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Audiophilia: Headphones, Amps, DAPs, and Empty Wallets

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Posts

  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Thank you for posting a useful response, Anti. Very informative!
    I actually do own a Sansa Clip (just regular, not +), as well as a 2nd Gen iPod (firewire only :D).
    Also, thank you for explaining the B*** hate. Mine do sound bassy (which is probably why the Tron soundtrack sounds pretty good on them).

    The phones I'm eyeballing right now are Audio Technica M-35, which are (from what I've read) similar to the M50's. Head-fi.org had some user reviews of them that said they were good stuff.
    Plus, they are on sale on Amazon which takes them from $100+ phones way down to the middle of my range. :) Apparently, though, the M50 have lower impedence (38 v 65 on M35), which I guess makes them better for portable use (but also much more expensive).

    Edit: I also like the look of Senn HD428 which are low impedance, but the cable looks so fragile where it comes out. Thoughts?
    Also, anyone know much about the FiiO E5 portable amp? Good or bad?

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Well, might as well use what you have then. :P Though the Clip+ at $50 for 8 GB is an incredibly good deal. What are you looking for in a MP3 player?

    Those two headphones from what I've read are ok at that price, but honestly can't find that much info on them. You have to consider that those are usually considered studio headphones though, and their cord length aren't great for portable use if that's a concern for you.

    At that price range these two headphones are also considered pretty good.
    Sony MDR V6
    http://www.amazon.com/Sony-MDR-V6-Monitor-Headphones-Voice/dp/B00001WRSJ/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1308130259&sr=1-1

    The superlux hd668B. Superlux have been getting pretty crazy hype recently because they are considered to have pretty fantastic sound for the price. They aren't lookers though.
    http://www.greenflymusicsupply.com/store/Superlux-by-Avlex-HD668B-Enhanced-Bass-Stereo-Headphones-p4076.html

    Dunno if that store is reliable.

    No experience with any of these headphones, but they're what's recommended at that price range, though its's best to read more reviews of them rather than go from what I say. Most of them are more studio headphones than portables, though I think the superlux 668B comes with a more portable cable?

    If you're willing to stretch out to $150 there will be more options for what you're looking for. Again, check this link for a general review on what your options are. http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/433318/shootout-84-portable-headphones-reviewed-fischer-audio-fa-004-koss-ur55-added-06-06

    If you really want to get an amp anyway I wouldn't worry about impedance. Fiio is ok from what I've read, but honestly I just don't really like amps on a portable. Defeats the purpose of portability is what I personally feel. Don't really think you'll need it. Or at least get the headphone before deciding if you need an amp.

    Antihippy on
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  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Is there any accurate metric for evaluating the specifications of a pair of headphones? I'm in the market for a new pair but it seems like I'll read 50 reviews of a particular model and half of them will highly recommend them for performance factors X, Y, and Z, but then the other half will condemn them for the exact same factors.

    It's hard to figure out who is doing real comparative reviews, who is going entirely on faith that expensive = good, and who generally cannot even tell the difference between a $12 set and a $1200 set. To an outsider (like me) it all just starts to sound like a giant hipsterfest of people discounting entire brands because they're not BD, Shure, or Sennheiser, or like "LOL you're using $300 headphones, what's it like pounding dogshit in your ears all day?" or even, "A real audiophile would use only the finest unicorn scrotum leather aged for no less than 550 years on their ear cups; go back to using skullcandy in-ears, you philistine!"

    anyway, how does one sift through the raging hyperbole and find a decent, good looking, compromise between price and performance? If it helps, I expect my absolute upper price limit to be in the $150 CDN range, which would put me just under the entry-audiophile floor it seems. I guess what I'm saying is that my problem is that anything under that is filed under "absolutely no redeeming qualities, I'd rather put my dick in a blender than subject myself to the horrors of listening to sub-par quality sound" so it's hard to discover which among the cheaper headphones is the best sounding steaming pile of shit.

    acidlacedpenguin on
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  • orionminusorionminus Registered User
    edited June 2011
    I own a set of Sennheiser HD650's.

    Am I an audiophile?

    No.

    I just wanted a set of good headphones that sounded nice and would last a long time.

