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Best Headphones for compressed music (MP3 and AAC)?

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June 11, 2006 8:52:39 PM

I've realized that I need to get descent headphones if I truly want to enjoy my music and the X-Fi's abilities. I'll likely get more enjoyment out of a good pair of headphones than a midrange set of speakers...but I'm a seriously budget limited Musicphile (I can't afford to be an Audiophile $$).

I'm considering the Sennheiser HD650's ($337 NewEgg) or the Grado SR325's ($295 NeedleDoctor) mated to a HeadRoom Total BitHead ($200).

I'm trying to get reference quality sound (that I can actually hear) out of the X-Fi.

My question is whether or not the HD650 or SR325's + the Total BitHead is worth it for the X-Fi...and listening to MP3's (encoded @ 192 and 320kps) and AAC's from the iTunes store and Apple Lossless encoded AAC's)?

If this isn't the right forum can anyone point me in the right direction?

This all started as I realized these Bose TriPort headphones are not all I expected them to be.

More about : headphones compressed music mp3 aac

June 11, 2006 11:55:33 PM

I think if you buy anything other than Bose, your utility goes up a mile.

As for the Sennheisers, the HD580s, 600s, and 650s all use the same drivers, just tested to higher tolerances. The 595s are probably their highgest utility headphones right now, the right blend of price and performance, not to mention newer drivers.
June 12, 2006 12:25:46 AM

The approach I take on buying headphones is don't buy unless you've listened to them first hand under the conditions you will plan to use them. Or in other words go somewhere that lets you take a listen. It would hurt if you spent $300 online and you didn't like them. Or if you found a pair much less expensive that makes you just as happy. This seems to be what happened with your bose headphones. (Bose hasn't made quality audio equipment since the late 70's IMHO anyways.)

At first glance I think the headphones you are looking at are overkill. For one thing the reproduction of sound can only be as good as the source. In this case your source (for the most part) is compressed audio (aac and mp3's). This is when the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Headphones that good may even instead of making your music sound better, reaveal artifacts and shortcomings in the files.

I would go to an electronics store that specializes in audio and start listening to different headphones. Find one that to you personally is "music to your ears."
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June 12, 2006 12:53:59 AM

Thanks. I'm planning to head on over to Tweeter tomorrow after work and see if they have either the Sennheisers or Grado's to listen to. I don't mind if the headphones reveal how bad a highly compressed source file is, actually, since I can re-rip most of my prized music at lossless quality. I wanted a good set that I would be able to always (or for a long time) use as a reference as I upgrade my various components... As Astral noted, it seems the Senn HD595's are more popular, but I'm wondering if they'll sound as good on really accurate recordings...

I will take a listen before I plunge any funds, I just wanted to know if these 'phones would let me hear any quality (or lack thereof) of the X-Fi pretty accurately, and therefore, act a a good reference. The costs is really not that restrictive when you consider the cost of a good pre-amp, amp, speakers. It seems like a descent entry point into the realm of accurate music.
June 12, 2006 8:18:16 AM

The real way to take advantage of your X-Fi is to get a pair of bookshelves and an amp. Even the best headphones don't measure anywhere as accurate as a good set of bookshelf speakers. Pure physics. Full range drivers cant compete with specialized (and larger) drivers, smaller dispersion area, lower physical excursion limits.

But I agree, between headphones and PC speakers, headphones do have a head start. Add in bookshelf speakers in that mix, though, then it depends on living circumstances and personal preferences.
June 12, 2006 10:32:07 AM

Don't get sick, but I like the way the Bose Companion 3s sound as PC speakers. I know they've got Bose's equalization in them and that's prolly enough to make any purist turn over in their grave...and even levitate. ...but given the compromise of cost, size, and sound, and convenience...I like them alright. If I were to go with more accurate bookshelves, I'd need to get another sub-woofer and amp. Can I do all of that inside of $550? ...maybe, if I sacrifice the idea of descent headphones too, but I just need pleasant loudspeakers for my PC...I'm satisfied (for today anyways) with the twisted BC3's especially if it leaves me room to get a nice set of headphones w/in budget. In the Fall I'll focus on a descent non-PC-marketed 5.1 set and a new receiver that I'll send a digital signal to from the X-Fi and give the Bose speakers to the Dell. The Dell's been complaining that it feels left out and it has been neglected as of late.

