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Thought that'd be a fun discussion. Which headphones do you enjoy the most and what do you use to drive them when listening to piano music?


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Originally Posted by Strat
Thought that'd be a fun discussion. Which headphones do you enjoy the most and what do you use to drive them when listening to piano music?


You dont drive headphones! You plug the bloody things in and stick em over your ears. . . with any luck you shouldnt need to adjust the volume. Got mine at the local supermarket. Fifteen smackeroos..

Just sound like the piano. (Shrug)


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There are all sorts of topics on headphones in PW (maybe a dozen or more) - here are a few from a quick search to help you save time.

I am a huge fan of Grados 225 and an NAD pre-amp. HiFiMan makes some great earbuds and headphone amps, too - preferences vary so much with things like this, just like pianos, loudspeakers, blenders, cars, lawnmowers, etc - Let your ear and wallet be the judge.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2484286/1.html

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2434240/1.html

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2513630/1.html



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peterws, I'm an audiophile. What you're describing is like a prison sentence to me. Music can sound beautiful when using the right tools and illicit complete indifference when using bad equipment.

Inlanding, I'm aware of those threads and they are for playing a digital piano. I'm talking about listening to professionally recorded grand piano music through headphones plugged into a headphone amp or stereo.

There's a chasm of a difference between the two.

Last edited by Strat; 02/22/16 02:49 PM.

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I rather use my speakers but just because you asked...

On the go I use either the Sennheiser momentum with my old ipod and a fiio E11 or the Grado 80i

At home I keep going back and forth between the headphone exit of my Motu ultralite avb or using a shiit valhalla as amplifier and my first generation AKG k701 and the Sennheiser HD650.

At the end it really depends on the mastering... if it is a good master I prefer the AKG because they are very analytical and you can hear every little thing... on older recordings the tubes and the sennheiser are much more fun.

I usually listen using my Focal CMS65...

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Originally Posted by Strat
I'm talking about listening to professionally recorded grand piano music through headphones plugged into a headphone amp or stereo.


The best audiophile headphones are the best for all (naturally recorded) music, whether piano, orchestral or vocal.

I attend classical concerts regularly, so I know what they should sound like, live and without electronic trickery involved, and that's the sound I want from my hi-fi system and speakers - and headphones.

I don't listen to DAB radio or CDs on headphones - I use my speakers. When on my travels, I use my Klipsch Image X10i with my iPod. They're truly fantastic and natural-sounding for earbud headphones.

Ideally, I'd use my Grado SR325 (the best and most accurate-sounding headphones I've ever owned); second best would be my AKG K271 Mk II, but they're both too heavy and bulky to carry up mountains, so I only use them with my digital piano at home.


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I use Grados sr225 and an NAD amp. Can't justify spending more than that. They add no color across my audible listening range - everyone that listens to them likes them. I like a flat sounding headphone/loudspeaker. It's quite a personal choice, though. Having good source material helps. Quality equipment requires good source material.

Avalon Acoustics fill my listening room with wonderful stage presence, too.

Being and audiophile, Strat, you must know quite a bit about them and your ear/wallet is always the best judge. Stop by your local high-end audio stores and test-drive.

Audiogon has some great reviews by all sorts of audiophile experts - a fantastic source.


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I have a few comments.

bennevis - Regarding recordings vs live performances, I used to be astonished how many audio engineers had never been to a live performance of non-amplified instruments. I still don't think recording technology can match the dynamic range and complexity of most acoustic instruments and especially that of a symphony orchestra.

Inlanding - It's funny you mention high end audio stores in your response to Strat. Back when I was a struggling college student/musician I'd occasionally stop by a high end store to find things I could reasonably afford and think at some point I'll be able to seriously consider the nicer stuff. When the time came that I could, however, all those shops were gone.

Strat - I've always had a weird relationship with audiophile gear. I appreciate it as I have always been able to pick out intricate details in recordings and worked as a mastering engineer at one point. However, having also once subsisted mainly on generic ramen noodles, I have kind of a detached bemusement to some of the cost and attitudes. It probably didn't help that at times I questioned if some dedicated audiophiles ever played an entire album or just portions.

I'd also think much of the equipment used to record music would leave many audiophiles aghast, nor would I ever be able to justify spending more on a set of loudspeakers than I would on a fine musical instrument. So I always tried to find the bargains, the gear that would sound reasonably nice while not making me feel too guilty about the cost. Sadly, many of the brands I liked have since been bought up by larger companies and/or shifted to lower cost manufacturing. Others no longer exist.