    But once I heard how these good they sounded any doubt I had about spending that much money on headphones died.

    orionminus on
  • CmdPromptCmdPrompt Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I've a pair of B&W P5s, they're amazing. Being able wear them in public without feeling like a huge dope is a pretty big plus as well.
    Is there any accurate metric for evaluating the specifications of a pair of headphones?
    Yes: listen to them. If you live in a decent sized town you should be able to find a local retailer.

    CmdPrompt on
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  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Anti, that head fi thread is great. Lots of info, which will be more fun to go through at home.

    Currently I read the sound of the Koss PortaPro's and Grado SR-60i are good. I think the Koss look kind of terrible (look like the 80s when they were made). The Grado look clean and good, but they are full price whereas I could buy Shure 440s for the same price after discount.
    I despise full price...

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Keep in mind that the porta pros and grado have terrible isolation.

    Also quite alot of good phones are still the phones of old. So no surprises that some of the designs look old. :P
    Is there any accurate metric for evaluating the specifications of a pair of headphones? I'm in the market for a new pair but it seems like I'll read 50 reviews of a particular model and half of them will highly recommend them for performance factors X, Y, and Z, but then the other half will condemn them for the exact same factors.

    It's hard to figure out who is doing real comparative reviews, who is going entirely on faith that expensive = good, and who generally cannot even tell the difference between a $12 set and a $1200 set. To an outsider (like me) it all just starts to sound like a giant hipsterfest of people discounting entire brands because they're not BD, Shure, or Sennheiser, or like "LOL you're using $300 headphones, what's it like pounding dogshit in your ears all day?" or even, "A real audiophile would use only the finest unicorn scrotum leather aged for no less than 550 years on their ear cups; go back to using skullcandy in-ears, you philistine!"

    anyway, how does one sift through the raging hyperbole and find a decent, good looking, compromise between price and performance? If it helps, I expect my absolute upper price limit to be in the $150 CDN range, which would put me just under the entry-audiophile floor it seems. I guess what I'm saying is that my problem is that anything under that is filed under "absolutely no redeeming qualities, I'd rather put my dick in a blender than subject myself to the horrors of listening to sub-par quality sound" so it's hard to discover which among the cheaper headphones is the best sounding steaming pile of shit.

    Thing is, as much as people like to wave their e-peens around, often times how someone judge good sound is entirely subjective.

    Do you want a bright sounding headphone? A dark sounding one? One that is laidback? One that is more energetic? Do you want a wide soundstage? Do you want heavy emphasis on bass? Do you want a bigger emphasis on the treble and mids? Or do you prefer a more balanced sound?

    There are objective good qualities for audio, but then from that headphones and sound equipment in general can vary wildly in their sound signature, so what you want is entirely up to your preference as well.

    Also what you want to use it for is a factor. Do you want to use them as portables? Home use? Studio use? DJing? Is isolation a factor at all?

    Here's a glossary of terms just in case you get confused by the terminology. Really helped me out when I was starting out.

    http://www.head-fi.org/wiki/describing-sound-a-glossary

    Antihippy on
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  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I'm loving head-fi so far, tons of helpful info.

    I am a little weary of the leakage on the Portas and Grados, which is why I haven't just pulled the trigger on either of those yet.

    I'm starting to like the Sony V6's and Shure 440's. I prefer the 440's (at the very least because I like blue the blue accent better than red), but I like the V6's price a bit better.
    I guess I'll just keep on reading and trying to figure something out...

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  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I'd be looking at over-ear phones for use in home/office (it's the office sign for go away I'm busy 'round these parts) Isolation probably isn't a concern for me considering the shape and location of my office. Probably a warm, balanced sound with possibly a slight edge towards the bassy sound of things would be ideal.
    At work it would be for playing music of various genres, at home music with the possibility of playing the odd shooter game late at night, but generally if it only sounds ok in gaming but good in music I'd be happy.

    I've been giving my turtle beach X11's a listen for music and pc gaming, it's pretty good for gaming but very sharp on the highs, muddy and strong on the lows, and non-existent in the mids when listening to music.

    My real frustration with places like head-fi is simply the massive condescension when talking about low-end gear.

    Unfortunately, the closest thing we have in my town to a place that might have headphones other than the $12 cheapo earbuds is futureshop, where pretty much the only brands you'll find are skullcandy and monster beats by dr dre.

    acidlacedpenguin on
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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    For audio gear, unless you know a good local shop, most of the time you have to buy online. Which is terrible if you want to try things out first, but that's how it is. Luckily most online shops have a good return policy. Also if you know where to look for recommendations and reviews you'll generally know what you want to get.