...but I realize that I do want a good more-accurate headphone reference that can be used too that gives me 1) privacy (I'm in an apartment) 2) flexibility (to move from source to source) ...When I want to listen to Led Zeppelin's Kashmir or Prince's She's Always in My Hair late into the night...a descent set of 'phones coming off of a descent DAC (read: X-Fi) will become a prized possession. I'm really looking forward to being able to hear all the nuances or lack thereof of compressed MP3's and AAC's.
June 12, 2006 12:26:01 PM

Quote:
As for the Sennheisers, the HD580s, 600s, and 650s all use the same drivers, just tested to higher tolerances.

While the discontinued 580 and 600 do share the same drivers, AFAIK the 650 uses different ones.

These headphones are really different. Those Senns have a softer, deeper sound more suited to classical. Grados on the other hand have a brighter, more agressive sound, more suited to various types of rock or metal.
Don't limit yourself to just two brands. You can find AKG K-240S's (the 55 Ohm version S - "Studio" has more bass and is easier to drive out of portables; the 600 Ohm Monitors are harder to drive, but more precise) in many Guitar Centers and lots of other places, they can be as low or even lower than $100, yet sound very nice. I have a pair on it's way to me now :D  - I also own K-340s.

A good forum for headphones I know of is www.head-fi.org

You don't need to break the bank for decent headphone amplifiers if you are not afraid of DIY. The updated PINT and others found here are very good and relatively simple: http://www.tangentsoft.net/audio/
There are some more interesting projects scattered around headwize, too.

That's about it.

Oh, some more:
- if you don't want to bother people around you, then cloesd phones are what you should get. However, they usually sound a bit worse. Some good pairs: Senn HD25 (NOT 25-1!), Beyer DT250, or the very bass-heavy, but fun DT-770, AKG K-271.
- you will notice some difference between 192 or 256 and 1141 ("CD quality, 16bit/44100Hz), but from 320 upwards, the difference is barely noticeable.
June 12, 2006 1:31:36 PM

Frank, thank you so much. I was considering the AKG K-701's, too. DIY headphone amp, net notion...but...I like that the Total BitHead is cheap and offers an outboard DAC and can be used via USB, should I chose to.

This evening I'm going to hit a couple of shops and see what I can audition. It'd be nice not to have to spend $600 for excellent headphones+amp but given that its such a rare purchase I won't whine. I'm listening to classic rock, Prince (what category is he) and dance music, its not likely that I'll be listening to Bach. Even the low-priced Bose TriPorts have started to reveal things in 192Kbps encoded MP3's that I'd not heard with my crappy Sony V600s and they're not even burned in yet. If the Bose can do that I can't wait to hear what a higher-end front-row type set could do. I'm also eager to listen to the same music coming from an SB Live! vs. the SB X-Fi to see if I can hear audible differences and what exactly those differences may be.

For the type of music I like I'm wondering which I'll prefer (Grado's, Senn's, or AKG's), the HD650's looked to be as close to flat as I've seen...I wanna hear them.

May have to re-rip my music but I can do that in a few weeks.
June 12, 2006 2:36:28 PM

Glad to be of help.

The K-701s are nice. But so are the 601s. There's also the Beyerdynamic DT880, which is also a very nice pair - natural and quite flat, even range.
For rock and funk (Prince can be considered funk/rock/pop/dance, imo), though, a bit more forward and agressive presentation might be better. The Grado is a good choice for this, so is the K240S. If you say "rock cans", than these are the two most frequent responses you get. However, Grados, as I've heard (unofrtunately hey are not available here :cry:  ), can be a bit too "high on treeble", and be fatiguing to your ear.

Go 'round and audition a few cans, then fish out the ones you liked most on ebay; or from the fs section of headphone enthusiast forums - they keep them in better condition, have the nice ones and have the habit of trying lots of them, selling of the old ones. You can get good deals, plus they already have burn-in :D 
But remember, what you hear in the shop might not be what you hear through your system. Different source, amp, etc.
One more thing about Senns you mentioned and source: they have a "tube synergy". Many say the 580 and 600 sound better with tube amps. They compliment each other: the Senns add depth, the tubes add some brightness. Just some more things to consider.

