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Mad Lust Envy's Headphone Gaming Guide: (3/18/2016: MrSpeakers Ether C 1.1 Added) - Page 485

post #7261 of 38634
Thread Starter 
So my E17 came in. The HE400 certainly does sound pretty damn good off it. Not quite as full bodied or refined as the NFB5 (I would hope not), and the treble is a touch hotter than the NFB5, but nothing problematic. Very pleased with it as my secondary DAC/AMP. The bass boost on +2, +4 sounds pretty good with the HE400. biggrin.gif

I can see how the HE400 can be a bit peaky off other sources/amps. They sound so swell off the NFB5, that I don't feel they need any adjustment.

Wow, the DT990/32 sounds REALLY good with the E17. I would've expected my sibilant tracks to really stick out... and they don't. I'm almost inclined to say that treble is smoother than the HE400s with the E17! eek.gif

I don't even need the treble reduction! These tracks would have destroyed my ears with the DT990/600. I'm now convinced that the DT990/32's treble isn't as glaringly harsh as the 600ohm, especially with a portable amp.

DT990/32 + E17 = BLISS.

That is quite possibly the best fun setup for music in their price range, which you can also use for well balanced gaming with a bass reduction on the E17.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 8/29/12 at 2:01pm
post #7262 of 38634

Might changing the Flavor(sound signature) on the NFB-5 would help the HE-400 more while using the NFB-5. if the default just isn't doing it for you.  Good thing you don't have to open it up and switch the jumpers around like I do on my NFB-12 model that I got from another user that isn't using the latest design which is a press of a button.


Unless I read your post wrong and you happy with the headphones with the default setting that if you already change it already.

Edited by genclaymore - 8/29/12 at 3:40pm
post #7263 of 38634
Thread Starter 
I use the most uncolored filter (number 8). The NFB5 is naturally full bodied with a slight (but greatly appreciated roll off in the extreme upper end). It gives headphones a very organic sound. The E17, E9, and everything else I've tried has sounded digital in comparison. The Lyr was fuller sounding, but a bit too warm for my taste.

Don't get me wrong: the NFB5 smokes the E17. Just saying that the DT990/32 sounds very good on the E17. A better pairing than the HE400 + E17 which is pretty good on it own. Both the HE400 and DT990/32 shine through the NFB5.

BTW, the different filters all sound 99.9% the same.

edit: Looks like I'm gonna have to update the HE400's competitive score to an 8. The Mixamp alone wasn't driving it well enough, and choked soundstage depth. Adding the E17 to the Mixamp, I'm now able to get better rear positional cues and a clearly fuller, and more immersive sound.

Updated: 8/30/2012: The earlier impression was with the Mixamp alone. I didn't notice at the time, but after having used the E17 to help the Mixamp power the HE-400, they improved enough to warrant some pretty significant edits to this entry. Please read on to see the updated impressions, and score.

While I bought the E17 due to wanting the bass and treble control, as well as a portable DAC, those wanting the HE400 who want to help the Mixamp power the HE-400 only need something like the E11/E9/E09K (if you're not looking for a DAC for non-gaming use).

Before I start, let me clarify something: This impression is of the HE-400 using the Hifiman velour pads, instead of the stock pleather pads[/B]. The Hifiman velours can be bought from Head-Direct for $10. Why the velour? It has been clearly documented, that the velour pads give the HE-400 a cleaner, more refined sound, with absolutely zero trade offs. The bass remains the same, the mids are pushed up, and treble is better fleshed out (the pleather pads give the HE-400 some pesky and uneven treble peaks). It has also been tested by many of us on Head-fi, myself included. The clarity is noticeably improved, as well as lifting the slight veil and darkness that the pleather pads have. Can't forget that velour is MUCH better than pleather in comfort, IMHO. No more sweaty, sticky pleather touching the skin. You all know how I feel about pleather.

Well, what a journey it's been to find that one headphone with a sound that I'd consider borderline perfect. The HE-400 is seriously so enjoyable with everything I throw at it, that I couldn't find an absolute fault in it's inherent sound signature, quality of sound, etc.

