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I am looking to get one mainly for travel. I have read reviews but I'd like to hear from long-term owners.
I plan to get a new wired over-ear closed-back headphone in the Shure SRH1540 largely because I find them quite comfortable which for me is the number one thing for headphones.
The main specs are:
Sensitivity. @ 1 kHz. 99 dB/mW.
Impedance. @ 1 kHz. 46 Ω
I do not want external headphone amps - so I want a DAP that will power these without noise (Fiio has some complaints in this regard with certain headphones).
I do not need streaming or Bluetooth (it's okay if it is there but not really needed) and would prefer long battery life - my flight to Canada and train, bus, ferry, and taxi is a combined 16-17 hours so something approaching this (or that has a fast battery charge) would be ideal.
My front runners are the
Astell and Kern A&Norma A25MKII ($5,900 HKD)
ibasso DX240 ($6,500 HKD)
Sony NW-ZX507 (4,990 HKD)
I do like an easy user interface so I prefer spending a bit more on these with nicer screens and an android interface over scrolling of clunky MP3 players.
I am leaning toward the Sony because it's the cheapest and like the others has a lot of supporters. Albeit it doesn't have a nice volume wheel.
Edits: 10/09/22Follow Ups:
I agree with the previous post, in that ambient noise is an issue. I'd recommend some wireless noise cancelling headphones, like the Sony. I paired this with the Sony DAP for a trip to Italy in '19, and was very happy with the noise reduction and the lack of a tether. Just made a long, hellish plane ride much more bearable. With the constant drone of jet engines, I can't imagine anyone could notice a substantial difference in sound quality wired or wireless. The Sony cans have a comfortable sound, easy to listen to and relax. Load up your library on SD card, and you're set. Most of my files are 24/96, so I can't take 'em all, but I can get a large slice of the best. Best of luck and happy travels, whatever your decision.
If you traveling while listening, like on an airplane or something, go with noise canceling headphones and bluetooth. Cuts out most of the noise. I do this for watching movies and TV shows on airplanes, or music occasionally.
But if traveling and you want some good music while at a hotel or something, a DAP or other solution are great. I recently went through this and ended up with a Chord Mojo 2 that I use with my iPhone and a pair of Dan Clark Audio Aeon Noire headphones. The Mojo 2 sounds fantastic, it's light and compact and it's fun to use.
I tried a DAP and I could not get along with it. It wasn't all that compact or light and the Android interface was not my thing (longtime iPhone user) + the sound was best in "exclusive" mode and that was kind of a hassle. Also tried IEMs and those were also not my thing. Sounded good but I did not like the feeling of them crammed in my ear. But they are of course a lot more compact.
I recently bought the DCA Noires and have been using them with my Fiio X7 player and a Schiit Magni 3+. Times have changed. You can get a good enough for a perfectionist amp cheap. The headphones are very portable and enjoyable.
One needs to directly audition things for themselves.
Sometimes I still get surprised by this audio hobby of ours.
I struggled to find the Shure SRH1540 but finally found a pair to demo in a shop that had a vast array of headphones and amplifiers.
I auditioned the usual suspects in the sub $500 price range (The Shure 1540 is $499US) and they had to be closed back design.
Sennheiser, B&W, Audio Technica, AKG, Beyerdynamics. One dealer recommended a brand I am unfamiliar with and they didn't look all that great to me - but what the hell - wow - super super comfortable and much lighter than some of the others - I really liked them for classical and jazz and they sounded a little more open and alive - albeit not as much isolation as the others. Meze 99 Classic headphones with an added set of silver 4.4 cables
What I greatly prefer about these headphones is the top band over the head - the Shure was quite uncomfortable - the ear cups were really nice but too much pressure on my head. My AKGs are on-ear not over-ear and I can't stand on-ear headphones for long which is why Grado gets knocked off the list. My HD600s have always seemed too heavy and too tight.
If you're like me and feel comfort is 95% of the game then give them a whirl and around $250. I also really enjoyed the sound quality and feel the tonal attributes eclipse some of the costlier headphones from Beyerdynamics and B&W and the Shure SRH1540. Considering I was leaning toward buying the Shure - I appreciated the fact that the dealer listened to me about balanced cables and offered up the considerably less expensive Meze 99 classics to try out.
Of course, they're not up there with the uber-expensive models but I feel like they hold with any of the $500 models I've heard for sound quality and seem, at least for my head, considerably more comfortable!
They do lean to the warmer side with a shelved down treble but still pretty open sounding to me. Definitely not as analytical as others nor as splashy in the treble but generally for long listens - that's what you're likely going to want. I think the designer perhaps has the idea that they will probably be partnered with digital sources that usually sound bright so shelving the treble down a bit will probably make a nicer longer listen.
A headphone review of the Meze is linked below.
I have also decided to go with a considerably less expensive DAP - if I like it and use it then I will consider upper-tiered models. The Hiby R5 Gen 2 is the DAP I intend to get. It is $2998 HKD as opposed to the more expensive models I initially looked at - it has a class A mode and runs 35 hours on a charge - and unlike the Sony and some more expensive units it has a fast charge charger and includes a case.
Hiby 5 gen2 https://headfonics.com/hiby-r5-gen-2-review/
Meze 99 Classics Gold (in HK they include an additional silver 4.4 cable)
I found the review interesting because he also didn't care for the Shure 1540. I didn't hate it or anything but the Meze I just felt was better and about 1/2 the price - so it's nice to look at some of the under the radar brands sometimes.
I would be curious to try their $5,000 flagship headphones next time I am out that way.
This is just me, but there is so much background ambient noise when traveling, that I would be reluctant to invest heavily for sound just for travel.
That's just me.
I like FiiO, which you've already concluded won't meet your requirements. I imagine my newest FiiO M17 might meet your requirements, but it costs about 14 thousand Hong Kong Dollars, which is probably out of your price range. It's also quite large and heavy, but still could be used for airline travel and it sounds exceptional. I've had mine for only a week, but I'm extremely happy with it.
Anyway, good luck with your search.
Yes - just a note - the Fiio issue apparently only exists on the $500ish model and not the upper models (or the basic models).
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