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Headphone Advice

FytngCck57

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Hello forum members. I am new to the forum and recently moved into an environment where I must listen to my music with headphones. For decades, I listened to music through a pair of Bose 901 series1 speakers that I bought in 1976. I now have a Yamaha AS-501 integrated Amp, a Yamaha CD-S303 cd player, and a pair of AudioTechnica ATH M20x wired headphones.
I want to upgrade to better sounding headphones. Dynamic? Planar? I don't know. I've watched a few YouTube and they are often confusing and contradictory.
I enjoy Jazz, some classical, and some eletronic/rock (Radiohead for example). I'D rather not purchase a dedicated headphone amp if I can drive a nice pair of cans with my Yamaha.
I'm not a tech head. I just enjoy listening to music. And I realize that there's a very good chance I've joined the wrong forum.
For under a $1000 any suggestions?
 

sweetchaos

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And I realize that there's a very good chance I've joined the wrong forum.
You mean you asked the same question an another forum, besides ASR? ;)

Welcome to ASR.

From the official `Review Index` link above.
Narrowed down by your budget, and 'recommended by Amir':

1709321144465.png

There are over 30 headphones for you to consider.

Plus, we have dedicated members who are very knowledgeable and can recommend headphone models that weren't reviewed, but we can expect great performance from, so they can chime in as well.

Peace!
 
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wunderkind

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Oh boy....

You mentioned cans therefore I assume you want to stick with over-ear phones, not IEMs? I think if you can describe your sound preferences and use case would help the forum to narrow down the recommendations.

If you like AT's sound signature, the natural progression is the M50x.
 

Adamant11746

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The problem you may run into is that the headphone output of your Yamaha, due to the way it taps the speaker amp section via resistors, seems to be extremely high output impedance. This will affect the frequency response of any headphone that doesn't have an almost perfectly flat impedance. The M50x that was suggested earlier seems to be pretty flat, but other than that you may want to look at some of the more sensitive planars (planar magnetic headphones tend to have very flat impedance).

One thing to keep in mind is that if you don't use equalization (and I'm not entirely sure how to add a parametric equalizer to that setup) you will be much more limited in what headphones sound good. For example, the M50x has a large amount of mid-bass (plus a few peaks in the treble) that caused Amir to only recommend it with equalization.

Interestingly enough, I just bought a headphone that might fit the requirements here. The Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back is near the top of your budget (and in my opinion a bit over-priced) at $900, and is also pretty heavy (although when I tried them on I was pleasantly surprised to find the weight didn't bother me), but it sounds quite good even without equalization. It's also a planar, so it should have flat impedance, it has decent sensitivity, and while it in particular hasn't been reviewed here the other Audeze LCD headphones that have been reviewed were all well designed. I'd recommend taking a look at the review for the Audeze LCD-XC in particular, since it's the closest relative in terms of frequency response.

Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back vs LCD-XC Graph.png

The above graph shows the frequency response of both the LCD-2 Closed Back and the more expensive and heavier LCD-XC. The dotted line is the Harman target, which is a baseline for good sound. Not everyone prefers it, but it fits a majority of people. The much cheaper Audio Technica ATH-M50x is probably better value if you find that series comfortable (I needed bigger, deeper ear pads, and no cheaper closed back headphone existed with anything big enough). I'd recommend choosing based on both comfort (very subjective, so I can't help much there) and sound preference (extra mid-bass vs slightly less sub-bass in this case) The below graph shows the LCD-2 Closed Back and the Audio Technica ATH-M50x compared to the same target.
Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back vs Audio Technika ATH-M50x Graph.png
 

ZolaIII

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Yes you can any pair that's not device impedance load sensitive but it's still better to use a standalone DAC amp or even line out from the amplifier (if it has enough V/mV to drive them properly) instead of headphone out.
This is more than example, it's proposition if you can find them by the good price and even those fit most heads and have good seal (you don't have to adjust them much when putting on) and pretty much anything will have enough juice to drive them it's more than preferable that you try them first.
 

DVDdoug

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Most of the difference in headphones is frequency response, and the standard preference curve for headphones is NOT flat.