Bass: This is what I'd consider the most natural sounding bass in terms of quantity and quality that I've heard. Is it bass light? No. Is it bass heavy? No. So what IS the bass? Well, the bass is just what it is... BASS. When a song asks for lots of bass, the HE-400 surely does not disappoint. It is NOT an aggressive bass like most bass heavy headphones that tend to impart bass to things that shouldn't have bass. For example: The D7000 (which has my fave bass presence in a headphone), still tends to sound bass heavy on bass light recordings. The HE-400 only adds bass if it's there to begin with. In reality, you can say that the bass IS emphasized, because bass neutral cans don't tend to have the power and impact that the HE400's bass has. So let's call it mildly bass emphasized, but just absolutely lovely in any which way. You put a bassy song, and you'll never think to yourself "Hmm, this could use more bass". It's that good. This is the type of bass that bassheads looking for actual quality can appreciate. I'd put the actual quantity between the DT880 and DT990. Like the HE-4. The quality of the bass isn't as clean as the Pro 2900 and Q701, but it's easily fuller sounding, and more realistic. Once I added the E17 to help drive the Mixamp, the bass became more present, and fuller. It really added some meat to the sound. I'd call it emphasized, but not DT990 level of strong.

Mids: Very natural sounding mids. Personally, I wouldn't say they're forward, or recessed. They're well balanced mids. With certain recordings, the mids are right where they need to be, and with other recordings, the mids are intimate and hauntingly realistic. Female vocals are an exceptional strength in the HE-400. The mids are also not hindered by either the bass or treble. Even with the E17's various bass boosts, they never hampered the mids in any way. Must be planar magic.

Treble: This is what I was most skeptical about when I read up on the HE-400. Many times I have read that the treble was too dark, too smooth, and lacking air. The previous HE-400 may have actually had that issue, but the current batches do not have this issue. The stock HE-400 with pleather has a tendency to be smooth in certain ranges of the treble, and peaky on others. Uneven treble that can be dark or bright. The velour pads lets the treble behave in a more uniform manner, being neither dark or bright to my ears. They sound crisp enough and sparkly, but never sibilant. This is personally right where I'd love my treble to be on all headphones. I wouldn't mind more treble in headphones, but never less treble. On the HE400, they are spot on, really. Plenty of extension and just the right amount of sparkle.

Soundstage: I'm not a soundstage nut when it comes to non-gaming purposes, and I find the HE-400's soundstage to be medium sized. Not small, and not big. I guess those used to something like the Q701's soundstage may feel the loss of sheer size, but I don't have a problem with it whatsoever. To me, what is lost, is gained everywhere else. The HE-400 sounds less like a headphone, and more like two speakers strapped to the side of your head. Literally haven't heard anything like it. It's airy, and sounds are place all around you, and less next to your ears like standard headphones. The depth wasn't exactly great off the Mixamp alone, but once I added the E17 to help amp the HE-400, the depth improved for sure, enough to truly help with the positional cues.

How did the HE-400 fare for gaming? Well... it did pretty good. About as good as the HE-4 if not slightly better in terms of positioning. They both are both better than the DT880 in terms of positional cues, which is to say, they could do better, but will do their job. Not quite on the level of the AD700, Q701, K701, DT990, DT770 Pros, D7000, etc, but pretty good. So if you're looking for an amazing, fun, and competitive headphone, the HE-400 is a in a good place, assuming you help the Mixamp with an additional amp to open add some depth to the soundstage.

: The HE-400 is unlike the HE-4, in that it doesn't require the power of Zeus to get it to sing well. A portable amp will make them sound great. A desktop amp would be even better. How did it do with the Mixamp? Honestly? It needs an additional amp to give the HE400 some headroom. The HE400 can be loud enough with certain games, and not loud enough for others. HOWEVER, they are clearly lacking in driving force. The dynamics were lacking. Bass was slightly reserved in comparison, mids were a teeny bit distant, the soundstage depth was constricted with the Mixamp alone. This was what gave them just barely better than DT880 performance in terms of positioning prior to this updated impression. Once I added the Fiio E17 to the chain (the E11 would be a cheaper alternative with simlar amp performance) after the Mixamp, the depth really improved, as did positioning. Not as good as the DT990, but good enough to be borderline great.

