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Old 02-06-2011, 10:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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New to the World of Audiophilia

I've always appreciated good music. Recently, I've learned that what I know about music is like a snowflake on the tip of an iceberg. My friend just gave me a lot of good music, ranging everything from indie to metal to classical to electronica and even a little country and rap. Many, many, many good bands that a lot of people have never heard of. Shame really...

Anyway, now that I've got all that good music to listen to, I need better way to listen to it. I've got some Klipsch speakers on my computer, and a few good songs in FLAC format, so that's an improvement over stock. Now I need more!

With that, I've got a few questions:

Firstly, I'm looking into a good set of headphones. Over the ear, passive noise cancellation, and affordable (up to $300, preferably). I don't need active, as I like to listen to music in my room or while traveling, and there's usually not a lot of noise to cancel out. However, I don't know what makes a set of headphones "good," per se, but I'd like to learn. My friend can get me a good deal on Bowers and Wilkins P5's, but I'm hearing a lot of reviews saying they don't sound as good as they cost. However, they seem to be really comfortable and well-built, but it's the sound that matters to me. Comfort would be nice, though...

Secondly, I'm wondering about iPods and other portable players. Say I've got a good set of 'phones. Would the player itself limit the quality of music? I know it's MP3, so at least it's a level playing field in that regard. I guess I'm wondering, will one brand of portable player sound better than the other? I've got an old iPod Video, and I'd like to not replace it if I don't have to.

Lastly (at the moment, anyway), what musical files should I look out for, and what makes them good? My friend told me about FLAC, and how it's superior to MP3 as it's a lossless audio file. However, I don't understand all this nonsense about compression and whatnot.
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Last edited by Magoo; 02-06-2011 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Man! Me too.. Just a few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to hook up these really nice bose speakers (made in the 80s) that have been laying around and purchased an Onkyo a/v receiver. I've never owned something that sounded so good!

So now I'm bitten by the bug... Looking at building my first subwoofer. Please, Jesus, can you give me some MORE expensive hobbies?!?

/thread jack.

Wish I could give you some good advice... The only thing I know that's fairly common knowledge is that Ipods, specifically, have really crappy audio hardware. If you're looking for an audiophilic device, I'm sure there are players that cater to that.
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:30 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Most MP3 players (besides high end models like the Hifiman) have pretty awful internal amplifiers. Probably the best sound you can achieve from an MP3 player is using a LOD cable from the iPod line out dock to a 3.5mm headphone jack on a portable amplifier. This bypasses the internal amp and transmits the signal directly to your external amp. The newest Nanos (6th gen, I believe), have great internal amps compared to other models, but they have a whole host of other issues that make them fairly undesirable portable source devices.

I have been using somewhat adequate headphones (Urban Ears Plattan) through the Electric Avenue PA2V2 amplifier with AMAZING results. I am not even using an LOD cable either. It delivers such a warm and powerful sound, without the mid-and-upper range muddling most sets deliver.

If you want to avoid using your own amplifier, or paying the small fortune the Hifiman players cost, you can look into Cowon or Sony players. The interface is not as nice as that of an iPod (arguable), but the sound quality should be far better.

And in terms of headphones, AKG and Grados are good for closed and open ear (respective) sound. The Grado SR-60 and -80s sound phenomenal if you don't mind quite a bit of sound leakage. The BEST set I have heard thus far is the new AiAiAi TMA-1s. They are $250 CAD or so, but feel and sound great.

Hope that helps!
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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For headphones I use a set of Sony MDR-XD200. They cost $60. They completely fit over my ears. I am very happy with them so far. My only complaint is the weight of the headphones presses down on my head and I have to wear a toque or else it starts to hurt my head after a while. I don't know how much better sound quality I'd get out of a more expensive pair.

As for FLAC vs mp3, I am hard pressed to tell the difference in sound quality. Maybe with highend speakers or headphones it might be noticeable. Other formats I have used include RAR and APE, but I convert those into mp3s just like I do with FLAC files.

Could you pass on some of the suggestions for music that your friend gave you? I love finding obscure music from the most random places.
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Sennheisers are worth a look too. Most of them (at least the HD-series) are open type though.
Reviews and forums here: Head-Fi.org - Headphone forums and reviews for audiophiles
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:43 AM   #6 (permalink)
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For headphones I would reccomend the skull candy brand. They're pretty cheap and sound alright.

I love my pair
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramous View Post
For headphones I would reccomend the skull candy brand. They're pretty cheap and sound alright.

I love my pair
With all do respect, I have had serious quality issues with Skull Candy. I find them rather shoddy in construction. For the same price, you can get a nice Grado, AKG, Sony, or Sennheiser set. That is just my 2 cents, however.
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the tips, guys!

Quote:
Originally Posted by drewkroeker View Post
Could you pass on some of the suggestions for music that your friend gave you? I love finding obscure music from the most random places.
Sure man. What genre are you looking for?
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