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post #1 of 11 Old 06-11-2013, 04:41 PM - Thread Starter
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I have an Onkyo TX-NR717 AVR that is used primarily for TV during the evening. My wife goes to bed early and I like to sit up and watch either satellite TV or televised concerts on Palladia or from YouTube. I have been using a cheap Radio Shack wireless headphones but have grown weary of the drop outs and hiss. I started searching for a set of headphones that would work for what I listen to and had decided the Sennheiser RS-220 were too much money. I soon discovered there wasn't much out there similar to the 220s. I looked for hdmi and optical systems. I was not able to find much that featured a 5.1 experience. As my listening spot is only about 12-15' from my system I decided a wired, 2 channel headphone using a cable extension would maybe be the best way to go. I don't know if YouTube or Dish actually deliver true 5.1 musically. My computer is connected to my AVR via hdmi. I started looking around and I was stunned at how many choices and options there were. Also if using a 2 channel wired set up should I expect to have to add an amp? I mentioned the RS-220s to my wife and she gave me the go ahead to get them (she is a very good wife!). Please give me the benefit of your knowledge and experience keeping at or near that $600.00 figure.
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post #2 of 11 Old 06-11-2013, 05:59 PM
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Funny, you go to Amazon and the Sennheiser's only get two and a half stars. I have a $150 pair of Klipsch that I like. Depends on whether you want in-ear,
on-ear, or over-ear. I know the B&W on-ears are highly regarded. You might want to post over at head-fi, but beware, it's a lot like asking for speaker recommendations here at AVS.
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post #3 of 11 Old 06-11-2013, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete424 View Post

I have an Onkyo TX-NR717 AVR that is used primarily for TV during the evening. My wife goes to bed early and I like to sit up and watch either satellite TV or televised concerts on Palladia or from YouTube. I have been using a cheap Radio Shack wireless headphones but have grown weary of the drop outs and hiss. I started searching for a set of headphones that would work for what I listen to and had decided the Sennheiser RS-220 were too much money. I soon discovered there wasn't much out there similar to the 220s. I looked for hdmi and optical systems. I was not able to find much that featured a 5.1 experience. As my listening spot is only about 12-15' from my system I decided a wired, 2 channel headphone using a cable extension would maybe be the best way to go. I don't know if YouTube or Dish actually deliver true 5.1 musically. My computer is connected to my AVR via hdmi. I started looking around and I was stunned at how many choices and options there were. Also if using a 2 channel wired set up should I expect to have to add an amp? I mentioned the RS-220s to my wife and she gave me the go ahead to get them (she is a very good wife!). Please give me the benefit of your knowledge and experience keeping at or near that $600.00 figure.

1) Also if using a 2 channel wired set up should I expect to have to add an amp?

No. Your Onkyo AVR should be fine and capable of driving most headphones in your price range from its headphone output. I would take most suggestions that you must have a dedicated headphone amp for your headphones to sound good with a healthy dose of skepticism.

2) Please give me the benefit of your knowledge and experience keeping at or near that $600.00 figure.

That's a nice price point that allows you a lot of options for very good headphones. Personally, my go-to headphones for TV watching are usually my Sennheiser HD-600s. These days you can probably pick them up for about $400, although I bought mine new six years ago for much less than that. They are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time, that is unless you have an unusually large head in which they might be too tight, and have a nearly ruler flat frequency response. The only caveat about them is that they have an impedance of 300 ohms. Most headphone are 16-32 ohms. Even with that caveat, I seriously doubt it would be an issue with your AVR. I have used mine with about eight or nine different amps and AVRs, and not once has driving them been an issue. They are open (meaning sound leaks from the cups to outside) by design and fit around your ear, not on it.

Denon makes a very good set of closed back headphones. The Denon AHD-2000, if you can still find it new, is excellent and well within your budget. I have a pair I bought new six years ago and enjoy them, but take note they are heavy and bulky; you look goofy wearing them. Denon makes several other models, such as the AH-D1100, or the D-5000, which is outside your budget and uses the same drivers as the D-2000 I mention above.

A less expensive set, the Shure SRH840, is also very accurate and comfortable to wear for long periods. You can probably get a set for about $200.

Those are the 3 headphones I have experience with and can recommend for comfortable wear for TV watching. I have experience with others, but I wouldn't recommend them for long listening or for tonal accuracy.