Playing Mass Effect 3, I had to literally max the volume out when using the Mixamp alone, and it was clearly lacking some oomph. So yes, you may want some amp on hand to give the HE-400 the energy it needs to truly bless you with some godly sound. I added the E17, and I couldn't believe how much better gaming with the HE400 became.

Comfort: Like the HE-4, I find them very comfortable. The stock pleather pads are actually pretty good for comfort, as they aren't going to cover your face in pleather, though they still get hot and sticky. The velours however are just the right amount of firm/softness and plenty breathable. You will notice that the HE-400 IS a pretty heavy headphone. Literally the heaviest headphone I've owned. It's a tank. However, due to the headband design (my favorite outside of the Steelseries Siberia), the weight gets evenly distributed, so it doesn't dig into your skull. I don't have a problem wearing the HE-400 all day. This is more than I can say about pretty much every other headphone I have used, with some exceptions. Oh yes, the pads don't have that rough, glue substance on the edges of the inner lining that bothered me with the HE-4 pads, which is a welcome change.

Final impressions:
The HE-400 is absolutely a must have for those looking for a fantastic all-rounder, with a slight tip towards fun. The sound quality of the HE-400 is second to none on my list. I'd rate the overall SQ to be absolutely god tier. Better balanced, and fuller sounding than anything else on this guide, with absolutely nothing missing in it's sound signature. Other cans have more immediate fun factor (D7000, Pro 900), but long-term, the HE400 bests those as it blends ALL frequencies together to form an amazing, cohesive sound with no glaring faults to it's signature. Usually, there is always something missing or hurtful, whether it's mids being recessed (Pro 900), treble being too edgy (DT990), bass not being impactful enough (Pro 2900, Q701), etc. The HE-400 lacks nothing in those regards. The HE-400 is well balanced, EXCITING, natural/full sounding, and an absolutely thrill to listen to. They're also highly detailed. For such a full sounding headphone, they can still REALLY analyze the source well, to the point where I thought my HE-400 was messed up. I then realized it was the files I was listening to that were less than perfect. That's how revealing they can be.

The detail, and clarity were absolute master class. They will do just fine overall. Positioning was very good while amped with more than just the Mixamp. The HE-400 impresses on pretty much ALL other fronts, that those looking for an endgame headphone shouldn't pass these up. IMHO, they best everything I have ever used in sheer sound quality, including the HE-4 (which has recessed mids and harsh treble in comparison). The D7000 is the only headphone I'd say is on an even level, and yet the HE-400 is better balanced, more realistic, and fuller sounding. For $400, the HE-400 is an absolute steal.

Fun: 9/10

Competitive: 8/10

Comfort: 9/10

Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 8/29/12 at 10:36pm
post #7264 of 38634

For my NFB-12 the digital filter's do not sound the same, I had to switch the jumper from a setting a person was using when I bought my from them. To another one, because the Digital filter they had it on was too bright. Maybe the NFB-5 is designed differently where the Digital filter doesn't make a differences or you don't notice it.

Edited by genclaymore - 8/29/12 at 11:42pm
post #7265 of 38634

So I've read that the 7509HD are the EXACT same headphones as the V900HD just with a slightly different style and color.


Head-fi only has a few reviews on it's page http://www.head-fi.org/products/sony-mdr7509hd-professional-headphone/reviews/

but they are all raving about it.

I'm pretty confident I'll be getting these unless Sony releases a new version of them soon (It would be welcome as long as they don't ruin them in some way, apparently they have been out for like 13 years)

post #7266 of 38634
Newb question here...

Why is it that the majority of headphones that are generally recommended in this thread and other similar resources, particularly in the low and mid bracket, were manufactured years (often many) ago?

Just curious really, is it because new headphones aren't built as well (too much focus on portability, the iPhone era or exaggerated pricing perhaps) or that it simply takes a while for opinions and feedback for new devices to filter down (particularly in a specialised use such as for gaming)?

