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Headphone Advice

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Note: this post has been completely changed around, so take a second look.

I have a somewhat clearer idea of what I want, and so request opinions based on the information I'm about to provide. This question, in different forms, has been asked before, but I'd like to put this out there with my own specific spin. Any help is appreciated.

I listened to the Sony MDR-V6/7506 the other day, and was impressed. It has much of what I'm looking for, and I may end up getting it, but before I do, I'd like to see if any other 'phones match up. With each item on my list, I've given my opinion on the V6 as a reference.


1. Excellent bass response is required. Must be tight and clear. The lower the frequency extension, the better. I want as much detail in this range as possible. When I'm listening to actual instruments, be they electric or upright bass, I want the texture to come out...what I would call the 'ridges' or the 'grooves' in the bass vibration, and individual string plucks should be clear. And I do want a visceral quality as well, but obviously not boomy or possessed of a dull, thumpy quality. Something that conveys the power of a vicious bassline, or a hammer pluck, or slap, etc...
However, the sound should not be thick, as to overpower other elements in the music (unless meant to). Again, I liked the V6's bass, and I want it to be at least that good.

2. I think I prefer at least some brightness, so a healthy emphasis in the midrange and treble would be good. Nothing shrill, but enough so that higher-pitched instruments (guitar, horns, piano, vocals) take on an intense, slightly piercing, clarity that gets your attention. In other words, an 'upfront' sound. I didn't find the V6 to be too bright for my tastes, just so you know.

3. There should be a great deal of clarity and detail, in general, so that you can hear everything that's on the recording (for better or worse). The V6 had this going for it.

4. Vocals should come out nicely. Aside from the slightly bright quality I want with higher-pitched vocals, there should be a smoothness/tightness present, and perhaps this will be more evident with vocals that are lower-pitched. The V6 wasn't bad, but not great here, as I recall.

5. Should go extremely well with RnB/Soul and HipHop, but also respectably good with Rock. The V6 seems to do RnB nicely, at least.

6. Should be easily powered, and sound good, out of a portable device. I have the SL-SW870 and D-365 currently, and the D-25s will be here shortly, so keep those pcdps in mind. The V6/7506 has a respectable volume with my D-365, but I would prefer something that goes louder and has more presence with a relatively weak source.

Important qualities, but not absolutely crucial:

1. When plugged into a portable headphone amp, such as a META42 or a SuperMini, the sound should improve considerably, with significant gains in volume, soundstage, etc...

2. Even w/o an amp, I'd like something with a respectable degree of openness and fullness that surrounds you, so I can distinctly hear all the elements in a song. It doesn't have to be like the HD600, but as good as can be. The V6 wasn't disappointing here, but I could do with more.

3. A design that is at least somewhat closed, so that I've got decent isolation and not too much leakage. A full circumaural design may be ok, but if it adds isolation and ruins the openness, then probably not. It should also be reasonably comfortable, and not overly bulky. I found the V6/7506 reasonably comfortable for the short time I heard it.

4. Sounds reasonably good with Jazz and Classical.

So...there it is, the revised list. For all I know, it may still be impossible and self-contradictory, but I wanted to put down all the things I find important. But, since I've tried to list them in terms of importance, that should help. And it may seem that I'm already in love with the V6, but I just have to ask if there's anything that anyone else finds better. The only things I'd really like to change about the V6 are its slight lack of brightness/upfrontness, its openness, and its sensitivity, so that it could be louder. But maybe these could be solved with a bit more volume? I am specifically interested in hearing how the V6 improves with an amp. And How are the higher-end Sonys?

Much Thanks.
post #2 of 21
you couldn't be a more perfect candidate for etys! 4p if you don't have a dedicated amp, 4s if you do. although if you don't have an amp now, but haven't ruled out getting one in the future (trust me, you'll want one after hearing the etys) the 4p is still a good choice because you can buy an adapter cable which converts it to a 4s. best of both worlds!
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response. Those Etys are pulling me in with an undeniable gravity, like many hapless victims before me.
It may be a foregone conclusion that I should buy these, but it's always nice having even more confirmation.

The ER-4P seems like a natural choice, as it will be more easily driven from even weak players. Of course, I don't like
the idea of spending more cash on a conversion cable (how much are they?), but having the option of either 4P/4S is nice.