One more thing: if you find something you really like, be happy with it. (Come to think of it, these all will be better than your current ones). No need to go overboard with a $200 Cardas upgrade cable, $1000 Bel Canto DAC, or $5000 Meridian CDP. You can have great sound out of a couple hundreds; beyond that, it's quickly diminishing returns, and upgraditis is a bad malady - especially bad for your wallet :lol: 
June 12, 2006 7:46:35 PM

Awesome info. Thx. This week I'll have to hunt around for a place that I can listen to these.
June 12, 2006 9:23:35 PM

Sennheiser HD280 Response Curve



Sennheiser HD497 Reponse Curve



Sennheiser HD580 Reponse Curve



Sennheiser HD595 Reponse Curve



Sennheiser HD600 Reponse Curve



Sennheiser HD650 Reponse Curve



I can't comment for in-ear response curves. But balanced loudspeakers (I realize, generally they don't exist in retail form) in this price range (IMO) can do better for accuracy. The critical midrange response (generally 800-8KHz) is a bit shaky past 3KHz. Channel seperation seems like a problem with both models except with the newer 595s. The 580s have the most uneven response amonst the similar headphones.

All the Senns exhibit upper bass humps; or "illusionary bass" that NorthAtlantic/European loudspeakers are often designed with. This makes bass response uneven and harder to integrate with a subwoofer, but gives the sense of more bass at the cost of some distortion.
June 13, 2006 12:00:43 AM

God bless you both. Astral, did you get these from HeadRoom's website? That frequency response list you've posted is PERFECT for comparison. The research I did today confirms what you'd said earlier...that the HD595's might be the sweetspot of what I'm looking for. I'd love to hear any of these before I buy but I might not have the opportunity, I might have to "pay" to audition them. I'm in Maryland (USA) and I've got to locate a shop that actually caries these cans. I stopped by Tweeter today and the kid didn't know what a "can" was let alone a Grado or AKG K-701...so I hope I don't have to drive 50 miles to audition descent headgear.

Have either you or Frank listened to any Grado's? I keep reading that their a bit uncomfortable but that they might sound really good for the kind of application and music I prefer. ...but the Senn HD595's seemed to be judged well by everyone while the AKG K-701's compete for current show-stopper, world's best. This week I'll do some homework and see where I can listen to these, ...it's a lot of $$ to spend without an audition, just based on reviews, but its worth the trouble.

I just would like to get a really, really good set of cans as a reference so I can move on to proper loud-speakers. ..

:roll:
June 14, 2006 7:20:51 AM

I don't remember where I got those, but Headroom does sound about right.

Man, when I first got my HD595s, these totally blew away my Logitech Z-680s. It was kind of a exhilerating epiphany. I had the same experience again when I got my Ascend 170SE bookshelfs, but that's what happens when you switch to a system that's 65-22KHz +/- 1db 8O. Every night I hate having to switch to my Sennheisers, the bookshelves are just clearer in every way. I feel my headphones are now muffled. I'll switch over midsong and suddenly everything sounds like its distortion loaded and bandwidth-challenged. Everything is relative I guess =D

I've heard the Grados before (SR80s), and I would say it's kind of like a Klipsch sound. It's a little more in your face than the Sennheisers, which are warm and laid back. Nothing beats the comfort of the Senns tho, with the velvet and over-the-ear design, rather than headphones that press onto your ears. I get fatigued wearing headphones pretty fast (about half an hour with the Senns). I can barely wear regular headphones for 10 mins, and it sucks if you wear glasses at home, because it adds pressure on the bend around the frame, and my ears are red on the ridges, and red on the outter end too if I were to wear regular headphones. =[ (yar I'm pretty fussy about this stuff).
June 14, 2006 8:18:48 AM

I think I'm going to order the HD595's today. HeadRoom quoted me $200, which seemed pretty good...if they don't add $15 for shipping. This is a little bit of a risk since I've not actually heard them for myself but its not that much money so I'm not going to whine...they've got to sound superior than these Bose Triport...which are going back as soon as I get the 595's burned in...I'll have a chance to do some comparison. ALL the reviews, especially by people seemingly, in-the-know, are really good for the '595s with most saying they're more up-front than the '600/'650's. ...they've got to blow the Bose's away. ...right? :?

