Today I had some free time and for my own amusement I decided to compare all my favorite headphones and take mental and written notes. I was most curious about which one really had the most detail and that was my goal. I also wanted to find which one sounds "just right" for most of my music. So what headphones to you have the most detail for under $200 NEW? What is the clearest sounding headphone you've heard at under this price? Please reply! Somehow I always felt that as you go up in price, the sound keeps getting clearer and clearer, but that isn't always the case. I basically stopped this short since so much testing is pointless and I hate over analyzing my headphones. It ruins the experience. I won't go into much detail about each and I've left off a few things in my notes. Remember, these are just my opinions.
Here are the headphones and a brief description of each:
This is the headphone that dethroned my precious SRH-840 as a favorite un-amped portable. It's that good and it's far more comfortable. Out of the box the treble is extremely ear piercing. Trust me, it goes away. This one surely is a detail monster to me. I think if it can be heard, you will hear it on the KRK. For listening to music just for fun, it's not always the best choice. It won't try to make your music out to be any better than it really is. It has the most treble out of all the headphones I own. It takes many, many hours to tame the treble. Now it's signature is kind of smooth and well balanced. People who love bass should avoid it. It's one of the rare studio monitors that actually SOUNDS like what one should be. It doesn't seem colored in any way. The absolute best thing about this headphone is how clear the sound is.
This one is fairly cheap and has a good level of detail. I don't have months of experience with this headphone. For me it has sort of an abnormal mid-bass hump and I dislike that. My MDR-V6 felt bass heavy, but this one not so much. The bass on the DJ100 seems similar, but it's better quality bass without that annoying mid-bass hump. The mids are OK, but they're not forward to my ears, which I wasn't expecting. Treble can be somewhat piercing, but not too badly.
AKG K240 Sextett LP
I wasn't a fan of this headphone at all when I got it, but it's growing on me. It seems to have more detail than I originally thought. The sound isn't as clear as it could be, but still better than the 7506. To me it's a far, far better headphone than the K240 Studio. Ok, not that much better. Maybe 15% better, if that. I would never pay over $120 for one though. BTW mine does have a Canare cable, so I don't know if that makes it any better or worse than the original. For a neutral Studio Monitor, it's still quite fun to listen to. Not that much though.
Koss Pro DJ 100
This one I like because the sound is very clear and has very good female vocals. The soundstage and imaging are also good for such a cheap headphone. This one just isn't as good without an amp despite what some say. This headphone for some reason seems more picky about high quality sources than the others. I don't find it forgiving of low bitrate files. The mids on this are slightly forward. They're one step under being bass heavy. The sound feels well balanced to me, but they do have very slightly rolled off highs. I'm testing this with the MDR-V6 pads. This to me has a more engaging and fun sound than any of them. HD-598 and DJ100 have some similarities.
Unlike the DJ100, this one seems a bit more forgiving of poor quality files. It's sound signature is very smooth and balanced. Not too much of anything. To my ears it does not have the laid back sound of the HD-600, but still quite similar. I actually prefer this to my old HD-600. It's not better probably, just matches my preferences a bit more. This one has slightly forward mids and is very good for gaming.
Vocal Quality: DJ100 > HD-598 > KNS-8400 > Sextett > 7506
Clarity: KRK (easily) > DJ100 > HD-598 > Sextett > 7506
Bass Quantity: DJ100 > HD-598 > Sextett > 7506 > KRK
Treble: KRK > 7506 > DJ100 > HD-598 \ Sextett
Soundstage: HD-598 > Sextett > DJ100 > 7506 > KRK
Imaging: DJ100 > HD-598 > Sextett > KRK > 7506
Comfort: HD-598 > Sextett > KRK > DJ100 (MDR-V6 pads) > 7506
Level of Detail: KRK (easily) > Sextett > DJ100 | HD-598 > 7506
Mids quality: DJ100 > HD-598 > Sextett > KRK > 7506
RANDOM NOTES - Feel free to skip
I listened to many, many more songs, but got tired of keeping notes. Here's a few. I probably listened to dozens in many genres.
