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Portable headphone angst


Beefy
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This question will probably be a bit Head-Fi-ish, but I trust you all a lot more, so I'll try my luck...... I am hoping for some input on a decent portable/travel headphone.

I have some SuperFi 5Pro, but despite trying lots of different tip options I have come to the conclusion that IEM's are not for me, so I suppose that portable closed phones are my only other option. I do already have ESW9 - pleasing tone, but they are 'slow', relatively fragile and have poor isolation. My bristly shaved head is also destroying the leather headband.

I've been looking at the Beyer DT1350 which I can get locally for CA $310. Another possible option is the venerable HD25i-II at CA $249. I was initially keen on the upcoming Sennheiser Amperior, but cost and wait time have turned me off.

Source is Nexus S with no intention of amping. Music, everything and anything. Comments, suggestions and random insults welcome! smile.png

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I use the Bose QC 15 as my travel cans. It's the one (and only so far) Bose product I've really liked. It's not closed, but is noise canceling, which is better for me, since I have young kids. Tried it out because it got the Tyll seal of approval, and I've been happy with it.

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I like the DT1350, it's as amazing as Tyll described it. The only problem I found with it was that the bass was kind of fat and lacked definition somewhat, and the midrange had a slightly "wonky" character. But these are slight reservations and I guess the bass issue is desirable in a portable headphone to compensate for external noises. BTW, the isolation is unbelieavable - you'd never guess it isolates like it does.

Speaking of portables, I now have an Edition 8 on loan, and I don't know what I think of it yet... but it has to be the most over the top portable I've ever seen!

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I use IEMs on the road most of the time, but I'm still enjoying the V-moda M80s for closed phones. Amazing control of the drivers straight out of the iphone (amp not necessary). However isolation is not the best, so... I'm probably of no use here.

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Try to find the HD25II at $149 and do an 'Amperior mod'. M80 is not shabby. QC tends to suck w/ anything labelled 'Tesla' which includes ringing and poor driver matching. Some like the BW P5 for it's colored signature. Have you tried the modded Portapros?

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I too suggest looking for a used HD25 as they come up at prices under 150$. I bought mine mint for 120$+logistics. I've been using them daily for half a year and my only gripes are as follows:

1. Cable length [for me] seems dumb. 1,5m is too short for stationary listening and a perfect length to get caught onto stuff when on the go. This is easily remedied by retermination.

2. Whilst at first the HD25 isolates quite well though in time the clamp lessens and so does the isolation. You can still bend the headband back but that is only temporary.

It's a good headphone, no doubt. However not a no-brainer it used to be.

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If you're basing your tip/fit experience on the SuperFi 5Pro you might not want to right off IEM's, they look like they're the same design as the TF10's which are notorious for fit issues. I use Westone 4's with Comply P series tips and the fit is great.

If I remember correctly, you're in Halifax, if you ever make it over to PEI you're welcome to try them out.

Edited by elnero
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Very disappointed at the lack of random insults. You are all way too helpful! :)

My main reservation with the HD-25 is that I have frequently seen them described as forward and a bit harsh in the highs. That sounds exactly how people describe the Alessandro MS-1, which I bought but ended up not liking very much. From all reports the DT1350 (and the Amperior) are perhaps a little warmer with more forgiving treble.

The V-Moda is an interesting option, but I would definitely prefer to take a step up in isolation over the ESW9, rather than sideways.

Bose...... even if they came with free handy j's, I don't know if I could jump that particular mental hurdle......

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I second the Comply tip suggestion. I had just about given up on IEMs due to comfort (they literally made my ears swell up shut after a long listening session) but Comply tips work well, so I'd suggest grabbing something that they fit on and seeing how that works out first. IEMs are simply so much easier to carry around and more practical than any portable headphones that if you find one that works well for you, it's worth it for the practicality advantages alone.

I wish I could be as enthusiastic about sound quality though. I prefer the UM3x over the W4 but neither is close to the level I'm looking for, though they certainly aren't bad. The only universal-fit portable headphone I like sonically is the Stax SR-001, but it's far from comfortable and offers no isolation. I think if you want quality sound AND quality comfort, it's customs or bust.

Are headphones like the Amperior or DT1350 better than the current crop of top-level universal-fit IEMs sonically?

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Go win a JH-16 in a raffle.

Yeah, I haven't considered the Orpheus or R-10 either. I'll check into that.