***

I'm wondering if the headphone output on the X-Fi Platinum will act as a kind of headphone amp (the bay is powered with floppy drive power connectort) or whether I should actually spring for the HeadRoom BitHead. I've read that some people run their '595's w/out an amp and they sound great and I've read that they sound better with an amp. I'm trying not to be wasteful, but if I need to spend an additional $200 on a BitHead to get the best sound (I'm assuming this means bass) out of them then ...I'll...do...it.
June 14, 2006 8:36:39 AM

Quote:

I can't comment for in-ear response curves. But balanced loudspeakers (I realize, generally they don't exist in retail form) in this price range (IMO) can do better for accuracy. The critical midrange response (generally 800-8KHz) is a bit shaky past 3KHz. Channel seperation seems like a problem with both models except with the newer 595s. The 580s have the most uneven response amonst the similar headphones.

I beg to differ.
Loudspeakers that come close to the accuracy and detail level of headphones cost many times more. In the $100-300 range, where these cans are, I don't believe you can find loudspeakers and amplifier good enough even compared to the most uneven and least flat-response of these.
I don't know what you're smoking.

Loudspeakers in this range have much more uneven frequency response.
Channel separation is similar; and it is a secondary problem altogether.
And then, there are the other factors: you need optimal placement and optimal room conditions for them to sound best. Which is not so in most of the cases.

Anyway: this all comes down to personal preference. A totally flat response is good for monitoring purposes in the studio, but for listening to music, it might not be as good as a lively and involving pair, which by definition is uneven. Frequency charts can give you a few ideas and show some details, but beyond that they are useless.
June 14, 2006 8:59:23 AM

Interesting...so, at this price range you think headphones are a better idea than loudspeakers+amp for accuracy. I guess I was kinda leaning that way when i that some of the best were around $1,000 and I know that a set of Martin-Logan Statement's used to cost up near $100K ...so I just used my little twisted logic to assume I'd get more sound qual. for less $$ with headphones. ...but as I mentioned before, right now headphones seem like a better choice until I've got a better environment (and more $$) for descent loudspeakers.
June 14, 2006 9:23:09 AM

Quote:
I beg to differ.
Loudspeakers that come close to the accuracy and detail level of headphones cost many times more. In the $100-300 range, where these cans are, I don't believe you can find loudspeakers and amplifier good enough even compared to the most uneven and least flat-response of these.
I don't know what you're smoking.


Frank, I'm not really smoking anything, and there are plenty of loudspeakers in the $200-300 price range hooked up with inexpensive refurbed receivers or Class-D amps, price included, which I have listed over and over again throughout this forum, any easy search on loudspeakers and you will find my favorites, all of which measure very linearly on a wide bandwidth with low distortion. (some examples: SBS, Energy, Ascend, AV123 X-series, Hsu bookshelfs, etc). So, I beg to differ the other way. Everyone has their own opinion, but being polite on online forums does go long way towards civil discourse.

Quote:
And then, there are the other factors: you need optimal placement and optimal room conditions for them to sound best. Which is not so in most of the cases.


As for placement issues, stereo is supposed to be heard from a front soundstage. When you have cans, the same channels are played from the sides. Now there are crossfeed filters that add calculated delay as well as reverbs to help create the illusion of stereo, so headphone output isn't optimal either.


Quote:
Anyway: this all comes down to personal preference. A totally flat response is good for monitoring purposes in the studio, but for listening to music, it might not be as good as a lively and involving pair, which by definition is uneven. Frequency charts can give you a few ideas and show some details, but beyond that they are useless.


I'm not sure what you are arguing for, first you say loudspeakers aren't as accurate as cans, and cost much more for the same accuracy, so cans must be better? Then you say that uneven response is "lively" for music, and loudspeakers are more uneven, so loudspeakers are better now?. Then you say measured response is meaningless. What's going on? That's a lot of different thoughts in one paragraph!

Perhaps you mean purchase by taste?--good on my book, if you think a "livelier" speaker with particular peaks and dips to *your preference* makes *your favorite music* rock more, all the better to *you*. However, that doesn't invalidate speaker measurements, or the goal of accurate sound reproduction, especially for those who are interested with what the CD *should* sound like.

