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Author Topic: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?  (Read 5872 times)

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stevetoney

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Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« on: December 25, 2013, 07:30:25 PM »
My best sound system is in my car.  It's a factory upgrade Bose system which I really like alot.  Now that it's broken in, when I get some power and air flowing, it can really sound spectacular and puts me back in the audience of the performance, especially with the clean low end power coming through. 

So I'm spoiled.  My problem is that, unless I get a divorce, there's never going to be a chance to put a similar system that's speaker-based in my basement.  So that leaves me with the option of a higher end headphone based system.  Ideally, I'd love to get similar sound as I can get when I crank it in the car, but I'm just not experienced enough to know if that's even possible. 

I've been doing some research and giving some thought to a used Benchmark DAC-1 coming from my computer.  For headphones, seems like the models I keep coming back to are a pair of open backed Senn HD650 or 600.  Those two would put me at a grand...plus or minus. 

My question is, would this combo get me close or am I going to be disappointed?  If this combo won't get me close, I'd be curious to hear if anyone does have experience with any headphone/DAC or headphone/head amp combo's that can reproduce the power you get in your car or from the subs at the venue...or is that only possible with subs and air?  Obviously, I know you wouldn't 'feel' the power power with headphones, but that's not what I'm after...I'm just wanting the detail with the same degree of sonic styling, if that makes sense.

I guess the corollary question is, if the above is possible, would the open back design be better or would close back be the way to go.  I'm don't have any experience with anything but closed back (the best phones I've ever owned are my current pair of ATH-M50's, but I've read that open backed phones give a more realistic sound, but you give up low end.  My preference would be to give up neither realism or low end, but maybe that's not possible.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions, tips, thoughts, etc. 

Offline OOK

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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2013, 10:12:36 PM »
You question is certainly multifaceted...  I too recently say within the last year have been pondering the same thing.  I can answer some of your questions but there is a lot of information to go over.  My first suggestion is start with going on Headfi.org .  Think of Headfi.org like the taper section of the headphone world.  There is lots of information to digest and go over.  There are many forums and even a yard sale section.  You can better maximize you purchase with the amount of money it seems you are willing to spend. 

Also check out Headroom  They have a headphone graph builder of many of the current headphones on the market where you can compare headphones.  That's where I pull my graphs from....  So if you are familiar with a particular headphone you can compare its graph to others to see if it is something that might interest you.  It has been very helpful to me...

The first thing you have to ask yourself in terms of headphones is what sound signature do you like?... dark, linear, on the bright and sparkly side.  Then ask yourself what type of headphone are you looking for, open, semi open or closed.  Each has its advantages and disadvantages. 

Then how do you want to power them....are you looking at a portable setup, dedicated listening station, separates, all in one, solid state or tube etc etc.

Now to try and answer some of your questions...

1. headphones:  In terms of a open soundstage you definitely want an open back headphone.  The disadvantage of opens are the let environmental sounds in...  unless your listening in a quiet room you will hear anything going on in the room unless you are listening at high volumes where the music over powers everything.   Next would be the sound signature you are looking for.  You mentioned Senn HD650.  While I haven't owned a pair of them my understanding on the Senn sound is then tend to have a rolled off treble given the headphone a darker more laidback sound.  Some call it veiled but very pleasing.  Sen headphones have a very loyal following and the HD600 and HD650 seem to be the most popular.

My personal tastes lean towards a brighter sound.   Beyerdynamic seem to have this type of sound signature without giving up the bass.  After my research I personally purchased the DT-990 pros 250ohm version.  At first I thought they were tolerable but was warned they need a break-in period reaching their potential.  I was told about 150 hours was the threshold.  so I queued up one of my favorite disc, put in on repeat and gave the headphones a workout while at work each day.  I was rewarded with what I was looking for...  a perfect balance with a beautiful clear presentation.

