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  • kose
  • [*]
Analytical headphone + dac&amp
I am looking for analytical/non-colored/studio headphones (semi-open or closed) and dac+amp. The max I am willing to spend is 1200€, but I do not want to max out if there is no substantial benefit compared to cheaper options.

Based on many opinions I have read, it appears DT880 (600 ohms in particular) is the most recommended for what I am looking for. My only concern is that it was released 12 years ago and I am surprised that no other better headphones were release until then. I am not a fan of non-detachable audio cable, but that a minor thing.

I have tried analyzing frequency response charts for DT880 and other contenders that got very positive reviews for being analytical. Apart from Sony, I do not see why one from that list would be better than another, even if compared to HD800. I am not sure how people make definitive conclusions just by looking at these charts: http://graphs.headphone.com/index.php?graphID%5B0%5D=2751&graphID%5B1%5D=853&graphID%5B2%5D=703&graphID%5B3%5D=2361&scale=30&graphType=0&buttonSelection=Update+Graph

As for dac+amp, I do not need any extra features apart from USB in, analog out and a volume knob. It looks like it is not the right time to buy a dac as manufacturers are just starting to adopt ES9028/ES9038 and there is not much to choose from. I have picked quite an unusual device – HUD-DX1. On paper, when op-amps are replaced and when proper power is used it should be analytical enough to get most out of DT880.

Please let me know what you think of my choice. Can you offer me anything better for the money I have?

  • KozmoNaut
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Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #1
The DT880 is great, and it certainly wasn't released only 12 years ago. The first DT880 left the factory in 1980, and it's been a highly regarded mainstay for studio use and hi-fi ever since.

As for the DAC+amp, don't get sucked into fancy hype about specific chipsets and such. Get a good value setup like an O2+ODAC from JDS Labs or something similar. And forget all about opamp rolling and "cleaner power", it's audiophool nonsense.

  • DVDdoug
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Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #2
Quote
My only concern is that it was released 12 years ago and I am surprised that no other better headphones were release until then.
Speaker & headphone technology hasn't changed much in maybe 40-50 years or more.   A basic dynamic driver design uses a magnet, voice coil, and cone/diaphragm.  There are some "new" materials, but the basic design is the same.

The most recent "innovation" is speaker design is the use of computer algorithms (maybe in the 1980s?) to apply the Thiele-
Small parameters to predict bass response.    That doesn't necessarily make a better speaker, but it makes it easier to design a good speaker because it takes less trial-and-error.  But, that doesn't apply to headphones.

Quote
The max I am willing to spend is 1200€,
That's a lot!   There are some really good headphones starting in the $200 - $300 USD price range and in a "blind" listening test you might prefer something more affordable.    Above a certain price range, it becomes largely a matter of taste & preference (and comfort, style, prestige, etc.).       Because of the way they interact with the ear, headphones are hard to measure (and different labs/manufacturers may get different results) it can be hard to objectively say, "A is better than B".   (Most "audiophiles" will agree that the most expensive headphone sounds best!   :D )

Quote
I am looking for analytical/non-colored/studio headphones
I don't like the term "analytical" because it's one of those audiophile terms that's hard to define in real meaningful-measureable factors of frequency response or distortion.  But, "non-colored" is OK.  
  • Last Edit: 27 June, 2017, 02:37:07 PM by DVDdoug

  • kose
  • [*]
Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #3
The DT880 is great, and it certainly wasn't released only 12 years ago. The first DT880 left the factory in 1980
I could be wrong, but the latest revision of it that is currently being sold was released in 2005.

And forget all about opamp rolling and "cleaner power", it's audiophool nonsense.
As I understand some op-amps distorts/colors signal more than others and 5€ wall charger will not be a good choice, not that I am going to invest a lot in "clean power", but I guess it needs to be decent.

Speaker & headphone technology hasn't changed much in maybe 40-50 years or more.
That is a valid point. However, I believe there is still a room for innovation. We see how Sennheiser, a well respected company among professionals, releases new products and there other well respected companies that do the same. I doubt that their new products are the same in terms of quality.

