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Greetings all.

 

Life changes and my hifi doesn’t get the use it deserves. We have a house full of Budgies and bashing out high SPL’s is not good for them. The hifi lives in the lounge and the wife doesn’t always appreciate my musical choices and I tend to like listening late at night, not perfect for neighbourly love.

 

Anyhow it is time to move to headphones. No matter what the trade off in ultimate sound quality closed back is the road forward for me, I can listen when , where and as loud as I like without interfering with the wife reading or watching TV or causing the Budgies a nervous breakdown.

 

I have a squeeze box for streaming and a Rega Saturn R which can be used as a DAC. Lots of Rock and pop for me, Counting Crows, Kate Bush, Natalie Merchant, Hendrix et al.

 

Total spend wants to be around 2k, less is always better. Here in Adelaide there isn’t a dedicated head fi style shop and some of my choices aren’t available for audition.
 

No interest in audiophile recordings sounding fantastic and everything else crap, I am looking for a broad church that lets me enjoy music, not if Elvis dropped his burger at 2.33 minutes into Suspicious Minds. Bass is important, with detail , tone and taught. Definitely not sharp up top but with some sparkle and shimmer. 

 

So, here are some options I am considering. 
 

Headphones.  Denon ahd 7200

                            Fostex 610

                            Bowers and Wilkins P9

                            Beyerdynamic T5

 

In terms of an amplifier or combined amp/DAC or even all in one transportable.

                            Toping A90

                            Toping A30 Pro

                             Toping DX7 Pro

                             Astell and Kern?
 

No doubt there will be a hundred conflicting views, that is half the fun. Very happy to consider all your options, known synergistic combinations, better alternatives etc,etc.

 

Cheers,

Hugh

                             

 

 

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Hello everyone,   First up a huge shout out to @Dr_Kevy.  He has very kindly sent across his Beyerdynamic T5p generation 1 to compare. What a gentleman.   The T5 are without doubt

Rain this morning and it doesn’t mix well when working on a cliff swinging a chainsaw so a day off was in order.   Headed down to A2A to have a listen.  Fostex TH610. Dull as dishwat

My thanks to everyone for their advice and knowledge.   I must confess the Sony’s would not have been on my radar without this thread. I can also understand why people would enjoy one set of he

I have two open and two close back phones. These in 32ohms and 250ohm. I use them when wife is in the room or on the plane or train. Changed the ear cups on one pair to the most luxurious soft types. 
 

Great sound, cheap and easy to drive. 

97B9286D-3B6E-4EC0-9E3F-E6CE4DA4B202.jpeg

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Looks like Addicted to Audio have a shop in Adelaide. They carry a large range of headphones, so could be worth a visit.

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19 minutes ago, mwhouston said:

I have two open and two close back phones. These in 32ohms and 250ohm. I use them when wife is in the room or on the plane or train. Changed the ear cups on one pair to the most luxurious soft types. 
 

Great sound, cheap and easy to drive. 

97B9286D-3B6E-4EC0-9E3F-E6CE4DA4B202.jpeg

Indeed MW, they have been on the Radar as well. Pretty sure they come in differing load characteristics from 32 ohms up.

 

13 minutes ago, davm said:

Looks like Addicted to Audio have a shop in Adelaide. They carry a large range of headphones, so could be worth a visit.

Cheers davm,  I intend visiting them next week with a bit of luck.

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Is there any noticeable change in character / quality of delivery with the higher impedance model of the 770’s Mr Houston?

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Asgard 3

Tipping D50

Focal Elegia / DCA Aeon 2 / Beyer T5 Gen 3

 

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4 minutes ago, Ooogh said:

Is there any noticeable change in character / quality of delivery with the higher impedance model of the 770’s Mr Houston?

For 2k I'd be aiming more DAC/amp 600-700 and rest on cans. Aim higher than a DT770.

 

Sony MDR-Z1R?

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10 minutes ago, Ooogh said:

Indeed MW, they have been on the Radar as well. Pretty sure they come in differing load characteristics from 32 ohms up.

 

Cheers davm,  I intend visiting them next week with a bit of luck.

Powered by my DIY chip HP amps i think the 250ohm sound better. 

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The OP and I are in a similar boat (no budgies here, though), so I'm just going to sit here and absorb for the most part. 