While a neutral loudspeaker might not have the flavor you want, it can easily be EQed to a particular taste, and I think that versatility is a gain for the buyer. Maybe a particular curve overcompensates for certain frequencies, and makes certain music fatiguing? Then you can adjust it to what isn't as fatiguing, or you can hear it as waveform accurate, if you just reset the EQ, where you "are" back at neutral, rather than being handcuffed to a "neutral setting" that might be fatiguing in certain situations.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Halcyon -- Dunno if they'll blow the Bose Triports out of the water, I've heard them before--didn't sound so hot at the Bose store in the mall--but I had no comparative reference then. A lot of Bose products do lean toward A-weighted frequency response curves, rather than a flatter, "more accurate" response curve.

Whether it blows them away should depend on your musical tastes. Some people (older folks) often prefer this type of sound, tending to turn on the "dynamic compression/night mode" on their receiver for movies. Though I suspect, from a distortion standpoint, you have some ways to gain, if the Triports use the normal untreated paper drivers like the rest of the Bose HT line =P.

The headphone out should produce enough current to power the 595 to pretty loud levels. It's a lower impedence load than the 580/600/650s, though the distortion might be audible earlier than with a dedicated amp (then again, the *very audible* distortion shouldn't kick in even on the X-Fi until pretty close to ear-splitting levels).

Experiment and see for yourself I say. You still have a return policy either way, right?
June 14, 2006 10:24:43 AM

Thanks again for the excellent information. I was quickly wondering if it would be just a good to get an X-Fi Platinum and use the break-out box's headphone out as would to get a HeadRoom Total BitHead. The X-Fi would give me some other features like digital output for use with my receiver, etc. ...but I think I'll try to stay focused and go for the Total BitHead...especially since it's got a DAC, crossfeed filters, and I'll prolly feel *safer*.

Astral, you mentioned earlier that your '595s tend to sound *muddy* compared to your loudspeakers?? Um, I don't want muddy, I want clear, crisp, powerful, personal sound. Is there a likely chance that with this expectation I may be dissappointed with the HD595's? I've read that the Grado SR325's have that in-your-face your-on-stage-with-Metallica type sound ...and that might become fatiquing after a while...but I don't want ...*muddy* either.
June 14, 2006 11:24:46 AM

Quote:

Frank, I'm not really smoking anything, and there are plenty of loudspeakers in the $200-300 price range hooked up with inexpensive refurbed receivers or Class-D amps, price included, which I have listed over and over again throughout this forum, any easy search on loudspeakers and you will find my favorites, all of which measure very linearly on a wide bandwidth with low distortion.

As for placement issues, stereo is supposed to be heard from a front soundstage. When you have cans, the same channels are played from the sides. Now there are crossfeed filters that add calculated delay as well as reverbs to help create the illusion of stereo, so headphone output isn't optimal either.

I'm not sure what you are arguing for, first you say loudspeakers aren't as accurate as cans, and cost much more for the same accuracy, so cans must be better? Then you say that uneven response is "lively" for music, and loudspeakers are more uneven, so loudspeakers are better now?. Then you say measured response is meaningless. What's going on? That's a lot of different thoughts in one paragraph!

There may be some good ones, but the accuracy and amount of detail of even $100-$300 are a hard match for speakers of this range. Most don't even come close. So I was debating that what you said was not true in the majority of cases.

Room conditions can have a much more severe impact on the sound of speakers - reverberations, room objects, echoes, phase-outs, etc. Not to mention other family members or neighbours interfering.

What I'm saying is that graphs can give you an idea of how things will sound, but you can't say that one sounds better or worse just by looking at graphs. Saying that they are problematic because of channel separation... you can measure it, but can't sense much of it by listening to it.
Look at tube amps - they have a high THD, so they should be inferior to transistor amps? Yet they are still valued much more highly.
Accuracy is not everything. It's about how much you like it. A not-perfectly flat-response pair of cans can sound more lively and involving, than a pair as even as possible. "The real test of the puding is eating". It's not about how flat each one is, but about how much you like them and how well they suit the situation.