CHARA - Madrigal (track 5)
The Mid-bass hump on this headphone nearly ruins the song and it just doesn't feel accurate. The sound is rather lifeless, but at the same time the treble is very slightly piercing at times. This has the least amount of detail out of all of them. The mid-bass hump is just a very annoying distraction.
There was a static like sound at the start of the song that I could not hear with the 7506. Vocals on this headphone are clearly more upfront and the sound is more engaging and fun to listen to compared to the 7506. Mid-bass is not a problem here.
Wow! So much detail. That static is so much more clear and easier to hear. It's impossible not to hear it. This one has the brightest and most clear sound.
This clearly has the most bass, but without that excessive mid-bass hump. This one seems to have the least amount of treble. The static at the start of the song is now just as noticeable as it was on the Sextett. The sound is more clear than the Sextett, but not the KRK, but close. The vocals/mids are the most forward on this headphone. It has the most engaging sound with this song, but still a smooth sound signature. Cymbals aren't as prominent on this headphone, which is no surprise.
I was very surprised to find that that static was just as noticeable as on the Sextett. This to me was a HUGE surprise. Compare to all of the above headphones, this one feels like it has the smoothest and most balanced sound signature to my ears. The mids are slightly more forward on the DJ100. Somehow the treble on this headphone still does feel as if it's more recessed than the DJ100.
Radiohead - Everything in it's right place
Sounds pretty good. No complaints yet.
Recording hiss! Once again it was almost non-existant on the 7506. The sound is only slightly more clear overall on this compared to the 7506. This headphone is much more fun to listen to while still being quite neutral.
Once again, the hiss is so much more present and can be heard for longer. I can't get over how crystal clear the sound is. So far, this song sounds best on the KRK. Much more clear than the Sextett by far.
That hiss is present, but you have to be trying very hard to find it. Sounds good but nothing special for this song.
Hiss is more present with this headphone than the DJ100 and 7506, but not the KRK. This song sounds best on the HD-598. KRK is second.
Pearl Jam - I am Mine
Mid-bass hump makes this song nearly unlistenable
Cymbals much more clear and present. On the 7506 they're are surprisingly more distant. Mids are so much better on the Sextett. Imaging on the 7506 seems much more poor than the Sextett. I didn't expet that.
This offers better imaging than the 7506 and cymbals are much more clear and forward than the 7506. Somehow this makes little sense.
Cymbals sound great and similar to the DJ100, but are much more present during the song. Vocals sound very good on the KRK. This one definitely has the most treble. Imaging is very good. The sound is crystal clear and sparkly and could get fatiguing after many hours.
The vocals sound the best on this. This offered the smoothest sound for this song.
Chara - Kiss
This song sounds recorded in a room with a large echo. Sort of cave-like, but not that bad. It's definitely in the recording. This had quite a good soundstage for being semi-open.
The echos are more present, but at the same time, the soundstage is lost. You don't feel as if you can tell what type of room you are in. Vocals are quite good.
This has better imaging, a clearer sound and much more forward vocals compared to the above two. The echos are very present and easy to spot, but I could just barely determine the type of room I was in.
Vocals sound the best on this headphone, but the echos are not as present as any of the above. Big surprise there.
This had the best soundstage and vocals were comparable to the DJ100
Boards of Canada - Hey Saturday Sun
Not really fun to listen to with this headphone and the sound doesn't feel very clear.
More engaging and much more clear sound and it's easier to hear some details.
Lots more detail. For ambient music, this would be my choice.
Chara - Beautiful Scarlet
Vocals sound crystal clear and forward
Best vocals. No contest here.
Nearly as good vocals as the DJ100, but not as clear. They're also much more forward on the DJ100 of course.