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Need advice on headphones for laptop

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I'm looking for a set of headphones to go along with my new high-end laptop and I'm hoping I can get good advice here. I'm also cross-posting this question elsewhere, so please don't fret if you happen to see it.


I need a pair of headphones that I can use for several hours on end every day. I listen to a wide range of music, its usually very instrumental and technical, from artists like Mike Oldfield, via folk, progressive rock and technical thrash metal, to bands such as Dream Theater. I also listen to electronic music such as Commodore 64 SIDs and remixes. They should have large cushions that cover the ears completely and be comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time. I really liked the Sony MDR-XD400 when I tried them on at a media store a year ago, they easily covered the ears and had a head band that made it feel like I wasn't even wearing them. The thing is that they appear difficult to find at any reputable online stores, for example amazon doesn't seem to sell them. Also they are quite old and perhaps I can get something better for the price. I have a budget of about 150GBP and I reside in London.


Does anyone know of a store in London where they have a large selection of good headphones, all plugged in and ready for client testing?


All help much appreciated.



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is my source for headphone related gear in the US. Their return policy is very liberal and they have a ton to choose from. There is the issue of paying extra for the shipping to the UK (and back to the US) but the business model still makes it an attractive option (to me at least). I've auditioned plenty of headphones for an application very much like yours and so far the clear winner is Dennon. For long listening periods and lower volumes the bass doesn't disappear as do most others and they are WAY comfortable.


Just my 2p. Good luck.



MacBook Pro w/ iTunes -> Audioquest Optilink 1 -> Lavry DA11 -> Nordost Blue Heaven XLR -> Headroom Ultra Balanced -> Cardas XLR -> Dennon AH-D5000



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I would recommend looking for a used set of Stax Lambdas with one of the less expensive amps. It might come in a little above your budget, but I think it will serve you well. I'll point you in the direction of the HeadFi forums as they will have a more comprehensive knowledge on the subject.


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At work I use the Denon AH-D5000 for hours on end. They sound as wide as my Grados (325's) but are infinitely more comfortable.


Even though they are a closed design they do not shield as well as some others (Sennheiser HD280) - when it gets really loud I just switch to in ears (Ultimate triple fi 10).


The cable is very long and is a 3.5mm with an adapter - it is also covered with a nice jacket like high end speaker cables (you can feel a small wire coiled inside that probably helps the cable stay incredibly quiet - you don't hear any of those 'scratchy' sounds when you move).


Above the sound, which is amazingly open for a closed back, the comfort of these cans sets them apart from others I've tried.


Corey[br]Apple TV[br]Peachtree Audio nova[br]PS Audio Trio A100[br]B&W 602 s2

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Thank you all for taking the time to reply!


I checked the specs and read reviews of the Denon AH-D5000 and they do sound amazing, but at this time I need the extra money for professional photography gear, so I'm afraid I'm comfortable with spending 150GBP, 200GBP at most. Even used ones are more expensive than this, and I'm not keen on buying second-hand over the internet.


Used Stax Lambda are also priced at about 400USD, and the same used-over-internet issue applies.


I will try finding something on those sites you linked tomorrow. If there are any cheaper Denon models worth recommending, please do! For example although I might very highly recommend Camera Make X Model Y to someone, that wouldn't mean that Camera Make X Model Z is any good, that's why I ask for specifics models :]





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Canada : canuckaudiomart.com


US: audiogon.com


Depending on where you are, these sites will give you the best product for the least money. Headphone folks typically buy a ton of headphones and need places to offload them to buy new/better ones. You can get some great deals if you buy from the right folks.


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I know you mentioned you didn't like used, but you can get varying degrees of used. Like i just picked up some AKG K701 off canuck for a great price because the K702 just came out, so people are trying to upgrade by selling their older ones (These had only 40h of use on them). Folks take very good care of headphones (Those that own a lot of them).


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You can run w/o an amp if you want but, you'll be missing out on some significant sound improvement. I can speak directly about the K702. You'll want an amp with those cans. HeadRoom (headphone.com) recommends running the Dennons with an amp and I'd be willing to bet the Sonys would benefit as well. Luckily, you don't have to spend very much to get a decent amp. A favorite of mine is the Bass Boost cMoy v2.02 by JDS Labs (www.jdslabs.com) which you can get for a scant 65USD. It gives the K702 a needed kick with the bass boost and the Dennons would probably sound great in the non-boost mode.


If you're happy with the line out of your laptop and want to go amp-less, I'm inclined towards the Dennon or Sony since the AKG's higher impedance might be tougher to drive from a line out.


Hopefully you've cross-posted at www.head-fi.org. You'll get ample advice over there and info on some very esoteric (and not nec. expensive) gear.



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Another option is the Audio-Technica ATH-M50. They're closed back and fairly sturdy. I routinely use mine without an amp, direct from my iPod. I find them pretty comfortable. I drag them to work every day stuffed in my bag, and I can listen to satisfying levels without irritating those around me.


You can find them easily around $130 in the US. e.g. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/477843-REG/Audio_Technica_ATH_M50_ATH_M50_Professional_Closed_Back_Studio.html -- but also at shops for musicians such as (over here) Guitar Center.




2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

I have enjoyed the Sony 7506s for ($99 US) and the Sennheiser HD 280 for the same money. Both are sealed and comfortable and used by many recording engineers. The new Senns are the HD380s and are about $170 US and supposed to be an upgrade. I have not heard them, but would not be afraid to buy site unseen.


I use Senn mics and have not had a bad experience with their gear.


Open back cans my choce would be the Grados; 60s and 80s at under $100 a pair. I own both of them, but you must buy the oversized ear cushions or your ears will hurt after a short time. I like the Grados just as much, but for most people they may be a little brighter, but at my age of 63 that is not a bad thing.


Jim Tavegia

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  • 3 weeks later...

I can recommend my ATH-M50. Besides the good sound they are very comfy as well. Low impedance/high sensitivity cans that require no amp in fact I did not notice any difference between a desktop amp and powering the M-50s straight from my PSP. I will go further and say I like them more with PSP than with my 2k audio setup.


Onkyo ND-S1 ?Reference 5 DSP/CA DacMagic ? SPL Auditor/LD MK IV SE ? balanced KRK RP10s/5[br]Cans: AKG K272 HD, Sennheiser HD555(Cardas), HD600(Cardas), ATH-M50

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