Monday, January 9, 2012

Driving myself crazy trying to pick headphones

So like many people I listen to music a lot. I do this in a variety of ways; While working out, at working either programming or blocking out my co-workers, jamming while making dinner/cleaning up, or just listening while I surf. Most of my listening is done with headphones, specifically in ear monitors (IEM). I currently listen to Klipsch s-4 and I really like them. I have Klipsch speaker for my home theater and an iphone dock. I really like their sound. Previously I have owned Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5 and Ultimate Ears 700. Even though the 700 were dual drivers I never liked them as much as the 5. When my wife broke her Super.Fi 5's I gave her mine and decided to try the Klipsch. I am glad I did, I love them even more than the Ultimate ears.

While generally my iems are great, there are times I am just not feeling them or they are bothering my ears. I wanted a pair of over the ear headphones (possibly on ear if they are the right kind). I began my journey wanting Beats by Dre. I listened to these several times at Best Buy. Originally I thought they sounded great, I generally like a lot of bass. The steep price tag, stopped me from a quick trigger pull. My buddy has the Bose Quiet Comfort 15s, so I borrowed his and tried them out. They sounded very good , were very comfortable, and the noise cancellation was great. They lacked bass but he has Fiio E7 and the bass boost is a nice addition. Once again these are very expensive. I also wasn't sold I need noise canceling headphones. I don't fly that much, and would rather have something that sounds really good.

I headed back to Best Buy and tried out some more of the demo units.  I immediately tried on the Klipsch Image One.  Give my love for the brand, these seemed like a no brainer.  I really liked the sound, but I had trouble getting the headphones situated on my ears, the left one specially.  This could just me by issues, other cans do this as well.  Once I got them set, I noticed almost immediately how uncomfortable they were.  Time to do some research and see what is out there that Best Buy didn't have.

After doing some research, I quickly found out there are two main types of headphones: Open and Closed. Open headphones have grills that are well, open.

Sennheiser HD 598

These don't isolate at all. You can hear noises around you and others can hear your music. This wasn't ideal for me since I want to use them at work.

As you probably guessed, closed headphones have closed cups. This is what most people probably think of when someone says headphones.
Audio-Technica M-50

A lot of people may not realize that the headphone world is kinda of crazy. Many of the headphones when you start looking for something that sounds good, no those ipod earbuds are not in this class, require some serious juice. More juice than your smartphone or even computer can deliver. That's where headphone amps come into play. This intrigued me a lot, but for my initial purpose I wanted headphones that don't need an amp. At the same time, I wanted to try and find something that could benefit from them. Headphones that don't need an amp usually have an impedance of 32-80 Ω.

The other main thing I was worried about was getting headphones that would not jive with my music. My taste has a semi-wide variety to it. Artist that get a lot of play include: White/Rob Zombie, Metallica, Eminem, Them Crooked Vultures, Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Muse, The Black Keys, The White Stripes.

With all of this in mind, I ended up with two buying guides that have helped me the most.

After reading these I was interested in:

  • Audio-Technica M-50
  • Beyerdynamic Dt770
  • Sennheiser HD25-1 II
  • V-Moda M-80
I have not been able to find Beyerdynamics of any model where I can buy them, so they dropped off.  The HD 25s look great and the reviews are nothing but great for a long time, but they are on ear.  Not sure if that would bother me or not.

Tonight I am borrowing the M-50s.  So far they sound great.  These maybe the ones I end up with.

Long term I think I will also get some open headphones for when I am at home, the Sennheiser 598s are high on the list.

I am also more than likely going to pickup a headphone amp.  I am strongly leaning towards Objective2 amp sold by  For more info on the open source Objective2, check out the designer's blog,  Warning, he gets very technical and writes a ton, but there is a treasure trove of info.

Keep tuned in here to find out what I buy and what I decide to do about an amp.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bundren Vaction 2009 Day 6

It was quite the ordeal getting packed. We had to be out by 10. I showered at 8, left for ice and donuts while Candie was getting things ready. Once I got back and got my eat one it was loading up the van time. It took me three trips. Crazy. I can't wait until we can travel with out the pack and plays. We got checkout at 5 till 10. Crazy.

Before heading to the beach we to the outlets. Some damage was done there. Nike got most of our money. Everybody got some shoes. I am excited since I diverted from my normal kind of shoes and got a non runner and with a lot more color. Who is this guy? We also got the kids some chucks. I think they pretty much kick ass.