But to finally answer your question after all that ramble, I mainly use Grado SR-60s for home listening and Koss Porta-Pros while being active, but I've limited my use of headphones in the last few years due to fear of the long term effects and some alarm at how often I used to use them. Back in my recording/mastering days--when closed back headphones were usually needed--I typically favored various Sennheisers.

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Sennheiser HD380 Pro. They are actually the only good ones I have, and I also use them for my piano playing.


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Great to see so many Grados fans in one place.

I try them all at each Audiofest (Can Jam) that comes to Denver in October.

The HiFiMan HE-400 and HE-1000 are worth taking your best music to demo. Your music comes to life and they are so very comfortable. Be careful, like with all really fine headphones, they reveal the good, bad and ugly of the source recording.

One of my favorites is Olga Kern playing the Chopin below on the HiFiMan HE-1000 driven by the ALO 6 amp which will melt you in your chair. Yes. there are others, but it goes on and on and on with all the fine audio out there.

Piano Concerto No.1
Fantasie, Op.49
Bolero, Op.19
Fantasie-Impromptu, Op.66
Polonaise, Op.53

Glen


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I like the sound of the Grados in some instances but the comfort level (for me) has ALWAYS been an issue. frown

I realize the "A" word (audiophile) is somewhat of a dirty one, namely due to people who either don't know what they are talking about or because some people have more financial resources than common sense, but I am solely interested in good sound. I don't need a $2000 cable. That sort of nonsense isn't for me. But impactful components do make a positive contribution to the sound and that in turn allows me to enjoy the music that much more.

Anybody else wish to share their thoughts, experience, and piano-listening gear with us?


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I'm limited to cheap headphones... Even the SR60 are over 100€ here.

I currently own only a pair of Superlux HD681 EVO.
They are quite bassy, I had to do some (easy) mods to bring up the highs a little bit. They're not perfect but are quite good for now. There's nothing I can do about the bass unless I do some heavier mods that involve soldering.

I used to have a Cowon C2 as a music player but it's now broken frown. I have to stick with my phone and my PC with an old Sound Blaster Audigy SE.

I'm interested in the new HD662 EVO, they look promising from the graphs after some mods.
http://diyah.boards.net/thread/1169/superlux-hd662-evo

I would like a model with a flat(ter) frequency response though but I think I'm going with the 662 first.

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f3r - Are smaller headphones like Koss Porta Pros or Sennheiser PX-100s more affordable there?

Strat - I agree that the Grados aren't very comfortable.

I didn't mean to imply "audiophile" was a dirty word, just that some people get carried away, as with any passion. And I guess without companies seeing what they could build with an unlimited budget, there would be far less innovation and trickle down to more affordable equipment. You may be able to tell I've had a few internal debates about how much to spend.

Personally I used to find it kind of a nice challenge / hobby to try to build a near audiophile-level system on a modest budget. That culminated in a small room system that consisted of an NAD CD player (bought at closeout), a Rotel turntable (display unit), fairly old Rotel preamp/amp (found at a second hand shop) and PSB Alpha speakers (back when they were made in Canada by a new, independent company). I also had Paradigm 5ses for a while (also when they were made in Canada by an independent company). Of all of those, I still have the PSBs; I'm thinking of hooking them up to my digital piano (with a small nu force amp).

Speaking of which, do you or anyone know what the current "bargains" are? Or if there are small, innovative audio component companies making great things for relatively affordable prices? Back when I regularly shopped and checked out audio equipment, my favorite "someday" speakers were Snells, but sadly the company is gone. I also really liked Spicas, which I think are also gone.

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They surely are, at around 35€. The Superlux models I mentioned are sold at a similar price but they include an extra set of (velour) pads, 2 cables (1 meter and 3 meters) and a pouch.
I was considering the Porta Pros but I wanted a pair of over-ears.

I now need a pair of over-ear closed headphones. With the 681s, being semi-open, I have a hard time hearing what I'm playing at the piano or listening to music while my sister is practicing with her violin. I think that will be less of a problem with the new 662s but they're not out yet.

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Fostex T20RPMK2. They're pretty comfortable for me. My ears are very sensitive to pressure from some high school sports injuries (tell your kids to wear the headgear if they take up wrestling) and these have a lot of padding.

Lot's of people make pretty extensive modifications to these to get even better sound, but I don't think my ears are that refined.


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