Here is a comparison of the HD650 verses the DT-990 pros:


You mentioned using the ATHM-50 closed backs.  They are a well respected headphone.  Very efficient at 32 ohms so just about anything will run them.  They compare very nice to the Beyerdynamic DT-770 pros.  Closed backs tend to have a less open soundstage but yet are very capable headphones.  There advantage is they don't let any environmental sounds in.  I don't like that because I don't like being startled by someone touching me when my eyes are closed and engrossed in the music.  Weird maybe but something to think about.  Closed backs tend to have great bass impact but at times can be overly bassy. 

Here is a comparison of the ATHM-50 verses the DT-770 pros:


Here is a comparison of the ATHM-50 verses the DT-990 pros:  I think you might be surprised..........as you can see you really don't have to give up anything if you do your research.


2. Headphone Amps/Dacs.  The amp dac you picked is good but targeted more towards the pro audio world, but hey we live in that world don't we. However, I can tell there are much better options out there.  Now for the same price you would spend on the benchmark amp/dac you could get a much better system of separates dac, solidstate amp or tube amp cheaper.  You mention soundstage being a big signature you are going after.  From what I have read you want a tube setup.  They seem to throw the best soundstage ala that smokey lounge live sound.  While I don't have a tube set up I will with in the next few months.  I recommend taking a look at these two companies,  Schitt Audio and Woo Audio  There are others but hey I don't want to take all the fun out of the search..  as for Dacs take a look at  Schitt Audio , Matrix, GD-Audio...again there are many others, musical hall, music fidelity again don't want to take all the fun out of it....


What you will find is a headphone set up is like nascar you have to ask yourself how fast do you want to go......  Just like taping...  you have the bang for the buck gear to the outrageous crazy off the hook you have to be kidding me rigs....  I am learning a lot, more and more each day.  My current set up consists of a Zero Dac with a pair of DT990 pros.  The Zero Dac is low priced bang for the buck sounding Amp DAC.  I am very pleased with it.  It has a warm sounding BrownBurr OPA627 chip set in it.  I love my Beyers but want to try a pair of Senn HD600, Audeze LCD Rev 2's and LCD-X...  I plan on purchasing a Schitt Bitfrost Uber with a Valhalla and maybe a ashgard 2( best of both worlds).

I hope this helps.... enjoy your search as with taping it is fun and exciting.

Peace OOK
 
« Last Edit: December 25, 2013, 11:25:29 PM by OOK »
DPA/HEB 4060's > R09HR
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stevetoney

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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2013, 08:32:10 AM »
You question is certainly multifaceted...

I hope this helps.... enjoy your search as with taping it is fun and exciting.

Yes helps immensely, thank you so much for the detailed response.  Mind if I ask a couple more noob questions?

Why doesn't your typical headphone amp include any EQ on it?

When you set up your computer to play through a DAC/headphone amp, does the DAC have it's own player software or do you just use any WAV or FLAC player?  Is there any output quality difference between players, or are they simply outputting 1s and 0s to the DAC for the DAC to do the conversion?  (This is probably a stupid question, but I want to make sure that if I use a player I'm not sending my music through an extra low quality D/A conversion before it gets to the DAC...otherwise it defeats the purpose of buying an external DAC, right?)

Thinking through the second question a bit, I suppose itunes would be lower quality player since you're playing AAC files instead of non-lossy WAV or FLAC files, no?

Offline OOK

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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2013, 10:25:27 AM »
Quote
Mind if I ask a couple more noob questions?

No problem....

Quote
Why doesn't your typical headphone amp include any EQ on it?

Now that you mention it I haven't really seen one that does, except for maybe the YBM Audio amps.  You can custom order a bass boost circuit in them if you like.  The headphone amp world seems to be going in the direction of less is more... shorter signal paths, very few bells and whistles, just the purest signal from the source.  The trend I am seeing in the headphone world is computer based playback via usb and most people I suspect use the eq in their playback software on their computers. 

Quote
When you set up your computer to play through a DAC/headphone amp, does the DAC have it's own player software or do you just use any WAV or FLAC player?

