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Headphones Era lOTl Even Through The Distortion We Remain Lossless

Oct 27, 2017
1,782
Dark Space
So i bought the HD600 that were on sale on amazon and they arrived. But since im not a big audio guy, it didn't dawn on me that i needed an amp for em before buying em. I'm tight on money at the moment so, what could i get for $100 that can drive em decently?
What would you be running them from right now?

Bought and moved into my apartment recently which due to the second bedroom being used as a study has led me to splitting up my headphone set ups.

Upstairs:
Source (digital) - Naim NDX
Source (analog) - Ortofon A-90 MC cartridge, Thorens TD-850 turntable, Rega Ios phonostage
Amp - Manley Audio Labs Neo-Classic 300B
Headphones - Sennheiser HD-800s (bought these recently, also used with a Roland electric drum kit that I bought last week)

Downstairs:
Source - TeddyPardo DAC
Amp - STAX 007T Mk2
Headphones - STAX SR-009

Can’t see me upgrading for a long time, except for new valves and maybe a cable upgrade for the 800s.

Oh, and for portable use I have Sennheiser IE-800.
I really need to hear some STAX. That's a glaring hole in my Hifi experience.
 
OP
OP
HiResDes
Oct 25, 2017
1,133
Definitely get an amp I don't know what the hell the other guy is talking but they have a pretty low sensitivity even if their impedance isn't super high... And they scale exponentially so why not. Maybe get a portable DAC/Amp
 
Oct 28, 2017
1,644
Yeah, but the headphone jack on Apple’s products was even better than the adapter.
That really isn't true true. In inaudible academic benchmarks it probably is but the one thing that has a big impact on sound output, output impedance, was always high on the iPhones. the iPhone 6 had 3.5ohms, the iPhone 6s had 4.5ohms. Maybe the iPads are a different story but I don't really care about iPads.

Unless the phone manufacturer is going to devote a decent amount of circuitry and space to quality audio output, output impedance is never low. Whatever the justification for removing the headphone jack is, in the majority of cases is had not resulted in lower audio quality and has arguably improved it for a large number of IEM users by introducing small $10 dongle/DAC solutions to the market. Unless you're Google and put out the shittiest dongle known to man.
 
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Pargon

Banned
Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,660
Definitely get an amp I don't know what the hell the other guy is talking but they have a pretty low sensitivity even if their impedance isn't super high... And they scale exponentially so why not. Maybe get a portable DAC/Amp
With moderately high impedance headphones like the HD600 (300 ohms) you generally only have to worry about volume and noise floor of the amp, as the source impedance can be as high as 37.5 ohms before it will start to have an effect. The only thing like that these days is typically going to be an AVR with a poorly designed headphone output.
So long as the source can get loud enough, you won't need an amp for them. If it can't get loud enough, then you do need an amp.

That really isn't true true. In inaudible academic benchmarks it probably is but the one thing that has a big impact on sound output, output impedance, was always high on the iPhones. the iPhone 6 had 3.5ohms, the iPhone 6s had 4.5ohms. Maybe the iPads are a different story but I don't really care about iPads.

Unless the phone manufacturer is going to devote a decent amount of circuitry and space to quality audio output, output impedance is never low. Whatever the justification for removing the headphone jack is, in the majority of cases is had not resulted in lower audio quality and has arguably improved it for a large number of IEM users by introducing small $10 dongle/DAC solutions to the market. Unless you're Google and put out the shittiest dongle known to man.
I would say that there's more to audio quality than just output impedance, but it's true that the adapters are better in that regard (at least according to measurements I've seen) so if you're using very low impedance IEMs that may be preferable.
Even with a 4.5 ohm output, so long as your headphones are 36 ohm or higher, you don't have to worry about damping factor.
I have so many issues with the adapters beyond just audio quality though - I'd still take an integrated headphone jack over adapters any day, even if it was somewhat lower quality (though not bad).
 

Pargon

Banned
Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,660
I was able to pick up a pair of Bose QC35-II today, and the comparison between them and the Sony WH-1000XM3 is far from being as clear cut as I thought.

If you wear glasses and care about noise cancelling performance it is no contest. The WH-1000XM3 kicks the QC35-II's ass.
If you do not wear glasses, it's much closer between them. The overall "noise floor" is higher on the XM3 vs the QC35, but the XM3 is filtering out more noise. I have a variable speed fan here that makes a high-pitched noise at certain speeds. You don't hear that at all with the XM3, while you do still hear it with the QC35.
The QC35 does a better job of filtering out low rumbling noises if you have a tight seal with the headphones. For me, that means not wearing glasses and either having to play with the headphone position to get them just right, or pressing on the headphones. The padding is less pliable, so if I move, that can break the seal and let in some low frequency noise.
The XM3 is not quite as good at filtering out this noise, but what remains is quiet and unobtrusive, and does not vary when I adjust the headphones or press on them, as the padding is softer. So while the QC35 may technically have the better noise cancellation, the XM3 wins for me in real-world usage.

Device management is much better on the QC35 than the XM3, as it can be paired to two devices at once, and the app stores your history of connected devices so that you can swap them in/out quicker rather than having to go through the pairing process again.
There is no audio mixing/auto-switching sources when you are connected to two devices (except maybe for calls - I have not tested that yet). If you are playing audio from one device and then start playback on the other, it will "play" to the headphones in silence. You can tap the Bluetooth switch twice to switch between paired devices - though it issues a pause command to both devices and takes about 10 seconds to switch, so it's not seamless.
You have the option to disable the voice assistant with the QC35, but doing this also seems to disable the quick switch capability for some reason. The voice does not shout at you like the XM3 assistant, but it's still louder than I would prefer, and sounds far more robotic.