Regarding volume, how loud can the ER-4P go on an average player like the Panasonic SL-SW870 (1999) or the Sony
D-365 (1997)? And what about the D-25s? I'm sure that this has a lot more power than today's players, and will most
likely have no problem producing ear-bleeding volumes, but I thought I'd ask anyway.

Perhaps it's silly, but I find it hard to believe that something so small can produce the same body/fullness of sound that
you can find in a monster set of full-sized cans.

My impression is that the Etys are very clear, and accurate. I suppose accurate is another way of saying that they don't
emphasize any particular area of the frequency range, except that the 4P accentuates the bass somewhat more. But, in
your actual experiences, how do they handle lows, mids, and highs in Rock/HipHop/RnB/Jazz/Classical as compared to those
other 'phones I mentioned (or even better ones)?
post #4 of 21
My guess would be that since they're very small, yet go inside your ear, they'll go loud enough to all the dammage to your hearing you want. Hopefuly, with the 20db noise reduction they claim, you won't have to push them that far.
post #5 of 21
I also listen to quite a bit of Hip Hop, and there I want something that handles bass very well...it should be tight, with texture, and with a visceral impact,....
Don't expect the Etys to provide that type of bass.........it is definitely NOT visceral. It is bass that is heard, not felt.
For your purposes, I would recommend the Sony MDR-V6 at around $75. Excellent bass, clear mids and highs, although they are a bit analytical, and easily driven from a Panasonic SW-SL870 (I have one........great player!). I also have the Sony D-25S, which drives them even better, but it's not really portable (skips a bit, and the battery doesn't provide much time).
To fully appreciate the V6s, though, you could get a small amp built from someone like JMT and use the line-out of your PCDP. The V6s, although easily driven, really shine with an amp. The Etys are great 'phones and provide a unique listening experience, but they don't provide the impactful bass that many people are looking for (IMHO).
Hope this helps.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
That's true. From what I've heard, there's no way the Etys could match up with the V6 or the DT770. The question is how much I want that extra bass response, if I am to give up something else. My impression is that the Etys are very good at playing Jazz and Classical. But, although I have jazz/classical CDs and intend to get back them at some point, these days I don't touch them. It's mostly Rock/HipHop/RnB. If the Etys can at least hold their own in these genres, I might not be able to resist. Do many people really like (or even prefer) the Etys for rock n roll, when compared to Grados, for example? And my hip-hop isn't bass heavy like something you'd hear pumping out of a low-rider, but the bass should have a solid presence and be smooth. Same for the RnB, with an emphasis on the smooth part. Ety bass is very tight and with texture, at least, right?

On a side note, I'm curious as to all of your opinions on how the oft-discussed quality headphones measure up to each other in terms of bass (and a given set of 'phones will do at producing bass for different _kinds_ of music). Do most of you prefer the V6 or the DT 770, for example? I know this has been discussed before, and I'm about to check some search results on the matter, so if you've already chimed in on this topic elsewhere, feel free to pass it by. But if you've not spoken up before, or have something new to say, please do. ;]

post #7 of 21
"Perhaps it's silly, but I find it hard to believe that something so small can produce the same body/fullness of sound that
you can find in a monster set of full-sized cans."

They can't.

Etys are accurate as hell, but the experience is more "in your mind". When it comes time to rock out, I prefer drivers that can move some serious air. Dynamics with visceral impact is... ahem... FREAKIN' AWESOME. This sensation is integral to the rock experience... for me, anyway.
post #8 of 21
The closest you'll get to visceral bass through headphones is the DT770. Beyer recently re-released all of their headphones so you'll have to enquire with them which is the most bass-heavy version of the DT770 (they have a PRO version and a straight 770 now, the PRO version's been out for a while).

The DT770-250 pro that I own does a good job with what I think you're looking for, bass hits lower than what I've experienced from any subwoofer under 15". However the bass is largely dependent on music, and some music might sound bloated, although I've only had a problem with listening to low-quality sources.