My DAC/AMP is just that a DAC/AMP.  It takes the digital out of my computer card and converts it to analog then off to the head amp section and out.   What you seem to be refereeing to is a network player.  They play many different formats.  I believe there are some out there that have headphone section in them, however that isn't there main design purpose of the gear so that part of the player is skimped on.   It is far better to get a straight up head amp which its design philosophy is to be the best possible head amp.  think of the DAC/AMp as another audio separate with a specific design purpose.

Quote
Is there any output quality difference between players, or are they simply outputting 1s and 0s to the DAC for the DAC to do the conversion?  (This is probably a stupid question, but I want to make sure that if I use a player I'm not sending my music through an extra low quality D/A conversion before it gets to the DAC...otherwise it defeats the purpose of buying an external DAC, right?)

Not a dumb question at all.  The short answer is yes.  But this is a area of much debate.  I look at dacs as a generational thing.  About every 5 years there is a leap in performance in terms of DACs.  The audio world just had a step up into the next generation of DAC.  32bit Sabre DAC are all the rage right now.  The measurement numbers are crazy good, 15-25db better in signal to noise ratio than the last generation of DACS.  While I am sure there is a audible difference I am sure there is a point of diminishing returns and unless you know what your listening to you are not going to know the difference.

For me however is the conversion part of the DAC.  How well does it do the analog.  You can't hear 1 and 0... but you do hear the analog section.  The current generation of DAC are much better and cheaper.  I love technology as it gets better it gets cheaper, but it is the integration of the analog circuit and the components used. A lot of companies now use quality components like Dale resistors, Wima caps, Alps blue velvet potentiometer etc etc...  Even the Chinese companies are jumping on the quality game... its a good thing.

Then add the whole Solidstate verses Tube debate........  Tubes while there measurement specs aren't that great they do analog really well.  It has something with the way the harmonic distortion is heard.  I can't remember if it is even or odd but one of them is more pleasing to the ear and that is what tubes give you....  But Solidstate can't be beat for its accuracy balance and clarity....  its apples and oranges to me just trust your ears... read a lot, do your research, attend a headphone meet if you can and audition different gear for yourself. I have yet to attend one but man I can't wait....  However from everything I have read I have a good idea of what I want now...

Its kind of like mics....  you like the sound signature of certain mics verses others.

Quote
Thinking through the second question a bit, I suppose itunes would be lower quality player since you're playing AAC files instead of non-lossy WAV or FLAC files, no?

Nothing like answering your own question...  Yep it has a lot to do with the source file.  What is it...  MP3, WAV, Flac, DSD?  I don't use ACC but I find that I don't mind MP3 320 CBR...  My hearing is starting to go just a little and I am sure I can't hear anything above 15k... so it doesn't really matter to me.  However I listen to my own recordings in WAV format, usually in 24bit/48k.  I currently use ITunes for my MP3's and don't seem to mind it at all but it bothers me it doesn't support flac.  I currently us Winamp for my WAVs and Flacs but I am probably going to jump to foobar at some point because of the flac tagging support.

Sorry about the broken links in my previous post... seems Headroom is down at the moment.  I will fix them when it comes back up.

Again hope this helps.....it is like recording gear... it all subjective...

Peace OOK
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MBHO648/KA100Lk/KA200/KA300/KA500 > SD702

Offline jagraham

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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2013, 01:04:49 PM »
I can't speak for anything high end because I can't afford it. However, you can get some Sennheiser CX 300 earbuds for pretty cheap on Newegg. IMO they are acceptable especially the quality you get for the price. The closest to "at the show" sound I've found with these (or headphones/earbuds in general) is from omni recordings. In particular, omnis placed about "head length" apart end up sounding pretty natural with the right sound.

It's all subjective though...
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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2014, 01:06:59 PM »
OOK has laid out a very good overview here.  In regards to the Beyerdynamic headphones, the only thing I would add is to also take a look at the DT-880.  A semi-open design that gets a lot of accolades.  Seems like you can't go wrong with any of the Beyer cans.

