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Which Sealed Can to get?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello All:


I enjoy listening through sealed can phones.  I like the isolation it gives me.  I am using a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-A900 phones.  My source right now is a laptop with CD quality FLAC files and some 24/96 files.  Played through the internal headphone out and then into a Corda Headamp-1 amplifier.  I am looking to get a better set of phone (better in most ways...extension, soundstage, etc). Looking to spend less then $600.  I listen to rock, pop, jazz & classical.  What should I be looking at?  Thanks,



post #2 of 7



Soundstage is only going to really increase with open-air cans. You will get slight shifts depending on size of cup, position/location of driver, and the kind of amplifier you use. But it's all very minute and not dramatic. I see a lot of people claim some huge claims on how a certain amp opens the sound stage, but all I can say is that it's quite a small difference and it's not measurable since it's different for each person listening. So if you need isolation, open-air is out and it means you'll not have a big sound stage. That's just how it will go there. If you really want sound stage, you'll need to go open air, and you'll need to isolate by just being in a quiet room.


Based on what you listen to, it sounds like you're after something that has good mids/highs, or is otherwise neutral. But you're also wanting closed. This will limit things quite a bit in options, especially in your $600 budget, since most of the cans people will recommend that break the $200 area are likely going to be open-air cans as most of the higher end cans are open-air (it just sounds better and has a sound stage, closed can't do it).


I can't recommend any headphones in your max budget that are closed that fit your style probably except one or two. All the ones I want to suggest are open-back, so they don't isolate. I would start in the middle ground, not top end of your budget. You'd be better off getting two $300 pairs of headphones for example to try different sounds.


The other limitation will be that amplifier. You could use your budget to get a new amp and a nice headphone with it.


Open-air, well within your budget, that will improve over what you have and benefit from amplification:


AKG 702

Ultrasone 2900

Sennheiser HD600

Grados SR225i

GMP 400

BeyerDyanmic DT880/DT990


Closed-back that are in your budget and benefit amplification:


Denon D5000

GMP 450


Amplifier that will give you more performance that combined with a headphone from above meets your budget:


Matrix M-Stage (Solid state)

Lovely Cube Amp (Solid state)

FiiO E9 (Solid State)

Little Dot MK III + Mullard tubes (Tube amp)

HiFi Man EF2A (Tube amp/DAC)


Very best,

Edited by MalVeauX - 7/5/11 at 3:20pm
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 



Thanks for that.  Maybe I should switch it up and buy a set of open phones!  I thought also about getting a new amp...I really want to try a tube amp,  Any love for the Schiit Valhalla?  I will take a look at some of the open phones you recomended...maybe try the Grado's, always liked their sound.  Thanks,



post #4 of 7

The Audio-Technica W1000x is within your budget. Easy to drive and sounds fantastic (IMO, at least atsmile.gif). Isolation is reasonable, not as good as studio monitors, not as bad as Denons. I find comfort to be exceptional, and if you like your A900s you should too. Since it can be found for $500-600 new, and less on the FS forums here, its should definitely be on your consideration list for a closed can, you wont find much better for the price.


This thread compared them to other top-end closed cans (Denon D7000, Ultrasone Ed.8): http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/560275/beyer-t1-vs-ath-w1000x-vs-ultrasone-edition-8-palladium-vs-d7000-comparisons-coming-shortly


There are also reviews by Skylab (on this site) and on the Headfonia website.

post #5 of 7

D5000, highly recommended if you want to stay closed.  They meet your needs/description and are easy to drive (32 ohms).

Edited by LiqTenExp - 7/5/11 at 7:44pm
post #6 of 7

Check out the new Shure 940 for closed. Beats my AKG 702 in all ways (except comfort) and is the most neutral/resolving can I've heard yet.

post #7 of 7

I always keep a closed can and an open can on hand. I put the closed ones on when I don't want to hear what is going on around me (you'll come to appreciate this, TRUST me). I use the Shure SRH840 for when I need isolation (Warning: These are heavy). Closed cans are uncomfortable in general and I can't use them for longg periods of time. I prefer open cans when I sit in my room and just let the music sweep me away. Open cans are MUCH more comfortable, but will not keep outside noise out. Sound quality wise, open cans win hands down. I wear my open Senn HD650 for hours without fatigue. Closed cans fatigue my ears very quickly because of the vacuum created (suction). If you just want one set of phones, then you need to weigh out the pros and the cons of both types. I think I've started you off well. There are plenty of past threads here that will help you choose which specific one is the best for you!


All the best,


Edited by KB24 - 7/5/11 at 9:41pm
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