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Red GTi VR6
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Reference Headphones and Portable CD player

I'm wondering what the experts would recommend as far as a reference set of head phones and a portable CD player?

I am very interested in learning to tune my vehicle and as such, have learned that many of the experts recommend the Grado SR65 headphones and the HeadRoom AirHead preamp.

I'm seeing that it appears that the SR65 head phones are no longer available, but that the SR125s seem to be a great product. Is this the case?

I'm reading over on the HeadRoom web site currently. However, I felt that this page would give me a less biased opinion.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Reference Headphones and Portable CD player

What kind of budget did you have in mind, and do you prefer the Grado sound? I own a pair of Grado HF-1 headphones and have heard most of their line; I find them bright and fatiguing and not good for long listening sessions. The upper tier Sennheiser & AKG headphones seem closer to neutral in my experience.

Red GTi VR6
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Re: Reference Headphones and Portable CD player

I'm aiming for around $600-$800 for the head phones, preamp, and cd player. Does this seem reasonable?

I'm really considering these head phones:

http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-applic...amic-dt-880.php

Others:

http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-applic...iser-hd-580.php

or

http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-applic...iser-hd-595.php

Perhaps these are the AKGs your recomending?

http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-application/our-10-best-headphones/akg-k-701.php

This preamp:

http://www.headphone.com/products/headphone-amps/the-mobile-line/headroom-total-airhead.php

and am unsure on the player its self.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Reference Headphones and Portable CD player

Hi Jan - You should hear these on your own (if possible) to be sure they're the right cans that suit your tastes -- it's your ears that have to be happy and no one else's. But, for what it's worth, here are my thoughts:

My experience with DT880s is limited, but, I remember them being bright. If you like Grados, these might work for you.

The 580 is in the same family as the 600 and 650. I rather like the Sennheiser sound, even if they can seem "veiled". I prefer them with an aftermarket cord which opens up the sound, but, adds (significantly) to the cost. For the discounted price that the 580 goes for these days, it'd be difficult to get a better bargain, though. I have no experience with the 595.

The AKG 701 is impressive, but, make sure the pair you check out has at least 200 hours on them; the sound transforms during that period, and they really open up. Initially they will sound aggressive.

I've liked the sound of several HeadRoom amps. For the features that the Total Airhead offers and that discounted price, I doubt you could go wrong.

If you want a zillion opinions and 10x the suggestions, check out Head-Fi:

http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/index.php?

Red GTi VR6
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Re: Reference Headphones and Portable CD player

Thanks for the detailed response.

I'm sitting here thinking about this all and I'm realizing that for what I need this reference set-up for, it's not necessarily based on what I like but rather what I'm trying to tune.

I'm currently running the Beryllium speakers from Focal in my car. The TBe in the pillars and the 6.5 Be mid in a set of custom built kicks. I'm also running a 40KX Sub (15" sub) and a set of STEG amplifiers from Italy.

The Be speakers are known to be a bright speaker. However, when you have someone who knows Focal, and who knows what they are supposed to sound like, they can be made to sound amazing. Currently, I'm trying to learn how to tune. The individual that's helping us is the national rep and trainer for Focal Car Audio (Nick Wingate).

So wouldn't it make more sense to get a set of head phones that are similar in characteristics to the system that I'm trying to tune?

Jeff Wong
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Re: Reference Headphones and Portable CD player

Well, that's difficult to say. The problem is all the components need to be looked at, or perhaps, heard, as a system... as one. Much will depend on what you're striving for with the Focal setup.

Personally, I would approach it from the POV of trying to assemble a system that is the least overtly coloured and has the most natural timbres. Just because Focals might be bright, doesn't mean the final sound of all your components working together needs to sound bright. The more neutral the sound, the more individual the different music you play will be. If you lean towards a sonic signature, such as brightness, everything will have that brightness laid on top of the music.

To achieve the least coloured sound, I'd lean towards the AKG and Sennheiser cans. Grados are too peaky in the treble. They'll sound detailed at first, but, will fatigue you if listening for long periods of time. With the AKGs and Senns, I can listen all day (taking short breaks after albums just to let my ears breathe.) With Grados, I'm ready to take them off after a tune or two.

I'm not sure what you're doing... it sounds like you might be training to do installations from the wording you're using. Does the headphone rig need to match the car rig's sound?

ohfourohnine
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Re: Reference Headphones and Portable CD player

Like Jeff, I prefer Sennheisers, and I've had some experience with both 580's and the 595. Of those two, the 580's are the better by far - unless you're seeking a notably bright sound. 600's are also being discounted now. Your choice of headphone amp sounds fine to me. Can't help at all with a portable CD player. What would be wrong with an iPod using lossless as input?

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Reference Headphones and Portable CD player

Jeff's quote:
"To achieve the least coloured sound, I'd lean towards the AKG and Sennheiser cans. Grados are too peaky in the treble. They'll sound detailed at first, but, will fatigue you if listening for long periods of time. With the AKGs and Senns, I can listen all day (taking short breaks after albums just to let my ears breathe.) With Grados, I'm ready to take them off after a tune or two."

This is true unless you are an old FART like me with HF hearing loss and then the GRADOS are "SWEET".

The comment about how the system sounds and not just the speakers or some component being bright is so true. You must look at the whole system IN YOUR ROOM and then decide how balanced your system is. What you heard at the dealer or your friend's house may not work in your home.

wildcatman
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Re: Reference Headphones and Portable CD player

I have used sennheiser for several years. There is not a grado dealer in my area. I know people that have them and love them.
I cant help much with the cd player. I have an Ipod that I really like.

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