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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2014, 01:12:57 PM »
OOK has laid out a very good overview here.  In regards to the Beyerdynamic headphones, the only thing I would add is to also take a look at the DT-880.  A semi-open design that gets a lot of accolades.  Seems like you can't go wrong with any of the Beyer cans.

Agreed on the DT880.  They are good cans however the DT990 have a little more bass....  the DT880 are better for mastering but the DT990 just have more punch all around for an enjoyable listening session.

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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2014, 12:34:21 AM »
My first suggestion is start with going on Headfi.org .  Think of Headfi.org like the taper section of the headphone world.  There is lots of information to digest and go over.  There are many forums and even a yard sale section.  You can better maximize you purchase with the amount of money it seems you are willing to spend. 

I totally agree with this and add this caveat; those people have less care for accuracy in terms of descriptors or objective data than any electronic group I've ever seen.... But yes, it's a nice resource.

Also check out Headroom  They have a headphone graph builder of many of the current headphones on the market where you can compare headphones.  That's where I pull my graphs from....

+1

I use them for this particular task, and I swear I even got my last set of cans from them. I'd have to check the order receipt to be sure though.

My current set up consists of a Zero Dac with a pair of DT990 pros.  The Zero Dac is low priced bang for the buck sounding Amp DAC.  I am very pleased with it.  It has a warm sounding BrownBurr OPA627 chip set in it.  I love my Beyers but want to try a pair of Senn HD600, Audeze LCD Rev 2's and LCD-X...  I plan on purchasing a Schitt Bitfrost Uber with a Valhalla and maybe a ashgard 2( best of both worlds).

Pretty good intro piece and lots of your replies are spot on as well (like the EQ).

I think one thing that is interesting here is there are a set of decks which allow you to modify the sound and that's via opamp change ups and tube rolling. I've made a tube amp go from night to day just by changing the tubes in it. When I had a Zero DAC, I also used the classic BrownBurr 627 (which wasn't stock). The GD-Audio group had a set of amps that you could change stuff out in as well.

On the second point, I've been to a head-fi meet before to sample (and I highly recommend anyone who is interested in headphones go, as OOK mentions, since it's one of the best features of head-fi). If I'm using studio monitors or open air speakers as a reference of "normal", then these are my following impressions:

- The Denon D7000 set had a sub-woofer style bass and sounded fantastic once I did EQ on the 400-500hz range... (there is a mighty hole of about 4db there...). They have an amazing soundstage (best can soundstage I've heard).
- The Sennheiser HD650s were ok, sort of bright. The HD600s even more so (but sounded clearer in terms of detail recognition). The HD800s were the best of the three, but still were weak in the bass. If pressed into service on the cheap (and I wasn't getting either the Denon D7ks on the cheap or the ATH-M50s, I'd probably pick up The HD600s over the 650s, and consider the 5xx series as some of those use the same drivers as the 6xx and just change the housing).
- The AKGs are like their mics; bright.
- The Audeze line are the flattest and most revealing that I've heard and I use a pair of the LCD-2(r2) to mix with as long as I add (all in my monitor plugin in my DAW) about 1db in the upper bass region (350hz) and roll off a touch above 8khz. They are glassy transparent in terms of detail and soundstage precision (but their soundstage is sort of flat in terms of enjoyable representation). I've referenced them against a couple of studio monitors in town and while they aren't identical, they are close enough that I am comfortable walking into a studio with a mix and walking away without being unhappy with what I've done. The downside to the LCD series is they are the heaviest headphones I've ever held...

I only have headphones, but I've got a couple of top shelf pair, and a handful of meh units I've acquired over the years.

Last but not least, we think that the most important thing in taping is the following order: location > mics > amp > adc. There is a similar path in the headphone world, but it works backwards (as I see it): headphones > amp > dac.

