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#1993844 - 12/02/12 07:46 PM HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano.
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Hello everyone.

I have recently been doing research on headphones in general and would like to buy a nice pair soon to use at night with my digital piano (Roland KR-7).

I'm a 'bang for the buck' type of guy and would like to purchase a quality set of headphones without breaking the bank. I want something with very good quality, just not at the granular level where the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

My research has led me to these choices:

1.) Sennheiser 600/650
2.) Beyerdynamics DT880 (250 ohms).

My question is, after reading several threads, some say that a much cheaper pair of headphones would actually sound better on a digital piano since they may not add any extra 'color' to the sound. That the acoustic sample used on a digital sounds muffled and not as crisp/clear when using better headphones. Not sure if this is true.

Also, I couldn't find anywhere what ohms recommended headphones to use with my digital. I can't find the power output of the headphone amp. The manual says the piano consumes 105 watts of power but doesn't say what ohm headphones to use.

I've read that 600 ohms headphones sound fantastic but need a dedicated amp to adequately power them to their fullest potential and I'm not sure if my digital can properly power them with whatever amp it is using.

I'm asking your advice as to what headphones you would suggest in my situation. I don't want to get the wrong pair.

Thanks in advance.

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#1993857 - 12/02/12 08:37 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
o0Ampy0o Offline
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Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 473
Originally Posted By: Mr Super-Hunky
My research has led me to these choices:

1.) Sennheiser 600/650
2.) Beyerdynamics DT880 (250 ohms).

I have a pair of the Sennheiser HD 600s and they work fine with an iPod and a computer. They do not require nor benefit significantly from a headphone amp. Headphone amps just boost volume. Any EQ is separate. You just get a louder version of what they offer without an amp. They do not really expand or bloom from the use of one.

Originally Posted By: Mr Super-Hunky
My question is, after reading several threads, some say that a much cheaper pair of headphones would actually sound better on a digital piano since they may not add any extra 'color' to the sound. That the acoustic sample used on a digital sounds muffled and not as crisp/clear when using better headphones. Not sure if this is true.

Not sure how accurate that description is. The less expensive headphones color the sound more often than the high-end. Usually there is extra bass.

The Sennheiser HD-600's sound is relatively neutral/flat and they accept EQ well. They present a large audio spacial landscape. The sound is not right up against your ears. When listening for longer periods this is an advantage. I also use them for playing electric guitar through software and this is significant. Sometimes I have been surprised at the illusion of a room. Using something at the other end of this spectrum would be claustrophobic and stuffy.

They are also physically comfortable although they are a snug fit. The ear cups are large and accommodate big ears. The snugness benefits the sound as it assists bass and distributes some weight to the pads instead of the band over the top of your head. I have the older 580s as well and although loser the weight shifted to the band makes them less comfortable.



Edited by o0Ampy0o (12/02/12 08:46 PM)

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#1993878 - 12/02/12 09:19 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
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Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Thanks o0Ampy0o. It's good to know that a 300 ohm(Seinheisser HD 600) headphone will sound good just plugged in to the digital without a dedicated amp.

I'm still curious however if this is true with say the Beyerdynamics DT-880 which comes in a 600 ohm version. I'd want to know because if I were to get the Beyerdynamics phones, I have the option of either 250 or 600 ohms. I'm not sure if the digital can power the 600. The 250 probably no problem.

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#1993908 - 12/02/12 10:31 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 473
Why would you want the 600ohm over the 250ohm version?

Are you going to use them for a high-end stereo system or in a professional recording environment?

250ohms is technically still in the high impedance range. Generally a higher impedance will stave off more distortion from a crappy source but at the cost of volume. With the source being a digital piano you are dealing with a simple headphone output. There is not going to be an advantage choosing the 600 over the 250ohm version in this case.

A couple of sources for general information on impedance here and Wikipedia


Edited by o0Ampy0o (12/02/12 10:49 PM)

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#1993916 - 12/02/12 10:53 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: o0Ampy0o]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Originally Posted By: o0Ampy0o
Why would you want the 600ohm over the 250ohm version?