 

I will say I have heard things about the Shure SRH1540 that suggest they may fit the 'everything sounds decent' profile?

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Posted (edited)

Underrated headphone the Shure.

 

Good option. Budget dictates what the recommendations are though. Some noteable models in approx descending price;

 

Verite Closed

Stellia

LCD-XC

Celestee

MDR-Z1R

DCA Aeon 2

Beyer T5 Gen 3

Elegia

 

There are more, im just forgetting.

 

 

Edited by Bengineer
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G'day Ooogh.  Yeh, I too am discovering headphones are a lot of fun.  

 

DO CHECK THE CLASSIFIEDS!  some really good bargains on there.

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Posted (edited)

Beyer T5P can be driven out of most everything. No need for an amp. Many closed headphones are low impedance. 
 

At the absolute budget end, I have a beat up pair of first generation T5P that are unlikely to get any meaningful use. 
 

at the top end, the focal Stella are warmer than neutral reference but can be very easily driven. Again, don’t really need to blow money on an amp. But unless you find one second hand; way over your budget. The Elegia is a much more approachable price point. 
 

Have you considered IEM’s ?

Edited by Dr_Kevy
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2 hours ago, davm said:

Looks like Addicted to Audio have a shop in Adelaide. They carry a large range of headphones, so could be worth a visit.


^^ This!!! I’ve found A2A will always look after you. 

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Although I don't 'headphone' often I enjoy the Meze 99 Classics when I do. I did the 'clean the bass' mod from Reddit and that was worthwhile and straightforward.

 

They are very easy to drive and will work well just from a 'phone or portable player. That's not something I do except when travelling. My desktop Meier Audio Corda JAZZ-ff amp was custom modified by the designer for no cost. He also does DAC/amps as well.

 

For travelling I use an oldie but goodie—the very tiny Headstage Arrow.

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3 hours ago, twofires said:

I will say I have heard things about the Shure SRH1540 that suggest they may fit the 'everything sounds decent' profile?

I have one and can totally agree...

I am in the journey of owning / buying back all Headphones that I liked in my journey.

Shure 1540 is an exceptional product. Its not talked about is one thing but is an excellent headphone.

 

Having said that : Under $2k

 

Beyerdynamic T5 G3 are quite an awesome set of headphones.

Sony MDR Z1R has always been exceptional

Shure 1540

 

 

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3 hours ago, Dr_Kevy said:

Beyer T5P can be driven out of most everything. No need for an amp. Many closed headphones are low impedance. 
 

At the absolute budget end, I have a beat up pair of first generation T5P that are unlikely to get any meaningful use. 
 

at the top end, the focal Stella are warmer than neutral reference but can be very easily driven. Again, don’t really need to blow money on an amp. But unless you find one second hand; way over your budget. The Elegia is a much more approachable price point. 
 

Have you considered IEM’s ?

Hi Dr Kevy.  

 

No IEM’s for me, just not my cup of tea having things stuck in my ear.

 

 

 

3 hours ago, Dr_Kevy said:


^^ This!!! I’ve found A2A will always look after you. 

 

I will venture down there this week and give things a whirl.

 

 

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6 hours ago, davm said:

Looks like Addicted to Audio have a shop in Adelaide. They carry a large range of headphones, so could be worth a visit.

 

12 minutes ago, Ooogh said:

I will venture down there this week and give things a whirl.

Just make sure you have a bit of an idea before you go.

The Adelaide branch doesn’t actually have anyone particularly knowledgeable about headphones. It does have a good range of low-to-mid tier HP options, but very few amps, though.

 

 Also keep in mind that it’s “Focal, Focal, Focal!”

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4 minutes ago, sakabatou said:

 

Just make sure you have a bit of an idea before you go.

The Adelaide branch doesn’t actually have anyone particularly knowledgeable about headphones. It does have a good range of low-to-mid tier HP options, but very few amps, though.

 

 Also keep in mind that it’s “Focal, Focal, Focal!”

Thanks Sakabatou.
Fear not , I have been playing around with hifi for a long, long time. I do my homework and trust my ears.

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I’m unfamiliar with the Adelaide store but suggest calling ahead to see what they have in store. 
 

Focal have some nice options but are not the only one. 