A current generation DAC, unless it has noisy outputs, will do the job. Getting a good amp that meets your criteria is a little tougher, and getting a set of cans that will render all of that detail to your ears is the biggest variable of all.
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stevetoney

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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2014, 10:39:04 AM »
Thanks 1M for the feedback Page.  OOK and I have had an active PM dialog going ever since I made that OP.  Since then, I've spent oh about 50% of my awake time poring over www.head-fi.org.  The feedback you gave above is very consistent with what OOK told me AND I'd concluded from sorting through the various head-fi threads, reviews, noob inquiries from others, etc.  I especially found useful the advice that working backwards from the phones is how to go about this.  So, armed with a bit of knowledge and the time I'd spent with head-fit and OOKs input, I had some small degree of confidence to 'take the plunge'...knowing fully from this taping hobby that I'm probably stepping over into a point of no return abyss in terms of never going back from the 'personally acceptable sound' and 'leave the wallet at the door' themes.  Earlier in the week I did some research of the local hi-fi stores in the area.  With all of this, I had enough confidence to go in with my credit card in hand.

Turns out this place has a quite well stocked listening station and the guy that helped me was well informed.  Before we even started, he first asked what my budget was (around a grand) and what I wanted included in that budget (phones, amp, dac).  He also asked what I typically listen to and the goals I had in mind for my ultimate listening experience.  Based on how we approach similar scenario's with noobs here on ts.com, I liked those questions and almost immediately felt like I'd walked into the right place. 

So, next he suggested I take a seat in a chair they had near one of their two listening stations.  I told him before listening to anything that I didn't really want to listen to anything higher end from my budget because I wanted to stick to my budget and didn't want to be disappointed if that meant 'settling' on something that didn't sound as good as something he'd have me try.  He put that concern to rest immediately by explaining that's exactly the philosophy he takes and that he was going to use a mid- price amp/dac combo to have me test all of the phones from so that I could get a good feel of the sound differences from one model to the next.  That made sense to me.

So basically from that point he had me audition about 6 sets of phones that were roughly in the price range that met my budget…about $250 to $500 range.  I think the low end of the price range was Beyer DT880 and the upper end of the range was a pair of Grado (can’t remember the model though).  In between, I tried a pair of Senn HD600, Beyer 990 Premium and one or two others I can’t remember.  After a very subjective process of elimination, I narrowed my selection down to the Beyer DT880 and DT990.  I decided on the 990 based on their low end ballsy character.  I might have gone with the 880, but reasoned that I also have a pair of ATH-M50 at home and those have a very neutral presentation as a closed back phone, so felt that the open back 990 might be a good compliment to what I already had.  The only question mark I had at that point was that the 990’s that I auditioned were straight out of the box, whereas all of the other phones that I’d listened to were from their station, so they’d been burned in.   Still, I reasoned that if the 990s sounded best to me at that point, theoretically they’ll only sound better after burn in, so I was pretty pleased what that decision. 

I was especially stoked when, after the guy left me alone to figure out what he wanted to show me as far as dac/amp, I discreetly checked the B&H website for their price on these phones and found out the price these guys wanted was exactly the same price…$375…nice.

Next to the DAC/AMP.  For this, he didn’t have nearly as much stock to try out as he did phones.  We auditioned a couple of different products that I can’t remember the name of.  Wasn’t too impressed though.  I asked the guy if the unit I’d listened to in the listening station was available and he said it was.  Since my reference listening was done though that, I figured it would be logical to focus on that unit since that’s what I’d used to settle on the 990’s.  That also seemed consistent with something I’d read on head-fi is that it’s not insignificant factor to try to match and amp/dac to the headphones and some combo’s sound better than others.  I KNOW that’s true in our world of mics/preamps, so it made sense to me to focus on this for my first amp/dac.

Turns out it’s an amp/dac combo…and it fit my budget just fine.  So fine, I’d already spent over an hour listening to that unit and I obviously liked how it sounded with the phones I’d chosen, so decision made!  I ended up with a Parasound Zdac which I later checked B&H and again their price was spot on the same as B&H at $475.  Not sure why, but he knocked it down to $450 for me…New Years Eve special I guess.  Nice again…especially since I walked out UNDER my budget by over $100.  Might have saved a couple bucks by not paying sales taxes if I’d gone through B&H, but there’s NO WAY I’d have been able to have the personalized service or ability to spend time doing A vs. B testing like I did.

