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ATH-M50 vs. HFI-780... or anything else?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

The criteria that I'm looking for in my next set of headphones:

 

1) Portability. Must be able to fold or be easily stored.

2) Requires no amp to sound good. (Will be used on a laptop/mp3)

3) Closed-back for isolation.

4) Circumaural (around-ear) as opposed to on-top-of-ear.

5) Good BASS. I currently own a pair of MDR-7506 and they have very accurate bass reproduction, but I sort of want something that has much more bass presence.

 

I've narrowed it down to basically 2 pairs, but I'm open to any suggestions:

 

- Ultrasone HFI-780 (heard has very good bass, but not sure if it requires an amp to sound good)

- Audio Technica ATH-M50 (well-rounded headphones that also have good bass but not as good as the HFI-780's?)

 

Other suggestions that I've seen:

 

- Shure SRH840 (better tonal quality than the ATH-M50's?)

- Audio Technica ATH-ESW9A

 

So can any of you compare the 2 main headphones I'm thinking about choosing? If not those 2, then which ones would you suggest?

post #2 of 29

 

I haven't heard either of those headphones, but the ultrasone hfi-580 is in the same category as them.  Just received the 580's this week and I would highly recommend them.  They fold up for portability, are driven very easily from my macbook pro, and have great bass.  If you are looking for deep bass that is not over powering than look here.  Here is how another user compared the 580 and the 780.

 


Quote:

Originally Posted by analogbox View Post

Welll, I have both of them. And I can tell you that 580 is more sibilant than 780. For that reason, 780 is more suited for all around use. The SQ is more defined and the bass is a tad bit less than 580 but it's more textured. However, if I'd had to keep one, I'd keep my 580. To me, 780 sort of sounds boring. There's not much exciting about it. On the other hand, 580 may not be as defined as 780 but it's more exciting and punch and lively. Sibilance may put off some people but I find it sibilant only on the records that are recorded harsh (defective). It doesn't sound sibilant at all when I listen to properly recorded albums.

 

Check out the first impressions link in my signature, hope this helps.

post #3 of 29

Budget?

 

The HFI-780 folds flat and has a detachable cable; much more portable than the M50 which is... not exactly recommended portable.

 

The M50 however needs little-to-no amping. The HFI 780 will certainly improve with an amp, but can get by without one.

 

The ESW9A is on-ear and nor around-ear.

 

Basically, the ESW9A and M50's do not meet your listed criteria, and honestly neither does the SRH840.

 

Get the HFI 780.


Edited by Riku540 - 1/6/11 at 10:46pm
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riku540 View Post

Budget?

 

The HFI-780 folds flat and has a detachable cable; much more portable than the M50 which is... not exactly recommended portable.

 

The M50 however needs little-to-no amping. The HFI 780 will certainly improve with an amp, but can get by without one.

 

The ESW9A is on-ear and nor around-ear.

 

Basically, the ESW9A and M50's do not meet your listed criteria, and honestly neither does the SRH840.

 

Get the HFI 780.



My budget is basically anything less than $400-500, which gives me a good amount of options I think.

 

But, is the only drawback of the M50's being not so "portable"? I see that the M50's can fold up into a ball, has a coiled cord, and has a provided carrying pouch. I would think that the M50's would be more portable than the HFI-780's.

 

Also, from a stock-vs-stock standpoint, would you say that the HFI-780's sound better and more exciting than the M50's out of the box? Because I don't want to spend the extra money for HFI-780's, and then later realize that I need to purchase an amp to make it sound equal to the M50's.

 

@CJtech323

 

Thanks, I'll check the 580's out too.

post #5 of 29

Well... when we ask budget, we mean more of an ideal sense than actual spending limit. You can get headphones far better than any of the above for less than $400-500.

 

It sounds like you've already made up your mind on the M50's; in that case just for for them.

 

Ultrasone's do not need an amp but are recommended to have one, just like pretty much all other headphones here. There are certain kinds like Senns, Beyers, and AKGs that need an amp. None of the headphones you are considering is one of those.

 

If it's in your ideal budget, why not invest in the FiiO E9 ($129) and essentially never have to worry about amping again?

post #6 of 29

I have the M50's and, though not the Hfi 780, i have the Hfi 580.