    At your price range, if my conversion from AUD is CAD is right, you can try having a look at these headphones.

    Shure 440: described as pretty balanced and detailed sound. Closed too, so you can get pretty good isolation
    Alessandro MS-1, which is pretty energetic and dynamic.
    Audio Technica ATH AD700, great sound but lacking in bass, very good for gaming from what I've heard.
    Beyerdynamic DT231, good balanced sound but not very isolated.
    Beyerdynamic DT234pro, if you need a mic.
    Superlux hd668B, getting alot of hype for having a good sound at a very low price.

    Check reviews and prices to see which one fits your needs.

    Antihippy on
    10454_nujabes2.pngPSN: Antiwhippy
  • wavecutterwavecutter Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Grado's aren't designed for isolation so I guess your correct. As a matter of fact they have terrible noise cancellation as well (because they aren't designed for it) But if you want clean crisp sound then try Grado's.

    I've owned Bose, Senheiser, Sony, and a few others and Grado's are my favorite.

    wavecutter on
  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Anti, I just found your pic of your HD25 Adidas', your avatar and sig pic at the end of a google image search for Audio Technica ATH-M35. The last four pics at the end are basically those three and Knight of Awesome's Gilmore Dynalo. PA WIN!

    In other news, I'm staying up late staring at peoples' home audio setups on head-fi forums, and I think I'm about to order some AT M35's. The only thing I'm wary of (and can't find info for) is the cup dimensions.
    I've purchased headphones before and they've been too shallow (which just smashes in on my ears) or the cup size isn't large enough to surround my ear (which pinches my ears to fit the cup).

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Just shows how well know the M35s are. :P You'll probably enjoy them though. Audio technica is very solid.

    Dunno how to help you though with cup sizes. You can try and see if you can find a local store to try them on first.

    Antihippy on
    10454_nujabes2.pngPSN: Antiwhippy
  • VariableVariable Ted Hitler Stroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    grados are great

    I recently got a schiit valhalla amp and a pair of akg k701s. un fucking real.

    Variable on
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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I was thinking about the AKG 701 as my next home/studio phone purchase, but I heard they're pretty hard to amp. I'm either getting that or the beyerdynamic DT880.

    How does that amp pair up with the 701?

    Antihippy on
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  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    thanks Anti, you've basically summed up in like 12 hours a shortlist of products to look into that I haven't even been able to get from head-fi forums in the 2 weeks I've been lurking.

    In looking around, it seems like there's a Canadian online retailer who have ATH-M50s on sale for $160 + shipping (down from $190) or free shipping if buy another $40 worth of stuff, and amazon has ATH-AD700 selling for $150 with free shipping (down from $240) Which one would you say is the better deal here?

    How does an Audiophile headphone and a studio or monitor headphone differ?

    acidlacedpenguin on
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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    If the seller or manufacturer is calling it audiophile headphone then its probably just marketing wankery.

    ATH M50 will have more/better bass but from what I know AD700 will have better soundstage and clarity/details with the highs and mids. Depends entirely on what you want. People seem to like the AD700s quite a bit for gaming and movies.

    Antihippy on
    10454_nujabes2.pngPSN: Antiwhippy
  • VariableVariable Ted Hitler Stroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Antihippy wrote: »
    I was thinking about the AKG 701 as my next home/studio phone purchase, but I heard they're pretty hard to amp. I'm either getting that or the beyerdynamic DT880.

    How does that amp pair up with the 701?

    beautifully, I read a lot of reviews of both and so many of them mentioned that they were really great for reach other. they've been amazing especially for classical which I listen to a pretty good amount.

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  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    From what I can find online, Guitar Center carries AT products. I may stop by/call my local shop to see if they have some I could try on just to be sure I like them.
    I'm going to keep my eye on Amazon for Grado 60i's to go on sale some time. Or are they that kind of brand that just costs full price because they're good and never go on sale?

    I wish I could afford those Adidas HD25's. Look so goooood...

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    It's always better to audition the headphones that you want first before you buy them. Though you need to listen to it for awhile to get used too and analyse the sound signature. Though my philosophy is that it has to sound pretty good out of the box too.