Analog audio with the QC35 uses a 2.5mm cable rather than 3.5mm which is a hassle. It also kills Bluetooth functionality just like the XM3 - so you won't be able to answer calls while playing a game on your Switch for example.
Though the included cable only supports stereo audio, the QC35 does support a microphone when using the 2.5mm > 3.5mm cable from my QC25.
While analog audio kills the Bluetooth connection, disconnecting it does not turn the headphones off like the XM3 (so NC remains active) and they reconnect to your Bluetooth devices automatically. So it is not a perfect implementation, but a good one.

Comfort was a surprise. The XM3 are noticeably larger headphones than either of the Bose headphones, and weigh more:
  • 207g - QC25 Triple-Black with fully-charged 900mAh AAA Eneloop.
  • 235g - QC35-II at ~60% charge.
  • 252g - WH-1000XM3 at ~60% charge.
But I would rank them as QC25 > XM3 > QC35 for comfort.
The QC25 wins for being the lightest of the headphones and having a fit that I find comfortable, but the QC35 design has changed in ways that I don't like.
The arm and gimbal design has been changed such that the QC35 only have about 20° of movement, while the QC25 had about 45° of movement.
The arm adjustments are much looser and prone to slipping rather than locking in place, and for my head, I need to have them set one or two notches larger than the QC25.
These design changes mean that it feels like the QC35 are putting a lot more pressure on my head.
I'm not sure how RTINGS are measuring clamping force, but my subjective assessment of the XM3 vs the QC35 does not match their results. They say that the XM3 has 0.11lb more clamping force than the QC35, but I'd say that the XM3 is maybe slightly higher than the QC25, but the QC35 is noticeably tighter than both and uncomfortable for me as a result.

The assistant button on the QC35 can be assigned to Google, Alexa, or NC hi/lo/off, and while it cannot be assigned to Siri, you can hold the play/pause button to activate Siri. I wish that it could be assigned to an "Aware mode" like the QC20 had, which kept NC active but passed through vocal frequencies. As I mentioned in my post on the XM3, Sony's implementation of that is not very good. If they update the XM3 so that you can set the strength and enable the voice-only mode for that, it would be far more useful.
Having a sliding on/off switch with a momentary position for Bluetooth works extremely well. I hate having to hold the XM3's power button to switch them on/off or to switch into pairing mode. Just like the QC25, you flick a switch on the QC35 and they're off so you can put them away immediately.
The play and volume controls are awful and mushy compared to the buttons on the XM3, but at least they are real buttons for these functions rather than gesture control.
Overall, the general materials don't feel as good as the QC25 Triple-Black. They still claim that it's glass reinforced nylon, but it looks and feels a lot more plasticky. It just looks like matte black plastic rather than having the texture of the triple-black.

I'm not sure how noticeable it will be, but here's a photos showing the QC25 Triple-Black:


And the QC35-II:


You might notice that there are subtle silvery flecks in the QC25, while the QC35-II just has a matte black finish.
You can see the difference in the headband shape, and both gimbals are adjusted as far as they can go to show the difference in the range of movement between them.

If the QC35-II was just the QC25 with Bluetooth (and USB-C) they would be a clear winner, but I dislike many of the changes Bose have made between the QC25 and QC35.
I'd still prefer that they had a model which let you use AAA batteries, because they're so much easier to deal with.

They won't get that loud, they also don't have a very high sensitivity.
Well that's why I said: "The only reason you need an amp for them is if you find them too quiet. Otherwise, you don’t need one."
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,558
Bought a pair of Sennheiser HD598s, what's an amp in the $100 range people would recommend, if at all? I know the 598s are fairly easy to drive, but just asking.
 

J75

Member
Sep 29, 2018
712
Well that's why I said: "The only reason you need an amp for them is if you find them too quiet. Otherwise, you don’t need one."
Well for what it's worth, today i decided to plug my HD 600 on both my laptop and PC and they get plenty loud for my tastes even with less dynamic compressed songs. They sound excellent but i'm not sure i'm i am getting the best sound out of em though. Pretty much the whole internet recommends to get an amp for em but i dont know.
 
OP
OP
HiResDes
Oct 25, 2017
1,133
If you're gonna spend $250 or whatever on one of the most highly acclaimed headphones ever why wouldn't you try it out with a little DAC/Amp combo unit to see if it makes much of a difference for you. Just grab something reason like the E10K
 
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Wat

Member
Dec 10, 2017
164
Bought a pair of Sennheiser HD598s, what's an amp in the $100 range people would recommend, if at all? I know the 598s are fairly easy to drive, but just asking.
Schiit Fulla 2 gives you a DAC in addition to the amp. Nice finish and feel, super compact, doesn't need external power brick if you have it on USB. Has pre-out in the back so it will handle volume control for a powered stereo speaker pair in addition to headphones.
 
Oct 27, 2017
349
Finland
Not too satisfied with Hifiman build quality. First the left driver on my HE560 started having issues and now one year after replacement foam is spilling out from both ear pads. Edition S headband also snapped from the middle and the case that came with the phones broke quite fast (the zipper mainly). Otherwise still happy with HE560, guess I'm ordering new pads then.
 
OP
OP
HiResDes
Oct 25, 2017
1,133
K-pop never sounded so in my face before. Guitars are also pretty amazing.
Final makes the coolest looking gear in the industry imo, those are beautiful, as are their full sized headphones. I really liked the Heaven IIs and always wanted to try the more expensive iterations in that series.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,101
How do those Bose and Sony wireless headphones compare to traditional wired headphones like my AKG Q701 and HD 598s? Other than the fact they're closed back, of course. Can I expect similar level of high fidelity or no? Really tempted to invest in a pair for my Nintendo Switch. My main concern is sound quality over wireless. And, of course, latency. How about volume? Main gripe with my Switch is the headphone jack is too weak to drive my headphones, so, volume is too low.
 