One other thing I'll note. Most headphones come with a cable around 10 feet long. Check their lengths and give yourself an extra six or eight feet beyond the straight line distance from your AVR to your listening position. I recommend getting a durable, well-made headphone extension cable of 15 feet or so.
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post #4 of 11 Old 06-12-2013, 07:14 AM
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In the $600 range for wired cans I would look at the following:

Sennheiser HD-600 or 650
HiFi Man HE 500
BeyerDynamic Dt 880

Since noise cancellation doesn't seem to be a priority I would stay away from from closed backed cans and get open backed headphones as I've suggested above. The openbacked headphones will give you a bigger soundstage that you seem to want.

I can use my 600ohm BeyerDynamic Dt 800's just fine through my Denon AVR so I wouldn't be concerned whether or not you will be able to use your headphone choice through your receiver. I do however prefer to use my headphones through a dedicated headphone amp.


There are also some links on Head-Fi that you may find helpful:

Buyers Guide
http://www.head-fi.org/a/headphone-buying-guide


Batlle of the Flagships: 50 headphone reviews
http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-50-headphones-compared

I reject your reality and substitute my own.

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post #5 of 11 Old 06-12-2013, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete424 View Post

I started searching for a set of headphones that would work for what I listen to and had decided the Sennheiser RS-220 were too much money.

Yup - ca. $600 is a piece of change.
Quote:
I soon discovered there wasn't much out there similar to the 220s.

Reallly?

So the 160, 170, 180, etc. don't exist in your part of the world?
Quote:
I looked for hdmi and optical systems. I was not able to find much that featured a 5.1 experience.

I guess I'm lucky in that I only have 2.0 ears. ;-)
Quote:
As my listening spot is only about 12-15' from my system I decided a wired, 2 channel headphone using a cable extension would maybe be the best way to go.

Been there, done that.

(1) Wired headphones beat the heck out of nothing.

(2) Good analog wireless headphones may sacrifice sound quality for convenience, but it can often be a surprisingly acceptable sacrifice. I've been there and done that, but eventually I went digital - RS 160s.

(3) Good digital wireless headphones can be about as good as it gets.
Quote:
I don't know if YouTube or Dish actually deliver true 5.1 musically. My computer is connected to my AVR via hdmi. I started looking around and I was stunned at how many choices and options there were. Also if using a 2 channel wired set up should I expect to have to add an amp?

It depends.

Your AVR probably has a headphone jack, but in general AVR headphone amps are not ideal. They often provide too high of a source impedance which can cause excess coloration, particularly with wired low impedance headphones.

There are inexpensive headphone amplifiers that such as the Fiio E5 that mitigate this situation for wired headphones for a reasonable price.

I think that you have crossed out some good digital wireless headphones.
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post #6 of 11 Old 06-12-2013, 12:00 PM
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I had the Denon AHD-2000 mentioned above, very good sound quality but as stated a bit on the bulky side. I wanted a pair of wireless headphones and started with the Sennheiser RS180 and wound up giving them to my father in law and replacing them with RS170 (only because they are closed design), which IMO are very impressive. I'd give the tiniest bit of an edge to the Denon for music, but for movies and certain genres the RS170 with bass boost are the schnizzel. It's probably the only time I've ever activated processing in the audio path and kept it there. It may be just me, but I couldn't possibly justify the price jump to the 220s.

Just an opinion, but any 5.1 experience expected from headphones are going to leave you disappointed.

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post #7 of 11 Old 06-15-2013, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete424 View Post

I have an Onkyo TX-NR717 AVR that is used primarily for TV during the evening. My wife goes to bed early and I like to sit up and watch either satellite TV or televised concerts on Palladia or from YouTube. I have been using a cheap Radio Shack wireless headphones but have grown weary of the drop outs and hiss. I started searching for a set of headphones that would work for what I listen to and had decided the Sennheiser RS-220 were too much money. I soon discovered there wasn't much out there similar to the 220s. I looked for hdmi and optical systems. I was not able to find much that featured a 5.1 experience. As my listening spot is only about 12-15' from my system I decided a wired, 2 channel headphone using a cable extension would maybe be the best way to go. I don't know if YouTube or Dish actually deliver true 5.1 musically. My computer is connected to my AVR via hdmi. I started looking around and I was stunned at how many choices and options there were. Also if using a 2 channel wired set up should I expect to have to add an amp? I mentioned the RS-220s to my wife and she gave me the go ahead to get them (she is a very good wife!). Please give me the benefit of your knowledge and experience keeping at or near that $600.00 figure.

