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headphones: how and whether to start?

Mikig

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about headphone

I would like to try to set up a decent mini system, just as an alternative to my speaker system, which I have no intention of overshadowing. For the sake of putting an ear into the world of headphones too.

I have no significant experience with headphones, but I have some material, a Sennheiser HD205 headphones, very basic I think, and two headphone amplifiers, a Stax SRM Xh, never opened and a Grado HPA-1, which act as ornaments.

What would you do in my place?

1) I sell everything and buy something new,

2) I keep amps and change headphones, but Stax and Grado have different connections.

3) It's not worth it! either you do it right or you don't! Do I leave everything as it is and since it's just a temptation, do I use the funds to improve my Hi-fi system?
 

Brian Hall

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It depends. What are you trying to achieve?

1. What is your budget?
2. Do you want a lot of bass or more accurate reproduction?
3. What kind of headphones are you comfortable with? IEM, full sized or very light weight over the head? Open back or closed back?
4. What is your source of music? Streamer, CD, turntable, mixed?
5. What is your favorite type of music?

edited to add: Have you actually tried listening to what you have? You might already be satisfied with it if you give it a chance.
 

solderdude

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about headphone

I would like to try to set up a decent mini system, just as an alternative to my speaker system, which I have no intention of overshadowing. For the sake of putting an ear into the world of headphones too.

I have no significant experience with headphones, but I have some material, a Sennheiser HD205 headphones, very basic I think, and two headphone amplifiers, a Stax SRM Xh, never opened and a Grado HPA-1, which act as ornaments.

What would you do in my place?

1) I sell everything and buy something new,

2) I keep amps and change headphones, but Stax and Grado have different connections.

3) It's not worth it! either you do it right or you don't! Do I leave everything as it is and since it's just a temptation, do I use the funds to improve my Hi-fi system?
The HPA-1 is just a simple opamp in a very expensive wooden box.
The Stax SRM Xh can not be used with 'normal' headphones, it is for electrostatic headphones only (that have the same connector).
The HD205 is one of the cheapest headphones around. (new about $ 40.- 10 years ago)
I can't find any measurements so it even looks like no one cared enough to measure it.
I did measure the HD215 which measured poorly.
sennheider hd215 (stock)


The HPA-1, when in nice condition, sells for good money to collectors.
The Stax SRM Xh will fetch you around $ 400.- in nice condition and is only interesting for Stax owners/collectors.
The HD205 is worth about $ 20.- in good condition (pads have to be as new).

Sell the HPA-1 and Stax and you can buy a really good high quality headphone + really nice headphone amp/DAC that will outclass the HPA-1/HD205 combo in just about any aspect.
 
Last edited:
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Mikig

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Dipende. Cosa stai cercando di ottenere?
The HPA-1 is just a simple opamp in a very expensive wooden box.
The Stax SRM Xh can not be used with 'normal' headphones, it is for electrostatic headphones only (that have the same connector).
The HD205 is one of the cheapest headphones around. (new about $ 40.- 10 years ago)
I can't find any measurements so it even looks like no one cared enough to measure it.
I did measure the HD215 which measured poorly.
sennheider hd215 (stock)


The HPA-1, when in nice condition, sells for good money to collectors.
The Stax SRM Xh will fetch you around $ 400.- in nice condition and is only interesting for Stax owners/collectors.
The HD205 is worth about $ 20.- in good condition (pads have to be as new).

Sell the HPA-1 and Stax and you can buy a really good high quality headphone + really nice headphone amp/DAC that will outclass the HPA-1/HD205 combo in just about any aspect.

thanks for the replies!

to summarize I'm looking for a very basic system to start taking the first steps and see if I like it.


So I wouldn't put any special money into it.

I also have a Naim V1 Dac, that I used in the past, which has a headphone output, apparently in Class A, via jack.

I might leave the other two amps on the shelf and focus on that.

The question at this point could be:

If the Naim has good performance, and is worth it as a starting point, which headphones could I get with an excellent price/performance ratio, obviously leaving aside the more valuable pieces?
 