Are you going to use them for a high-end stereo system or in a professional recording environment?




Actually yes. I have a high power stereo that can push the 600 ohms headphones that I'd like to use with headphones as well as the digital piano. I guess it makes no sense to get the 600 ohm pair when both the stereo and the digital can power the 250-300 ohm pair. Since that seems to be the case, I'll stick with the 250/300 ohm level.

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#1993920 - 12/02/12 10:58 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
o0Ampy0o Offline
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Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 473
Either that or you would need to get a headphone amp for the piano.

This would allow you to use the 600s if they were of benefit to you elsewhere.

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#1993921 - 12/02/12 11:00 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Yes true. Thanks for the info and input.

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#1993922 - 12/02/12 11:03 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 473
I used to have a very nice sound system that was soothing to listen to. Now listening to anything is more of a utility than true pleasure. I have considered acquiring another high-end system but the selection seems to have shrunk and been pinched to become exotic and outrageously costly.

Maybe I just have not been able to locate good sources?


Edited by o0Ampy0o (12/02/12 11:03 PM)

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#1993948 - 12/03/12 01:14 AM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
gvfarns Offline
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Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3484
Loc: Pennsylvania
It is not the case that the only effect of using high impedance headphones with cheap amps is in the volume. It affects the frequency response and character of the resulting sound. High end headphones like this are carefully calibrated to a reference amp (or set of amps) to produce the response that is desired. If you deviate from this, you will perturb the sound. It may or may not be audible or detrimental.

Having said that, my experience is that most DP's have pretty good headphone amps for driving pro-level headphones. Of course, I really have only played pretty good stage pianos, which are probably set up for this.

Plug your headphones into several different amps and you will find that they sound different in each one. Though you may find, as I have, that it's not clear which is "best."


Edited by gvfarns (12/03/12 01:15 AM)

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#1993960 - 12/03/12 02:21 AM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: gvfarns]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 473
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
It is not the case that the only effect of using high impedance headphones with cheap amps is in the volume. It affects the frequency response and character of the resulting sound. High end headphones like this are carefully calibrated to a reference amp (or set of amps) to produce the response that is desired. If you deviate from this, you will perturb the sound. It may or may not be audible or detrimental.

Having said that, my experience is that most DP's have pretty good headphone amps for driving pro-level headphones. Of course, I really have only played pretty good stage pianos, which are probably set up for this.

Plug your headphones into several different amps and you will find that they sound different in each one. Though you may find, as I have, that it's not clear which is "best."

I did not mention a lot of things. For the sake of providing a simple response regarding this context of using headphones for an in-home digital piano I provided a response as it applied to his initial request and referred the OP to details in two links. Volume would be the most significant difference when comparing the Beyerdynamics DT880 at 250ohms and 600ohms plugged into the same digital piano. I should have stressed given the source being a digital piano there is not going to be enough information in the signal to make a noticeable difference. I doubt there would be any benefit perceived going with the 600ohms version in this case.


Edited by o0Ampy0o (12/03/12 02:51 AM)

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#1993971 - 12/03/12 03:41 AM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
spanishbuddha Offline
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Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2423
Loc: UK
There have been several threads in the past about headphones, and of course everyone comes up with their favourite, and different ones. Me? AKG K240 Mk2.

Discussion as above has been around loudness and matching impedance, but also earbuds versus over the ear, but more relevant open or closed. Closed has the advantage to some of reducing any noise from the keyboard, but they tend to be less comfortable and suffer somewhat with frequency response compared to open.

I dont have experience with the two you mention, but in my experience it is cheaper phones that colour the sound, either boosting the bass for use with modern pop style music, or clouding the highs because they just don't have the response.

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#1994012 - 12/03/12 07:31 AM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Dave Horne Offline
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Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5281
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Here's some general information which may help in choosing headphones regarding their impedance ...

