slightly confused about headphone audio output quality

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by KooBrewoP, Feb 24, 2008.

  1. KooBrewoP macrumors regular

    KooBrewoP

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Location:
    behind you!
    #1
    Ok, so im looking to invest in a good pair of headphones that will last me for some time to come. After a bit of lurking and google-fu, i decided upon, ether the Sennheiser HD 650, or the Grado SR60. Then i discovered that to get full use from them i would need an amplifiyer. And then i found out that a sound card can limit or change the quality as well. Do i really need all this stuff to use my headphones? And if so how does the black MacBook sound-card perform? + can i get an external sound-card to work with a mac? + do i need to buy a specialized adaptor to connect the headphones to an ipod or MacBook?

    thanks
     
  2. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #2
    Unlike what some Mac-enthusiasts will tell you, in reality the soundcard fitted to any of the current Macs is the same mediocre 'high definition' audio as fitted to many PC's. In fact, the higher up you go, the comparatively worse it can get in terms of the analog output of the headphone / line socket. At the Macbook level, it's pretty much on a par with the $500 Dells out there.

    So it means a comparatively noisy headphone stage that fizzes, crackles and pops in the background. With a high-impedance phone like the HD650 you will probably notice it less, but nevertheless it's still there. What you need isn't just an amp for high-impedance phones since you'll just be amping the mediocrity - for best results with something good like the HD650 you need a DAC/Amp.

    There are USB DAC/Amps and there are optical DAC/Amps (since the Apples have optical out) that you can use. An example of a USB headphone amplifier is the Corda Move. You can also use entry-level / midlevel soundcards which tend to incorporate decent headphone outs.
     
  3. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502

    Tarkovsky

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Location:
    London/Norwich
    #3
    Woh. You've been really badly advised. Before you spend your money consider this

    1)There's no point buying the HD650s if you want monitoring headphones because unlike the HD600s (which are also cheaper) they have an increased bass response, the same goes for the grados
    2)You need a dedicated headphone amp for the sennheiser phones - otherwise they won't be drive 'correctly' and won't sound very good at all
    3)You can't use headphones to mix because the soundstage is polarised (in each ear) - they are however extremely useful for work in mono and working on tweaking specific mono tracks in your stereo mix

    I got my HD600s for £100 - bargain.
     
  4. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030

    Drumjim85

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2007
    Location:
    DFW, TX
    #4
    to add to this ....
    You shouldn't use them to mix %100 on... but it can give you a good reference point to check you mixes...


    ---- you don't NEED all that stuff to listen to you headphones, but a good headphone amp will help and a good DAC will help as well....
     
  5. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #5
    He isn't mentioning recording - I would imagine he'd be asking for interface recommendations at that point. I assume he's a 'listener'. Correct me if I'm wrong, OP. The hump in the HD650 in any case isn't odious, and it is an improvement as a general-purpose phone to the HD600.
     

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