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Driving headphones #2824149 03/08/19 07:51 AM
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KevinM Online Content OP
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I am coming from completely ignorance here so please be tolerant.

I've noticed comments about headphone impedance and digital pianos being able to drive those headphones.

I would like not to have to buy a headphone amplifier, I just want to be able to plug headphones in and use them. I also don't wish to go down the route of monitors for the piano.

Do the different digital pianos have different capabilities in terms of the impedance they can drive? The specifications for my digital piano Casio AP-470 provides no information about the phones output.

Do I need to take into consideration the impedance of the headphones when buying and that I need to make sure I'm buying headphones with an impedance higher/lower than a certain level that will work well with the phones output from the piano?

I also get the impression I should go for open and not closed headphones.

Kevin

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Re: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824163 03/08/19 08:24 AM
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In general any piano (and most other equipment) can properly drive low-impedance headphones.
Many phones are at 50 ohms or less. No problem.
You'll likely have no problems with anything under 100 ohms.
There are phones at 200 or 300 ohms. I've read about people getting these to work, and others not ... needing a headphone amp.
There are also phones at 600 ohms. I've always been led to know that these always require a headphone amp.
Summary: I've had a number of sub-100 ohm phones that work fine. One in the Beyerdynamic DTX line and two in the Sennheiser HD-5xx line.

Second subject: I highly prefer open phones. I like the sound (and the feel) better than closed phones.
There are reasons to use closed phones, but none of those reasons apply to me.

Re: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824194 03/08/19 09:25 AM
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Thanks.

Hopefully one final question. I've seen semi-open being marketed. Do you think there is a point to those or should I just go open?

Kevin

Re: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824214 03/08/19 10:29 AM
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I've heard of semi-open, but I don't know what that really means.

Re: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824222 03/08/19 10:49 AM
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It depends on the headphone, I would say sometimes open backs are not that open and should really be called semi open when you look at them, I expect it may be an advertising and marketing decision rather than an objective one sometimes.

A true open headphone if you look you can often see right inside, or they have a really thin membrane, examples, hd600, 650 etc,
semi openback headphones are a little more sealed from the outside. Ideally I like them as open as possible, since it also gives a more open sound, however that comes at a penalty for the price. Mainly, in dynamic open back headphones, the bass response becomes less and it is also of poorer quality, these are generalisations, but often true. On the other extreme, closed back often have better more controlled bass ... for the same money.

You may find that it is not to much of an issue with piano, although I can find them insufficient to really do the lowest octave justice with some open back headphones, grado always come to mind as a very good example. Most of them drop off very quickly below 70 Hz, worse than a 5 inch speaker, and if you try to EQ them they just can't take it without beginning to distort.

You'll find plenty threads with suggestions what to buy, so I'll leave it at that.

Cheers.


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Re: Driving headphones [Re: Alexander Borro] #2824226 03/08/19 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Alexander Borro

You may find that it is not to much of an issue with piano, although I can find them insufficient to really do the lowest octave justice with some open back headphones, grado always come to mind as a very good example. Most of them drop off very quickly below 70 Hz, worse than a 5 inch speaker, and if you try to EQ them they just can't take it without beginning to distort.

Cheers.


When you talk about Grado as a good example. Do you mean they are a good example of getting the lower frequencies right, or are a good example of headphones that drop off at the lowest register?

Re: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824238 03/08/19 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
Originally Posted by Alexander Borro

You may find that it is not to much of an issue with piano, although I can find them insufficient to really do the lowest octave justice with some open back headphones, grado always come to mind as a very good example. Most of them drop off very quickly below 70 Hz, worse than a 5 inch speaker, and if you try to EQ them they just can't take it without beginning to distort.

Cheers.


When you talk about Grado as a good example. Do you mean they are a good example of getting the lower frequencies right, or are a good example of headphones that drop off at the lowest register?


I mean that they are a good example of getting it wrong. The ear pads don't help because they are on ear, so they don't form a good seal around the ear upsetting things even more, which in turn makes them uncomfortable. I would pick something over the ear.

If you believe in measurement that they can tell you something about how a headphones sounds (I do, some don't) you can see it for yourself, and some are not cheap either in the UK. but I also heard them first hand, more than one model too.
This model is one the worst offenders for the price, I think most can appreciate the frequency response graph, it doesn't lie and it is what I hear, your piano will make them sound close to what this shows,

https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/GradoSR325i.pdf

it's a mess in more way than one on a technical level, but some still like it, you know, tastes can vary and all that.