So when I walked out I was a very happy customer. 

I haven’t been able to spend too much time with the combo so far, but as of today, I’m having some problems that I haven’t yet been able to figure out.  First off, when I walked out, I thought I was leaving with a pair of 600ohm headphones.  Didn’t realize it until yesterday that they’re actually 32ohm.  More on this in a second.  So one the way home from the store I couldn’t resist, so I put the phones on my ipod/fiio head amp combo that I have.  The fiio is a low powered amp that I’ve been using with my earbuds.  Remember, when I walked out I thought I’d bought the 600ohm model, and to be honest at this point I didn’t think these phones would work with this combo, but to my surprise they worked and sound great.  My only issue was that my volume levels were a bit low, so when I turned everything up to max (including the gain and eq switches on the amp) I was able to distort the phones with the most thumping EDM type music I’ve taped.  Otherwise, they sounded GREAT, especially through that little el cheap $60 fiio amp.  It’s interesting because I don’t hear NEARLY as much fidelity improvement with my IEMs (Shure 215) as I hear when I switch between the ipod and the amp outputs with the DT990s.  Wow, with the exception of the distortion I was getting on the peak bass notes at the loudest volumes (I don’t get that with my ATH-M50) I was astounded by the sound.

So, obviously after this experience, I was really excited to test out the dac/amp combo.  Since it was late on NYE when I got home, I had to devote the remained of NYE to Mrs. Toney…we had a wonderful evening at home and rather than doing our usual NYE dinner out, we decided to have a fantastic time at home and cooked up a couple of lobsters along with filet mignon and baked a pie.  It was awesome. 

But obviously, when I got up yesterday morning my mind was on my new sound gear.  I’ve never used my computer as my main listening station and had always used my ipod…yeah I know, but remember way back at the beginning of this post, I already said that I’ve been trying for years to avoid this moment of jumping into higher-fi on the playback side since I KNEW it would be another unneeded money pit and also since I’ve been fully vested in higher end on the taping end I knew what to expect once I delved into this end of the spectrum.  Anyway, so I was excited to set my computer up to test out the DAC.  My main music storage location is one redundant 1tb passport drive, so I grabbed that since it has all my master recordings saved as 24/48 FLAC files.  Since I’d never used my computer as my music player, I spent the majority of the morning researching and setting up Foobar2000 with all of its different components/plug-ins…deciding which plug-ins I wanted to install and teaching myself how to use them.  This, in itself, was a revelation to me because I’d been told numerous times by people on ts.com how easy it is to tag my FLACs with Foobar, but have never done any FLAC tagging since I never played my FLACs.   So I got distracted for a couple of hours playing with Foobar and using it to newly tag some of my most recent shows…and marveling at how easy it is (just like I’ve been told) to tag my FLAC files using the Live Show tagger…or whatever it’s called.

After spending the morning on the computer, decided to leave it alone for awhile and spend some quality time with the wife and dogs…watched a little bit of the Winter Classic together, the Rose Bowl, etc.  FINALLY, around 9pm last night, I hooked everything up…made sure drivers were properly installed on the computer after the Zdac was turned out.  Verified the computers sound was pointed towards the USB and the ZDac and fired this sucker up!!!

Oh no!  Nothing.  Hmmm.  First thing I noticed is, I wasn’t hearing with the amp volume at around 9pm.  So I start increasing the volume knob and I start to get sound.  Hmmm.  Volume level really isn’t decent until the vol knob is all the way to 3pm and the levels I’d prefer to listen at don’t occur until I crank it all the way full…which is just a tad short of 6pm.  Then I immediately noticed that the sound, even at 3pm was very distorted.  Not noisy like diginoise, but the music distorted.  Hmmm.