And as for eq, you can eq both.
June 14, 2006 1:16:53 PM

Thanks again both of you as you both have valid points. Until I can set up what I think is a proper dedicated listening room (very little furniture) I probably won't get into the $1,000+ loudspeakers (that's this Fall for me). So, in the meantime I'm looking for the headphones.

I probably won't have an opportunity to listen to the cans before I get them, so I'll make sure the return policy is excellent before I buy. I want the absolute best sound I can get since that's going to be my reference. This morning I was seeing if I could possibly afford a pair of HD650's+TotalBitHead+a 4' Cordas cable ...if that combination would sound more enjoyable for longer listening sesstions (of jazz, rock, techno, and pop) than a pair of HD595's+TotalBitHead ...then I'll swing it. ...but if I'm not likely to tell the difference or it may sound worse, than not good. I'd rather start at the top of what I can afford and work my way down than start lower and wonder if I could have done better, as it gets tiring with buy and return...buy...and return...like I ended up doing with the Bose TriPorts. I've been pretty satisfied (and more broke, of course) with this fiscally-stupid method, but it works for me (for now). :roll:

I have to do this while I'm single and don't have a wife dictacting my spending habbits, so I may as well enjoy it while I can. I want the very best headphone sound I can afford coming out of my PC. Unfortunately, because I'm impatient that means I'll likely be buying based on reviews and the advice you've provided as opposed to my own in-store auditions...but again, I'll make sure the return policy is EXCELLENT...like @ NewEgg...and hopefully HeadRoom.
June 14, 2006 9:47:27 PM

Quote:

Astral, you mentioned earlier that your '595s tend to sound *muddy* compared to your loudspeakers?? Um, I don't want muddy, I want clear, crisp, powerful, personal sound. Is there a likely chance that with this expectation I may be dissappointed with the HD595's? I've read that the Grado SR325's have that in-your-face your-on-stage-with-Metallica type sound ...and that might become fatiquing after a while...but I don't want ...*muddy* either.


No, I was just saying alot of times audio is relative, and the 595s sound like I've lost some detail after jumping from my Ascends. I think a big part of that is the bass feels compressed a bit, but this is going to be true whenever you have headphones (they can't play deep, accurate bass). I'm sure the 650s are awesome cans, but are they really worth that much more than the 595s to you? I guess that's the question you have to ask. There's a lot of diminishing returns in audio.
June 14, 2006 9:47:54 PM

Quote:
What I'm saying is that graphs can give you an idea of how things will sound, but you can't say that one sounds better or worse just by looking at graphs. Saying that they are problematic because of channel separation...


Mmm...I can't? A Corvette has no problems if the left wheels operate with 2-3 more whp? There is always some level of crosstalk on every system, sure. Pointing out one has more than the other works fine if your left ear exhibited the same boost over your right in that example. If not, it's an arbitrary difference, which I hardly see as beneficial. Better or worse? Inaccuracy is a *problem*. Better or worse is whether you like or or not. I think you are confusing terms here, as they are not mutually exclusive.

Quote:
you can measure it, but can't sense much of it by listening to it.
Look at tube amps - they have a high THD, so they should be inferior to transistor amps? Yet they are still valued much more highly.


I never knew tube amps were valued higher than solid state amps, given almost everything since the the 70s has been solid state. From what I've seen, it's more like hobbiests who prefer a certain type of flavor over the other.

Tube amps don't necessarily have a higher THD than solid state amps. They exhibit "soft overload" from even order harmonic distortion, which is a more pleasing form of distortion than the "hard overload" of odd order harmonic distortion. This has nothing to do with the amount of THD, as THD is "total harmonic distortion." This is a case of the makeup of the THD; while solid state amps might have large amounts of 1st, smaller amounts of the 3rd, 5th, etc, the tube amps will exhibit the same pattern with even order distortion; 2nd, 4th, 6th, etc. Hobbiests who prefer even order harmonic distortion will buy tube amps that overload quickly in order to add the "bloom" of even order distortion to their music. Without this overload, both SS and tube amps will exhibit the same characteristics under a constant load (meaning the THD will be comparably inaudible in both cases). And not everyone prefers tube amps.

Quote:

Accuracy is not everything. It's about how much you like it. A not-perfectly flat-response pair of cans can sound more lively and involving, than a pair as even as possible. "The real test of the puding is eating". It's not about how flat each one is, but about how much you like them and how well they suit the situation.


