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mrpink44
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Headphones for Jazz

Hi all,

I've been lurking around the Stereophile website for some time, but finally decided to chime in. I'm fairly new to high end audio and with the dizzying array of headphone options, I'm looking to see what other jazz fans use and recommend for headphones. I was origianlly looking at the B&W P5's, but most of the reviews seem to point to them being really good, but not quite up to the cost.

I know the best thing to do is to go and listen to them, but I'm not sure where to even start with brands and models. I would like to stay under $400 - and like I mentioned, I primarly listen to jazz. I know there is another forum for headphones, but I wanted to see what the other jazz listeners look for in a good set of headphones in order to get the most out of my CD's, MP3 player, and vinyl.

Thanks in advance,

Matt

jazzfan
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A few to try

Hi Matt and welcome to the forum.

Before the various headphone manufacturers starting coming out with their $1,000 plus flagship models, their previous top of line models were (and still are) priced more reasonably at around $400 (street price). I own several of these headphones and surprisingly they still sound very good even though they are no longer top of the line models. And by the way, I listen to lots and lots of jazz.smiley

Here are a few under $400 headphones worth checking out:

Sennheiser HD 650 and HD 600 - both great headphones and they sound great playing any kind of music, including jazz. Impedance: 300 ohm

AKG K701 - a very sweet sounding headphone with crystal clear high end, however they tend to be slightly light in the bass but by no means a deal breaker. Impedance: 62 ohm

Beyerdynamic DT880 - another outstanding headphone and very, very comfortable. Impedance: 250 ohm - Note there is also a low impedance model available - Impedance: 32 ohm

Note: unlike the B&W P5 you mentioned all the above headphones are NOT meant for portable use and all of them will require some type of dedicated headphone amp to sound their best. In fact some of them will not work very well using the headphone output of a iPod, iPad or a computer due to their high impedance (over 100 ohm).

mrpink44
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Thanks for the reply! I've

Thanks for the reply! I've read a lot of good things on the Sennheiser HD 650 and 600 and plan to check those out. Also, some good and bad on the AKG K701. I don't know much about the Beyerdynamic, but I'm going to look into them as well. I'm actually heading to the local sound store this afternoon and plan to "test drive" a few of these.

Yes, I'm planning on using these for home use only. I just purchased a TT and I'm slowly building a system. Right now I have a decent set of Sony on-the-ear headphones for my MP3 player. I'm fine with keeping these for portable use right now, but want to get the most out of my home listening.

Thanks again for the thoughts!!

jazzfan
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You're welcome

You're welcome, Matt

You can't go wrong with the Sennheisers. They are both very "neutral" and handle all frequencies equally well. Another brand of very good headphones is Ultrasone. Their Proline 750s (closed back) and Proline 2500s (open back) are both very good although many listeners seem to feel that they have too much bass. To my ears they are the only headphones under $1K which have ENOUGH bass. A must have for listening to any recording with Charlie Haden on it since he is always under recorded (bass wise, since there are hundreds and hundreds of recordings which feature Mr. Haden's fantastic bass playing).

Jabberwock
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  I can vouch for the

 

I can vouch for the Sennheiser 650s, they are a great pair of headphones.

From what I understand they may be better suited for vocal performances vs decerning nuances in instrumental pieces.

The AKGs I hear are better suited for Classical/Jazz due to there transparency.

I have used both and ended up with the 650s, but I do listen to a lot of vocal jazz.

Jazzfan covered all the bases, but if you ever wanna learn more about headphones than you thought possible,

check out www.headfi.org, lots of good info there.

Also welcome.

jazzfan
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Hold onto your wallet
Jabberwock wrote:

I can vouch for the Sennheiser 650s, they are a great pair of headphones.

From what I understand they may be better suited for vocal performances vs decerning nuances in instrumental pieces.

The AKGs I hear are better suited for Classical/Jazz due to there transparency.

I have used both and ended up with the 650s, but I do listen to a lot of vocal jazz.

Jazzfan covered all the bases, but if you ever wanna learn more about headphones than you thought possible,

check out www.headfi.org, lots of good info there.

Also welcome.

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I'm well aware of hedfi.org since I've been a member there for quite a few years. The reason I didn't mention it is because I was hoping to spare the op's wallet. So a few words of warning: yes headfi.org is a great resource but hold onto your wallet!

mrpink44
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Thanks again for the info!

Thanks again for the info! Yes, I've been searching the other site you mentioned as well. I'm learning towards the 650s right now - unfortanetly, the b&m stores around here don't carry the high end Sennheiser for whatever reason. I also want to checkout the AKG's and a pair of Grados.