Nov 2, 2017
7,650
How do those Bose and Sony wireless headphones compare to traditional wired headphones like my AKG Q701 and HD 598s? Other than the fact they're closed back, of course. Can I expect similar level of high fidelity or no? Really tempted to invest in a pair for my Nintendo Switch. My main concern is sound quality over wireless. And, of course, latency. How about volume? Main gripe with my Switch is the headphone jack is too weak to drive my headphones, so, volume is too low.
Pretty sure Switch doesn't support BT headphones.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,245
With the WH-1000XM2, even if you plugged those in wired you'd easily get enough volume. They're really sensitive. If using them wireless with the genki you have digital volume control on the Switch for the device, and then you'll also have the usual volume control on the headphones themselves - personally I just leave the digital volume on the Switch on max and adjust via the headphones alone. As for latency with the XM2 and genki, I do believe there is a bit, but I really can't notice it without actually looking for it. It feels fine to me.

I've been pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of them really. I don't think they compare to wired headphones of the same price bracket but that's because you're also paying for the bluetooth, ANC and all the extra features so it's kind of unfair to compare them really. That said, they still sound good and I think you'd be happy with them assuming you like their sound signature. As always if you can go to a shop to try them out, that's probably a good start. If you can't, well, buy from Amazon or somewhere that has a good return policy. :P
 

Pargon

Banned
Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,660
Schiit Fulla 2 gives you a DAC in addition to the amp. Nice finish and feel, super compact, doesn't need external power brick if you have it on USB. Has pre-out in the back so it will handle volume control for a powered stereo speaker pair in addition to headphones.
Did Schiit ever fix their garbage USB implementation, or was it only the Modi 2 which was affected?
I’d be hesitant to buy anything from a company which ships audio gear like that.

Can I expect similar level of high fidelity or no? Really tempted to invest in a pair for my Nintendo Switch. My main concern is sound quality over wireless. And, of course, latency.
No, they are closed-back noise cancelling headphones. That being said, fidelity is meaningless with open-back headphones in my opinion unless the room you are in is silent. ANC headphones sound far better than anything else in a noisy environment.
Latency is a problem when wireless though. Both the Bose and Sony headphones are >200ms via typical Bluetooth connections, and neither supports aptX Low Latency. I had to set a correction of 224ms on my PC when using the XM3 to watch videos. Streaming video, where I can’t set a correction like that, was unwatchable.
 
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Oct 26, 2017
2,101
Did Schiit ever fix their garbage USB implementation, or was it only the Modi 2 which was affected?
I’d be hesitant to buy anything from a company which ships audio gear like that.


No, they are closed-back noise cancelling headphones. That being said, fidelity is meaningless with open-back headphones in my opinion unless the room you are in is silent. ANC headphones sound far better than anything else in a noisy environment.
Latency is a problem when wireless though. Both the Bose and Sony headphones are >200ms via typical Bluetooth connections, and neither supports aptX Low Latency. I had to set a correction of 224ms on my PC when using the XM3 to watch videos. Streaming video, where I can’t set a correction like that, was unwatchable.
Well, dang. I guess I was under the impression wireless had come along better than that. Sounds like wired is still going to be the way to go for gaming.


let me ask for something different, then. What are some good IEM's I can get for under $150? Would I need a portable amp to drive good IEMs? If so, might just stick with my Q701s and get a portable amp for that, just would rather not have bulky headphones while playing the Switch
 

Pargon

Banned
Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,660
Well, dang. I guess I was under the impression wireless had come along better than that. Sounds like wired is still going to be the way to go for gaming.
They do sound good, but are not going to be equivalent to a "hifi" pair of open-back headphones for the same price - and will sound much better than "hifi" headphones if you are not in a silent room; even with something like a fan on or a PC/console running in the same room.
I personally find IEMs uncomfortable to wear, and prefer active noise cancellation (ANC) over passive isolation. I really like the Bose QC20 for a wired equivalent of those, and they have been half price a few times recently.
You can still use the Bose QC35-II or Sony WH-1000XM3 wired when latency is a concern, which is why I greatly prefer how the QC35 handles connection management to the XM3, but for me the XM3 were a more comfortable headphone with more effective ANC and I was left wishing that there was something which was a hybrid of the best features between the two, with the addition of aptX Low Latency.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
1,903
Hamburg, Germany
As long as at least someone's talking about Switch and headphones in here: I got a pair of Sony WH CH500, and I'm generally very happy with'em. Can I get some kind of cheap USB dongle thingie to use them on Switch, too?
Otherwise I'll probably just order that Genki thing, but hey, if I don't _have_ to spend the money I'd rather not :D
 
Oct 28, 2017
1,644
Did Schiit ever fix their garbage USB implementation, or was it only the Modi 2 which was affected?
I’d be hesitant to buy anything from a company which ships audio gear like that
Yes they mostly did with USB revisions (Gen 3 from memory).

They still make questionable hardware. Their biggest problem isn't so much bad performance, most of which is often inaudible, but just straight up bad design.

The Fulla 2 (mentioned in the post you quoted) main selling point is the huge knob yet the potentiometer is excessively scratchy and suffers from dead obvious channel imbalance unless you turn the knob past 10 o'clock. Mine also came with a misaligned knob because the potentiometer isn't physically secured. Literally the only thing maintaining its alignment and connection with the PCB are the solder joints, which is a problem since the soldering is what I expect from a prosumer and not an actual professional outfit. Funnily enough Deoxit, something I had lying around to clean out my dad's vintage Yamaha stereo gear, assisted in reducing the scratchiness so maybe Schiit might want to invest in a cleaner working environment or something.

Their Valhalla 2 and Mjolnir, both of which I've once owned, also had the worst relay implementation I've experienced. Every other company I've used had properly working relays that prevent traducer thumping. Schiit's relay system not only mutes audio for longer than, say, Bryston's solution but also doesn't do jack to stop thumping.

No need to get something like Fulla 2 when something like the JDS Atom exists.
 
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Pargon

Banned
Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,660
They still make questionable hardware. Their biggest problem isn't so much bad performance, most of which is often inaudible, but just straight up bad design.
The issue with the Modi 2 is that they had one of the few USB implementations which was so bad that it actually was audible, being considerably worse than a cheap Behringer audio interface/DAC at half the price.
Most audiophile complaints about USB or other connections (cable quality etc.) are snake oil, but the Modi 2 was that bad.