    Also don't worry about the Senn HD25s. You'll want to upgrade sooner or later. :mrgreen:

    Antihippy on
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  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Well I think I'm about ready to leap on those AD700s. Thanks for the help Anti.

    break in procedure:

    run [strike]nyancat[/strike] music through them for like a weekend straight?

    acidlacedpenguin on
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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Eh.

    I just listen to my music all day, like I usually do. :P

    Either the sound becomes better through burn in or you get used to the sound signature in order to know if you'll like it or not. Usually takes around a day or two for me.

    Antihippy on
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  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Just ordered up some M35's.
    Calling and visiting local guitar centers was not helpful. Wouldn't let me try any on due to hygiene/law or whatever.

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  • Fizban140Fizban140 Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited June 2011
    Well I think I'm about ready to leap on those AD700s. Thanks for the help Anti.

    break in procedure:

    run [strike]nyancat[/strike] music through them for like a weekend straight?

    That is exactly what I have, really nice headphones, incredibly comfortable. They aren't noise cancelling but they really don't leak much sound at all.

    Fizban140 on
    533570-1.png
  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Well, open headphones aren't meant to be isolating at all. :P

    Antihippy on
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  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited June 2011
    My first decent speaker arrived today, I had ordered a Polk center channel off of a sellout.woot sale.
    I am very excited and holy shit is this thing heavy for its size
    :D

    Skoal Cat on
    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I love Amazon! Ordered my M35's with two-day shipping yesterday at 1:30pm and they were on my doorstep today. Must have had them at a local spot or something...

    Unfortunately, as (somewhat) expected, the cups aren't big enough for me. But they sound FANTASTIC. So much more depth than my Bose headphones. And the construction of the cord and plugs are great.

    I'm just once again disappointed by the size of the cups. Do they make all these headphones for children!? Same thing with my most recent pair (my gaming headset).
    They are 'circumaural' phones, but to me they're practically supra...I mean, my ears aren't that big! Basically they fit 'around' my ear, except my ear lobes don't quite make it in and just get pressed at the bottom. WHYYYYYYYY!?

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  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I think I'm just going to be keeping the M35's and look forward to something bigger in the future.

    Now that I have headphones that sound great, what do I need for a home setup? And what have I gotten myself into?
    :x

    Is the best way to get hi-fi audio at home to just play from a disc through a setup to your phones? Or is there a way to rip to your computer with better quality (I generally just do an mp3 rip to iTunes for CD backups and easy listening on my computer)?
    So much stuff to discover...

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Glad you enjoyed your headphone purchase. Can you describe what the sound is like?

    Well what do you want of of a home setup? Home theater setup, a listening station, or just listening through your computer.

    The best way to listen to audio is definitely through the disk itself (or even better, vinyl, if you want to fall further into that rabbit hole :P) but I mostly rip them to digital anyway, because I need my music on the go.

    If you have a player that could play FLAC files (like the sansa clip+, clip (I think?), cowon J3) I recommend EAC. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exact_Audio_Copy

    Just make sure to select it to compress to FLAC instead of uncompressed WAV. They're both lossless codecs anyway but FLAC uses alot less space.

    If FLAC is not an option or if you don't want to use up so much space get a CD ripper that uses the LAME MP3 codec. I like using CDex.

    If you still plan on going with itunes rip them into high quality AAC format, but AAC as a a format is pretty limited compared to MP3 as far as device compatibility goes.

    For your computer you'll probably be alright with onboard audio for now but if you want a better audio setup I would recommend upgrading to a soundcard like the ASUS xonar essence stx.
    http://pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=10940

    Then there are dedicated DACs, amps, etc. etc.

    Antihippy on
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  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    My vanilla Sansa Clip is no FLAC. :( And also only 2GB with no expansion.
    I'm going to look into a Clip+ or maybe Fuze (and keep wishing I had $250 to blow on a Cowon or iPod classic).

    Anti have you used Rockbox on anything before? Or do you just use factory players?

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  • Fizban140Fizban140 Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited June 2011
    Antihippy wrote: »
    Well, open headphones aren't meant to be isolating at all. :P

    Yeah that is what I mean, they are open but not at all loud to other people.

    Fizban140 on
    533570-1.png
  • orionminusorionminus Registered User
    edited June 2011
    Was listening to my FLAC copy of the Requiem of a Dream on my HD 650's (which are open headphones) and had them up to about 60% volume.