The place had a carter's and we were finally able to use the gift card that Aunt Carrie and Uncle Chris gave the twins.

Finally were were on the road. Cocoa Beach is only about 65 minutes from Orlando. We were on a toll road and paid about 5 bucks in 10 miles. Lots of little stops. We went across almost all of Ohio for that same price. Crazy.

When we got here Candie already wanted to stay an extra night and so we got the room for 2 nights. It is nice staying some where with all the shit we have for more than 1 night.

We went to a local place for lunch called coconuts on the beach. I have some fantastic mahi.

We headed out to the beach for the kids first ocean experience. There were unsure at first and sat down to play in the sand. I left the gang and went to see how warm the water was. Jake wasn't having any of it and came out to meet me. He was loving it right away. He really liked the waves. Both kids got beat around but liked it.

I picked Jake up and took him out to some bigger waves and ran him through those. He loved it but wanted to go further and when I put him down he tried to go on his own.

After Candie and I was beat from watching them in the ocean we went to play more in the sand. The kids did this for quite a while. Going back to the room we had to shower them off. They hated this. My favorite park was that Kenzie screamed her head off but when I was done with her, she walked back into the shower with Jake. WTF?

We then headed to the kiddie pool with the pirate ship. This is a pretty neat area. Some of the water was deeper and Jake was digging it big time. It had some slides and I took the kids up on it. Like about anything else they were very apprehensive at first but then didn't want to stop. Jake saw his first topless chick, a 7 year old foreign girl. Her little brother and dad were wearing banana hammocks. Classy!

Bundren Vaction 2009 Day 5

On the 5th day we went to Walt Disney World. The thermometer only said 85 but I am pretty sure we about melted.

Quick stats of the day:
-- 4 hours
-- 12 bucks to park
-- 65 bucks for souvenirs
-- 16 bucks for lunch
-- rode the tea cups
-- rode the train.

We paid for parking by 10 but the lot had a lot of people already. We also knew with everything we had the tram was not an option for us. Plato 24 is where we parked. We started the hike in. Already having tickets saved us some time. The choice now was fairy or tram. Fairy it was.

Once in the park, it was full of morons just stopping to take pictures. We just wanted through. We also saw a everybody with maps and we didn't have one. How in the world did we do that? On the way out we saw our mistake and Candie picked a few up for the kid's scrap books.

We headed towards the kiddie area and found the tea cups. The wait was about 10 minutes, but in the heat holding kids it sure feels longer. The kids loved them. Kenzie giggled the whole time. Jake was fascinated with the teapot in the middle. We got to another area and tried to go in the small houses. They were jam packed. We found a gift shop and got some relief from the heat.

I smashed pennies for the kids; mickey for Jake and a fairy for Kenzie. Jake was very interested in the penny smasher and wanted to use it. I then saw little miss thing run by holding a poo. She also found some plastic mickey and co characters. Jake found a cup (kenzie got one too thanks to mom). Wifey go a photo frame and I called the damage enough. We found the train that goes around the park and did a whole lap. The kids seemed to enjoy that.

By this time, I was getting hungry. I just wanted a burger. It was really hard finding one. We passed dumbo on the way but his wait was over 30 minutes and that just wasn't going to happen with the kids running on empty. I was bummed.

We finally found a burger place and it was a mad house. I swear that had no less than 15 girls doing nothing but filling drinks. What kind of cash goes through that place? I heard several people comment that Monday was the busiest they had seen the park. Awesome! Looking at the people at the park you wouldn't know this country was in a recession.

Time to head home. The kids fell asleep in the car. We got slurpees. It rocked!

More swimming in the pool. Also took them to the big pool. They liked to sit on the edge and jump to us. Jake was also enjoying holding the edge and putting his head under the water and come back up.

Jake is going to be a good swimmer. He is already putting his head under the water for several seconds at a time on his own. You can see him pushing the limits as the day goes on. It's exciting.

Bundren Vaction 2009 Day 4

We went to one of the Disney Water parks, Typhoon Lagoon. This place was pretty neat and parking was included in our ticket (which was already free) kick ass. One thing I didn't like was the wave pool was in the middle of the park. All the rides were around it. This made for a lot of extra walking to get from one thing to another. When caring 25 lb+ kids this makes a difference.