The Fulla 2 (mentioned in the post you quoted) main selling point is the huge knob yet the potentiometer is excessively scratchy and suffers from dead obvious channel imbalance unless you turn the knob past 10 o'clock.
To be fair, that's why analog volume control sucks. With 24-bit or higher DACs, there's really no good reason to be using analog volume control unless you are doing something more complex (like a switched relay gain control).

I agree with you that Schiit audio gear really does not seem worth the money, no matter what you're buying.
 
Oct 28, 2017
1,644
Yes and no. The Modi 2's sound quality was directly tied to how good your USB ports were so your mileage may vary greatly. For me, it was perfectly fine and I imagine that's the case with a lot of other people too. They solved this problem with their higher priced offerings because its hilarious for a USB design to be that influenced by the power its getting. Like a lot of audiophile stuff, stuff only gets resolved when someone with an investigative mind bothers to try and figure out why people keep getting varying results.

The whole Campfire Audio Solaris drama happening right now is another good example where someone has figured out people are hearing vocals completely differently because there's a large amount of product variation. Of course, the Head-Fi solution is to accuse the person who bothered to measure the samples with accusations of being a shill or astroturfer.

As for analogue volume controls, yeah that's why it sucks especially for portable gear. But the Schiit Fulla 2 is abnormally bad even for analogue volume controls, I actually had to bring out the Deoxit to see if it would resolve the scratchiness. I've never had to do that with a new piece of hardware, ever.
 
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Wat

Member
Dec 10, 2017
164
You can still use the Bose QC35-II or Sony WH-1000XM3 wired when latency is a concern, which is why I greatly prefer how the QC35 handles connection management to the XM3, but for me the XM3 were a more comfortable headphone with more effective ANC and I was left wishing that there was something which was a hybrid of the best features between the two, with the addition of aptX Low Latency.
I'm waiting for Beyerdynamic Lagoon before jumping into noise cancelling phones, it has AptX LL with ANC and should be on the market shortly.
 
Oct 26, 2017
3,320
I was able to pick up a pair of Bose QC35-II today, and the comparison between them and the Sony WH-1000XM3 is far from being as clear cut as I thought.

If you wear glasses and care about noise cancelling performance it is no contest. The WH-1000XM3 kicks the QC35-II's ass.
If you do not wear glasses, it's much closer between them. The overall "noise floor" is higher on the XM3 vs the QC35, but the XM3 is filtering out more noise. I have a variable speed fan here that makes a high-pitched noise at certain speeds. You don't hear that at all with the XM3, while you do still hear it with the QC35.
The QC35 does a better job of filtering out low rumbling noises if you have a tight seal with the headphones. For me, that means not wearing glasses and either having to play with the headphone position to get them just right, or pressing on the headphones. The padding is less pliable, so if I move, that can break the seal and let in some low frequency noise.
The XM3 is not quite as good at filtering out this noise, but what remains is quiet and unobtrusive, and does not vary when I adjust the headphones or press on them, as the padding is softer. So while the QC35 may technically have the better noise cancellation, the XM3 wins for me in real-world usage.

Device management is much better on the QC35 than the XM3, as it can be paired to two devices at once, and the app stores your history of connected devices so that you can swap them in/out quicker rather than having to go through the pairing process again.
There is no audio mixing/auto-switching sources when you are connected to two devices (except maybe for calls - I have not tested that yet). If you are playing audio from one device and then start playback on the other, it will "play" to the headphones in silence. You can tap the Bluetooth switch twice to switch between paired devices - though it issues a pause command to both devices and takes about 10 seconds to switch, so it's not seamless.
You have the option to disable the voice assistant with the QC35, but doing this also seems to disable the quick switch capability for some reason. The voice does not shout at you like the XM3 assistant, but it's still louder than I would prefer, and sounds far more robotic.

Analog audio with the QC35 uses a 2.5mm cable rather than 3.5mm which is a hassle. It also kills Bluetooth functionality just like the XM3 - so you won't be able to answer calls while playing a game on your Switch for example.
Though the included cable only supports stereo audio, the QC35 does support a microphone when using the 2.5mm > 3.5mm cable from my QC25.
While analog audio kills the Bluetooth connection, disconnecting it does not turn the headphones off like the XM3 (so NC remains active) and they reconnect to your Bluetooth devices automatically. So it is not a perfect implementation, but a good one.

Comfort was a surprise. The XM3 are noticeably larger headphones than either of the Bose headphones, and weigh more:
  • 207g - QC25 Triple-Black with fully-charged 900mAh AAA Eneloop.
  • 235g - QC35-II at ~60% charge.
  • 252g - WH-1000XM3 at ~60% charge.
But I would rank them as QC25 > XM3 > QC35 for comfort.
The QC25 wins for being the lightest of the headphones and having a fit that I find comfortable, but the QC35 design has changed in ways that I don't like.
The arm and gimbal design has been changed such that the QC35 only have about 20° of movement, while the QC25 had about 45° of movement.
The arm adjustments are much looser and prone to slipping rather than locking in place, and for my head, I need to have them set one or two notches larger than the QC25.
These design changes mean that it feels like the QC35 are putting a lot more pressure on my head.
I'm not sure how RTINGS are measuring clamping force, but my subjective assessment of the XM3 vs the QC35 does not match their results. They say that the XM3 has 0.11lb more clamping force than the QC35, but I'd say that the XM3 is maybe slightly higher than the QC25, but the QC35 is noticeably tighter than both and uncomfortable for me as a result.

