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>> No. 26043 Anonymous
7th August 2017
Monday 9:07 am
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I'm in the market for some new headphones but I can't decide on which ones. I want to replace my old Audio Technica ATH-AD700s which have finally kicked the bucket after 9 years of use and numerous replacements of the headphone wire (this time the break seems to be somewhere in the middle of the headband, and I can't resolder it without breaking the headphones).

I've been looking at the AKG K702s as a replacement, but are they really worth the £130? It seems to me that the placebo effect and confirmation bias play a pretty big role in the perceived quality of a set of headphones, but I haven't come across any concrete evidence like blind listening tests that would back that idea up. Are human ears even sensitive enough to perceive a difference between something like a well-regarded pair of £30 Superlux 681s and a well-regarded pair of £130 AKG 702s? It's very difficult to tell the marketing dross apart from tangible technical differences.
Expand all images.
>> No. 26044 Anonymous
7th August 2017
Monday 9:36 am
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I swear by these things.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sennheiser-HD-Closed-Headphone-headband/dp/B00009ZSYG

The model has been around possibly longer than you. It is considered industry standard for recording studios and film sets, which to me is probably a higher recommendation then any spiel I could give.

My own pair has become something of a Ship of Theseus over the years (probably about 8 now) I've replaced the cable 4-5 times and once the padding material, to put that in context though, I wear them fucking everywhere and I used to burn through a pair of skull candies in about a month.
>> No. 26045 Anonymous
7th August 2017
Monday 9:55 am
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>Are human ears even sensitive enough to perceive a difference between something like a well-regarded pair of £30 Superlux 681s and a well-regarded pair of £130 AKG 702s?

Yes, definitely. The Superlux HD681s are perfectly competent and extremely good value, but they aren't quite in the same class as the AKG K702s.

The K702 has an extremely deep and crisp bass response, with no hint of boominess. The HD681s sound bassy, but it all comes in a big squidgy lump at about 50Hz. The semi-open design of the HD681s acts similarly to a ported loudspeaker cabinet, creating a resonant peak to enhance the apparent bass response of a smaller driver. It's not subjectively unpleasant, but there's a lack of clarity and separation; a kick drum and a bass guitar or synth tend to blur into each other.

The K702s have truly exceptional transient response. The drivers are very lightweight and very well damped, so a sharp transient sound like a snare drum sounds absolutely crisp. The high-frequency response extends well above the limit of human hearing with exceptionally low distortion, which lends a remarkable sense of brightness and airiness to high-hats and flutes.

The HD681s aren't bad headphones by any means. I'm sure you'd be perfectly satisfied with them and they're the obvious choice if you're on a budget.
>> No. 26046 Anonymous
7th August 2017
Monday 9:56 am
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>>26044

Great headphones, but basically a torture device if you wear glasses.
>> No. 26047 Anonymous
7th August 2017
Monday 2:27 pm
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>>26044

Seconded. You don't really need to go any further than these.
>> No. 26048 Anonymous
7th August 2017
Monday 6:19 pm
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>>26044

Sennheisers are a load of wank. I had a pair of HD-25 SPs and they broke right at the voice coil, and the coil is so ridiculously thin that it's impossible to repair yourself. It's almost as if they intentionally make their headphones that way to have people buy entirely new driver assemblies instead of being able to repair a single wire.

I think the reason their durability is hyped up is because of how easy it is to replace parts whenever something breaks. Studios are generally happier to splash money around and order pricey replacement parts instead of messing around with wires and solder.
>> No. 26049 Anonymous
7th August 2017
Monday 6:28 pm
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>>26048

That's totally solderable. 1mm chisel tip, splash of flux, some proper 63/37 eutectic solder, a sharp pair of tweezers and it'll practically solder itself.

If you're really looking for a challenge, try hand-soldering a metric 0402 package.
>> No. 26050 Anonymous
7th August 2017
Monday 9:31 pm
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>>26049
I bought some of those fuckers by mistake, when I wanted imperial 0402. Tried soldering a few onto 0201 pads it's doable, but hard.
Those Senheiser wires are likely to just dissolve in solder by the time you've got through the lacquer.
>> No. 26052 Anonymous
10th August 2017
Thursday 5:22 pm
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Have you looked at k550 MK2? Pretty solid headphones.
>> No. 26054 Anonymous
11th August 2017
Friday 1:41 pm
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>>26048
Sennheisers are a pale shadow of the headphones they used to be. I have always bought them, but it is quite difficult to find good models nowadays, they have embraced the low end.
>> No. 26055 Anonymous
11th August 2017
Friday 7:09 pm
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What's the deal with headphone amps/DACs? Apparently some headphones are so hard to drive that you need a dedicated amp to even consider using them.

