"Serious" use of headphones

Jay_S

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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San Francisco - East Bay
#1
By serious, I mean use in your home system as a reasonable alternative to great speakers. I have a one-hour commute, and use Etymotic ER-4Ps with a portable amp on my ride. My commute has reduced my time at home and the Eytmotics, to a certain extent, have taken listening time away from my home system.

Do you use headphones / earphones at home as part of your main system? What do you use for amplification?
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Co-Owner, Administrator
#2
Hi Jay

I pesonally don't use headphones (even though I have heard some remarkable ones over the years) because of my underlying concern with long standing use and the risk of loss of hearing. Just my $0.02
 

Jay_S

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
308
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San Francisco - East Bay
#3
Steve, I acknowledge that risk. But there are some situations where there might be a hearing benefit. My BART train ride is really loud (at least to me, others don't seem to care) and if I didn't use isolating in-ear monitors I would have to use ear plugs!
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
#4
I have several pairs of headphones, the most recent acquisition being the Sennheiser HD600. Great headphone. My ONLY use for headphone is to be able to hear what the room is doing to the sound and make adjustments accordingly in room treatment. This was particularly helpful when I was doing digital room correction installations.

I mainly use my Benchmark DAC's headphone outputs but also have another headphone amp by HeadRoom.

I also have a set of noise cancellation headphones I use when exercising or doing airline travel! (No. Not the Bose)
 
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
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Seattle, WA
#5
I am almost embarrassed to list all the headphone gear I have. This is from memory (really, the list is that long that I can't remember it all!):

1. 3 versions of Stax Headphones ("earspeakers"). One transistor, two tube with one having differential circuits and the other not.
2. Sennheiser (I think HD580) headphones.
3. Various in-ear from Shure to Eytmotics.

The Stax units are a revelation. They are not only accurate but so open and nice sounding it is hard to explain. Other than the headphone effect (sound being in the middle of your head rather than outside), I have not heard a room which matches it.

I work in my den until late hours which is next to our master bedroom where my wife is often sleeping. Headphones then allow me to enjoy music without disturbing others. And of course on the airplane there is no better substitute than an in-ear unit that blocks outside noise.

For professional work of analyzing audio distortion (e.g. audio compression), speakers are almost never used. Headphones rule and hence the reason I started collecting them. The level of detail you can detect simply cannot be matched with speakers.

As to losing your hearing, there is definite danger there. Then again, once you do damage them, then you can use the headphones, play them loud to compensate :D.
 

cjfrbw

Active Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,144
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38
Pleasanton, CA
#6
I just acquired my first set of hi end phones, Ultrasound Edition 8. I have several headphone amps already for other purposes. I wanted something that I could use when I didn't want to fire up the main system, and something for low level listening while reading. Also, my wife and I have considered getting a small place in Santa Cruz for the weekends, where I couldn't fire up a big rig anyway but would be restricted to low level listening or headphones.
I really like the Ultrasone Ediition 8's, I have no idea how they compare to other hi end phones. They are much better than my battered and broken Sennheiser 580s. The Ultrasones manage to make MP3 listening an acceptable audiophile experience, especially with a good headphone amp like the Manley Neo 300b, but manage to sound wonderful out of an ordinary ipod or my sony electronic reader.
I tend naturally to listen to headphones at moderate levels, so I don't think ear damage is a factor, and they are so detailed that the detail tends to compensate somewhat for volume.
 

Johnny Vinyl

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 16, 2010
8,550
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Calgary, AB
#7
A friend of mine sent me this link to an audiophile cd mixed for headphones by Ultrasone. It is perfectly legal to download. Enter the code and press download. A new screeen will pop up...you'll see a countdown screen and have to wait until that is done (30 seconds I think). Then choose free download.

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=EP732YPC

John
 

eugen_syd

New Member
Jun 20, 2010
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#8
Hi All,

I use SENNHEISER HD555 and use them mostly for recording. I think at play back we all use our "faourite" amplifier. Recording is a touch more sensitive, you want to hear it but you want silence in the backround if you know what I mean. This do it well for me and I can connect direct in my reel to reels or amplifier. It is confortable and sounds great!
Eugen
 
Jul 1, 2010
8,713
0
0
#9
Steve, the risk of hearing damage is a function of volume at the ear drum, not the proximity of the driver to the eardrum. You can do every bit as much damage with a speaker system if you try hard enough. With a little caution, you should be able to enjoy headphone listening without damaging your hearing.

I own headphones from Sennheiser, Etymotics and Audio Technica. I've been through numerous amps. The Etys and ATs don't need them. The Senns benefit noticeably from the additional current and headroom, but amplifying headphones, even very difficult ones, is not a big amplification challenge and I've found that the law of diminishing returns is very, very steep in headphone amplification. Amir is right: In terms of resolution of detail, speakers don't compete with reference quality headphones. Even great near field monitors in a treated room will not be as revealing. Of course headphones don't compete with speakers in creating a stage-like image, and cannot deliver the visceral dynamics that can only come from moving large amounts of air. A trade-off of compromises, but headphone listening is a great, affordable, audiophile experience that many more should try. You can put together a headphone system that, in terms of detail resolution, will smoke the most esoteric speaker systems, even in a great room, for a fraction of what many audiophiles spend on cables.

P
 

Kal Rubinson

Active Member
May 5, 2010
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NYC/CT
www.stereophile.com
#11

Johnny Vinyl

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 16, 2010
8,550
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36
Calgary, AB
#13
I have a pair of Shure SRH840 headphones and I like them. They aren't top-of-the-line by any stretch, but they received some excellent reviews. For $200 they were a good investment I think. I should add that I really only use them while on the computer. It's rare I use them with my setup lately.

John
 

flez007

Member Sponsor
Aug 31, 2010
2,894
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0
Mexico City
#14
I have two headphones, both for casual listening. One is an AKG 701 in my bedroom when I can' t sleep (on very rare ocasions) and Etymotics for travel - but fed by my iPhone WAV files.

Used to have Grado SR 80 until they felt apart, great headphones at a very decent price.
 

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
2,933
0
36
#15
I purchased some Beyerdynamics in anticipation of having a baby. However, when I was doing construction on my house, I insulated the walls. I can conservatively crank it up to low 70dbs. I like my speakers so much more than headphones, that I have not listened to the Beyers that much.
 

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
2,933
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36
#19
Yes, my interest was also piqued from the hype. However, as an owner of many electrostat speakers, I was underwhelmed when I heard these at CanJam. Yes, they are clean and fast, but they lack dynamics and have anemic bass. The Woo 5 is a much better amp, IMO. It gives up just a tad of transparency, but it gets the foot tapping much more than the amp you mention. Listen for yourself, of course.
 

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,548
2
38
#20
We use Sennheiser HD650's for all our restoration/archival work.
Hi Bruce,

Very interesting! I just decided to dip my toe into the headphone arena and with some advice from a few members, got the Sennheiser HD650s. It was a special deal with the Apogee Groove for laptop listening (more for my wife than me). And for now, i have picked up an Arcam arHead headphone amp for 199. Sounds great.

Have you done anything in terms of headphone cables? I may get a longer one, and thought before spending any money, i would ask.

Also, what headphone amp do you recommend for mere mortals? ie, under $1000? I am tempted to wait til the CJ headphone amp comes out next year, as it is supposed to use GAT parts...and at the moment i am running the Zanden thru GAT loop out to headphone amp.