Rhamnetin

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about headphone

I would like to try to set up a decent mini system, just as an alternative to my speaker system, which I have no intention of overshadowing. For the sake of putting an ear into the world of headphones too.

I have no significant experience with headphones, but I have some material, a Sennheiser HD205 headphones, very basic I think, and two headphone amplifiers, a Stax SRM Xh, never opened and a Grado HPA-1, which act as ornaments.

What would you do in my place?

1) I sell everything and buy something new,

2) I keep amps and change headphones, but Stax and Grado have different connections.

3) It's not worth it! either you do it right or you don't! Do I leave everything as it is and since it's just a temptation, do I use the funds to improve my Hi-fi system?

I guess only you can answer #3. Speakers and headphones have different use cases, so if the two would overlap (home listening), personally I'd put that money towards improving the speaker system.

For a budget over-ear headphone, I really like the AKG K371. I like it more than most $1,000+ headphones too; the frequency response is more generally agreeable, and unlike most high end headphones you can get a lot of bass (too much sub-bass out of the box for my taste) with very low distortion at 94 dB SPL and below. I use the EQ profile from the review here except I also use a low shelf filter similar to the one crossed out.

The K371 is also really sensitive so can be driven out of pretty much anything, and it's closed back + portable. So your Naim would be a fine starting point for it I'd assume.
 

DVDdoug

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You may not even need a separate headphone amp. Amplifiers are for amplification so if your headphones go loud enough without distortion you don't need one.

I agree about the AKG K371. It's about $150 USD, and the sound quality is hard to beat at any price. So it's a good place to start if you don't know what you want. (Unlike speakers, with headphones there is almost no correlation between sound quality and price.)
 
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Mikig

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I guess only you can answer #3. Speakers and headphones have different use cases, so if the two would overlap (home listening), personally I'd put that money towards improving the speaker system.

For a budget over-ear headphone, I really like the AKG K371. I like it more than most $1,000+ headphones too; the frequency response is more generally agreeable, and unlike most high end headphones you can get a lot of bass (too much sub-bass out of the box for my taste) with very low distortion at 94 dB SPL and below. I use the EQ profile from the review here except I also use a low shelf filter similar to the one crossed out.

The K371 is also really sensitive so can be driven out of pretty much anything, and it's closed back + portable. So your Naim would be a fine starting point for it I'd assume.

Thank you for the "tip" on AKG!!

at point 3, I would tell you that I don't know the differences: I have never tried all the models. I have "AirPods" but they bother me quite a bit, in fact I only use them to make calls. I would lean towards classic headphones, full size, perhaps comfortable.
As mentioned, my main project remains the Hi-Fi system with speakers, the desire is simply that of a small headphone system, which can play in a dignified manner, to alternate with the Hi-fi every now and then.
 
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Mikig

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You may not even need a separate headphone amp. Amplifiers are for amplification so if your headphones go loud enough without distortion you don't need one.

I agree about the AKG K371. It's about $150 USD, and the sound quality is hard to beat at any price. So it's a good place to start if you don't know what you want. (Unlike speakers, with headphones there is almost no correlation between sound quality and price.)

Do you think my Naim V1 DAC will happily match?
 
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Mikig

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5BFA61B2-04B9-4B9E-9C74-FE5EB51F5A51.jpeg


this is the material I own.

Or rather, which I have accumulated over time;)
 

RosalieTheDog

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As for headphones, solderdude's website is good reading, but you have to check for yourself what you like. I am still very happy with the Sennheiser HD660s open back. If you are interested in Sennheiser check their outlet / refurbished website. They always have excellent discounts on all models.
 
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Mikig

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As for headphones, solderdude's website is good reading, but you have to check for yourself what you like. I am still very happy with the Sennheiser HD660s open back. If you are interested in Sennheiser check their outlet / refurbished website. They always have excellent discounts on all models.

