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Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
#2525611 03/29/16 08:35 AM
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What headphones would you recommend for digital piano, specifically suitable for many different digital pianos (Kawai, Yamaha etc) and for Ivory, Pianoteq and even Hauptwerk organs?

My max budget is something like Sennheiser HD 650. I am considering these (and the HD 600), but I'm afraid the high impedance could be a problem with some pianos. So I am also considering HD 598.

I am also considering all the other usual suspects (from googling), DT770, DT880, DT990, ATHM50, K701/702, Fidelio X2 etc etc etc.

I mostly play classical and it is important to be that the sound is not too harsh or fatiguing. The bass is less important, but preferably deep and tight. But not boomy.

Which ones should be on my shortlist to check out?
Recommendations that include a headphone amp are also welcome, although I would prefer no amp or an easily transportable amp.


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004, Kawai MP11 digital piano, Sennheiser HD 600 headphones.
Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
pinkfloydhomer #2525621 03/29/16 09:14 AM
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I am rather happy with a AKG K701... But its sensitivity is low. I have to set the volume rather high. I have read on another forum someone happy with a HD598. Perhaps lower grade compared with the K701, but easier to drive.


Yamaha CLP150, Bechstein Digital Grand, Garritan CFX, Ivory II pianos, Galaxy pianos, EWQL Pianos, Native-Instrument The Definitive Piano Collection, Soniccouture Hammersmith, Truekeys, Pianoteq
Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
pinkfloydhomer #2525636 03/29/16 09:57 AM
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HD600 work well with my MP10, but I agree, I wouldn't be confident that they'd work well with most pianos due to their power requirements.

I'd also recommend the HD 598, Fidelio X2, ATHM50X and Shure SRH840.


Playing since April 2010.
Kawai MP10
Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
pinkfloydhomer #2525642 03/29/16 10:28 AM
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IMHO AKG 701, 702 and sennheiser 598 are great headphones for piano, both replicate piano timbres well. Personally I prefer the 598, but the AKG is the better phone on paper in terms of slightly cleaner response, better imaging, wider soundstage, but for me that is not too important for just piano alone, and more a question of preference.
The AKG is more clinical and detailed and a bit colder brighter sounding than the HD 598, so it comes down to preference in the end of the day. They are both great phones that will serve/please most well. The advantage of the 598 however it is driven easily and rather less picky about sources you plug them into. The HD 600/650 is also a troublesome beast to be driven without an amp. Unless you own a CA 67 or above they have the grunt, pretty much anything else I heard no.

Interestingly I got the Fidelio X2 last week seeing you mentioned it. Unfortunately I can't test it out with my software pianos due to room works, but listened to many solo piano tracks and classical music with it over the week as well as recordings of software pianos.
Personally I think it is not the best for that IMHO since it is a very warm, a rather slightly recessed mid range. Yes, it has plenty detail all the same, but a somewhat U to V shaped out of box EQ. Super sound stage and very decent imaging, bass extension is among the best of open dynamics I heard to date.

However piano sounds have a tendency to disappear all a bit too easily compared the others and are very laid back and warm in that region, thus lacking that extra bit of impact/energy. When a piano sounds like it is a bit more closely miced I find it less of an issue and it can actually be quite nice then.

Personally I like a warm(ish) sound, but I even have my limits. Compared to the ones I mentioned above, the tonal characteristics and timbre of an acoustic piano do not come through that clearly on the X2 compared to the AKG 701 and 598, which are more forward in the mids to treble, except in the higher overtones where more of the treble region comes in, the X2 lifts up again. ( EQ can help a bit though but only got me so far).

The X2 is more expensive anyway and the way I see it you can pay less and get a clearer a bit less muddy piano sound with the others. It is still a great all-rounder though and you may well like it if that is the sort of signature you are after ( it is not traditionally flat response phone I would say, but a phone more designed to sound like good Hi Fi speakers in a good room ).

I would also add that it usually takes me a few weeks before I entirely acclimatise to a new sound signature before I feel at home with it, or know whether it is really for me or not in the long run ( however, for me at least, I doubt it will do for just solo piano ).

Since you like Pink floyd, Endless river sounds amazing on the X2 grin thumb , the imaging and sound stage are stupendous for that type of music. Anything really classical string instruments, piano, I'd say not quite so much, still very pleasant though.

ath 50x very nice phone, very detailed, clean, crisp, great bass, mildly aggressive sound. Somewhat coloured though and rather narrow sound stage ( not too spacious sounding like many closed cans), but in fact I find it enjoyable to listen to many classical tracks and piano sounds on them. That said, I don't feel they replicate those sounds closely/accurately in terms of tone and timbre ( not too flat overall in the end of the day ).

Long time I heard a DT, never got on with them, treble troubles mainly, no EQ can solve that for me, a little bit too painful for me personally is my recollection.

For piano I'd stick with open designs if sound leakage is not an issue ..

At worst, save yourself long term ear damage with earbuds and higher volume levels laugh

In the end of the day software and some stage pianos have quite a few adjustment you can make and customise EQ and sound a bit to pair it up with a headphone, that gives more scope to get it how you want, but not all pianos have that luxury and consoles are rather restrictive that way. In the end it is personal anyway. Sometimes it can just be luck of the draw what you like and appeals to you.