Have you considered the Sony Wireless Surround Digital Headphones MDR-DS6500 ??

http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666290086

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post #8 of 11 Old 06-21-2013, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
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First, thank you to all that took the time to respond. I wasn't suggesting that the 2 channel wireless headsets from Sennheiser were less than high quality. My thought was if I were going to go wireless, I think I would rather try the HD-220 with a surround feel. My questions have morphed to this: I purchased the Sennheiser HD-598 headphones and the sound directly from my Onkyo TX-NR-717 was just a bit anemic. Not horrible but certainly not acceptable, especially at low volumes. So I started looking for an amp. I found the Emotiva XDA-2 unit. Nice looking, good reviews and not crazy on price. I sent an email to their sales rep Nick. He responded:

" Thank you for your interest in Emotiva. Yes, the headphone stage of the XDA-2 will more than sufficiently drive your Sennheisers. If you have any further questions please let us know. Thank you for your consideration."

I ordered the XDA-2 and I was pleasantly surprised with the look and feel of the unit. When I went to install the unit in to my stack I realized my Onkyo was not equipped with an optical out jack. I sent an email asking for guidance. I thought I would be told to use the pre out fronts from my AVR. Nope:

"The XDA-2 is a DAC (digital to analog converter), and so has no analog inputs.
In order to connect the INPUT of the XDA-2 to the OUTPUT of a receiver, the receiver would have to have digital outputs.
Some receivers and pre/pros have digital outputs (although they often operate at “downsampled – reduced quality – from copy protected sources like SACds and Blu-Rays).
From the spec sheet, your Onkyo TX-NR717 does not have digital outputs (so it has no outputs that can be plugged into the XDA-2).

Assuming you have digital sources, you would plug them into the inputs on the XDA-2, then plug the outputs of the XDA-2 into the analog inputs on your receiver
(preferably “direct” un-processed inputs that remain analog through to the output).
You could then listen to those digital sources on the headphone output of the XDA-2.

Unfortunately, the only way to get the output of your Onkyo into the input of the XDA-2 would be to use an A/D (analog-to-digital) converter.
However, this is not at all practical…. Cheap A/D converters don’t usually sound very good, and good ones cost more than your receiver.


[Incidentally, our soon-to-be-released professional DAC, the Stealth DC-1, DOES have analog inputs –
but it is considerably more epxensive than the XDA-2 – about $799. ]"

So here I am with roughly $600.00 invested and still do not have a good headphone solution. I can return the Emotiva XDA-2. I'm sure this must be a somewhat common issue. How do you guys get around this? How can you tell by reading the specs of an AVR unit, if the headphone output is correct for driving a set of good headphones? I apologize for the length of this post.
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-22-2013, 03:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete424 View Post

First, thank you to all that took the time to respond. I wasn't suggesting that the 2 channel wireless headsets from Sennheiser were less than high quality. My thought was if I were going to go wireless, I think I would rather try the HD-220 with a surround feel. My questions have morphed to this: I purchased the Sennheiser HD-598 headphones and the sound directly from my Onkyo TX-NR-717 was just a bit anemic. Not horrible but certainly not acceptable, especially at low volumes. So I started looking for an amp. I found the Emotiva XDA-2 unit. Nice looking, good reviews and not crazy on price. I sent an email to their sales rep Nick. He responded:

" Thank you for your interest in Emotiva. Yes, the headphone stage of the XDA-2 will more than sufficiently drive your Sennheisers. If you have any further questions please let us know. Thank you for your consideration."

I ordered the XDA-2 and I was pleasantly surprised with the look and feel of the unit. When I went to install the unit in to my stack I realized my Onkyo was not equipped with an optical out jack. I sent an email asking for guidance. I thought I would be told to use the pre out fronts from my AVR. Nope:

"The XDA-2 is a DAC (digital to analog converter), and so has no analog inputs.
In order to connect the INPUT of the XDA-2 to the OUTPUT of a receiver, the receiver would have to have digital outputs.
Some receivers and pre/pros have digital outputs (although they often operate at “downsampled – reduced quality – from copy protected sources like SACds and Blu-Rays).
From the spec sheet, your Onkyo TX-NR717 does not have digital outputs (so it has no outputs that can be plugged into the XDA-2).

Assuming you have digital sources, you would plug them into the inputs on the XDA-2, then plug the outputs of the XDA-2 into the analog inputs on your receiver
(preferably “direct” un-processed inputs that remain analog through to the output).
You could then listen to those digital sources on the headphone output of the XDA-2.