Thanks for the tip on Sennheiser
 
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Mikig

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I was looking at the various models online, what is the difference between open at the back and not??
 

eddantes

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Sell the things you don't want - that gives you a budget.
Then buy things you do want - within that budget (plus whatever you want to add).

In the end - headphones are some of the most measured audio gear out there - making a choice shouldn't be hard once you decided what's important to you.
Over hear? On ear? Open? Closed? Comfort? Adherence to Harman curve? Cost? ANC?

After that head on over to any of the sites with reviews and see what few models meet your requirements. For example here:

1708371717928.png


Over Ear + $100-$200 + Recommended (PS: I own the 400SE and find them delightful)

EDIT: Let me add the following: Sennheiser HD650 seems to be some sort of headphone touchstone. Maybe start with these?
 

Rhamnetin

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I was looking at the various models online, what is the difference between open at the back and not??

Open back will leak lots of the sound out, so it's not fit for use on the go/in public. Beyond that, the differences will vary per headphone.
 

GXAlan

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… and two headphone amplifiers, a Stax SRM Xh, never opened and a Grado HPA-1, which act as ornaments.

What would you do in my place?

1) I sell everything and buy something new,



3) It's not worth it! either you do it right or you don't! Do I leave everything as it is and since it's just a temptation, do I use the funds to improve my Hi-fi system?

The fact that you have headphone amps as ornaments tells you that you really don’t love headphones. It’s just convenient to buy headphones and headphone gear for the dopamine rush since they are small and easy to ship and buy.

Personally, I had the HD820 and sold it and just use the MDR-CD900ST. The sound quality is different for sure, but it’s good enough.

The used audio market is in a bit of a free fall, at least for anything but the ultra exotic. Selling now may feel like a loss, but you are better off selling and “Marie Kondo”-ing what no longer brings you joy. Then use it to upgrade your main speakers when the time is right.
 

Arnas

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Sell everything and buy One of those new Dan Clark headphones.
 
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Mikig

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The fact that you have headphone amps as ornaments tells you that you really don’t love headphones. It’s just convenient to buy headphones and headphone gear for the dopamine rush since they are small and easy to ship and buy.

Personally, I had the HD820 and sold it and just use the MDR-CD900ST. The sound quality is different for sure, but it’s good enough.

The used audio market is in a bit of a free fall, at least for anything but the ultra exotic. Selling now may feel like a loss, but you are better off selling and “Marie Kondo”-ing what no longer brings you joy. Then use it to upgrade your main speakers when the time is right.

yes, headphones have never been a priority, but you never know, maybe I'll start with headphones and I like them...

I've accumulated many components over the years, but now I've reached a different level of approach to the audio hobby. So few but very targeted purchases.

The big problem is the prices: all the material costs a lot, and every now and then I start to wonder if it's right...maybe that's also why I'm starting to evaluate other forms of listening.

I would have to change the speakers, but a good component costs thousands of Euros and more...
 
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Mikig

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Sell everything and buy One of those new Dan Clark headphones.
They look beautiful!!

But I saw the first line on the site…. when I read “exclusives” I always have a strange feeling…
 

Rhamnetin

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They look beautiful!!

But I saw the first line on the site…. when I read “exclusives” I always have a strange feeling…

For what it's worth, their headphones can be bought from many different stores around the world so it doesn't really mean anything. But for that money you can probably improve your speaker system significantly.
 

GXAlan

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I've accumulated many components over the years, but now I've reached a different level of approach to the audio hobby. So few but very targeted purchases.

The big problem is the prices: all the material costs a lot, and every now and then I start to wonder if it's right...maybe that's also why I'm starting to evaluate other forms of listening.

I have been exactly in your shoes. Accumulated a lot because each “system” offered something slightly different a long with “collectible” vintage gear.

But then I realized what I should have done all along. I went “all in” on something big and even though all my systems offered something “different” I was able to consolidate my gear.

When you sell your old gear it will hurt due to depreciation. Just think about helping another audio enthusiast get a deal…
 
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