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The max I am willing to spend is 1200€,
That's a lot!
Not that much when I see prices of m920, DAC3 or SR-009 :).

Actually, I would be willing to know, which headphones are being used by professionals to master records in the biggest studios worldwide. I was surprised when I found out that famous Abbey Road recording studio is apparently using the old DT102:


  • saratoga
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Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #4
As I understand some op-amps distorts/colors signal more than others and 5€ wall charger will not be a good choice, not that I am going to invest a lot in "clean power", but I guess it needs to be decent.

I use $20 wall warts with multi-thousand dollar RF amps.  They're recommended by the manufacturer.  Any amp power supply needs to be reliable, but a quality device should not be influenced whatsoever by the power supply, except in the event that it catches fire.  The voltage out should be regulated and filtered on device anyway, otherwise you are going to have problems.

  • kose
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Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #5
The voltage out should be regulated and filtered on device anyway, otherwise you are going to have problems.
I agree with you, but it would be hard to expect to get proper implementation of regulation and filtering in couple hundred $/€ amplifier.

  • KozmoNaut
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Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #6
And forget all about opamp rolling and "cleaner power", it's audiophool nonsense.
As I understand some op-amps distorts/colors signal more than others and 5€ wall charger will not be a good choice, not that I am going to invest a lot in "clean power", but I guess it needs to be decent.

The rub here is that the circuits are designed around the characteristics of particular opamps, so by switching them out, the results can be extremely unpredictable.

Quote
Actually, I would be willing to know, which headphones are being used by professionals to master records in the biggest studios worldwide. I was surprised when I found out that famous Abbey Road recording studio is apparently using the old DT102:

Yes, because they work. Of course they do look rather old-fashioned, but it's the sound quality that matters. And the fact that the sound engineers have lots of experience with the sound signature of that particular headphone, letting them achieve consistent results.

Also, I would assume they use the DT100, as the DT102 is a one-ear model ;-)

The voltage out should be regulated and filtered on device anyway, otherwise you are going to have problems.
I agree with you, but it would be hard to expect to get proper implementation of regulation and filtering in couple hundred $/€ amplifier.

Why would that be? It's not particularly expensive to implement decent regulation and filtering.
  • Last Edit: 28 June, 2017, 03:25:30 AM by KozmoNaut

Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #7
I am looking for analytical/non-colored/studio headphones (semi-open or closed) and dac+amp.

The answer is here: https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,114222.msg940869.html#msg940869

  • saratoga
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Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #8
The voltage out should be regulated and filtered on device anyway, otherwise you are going to have problems.
I agree with you, but it would be hard to expect to get proper implementation of regulation and filtering in couple hundred $/€ amplifier.

These things cost about a few dollars and are present on amps that cost far less than a few hundred.  If I had spent that much on an amp, and found it was so poorly dhttps://hydrogenaud.io/index.php?action=post;topic=114261.0;last_msg=941246esigned, I would return it and buy a better device.
  • Last Edit: 29 June, 2017, 12:49:58 PM by saratoga

Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #9
The voltage out should be regulated and filtered on device anyway, otherwise you are going to have problems.
I agree with you, but it would be hard to expect to get proper implementation of regulation and filtering in couple hundred $/€ amplifier.

That is only true if you believe high end audio propaganda. 

Power supplies for line-level equipment became pretty trivial for all but the most picky gear when they invented the "jelly bean" IC regulator chip. They currently cost pennies, are endemic, and represent performance that was just plain generally unobtainable back in the days of tubes or early SS. 

Power supplies for power amps haven't changed a lot over the years.  Both benefit from the fact that modern chips and discrete designs  generally have massive amounts of power supply rejection, so even if you ran them off of poorly-filtered AC, they'd be subjectively quiet. 

Finally, the cost, size and performance of the lowly electrolytic capacitor has improved by about half an order of magnitude, and that makes even overbuilt power supplies very practical and cheap. 
 