I encountered the same situation with recent monitor upgrades, with 5 year old models still being quoted as the best but that was mainly due to the modern emphasis on panels being thinner (and therefore losing quality). Also in part that monitors do drop in price with time becoming a better bargain, which is something I haven't seen with low/mid headphones that still share the same price tag quoted from year(s) old reviews.
post #7267 of 38634

^ I think a key difference is the nature of the tech we're talking about here. With the exception of the HE-400, all the headphones recommended in this thread use dynamic drivers...that tech is old, and I honestly don't know how much more it can be improved upon.


2 of the "old" flagships or their variants already get recommended--Beyerdynamic's DT 880, and AKG's Q701--so there's hardly anywhere else to go, really. 


The other thing to consider is where market forces are. Ignoring pro audio (which arguably needs little new products), the consumer market is clearly adjusting itself in the wake of Beats. Perhaps people want what Beats has offered: style, convenience, a certain kind of sound. You can see this trend in Denon's new line-up of headphones, and the fact that Ultimate Ears is producing full-size headphones for the first time at all. And these newer headphones tend to combine features--isolation, noise cancelling, mic cable, foldable, etc.


In contrast, the headphones we're discussing perform a single feature well: immersive sound reproduction. I daresay the size of this market is much smaller (in number of customers and total potential revenue) than the "casual" consumer market.

post #7268 of 38634
Beats' impact is definitely strong, in fact I think headphones should have been a logical market for growth after the explosion of iPod popularity, but my impression without any formal research was that the Beats were the first headphone to really stand out and get mainstream consumers to consider headphones instead of the included earbuds... at least since the iPod came out. Apparently, Sennheiser 414s were all the rage back in cassette tape days, but I still think most people didn't consider going beyond whatever was included with their portable music player. Headphones are "in" now, in a way I expect will continue to grow for a few years, though they will definitely cater to smartphones.

There is another factor I thought of, too. Like Eric_C said, what we want as gamers is "immersive" sound reproduction. That's a little bit of a different goal from the more common "Oh, cheap headphones have almost no bass, therefore strong bass = quality," we want a balanced (or even bass-light) signature with harder-to-understand aspects like soundstage. A lot of those attributes were formerly the domain of snobby "but we know better" audiophiles willing to be priced out of the mainstream, so much of the time older headphones with those audiophile attributes are the only ones to reach a cheaper price because of depreciation. For example, I believe the MSRP of the Audio Technica AD700 was $300? So, yeah, we pick older releases that have settled down in price because they don't stand up to the new flagships.

I guess I could've summed that up just by saying that last sentence... well, I never claimed to have the world's most organized thoughts wink.gif
post #7269 of 38634
Originally Posted by Wo33er View Post
Why is it that the majority of headphones that are generally recommended in this thread and other similar resources, particularly in the low and mid bracket, were manufactured years (often many) ago?
Just curious really, is it because new headphones aren't built as well (too much focus on portability, the iPhone era or exaggerated pricing perhaps) or that it simply takes a while for opinions and feedback for new devices to filter down (particularly in a specialised use such as for gaming)?
I encountered the same situation with recent monitor upgrades, with 5 year old models still being quoted as the best but that was mainly due to the modern emphasis on panels being thinner (and therefore losing quality). Also in part that monitors do drop in price with time becoming a better bargain, which is something I haven't seen with low/mid headphones that still share the same price tag quoted from year(s) old reviews.


You know that Stax SR-Lambda I love so much and keep singing the praises of all around this forum? That headphone design dates back to 1979, and they still use the same basic frame with minor modifications to this day. Some Stax enthusiasts like spritzer even consider it to sound better than some of the newer models that succeeded it, especially where midrange is concerned.


I think that, technically, current audio transducers have reached the "good enough" point for most people decades ago (barring the people who buy SR-009s because they want no less than bleeding-edge top-of-the-line, of course), and now it's mostly a subjective matter of what sound presentation people like, what headphone designs are comfortable, and so forth.