1. In my opinion, the Hfi 580 is more portable than the M50's. However, the bag that the M50's came with is better than the Hfi. The m50's came with a leather (not sure if it's real o.o) bag, whereas the Hfi 580 came with a velour (not sure if it is) bag. The M50's pouch feels as if it is made out of better quality and can protect your headphones much better. However, the Hfi 580 comes with a really long cord--not a problem if you don't mind that. I got the coiled version of the M50's :P

2. Neither of the two headphones needs an amp. Both sound great from my ipod and computer

3. Both are on par on isolation.

4. Both the HFI 580 and the M50's are circumaural (i think). The Hfi 580's pad rests around my ears, whereas the M50's slightly touch it. Comfort wise, i believe the M50's win. However, it might be due to the fact that i've been used to them. Only had the Hfi in the last 2 - 3 weeks, but had the M50's since Octoboer.

After checking both again, the M50's (mine anyways) does not clamp as hard as the Hfi 580.

5. For Bass, i would give it to the M50's, but only on a slight margin. After listening to both of them. I could say that the M50's bass is more prominent than the Hfi 580. The M50's Bass extend further down the spectrum. However, the Hfi580's have better vocals. 

Hope i helped. I'm not an expert on reviewing headphones, but i tried my best :o


Edited by JacobTerrado - 1/6/11 at 11:48pm
post #7 of 29

The bass in the HFI 580 by far can be more prominent than the M50. Without EQ, it would not be the case. However, with EQ or with mixes with emphasized bass, the HFI-580 is better without a doubt.

post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riku540 View Post

Well... when we ask budget, we mean more of an ideal sense than actual spending limit. You can get headphones far better than any of the above for less than $400-500.

 

It sounds like you've already made up your mind on the M50's; in that case just for for them.

 

Ultrasone's do not need an amp but are recommended to have one, just like pretty much all other headphones here. There are certain kinds like Senns, Beyers, and AKGs that need an amp. None of the headphones you are considering is one of those.

 

If it's in your ideal budget, why not invest in the FiiO E9 ($129) and essentially never have to worry about amping again?

 

I was considering buying a decent headphone amp, but it just doesn't suit my needs very well, no matter what my budget is. I just can't afford lugging around an extra peripheral when I'm on-the-go (mp3 being source).

 

I understand that having an amplifier for ANY headphone will make them sound better, but the marginal utility falls off dramatically once you get down low enough in the price range. For example, I've seen many people say that an amp won't be "necessary" at all to drive the M50's as they sound about the same whether driven by an amp or not. On the other hand, I see that as a general suggestion by everyone, a HFI-780 will perform much better with an amp.

 

So as you can see, I'm scared that by purchasing the HFI-780 and no amp, I'll be missing out on a bunch of quality/sound. While if I skip buying an amp for the M50's I might not miss all that much.

 

The reason for this thread was basically to scope out which headphones successfully straddle that threshold -- sound good without needing an amp.

 

But yeah, the M50's do sound like they fit my needs well.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JacobTerrado View Post

I have the M50's and, though not the Hfi 780, i have the Hfi 580.

1. In my opinion, the Hfi 580 is more portable than the M50's. However, the bag that the M50's came with is better than the Hfi. The m50's came with a leather (not sure if it's real o.o) bag, whereas the Hfi 580 came with a velour (not sure if it is) bag. The M50's pouch feels as if it is made out of better quality and can protect your headphones much better. However, the Hfi 580 comes with a really long cord--not a problem if you don't mind that. I got the coiled version of the M50's :P

2. Neither of the two headphones needs an amp. Both sound great from my ipod and computer

3. Both are on par on isolation.

4. Both the HFI 580 and the M50's are circumaural (i think). The Hfi 580's pad rests around my ears, whereas the M50's slightly touch it. Comfort wise, i believe the M50's win. However, it might be due to the fact that i've been used to them. Only had the Hfi in the last 2 - 3 weeks, but had the M50's since Octoboer.

After checking both again, the M50's (mine anyways) does not clamp as hard as the Hfi 580.