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2 hours ago, Ooogh said:

Fear not , I have been playing around with hifi for a long, long time. I do my homework and trust my ears.

I suspect, then, that you might appreciate the subtleties that a dedicated headphone amp brings to the party....

 

A2A Adelaide is definitely worth the trip.  Besides the Focal range, they have some Audeze, Sony MDR Z1R, HiFiman and possibly Fostex (from memory).  And they are very accommodating.  

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I have the Focal Eligias and can highly recommend them. They are quite easy to drive - so you need not spend big bucks on a headphone amplifier. I run them through an Audio GD headphone amp/dac combo

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15 hours ago, DrTobiasFunke said:

I suspect, then, that you might appreciate the subtleties that a dedicated headphone amp brings to the party....

 

A2A Adelaide is definitely worth the trip.  Besides the Focal range, they have some Audeze, Sony MDR Z1R, HiFiman and possibly Fostex (from memory).  And they are very accommodating.  

Absolutely Dr Funke. I am a true believer in amplifier/ speaker synergy and I don’t think I have ever had a system where the amps didn’t cost more than the speakers! From 8 Watts to 300 I have made merry.  I have no doubt the same holds true when revealing the true capabilities of any given set of headphones.

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Posted (edited)

The Sony MDR-Z1R are excellent  for the genres you like, drums are amazing. If you can get bengineer to split his package deal you’d have an awesome pair of cans at a great price

 

they are easy to drive so plenty or options will suit 

Edited by RePete
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I believe Ben's placed individual pricing on his 'set' now. @Bengineer

 

If I didn't have the Trailli I'd have bought the U12T already.

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On 10/05/2021 at 7:46 PM, RePete said:

The Sony MDR-Z1R are excellent  for the genres you like, drums are amazing. If you can get bengineer to split his package deal you’d have an awesome pair of cans at a great price

 

they are easy to drive so plenty or options will suit 

 

Bought my MDR-Z1R from Pete and can concur on the sound (thanks Pete, by the way)! I think they would fit your preferred sound as you describe it. Really comfy as well... like, really comfy. 

 

Mainly I am chiming in here because "whether Elvis dropped his burger at 2.33 minutes into Suspicious Minds" is absolutely lol-tastic and I want to commend you!

 

 

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19 hours ago, Bill_F said:

 

Bought my MDR-Z1R from Pete and can concur on the sound (thanks Pete, by the way)! I think they would fit your preferred sound as you describe it. Really comfy as well... like, really comfy. 

 

Mainly I am chiming in here because "whether Elvis dropped his burger at 2.33 minutes into Suspicious Minds" is absolutely lol-tastic and I want to commend you!

 

 

Cheers Bill.  
 

The sad truth however is that I stole that line! Even worse it was from a fellow SNA user although I cannot recall who it was. Who knows, they may have already recycled it as well. The best thing is you can keep it in your back pocket to reveal to an appreciative audience at just the right time.

 

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Rain this morning and it doesn’t mix well when working on a cliff swinging a chainsaw so a day off was in order.

 

Headed down to A2A to have a listen. 


Fostex TH610. Dull as dishwater. Bass heavy and slow, no sheen or sparkle at all. Comfortable but felt cheaply built. Very disappointing.

 

Fostex TH900. More of the same with a marginally better top end. Even worse because they cost big bucks.

 

Audeze LCD-2 Closed back. Bass shy. Good build quality but just not enough magic anywhere to turn my head.

 

Focal Eligia. Bright, thin. OK. Ear pads not up to the job, I could feel the inner mesh on my ears. Going cheap at present.

 

Focal Celestee. Way , way better. They may be the replacement for the Eligia but they are in a different league. Finally a headphone with correct frequency response and some drive. Great build quality, a bit of clamping force but comfortable. Looks like Focal have been learning a thing or two in recent years. I had arrived convinced I would dislike the Focal sound signature so certainly no perceived bias.

 

All were played via an iFi audio pro ($3,200) so way to rich for my blood.

So I swapped in the little Topping A30. Wow, what a little giant killer. Not quite as rich but clean, just gets out of the way.  Hugely impressive at $549.

 

Next a Burston Playmate 2. Horrid. Dull and lifeless. Made the Celestee sound like the Fostex.

 

Finally the Topping DX7 Pro. I reckon it must use the same amp as the A30 with a built in DAC. Very nice.