    My little brother said he could hear it upstairs in the hall way. So about 40 feet away and 20 feet up.

    And I don't even have a headphone amp yet.

    Shit is gonna be SO cash.

    orionminus on
  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    My vanilla Sansa Clip is no FLAC. :( And also only 2GB with no expansion.
    I'm going to look into a Clip+ or maybe Fuze (and keep wishing I had $250 to blow on a Cowon or iPod classic).

    Anti have you used Rockbox on anything before? Or do you just use factory players?

    I've used a rockbox'd clip+ before I got my J3, and I think that is probably the best value player there is out there.

    You can play doom on it!

    Just don't swing it around recklessly like I do. :P

    edit: though honestly for a portable I wouldn't worry too much about FLAC, and I'm not sure if your gear would really make too much of a difference right now. I basically just keep a few of my favourites as FLAC and leave the rest in MP3.

    Antihippy on
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  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Yeah, I've been looking at portable amps. I'd like to get a FiiO E7, but it's a solid $100, and the E5 is only $30 (retail) and I've been reading good things about it, especially to start since I don't need a big fancy setup yet.
    I might try to get started with a Clip+, E5 with my M35 phones and see how I like it from there.

    I'm still trying to find a decent audio shop nearby, by so far to no avail. Guitar Center doesn't let you try anything, and I tried Fry's Electronics today, but their hi-fi selection was terrible at best. Plenty of Dr. Dre Beats headphones, though. :)

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I'm honestly not sure if your headphones require amping.

    What I would generally advise is to run it through the clip+ first to see if you feel that an amp is needed. The E5 is a good cheap amp to try anyway.

    The E7 is more of a laptop amp.

    edit: though if you want a truly awesome "portable" DAC/amp setup you can always try this. :mrgreen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psnZmoNznpU

    Antihippy on
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  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    lol that looks like it's pretty light weight, I betcha it's only about 8 lbs.

    so I'm hoping for my headphones to come in, but I guess there's a postal strike going on right now so I might have to wait awhile :(

    So one of the things I was looking at for gaming would be to get an astro mixamp or turtle beach DSS (or any of those 5.1 surround modelling boxes) but do you suppose they'd be any better than what my soundcard (soundblaster XFI) can do? Or do they exist as an artifact of console gaming's limited output options?

    actually for that matter I happen to also have a razer branded soundcard, any idea if that'd be any worse or better than the soundblaster?

    acidlacedpenguin on
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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Does your soundcard have a dolby headphone option? I don't think there's much point in getting a mixamp if your computer has that option.

    Though the mixamp makes it easier to connect your phones to consoles, which is nice.

    Antihippy on
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  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    it looks like the razer card does advertise dolby headphone option
    the X-FI advertises CMSS-3D Headphone and wikipedia blurb about that says
    "When the Creative Control Panel is set to Headphones, this setting creates virtual 3D positional audio via synthesized binaural cues (see Sound localization and Head-related transfer function). If the application generating the audio uses a hardware-accelerated 3D audio API (i.e. DirectSound3D or OpenAL), the input for the binaural synthesis algorithms consists of up to 128 sound sources positioned arbitrarily in 3D space. If the application instead generates multi-channel sound directly (e.g. a media player app or a game with software-based audio processing), the input for the binaural synthesis algorithms consist of the 4 to 7 positional sound sources associated with the application's selected speaker configuration."
    so maybe it's some sort of equivalent?

    either way I think at this point I should wait until I get the headphones and see if what I get out of them is good enough before I start breaking the bank. . .

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  • Lord JezoLord Jezo Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I wanted nice headphones for years but could never get myself to spend the money on them. In order to correct that lack of money spending I consumed two Four Lokos one night (origninal caffeine kind) and started shopping.

    imag0025az.jpg

    Ended up with a pair of Shure 840 cans.

    It was a toss up between these and a couple others but my research led me to believe that these were the most natural sounding in the price range, they don't go out of their way to artificially increase bass or try to distort the sound.

    They do sound pretty amazing, especially considering I was coming off of a $20 Newegg special.

    My qualifications for them were that I needed closed headphones as I am not in a place where I can let the music blast out and to be non amped.

    Lord Jezo on
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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Though the 840 do need some amping to bring out its best potential according to the people who have it. :P But that's true for almost all headphones.

    I wanted to get a shure srh840 at one point but those things are effing huge.

    Antihippy on
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