It's going to be a bit before I make a purchase - I just got my new Rega RP1 TT w/perforamce pack setup on Friday! I don't have anything to really compare it to as far as TT's go, but compared to listening through my MP3 player, the music is much more "alive".

So I'm debating on my next purchase - I've been after a nice set of headphones for awhile so I'm trying to decide between saving for something like the cans listed above and an amp like the Rega Ear - or upgrading from the $70 Rolls pre-amp to the Rega which will run around $350. I know I'll hear a huge difference with the headphones and amp - can anyone comment on the differences of going to a better pre-amp??? Thanks!!

jazzfan
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Lester

I can't believe that I failed to comment on how great your Lester Young avatar is any sooner. Sorry about that. Speaking of the Prez, for the past several days WKCR-FM, the station of Columbia University (http://www.studentaffairs.columbia.edu/wkcr), has been holding their annual Lester Young/Charlie Parker birthday broadcast. I realize that it's almost over but it's well worth checking out.

As for your question, I would go with the headphone and headphone amp combo before the preamp since, imho, the difference between better cans will be far greater than the difference between pre-amps. That said, I thin k you should do two more things:

1) Start a new thread in the "General Rants 'N' Raves" section asking the same question since you will get many more responses by posting there than you will be asking that question here in the jazz cellar wink

2) Consider buying the headphone and headphone amp used. For example the HD650s can be found for around $350 or less and there are many, many very good headphone amps available for under $300 or less. Just be patient and good things will come.

mrpink44
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Thanks for the link Jazzfan!!

Thanks for the link Jazzfan!! The Prez is one of my favorites...in fact, the first vinyl I spun on my new Rega was The Prez with The Oscar Peterson Trio....two of my all-time favorites! Last night I listened to the complete Clown Sessions by Mingus on vinyl - wow, is that a killer album!! I have some other stuff by Mingus, but as a complete album, the Clown Sessions ranks right up there with his best stuff IMO.

I decided not to post in the general rants n raves because the more I've thought about this and the more reading I've done, the more I agree with you. My next purchase is going to be headphones....plural. I've been going back and forth between open and closed HPs and finally made a decision last night - since I listen to jazz on HPs all day at work, I'm going to look into a sub-$200 portable. I feel like I'll get the most use out of these since I'll use them at work, at home, lying in bed, etc.... I figure I can start with these (un-amped) and still use them with my new TT. Then I plan on saving for a nice pair of open cans and an amp in order to get the most out of my home system. I need to find a place in town to test out the Sennheiser HD 600 & 650s. For my under $200 portables, I'm looking at the Shure 840s right now - I've read a ton of reviews....good and bad - and plan on finding a local b&m where I can test them out.

jazzfan
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Sounds like you're all set

Sounds like you're all set. Good luck in quest. Now let's see if you and I can breathe some life into this section of the forum.

mrpink44
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Hi all, just wanted to give

Hi all, just wanted to give an update here since the forums have been quiet all week!

I picked up the Shure 840s this week - got them online for $137 and had $20 in reward points so I ended up only forking out $117. Hopefully they are here next week and I can post some comments. I went with the Shure's first because I listen to music at work for basically 40 hours each week - so I wanted some closed cans that didn't need an amp and could be portable. Instead of going after the B&W P5's (which run around $300), I decided to go this route with the idea that I'll pickup the Sennhesier HD 650s and an amp sometime early next year - for dedicated use at home with my TT.

So thanks to all for the input. I spent a number of hours reading threads at hifi.org and appreciate the advice here on the advantages of going after the headphones before a new pre-amp. I have a feeling my productivity level at work and home next week will drop after I get the Shure's.....can't wait to hook them up to my TT and listen to some vinyl jazz in style!

Have a good weekend all!

Mister
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I got the Sennheiser

I got the Sennheiser hd800.

very happy with them.

I listen to jazz in all it's forms.

Today I listened to Hank Mobley's Soul Station(vinyl)

and to Carmen Gomes inc's ''Torn''(24/96 wav file Studio Master down Load)

I think that the HD 800 handle both these formats exstremely well.

Well recorded music really shines on these phones.

Badly recorded music sounds....badly recorded but...but I still listen to my Robert Johnson on them any way.

 

 

Floyd91
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I've been using basic Fischer

I've been using basic Fischer headphones for quite a long time and I love the quality and the sound. They are comparatively cheap and I think they are good for jazz

PCM
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I have the HD 800 from

I have the HD 800 from Sennheiser as well. They are relative expensive but in my opinion worth every penny.
Mister mentioned the Torn album with Carmen Gomes from the Sound Liaison label.
That label actually use the HD 800 for mixing so no wonder he likes the sound.
But anyway if you can afford it go for the HD800.

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