diyaudioheaven.wordpress.com/headphones/measurements/brands-philips/fidelio-x2hr/

Those looking for a decent sound stage, both the AKG's and the Fidelio X2HR are an option. Comfortwise the AKGs beat the X2Hrs, built quality wise the X2HRs beat the AKGs.
 

Berwhale

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#7
If you're not in a hurry, it's worth keeping an eye on the Sennheiser factory outlet shop. I picked up a new pair of HD 660s for £272 (300 EUR). The 'audiophile' grade stuff doesn't come up very often - but there is a pair of HD 800s on there at the moment.

https://en-uk.sennheiser-outlet.com/ - You can select your country or the nearest to you at the top of the page. I beleive that all the European stores show the same inventory and are shipped from Germany. I've bought 4 items from the store, they've all been in mint condition and have arrived in 2 days via DHL (to the UK).
 

Jimbob54

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#8
If you're not in a hurry, it's worth keeping an eye on the Sennheiser factory outlet shop. I picked up a new pair of HD 660s for £272 (300 EUR). The 'audiophile' grade stuff doesn't come up very often - but there is a pair of HD 800s on there at the moment.

https://en-uk.sennheiser-outlet.com/ - You can select your country or the nearest to you at the top of the page. I beleive that all the European stores show the same inventory and are shipped from Germany. I've bought 4 items from the store, they've all been in mint condition and have arrived in 2 days via DHL (to the UK).
Nope- some bugger must have had the 800's - how much were they ?
 

Berwhale

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#9
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somy

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Thread Starter #11
If you're not in a hurry, it's worth keeping an eye on the Sennheiser factory outlet shop. I picked up a new pair of HD 660s for £272 (300 EUR). The 'audiophile' grade stuff doesn't come up very often - but there is a pair of HD 800s on there at the moment.

https://en-uk.sennheiser-outlet.com/ - You can select your country or the nearest to you at the top of the page. I beleive that all the European stores show the same inventory and are shipped from Germany. I've bought 4 items from the store, they've all been in mint condition and have arrived in 2 days via DHL (to the UK).
Thanks didn't know this before. HD800S is out of my league, I can perhaps afford the headphone itself but I know I will throw in much more money to make it sound worth the price :)
 
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somy

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Thread Starter #12
No real reason to be limiting yourself to 150 ohms max unless you're a loud listener. The 300 ohm HD600 + HD650 are only like 2 dB less sensitive than the HD660S, and if you like a bit more treble the 250 ohm DT880 isn't far behind. I swear the ATH-R70x (470 ohm) is at least as loud as the Sennheisers, too, but be warned that they aren't good for large ears (~6 cm max).

Any of these should be loud enough on ~1 Vrms onboard outputs for most people. And if that won't do you can always add an external DAC / HPA.
Good to know, HD650 seems to get better reviews everywhere comparing to 660S. I put 660S in my list because its 150ohm and high sensitivity.
 

JohnYang1997

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#13
It really depends on what do you listen to and what do you think is loud enough. I am pretty sure Mac book can play hd600/650 very loud in general sense.
I also recommend oppo pm3 if you can get one.
 
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somy

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Thread Starter #14
I don't know what the specs of the headphone out are on the Mac, but you might open up the options for headphones by investing a portion of your budget in a very small, but well performing USB DAC/Amp like the E1DA 9038S: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ents-of-e1da-9038s-bal-portable-dac-amp.8424/
Well it that give me better SQ I'm willing to give a try - I need a dongle for my iPhone anyways.
E1DA/Sonata HD Pro/Hilidac Beam 2 are in my consideration. If I have one of these, do I get wider range of headphones with even better SQ to choose? Maybe HD650 is possible with those portable DACs?
 
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somy

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Thread Starter #15
I have read the review of hilidac beam 2 here: https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/audirect-beam2.24505/reviews
Looks like it's possible to drive Sundara. E1DA is also in the same league. So now with either E1DA and beam 2, my list of headphones are:
1) HD650 looks like the reference headphone by many, not 100% sure E1DA/Beam 2 can drive it properly?
2) Hifiman Sundara haven't tried planar before not sure how it compares to HD650
3) AKG K701 good value, seems easier to drive than the other 2
Suggestion is welcome! I cannot try them all in the place where I live unfortunately.
 
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#16
I choose Shure 1840 by this criteria.
I took Sansa Clip to big store and listened all available headphones with this player. Shure 1840 was best compromise, while a lot of other models obviously needed something better. Big Sennheisers really need amplification to have proper (mid)bass grip.
For sure, stationary/high-power source is better even for 1840, but it's not terrific difference.
Big studio AKGs are too bright and lean for me.
 

Robin L

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#17
It's worth your while to acquire Drop 6XX headphones, essentially Sennheiser HD 650s with a different paint job and a much lower price. Here's the rub with any really great transducer---the better they are, the more likely they will expose flaws downstream. The sound of my 6XX's is dependent on the source it's plugged into. So, it's at its best with the Topping E/L 30 combo, playing back Apple Lossless files from a computer. I've got two DAPs, the Fiio M3K dosn't have quite enough power, the Fiio X1 is better in that regard. The smartphone doesn't have enough juice, the computer has juice + distortion. But in addition to all that, the Topping combo sound has better control, better capture of low-level detail. So you can use these 'phones with a fairly wide range of equipment. Some will work better, but the overall character and quality of sound is pretty much the same.
 

Jimbob54

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#18
It's worth your while to acquire Drop 6XX headphones, essentially Sennheiser HD 650s with a different paint job and a much lower price. Here's the rub with any really great transducer---the better they are, the more likely they will expose flaws downstream. The sound of my 6XX's is dependent on the source it's plugged into. So, it's at its best with the Topping E/L 30 combo, playing back Apple Lossless files from a computer. I've got two DAPs, the Fiio M3K dosn't have quite enough power, the Fiio X1 is better in that regard. The smartphone doesn't have enough juice, the computer has juice + distortion. But in addition to all that, the Topping combo sound has better control, better capture of low-level detail. So you can use these 'phones with a fairly wide range of equipment. Some will work better, but the overall character and quality of sound is pretty much the same.
Thats the beauty of the current state of head-fi. A very simple DAC - many of the dongles are more than good enough- plugged into your phone/ pc and then the L30 or similar can make the most out of pretty much any headphone you choose to throw at them. If the music sounds bad, it either is bad, or your headphones arent right for you (or bad). No more angst needed about the DAC and amp parts of the chain.
 
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somy

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Thread Starter #20
It's worth your while to acquire Drop 6XX headphones, essentially Sennheiser HD 650s with a different paint job and a much lower price. Here's the rub with any really great transducer---the better they are, the more likely they will expose flaws downstream. The sound of my 6XX's is dependent on the source it's plugged into. So, it's at its best with the Topping E/L 30 combo, playing back Apple Lossless files from a computer. I've got two DAPs, the Fiio M3K dosn't have quite enough power, the Fiio X1 is better in that regard. The smartphone doesn't have enough juice, the computer has juice + distortion. But in addition to all that, the Topping combo sound has better control, better capture of low-level detail. So you can use these 'phones with a fairly wide range of equipment. Some will work better, but the overall character and quality of sound is pretty much the same.
HD6XX is not available in EU unfortunately. Saw some reviews and seems that it's a well balance between 600 and 650, also extremely good value.
 
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