Edit
Confession: I still own an sr80e for the fun factor, just because with some music they can be fun .... sometimes, for a limited amount of time, or when I feel my ears need to get a good raping.

Last edited by Alexander Borro; 03/08/19 11:32 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: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824257 03/08/19 11:53 AM
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MacMacMac is right, buying any headphones below 100 Ohm is safe for any non-toy DP.

Semi-open is rather useless marketing term IMHO. It's meant to say to a customer, 'open headphones with better bass'.



Just to mention, while I really like open headphones and I mostly use Senh HD600 for DP, this week I had a chance to play a DP in a quality in-ear AKC headphones (forgot to ask a model number), and I was amazed how good tiny in-ear headphones have become in recent years. I could compare them to HD600 in fidelity, while they bring superior comfort!

So I recommend the OP to look in that direction if he has a chance to. It may be the technology of the future. Just make sure that the cable is long enough or you may need an extension cable.

Re: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824260 03/08/19 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
When you talk about Grado as a good example. Do you mean they are a good example of getting the lower frequencies right, or are a good example of headphones that drop off at the lowest register?

KevinM, you can pull up frequency response graphs of headphones here. Probably of any you'd likely purchase.


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Re: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824267 03/08/19 12:24 PM
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Thanks Tyrone. I'm going to risk getting these cheap ones as they do ok and the previous model was recommended to me, but these ones have a better response.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Superlux-HD681EVO-Black/dp/B00CAG1ZAQ/ref=sr_1_2?fst=as%3Aoff&qid=1552064426&refinements=p_89%3ASuperlux&rnid=1632651031&s=electronics&sr=1-2

I was looking at their predecessor which don't do so well in treble.

Kevin

Re: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824272 03/08/19 12:37 PM
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Here

https://reference-audio-analyzer.pro/en/param1.php?id=890#i890

and here

https://www.innerfidelity.com/headphone-measurements

it has the basics, but also the advanced stuff, the former even plots the influence of output impedance on the headphone output in many cases, depending how far you want to go with it. I find frequency response of limited value, however to learn about the other measurements requires some reading and what they mean in terms of sound, and some ear training to go with that using many different headphones, that way you build some reference in your head, but that only comes with experience to relate that to actual data.

Ultimately, for most people, depending on your interest level I wouldn't bother. I went through a phase learning all about it, of about 4 years, but these days, I am done with it and learned what I wanted.

Easiest option, pick one, try it. don't like it ? amazon usually has a return policy. I have done it quite a few times that way , and ebay as well.

Last edited by Alexander Borro; 03/08/19 12:39 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: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824277 03/08/19 12:46 PM
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Superlux HD-681 EVO are the best cheap headphones I've ever had. I sold them because I had so many headphones at the time (and currently I'm free from this headphone obsession, having only two headphones now: HD-650 at home but mostly hooked to the piano, B&O H6 2nd gen at the office). I've compared them side by side to HD650 (ten times the price) and although they have slightly different sound signatures, they were absolutely on par IMO. However I'm not sure I have tested them with a digital piano, or don't remember. But what can go wrong for €30?


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Re: Driving headphones [Re: CyberGene] #2824287 03/08/19 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Superlux HD-681 EVO are the best cheap headphones I've ever had. I sold them because I had so many headphones at the time (and currently I'm free from this headphone obsession, having only two headphones now: HD-650 at home but mostly hooked to the piano, B&O H6 2nd gen at the office). I've compared them side by side to HD650 (ten times the price) and although they have slightly different sound signatures, they were absolutely on par IMO. However I'm not sure I have tested them with a digital piano, or don't remember. But what can go wrong for €30?


+1

IMO, you don't need really expensive headphones for piano to have a pleasurable experience. There was a reason I used my cheap sony headphones when I used the Casio ap450 build in sounds years ago, because the sound was so tinny with a neutral headphone, also, there was no way to EQ with the Casio. The sony XB series I have warmed it up and fattened the sound a lot, because they are far from neutral. It was the best match for me.
My solution was merely addressing the basics of the frequency response with a cheap headphone I already had, it was a better combo than anything for me personally that cost much more I had in the closet at the time. For me, for the most part the Casio sounds in the AP450 were the limiting factor, not the headphone to yield a pleasing experience.