One trend is replacement of laminated iron core power transformers with switchmode power supplies that further shrink the size, weight and cost of power supplies even further.  While the golden ears may rant and rave, if you check out a typical a/v production facility, the place is crawling with them.

Ironically a lot of legacy LPs  CDs have little birdies singing in the background due to EMI from display and power supply switching circuits that in those days, ran at frequencies in the normal audio band. You can find them with a FFT even if they are too small and too high to hear.  Displays and switchmode power  now typically runs well above the audible range.

 What golden ear reviewer ranted and raved about the interference that we can now see was there,  back in the day, and then it was in the audio band!  

Most high end audio reviewer  concern about power supply design and build quality is hype, plain and simple. A DBT or two would straighten them out, but of course suggesting such a thing just starts the ignorant pontification mills.

Bottom line, most engineers are more worried about the possibility of ultrasonic oscillations in amplifier circuits due to inadequate bypassing then brute-force power supply design.

  • eric.w
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Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #10
The Sennheiser HD-600 may be more neutral out-of-the-box, if you assume either of these sites have the right target frequency response curve:
Goldenears:
HD-600: http://en.goldenears.net/8072
DT-880: http://en.goldenears.net/11302

Speakerphone:
HD-600: https://clarityfidelity.blogspot.ca/2016/04/sennheiser-hd-600-over-ear-headphones.html?view=sidebar (check the Harman compensated graph)

  • kose
  • [*]
Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #11
I have spent quite a lot of time lately reading headphone reviews, forums and journals. Unfortunately, the more I was reading the less it was obvious what to choose. I am sure I could spend months trying to find a definitive answer what is the best, but most likely I would not succeed. For example, if I took DT880 I would end up wondering why I did not go with HD800, and if I chose HD800 I would wonder why I did not go with electrostatic headphones. Therefore, I need to settle down and stop wasting my time and I believe the best way of doing it is to go to another direction. I will be buying near field studio monitors instead as they should outperform headphones in the same price range. I have picked Genelec (8030C to be exact) as they are recognized to be industry standard. As for the DAC, I am thinking about Roland Super UA. It is not very popular model and it is now discontinued (hence, you can get it for under 200€), it does not have XMOS, femto clocks, analog volume control and it uses old DAC IC, but strangely enough I still think it could be a great match for Genelec monitors.

As an alternative, I am thinking about Genelec monitors with digital inputs and using something like Matrix X-SPDIF 2, but that would cost much more and I am not sure about the added benefits.

If I feel the need for headphones after purchasing studio monitors, I will go with DT880 together with Sonarworks calibration software.

Please, tell me what you think about my current decision.

That is only true if you believe high end audio propaganda.
I am sure that good quality SMPS can be built, otherwise we would not see them being used in oscilloscopes, some of which could cost hundreds of thousands of $/€, and they could not tolerate any kind of noise in their analog front end.

I do not know if jelly bean ICs can easily filter out any type of noise introduced by a cheap and low quality power supply. I have not enough technical background to argue on this subject, so I will have to take your word for this.

The Sennheiser HD-600 may be more neutral out-of-the-box
HD600 graph in Goldenears looks too good to be true. Here is a comparison done in HeadRoom:

Re: Analytical headphone + dac&amp
Reply #12
The Sennheiser HD-600 may be more neutral out-of-the-box, if you assume either of these sites have the right target frequency response curve:
Goldenears:
HD-600: http://en.goldenears.net/8072
DT-880: http://en.goldenears.net/11302

Speakerphone:
HD-600: https://clarityfidelity.blogspot.ca/2016/04/sennheiser-hd-600-over-ear-headphones.html?view=sidebar (check the Harman compensated graph)

Just to reiterate, if you have some effective means for equalizing headphones, the smoothness of the response curve and its power bandwidth (not shown by most tests) are the most important things.

Reasonable sized ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and general trends don't matter.

This is good, because many of those things depend on the geometry of the individual's outer and inner ear.

If you don't equalize your headphones, it appears to me that you are majoring in minors. Chasing a phantom.