Yes, I agree. Like I said in my previous posts, "buy based on your own tastes."

Quote:
And as for eq, you can eq both.


Yes, and like I said before, an speaker that's designed for a specific flavor may *sound good to you with certain music*, but almost certainly will be fatiguing with other types of music due to frequency overcompensation. I prefer a system that starts out neutral--this way, I can tell if the recording is badly compressed, because a well recorded album will not be fatiguing most of the time. I also think that it's easier to EQ a system to one's personal taste that starts off neutral than one that has all kinds of idiosyncracies, because it reduces steps in the EQ process, and also you get less distortion from EQing when you start off with a system that's designed to handle to stress of being extremely linear and still keeping various forms of distortion and spectral decay at a minimum. Either way, the final point is merely my preference for linear systems, IMO.
June 14, 2006 10:11:05 PM

I ended up ordering the HD595's and a TotalBithead (though I tried hard to justify a HeadRoom MicroDAC and MicroAmp...$598...that's a lot of bones)...but maybe, just maybe I'll take the Bose Companion 3's back and then, I could swing it without guilt...but I like the BC3's.

Oh well, when I get the '595's I've got 100 hours of burn in to do so I hope they come early Friday...maybe I'll get to really enjoy them by ...next Wednesday. I'll sneak a listening session in there. Now, to get that MicroDAC+MicroAmp off my mind.... I don't need that, I know I don't. I don't need that. I need a better video card...or...food.

Upgrade...itis...
June 14, 2006 10:36:24 PM

Oops! Dbl post.
June 14, 2006 10:37:34 PM

There's a theory that "burn in" is just the manufacturer's way of trying to get you to keep listening to a product until you adapt to it (even if you didn't like it before).

Every driver goes through an intensive burn-in phase after manufacturing, and that is said to do all is needed in terms of loosening the spider, voice coils, etc. Most types of "burn in" that occur afterwards are only temporary; while the bandwidth can keep increasing during music playback, when the system is idle for a given amount of time, the changes to things like System Q will return system response to pre-"burn in" (your burn in) period.

It's a pretty hotly debated topic. Most loudspeaker manufactueres don't want to get too involved, but cautiously tell you the burn in during manufacturing will determine the majority of your system response, and a few of the ID manufacturers will go so far as to say the measured changes to system response during normal use is not a permanent phenonmenon.

For example, at AVSforum (where a lot of budget AV guys hang out, along with quite a few of the CEOS of the ID brands).

Paul Scarpelli, Director at Triad Speakers: "I've found that Peruvian fertility chants, played at 97 dB and 102 dB, alternately at ten minute intervals, works best, by far.

It doesn't matter as long as the music contains the full spectrum. Nearly all speaker break-in occurs within the first half hour of playing, although delusionals will claim a continuing improvement over months. Temperature and humidity changes in the room make more of a difference than break-in. Your ears' exposure to loud environmental noises make a much bigger difference. Alcohol or simple medications make more of a perceived difference."

Also there is an experiment with break-in here:http://www.vikash.info/audio/audax/

Here you see the system F (bass extension) and Vas (volume) stand out the most, though 60% of the gains were in the first 30 hours. Also, note the "break in" here was in the forum of high-stress 15hz test tones. Regular music is not going to affect the system response as significant as this.
June 14, 2006 10:53:15 PM

Hmmm...then perhaps I'll participate in that "burn-in" process and see if I can hear any changes over the first hundred or so hours. I do kinda feel like the Bose Triports did improve a little over time...but since I took them back today...who cares?

Did you notice any significant change in your '595s? ...are you using a headphone amp? I read the '595's didn't really need an amp. In fact I think you did ilude to that in an earlier post?? I think the BitHead will be just fine for those cans. If not... :D 
June 16, 2006 4:35:29 AM

Any attempt to quantify any changes I think might have happened to my 595s would be complete idle speculation. My playlist is over 6k songs and my acoustical memory (like most people I would imagine) isn't very long.

I think it isn't a very easy thing to do to actually for certain notice significant changes in your speakers, especially (as manufactuers have noted), the changes to your driver tolerances seem far less than the amount your acoutical awareness can change from mood to mood or environmental conditions.
June 16, 2006 5:52:29 AM

Jesus most of you have no idea what you are talking about....I'm not gonna start argueing with you here cause i'm not in the mood right now.