From

http://www.akg.com/site/product_tipps/powerslave,id,35,nodeid,2,_language,EN.html


Headphones impedance

The two important electrical specifications for a pair of headphones are the impedance of the phone transducer itself and its on-the-ear sensitivity.

So-called low impedance headphones may vary from 75 ohms up to about 150 ohms. Phones in this impedance range may be directly plugged into the headphone jack routinely found on recording and playback equipment. Higher impedances, such as 600 ohms, are more useful in studio installations where many units may be wired in parallel for studio monitoring applications.
Headphone sensitivity is usually stated as the in-the-ear sound pressure level produced by one milliwatt (mW) of audio input. Typical sensitivity ratings of AKG headphones run from 88 dB per mW to 105 dB per mW. You can see that very little power is needed to drive a stereo headphone pair to very high listening levels.

Doing a little bit of math will show that a signal of .775 Vrms will produce one mW in a 600 ohm load. That same signal will produce 8 mW in a 75 ohm load, a difference of about 9 dB. So it is clear that 600 ohm phones and the lower impedance models should not be intermixed in the same application. The 600-ohm models are more rugged than low impedance models in that the higher resistance coils are less susceptible to burn out than low impedance models.
To produce 200 mW in a 600-ohm load a signal of 11 V is needed. This shows that the advantage of high impedance headphones is that they can be used with almost any amplifier output without any risk of being damaged by overload, and you can connect up to 10 or more pairs to the same output. However, they may be not loud enough with some portable recording devices.
Low impedance headphones will sound louder with devices with low output voltages such as portable MD recorders etc., you cannot use more than one pair of headphones at the same output simultaneously.



Edited by Dave Horne (12/03/12 07:31 AM)
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#1994017 - 12/03/12 07:40 AM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
EssBrace Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2423
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
Headphones is a topic covered many times. Here are my thoughts:

For playing a DP once a certain quality level has been reached the single most important consideration is physical comfort.

You can't go wrong with Sennheiser HD600s. I use AKG-701s and they are wonderful.

Another point - ensure that cabling and ear pads are replaceable at sensible cost. This really means detachable cable(s). The cable and the pads are the two wearing parts of a headphone. As far as ear pads are concerned avoid leather/faux leather and go for fabric/velour to minimise sweating.

Open headphones give a better sense of ambience and space than closed although good closed headphones can be very good indeed. Open headphones leak much more sound so consider the potential for disturbing others. I would not recommend in-ear types for use with DPs - they create a mechanical noise through their cable (due to the tight fit of the ear-buds the cable is not decoupled from your ears) that is very disturbing - although they isolate external sound very well.

If you want a dual-purpose headphone (for DP and hi-fi) then go for highish impedance (but I would stick at the 250 level rather than risk the DP not being able to drive 600ohms).

Last word of advice - you've got to hear/wear these things rather than buy on others' recommendations. This is as applicable to the concept of physical comfort as much as, if not more so than, sonic quality. Anyone that tells you that cheap headphones will sound better with a DP (or 'phones made by the same manufacturer as the DP for instance) is wrong in my opinion. You get what you pay for.

Good luck in your search.

Steve
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#1994035 - 12/03/12 08:49 AM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Dave Horne Offline
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Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5281
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Do you think it's time we created a FAQ or a sticky thread covering the basics of headphones since we keep saying the same things over and over?
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#1994041 - 12/03/12 09:13 AM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
EssBrace Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2423
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
Agreed. It seems to come up often.
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#1994122 - 12/03/12 12:23 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
fanord Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/11
Posts: 46
I believe that you might want to think some closed back headphones as well. The nice thing with closed back is that the mechanical noise from the keys you are pressing cannot be heard (at least it's much quieter). I use both: open (Sennheiser HD 650) and closed (Bose QC-15). I love them both for playing my DP (Nord Stage 2).

