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Best Bang for Buck Full-sized Open Cans for Jazz

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I sold my ESW10 today to fund my JH13. I'm crying already =( Damn, I loved those cans =(


I'm currently in the process of building/buying some speakers since I'll be moving to a bigger place that will allow me this luxury. (Low budget options: Audioengine A5 + S8, Triangle Titus XS + budget integrated/pre+power amp, High budget: DIY Linkwitz Pluto if my room has enough space, speaking to a builder, will have to see how this goes)


Since I have no cans with me right now, I need something to hold me over for the next month or 2 once I get my JH13 and my speakers set-up. These cans will also function as a nice complement when I can't use my speakers and need a non-isolating headphone.


I haven't owned open backed headphones since I started in this madness in 2004. I'd like to get some =)


I listen almost exclusively to Jazz 50's, 60's bop/hard-bop etc (Miles, Coltrane, Mingus, Rollins, Gillespie etc). Some other genres peak into the mix from time to time but this should not be a major factor in the choice of headphones.


I'm also looking for the biggest bang for buck. I don't wanna spend excessive amounts to get the last 5-10% of performance, especially since I'll be spending quite a fair bit with the speakers and the JH13 and the amps and cables that go along with it.


Ideally, I'm looking at something under 100-150 bucks if that's possible. If a can performs way ahead of its price range and is a bit more than this then I don't really mind.


Options that have occurred to me so far:


Grado SR60 (first cans I heard about when I got into this, always wanted one but never got the chance, worried about being too bright and painful. Had the MDR-7506 which were a little painful for extended sessions and I suspect this might be worse. Best bang for buck according to mainstream audio press. Want to try the Grado house sound. Promises to be fun and engaging. Don't mind the colored sound as I will have the JH13 for neutrality.)


Alessandro MS-1 (probably a less fatiguing version of the Grado house sound, attractive price considering its supposed to be a tune SR125)


Audio Technica M50 (closed, but rave reviews here so worth a look-see). 


Koss KSC-75 (supposed to be the best of the extreme low-end, but worried about the bright sound being painful and fatiguing) 


Audio Technica AD500/700 (not sure about how it sounds but some say its bass light, I'm not a basshead by any means, not anymore at least. I like natural bass, as the musician intended it.)


That's what I have so far. However I'm not sure if the cans listed above would be great for the type of Jazz I listen to. Please chime in with your recommendations.


Boy do I love these type of threads!

post #2 of 15

I have a few of the lower end cans you mention. I don't think there is anything as fatiguing as the MDR-7506's, certainly the Grado SR-60's are not as fatiguing. At loud volumes the SR-60 can be a *bit* harsh, but I doubt they would be that bad with Jazz.


The Koss KSC-75's are so damn comfortable I could listen to them all day. They don't sound as good as the more expensive headphones to be sure, but for $10-15 online they are so worth it. I really could listen to these all day and feel like I'm not wearing headphones. You just have to get used to how to put them on correctly. They are nice to have because they are so cheap that you can bring them anywhere and not worry about them at all, while at the same time... well they're excellent for the money.


Stay away from the 7506's. I use them for work and I have developed a profound dislike for them. They are pretty good for monitoring, and they're indestructible, but the artificially-boosted bass and harsh trebles are their downfall.

post #3 of 15

Get a pair of used K501.

post #4 of 15


post #5 of 15

The MS-1s and the AD700s should do fine. Even the KSC75s would do, really, I don't find them fatiguing :)

post #6 of 15

I dont mind the Koss KSC-75; I find them comfy

post #7 of 15

Sennheiser PX-100's... They are my office cans and I absolutely love them broken heart

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Managed to audition a few of the cans today. The grado sound is defnitely different from what I'm used to. The sr60 was quite colored to my ears. The mid range was very forward relative to the rest of the spectrum. This made trumpets and saxes sound too forward and a little painful at times. Not as bad as the 7506 but still enough to bother me for a short audition. I dontthink I could live with this issue when listening for longer periods as I usually do. Moving up the ladder the sr80 showed better refinement but the problem highlighted above remained. The sr125 was encouraging. There was less emphasis in the midrange and details and nuances in records were more apparent. However the color remains and detracts from a true listenig experience for me. Moving on to the ad700 it definitely sounded more balanced to my ears. I did enjoy them quite a bit. I think the bigger drivers also helped to produce a more natural sound. But in the end I did find the upper mids and treble region to have a plasticky and unnatural sound to them. Something about the tone of instruments in this region was a bit off. I guess I've been very spoilt by the esw10. Should've sold them after I get my jh13. Alas what a fool I've been. Quite sad really. Curse you head-fi you've made my sonic preferences too discriminating and discerning haha! Will have to wait for the jh13 to come in. Until then a serious lack of sonic nirvana shall ensure for the next few weeks. Gonna stay away from head-fi till then. For my own good. So that I wont suffer from mild depression. Sigh this obsession for sonic elation is really really bad :(
post #9 of 15

I don't recommend the Grados for jazz. Alessandro *maybe* but even then I rather get something else like the NuForce UF30.


Perhaps indeed you should just wait for the JH13s and just sit tight and frosty.

post #10 of 15

concur on the k501.  i have a balanced pair, and they are my go-to headphones when listening to jazz.  i've since gone SE but they k501 still perform quite well coming out of a opus DAC/millet maxxed setup.

post #11 of 15

I think the feedback on the headphones should be for unbalanced pairs, I don't think he wants to devote resources to a balanced setup for this one.

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the reply guys! Yeah mocha. I would have to agree that the grado's aren't too good for jazz. But I hear the rs1 with flats and tubes are great. But that's stepping way ahead of what I'm looking for. I might just have to sit tight and wait for the 13. The more I look for other cans the more money I'll be throwing away which could otherwise be put towards a nice amp and or dac for the 13. I've always wanted to try the k501 but ever since I started looking for them they went out of production and have been incredibly hard to find here in Singapore. In other news, I just tried the goldring dr150 and I must say I'm quite impressed. Quite balanced and a pretty natural sound. Th only problem with them is that they tend to be a bit bright on certain records especially with trumpets and the like. I've read that they're sensitive to amplification so that might help with the problem. I'm just surprise at the level of sq for the price. Quite amazing actually. Wonder how the Fischer FA-002 would sound. Quite a number of underrated cans that put out great sound. Looking forward to LFF's review on the FA-002.
post #13 of 15

right, that's why i mentioned that i've gone SE but still use the k501 as my jazz cans. 

post #14 of 15

I really enjoy jazz with the hd 600, you should be able to snag a pair used (or an hd580) for cheap enough. I second the k501, they have a nice midrange.

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

Yeah the HD600 has been a set of headphones I've wanted for a very long time. Impeccably natural and I concur, perfect for Jazz. And with the advent of the HD800, prices for the HD600, especially used, have come down a whole lot making them a real steal for the price. The problem is they need a decent amp to drive them. I tried them with an iBasso D4 and really didn't like what I was hearing. I would be looking at a decent full-sized DAC + amp for the JH13 so I guess I could get the HD600 hmmmm. I'll look around for some good deals on them.

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