5. For Bass, i would give it to the M50's, but only on a slight margin. After listening to both of them. I could say that the M50's bass is more prominent than the Hfi 580. The M50's Bass extend further down the spectrum. However, the Hfi580's have better vocals. 

Hope i helped. I'm not an expert on reviewing headphones, but i tried my best :o


Thanks for your comparison! I see that many members here have the HFI-580 as opposed to the HFI-780 and general consensus for the 580's seem pretty positive. I'll definitely consider the Ultrasone's before making my final decision.


Edited by juanderful - 1/7/11 at 12:37am
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by juanderful View Post

I was considering buying a decent headphone amp, but it just doesn't suit my needs very well, no matter what my budget is. I just can't afford lugging around an extra peripheral when I'm on-the-go (mp3 being source).

 

I understand that having an amplifier for ANY headphone will make them sound better, but the marginal utility falls off dramatically once you get down low enough in the price range. For example, I've seen many people say that an amp won't be "necessary" at all to drive the M50's as they sound about the same whether driven by an amp or not. On the other hand, I see that as a general suggestion by everyone, a HFI-780 will perform much better with an amp.

 

So as you can see, I'm scared that by purchasing the HFI-780 and no amp, I'll be missing out on a bunch of quality/sound. While if I skip buying an amp for the M50's I might not miss all that much.

 

The reason for this thread was basically to scope out which headphones successfully straddle that threshold -- sound good without needing an amp.

 

But yeah, the M50's do sound like they fit my needs well.

 

As far as amps go I meant for the sake of at home use with your laptop.

 

You also have to consider that even if the full potential of some headphones is best realized with an amp, some of those same headphones may still sound far better unamped than those that do not need amps.

 

I know impedance isn't everything (and in some cases, means nothing I.E. K701/K702) but technically the HFI 780's require less power than the M50's being rated at 35, and 38 ohms respectively.

 

Don't think of it as being underpowered at this level, but more of the 780 had more room to improve than the M50. While I do not have the HFI 780, I am no stranger to Ultrasone or Audio-Technica and can pretty much guarantee that the HFI 780 is a better headphone in every way.

post #10 of 29

I think you should consider the Ultrasone Hfi-680 too.

post #11 of 29

Any of the above Ultrasone's should be better than the M50's, by larger and larger margins depending on the model, regardless of an amp.

post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riku540 View Post

As far as amps go I meant for the sake of at home use with your laptop.

 

You also have to consider that even if the full potential of some headphones is best realized with an amp, some of those same headphones may still sound far better unamped than those that do not need amps.

 

I know impedance isn't everything (and in some cases, means nothing I.E. K701/K702) but technically the HFI 780's require less power than the M50's being rated at 35, and 38 ohms respectively.

 

Don't think of it as being underpowered at this level, but more of the 780 had more room to improve than the M50. While I do not have the HFI 780, I am no stranger to Ultrasone or Audio-Technica and can pretty much guarantee that the HFI 780 is a better headphone in every way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by burgunder View Post

I think you should consider the Ultrasone Hfi-680 too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Riku540 View Post

Any of the above Ultrasone's should be better than the M50's, by larger and larger margins depending on the model, regardless of an amp.

 

Hm, okay I think I get what you're trying to say now.

 

One thing that I can't quite grasp is, what are the major differences between the HFI-580, 680, and 780? I'm assuming, that the 780 will give the best sound quality? But upon further research, I realized many people said the 580 had better bass response? Which model actually offers the best bang for the buck, and are "fun" to listen to?

 

Another model I've stumbled upon is the Denon AH-D1100. Are they any good compared to the Ultrasone/AT's?

post #13 of 29

Hard for me to comment honestly on sound as my Ultrasone HFI 780 were sent to S2 Audio by their previous owner and had internal damping changed so probably sound a bit different.

 

1) Portability. Must be able to fold or be easily stored.

Both are equally portable.