The assistant button on the QC35 can be assigned to Google, Alexa, or NC hi/lo/off, and while it cannot be assigned to Siri, you can hold the play/pause button to activate Siri. I wish that it could be assigned to an "Aware mode" like the QC20 had, which kept NC active but passed through vocal frequencies. As I mentioned in my post on the XM3, Sony's implementation of that is not very good. If they update the XM3 so that you can set the strength and enable the voice-only mode for that, it would be far more useful.
Having a sliding on/off switch with a momentary position for Bluetooth works extremely well. I hate having to hold the XM3's power button to switch them on/off or to switch into pairing mode. Just like the QC25, you flick a switch on the QC35 and they're off so you can put them away immediately.
The play and volume controls are awful and mushy compared to the buttons on the XM3, but at least they are real buttons for these functions rather than gesture control.
Overall, the general materials don't feel as good as the QC25 Triple-Black. They still claim that it's glass reinforced nylon, but it looks and feels a lot more plasticky. It just looks like matte black plastic rather than having the texture of the triple-black.

I'm not sure how noticeable it will be, but here's a photos showing the QC25 Triple-Black:


And the QC35-II:


You might notice that there are subtle silvery flecks in the QC25, while the QC35-II just has a matte black finish.
You can see the difference in the headband shape, and both gimbals are adjusted as far as they can go to show the difference in the range of movement between them.

If the QC35-II was just the QC25 with Bluetooth (and USB-C) they would be a clear winner, but I dislike many of the changes Bose have made between the QC25 and QC35.
I'd still prefer that they had a model which let you use AAA batteries, because they're so much easier to deal with.


Well that's why I said: "The only reason you need an amp for them is if you find them too quiet. Otherwise, you don’t need one."
Thanks for your review! I have the QC35-II since Christmas and Bose is fucking stupid for not including aptx like the Sony ones do. How can a company fuck up such a simple thing? Will return the Bose now and get the Sony ones.

Edit: Researching more I find so many different opinions. Some people game with the Sonys without problems and wireless and say there is no delay and other people say they have very slight delay in comparison to the Bose QC35-II. Eh?? APTX-LL is the one codec I need?
 
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Oct 25, 2017
2,245
Thanks for your review! I have the QC35-II since Christmas and Bose is fucking stupid for not including aptx like the Sony ones do. How can a company fuck up such a simple thing? Will return the Bose now and get the Sony ones.

Edit: Researching more I find so many different opinions. Some people game with the Sonys without problems and wireless and say there is no delay and other people say they have very slight delay in comparison to the Bose QC35-II. Eh?? APTX-LL is the one codec I need?
Well not all source devices are created equally, some can add latency of their own. Also it's worth noting, bluetooth latency isn't something that people can objectively measure because not everyone notices it as easily. Some people are very sensitive to a/v issues, and for those people I don't think bluetooth is really an option for them at the moment. aptx-LL is what you want, but so little headphones and devices actually support it that I don't think it's a particularly good solution for now.
Yes and no. The Modi 2's sound quality was directly tied to how good your USB ports were so your mileage may vary greatly. For me, it was perfectly fine and I imagine that's the case with a lot of other people too. They solved this problem with their higher priced offerings because its hilarious for a USB design to be that influenced by the power its getting. Like a lot of audiophile stuff, stuff only gets resolved when someone with an investigative mind bothers to try and figure out why people keep getting varying results.
Yeah, I got an open box Modi for like half price - only reason I got it, would have probably got a different DAC otherwise. Fortunately I also don't get any audible jitter from it. I bet the person who didn't want it probably did, lol.
 
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Pargon

Banned
Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,660
Thanks for your review! I have the QC35-II since Christmas and Bose is fucking stupid for not including aptx like the Sony ones do. How can a company fuck up such a simple thing? Will return the Bose now and get the Sony ones.
The WH-1000XM3 don't have aptX Low Latency support either, only aptX HD - which generally requires Android devices (or that Genki Bluetooth adapter for the Switch).
aptX LL is ~32ms while I have not seen measurements for aptX HD - though I would expect it to be 100-200ms like most other Bluetooth codecs.

Also it's worth noting, bluetooth latency isn't something that people can objectively measure because not everyone notices it as easily. Some people are very sensitive to a/v issues, and for those people I don't think bluetooth is really an option for them at the moment.
You can measure this objectively, based on various methods.
I have a device which is specifically for adjusting A/V Sync that combines a photosensor with a microphone and has you play a video which flashes on-screen at the same time as a 1kHz tone is played. This will measure latency to something like 0.5ms accuracy if I recall correctly.
I should probably try that with my iPad some time to see if the claims of AAC latency being better than SBC are true or not, but I'm not sure if the videos are in a format that will play natively (or if that would affect it).

I'm waiting for Beyerdynamic Lagoon before jumping into noise cancelling phones, it has AptX LL with ANC and should be on the market shortly.
Sounds interesting. Hopefully they can get everything else right, as connectivity is quite complex with wireless headphones if you want to use more than one device.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,245
The WH-1000XM3 don't have aptX Low Latency support either, only aptX HD - which generally requires Android devices (or that Genki Bluetooth adapter for the Switch).
aptX LL is ~32ms while I have not seen measurements for aptX HD - though I would expect it to be 100-200ms like most other Bluetooth codecs.


You can measure this objectively, based on various methods.
I have a device which is specifically for adjusting A/V Sync that combines a photosensor with a microphone and has you play a video which flashes on-screen at the same time as a 1kHz tone is played. This will measure latency to something like 0.5ms accuracy if I recall correctly.
I should probably try that with my iPad some time to see if the claims of AAC latency being better than SBC are true or not, but I'm not sure if the videos are in a format that will play natively (or if that would affect it).
Well yes, I was on about more if you're looking at random people on the internets opinions.
 

Pargon

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Well yes, I was on about more if you're looking at random people on the internets opinions.
If anyone is interested, I got my latency tester out and checked both headphones via the YouTube app:

Sony WH-1000XM3: 258ms average after 60s:


Bose QC35-II: 284ms average after 60s:


Bose QC25 (USB-C adapter): 127ms average after 60s:


So both the wireless headphones have about 7 frames of latency at 24 FPS, while using a USB-C adapter reduces that to 3 frames. For comparison, I also tested the QC35-II wired, and got essentially the same results as the QC25.