Unfortunately, the only way to get the output of your Onkyo into the input of the XDA-2 would be to use an A/D (analog-to-digital) converter.
However, this is not at all practical…. Cheap A/D converters don’t usually sound very good, and good ones cost more than your receiver.


[Incidentally, our soon-to-be-released professional DAC, the Stealth DC-1, DOES have analog inputs –
but it is considerably more epxensive than the XDA-2 – about $799. ]"

So here I am with roughly $600.00 invested and still do not have a good headphone solution. I can return the Emotiva XDA-2. I'm sure this must be a somewhat common issue. How do you guys get around this? How can you tell by reading the specs of an AVR unit, if the headphone output is correct for driving a set of good headphones? I apologize for the length of this post.

I'd return the emotiva unit and just get a normal headphone amp with analog connections. Get something meant to be a headphone amp. I use a cute beyond. It was about 250 including the op amp upgrade. There are many out there for reasonable costs.
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post #10 of 11 Old 06-22-2013, 04:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete424 View Post

First, thank you to all that took the time to respond. I wasn't suggesting that the 2 channel wireless headsets from Sennheiser were less than high quality. My thought was if I were going to go wireless, I think I would rather try the HD-220 with a surround feel. My questions have morphed to this: I purchased the Sennheiser HD-598 headphones and the sound directly from my Onkyo TX-NR-717 was just a bit anemic. Not horrible but certainly not acceptable, especially at low volumes. So I started looking for an amp. I found the Emotiva XDA-2 unit. Nice looking, good reviews and not crazy on price.

It appears to me that you are stacking one questionable choice on top of another.

Since my last post my HD 160s suffered mechanical failures, so I took my own advice - I bought a pair of HD 170s.

I learned a number of things.

(1) It appears that the HD 160, 170, 180 and and maybe even the 220 use the same dynamic transducer, basic digital radio receiver, and headphone drive circuit.
(2) The RS 160 uses this transducer without adding any equalization, while the more spendy models have adjustable bass boost. The bass boost control is a good idea. With the RS 160s I added the needed bass boost before the transmitter and then ran out of dynamic range in the digital link with a few really noisy movies because of the limited maximum acoustic output of the headphones. I find them all to be somewhat bass shy without equalization. The equalization available in the upper models seems well matched to the transducer.
(3) Headphones generally have 2 transducers and human beings have generally have 2 ears. Seems like a good match! AVRs generally matrix whatever they receive into an acceptable or better 2 channel drive for their headphone jacks. I happen to use a separate Technics surround decoder for the just the headphones so I don't have to run my AVR to listen to headphones.
(4) I expect my HD 170s to require a new headset at a cost of over $100 within a couple of years maximum because the common RS 160/170/180 etc.transducer/earpiece/headband assembly has designed-in weaknesses that a bit surprisingly result in all of the earpad mounting tabs to break off after about 18 months of really heavy use. Mine all broke off individually over a period of about 2 weeks. I continued to use the headphones by means of the application of several pieces 2-sided adhesive tape per headcup. I admit it - I use mine for several hours every day and even fall asleep while wearing them. The falling asleep part is probably especially bad. I have acquired over a dozen pair of different high quality headphones over the years, but only one other pair have fallen apart this way despite even longer periods of use. BTW, the other ones that broke weren't the RS 120s that I had before these. Those were replaced on the grounds of sound quality but they appeared to be more durable.
(5) The RS 170 has about twice the range of the RS 160 and it is finally barely adequate. No way do I get reception over 180 feet. Maybe 50 feet at best. My house does have exceptionally heavy construction including steel beams in the walls and ceilings and wet plaster.
(6) I use a 30 band graphic equalizer to customize the sound of my headphones.
(7) None of these headphones are what you'd call really loud, probably because of European laws relating to headphone maximum acoustic output.
(8) I remain unimpressed by the surround features.
(9) Everyhing I listen to goes through my TV set which has an optical stereo output which I use to drive the surround decoder for the headphones. I believe that the FIIO D07 driving a FIIO E5 for a total cost of about $70 would do a great job of driving just about any heaphones. The E5 is not needed for digital headphones because they have a high input impedance and are compatible with the D07. The D07 handles both stereo and mulitchannel optical and coaxial inputs for about $50.
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post #11 of 11 Old 06-22-2013, 05:48 AM
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^^ I get about 50 ft from the Sennheiser RS170 before it starts to drop signal. Through one drywall is good but I lose signal completely if one of the log walls of my cabin are between me and the base unit.

Interesting about the build quality, I will start to periodically inspect mine. I'm not by any means a heavy user and have had no problems so far.

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