I suggest you try a couple headphones. Ideally try open and closed ones. You may find that closed back design works better for you because of the reduced mechanical noise coming from hitting the keyboard.
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#1994181 - 12/03/12 02:51 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: fanord]
Temperament Offline
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Registered: 09/19/10
Posts: 424
Loc: Hun,EU
I have the Sennheiser HD-650, and recently I had the opportunity to compare it with a HD-800 head-to-head smile. It was a day and night difference! (To all of them in that price range of the HD650; the HD-800 costs 1000 EUR, the others I compared about one third-one half of it).

But sometimes I use my very simple old Sennheiser PX-100, which is while not that detailed, is not a bad mix. I am just wondering whether too detailed sound reproduction could be too revealing for a not always perfect sound path with current DPs and a good balanced modest one could be beneficially smoothing out too much details. (My Audio Interface is EMU-0404USB).

The normal LineOut of the 0404USB produces a better quality sound with my HD650 than the phone amplifier output, just weaker, I have to turn volume up to 90%-100%.

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#1994184 - 12/03/12 03:08 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
ap55 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 79
Loc: Germany, Bremen
I have the shure srh850 with my HP505 and I often wonder if I hear the sound via headphone or via the build in speakers. It is a clear and authentic sound. Recommendation from my side, but I can't compare to the 600 and DT880.
ap55

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#1994190 - 12/03/12 03:22 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Thanks again for all the great responses.

The reasons I bring up a topic that seems to be covered often is because a multitude of these topics usually focus on personal preferences, comfort and sound signature. Obviously, all very important.

My question is about compatibility with various power sources however. I know the 100 watt (into 4 channels, 200 watts per channel) stereo amp will power 600 ohm headphones nicely. From what I've read, the 600 ohm version of headphones have the ability to sound the best as well (better than 250/300 ohms or the 30 ohm pair) when properly powered with a dedicated amp. I still don't know (technically) if my Roland has the ability to power 600 ohm headphones sufficiently. All kinds of common sense says to just buy the Sennheisser HD 600 or 650s and be done with it because at 300 ohms, they will work and sound great on both the home stereo AND the digital piano.

The genetically inherited technical trait that I have (which almost NEVER gets expressed!) is just curious (and interested) in the whole ohm/compatibility thing.

I'd go as far to say that even though the subject of headphones comes up a lot, I'd bet a lot of people have no idea about the compatibility of their power source and the ohm range of headphones they use with it. Of course the Gurus do, but that's not who I'm talking about. They either just luck out and it works OR they are not realizing their best potential in terms of matching the power source and the cans.

Doing just a bit of research can clear this issue up for me as well as others.

EssBrace, I especially liked your basic overview of headphone design and differences amongst them. I found that very helpful.

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#1994191 - 12/03/12 03:24 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
EssBrace Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2423
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
Originally Posted By: Mr Super-Hunky
EssBrace, I especially liked your basic overview of headphone design and differences amongst them. I found that very helpful.


I just knew I was going to be useful today - it doesn't happen often!

Cheers,

Steve
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#1994666 - 12/04/12 01:51 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Radion Romanovich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/11
Posts: 39
And when do you draw the line between the pleasure of nuances and disgust on the artificiality of sound? I've already read in this forum that some people actually don't recommend getting super high-end headphones because they might render the worst audible aspects of your DP's output. I'm talking specifically about DPs on-board sounds, not software pianos, so, when do you draw the line? Which models/specs would you suggest?

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#1994668 - 12/04/12 01:55 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
ap55 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 79
Loc: Germany, Bremen
Superhunky,
I think its good that a lot of players have no idea on the electromechanical impedance compatibility of their headphone. Technically you are right to look a bit on this property. You can have power matching for the impedance, where you get out with the maximum power/loudness of the headphone speaker. This is the case if impedance of the speaker is the same as the amplifier out. You can pick up these values in the manuals, certainly. You might also consider a headphone of much higher impedance than your amplifier output, going the risk that the max loudness is not sufficient for the advantage that the speaker itself is more damped by the amp impedance and therefore will follow more the signals coming from the amp. However this is a complex system, and depending on the layout of the headphone you might have a good result from this damping or you will dislike the higher damping. The best way is certainly to test it out.