Re: the IEMs, I haven't tried the Comply tips, but I do use the Shure black foamies. These are much better than the Super Fi tips, but still not great.

Are headphones like the Amperior or DT1350 better than the current crop of top-level universal-fit IEMs sonically?

I dunno, comparisons are hard to find. I haven't really seen the buzz on Head-Fi cross over between the two worlds.

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Speaking of the SR-001, word 'round the campfire is that Stax are developing a new amp for it. Would that they developed new eartips for it as well. If not for the comfort, I'd use it everywhere.

Of course I've yet to experiment with using other tips on it but the shape is strange and I doubt there's much out there that would fit.

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Are headphones like the Amperior or DT1350 better than the current crop of top-level universal-fit IEMs sonically?

I think I'd say so. I recently had a Westone UM3X and a Shure SE535 on loan, had an SE530 and Senn IE8 for a long time and have a Sony EX1000 now. They all have somewhat major flaws that keep them from being very good all-rounders, something that many portables headphone tend to accomplish much more easily in my experience, even if they're less stellar in what they do well.

For example, the UM3X has a good tonal balance but really weird mid-bass bump that gets in the way of the mids and makes them sound very muffled, the SE535 and SE530 have extremely good bass and nice, sweet mids but critical treble extension, the IE8 very good soundstage but completely overwhelming mid-bass hump and the EX1000 is really sweet and airy but gets weird on the highs, which can be piercing. So the thing is that to me they all have their advantages, but IME they're all seriously lacking in some areas, and none does all genres as well as, say, a DT1350 or a HD-25 II (P5 not so much I think, it can be way too mellow). If you want a do-it-all IEM, you have to go custom.

I think portable headphones seem to have smaller flaws somehow, obviouly they have their problems, but to me they seem much less critical, and they're also less expensive than IEMs. But, of course, YMMV.

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Philips Fidelio L1 could be worth checking out. B&W P5 comes to mind, too. For a super portable IEM, check out the Klipsch Image x10. I love that headphone.

And JH16.

I love my Klipsch X10 too!

I like the x10 but I think quality control had gone down a bit and I would be reluctant to buy another. My current pair breaks up sometimes when I wiggle the cord.

Edited by shellylh
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Yeah, I haven't considered the Orpheus or R-10 either. I'll check into that.

:)

Comply foamy has been working really well for me. So if you're looking into iems, I'd definitely get some. Get the pack with 3 different sizes though, I got all mediums on the first try, and I think I could use one size larger.

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Very disappointed at the lack of random insults. You are all way too helpful! :)

My main reservation with the HD-25 is that I have frequently seen them described as forward and a bit harsh in the highs. That sounds exactly how people describe the Alessandro MS-1, which I bought but ended up not liking very much. From all reports the DT1350 (and the Amperior) are perhaps a little warmer with more forgiving treble.

The V-Moda is an interesting option, but I would definitely prefer to take a step up in isolation over the ESW9, rather than sideways.

Bose...... even if they came with free handy j's, I don't know if I could jump that particular mental hurdle......

Yup, I've often said the HD-25 II are like a closed MS-1. They are efficient and and isolate well, and are fairly portable to boot, but they can be a little harsh at times. We got ours from buy.com for $99 a while back, and I wouldn't pay over $150 for a set. I gave mine to my son, after I got tired of them. I'm using the Shure SRH-840 for isolation instead, but they're not very portable, although a bit better sounding.

I don't have a lot of portable phones that isolate from the outside, but my ESW-10 JPN sound fantastic and don't leak to the outside world. The ATH ANC-7 do noise canceling very well, and sound good as long as the battery is strong, and they're very portable, but non-droning outside noises get in pretty easily. I heard the DT-1350 at RMAF breifly, and if you get the positioning right they're NOT bad at all (edit - autocorrect made it look like I said the opposite), but for the sound I didn't want to spend that much money. The V-moda M80 are a better bang for the buck (also sampled at RMAF briefly).

As for better sound quality, a better IEM might give you a better bang for the buck. An X10, Monster Turbine Pro Gold/Copper, Triple.fi 10 pro, UM3X, Westone 4 (or most other top notch BA IEM) will isolate well and give you pretty good sound. The Fisher Audio DBA-02 sound like the Westone 2, and both might be a consideration, while the Sleek SA-6 sounded kinda dull to me, and more like a Westone 1.

Edited by HeadphoneAddict
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