 

So the Celestee , A30 pairing makes the most sense. Great combination.

 

Still want to try some Sony’s and Beyerdynamic’s. Very hard buying blind, the old adage holds true, the only way to know is to actually hear stuff.

 

 

 

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Sounds like you had quite a bit of fun. The Sony is well worth auditioning. Did they not have the Stellia? It's rich but sometimes it's nice to get an idea of the 'reference' for closed back headphones. 

 

The Beyer T5P isn't my favourite headphone -> YMMV.

 

The Audeze that's value for money to try if you were willing to open up from Closed to Open would be the LCD-X

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14 minutes ago, Dr_Kevy said:

Sounds like you had quite a bit of fun. The Sony is well worth auditioning. Did they not have the Stellia? It's rich but sometimes it's nice to get an idea of the 'reference' for closed back headphones. 

 

The Beyer T5P isn't my favourite headphone -> YMMV.

 

The Audeze that's value for money to try if you were willing to open up from Closed to Open would be the LCD-X

Hi Dr Kevy,

 

they did have the Stellia, hooked up to the latest Naim Amp/DAC which I was welcome to audition. I resisted the temptation however as I wanted to be listening on an even playing field. Hard not to notice what is missing when you step back down and I feared it would cloud my judgment.

 

I have no doubt there would be a noticeable gain in sound quality and options were I to venture down the road of open back design headphones. Unfortunately that would negate the ability to listen without disturbing those in close proximity. I have always enjoyed the Sennheiser house sound and have a feeling the 800S would rock my world.

 

Truth be told with the exception of the Celestee there was nothing I heard today which would prise my wallet from my pocket regardless of amplifier or DAC. My second hand B&O H6’s at a fraction of the cost deliver a lovely non offensive sweet sound with a far more balanced frequency response than the Fostex.

 

As with all things one man’s meat is another man’s poison. I certainly do not wish to offend anyone’s choice of headphones with any of my comments. They are simply my take on things within the parameters of the associated amps / DACs and my musical tastes.

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Verite Closed. Stellia. MDR-Z1R.

 

Not much else in closed form is very good objectively. Some models are decent for their price.

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I had the MDR-Z1R and they were lovely but just didn’t gel with me. The large pad put some pressure on my jaw and I felt like I had to baby them because they were so lovely. I do think if they fit you can’t go wrong with the sound. Fortunately Bill is liking them now.

 

My keeper can is the Grado PS1000 (non “e” model) and I’ve got  beyer dynamic T5 gen 3. I listened to a bunch of cans at minidisc and the T5 isn’t one to jump out and excite you on first listen but they don’t do anything wrong and are non fatiguing for long sessions. Super comfortable and they feel solid and don’t make me feel like they need to be babied. The Grado in your face mids are exiting but the T5’s get plenty of time while the wife is watching TV and every now and then I get the urge to thin the herd but just can’t give them up. 
 

 

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Z1R are a slightly dark, warm marvelous headphone. Huge soundstage and you instantly can hear the refinement.

 

Verite closed more balanced, still fairly warm, big soundstage also and typical ZMF soundstage, lovely timbre.

 

Stellia is a more digestable Utopia, highly competent and fairly balanced. No soundstage awards, sorry Focal.

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More listening is definitely in order.  

I must confess I have been giving lots of thought to @Bengineer big Sony’s. Especially given they are up for sale for exactly what the Celestee’s would set me back. Choice is a terrible thing!

 

 

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3 hours ago, Bengineer said:

Z1R are a slightly dark, warm marvelous headphone. Huge soundstage and you instantly can hear the refinement.

 

Verite closed more balanced, still fairly warm, big soundstage also and typical ZMF soundstage, lovely timbre.

 

Stellia is a more digestable Utopia, highly competent and fairly balanced. No soundstage awards, sorry Focal.


Also found the Stellia somewhat closed (forgive the pun) and relatively warm. I’d been keen to see what the new $4200 Naim amp/dac/streamer is like. (Disclaimer: I’ve ordered one at full retail) The Utopia is very revealing of poor sources and tracks so isn’t for everyone. 
 

