Open back headphones advice?

  • Thread starter RöyksoppForever
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slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Warlord
Ideally I would like a set I can plug straight into the port on my PC tower and not have to buy a DAC or an amp, I’m not really wanting to get too deep into audiophile territory
That's a big ol' "Try it and see".

The best approach is to get an audio signal outside of the PC chassis in the digital domain, then do the D/A conversion, then amplification.

Inside a compute chassis is an electrically noisy environment as a rule, which may not play nice with an analog signal and subsequent amplification.

But....try it and see, you may get lucky.

If you have too much noise, then you need to look at getting the digi signal out of the PC to avoid such problems.

These types of problems will be completely independent of a headphone choice, but you could have other problems if the onboard amps are not up to snuff to drive the headphones properly.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
actual sound quality and noise rejection inside a desktop PC heavily depend on its vendors. If this is a DIY (aka white box) PC then all bets are off. Another thing to keep in mind is $1 sound chip off the motherboard which happens to include a tiny headphone amp will no be able to power many headphones loud enough.
Some laptops are built a bit better. Anecdotical evidence suggests that Apple using pretty decent audio components (as they should considering the premium cost of their hardware)

For non-mac stuff, your best bet is with an inexpensive USB DAC/Headphone amp, like FiiO E10k
I have an old AudioEngine D1 I no longer need and might sell for a fair price if you're interested.
 
eljr

eljr

Audioholic General
Ideally I would like a set I can plug straight into the port on my PC tower and not have to buy a DAC or an amp, I’m not really wanting to get too deep into audiophile territory Nox Vidmate VLC
You can't use the DAC inside the computer and get a decent sound. Just can't be. No one would dispute this.

;)True audiophile is light years above what you are talking... we are trying to get you into mid-fi from junk-fi.
 
ellisr63

ellisr63

Full Audioholic
I use Sennheiser 6xx headsets, and they sound great to me for the money spent.

Sent from my SM-T830 using Tapatalk
 
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T

TankTop5

Audioholic General
HD6XX’s again... They run off almost anything, iPhone, iPad, cheap Dell laptop, Marantz receiver etc... I’m told a cheap amp will help but it’s not needed. Ignore the 300 ohm rating, they are efficient enough.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Warlord
You can't use the DAC inside the computer and get a decent sound. Just can't be. No one would dispute this.

;)True audiophile is light years above what you are talking... we are trying to get you into mid-fi from junk-fi.
I don't think "can't" is quite accurate.

Better would be "not likely", or "may be challenging".

I tend to agree that that passing the signal out of the PC chassis in the digi domain is less problematic overall.

But, there have been some reports on here of "it worked fine for me". Which is likely just luck.

And, there are some sound cards with proper shielding that "likely" won't suffer the same problems (Asus Xonar).
 
Joe B

Joe B

Audioholic Chief
I don't think "can't" is quite accurate.

Better would be "not likely", or "may be challenging".

I tend to agree that that passing the signal out of the PC chassis in the digi domain is less problematic overall.

But, there have been some reports on here of "it worked fine for me". Which is likely just luck.

And, there are some sound cards with proper shielding that "likely" won't suffer the same problems (Asus Xonar).
Makes me wonder as to the quality of the headphones being used and the critical listening skills of the individual involved.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Warlord
Makes me wonder as to the quality of the headphones being used and the critical listening skills of the individual involved.
My experience in such matters is that if you have the problem, you can't ignore it!

Specifically, my off the shelf Dell Inspiron over 10 years ago had a terribly noisy analog out signal, pretty much unusable. I installed a cheap optical sound card, passed the signal to my AVR in digi domain via optical cable, and problem solved.
 
H

HeadphonesAdvice

Audiophyte
Best Beyerdynamic Gaming Headsets are real 100% worth getting.
 
cpp

cpp

Audioholic Field Marshall
Just like with speakers, if you can demo headphones first ( if at all possible) it could be worth your time. Its not just how they sound, which of course is important with your gear, , its how they feel on your head. Nothing worst than a headphone that sounds nice for a few minutes then the clamping pressure forces you to take them off.
 
J

Jm Want

Audiophyte
First of all, demo as much as you can. I bought a dap to use with my er2xrs because it got "Gold" award from a review site and now regretting it.
 