So my first focus was on the computer.  Checked settings, fiddled around with various gains, balance, etc settings in both my control panel type locations and the specific drivers.  Yes, they offered some control, but don’t resolve the basic issue. 

Next went back to the Parasound manual to see if there’s anything in there that would give me a clue what’s up.  Nothing…manual says the Zdac headphone amp section should be good to drive headphones ranging from 32ohm up to 600ohm.  That statement reminded me that, when I checked the B&H website, I noticed that there are three specific models of the DT990 headphones available; 32ohm, 250ohm and 600ohm.  Recall from earlier than when I walked out of the store, I thought I’d gotten the 600ohm model.  So I went back to my car trunk (where the box was still located) and pulled out the box.  On the box top, there’s a check-box identifier showing which model is included inside the box.  Obviously, I hadn’t seen this before, but turns out that he gave me the 32ohm version of the phones.

Well, it was about 10pm when I made this discovery, so I wasn’t going to go any farther, but I went to bed thinking that’s probably the explanation for why I’m not getting good sound out of the amp…but honestly this morning I’m confused.  I don’t understand necessarily why I’d have to crank the volume on the amp to get a decent volume level with these, when I get decent volume from that el cheapo fiio amp.  Also, I get great sound out of that amp and even acceptable sound out of my ipod, but not the Zdac.   Which is confusing.  Since I had to get up first thing and come to work, I haven’t really had any time to investigate (and since I just spent an hour writing this post up…LOL) 

So,  that’s my initial experience.  So far I’m really excited about the sound I’m going to get, but right now just slogging through what my issues are with the computer based set up.  Any ideas and/or feedback appreciated…obviously right now I’m thinking these particular phones aren’t matched well to the amp, even though the amp manual says it handles 32ohm headphones fine I’m wondering if that’s my issue. 

Regardless of any of this, Happy New Year everyone!  May your 2014 be filled with lots of great taping experiences.

Offline George

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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2014, 10:42:15 AM »
Hi Page,

              It's very strange to read that you thought the Senn's were a bit bright and bass-shy. I owned the HD 580's, which are quite close to the HD600's, and I found the 580's to have ample amounts of bass, especially when I paired them with a tube amp, the tube amp really opened up their bass reproduction.  Of course, they cannot compare to the Beyer 770's which I also owned, those suckers had the deepest bass reproduction I've ever heard out of a pair of headphones.

Another thing you cannot forget is pairing the right headphone amp with your headphones.  Synergy goes a long way to  :bigsmile:
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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2014, 11:04:45 AM »
Hi Page,

              It's very strange to read that you thought the Senn's were a bit bright and bass-shy. I owned the HD 580's, which are quite close to the HD600's, and I found the 580's to have ample amounts of bass, especially when I paired them with a tube amp, the tube amp really opened up their bass reproduction.  Of course, they cannot compare to the Beyer 770's which I also owned, those suckers had the deepest bass reproduction I've ever heard out of a pair of headphones.

Another thing you cannot forget is pairing the right headphone amp with your headphones.  Synergy goes a long way to  :bigsmile:

That's it right there, I forgot to mention that I based all of my reflections on solid state amps/dacs. I'm comparing to a solid state monitoring setup that I see in studios, sort of to eliminate that coloration from the equation as much as possible. I got rid of my tube amp a long time ago. It's fun, but I needed an amp I could use in mixing first and foremost and a fun amp second.