I did not have any other headphones to hand, but I don't believe the wired QC25/35 should be adding any latency, so it looks like there's some inherent latency in the YouTube app on iOS.
That may be due to the (Apple) USB-C adapter, scaling (the YouTube app is not even optimized for the new iPads yet) or perhaps it's an issue with the way that YouTube re-encodes videos which has affected the test pattern.
Whatever the cause, if we assume that 127ms latency is inherent to the YouTube app itself, that brings down the latency of Bluetooth (AAC) to 131ms for the Sony XM3, and 157ms for the QC35-II.
So that's better than the results I've seen posted for SBC (I have not tested with my PC yet) but still pretty high, and noticeable to me.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,245
That's rather interesting, the latency is actually less than I thought if I'm being honest. I do wonder how AAC compares to normal aptX then, I'd always heard aptx was a bit better for latency than AAC.

I think I'm pretty fortunate that a/v sync issues have to be significantly noticeable for me to be bothered by it. Any device I've used the bog standard aptx on with the XM2 tends to be okay, and I'm not too annoyed by it. LDAC on the other hand is worse and a bit more noticeable - if I'm watching stuff I usually go into the audio device settings on android to turn LDAC off to get it to go back to using aptx. I can't say I've tried AAC since I haven't owned an Apple device in well over 5 years at this point.

I did try using them connected up to my TV at one point, but that was a pretty terrible experience without doing any a/v sync adjusting in the settings. Since I couldn't really find any information on what my TV supports codec wise (Samsung UE40MU6400 is what I've got), I can only assume it just supports SBC.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,228
I'm thinking about buying the WH-1000XM3.

I had the bose QC35 awhile ago and I liked them but I think I want to go with Sony this time around. Forking over $349.99 though, gulp.
 

Pargon

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As a heads-up for people, if you have Bose QuietComforts and they develop a fault, it is worth registering them and contacting support even if they are out of warranty.
Things were probably slowed thanks to bad timing due to the holidays, but support got back to me today and offered an upgrade to the QC35-I at a very reasonable price - enough to overlook any of the issues that I listed above.
As far as I can tell, the only difference between the QC35-I and QC35-II is that they added a button which can be assigned to Noise Cancelling hi/lo/off or Google Assistant/Alexa, which is not a feature that I used.

That is the polar opposite of having dealt with Sony support in the past, where they wanted to charge me ~$200 for a replacement headphone cable on higher-end headphones.
It wasn't even using a proprietary connection - they used 3.5mm, but had an extra threaded connector which would lock them in place rather than only being held by the 3.5mm jack. A $5 regular 3.5mm cable worked just as well.

I'm thinking about buying the WH-1000XM3.
I had the bose QC35 awhile ago and I liked them but I think I want to go with Sony this time around. Forking over $349.99 though, gulp.
As I said in my previous posts, I can only recommend the Sony WH-1000XM3 if you plan on using them with a single device.
Pairing with multiple wireless devices, or switching between wired/wireless devices, sucks. Bose handles that much better.
But you say that you previously had QC35s, so maybe Sony avoids whatever it was that you disliked about them.
 
Aug 22, 2018
62
NC, US
Hey y'all, I'm posting here for a headphone recommendation. I have a feeling this is asking for the moon, but I'm wondering about some decent wireless headphones under 100$. I'd mostly be listening to podcasts, hip hop, and video games. If there aren't any wireless, closed ear headphones that satisfy this requirement, I'd like some where I can switch out the wire if it starts getting weird, or ones with a decent warranty. I've been using wired Tascam TH-02s and I like them, it's just the wire gets in the way a lot. I'd be carrying them around in my bag in a padded bag, if that makes any difference. Thank you for yall's time.
 

Aiii

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Oct 24, 2017
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You’re basically describing how 99% of Bluetooth devices work with the Sony’s. It’s not enough to negate the fact they’re better headphones.
Much better headphones.

Honestly, if you're on Android you only have to tap your device on the earcup and it's paired.

Besides that, the multiple connections isn't even that great on the Bose. If you have both devices active, for instance if you want to watch something on your iPad, while having Spotify open on your phone, nine times out of ten, your video audio won't play on the headset because it will be connected to your phone. Even worse if you have a game or something open on your phone. It is far from perfect.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,228
As a heads-up for people, if you have Bose QuietComforts and they develop a fault, it is worth registering them and contacting support even if they are out of warranty.
Things were probably slowed thanks to bad timing due to the holidays, but support got back to me today and offered an upgrade to the QC35-I at a very reasonable price - enough to overlook any of the issues that I listed above.
As far as I can tell, the only difference between the QC35-I and QC35-II is that they added a button which can be assigned to Noise Cancelling hi/lo/off or Google Assistant/Alexa, which is not a feature that I used.

That is the polar opposite of having dealt with Sony support in the past, where they wanted to charge me ~$200 for a replacement headphone cable on higher-end headphones.
It wasn't even using a proprietary connection - they used 3.5mm, but had an extra threaded connector which would lock them in place rather than only being held by the 3.5mm jack. A $5 regular 3.5mm cable worked just as well.


As I said in my previous posts, I can only recommend the Sony WH-1000XM3 if you plan on using them with a single device.
Pairing with multiple wireless devices, or switching between wired/wireless devices, sucks. Bose handles that much better.
But you say that you previously had QC35s, so maybe Sony avoids whatever it was that you disliked about them.
You mean that I can’t use it with my phone and then it’s a pain in the ass to pair with another device?
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,228
Much better headphones.

Honestly, if you're on Android you only have to tap your device on the earcup and it's paired.

