What are the BEST audiophile headphones for vintage systems?

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by IGSTER, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. IGSTER

    IGSTER Active Member

    Messages:
    101
    I have a vintage Marantz stack. What are the BEST new headphones for. a vintage system?
     

     

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  2. HTHMAN

    HTHMAN Super Member

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    I love my Grado's. In each of their price brackets, they are always at or near the top of the heap. More money usually buys you a little better sound. Do you want to spend $100 or $1000?
     
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  3. IGSTER

    IGSTER Active Member

    Messages:
    101
    Grado's are definitely on my list. They are an awesome headset. I'm willing to spend $1,000.00 If need be.
     
  4. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

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    A rocks throw from JBLM !!!!
    I don’t think that vintage has anything to do with headphone performance....

    If it sounds good....then it is exactly that !!
     
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  5. IGSTER

    IGSTER Active Member

    Messages:
    101
    I totally agree. The goal is the BEST audio sound possible within reason. Money is the biggest obsticle.
     
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  6. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

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    6,284
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    A rocks throw from JBLM !!!!
    That’s why I wait until Labor Day to buy most things.....bought a pair of Sennheizer 650’s for $200. But I will tell you, if you can find any of the original Koss Studio Pro’s with the thick long spiral cord that they used prior to the thin dinky cord you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
     
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  7. ictwoody

    ictwoody I like vintage gear — my preamp is from 2007. Subscriber

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    I like Grados, but I can’t wear them for very long... they aren’t that comfortable.

    Hands down the best headphones I’ve ever owned are my Oppo PM-3’s. I think they are a screaming value at $399. I wear mine HOURs a day at my office and they are awesome.

    I also like my Hifiman HE-400i’s. If you want open back.

    I’ve owned a LOT of headphones over the years and I not believe that Planar Magnetics are the best.

    - Woody
     
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  8. HTHMAN

    HTHMAN Super Member

    Messages:
    3,427
    Location:
    St Louis, Missouri, USA
    I have to agree with you there. While I love the sound of my Grados, there are more comfortable cans. If the OP is willing to spend the kind of money he mentioned, he will get good sound for sure. I would then concentrate on comfort for extended listening. When I started in audio, you could audition speakers and headphones. Now it is rare to find what you are interested in in the wild.
     
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  9. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

    Messages:
    16,092
    Location:
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    I replaced the cushions on my Grado's with some from EarZonk. They are much more comfortable.

    FWIW: I like my planar phones better. I have both over the ear and IEM type. My mains are planars and have been planars or ESL's since 1976. This may help explain my preference.
     
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  10. louisjames

    louisjames The "real" Louis James Subscriber

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    1,955
    Have to agree with Woody on the Oppo's and the HiFiMan. Would also look at Audeze which is another Planar. You didn't say whether you need open or closed back which will help guide your choice. And you might want to check out the Head-Fi site. Lots of great information there since it's focused on this. Lastly, Massdrop usually has some great deals on custom designed versions of AT's, Fostex, etc. and their forums are also a good source for reviews and feedback. Of course there's always the old standby's like the Sony MDV6 and 7506 which are excellent and very affordable. But you said you wanted the best so there's a lot available at your price point.
     
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  11. the skipper

    the skipper Amateur Curmudgeon Subscriber

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    I've used both Grado SR-80's and Sennheiser 580's with both my Marantz 2230 and 2270 and both sound good, but my preference would be for the Sennheiser.
     
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  12. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan AK Member Subscriber

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    The best headphones for the OP are the best <he> thinks after <listening>. Otherwise this is just a popularity contest at worst or an opinion sampling at best. There’s no consensus on what’s best for any type of hi-fi gear.