Also the measurements are "tricky" and preferences & opinions vary. If you can go to a store and listen & compare for yourself, that's probably worthwhile. I did that once., and ended-up deciding to keep what I already had! (Later they broke and are no longer available.)

It's also good if you can personally check comfort, and you may have a preference for an open or closed headphone.

Unfortunately, I don't see ATH M20x measured & reviewed here so it's hard to get an apples-to-apples comparison and know what the differences are between what you have and what you might consider.


For decades, I listened to music through a pair of Bose 901 series1 speakers
There is software that attempts to simulate the sound of a room with headphones. I don't use it, but somebody here can probably recommend something you can try.

I want to upgrade to better sounding headphones. Dynamic? Planar? I don't know.
There are good and bad headphones of every design. You probably get more for your money with traditional dynamic headphone.


For under a $1000 any suggestions?
That shouldn't be a problem. With headphones there is virtually no correlation between price and sound quality, as you can see from the recommended and not-recommended reviews here.
 
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Dunring

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For the Yamaha which probably has a fairly high output impedance I'd play it safe with higher ohm headphones like the 250 ohm Beyerdynamic DT770 or 880. The premium ones have the 9ft straight cable and really comfortable. The Sennheiser HD600 would always be first choice, plus removable cable option with those. Low ohm planars might cause the sound to change too much. The noise floor in it might also be an issue, easy to test by pausing a song and turning the volume up to listen for a hiss.
 

Mojo Warrior

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With a $1000 budget there are so many possibilities. IEMs reviewed on this forum offer really, really good sound and can be easily driven from your cellphone which makes them both comfortable and portable. There are several priced from $20-30. Amazing value for the money. (7Hz, Tanchjim)

At your budget I would not exclude a dedicated headphone amp. I've been listening to headphones for 60 years and I can recommend dedicated amps for just about any headphone. They just bring out the best from any headphone. More detail, better defined, solid bass and clearer vocals. But you will be tethered to a desk. A really great headphone amp can cost as little as $130. Check the reviews on this site. Currently the Schiit Magni Heretic is $59 on sale.

If you go this route you will be better served with a decent DAC if you are streaming music from your phone (unless you have an LG phone with Quad DACs). Again, I refer you to the reviews posted on this forum. Excellent dongle DACs range from $9 to $99. Obviously, you can feed the output of your CD player directly into the amp.

Also, you did not specify if you want a closed back or open back headphone. If you loved the Bose 901 you might prefer open back headphones. If you prefer the ultimate in detail a planar headphone may be a good choice. Hifiman has HE400se (open box) on sale for $89. If sound isolation is a priority then a closed back headphone would better suit your needs.

Honestly, at your budget you can afford 2-3 highly rated IEMs. A top notch headphone amp. And a pair of both open back and closed back headphones.

Reading charts and the opinions of strangers on a forum that do not necessarily share your musical preferences cannot represent what you will ultimately like. Fortunately, your budget allows you to experience an excellent selection of devices.
 
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FytngCck57

FytngCck57

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Thanks all for your comments and suggestions. I'll clarify my preferences and intended use.
I've tried IEM's and don't like them, though I'm sure there are great sounding examples out there. I listen to music in my home office and prefer over-ear closed back headphones. During the daytime, I need the outside noise isolation of closed backs, but at night, when my home is quiet, open backs might work. For portable listening, I have an iPod which is paired with my M20x's. As I mentioned, I love Jazz, and classical. What I'm looking for is a pair of headphones that reproduce acoustic instruments and vocals in a detailed, natural sounding way. I'm open to adding a dedicated headphone amp to my setup if that will help expand my options and improve the sound characteristics I like.
Other than Walmart and BestBuy, I don't have a retailer in town that carries headphones. However, I chatted up my local car-audio sales manager in an effort to understand impedance and sensitivity. He offered to loan me his Sennheiser HD 569's, his 250 ohm DT770 Pro's, his Hifiman Sundara closed back, and his Hifiman HE-R10D, each for a week of listening when I return his favorites, the Sennheisers.
I figure a weeks of listening to each pair will help me narrow down my search.
Thanks again for your suggestions and insight. If my research and impressions could be helpful to other newbies like me, I'll post them.
 
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