Last edited by Alexander Borro; 03/29/16 10:36 AM.

Selftaught since June 2014.
Books: Barratt classic piano course bk 1,2,3. Humphries Piano handbook, various...
Kawai CA78, Casio AP450 & software pianos.
[Linked Image] 12x ABF recitals.
My struggles: https://soundcloud.com/alexander-borro
Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
pinkfloydhomer #2525644 03/29/16 10:36 AM
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HD600/650 needs amplifier. I had HD598 - it sounds like behind the curtain, I sold. Now I'm using ATH-M50X which are excellent.


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Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
pinkfloydhomer #2525652 03/29/16 11:01 AM
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and I forgot to add sennheiser are great for no fatigue and long term use ( all 598,600,650, The fidelio is not bad either for that, they massage your ears more gently on the whole , they don't hammer them (more of a trait with many closed backs in particular).

If you want a bit more forward aggression. As rybuchil described it, and I suspect why he likes the ath 50, it is good for that, some would say less veiled. If you like that bit more forward impact sound rather than a darker more subtle rendition of sound a brighter can is more for you. That is sometimes what people don't like about the senns HDs and why to some they are a little boring, because nothing is really overstated, but IMHO it is all there, plenty enough for me ( personally), just in a nicely laid back manner, that helps avoid fatigue.


Selftaught since June 2014.
Books: Barratt classic piano course bk 1,2,3. Humphries Piano handbook, various...
Kawai CA78, Casio AP450 & software pianos.
[Linked Image] 12x ABF recitals.
My struggles: https://soundcloud.com/alexander-borro
Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
pinkfloydhomer #2525690 03/29/16 12:46 PM
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I recently got myself sh hd598s.

They are comfortable as your bed's pillow, and perfect for piano since they're almost reference - flat.

I don't use them for normal music though, since for that purpose they are too flat.


Kawai Ca63 - yamaha motif07 - Korg01fd
Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
pinkfloydhomer #2525703 03/29/16 01:18 PM
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Update: I have been offered the HD 600 at virtually the same price as the HD 598 by a dealer. This only makes the decision even more difficult. I assume that the HD 600 is at least as good and that I would like it, I just don't know how serious and practical the problem of the the higher impedance is.


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004, Kawai MP11 digital piano, Sennheiser HD 600 headphones.
Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
pinkfloydhomer #2525715 03/29/16 01:52 PM
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300 ohm is to high to use without an external headphone amp, as I understand it.


Peace

Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
pinkfloydhomer #2525730 03/29/16 02:24 PM
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I find AKG-701 rather bass light. Fantastic headphones but just lack some authority in the lower frequencies. Need an amp to give their best. I am not a bass head by any means. Sennheiser HD-598 is good (and a very easy drive) although my favourite headphone for piano is Philips Fidelio X1 (also a very easy drive). The X2s are reputed to be superior although I can't comment personally. I can also recommend Beyerdynamic DT-770 pro. The lower impedance version would be fine for normal DP headphone stages.


C. Bechstein Model B | Roland RD-1000 |
Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
Rille Stark #2525734 03/29/16 02:38 PM
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Quote
Update: I have been offered the HD 600 at virtually the same price as the HD 598 by a dealer. This only makes the decision even more difficult. I assume that the HD 600 is at least as good and that I would like it, I just don't know how serious and practical the problem of the the higher impedance is..


Peace


If your piano has L+R out or something like that you could plug in headphone amp, if you need those outputs for something else, either mixer or or one with pass through would do it to give you those outputs back. If you are really set on the HD600 there is a way around it.

Yes, the HD600 has a more refined sound than the 598, but also feels quite narrow, as in soundstage is quite closed in ( for open back anyway). For piano this is no biggy but if panning and stereo width are not adjustable I find the 598 more pleasing that way out of the box. Personally I find the 598 a bit more fun and spacious sounding overall than the 600.

The problem without amp, you will generally get is that the volume level will be too low on near highest volume setting. Likely also frequency range may turn out to be uneven, and distortion can become more noticeable even if it can go loud enough, that is a waste of time for a nice headphone to do it justice.

Last edited by Alexander Borro; 03/29/16 02:44 PM.

Selftaught since June 2014.
Books: Barratt classic piano course bk 1,2,3. Humphries Piano handbook, various...
Kawai CA78, Casio AP450 & software pianos.
[Linked Image] 12x ABF recitals.
My struggles: https://soundcloud.com/alexander-borro
Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
pinkfloydhomer #2525752 03/29/16 03:07 PM
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I have and love the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80s. Sound superb. Very comfortable. Closed (so they don't bother anyone). No amp needed when plugged into my digital piano.

They are also great for general music listening.

Re: Versatile Headphones for Digital Piano
pinkfloydhomer #2525817 03/29/16 06:21 PM
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I practice almost all the time on my N3 wearing my Sennheiser HD 598.

The piano sounds natural to me and I am never fatigued either by the 'sound' or the actual wearing.


website | mp3 files | Yamaha AvantGrand N3 | Roland RD 2000 | Sennheiser HD 598 headphones

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