The 800S sound is more laid back. But leaks sound. And benefits from a warmer pairing and decent amp. Perhaps try with a dAP and the Diablo? Have you tried IEM’s. Easy to drive. The andromeda 2020 were what I ended taking home with the 800S

 

 

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On 12/05/2021 at 6:31 PM, Ooogh said:

Cheers Bill.  
 

The sad truth however is that I stole that line! Even worse it was from a fellow SNA user although I cannot recall who it was. Who knows, they may have already recycled it as well. The best thing is you can keep it in your back pocket to reveal to an appreciative audience at just the right time.

 

 

I'm sure the coiner appreciates the credit. That line is no worse for the wear. It even got me listening to Elvis the past couple of days! If I do happen to hear a burger drop anywhere in his oeuvre, rest assured I will report back to the SNA community.

 

Still enjoying Pete's MDR-Z1R. They don't reveal whether Keith is tying off with the mic cord again at 2:46 into "Torn and Frayed." 

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, RePete said:

I had the MDR-Z1R and they were lovely but just didn’t gel with me. The large pad put some pressure on my jaw and I felt like I had to baby them because they were so lovely. I do think if they fit you can’t go wrong with the sound. Fortunately Bill is liking them now.

 

My keeper can is the Grado PS1000 (non “e” model) and I’ve got  beyer dynamic T5 gen 3. I listened to a bunch of cans at minidisc and the T5 isn’t one to jump out and excite you on first listen but they don’t do anything wrong and are non fatiguing for long sessions. Super comfortable and they feel solid and don’t make me feel like they need to be babied. The Grado in your face mids are exiting but the T5’s get plenty of time while the wife is watching TV and every now and then I get the urge to thin the herd but just can’t give them up. 
 

 

 

I don't experience any of the jaw pressure that Pete did with the Sony cans. Human bodies are so weird and variable, amirite?

 

Big Grado fan here like Pete (though I haven't heard any of their new offerings from the past decade). In comparison to what I recall of my old Grados, and compared to my current detail-monster reference IEMs (Shure KSE 1200 and Etymotic ER4XR), the Sony MDR Z1R struck me at first as veiled and muddy. Didn't like 'em initially--I missed the chair squeaks, lip smacks, and burger drops that detail sluts like me crave. 

 

It took a couple of weeks of brain burn in to get copacetic with the Sony cans. And a philosophical adjustment. I don't like that Zeos identifies himself as a bit of misogynist, but he is entertaining as heck and he nails the spirit of these cans towards the end of this review: the MDR-Z1R is showing up to a Formula 1 race in an ice cream truck. 

 

 

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This is my favourite review!  This guy is gold, knows his stuff and entertains.

 

Latest plan is to wander back into A2A and try their Z1R’s. Find an amp that lets them show what they can do and make a decision. Work out if I prefer them to the Celestee’s and if an affordable amp can make them shine.  If the Z1R’s are my cup of tea buy @Bengineer’s pair but purchase the amp from A2A so they are not just being used as a second hand demo store. Conversely if the Celestee’s combo is more my speed then they get the whole sale.

 

I actually need to have a really good listen. Headphone listening is different from conventional home hifi. I see it as a more cerebral experience, exercise. I do not have enough exposure to it yet to fully understand which type of experience I will most appreciate in the long term, a more analytical one or a more enveloping/ relaxing one. Finding the right balance of strengths and compromises  to suit your ear is where contentment awaits.

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10 hours ago, Ooogh said:

This is my favourite review!  This guy is gold, knows his stuff and entertains.

 

Latest plan is to wander back into A2A and try their Z1R’s. Find an amp that lets them show what they can do and make a decision. Work out if I prefer them to the Celestee’s and if an affordable amp can make them shine.  If the Z1R’s are my cup of tea buy @Bengineer’s pair but purchase the amp from A2A so they are not just being used as a second hand demo store. Conversely if the Celestee’s combo is more my speed then they get the whole sale.

 

I actually need to have a really good listen. Headphone listening is different from conventional home hifi. I see it as a more cerebral experience, exercise. I do not have enough exposure to it yet to fully understand which type of experience I will most appreciate in the long term, a more analytical one or a more enveloping/ relaxing one. Finding the right balance of strengths and compromises  to suit your ear is where contentment awaits.

Give the Topping A90 a go. Heaps of power, different gain settings and a decent preamp. Top notch clean amplification. Partner with a D90 and they make an excellent combo.

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