Also, I get great sound out of that amp and even acceptable sound out of my ipod, but not the Zdac.   Which is confusing.  Since I had to get up first thing and come to work, I haven’t really had any time to investigate (and since I just spent an hour writing this post up…LOL) 

Hook up one of your recorders and use a spdif out into the zdac, eliminate the PC as you're source first and foremost and see if you get the same results. I think there is something in your settings if you're using the usb. For the record, I don't use usb-audio, I merely power my usbpre2 with usb and receive a signal from optical spdif as that gets me the most consistent results to work with.
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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2014, 11:14:48 AM »
Also, I get great sound out of that amp and even acceptable sound out of my ipod, but not the Zdac.   Which is confusing.  Since I had to get up first thing and come to work, I haven’t really had any time to investigate (and since I just spent an hour writing this post up…LOL) 

Hook up one of your recorders and use a spdif out into the zdac, eliminate the PC as you're source first and foremost and see if you get the same results. I think there is something in your settings if you're using the usb. For the record, I don't use usb-audio, I merely power my usbpre2 with usb and receive a signal from optical spdif as that gets me the most consistent results to work with.

Good idea.  Thanks. 

The 744 arrives tomorrow, so this is the first thing I'll use it for.  ;)

EDIT:  Just found this discussion on head-fi.org.  Very interesting parallels.  I think I'll also try another laptop that runs an older version of windoze.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/434034/windows-7-rc-64-usb-audio-jitter-distort-issue
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 11:27:48 AM by tonedeaf »

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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2014, 01:49:19 PM »
Page 7 of the manual has an interesting bit; the zdac's volume is controlled differently in windows 7 vs elsewhere. The audio routing seems to be a 2 stage operation (into the buffer, and out of the buffer, each with it's own volume control). I wonder if the output segment (which is device/zdac specific) is turned way down, even though the input control (like in foobar or elsewhere) is turned up. food for thought.
"This is a common practice we have on the bus; debating facts that we could easily find through printed material. It's like, how far is it today? I think it's four hours, and someone else comes in at 11 hours, and well, then we'll... just... talk about it..." - Jeb Puryear

"Nostalgia ain't what it used to be." - Jim Williams

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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2014, 03:55:57 PM »
I've owned and listened to lots of different headphones over the years. I still don't have a headphone rig I'm completely happy with.

I own the Sennheiser HD600's and consider them my "reference" headphones. But, they do have a veiled top end sound to them. They are also hard to wear for long periods of time, as it feels like I have a vise on my head after a while when I wear them.

I also own the Sony MDR-7506's. They don't sound veiled at all, but are bass shy and not as accurate in the mid range in my experience. They are also not that comfortable to wear for extended periods. They sit on the outside of the ear and that compression is uncomfortable for me.

I also have a pair of  the Etymotic ER6's with custom made ear molds. I use them mostly on planes and in the field when I need to overcome high noise levels. For me, these are the most comfortable to wear, but there is something in the sound of these that just misses the mark. The bass is not tight and they can sound strident in the mid range if used for a long period of time.

My next pair will probably be something from AKG. I've used the K240's in studio situations and I think they sound good. I'm not sure why I haven't bought a pair yet. It may be that I just don't think the perfect headphones exist and it'll be another $100 wasted in the search...

I also have one headphone amp. It's a non-portable variant of the old GoVibe amp that a guy named Norm in Canada used to hand make. He must've sold the rights to the name, because if you Google GoVibe it takes you to a site that sells headphone amps, but they are not the same as the old GoVibe amps. I got one of the last ones he made. I chose it because it's a very simple circuit. It's powered with 24v DC. There are a pair of gold RCA inputs a gold 1/4" stereo headphone jack output and an ALPS stereo volume knob. Maybe I should try a new amp?
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 04:02:32 PM by Chuck »
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

Microphones: AKG C 480 B comb-ULS/ CK 61/ CK 63, Sennheiser MKE 2 elements, CAD GXL1200 (cardioid and mod-cardioid capsule & electronics mod), Audix M1290-o, Micro capsule active cables w/ Naiant PFA's, Naiant MSH-1O, Naiant AKG Active cables, Church CA-11 (cardioid), (1) Nady SCM-1000 (mod)
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Offline raymonda

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Re: Is 'At The Show' Sound Possible With Headphones?
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2014, 08:42:08 PM »
Stay away from the new 240s, made in China, they do not sound as good as the ones made in Austria.

Really, go for the 701 or 702. They sound much better.

 

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