If you do feel like flaming at/with me my aim is : MyTieForPeace


Anyone who defends Bose has obviously never even been near a good pair of auidophile cans.


Bose = BuyOtherSoundEquipment
June 16, 2006 6:42:34 AM

Are you for real? 81 posts away from posting image links? Keep at it soldier.
June 16, 2006 7:29:57 AM

Quote:
Jesus most of you have no idea what you are talking about....I'm not gonna start argueing with you here cause i'm not in the mood right now.


If you do feel like flaming at/with me my aim is : MyTieForPeace


Anyone who defends Bose has obviously never even been near a good pair of auidophile cans.


Bose = BuyOtherSoundEquipment


First of all, Jesus has nothing to do with your rants so leave him out it.

I didn't defend the Bose cans so don't act like a bone. I took them back and ordered Sennheisers...but you know that because you've read the posts, eh?

It's also subjective. As I said earlier I like the Bose Companion 3's for their compromise. The sound is pleasing to me, whether its objectively accurate or not. Their cost is relatively low. ...and they're truly unobtrusive in size. With that triange of compromises I think they're descent for computer speakers though they don't approach audiophile quality sound. Their cost directly, allowed me to get the HD595's and Total Bithead NOW, ...as opposed to later. Hellllloooo!!

P.S. I was truly dissapointed to read an email from HeadRoom this morning @ 2:30A telling me that the Total Bithead wasn't available for immediate shipping. ...grumble, grumble.
June 17, 2006 2:02:41 AM

The sales person @ HeadRoom assured me their TotalBitHead would soud way better than any using a soundcard and running it to an amp. I was a little skeptical because I remembered seeing that the TB's THD was like 0.1% while the X-Fi's was like 0.004%. I know its about much more than THD, but I think the TB's S/N is 89db, while the X-Fi's is 109db...I was just a little curious/skeptical.

Can you tell me why he was likely right...or wrong?
June 17, 2006 7:57:21 AM

Quote:
Are you for real? 81 posts away from posting image links? Keep at it soldier.


well 443 posts doesn't exactly put you at the top of the totem pole there buddy.

The amp will deliver a tremendous improvment over any sound card, the amp is designed to power headphones.
June 17, 2006 8:03:09 AM

Oh, I'm definately going to be using an amp, no question. I guess the question is if the X-Fi and its DAC are audibly worse than the $200 TotalBitHead's DAC? The sales guy thought the TotalBitHead wins hands down, but he didn't know which soundcard I'm using. 8O
June 17, 2006 8:35:32 AM

Yeah, I'm doubting his objectivity. I guess it prolly is wise for me to check out the audiophile forums. Thanks for the pointer.
June 17, 2006 9:25:51 AM

Quote:
Are you for real? 81 posts away from posting image links? Keep at it soldier.


well 443 posts doesn't exactly put you at the top of the totem pole there buddy.

The amp will deliver a tremendous improvment over any sound card, the amp is designed to power headphones.

Hah, always good to have a humorous one here. PM me if you missed the innuendo. Or if you didn't, I commend you on your humorous deflection.
June 17, 2006 7:38:10 PM

hey man if you buy the amp whats your source gonna be?
June 17, 2006 8:49:32 PM

it should have no problem pushing thoose 595's
June 17, 2006 9:00:59 PM

Looks like that's as audiophile as I'm going to be able to get for a few months. There's so much gear that I NEED. It stinx that I'm impoverished, damned mortgage.
June 17, 2006 9:47:39 PM

hahah be patient, it will all come.

and yes damn american banking.
June 18, 2006 1:30:01 AM

When the TotalBitHead arrives on Monday (I paid $20 for overnight, so it had better arrive on Monday) I'm planning to really listen to see if it's DAC sounds better than the X-Fi's, if not...it may go back and I can get a better amp with the HeadRoom MicroAmp ( http://www.headphone.com/products/headphone-amps/the-mi... )...and then later consider adding a MicroDAC ( http://www.headphone.com/products/headphone-amps/the-mi... ), but if the X-Fi sounds just a good for 1/3 the price...?
!