You need an amp. And if there's any rattling going on with the drivers, send them back for warranty replacement (as I will soon).

post #9 of 21
As you say that you don't want to use an amplifier, in your shoes I would go, if you want bass, for the Sony's V6, 7506 or the 7509, the best three Sony's under the CD3000 and R10, "I don't think that you can find visceral bass in any other place" for another brands I do not have much experience, the Grados sound good but are a little bit uncomfortable and not that bassy, as and I'm a Sennheiser lover so do not trust me, but for 150 or less hum!!!....we can say the HD580? an later on an amp....I'm still making love to my HD600+MGHead, I will let you know when I finish with them, for now I'm going to the second pair of ear pads.....
post #10 of 21

i would go for the etymotic 4P w/ the 4S attachment wire. despite of what others have to say about its ability to produce upfront sound and bass, i have to say i dissagree with them. i percieve the sound as real and present more than any pair of headphones can get. in fact, it feels as if you are sitting in with the band on stage in some cases. because of that unique realism, the bass, mid-range, and treble "seem" somewhat recessed...but in actuality, i think the sound spectrum is more real and clearly presented than any other phones i've ever heard. i think, and i am just speculating this, that since most people are use to the "bumped up frequency" sound of other headphones, listening to the ety's, AT FIRST, seems too different of an experience...for me, it was hard to just accept the sound of the ety's at first...but after 2 weeks of breaking in both the phones and me, i soon discovered that what i was experiencing with the ety's was a whole new level of preception in sound. but, some people do not like that extreme realism and the different sense of reproduction. keep in mind that this is all simply my opinion. but i have often observed that many (from discussions on both this forum as well as the headwize forums, and also from recommending the ety's to many of my friends) who decide to get ety's, from being use to the sound of full-sized drivers, become more appreciative for realism in the reproduction of sound. and after getting use to the ety sound i noticed that it is hard to go back to any other headphone. as of this moment, my ety's are being repaired...i am literally going through ety withdrawl and do not like my other phones nearly as much.
about the bass again...many may say that the bass is not as much "there" as other full-sized headphones, but i would rephrase that type of statement by saying that the bass is surely all there in its fullness with just a DIFFERENT way of presenting that bass...not fatiguing whatsoever. i say you go with the ety 4P/S and simply return them if you are not satisfied...many online retailers have a 30 day return policy. it sounds as if you have a great appreciation of music and the sound spectrum...i would hate to see you pass up a pair of phones like the ety's. at least give them a try, IMO! some people may not hold the Ety's as high as i do, but all that matters in the end is what you think of them. well, i have told you how much i appreciate the ety's with an attempted description of its unique sound. if you do decide to get them, i hope you'll enjoy them like the many others before you. take care and good luck!
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 


Ok, then. Yes, what you've said (zeplin) echoes what I've read time and time again. Believe it or not, though, your post does help me see this one point more clearly: if I want to try out the Etymotics, I've really got to try them out. In other words, there won't be any point listening to them for 5-30 minutes in a store audition. Of course, I would hate doing that anyway, but now it seems that such a small amount of time (in someone else's space) wouldn't be acceptable for making up my mind.

Bottom line: I've got to buy them (probably online) first or just forget about them. Cheap bastard that I am, I don't like the idea of losing shipping charges if I return to HeadRoom, but there's nothing to be done about it...can't expect anything more generous than their policy.

thanks for the reply.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 

As the wise man said...


I've placed an order for the ER-4P at HeadRoom, just to end the madness (for now). At worst, I'll suffer some disappointment and the loss of shipping charges.

Let us see what we can see.
post #13 of 21
The SR125 would be the recommended choice, but you could fulfill all your wants if you go higher up the Grado line.

The DT770 and V6 won't cut it if you enjoy percussive sounds.
post #14 of 21

...just keep staying optimistic! According to your writings, there's a good chance that the Etys will meet your sonic expectations.

For me there's no problem to listen to any music style, bass-heavy or not, through the ER-4X. They're simply amazingly accurate and stirring. I don't miss anything with bass reproduction. But to be honest: it took me a great deal of time to fully get accustomed to them. (Btw: I also adapted them a bit to my liking.)

post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
I received the ER-4P yesterday and gave them just a short, short listening to. The tracks were from Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite, which is some of my favorite contemporary RnB/Soul/Funk music (as I call it, anyhow). The player was a D-365, and the volume setting varied from 8 to Max (I turned it down after a while just to take things easy, although even Max isn't really loud, but definitely good enough for this kind of music).

My initial impression of the ER-4P is that it's "fine", but not stunning or amazing. It was clear and fairly detailed, and I didn't have a problem with the bass, of course I don't remember enjoying it as much as the V6's bass...but there's no surprise there. Maybe it's because I have a preference for a sound that is bright enough to send voices, guitars, keys, horns, etc... through with a bit of piercing emphasis.

I'll reserve final judgement, however.
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