How much of this audiophile spiel is snake oil and how much of it is legitimate? And even if you do need a good amp, wouldn't a regular stereo receiver do as good of a job as a dedicated headphone amp, particularly on the lower end of the price range? If I'm not mistaken your average stereo receiver doesn't have its own headphone amp, but rather takes the signal from the main amp through resistors and into the headphone circuit. On that basis it seems that the average stereo receiver should be better at driving headphones than the average dedicated headphone amp.
>> No. 26056 Anonymous
11th August 2017
Friday 7:28 pm
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>>26049

Thanks for the fingerprint lad, BRB stealing your identity.
>> No. 26057 Anonymous
11th August 2017
Friday 8:06 pm
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>>26055

Stereo receivers usually have a perfectly satisfactory headphone amp, as do most audio interfaces and mixers.

The problem is generally with battery-powered equipment. To save on cost, weight and power consumption, they tend to use a fairly weedy headphone amp IC that is designed for sensitive, low-impedance earbuds. Some of these amplifier chips deliver as little as 25mW peak, but a very large pair of headphones could need as much as 400mW to perform properly at high volume.

The most common symptom of an inadequate headphone amp is poor bass response. Poor transient response is also fairly common and occasionally you'll hear distortion during high-energy sections of audio.

If you're plugging AKG K701s or Beyerdynamic DT990s into a phone, you'll probably want a little FiiO amp to get the best out of them. Otherwise, the benefits of a dedicated headphone amp will be fairly minor.

DACs are an altogether more complicated topic, but diminishing returns kick in fairly quickly here. Some cheap consumer hardware is equipped with a genuinely bad DAC, but you don't have to spend a fortune to get something very good. The difference between a £150 audio interface and a £2000 converter from the likes of Prism or Benchmark is so subtle that 99% of people won't hear any difference.
>> No. 26058 Anonymous
11th August 2017
Friday 8:32 pm
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>>26055
Have a read through this blog. https://nwavguy.blogspot.co.uk/

He's an electronic/sound engineer who's worked in the industry a long time, he was so fed up with the state of the industry that he started a project to design what he considered the ideal headphone amp and USB DAC, and made the designs open source.
There is a wealth of technical information there on the why and how of headphone amps and DACs, as well as great detail on the problems with a lot of supposedly audiophile level equipment. (He makes a case that a lot of high level kit, rather than just suffering from diminishing returns, actually have many design flaws.)
https://nwavguy.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/what-we-hear.html
https://nwavguy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/testing-methods.html

If it piques your interest, being open source there are a few different people making the amps with a bit of variation between each. Here's a UK maker of them:
http://epiphany-acoustics.co.uk/products-page/headphone-amplifiers/ehp-o2-portable-headphone-amplifier/
And there's this guy in Switzerland making them, the price is higher, especially given the current exchange rate, but it has more customisable inputs and outputs.
http://www.headnhifi.com/O2-desktop-amplifier
>> No. 26059 Anonymous
14th August 2017
Monday 4:46 am
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>>26058
Thanks for those links, interesting reading.

>>26054
>Sennheisers are a pale shadow of the headphones they used to be.
I'd have to agree, and it's been that way for 10+ years. I've known good Sennheisers, but the last pair I had felt like cheap plastic toys, and sounded like shit; they cost £80. I was almost happy when they broke after a year or two.
>> No. 26225 Anonymous
6th December 2017
Wednesday 8:34 pm
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Would the Superlux 681 be ok to go running in? Not too fussed about sound quality. I have a Sennheiser HD 202, happy with the audio quality but the wire is frayed below the voice coil.

Is the Superlux 681 superior? Does it have any noise cancellation? I looked at a review but didn't find anything about that.
>> No. 26226 Anonymous
6th December 2017
Wednesday 10:04 pm
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>>26225

They're large, heavy and have relatively low clamping force, so they'll probably fall off your head. I'd suggest some inexpensive in-ears from Xiaomi or Betron; if you can't stand in-ears, then I'd suggest looking for some "sport" headphones with a more secure headband design.
>> No. 26227 Anonymous
7th December 2017
Thursday 12:00 am
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If you want an amp/dac that powers pretty much anything with minimal setup fuss, try JDS Labs’ The Element. Buy it once and forget it forever. As for headphones, well it depends what sound you want but you can’t go wrong with HD600s. Or 650 is alright too, bit more bass but not as accurate. None of that stuff is cheap but it’s not unreasonable. Audio stuff is expensive . But get to your end game quick with that and you can forget it all. Hopefully.
>> No. 26228 Anonymous
7th December 2017
Thursday 4:47 pm
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I ended up buying the Philips Fidelio X2s for 130 squid back in August. They ticked all the right boxes and since they're 32 ohms, I don't really need a headphone amp to get the best out of them. Very happy with them so far.

I also bought a pair of closed-back Superlux HD-662s which are pretty decent for £25, but the level of comfort is nowhere near as good. I think Superluxes are mainly aimed at the Chinese market so maybe they design them for smaller Chinese heads. It's either that or I just have an usually big head.

t. OP

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