Comfy use headphones for hours of use

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Chrizaa
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Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Chrizaa » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:10 pm

I haven't been on here for a couple of years. I have been enjoying my Audio-Technica ATH-ESW9 for the last few years, but one small niggle I have with them is that they tend to become a bit uncomfortable after a couple of hours of use. Maybe this is because they are supra-aural. At my work it's an open plan office, so every now and then when I need to focus on a task, I'll listed to music with headphones on and drown out background chatter. I have been bringing the ATH-ESW9 to work and keep coming back to the comfort factor after longer periods of use.

I also own a pair of ATH-ANC9 QuietPoints which I mainly use when travelling on planes. I could bring these to work and try them, but I don't think I need active noise cancelling for the office. I also prefer the 'rawer' sound of the ATH-ES9W compared to the ATH-ANC9 which sounds a bit more 'processed' to me. Besides, I'm getting a bit of a hankering to buy a pair of new cans for the sake of adding to my collection and trying out a slightly different sound signature.

My first priority is comfort for long periods of use, followed by sound quality with great mids (which I love about the ATH-ESW9) and closed design so I don't bother others in the office. I don't have a firm budget, but let's say anything from $200-350. I have found some Audio Technicas on Amazon that you guys don't seem to have here called the solid bass series, ATH-WS770IS. Wondering if you have any listening experience/feedback about these? I was thinking that for a slightly different sound experience, a slightly enhanced bass sound would be something I would be keen to try. Based on the Amazon reviews, the bass isn't over-powering, or muddy and the mids/highs are really great like all the other AT headphones.

I listen to a lot of different genres of music, but rock would tend to be the most prevalent genre. Look forward to all suggestions.

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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Marcus » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:32 pm

You'll likely find models models with a supra-aural or semi supra-aural design to have the same (lack of) comfort levels.
The ESW9 is still one of the best sounding portable AT models - the WS770 is a few steps down in terms of sound quality but they do have slightly larger pads which should assist comfort.
It might be worth looking at a higher end model like the MSR7 or even Beyer Custom One Pro. Both are larger but better built, more comfortable and significantly better sounding than the ~$200 options.
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Chrizaa
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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Chrizaa » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:19 pm

Thanks Marcus. Yes I came to the conclusion that the larger circum-aural would generally be more comfortable. I was looking at the Custom One Pro as another option. The bass adjustment sounds interesting and seems to get good reviews. How would you rate the sound of these compared with the ESW9? Likewise is MSR7 similar, better, etc to the ESW9? ESW9 have quite an enjoyable sound. I heard the pressure can lead to some discomfort.

I've since realised that in the AT Solid Bass series, the W1100iS is their range topper, so this would be more of interest over the WS770. General reviews seem quite positive. Have you ever sold any of the AT Solid Bass series or tested them?

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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Marcus » Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:33 am

I still have my ESW9, with a new unopened pair as backup for when they eventually break (which looking at them won't be long now).
The Custom One Pro would be closer to the ESW9 sound signature (warm and musical) whereas the MSR7 are more clinical/analytical sounding. I prefer the C1P personally as I listen to mostly contemporary/rock/electronic/blues and the clinical presentation of the MSR7 doesn't match as well IMO.

I have tested the solid bass AT models in the past and - they were hit and miss. Most customers doing testing preferred the C1P because it ticked other boxes like build/durability, comfort and the adjustable bass means if they're too bassy for some tracks you can tone it down :)
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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Chrizaa » Fri Mar 09, 2018 10:55 am

Thanks again Marcus. Will ponder on it a bit before jumping in. I'll try to see if there is any place where I test the C1P.

In relation to the ESW9, AT has the ATH-ESW990H which I assume is the successor model. AT AU website has a list price of $599 which seems steep compared with what I paid for the ESW9. I'd hope there'd be a marked improvement over the ESW9 if forking out that much.

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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Marcus » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:41 am

Yeah, there won't be.
I managed to sell the ESW9 cheap because I got an exclusive deal with AT Australia for a "go price" rather than selling them at full price.
So rather than selling 5 pairs at $599 we sold a few hundred pairs at ~$299.
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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Chrizaa » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:54 pm

OK, well then I really got a good deal getting $600 headphones for $300 back then. Still loving them although headband is starting to wear a bit. I look after them quite carefully.

I'm still just trowing up several ideas and so I may just simply end up using the ATH-ANC9 for office duties. So on the flip side maybe rather than investing in a new set of cans, I should try out a headphone amp. I read general comments saying that headphone amps can really bring headphones to life.

My two above mentioned headphones are pretty easily driven by any source, so is there a huge step up for me in getting an amp? My main sources are portable devices such as phones and iPods and the humble laptop. Most of my music is mp3 @ 320kbps, but there are some uncompressed files in my library along with an older collection of CDs. I also listen to Spotify Premium and tweak setting to highest quality possible. Not decided on portability, but if I have a general budget of $200-$400 can you suggest what may be worth considering?

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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Marcus » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:42 am

I would suggest a better dedicated player over an external DAC/amp. With more efficient headphones the performance gains from adding an amp are generally minimal, eg: ~10%, depending on what you're upgrading from.
For example - if you're already getting 95% of what the headphones are capable of, paying ~$200 to get another ~4% performance might not be worth it, especially considering you'll have another device to charge/tether/carry.
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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Chrizaa » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:07 am

Hi Marcus, going back to the Custom One Pro, if I jump up in price band to say $400 or even $500, are there other closed headphones that will provide a significant step up in sound for the price? The CP1 seems to be very well priced.

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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Marcus » Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:42 pm

Not really - the diminishing returns hit pretty hard and you also have to start considering your amplifier stage with the less efficient ones which creates a dodgy cost/benefit issue along with your diminishing returns so going from a $300 to a $500 model flat out might give you ~5-10% performance increase, if that, and most of the perceived difference would come down to sound balance presentation rather than any actual technical "betterness".

In short: C1P is great :)
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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Chrizaa » Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:14 pm

Do you sell the CP1 Pros in white as well? I saw them in this colour elsewhere. Not sure which one I'd prefer. White stands out more, but I am not sure how well they'll stand up for marks/scruffing. Would the colour affect the conform/wear of the earpads (i.e. are they made of different materials)?

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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Marcus » Mon May 07, 2018 4:56 pm

I might be able to get hold of the white ones - it's best to send an email through to confirm.
I do know that the white models show dirt very quickly, but comfort/build aren't affected.
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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Chrizaa » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:08 pm

On a slight tangent, what's your view of Bluetooth headphones? I'd assume they are never going to be as accurate as wired headphones due to 'processed' sound, and codecs? I'd imagine it leaves them more open to have on board amplification and equalisation too?

Of course you'd need to weigh up whether prolonged use is 'safe' considering they are radio transmitters as well...

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Re: Comfy use headphones for hours of use

Postby Marcus » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:30 am

The main issues with bluetooth aren't so much performance but value for money and reliability.

For example a $400 pair of bluetooth headphones will sound about as good as a ~$200-$250 wired pair, and a good wired fullsize pair of headphones from an established manufacturer should have a failure rate of <2%, often it's <1%. With bluetooth models that number is signicantly higher - some as high as 20-30%. There is a lot more that can go wrong in a bluetooth pair and they aren't likely to last as long either. I have some wired headphones that I've used for the past 15 year and they're still going strong, none of my bluetooth models have lasted more than about a year before something went wrong.

I wouldn't worry about the safety - listening at high volume levels has the potential to do way more damage than wireless/RF will (there's no established link between bluetooth/RF/digital wireless and health issues).
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