Besides that, the multiple connections isn't even that great on the Bose. If you have both devices active, for instance if you want to watch something on your iPad, while having Spotify open on your phone, nine times out of ten, your video audio won't play on the headset because it will be connected to your phone. Even worse if you have a game or something open on your phone. It is far from perfect.
I don’t use android, I have an iPhone but I don’t want AirPods and I don’t want Beats.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,245
You mean that I can’t use it with my phone and then it’s a pain in the ass to pair with another device?
It's only a pain if you're wanting to use two devices at the same time. Like say if you have a laptop your headphones are connected to, but also want it connected to your phone at the same time, for calls or other things being sent to you.

If you don't want to use it with multiple devices at the same time then it's not that bad. Once you've paired the headphones with a device it'll find them as soon as you turn them on. I use my XM2 (the previous model, but likely works the same) with my PC, phone and Switch fine.
 

Aiii

何これ
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Oct 24, 2017
3,316
I don’t use android, I have an iPhone but I don’t want AirPods and I don’t want Beats.
So you pair them once with a device and then connect them via the Bluetooth settings if you want to switch to another device. It will auto connect to whatever device you used last.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,228
It's only a pain if you're wanting to use two devices at the same time. Like say if you have a laptop your headphones are connected to, but also want it connected to your phone at the same time, for calls or other things being sent to you.

If you don't want to use it with multiple devices at the same time then it's not that bad. Once you've paired the headphones with a device it'll find them as soon as you turn them on. I use my XM2 (the previous model, but likely works the same) with my PC, phone and Switch fine.
Oh, I don't mind not having that feature at all, I think pairing to one device is all i'm ever going to use it for anyway.

So you pair them once with a device and then connect them via the Bluetooth settings if you want to switch to another device. It will auto connect to whatever device you used last.
Alright, sounds good. I got used to the W1 chip but hey, airpods/beats worked the same way with pairing when I was switching devices.
 

Pargon

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Oct 27, 2017
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You’re basically describing how 99% of Bluetooth devices work with the Sony’s. It’s not enough to negate the fact they’re better headphones.
Maybe that's how the majority are, but I don't think it's acceptable for something which costs $350. For something under $100, sure.
A friend has some Sennheiser ANC headphones (I'm not sure which) that can pair to multiple devices too - in fact he was complaining to me recently about how it switches source too readily, and anything playing on his tablet cuts out when he gets a new notification on his phone. He uses Android devices, so I'm not sure whether that is the cause for the behavior, or if it's just how Sennheiser handles things.
I've heard that Steelseries' headphones actually mix the audio from multiple sources, which sounds ideal - except they don't have active noise cancelling.

And being the "better headphones" is debatable. RTINGS still rate the Bose QC35 as having the most neutral and best sound quality overall of all the active noise cancelling headphones out there.
I have not really tried to compare the two critically, as either are of sufficient quality for me; the most important things with wireless noise cancelling headphones for me are how effective they are, comfort, and convenience.

People have been saying how wireless headphones are so much more convenient than wired, but that's only true if you intend to use them with a single device.
The QC35s are not ideal, but are more convenient than the wired QC25 I am replacing because I can use them like regular wired headphones with my PC (latency-free) then pull the cord and they immediately connect to both my tablet and phone.
The XM3 are decidedly less convenient than wired headphones for me because disconnecting the cable turns them off, and pairing with a specific device takes considerably longer than swapping over a cable did - even when you have to attach a headphone adapter to the device.
If I have to pair the QC35 with another device (I have 3-4 that I would switch between wirelessly) it's much faster than the XM3. It takes about a second to enter pairing mode on the QC35 since it has a dedicated switch compared to holding down the power button for ~10s with the XM3.

As I understand it, headphones using the Apple W1 chip (AirPods, Beats) are convenient to use with Apple devices, as they seamlessly switch pairings when you try to play audio to them from a new device - at least that is what I've been told, as I haven't used them myself.
But switching pairings to a non-Apple device is just as painful as anything else which only supports a single connection.
Supporting at least two paired devices seems essential if you intend to use the headphones wirelessly with more than just your phone.

Here's a short clip showing the connection switching back and forth between two devices (iPad and PC) on the QC35 in about the same time as it takes for the XM3 to enter pairing mode and appear as an available device.

It's only a pain if you're wanting to use two devices at the same time. Like say if you have a laptop your headphones are connected to, but also want it connected to your phone at the same time, for calls or other things being sent to you.

If you don't want to use it with multiple devices at the same time then it's not that bad. Once you've paired the headphones with a device it'll find them as soon as you turn them on. I use my XM2 (the previous model, but likely works the same) with my PC, phone and Switch fine.
The XM3s immediately connect to the last device they were paired with when switched on, they don't wait for the first device that tries to send them audio as you seem to describe.
Maybe that is different if the device is out of range, but it's typically going to be paired to my phone most of the time, even if I do want to use it with other devices as well.

With the Bose headphones it's always paired to two devices - typically my phone and something else so that I can always answer calls on them.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,245
On my phone I never leave bluetooth on if I'm not using it. It's a drain on the battery for no reason. So that's probably why I've never seen it try and connect to my headphones when I don't want to - it can't.

I've definitely had my Genki automatically connect to the headphones even if I'd used the headphones with my Phones or PC last. I don't know if that's specific to the Genki.

That said, even if it doesn't connect to a device instantly, you just have to go into the bluetooth list on the device and tell it to connect to it. Most devices that takes all of a few seconds. I've never had to go into the 10 seconds hold pair mode to re-connect to something I've already paired with and I've swapped between devices a lot.

Anyway, regardless of quality, the biggest detriment against the Bose for me is codec support. As an Android user, their codec support is frankly awful, and a deal breaker. Not all Android devices support AAC, with Oreo it's up to the manufacturer and not all of them enabled it. Even if it is enabled, you may have to faff about in the developer options to force the use of it. Which leaves SBC that can be anything from good to ehh depending on the device, especially with relation to lag.
 