Also, there's that matter of older hardware being...well, older. They perform no worse than when they were top-of-the-line in their day (barring changes in manufacturing that were still lumped under the same model number, which can result in different impressions for the same headphone), and because they've been around longer, they're going to drop in price either through being displaced by newer models, being sold second-hand, or both. (But usually second-hand sales.) In other words, more bang for your buck.

post #7270 of 38634
LOL glad you agree with me Nameless.
By the way, it took three days, but finally my Recon3D has transferred from UPS... to my local post office. And they don't want to dig through their stuff so I can pick it up, apparently there was a big delay in general in my neighborhood so they have "99" packages on a pallet that they're waiting to deal with till tomorrow. I know I'm ignorant, but it seems to me that sorting the mail is just as big and important a job as having someone out front to sell stamps and boxes... But, obviously, the big question is: what happened to the mail over the past 3 days?

Mad Lust Envy,
Have you heard the E11? If you look at the specs, it appears that the e7's amp section is near identical to the E5 (150mW (16Ω);16mW (300Ω)), the E11 has about twice the power (300mW(16Ω) ; 35mW(300Ω)), and the E17 is better than halfway between the others (>250mW (16Ω Loaded); >30mW (300Ω Loaded)). I have no idea what the "loaded" designation after the Ω rating indicates, but it still is clear that the E11 is better purely as an amp. Of course the E17 has it's DAC section and treble EQ to add value and make them different stories. Have you used the E17's treble reduction/boost feature to tune your headphones? You mentioned you could use bass-reduction, did you try it out?

Anyway, I'm happy you two are enjoying your new stuff, and trying to ride with your excitement, lol!
post #7271 of 38634
Thread Starter 
Yeah the E11 should be better as an amp than the E17. The downside is than there's no treble control, and the bass can only be boosted. I wonder if the upcoming E12 will have bass/treble controls?

I have used both bass and treble reduction/boosts. The treble reduction works really well. Though I don't need it, the DT990/32 with a -2 treble reduction sounds pretty good. As for bass reduction, You can make the 990 sound like an 880 with it. No issues there.

I tried the bass boost with the HE-400, and I found the boost to work very well at plus 2/4/6. Any more and the bass gets distorted. I haven't used the treble boost, but I'm sure it'd help overly smooth cans.
post #7272 of 38634

What about K240 Studio as a budget gaming headphone (80% mostly noncompetitive gaming, 20% "fun"), paired with an ASUS Xonar_DG? 


I'm king of floating around this price range looking at CAL!, flirted with cheaper popular options such as Samson sr850/Superlux, HTF600, HA-RX900, contemplated going closer to $200.  Just not sure what to pull the trigger on.

post #7273 of 38634
Thread Starter 
I honestly owed it to you guys to review the DT770/32 or MMX300, as the DT770 positioning is god tier, and the non Pro DT770s (aside from that weird bass heavy DT770/600 I had) having a reserved bass level would probably make them absolute must haves for closed gaming cans.

The problem is, premium DT770s are now discontinued and very hard to find. From what I've been seeing on Head-fi, the T70 and T70p are actually inferior to the DT770s with stronger treble peaks, so it's a bit disconcerting.

Looks like I will never get a chance to review the older, non-bassy DTs.

I'd like to try the K271MK II (K272HD for the prettier version) though. Not sure how their soundstage is, but I'm sure they'd fare pretty well here.

Hmm...interesting. Bear in mind that the K271MKII and 272HD are the same can internally. The graph is probably just a can by can variation.

Still...a closed AD700? Obviously without the soundstage.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 8/30/12 at 8:55pm
post #7274 of 38634
Dammit. And there's a local promo in my country for the Pro's at ~USD 165

Seriously considering selling my HD 600 and swapping for a 770. Or heck, maybe a HE 400.

Mad: the K271 seemed good for positioning when I demo'd them with music.
post #7275 of 38634
Thread Starter 
How did you like the tonal balance on the K271? I see they're bass light, which should be pretty optimal for competitive gaming.

And for the love of head-fi, get the HE400 and a set of velour pads! DO IT NOW! biggrin.gif
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