Quality of iMac speakers + best headphones?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Amnesiac1, May 7, 2011.

  1. Amnesiac1 macrumors 6502

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    #1
    The iMac I hope to purchase will be my entertainment system... i.e., all movies and TV shows will be watched on it from a nearby couch. I'm hoping the internal speakers will suffice. If not, are there any affordable but quality speakers I should look into?

    However, for those times when I want to listen to music and/or watch movies or TV shows right at my desk, I'm also interested in picking up a quality pair of headphones. I don't want to buy Beats, but I'd like the best quality I can get. Top quality, top of the line, etc.

    On a related note, are there headphones that emulate surround sound?
     
  2. Badger^2 macrumors 68000

    Badger^2

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    #2
  3. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #3
    The iMac's speakers will only be as good or bad as your personal preference or knowledge in audio are. At a purely analytical level, they lack a considerable amount of extended bass and treble reproduction.

    Deciding on a headphone is hard, because there's so many out there, and they're all really good. To help us with your inquiry, you need to give more specific information (like what do you value most? bass response, mids, treble, sondstaging, open/closed, detail etc)

    I personally use a beyerdynamic DT990 600Ω with little dot mkii amp and hrt music streamer ii.
     
  4. Cole JM macrumors regular

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    #4
    Beats are trash, they are the Acer of headphones, try Sennheiser (I love those to death) Shure (not as good, but satisfactory) AKG (legendary)
     
  5. Amnesiac1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    ...To be honest, I'm not sure. Admittedly, I am not very well acquainted with those terms! The best I can say is... I listen to a lot of Radiohead and I would want to listen to their music in the best quality possible. Since I realize certain headphones lend themselves to certain genres of music, perhaps this preference will help you recommend something suitable for me?
     
  6. Amnesiac1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    AKG is better than Sennheiser?

    I looked on Amazon and found these, but they are rather expensive. I'm not sure if an older model would suffice, though:

    [​IMG]

    Sennheiser HD 598 Audiophile Headphones with High-Gloss Burl Wood Accents

    Also, will these headphones emulate 5.1 surround sound?
     
  7. Badger^2 macrumors 68000

    Badger^2

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    #7
    Radiohead isnt anything special.

    Buy good stuff and they will sound great.

    I already linked to the 555s.
     
  8. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #8
    Radiohead's In Rainbows is pretty well recorded and mastered. Definitely something to listen to.

    Good companies to consider:

    Audio Technica (great entry level stuff and top end stuff)
    Sennheiser (staple for mid-priced open headhpones)
    AKG (renown for their very analytical monitors)
    Beyerdynamic (renown for their very analytical and energetic headphones)
    Ultrasone (great for bass slam)
    Grado (the go to for open-eared energetic rock headphones)

    As well as a plethora of others.


    A good way to approach simulated 5.1 sound with games/movies sould be using a dolby headphones processor. The astro mixamp comes to mind. Not only will it give you the 5.1, but also serve is a slightly better amplifier than what the iMac has to offer for low-mid impedance headhpones.

    You still havn't given us your preferences in headphones though, what are you most after (lows, mids, highs, detail, soundstage, open/closed) And budget?
     
  9. Amnesiac1, May 7, 2011
    Last edited: May 7, 2011

    Amnesiac1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Right! I'd love to get a pair of headphones that will really get the most of that album in particular... for instance, I listened to it through Logitech Z5500s and I felt like I was listening to the album for the first time (up until that point, I had only heard the album on earbuds and my MBP speakers).

    Thanks!

    Does soundstage refer to a dynamic range of sound? I like to be able to hear all the detail in a densely instrumental (or densely synthesized) song -- I like to be able to experience that kind of aural dynamism. To return to my earlier example, there were details and nuances in some In Rainbows tracks that I really had not noticed during my MBP listens that became much more prominent through my 5.1 system.
     
  10. Amnesiac1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Right, I was just wondering if those will do or if I might as well go for the more recent release from Sennheiser.
     
  11. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #11
    Being able to hear all the details clearly and having good instrument separation is a product of a headphone's speed and clarity. AKG and Beyerdynamic are both really, really good at doing that.

    Soundstage refers to the ability of a headphone to properly convey a stage of sound around you, and nearly being able to pinpoint the distance and direction of each instrument. As a general rule, open eared headphones do a better job at it, as well as having more clarity.

    It seems as though open eared headphones are the way you want to go, but they are the type to only listen to at home in a quiet room.