    The opinion I trust best here so far is that of JoeESP9, not because he knows what’s best but because we share some similar tastes and I have some confidence that if he likes something I will like it too. But I know no reason for the OP to think he’ll like what I like.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
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  13. Oregonian

    Oregonian AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    172
    I'm a member of Head-Fi which is a headphone fanatic site...............have owned or auditioned over 60 pairs from $40 to $3000 and after all that trial and error found the Pioneer SE Master 1 is my all time favorite - cost was $2000. A ton of money, yes, but in the end worth it for me. I'm a bit of a basshead and they really can handle the lows as well as be exceptionally high quality overall. Plays beautifully with my Pioneer Spec system. Next up was the HiFiMan HE-6 - a very hard to drive beast that I ran straight from the speaker taps of my 250wpc Spec 2 amp and was an incredible headphone. They discontinued them and stopped supporting them which was key since they are not the best quality build...............
     
  14. virak

    virak Save the vinyl!

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    Location:
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    If open headphones isn't an issue, you might want to look into Stax earspeakers. The Lambda series are extremely comfortable.
     
  15. BMWCCA

    BMWCCA AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Virginia
    I've been using headphones since Superex was in business (still have my ST-ProB-Vs) and have auditioned cans from $15 to several thousands. I'm not sure I can count all the sets I own currently but none have made me happier than the Sennheiser HD 598 and 598SE (yeah, I own both). For the money, or even ten-times, I've not found any that can be driven as well by any source, are as comfortable, or sound any better than the HD 598. For what they cost, try them and see if you need anything any better or, like me, find contentment with them . . . and the money you'll save!

    Good luck, and enjoy the search!
     
  16. olderroust

    olderroust AK Member

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    Location:
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    I have the 598SE that I picked up for 99 bucks on sale. I keep wanting to upgrade them, and I keep not seeing the point of doing so after listening to alternatives.

    They do require a low impedance input source, though. They have a hump in their impedance response in the low frequencies of the audio band, and sound suffers if the source impedance goes above about 8-10 ohm.

    After some trial and error, I have a portable and a desktop headphone amp and they sound great with either. With both an older receiver and a much newer integrated, they sounded terrible. I measured the latter at 50 ohm output impedance.

    Some of the vintage gear has relatively high output impedance on the headphone jack; the 598s would sound super bassy on that, with very poor mids and highs. For that kind of gear, you'd want 600 ohm cans to be comfortably above the range where jack and can impedance give you problems with accurately reproducing the audio band.
     
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  17. keilau

    keilau AK Member

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    Your best bid will be a STAX SR-009 Electrostatic Earspeaker or similar which comes with its own driver unit and is driven directly by the preamplifier RCA output. As some other users already pointed out, most vintage gear do not have dedicated headphone circuit. As a result, it messes up the sound of most low impedance dynamic or planar headphones.

    If sound quality is not a concern, but convenience is, select a phone with 600 ohms or higher impedance. But since you mention "audiophile" which implies sound quality is important. A dedicated headphone amplifier would be the best economical approach. See this other thread.
    http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/in...n-reasons-for-getting-a-headphone-amp.808059/
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018
  18. audioboss

    audioboss New Member

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    4
    One of my life goals is to get a Grado. From what I've heard, they are simply amazing. I am with Igster. I'm down to pay a grand or two for these babies as well. Just need to save up :)
     
  19. olderroust

    olderroust AK Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    286 miles south of arcata
    So, the bug bit me this week and I grabbed a set of Hifiman HE-400is off of Amazon.

    An interesting thing about these planars is that they have essentially a flat impedance response across the audio band. My Senns sound terrible plugged into my receiver, and it's down to their highly variable impedance within the audio band.

    On a lark, I tried plugging the 400is into the receiver. I gotta say, I'm impressed - the problems the Senns present in that situation are GONE. Just plain gone. The 400is sound as good on that receiver as they do on a headphone amp. I may well be about to simplify the audio setup in my office a whole lot.

    Once again I'm glad I have a source selector box - much faster and more reliable than swinging plugs between sources while trying to remember what things sounded like before.
     
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  20. 50nstillhifi

    50nstillhifi Super Member

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    1,054
    Location:
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    Senheisser....

    If I got the name correct, they seem to put lots of engineering into sincere on-the-ear gear.. this is years back.
     

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