Pargon

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On my phone I never leave bluetooth on if I'm not using it. It's a drain on the battery for no reason. So that's probably why I've never seen it try and connect to my headphones when I don't want to - it can't.
I can't do that since I have other devices which require an active Bluetooth connection to my phone. There are iOS features which require it too.
I've definitely had my Genki automatically connect to the headphones even if I'd used the headphones with my Phones or PC last. I don't know if that's specific to the Genki.
You are right. If it cannot find the last paired device, it will connect to the first device it finds from the previously paired devices.
But unless you are manually disabling Bluetooth on your phone, which iOS users are unlikely to do, that means the headphones are likely to always connect to your phone first.

I tested this by disabling Bluetooth on my phone temporarily, and it ended up always connecting to my PC rather than the iPad even though the signal for the iPad was much stronger (PC in another room, iPad next to headphones).
It also made me realize something else: the Bose headphones read out the name of the device(s) it connects to. Sony's headphones do not, so I had no idea which device it was connecting to automatically when I was trying this.
That said, even if it doesn't connect to a device instantly, you just have to go into the bluetooth list on the device and tell it to connect to it. Most devices that takes all of a few seconds. I've never had to go into the 10 seconds hold pair mode to re-connect to something I've already paired with and I've swapped between devices a lot.
That is only when it is not connected to anything (and has given up trying).
If it's connected to something else; i.e. my phone, I have to open the Bluetooth settings to forcibly disconnect the headphones on that source device, then manually connect it on the new device.
The alternative is to hold down the power button and enter pairing mode, then connect it on the device I want, which takes about the same amount of time and only requires me to interact with two devices rather than three.

If it's connected to another device, trying to connect from something else does nothing for 20-30 seconds and throws up an error message about being unable to connect, and to check whether the device was switched on. It will not switch device.

I believe that is how the AirPods and other W1 headphones do work though - that they will switch device when you try to send audio to them, no matter what they are currently connected to - but that it only works with Apple devices (possibly only iOS devices).
Anyway, regardless of quality, the biggest detriment against the Bose for me is codec support. As an Android user, their codec support is frankly awful, and a deal breaker. Not all Android devices support AAC, with Oreo it's up to the manufacturer and not all of them enabled it. Even if it is enabled, you may have to faff about in the developer options to force the use of it. Which leaves SBC that can be anything from good to ehh depending on the device, especially with relation to lag.
That's true, Sony's codec support is better for people using Android devices, and theoretically higher quality too. I was not aware that AAC was an optional codec on Android.
Even if Sony had offered it to them, I doubt Apple would have implemented LDAC on iOS anyway, so it's unlikely to change from AAC any time soon, unless Apple introduce a new codec of their own design.
 
Oct 26, 2017
251
I'm eyeing the Sennheiser HD58x Jubilee's from Massdrop now since i can't find the Philips Fidelio X2HR's anywhere....

Does anyone here have these? How are they for gaming and how do these drive without an amp? I listen from my Phone pretty often.
 
Last edited:
Oct 25, 2017
2,245
I can't do that since I have other devices which require an active Bluetooth connection to my phone. There are iOS features which require it too.

You are right. If it cannot find the last paired device, it will connect to the first device it finds from the previously paired devices.
But unless you are manually disabling Bluetooth on your phone, which iOS users are unlikely to do, that means the headphones are likely to always connect to your phone first.

I tested this by disabling Bluetooth on my phone temporarily, and it ended up always connecting to my PC rather than the iPad even though the signal for the iPad was much stronger (PC in another room, iPad next to headphones).
It also made me realize something else: the Bose headphones read out the name of the device(s) it connects to. Sony's headphones do not, so I had no idea which device it was connecting to automatically when I was trying this.

That is only when it is not connected to anything (and has given up trying).
If it's connected to something else; i.e. my phone, I have to open the Bluetooth settings to forcibly disconnect the headphones on that source device, then manually connect it on the new device.
The alternative is to hold down the power button and enter pairing mode, then connect it on the device I want, which takes about the same amount of time and only requires me to interact with two devices rather than three.

If it's connected to another device, trying to connect from something else does nothing for 20-30 seconds and throws up an error message about being unable to connect, and to check whether the device was switched on. It will not switch device.

I believe that is how the AirPods and other W1 headphones do work though - that they will switch device when you try to send audio to them, no matter what they are currently connected to - but that it only works with Apple devices (possibly only iOS devices).
Fair enough, as I said, I've not used an Apple devices in years and years so I didn't realise built in features would use it. I will admit it's rather disappointing they still haven't really improved on it between releases. This was a problem brought up with the previous iterations of the headphones, and many hoped would be fixed with the XM3. It's not really a problem for me, but I can see why it would be for some.
That's true, Sony's codec support is better for people using Android devices, and theoretically higher quality too. I was not aware that AAC was an optional codec on Android.
Even if Sony had offered it to them, I doubt Apple would have implemented LDAC on iOS anyway, so it's unlikely to change from AAC any time soon, unless Apple introduce a new codec of their own design.
Up until Oreo AAC support was even worse on Android. With Oreo, Google added AAC (and LDAC) to the Android Open Source Project which means it's a lot easier for manufacturers to add it, but some still don't. Plus implementation varies widely in quality between handsets due to AAC not always playing nicely with the way Android works.

I guess Bose don't think the Android market is worth the effort, I dunno. I've always found it weird that they only support such a limited amount of codecs.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,101
Trying to decide between the HD 58X or another headphone. Its cheap on Massdrop and I'm having a tough time not pulling the trigger.

I currently own a pair of AKG Q701s and HD 598s.

Overall, I prefer my AKG Q701s, largely for the bigger sound stage, clearer sound, and all around more detail. I feel the bass on the HD 598 is a bit uncontrolled, even if its more present than on the Q701s.


I originally bought my Q701s for gaming, but fell in love with them for orchestrated film scores, jazz, classical, classic rock, and anything vocal heavy. However, I'm starting to branch out a bit more and have started to listen to some EDM and hip hop and found them leaving much to be desired in these genres. Mostly the lack of bass and impact. Would the HD 58X be a good choice for this genre? I've read they've got plenty more bass and impact over the HD 598s and people have recommended them.