We started off in a pool where the kids had a great time. For a bit Kenzie spent some time just playing in the sand.

We then moved onto the kiddie area. It's as if our kids were too young for that area as they really didn't want to due much there. We then moved onto a cove off the wave pool. The currents here were fairly strong. By this point the kids were tuckered out (1.5 hours in ). Candie took the kids and let them lie on her for a bit.

I first hit the wave pool. It had a surf mode ever so often and it's the biggest wave I have ever seen in a wave pool. It was awesome.

I also did 2 rides. One was a fairly steep enclosed tube. I am sure it wasn't as steep or tall as banzai at the beach and definitely not as tall or steep as the cliff. The other ride was a windy ride.

This park was neat but not as cool as other parks. We believe its aimed at tweens as there is also a blizzard beach park owned by Disney.

Bundren Vaction 2009 Day 3

5 hours of driving and we were in Orlando. Much like most of the trip so far, we encountered a lot of rain. Particularly in Jacksonville. It rained really hard. Made the drive very slow, although the speed limit is only 45 normally.

The GPS we have is generally pretty good about telling you which lane to be in. While driving through big cities it kind of looses it's mind and you just have to ignore it. We also noticed that it seems really partial to lefts; it will tell you a left is coming up a lot more than when a right is due.

The hotel was pretty decent. Not what I expected but a decently large complex. The Kiddie pool was pretty good. The kids loved it. The previous days lessons paid off. Both kids started off drinking a lot of water. After a bit jake got pretty good at not drinking the water and catching himself.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bundren Vaction 2009 Day 2

The continental breakfast at the Microtel was pretty minimal. We opted to just go on and let the kids eat some pop tarts.

Most of the drive was pretty uneventful. Once again rain off and on but much more sun this time. A new state for me, SC.

We saw a lot of funny signs on the way. Particularity there was this one area where we had about 30-60 signs on the way for as far as 100 miles away. When we got there most of it was run down and I am not even sure it was open. Crazy.

The drive in to hilton head was interesting. By the time we unpacked and got the kids ready for the beach, it was raining. Of course. So we drove around trying to find a place. I never envisioned it would be so damn hard to find the beach on such a small island.

Finally we headed back to the hotel. It was sprinking so we took the kids to the pool for about 1.5 hours. They enjoyed it a lot.

We then went to dinner, thank god for no waits as I don't know what the kids would have done.

Candie and I both had pecan crusted grouper. It was fantastic. Awesome meal and the kids were extremely good. For most of the day they were really good. If we could just get over this pissed offness they have when we hit a new hotel room it would help a lot.

Day 2:
-- 2 States
-- 6 hours
-- 360+ miles

Bundren Vaction 2009 Day 1

We left the homestead at 6:20 am. Not to bad even though I wanted to leave by 6 but you know how that goes. The kids did not go back to sleep but spongebob entertained them for quite a while. Candie was adamant about frequent stops while I was trying to stop as little as possible.

The first stop for gas went in her favor as both kids had peed there diaper. Sucky. Oh well shit happens. We trucked on. After learning my leason we stopped much earlier and was going to give the kids some ice cream treats at McDonalds. Well they didn't have any kid changing tables, WTF?

The whole day was littered with state troppers. I swear we saw no less than 20.

West Virgina and Virgina were very redneck as expected. We drove through a whole lot of rain and very heavy stuff several times. So heavy that we could only see a few hundred yards in front of us. Not fun.

We finally made it to the hotel. The kids still hate elevators so that is a joy every time. We walk to the room and the dead bolt is across the room so the door doesn't shut. I push it open and the room is a mess. Back downstairs I go. Tell them the story and they say that nobody has had the room for days. Glad the cleaning room is right on top of things.

We got a new room and unloaded our 18 metric shit tons of stuff. The kids are being absolutely crazy after being in the car all day. Candie goes for dinner. While on the elevator the power goes out. She was freaked out as she also hates elevators. The power blip messes with all the restaurants as nobodies' credit machines were working. I had left my phone in the van and couldn't car her. I was worried sick since she was gone for over 45 minutes.

After dinner the Richmond's visited. They tried to help us wear the kids out but kenzie is about impossible to.

End of day 1:
-- 4 States
-- over 650 miles
-- 11 hours