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#1994692 - 12/04/12 03:30 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: ap55]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Originally Posted By: ap55
Superhunky,
The best way is certainly to test it out.


Agreed, but unfortunately (for many), not an option. I'm not sure who to blame for this (not Wal-Mart, at least not on this product) but there is literally no place to go to listen to several tier 1 headphones(HD-800, T1, etc) or tier 2 headphones (HD-600/650, DT-880, AGK 701) side by side anywhere around us.

I'm having to end up watching a bunch of 14 yo kids in their bedrooms on Youtube do an 'unboxing' in which the glossiness of the nice shiny box is part of the review!....nuff said!

I'm going to have to trust other peoples opinions which is always a great way to get chocolate ice cream when you really wanted vanilla!

Anyway, I'm getting closer to making a decision. FWIW, I like a slightly 'colored' representaion with just a hint of heightened bass and treble representing a slight "V" as opposed to linear. This is why I am leaning more towards the Senn HD-650 or Beyer DT-880. Although, the HD-600 would probably work out better being a bit flatter on the digital piano.

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#1994709 - 12/04/12 04:39 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5281
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
If your piano can drive the HD 650, go for it. If it can't, be sure to know what the return policy is.

I use the HD 598 and while I'm sure the HD 650 is even more refined, I opted for the lower impedance.
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#1994732 - 12/04/12 06:18 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Dave, I just checked the specs and reviews of the Senn HD-598 and it appears to be very similar to the HD-600. The pro reviews say they are just a tad brighter in the high end but with a much larger sound stage. But as you mentioned, they ARE a lot less power demanding with a rating of 50 Ohms.

For just over $200 bucks, and a VERY compatible Ohm rating of 50 Ohms (for use w/ a digital), this may possibly be the best 'bang for the buck' pair of headphones for use with a digital piano you can get. The only reason I would still consider the HD-650s is for the extra bass and treble when using with my high power stereo receiver. If the Roland KR-7 can't power the 300 Ohm headphones properly then I'll just buy a headphone amp.

Wait, forget that. No I won't. Because if I do, I'll be headed down the same path as a lot of you guys with separate (dedicated) headphones for different music genres, dedicated amps, special cables, etc. I'll go broke faster than I can save up the money to buy this stuff!

The 50 Ohm 598s makes a lot of dollars and cents!

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#1994733 - 12/04/12 06:25 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3484
Loc: Pennsylvania
Yeah, the 598 (and previous 595) are some of the most popular headphones in this forum. I have the 595's and they are great. The only beef I have is that the 595's were cheaper than the new 598's even though the only difference between the two are cosmetic.

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#1994746 - 12/04/12 07:25 PM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
gvfarms, I just checked Amazon. HD-598s are just over $200. The $595s are.........

......wait for it........... $528.00! + $15 shipping.

I'll stick with the ivory set at a $300 savings. Something must be wrong.

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#1994881 - 12/05/12 05:18 AM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Vectistim Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 317
Loc: Reading, UK
I bought my 598s in pristine condition still with their box etc, second hand on ebay - might be worth a look.

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#1994887 - 12/05/12 05:38 AM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5281
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I feel compelled to state this ... again.

Find the best price online (including shipping) and then go to your local audio store and ask if they will match your price.

It's the local stores that let you take a set of headphones home for a day or two to try out, that's been my personal experience.
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#1995006 - 12/05/12 11:48 AM Re: HEADPHONES....What to consider when using w/ digital piano. [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3484
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Mr Super-Hunky
gvfarms, I just checked Amazon. HD-598s are just over $200. The $595s are.........

......wait for it........... $528.00! + $15 shipping.

I'll stick with the ivory set at a $300 savings. Something must be wrong.


I think the 595's are discontinued, so this is an example of the amazon markup of discontinued products that was just mentioned in a different thread. I paid $120 for mine.


Edited by gvfarns (12/05/12 11:49 AM)

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