    To note though, you'll also most likely be needing an entry level external dac/amp with some of the higher end headphones that give great soundstage and clarity, like AKG's 701 and Beyerdynamic's DT880.
     
  12. Amnesiac1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Sounds perfect to me, yeah!

    I'll look into these. Could you elaborate on what a external dac/amp is? So, the AKG's 701 are headphones that come with such a dac/amp or is it something I have to buy separately?
     
  13. Amnesiac1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #13
    I looked into it. Amazon is selling the AKG 701s with this amp:

    [​IMG]

    FiiO E5 Headphone Amplifier

    Could I do better than this or will it suffice?
     
  14. Cole JM macrumors regular

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    #14
    How are they not being sued by apple for the design?
     
  15. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #15
    Something along the lines of fiio E9 would most notably drive them better. They are lower impedance headphones, but they're notoriously hard to drive because of their low sensitivity. Most people like using E7/E9 as a combo dac/amp to drive a lot of their higher end headphones, but if you get that with the AKG701 then we're talking about spending a lot of money-- maybe more than you're willing to dish out.

    An E7/E9 bundle will run 200, and used-like new AKG 701 will run around 250.
     
  16. Amnesiac1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Given the expense, would I really be at that much of a disadvantage if I simply chose to buy the headphones and skip out on the amplifier?
     
  17. Amnesiac1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Further questions:

    Is it really a bad idea to simply get the E9 on its own?

    Also, would I need these external amps if I go for the Sennheiser HD 598 (pictured a few posts back)?
     
  18. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #18
    Nah you don't necessarily need the amplifier or external dac, the intel hd integrated audio in the iMac is decent in its own regards. Plus you can always decide later down the line if you'd want an external dac and amp.

    For now you can just simply get the E9 with the AKG701 if you really want to get the AKG701.

    With the HD598, I still think it'd be nice to have your own external amp/dac. Something more along the lines of just the E7 would be nice for that. Another great deal is the HD595 right now, which is only 120usd on amazon.
     
  19. Badger^2 macrumors 68000

    Badger^2

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    #19
    Wait -- $350 on headphones? really?

    A minute ago you were asking if built-in speakers would be good enough for movies and such -- clearly they would *never* be -- and now you want to plop down $350 for headphones?

    the 555s were just discontinued, so its not really old tech -- probably replaced by the 558s. Used to be $150+. I guess if you have the extra $$$ then the 595s are also excellent.

    I doubt you will notice the difference between the 555s, the 558 or the 598s.

    Maybe you should clarify what your budget is for both speakers and headphones?
     
  20. WynterEnd macrumors newbie

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    #20
    Very easy answer for your headphone question --> buy these:

    Audio-Technica-ATH-M50

    You'll thank me later. Great sound, especially for the price. I'm a Radiohead fan too and In Rainbows is mind blowing on these cans. you can quit worrying/researching - just buy these :D
     
  21. The Tuck macrumors 6502

    The Tuck

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    #21
    I ordered a pair of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s a few days ago and can't WAIT to try them out! I've read nothing but good things about these headphones. Everyone is saying the cans are leagues ahead of Dre's Beats.

    Tuck
     
  22. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #22
    Well everything is ahead of Beats by Dre technically speaking, unless of course you like loads of flabby bass in your song. I don't got anything against it, but it's not the most beneficial for hearing every part of a song.


    I used to have the M50s for a while, they are very good for the money. They are not the most detailed and crisp sounding headphone out there, but very good considering they're closed.
     
  23. Amnesiac1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #23
    Yes, because my intention was always to make do with the speakers but to splurge on headphones. This is why I emphasized affordable speakers in the original post but I did not do so when I mentioned headphones. I can't afford to splurge on both (headphones and speakers), so I am opting for headphones and hoping the internal speakers will at least be serviceable for when I am watching a movie via the iMac with someone else.
     
  24. Amnesiac1 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Really helpful replies in this thread. Thanks so much, guys.

    So, what I'm wondering now is...

    Do I just go for the expensive, higher-end stuff sans the amplifier? In other words, either the AKG701 or the HD598? If so, which?

    Or... do I go for either the HD595 or the Audio-Technica-ATH-M50? If so, which?
     
  25. AppleNewton macrumors 68000

    AppleNewton

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    #25
    hell save a few bucks and if you can find Audio-Technica ATH-M30's theyre reliable, good quality and probably in a better price range to get introduced to good soudning quality phones.

    dont buy into the gimmicky/hype of beats...im not trying to knock them but from what heard with them theyre not anything special.
     

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