calling out all audiophiles! advice on headphones to use w/ macbook

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Saint47, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. Saint47 macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2009
    this is a question directed to any of the audio/headphone-experts on the forum.

    for the past year i've been using these with my iPod and MacBook.

    i also have a simple speaker system that i am pleased with. i used it alot in the summer but now that i am back in college i am rarely home to use it except as an alarm clock:
    there is a subwoofer too behind the pillow. the sound is nice the way they are placed and it blows away my crappy headphones... but that doesn't say alot.

    Budget: right now i have around $200 in my bank account for money that i can actually spend.i don't want to spend past what i have now ($200) and definitely no more than $100 of my next paycheck (poor college kid... some of you prob know how that goes)
    i want to figure out whatever is the best way to go as far as headphone setup for my lifestyle, my tastes in music, and unfortunately my budget.

    Musical Tastes - some of my favorite bands would be The Killers, Vampire Weekend, Animal Collective, MGMT, Sigur Ros, Muse, Keane, KiD CuDi, Coldplay, Radiohead, Fleet Floxes. i love rock, pop, electronic, rap, indie type bands, acoustic, dance, techno, soundtracks, (or mixes of them) i love music. the beatles to eminem to cascada to animal collective to the Gladiator soundtrack... ect... the only genre i don't listen to stuff from is mostly country, jazz, opera, and screamo/metal. indie rock and mainstream pop/r&b/electronic is my favorite stuff...

    Lifestyle & Listening Enviroments - i'll be using these when i'm at places like Panera Bread or Atlanta Bread Company working on homework or just on my laptop (will open headphones be too annoying to others in a cafe like this?). i'll be using these when i'm at home and don't feel like sitting on my bed. don't care to much about the size of these...

    Source - my MacBook w/ iTunes 9.something & Snow Leopard. my 2nd generation nano iPod. I also have a few Apple Lossless albums converted from FLAC or imported from CDs that are around 1000kbps per song. not sure if that helps... some my favorite CDs i put lossless copies in my iTunes...

    What i've looked at: I bought these skullcandy skullcrushers which i am planning on returning because from the research i've done, i haven't read anything that would suggest they are the way to go - even though i do like the adjustable bass...
    i liked the clarity for softer music of the $140 bose at best buy (which i've heard are way overpriced) much more than these, but those had no bass for the more electronic/bass intensive music.

    after researching and looking online:
    Sennheiser HD-595 Premier Headphone
    Sennheiser HD-555 Audiophile Headphones
    Sennheiser PXC 350 Active Noise Cancellation Headphone
    Sennheiser HD-515 Audiophile Headphones
    Sennheiser HD-280 Professional Headphones
    i've read good things about Sennheiser... open my world up? something with detailed sound quality while being able to deliver bass for electronic based music....

    oh and i've read things about amps with headphones? i don't quite understand that topic. does that apply to me? is that like an external sound card? should i get something like this for best sound quality?
    please exploit your knowledge, experts of this subject. point my noobishness in the right direction based on my tastes and lifestyle.:smile_phones:
    i want to be sure if i am buying something online... i don't want to need to return it.
  2. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    Amps are better then external sound cards.

    I would look highly at Shure's SRH440s. My full review will be out in a week or so, but for $88, they are hard to beat. You definitely do not want open headphones. Might I suggest checking out head-fi.

    Stay away from noise-canceling.
  3. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030


    Oct 7, 2007
    DFW, TX
    headphones? or can you deal with earphones. I personally think earphones are better. They can block out a lot of sound, and are easy to transport.
  4. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
  5. Saint47 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2009
    i have some earphones. from what i've heard/experienced headphones deliver a more detailed/quality sound than earbuds or IEMs

    right, yeah, i just looked up amps and they are a bit out of my price range; what would be the advantage of a soundcard like that? or would it be a waste of money? would i notice any increase in sound quality?

    oh i think i read something positive about Shure's somewhere. i'll look more up about them.
    what type of music do you listen to with them? that would be the ideal price range. what would its strongpoints be? and weakpoints?

    any reason in particular

    lol i posted there first and just copied my post and posted here. haha. you guys responded better :), i haven't gotten anything there:(.

    what type of stuff do you listen to with them? how is the bass and clarity too?

    thanks guys! :apple:
  6. Teej guy macrumors 6502a

    Aug 6, 2007
    Amps aren't better than external soundcards. It's like saying apples are better than cars.

    You need two stages after the sound is generated in iTunes...a digital to analog conversion and then amplification of the analog sound. Some external soundcards (the part doing the D/A) have great headphone amps in them, some not.

    I can tell you this much: the onboard sound in the macbooks has crappy D/A, a noisy line out and pretty crappy amplification. If all you do is hook up the analog line out of your macbook to an amp, you'd probably be disappointed with the sound.

    I wouldn't buy anything from Creative Labs...lots of marketing, not a lot of substance, almost as bad as Bose. Something like this might do the trick: It plugs in through USB, acts as an external soundcard, and has a pretty decent headphone amp in it. Could be a good upgrade a few months down the road after you buy the headphones.

    So Grados suck now? :confused: If you're not in an overly noisy environment, I believe open headphone designs tend to sound more natural. I've got some Grado SR225s and they sound pretty damn good. A plane is too loud for those Grados but a coffee shop would be just fine.
  7. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030


    Oct 7, 2007
    DFW, TX
    I think you've just scperienced bad earphones. Check out these, they're really good and don't cost a ton.

    Noise cancellation is bad because it cancels outside stuff by flipping it's phase and pumping that out of phase audio back into your ears. It will get rid of the noises out side, but it will also cause a bit of your program (music?) to be out of phase.
  8. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    Waste of money as far as I'm concerned, at least the price range.

    what type of music do you listen to with them? that would be the ideal price range. what would its strongpoints be? and weakpoints?
    I'll give you a review soon.

    Because the people around you will hear what you are listening to.

    No, but if you are sitting next to someone, they can hear what you are listening to.
  9. sesshin macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2008
  10. ian.maffett macrumors 6502


    Aug 1, 2008
    Well, I far from call myself a pro but I listen to music... on a MBP and iPod/phone, etc.
    I have the HD-280's and I have never regretted the purchase.
  11. sesshin macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2008
    I also have the HD-280s and can attest they are nice. Very neutral and lots of noise isolation. I find the Ultrasone's and DT-770s a little more enjoyable to listen to though. YMMV.
  12. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    If you'll be using them on the go and in noisy places, I'd sacrifice sound quality for outside noise cancellation. Maybe not noise canceling phones, though if it can be switched off it's could be a nice commodity when it's really noisy. I'd go with closed backs. With open ones, you'll be cranking the volume all the time, bad for your ears and annoying for the people next to you. Even with my closed akg k77s, I can't hear any definition in the sound in mildly noisy environments. Hey, they are fairly cheap headphones to start with and lack in definition even in dead silence and are in no way audiophile phones. But my point is, no matter how good your source or even your headphones are, if you can't hear it, it doesn't mean anything. In my opinion and external sound card is futile at that point. You might want to consider the function of those phones too, if you'll be lugging them around with you, you might want some cheaper ones that have good noise isolation just because you have a fair chance of breaking them and wouldn't hear their full potential any way. And then consider something better for when you are at home.

    Either way, I'm no audiophile, I'd much rather have the flattest and most precise possible sound for making music.

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