V

Volt

Enthusiast
I'm been a big Sennheiser fan for a long time. I've been mostly using closed headsets. But last year I wanted to try an open headset. I wanted to get the Massdrop 6XX. But that was not avaialble. So I went with the Massdrop HD 58X. They are so nice to use for an open set. Airy, cool, and comfortable. I use them and am able to hear the TV on in the background too. As long as I don' have them too loud. The only 2 minor complaints are;

1 - Audio cord is a tad bit on the short side. I think it's 4' long. But for use with my computer, it's fine.
2 - It feels plasticky and not as sturdy as regular Sennheiser headsets do. But so far, with using it on my computer. It's held up nicely.

And it's only $170 from Massdrop!


A few months after that I picked up the Audeze LCD-X. I was curious to explore more high-end headsets. And got the Schit Asgard DAC/AMP to use with it. This headset is expensive. And it's heavy. But it can be quite the experience to trip out on my favorite tracks in a sober way ;)

I have a gaming PC. And when I've done comparison listening between the motherboard's DAC VS the Asgard's DAC they sound the same to me. However, the Asgard does have a more powerful amp. And can make whatever I'm listening to much, much LOUDER.

I've tried the HD58X on the Asgard and have the same results. It sounds the same to me weather I listen to it on my gaming PC's motherboard VS using the Asgard. But the Asgard can make it much louder. Louder than I'd want to listen to it to. Though it can be helpful with recordings that were recorded too low.

This is the motherboard I have. The manual has a little bit of info on the DAC it uses.

I would like to try out the Massdrop 6XX. But it looks like it's got about 2 more months of doing pre-orders before you can get it.

They also announced they are going to do the HD8XX. But that's expensive too at $1,100. With 17 days left for pre-order.

I think you'll be very happy with the Massdrop 58X for an open, inexpensive, very nice headset.
 
nathan_h

nathan_h

Audioholic
Find a vendor with a good return policy. Many of the suggestions here would likely satisfy you and are a fine place to start. And don’t be afraid to return something if it doesn’t please you after a couple days of listening.
 
Wayde Robson

Wayde Robson

Audioholics Anchorman
for the price, i am sure you'll be happy although i have not heard them
I have a pair of Grado SR325i, they were my fave back somewhere between 2000-2004 when I bought them, they still work great and I've since put on some slightly larger earpads. But they mostly sit now unused. But every now and then I rock them out, they're great for metal or classic rock & jazz. I just love the kick and attack of these things.

But Grado is not without its detractors. It inspires love/hate, especially among the modern headphone market.

I was always in the Grado Love camp. But I can see how people believe they're higher-end lines aren't the best value in today's market. The SR80 remains a legend in its price-point. It's widely considered one of the tops in price/performance as I think it's still a sub-$200 headphone.

On the negative-side, Grado (speaking to the few I've heard in its SR-line) tend to be thin on bass. But they have this natural timbre that can be addicting and they specialize in stable high-frequencies which tends to impart a sense of "sharp" crispness to the sound. The lack of bass means they never sound muddy. But I can only speak to my 325i's, not the rest of their line, but I suspect most Grados have these propensities in common to varying degrees.

But be warned, much of why Grado is one of those love/hate brands is because they seem to remain a product of a bygone-era. They still look like old-time headphones, and taking them apart, they look it on the inside too. When you buy a pair, you won't get that whole post-Apple "presentation" thing consumer electronics companies do today... chances are your new Grado will be served in a pizza box with paper over it. But some people love that "stuck-in-the-1970s" presentation. They have that "hand-crafted" appeal, and I gotta give 'em credit, as far as I know they're still made in Brooklyn NY. I'd be disappointed if Grado "modernized". But I guess you gotta do what the market demands.

But if you're looking at Sens HD600/650 and HiFiMan, I assume you're looking at just around the $500 mark or just below. Sens and HiFiMan are great, both brands have spawned legions of devotees. Sens is a legend for its broadly neutral accurate sound and HiFiMan are Planar Magnetics which is kind-of its own cult-like thing (I mean that in a good way). I personally love the HiFiMan PM sound too, but I'd say if you summarized the strengths/weaknesses of HiFiMan PMs vs Grado SRs, they're probably opposite ends of the performance spectrum, but both great in their own right. My solution would be to own both and just go with whatever you're in the mood for that day.
 

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