Often it is the combination that works that gives a pleasurable result for your personal taste, not the most refined sounding headphone.

With software pianos that changed for me, where you can adjust to your content EQ etc, but that is a whole other topic.


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: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824289 03/08/19 01:10 PM
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My feeling is right now with a Casio AP-470 if I had extra money to spend it would be better to have spent it on a better piano rather than expensive headphones. In the meantime I can start saving for the Casio's replacement in I estimate about 2 1/2 years. Anything extra I can save means a better piano then.

Re: Driving headphones [Re: Alexander Borro] #2824296 03/08/19 01:28 PM
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Bingo! Or as I would put it: Ears matter. Specs do not.
Originally Posted by Alexander Borro
Easiest option, pick one, try it. don't like it? amazon usually has a return policy. I have done it quite a few times that way , and ebay as well.

Re: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824310 03/08/19 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
My feeling is right now with a Casio AP-470 if I had extra money to spend it would be better to have spent it on a better piano rather than expensive headphones. In the meantime I can start saving for the Casio's replacement in I estimate about 2 1/2 years. Anything extra I can save means a better piano then.


FWIW I assume the AP470 is better. With the AP450 I liked the sound more over the speakers with the open lid design, it worked well. My solution with the headphones was that the frequency response sounded similar to the speakers, whereas with an expensive neutral headphone made it sound very different, so it wasn't that bad with that solution. The phones I used are no longer made but are the XB300
Note, unlike my Kawai it is the other way round. good quality headphones > speakers.

Look at the weird frequency response, for normal music listening I find them rubbish.

https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/SonyMDRXB300.pdf

In terms of colouration the result I get with those cheap cans in terms in sound is very similar to this recording ,

https://youtu.be/KAJWe6JW5qk


it is IMO still one of the best mastered recordings of the AP450 when I listen back on good reference headphones, it is much closer to how I perceive it over the speakers in a room, unlike many of the other recording demos that use straight line out results.
.
Cheers.


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: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824325 03/08/19 02:46 PM
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FWIW, I feel that my Grados (SR80e) have plenty of bass for piano. In fact I noticed that some of the pianos on the FP60 I had sounded too bassey, and reduced it with EQ.

Greg.

Re: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824328 03/08/19 03:06 PM
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Greg, if you have it, try the giant VST you'll really find out. With most other headphones you will really notice the difference compared to grado, it may be subjectively pleasing to you the amount you like, but compared the standards and in line with the Harman target response, no, which I admit is not an absolute and defines what people like . Also the quality of the bass in the deeper bass at least is loose and sloppy, this is shown in the measurements too btw, for piano not so noticeable, try any music that requires deep extension and they fall apart, even at modest volume. Piano for me requires something that is at least fairly flat to around 50 - 60 Hz, Grado is not.

Also this page is golden as a summary, see what it says for grado, it is how I perceive them on the whole, all the models I heard in fact have that trait.

https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/headphone-measurements-explained-square-wave-response-page-2

https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/harman-tweaks-its-headphone-target-response


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: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824339 03/08/19 03:33 PM
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I would add the build in sound of a piano can vary a lot of course in how they are EQd what results you get, I think kawai did a fairly good job with that for a near neutral headphone, I also expect the headphone output is fairly low impedance and of reasonable quality. I wouldn't expect it from the cheaper piano though, certainly it wasn't the case with my AP450. I notice it with the LX708 too when I tried it, the sound was quite bright and piercing on the headphones I had with me, on the speakers it sounded more mellow and pleasing in that sense.

Last edited by Alexander Borro; 03/08/19 03:33 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: Driving headphones [Re: KevinM] #2824373 03/08/19 05:10 PM
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The AP-470 sounds somewhat muffled in my office room and unfortunately I can't do much about that. Having the lid really helps, I initially had a KDP 110 and there were two reasons why it didn't work, the sound was even more muffled and it had one extra loud key which was also discordant. That stood out in sharp contrast to the generally muffled sounds.

Using headphones it sounds good. When I record onto a memory stick I lose depth of sound and I'm not sure what that that is about. I find the recordings fits perfectly some of the derogatory comments some on this forum have for Casio pianos. It sounds quite plonk plonk plonk without much subtlety. One day I might try recording from the headphone output and see if that gives better results than the recording to the memory stick.

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