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MontanaJustin
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"Best" Headphones and/or Amp for digital keyboard

I'm looking at buying a new keyboard to replace my antique upright piano, and I want to get the best headphones for the job. The two best keyboard options seem to be the Roland SD-700SX and the Yamaha CP-300. Any advice on headphones to match? With spending over $2000 on the keyboard, $300-500 seems appropriate for headphones. AKG K701? Sennheiser 650? Grado SR125? Do these headphones require/greatly benefit from a headphone-amp, when sourced from a keyboard? Any experience/advice/opinions extremely welcome.

struts
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Re: "Best" Headphones and/or Amp for digital keyboard

MontanaJustin,

This might not be the best forum for your question so you may miss out on some very good answers. Maybe one of the moderators will move it? [done]

Anyway, I have Sennheiser 650s and I can testify that as well as being superb cans they're hungry suckers. They really need driving; even on my Grace m902 they require a volume setting of >80 out of 99 on the 'HI' gain setting to give decent listening levels for my tastes. I can't imagine them giving of anything like their best without a headphone amp.

The AKG K701s have garnered rave reviews (WP ranked them just ahead of, a local Swedish rag just behind the Sennheisers) but I haven't listened to them myself. However I'm sure several people on the board have them and can contribute their experiences (I think Elk for one uses them). In Sweden at least they cost twice what the Sennheisers go for after discounts which is what swung it for me.

Finally, I would add that Headroom has some really pithy and helpful mini-reviews in their site. Tyl Hersens, the head honcho, has probably logged more headphone hours than most of us put together. He must rank as one of the most knowledgeable, unbiased (well, apart for his strong bias for headphones that is ) sources out there.

Good luck!

Jim Tavegia
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Re: "Best" Headphones and/or Amp for digital keyboard

The Grados can be bright, but if you are old like me you NEED IT! They are also not as comfortable for long perionds of time...depending upon your ear size.

I think the consensus is that the Senn's are a little darker in presentation than the AKG's.

MontanaJustin
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Re: "Best" Headphones and/or Amp for digital keyboard

Thanks to both of you for your input - I've spent quite a bit of time on the HeadRoom site, and am reading everything I can about different high-end cans. What I'm looking for most is accurate (i.e. unchanged) reproduction of sound. I'm 25, have played classical piano for 22 years, and am hoping to eek out every last bit of sound from both my keyboard and classical music cds that I own (mostly piano). Also comfort is huge - I'm hoping to be able to wear them for 4 hour stretches with little/no fatigue (physically and aurally).

struts
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Re: "Best" Headphones and/or Amp for digital keyboard

MontanaJustin,

Boy would I ever like to meet you! I am trying to teach my 3-year-old daughter the piano with very limited success. She's displaying a very strong affinity for the black keys right now so we are concentrating on the Moonlight Sonata, unfortunately the attention span is not quite there. Whatever, we have fun and it's time spent together. Beats clothing dolls for my money!

At the moment it seems like we've barely left base camp and the summit looks a very long way away! But the thought that she might one day play the Goldbergs really beautifully brings tears to my eyes and spurs me on.

The Sennheisers are super cans and I find them very comfortable for long periods. I haven't heard them in enough systems to be able to confirm from first-hand experience whether they are 'dark' or not, but I trust the judgement of others. If true the coloration must be very subtle. As I said, however, they do need driving; bear that in mind.

MontanaJustin
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Re: "Best" Headphones and/or Amp for digital keyboard

Perhaps too specific of a question (?):
Does anyone have very strong feelings about which is better - Headroom's MicroAmp OR the Emmeline Hornet? Are there other strong competitors in the $200-$350 range?

Random aside - I'm currently listening to Gould's Goldberg variations, and dreaming of hearing them through something a bit better than my $20 computer speakers.

struts
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Re: "Best" Headphones and/or Amp for digital keyboard

I'm guessing you're listening to the 1981 recording which is my most played album ever - and by some considerable margin.

However, if you haven't heard it you may also like to check out Ito Ema's reading on MA records. It's the perfect antidote to a Gouldberg overdose and one of the most stunningly faithful recordings of a concert piano I have ever heard. I'd be interested in your thoughts on her musicianship. If you get it please report back!

Also, it just might be the perfect test disc for auditioning headphone amps and cans...

Jeff Wong
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Re: "Best" Headphones and/or Amp for digital keyboard

The Hornet tends toward bright sounding and I suspect is fatiguing with long use. The new series of Headroom amps I've heard have a more relaxed quality that will lend themselves to multiple hours of usage.

I use AKG 701s (and Sennheiser 650s, but, mostly the AKGs these days) with Grace 901 & m902 headphone amps while I work. I find it's a relief to take the AKGs off after a CD or two. While they come across as more transparent than the Senns, they're more likely to cause fatigue; I can listen to the 650s for longer periods, but, it's usually not an issue as I'm ready to take a break from work after an album or two. I do think you'll need an amp to drive the 650s properly.

Welshsox
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Re: "Best" Headphones and/or Amp for digital keyboard

Hi

I dont know if its of any help but I use the Rega EAR headphone amp with my HD 600's and find it to be superb. I auditioned several amps including the Creek's, Grado before selecting the Rega.

It does seem that people either like Grado or Senn, my feeling is that the Grado is maybe a little bit more accurate but slightly dry, the Senn's are more fleshy and warm but maybe not quite as accurate.

Just depends on what your looking for, I do agree with others though if you pick you Senn you need a good amp to match whichever one that might be.

Steve

Elk
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Re: "Best" Headphones and/or Amp for digital keyboard

What a great thread!

As for the Goldbergs, the 1955 Glenn Gould is great! But I am most impressed by Murray Perahia

struts
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Re: "Best" Headphones and/or Amp for digital keyboard

[edited - speed reading again ]


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