 

2) Requires no amp to sound good. (Will be used on a laptop/mp3)

Sorry but this is a pet peeve of mine - no headphone can be used without an amp. Your lap top has one inside, and so does your mp3 player. You mean does not require excess amping. Sorry I know that sounds petty but I really want people on head-fi to stop using the term "un-amped" it drives me mad. With that rant over -

 

Some will tell you overwise, but I owned the M50 for well over a year and tried it with numerous amps and devices and IMHO the M50 can be powered to its full potential by any amp and does not really seem to "scale" in quality with better quality amps, it sounds basically the same through an MP3 player and a beefy desktop amp. The HFI-780 will have its power requirements met by the amp in an MP3 player but undeniably does "scale" - so will sound better with a better quality amp.

 

3) Closed-back for isolation.

Both meet the criteria. I think the HFI-780 stock pads are better for isolation. I say this as I got them worn out already - and they isolate extremely well. When the M50 pads are brand new they isolate like a dream but that ability drops as they compress and get older. Still, they both isolate, but with the M50 buying new pads once or twice a year is advised.

 

4) Circumaural (around-ear) as opposed to on-top-of-ear.

Both are but how big are your ears? I say this because the stock HFI-780 pads don't give you a lot of room compared to the M50s. I have pretty big ears and have to find exactly the right position for it to be comfortable, the M50 pads are softer, give more space and are a lot more comfortable. I am actually going to try working out how to make the M50 pads work with the 780 (they fit, I have them on now) but the bass loses some tightness and mids recess. In my experience blocking the vents should sort that out… Another option is to try DT250 pads, but they suck for isolation.

 

5) Good BASS. I currently own a pair of MDR-7506 and they have very accurate bass reproduction, but I sort of want something that has much more bass presence.

Again, with the disclaimer that my HFI-780 have been damped - I find the bass to be two equal flavours rather than one being clearly superior over the other. To my personal tatses, maybe the 780 just clinches it, but there is no knocking the M50 bass. I would rate them thus -

 

Soundstage - Draw, neither particuarly impressive

 

Bass - Draw, comes down to personal taste, Ultrasone is a little punchier and faster and greater in amount, M50 a little warmer and more textured. I'd really like the 780 bass quality and the M50 bass quantity.

 

Midrange - M50 wins. Ultrasone midrange might be nice but is clearly not the star of the show with bass and treble crowding it out. Slight metalic "closed" sound on the Ultrasone too, none of which the M50 suffers from.

 

Treble - HFI-780 wins - much more sprakle and energy and is surprisingly open sounding for a

closed phone. The M50 does suffer from the "metalic" closed sound with the treble.

 

Overall - It's a "matter of taste" thing rather than a case of one being better than the other. I haven't made my mind up yet as I've only had the 780 for a week or so.

post #14 of 29

Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think Denons fold at all. So that would make them the least portable, at least as far as packing them away.

 

Denons are good, I just haven't heard any unfortunately, and hopefully not anytime soon for the sake of my wallet.

 

And while I don't know the specific differences between Ultrasone HFI models, the trend in headphones is that improvements going up the headphone ladder are small in comparison to the jumps in price.

 

The M50's are very popular for their bang-for-the-buck factor, that and Ultrasone is one of those cult brands that people end up buying and disappearing without posting impressions, making researching information on them difficult.

 

In summary, the M50 is a safe buy for you; but if you want better sound don't be afraid to look at better headphones just because you do not have an amp. Chances are you will want an amp after you make your purchase eventually.

 

Heck, may as well go for it; technically you said the budget is below $400 right? I got my Ultrasone PRO 900's on ebay from buyauthorized (popular and Head-Fi approved seller for these) for $320. They normally go for $500 so that's a steal, as they are basically the flagship of their closed headphones excluding the limited edition ones.

 

Was worth a shot. tongue_smile.gif

post #15 of 29

This whole statement is correct. I have made many impressions of the HFI 580 before, but because I never felt my journey was ever coming to an end I stayed in Head-fi. 

 

Using a very good EQ usually can tell you what a headphone can do when pushed to it's maximum. The HFI-580 has ALOT of hidden potential. So much so that I find the headphone misleading for those that listen to it without an amp or flat. It's bass impact rivals the Sony's XB series but is only barely beaten. However, it's clarity is in an entirely different league from the Sonys.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Riku540 View Post


The M50's are very popular for their bang-for-the-buck factor, that and Ultrasone is one of those cult brands that people end up buying and disappearing without posting impressions, making researching information on them difficult.

 

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