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Comparison of 5 popular cans in the $250-350 range - K701, HD650, DT990/600ohm, SR325is, D2000 - UPDATED!!!!

post #1 of 167
Thread Starter 

Dubstep Girl's Comparison/Impressions on 5 popular headphones! dt880smile.png




Hey guys! So this is just a tiny review I decided to make after I bought my DT 990s. I was initially just going to give my impressions on them, but I decided to just compare these 5 headphones as they are some of the most popular out in the market and people often wonder which one will best suit their needs. These are the AKG K701, Beyerdynamic DT 990 - 600 ohm, Grado SR325is, Sennheiser HD 650, and the Denon AH-D2000


i have updated this thread to include the denon d2000 as well as updating some of the details of some of the other headphones i have listed here. i have tried to be as accurate as possible in my descriptions. however, remember i consider this to be just my impressions so that other head-fiers can better pick out the headphone that is best for them. i do not consider myself to be an expert nor do i consider this to be a in-depth review.


Equipment used for this review:


Lossless files (Jriver 17 using ASIO Bitperfect) from computer going to a Musical Fidelity V-Link USB/SPDIF converter and then to a PS Audio DLIII DAC.

Woo Audio WA6SE with Sofia 274B and Raytheon 6EW7 tubes.

Cables are all mid-tier Audioquest.


So I don't have to mention this anywhere in the review, all 5 of these headphones benefit greatly from amping and will sound weak coming out of an ipod/mp3 player (i tried it with all 5 headphones myself, neither sounded very loud or very good even the Grados where underpowered despite their low impedance). The exception to this is the Denon D2000 which are ok to use with ipods but will still benefit from slight amplification.


Also, these are all open headphones (with the exception of the D2000 which are closed) which means these will leak sound out and may not be good for those who wish to listen privately or those who need to use these in a quiet place like work. 







AKG K701




Price: 250 on amazon, price ranges anywhere from 250-350 new. i've seen as high as 449 on outdated websites though.


Impedance: 62 Ohms


Sound signature: Neutral and well balanced with a wide soundstage, airy, detailed, analytical.


NOTE: these are the newer akgs with the 8 bumps instead of 7 on the headband, their sound signature is reportedly more similar to the Q701 and is slightly warmer than the older AKG's, and maybe a bit more bass.


Opinions: Fresh out the box, these where bright and quite cold sounding. After 48 hours, they opened up and seemed to have stabilized. Their sound still improves and opens up, but these are pretty much where they're gonna be at. 


These headphones are quite neutral and very detailed sounding. For those who enjoy listening to all sorts of music and do not want alot of bass, these are perfect.


Highs: Very smooth and neutral, while tending to go to the bright side every so often, its never fatiguing or harsh sounding. Female vocals sound awesome with these as well as pop songs with all the nice sparkly sound effects and such. I personally enjoy listening to pop and dance/trance with these, despite their neutral bass, the vocals and ambient noises really come out with these.


Mids: Among the best mids i've heard out of any headphones, very balanced and just about perfect. They are not recessed in any way and are not too agressive, they're just where they need to be. Mids are very detailed throughout the whole spectrum, these are great with anything soft like jazz/blues/soft rock,etc. I personally enjoy listening to Norah Jones with these and everything just sounds so well balanced and perfect :)


Bass: Perfect for those who listen to alot of different music and don't want the "Bass in yo face" experience. The bass is very clean, tight, and well textured. Extremely well controlled and great extension overall. Expect nice tight punches where you need them and balance everywhere else. Contrary to popular belief, these are not lacking in bass, you can hear it and it blends in nicely with the rest of the music. The bass works great for just about any genre except hiphop/rap/some electronic (trance actually sounds good due to the fast/tight bass response). These do need good amping to get the bass out though.


Soundstage: Very good, wide and open sounding. Similar to HD 800 soundstage but not as wide. imaging is good, but not as good as it could be. depending on the recording, it can sound too separated to the left and right, rather than as one clear image. With ambient/trance music, everything just seems to float out in space and have no end, its quite an experience on some songs. Listen to "Blue Moon Station" or "Magic Eye" by Solar Fields, you will love it!


With good amping, these headphones really come to life and can be really fun and unique. While some people say they are too analytical, bass lacking, or boring sounding, I find all these to be not true, these headphones are friggin awesome and I luv them!!! <3 Just make sure to have a good headphone amp, these are notorious for being hard to drive (I can verify that it is generally true).


Ergonomics/Design: I have a big head, but these are quite comfortable with soft pads and I can listen to them for forever. They are bigger than most headphones but not heavy. The cable is a nice 10ft long or so which provides plenty of movement. The headphones are pretty sturdy despite being all plastic with a foam/pleather headband. 







Grado SR3325is






Price: 295 and price seems to be set by Grado, so its the same price anywhere online. If you physically go to an audio store that stocks these, you can typically get them for 250-275.


Impedance: 32 Ohms


Sound signature: Aggressive, natural sounding headphones. A tad bright but very fun to listen to and balanced throughout.


Opinions: Harsh out of the box, very bright at first and congested, however, burn-in is quite fast for these and after 20 hours, they start to balance out. Slightly more bass than the previous Grado models.


These headphones are quite detailed as well and are unrivaled at anything in the rock/metal genre. Perfect for anything with a guitar basically as well as instrumentals, jazz, blues, etc. Great for that natural and up front sound, I enjoy listening to live albums and classic rock with these the most as well as the occasional Diana Krall and the like.


Highs: Slightly on the bright side, however, they are not harsh and don't cause much fatigue unless you listen to them at loud volumes. Vocals are also really good with these and right on par with the AKG. I can't say much about the highs other than they're good and very lifelike. Highs can be slightly more pronounced than the midrange at times but are well balanced overall. NOTE: these headphones are very revealing, the highs can be too bright for some people on poorer recording as well as for people who might listen a little too loud. However, for the most part, the highs are a good thing because it just gives the music that extra sparkle it needs.


Mids: Aggressive and up-front are the best words to describe this. The mids are also natural sounding and extremely detailed. Not neutral, but rather fine tuned for great sound and enjoyment. The mids are clean and fun. Some of the best mids i've ever heard along with the AKG K701s. Instruments especially guitars are detailed, crisp, and quite enjoyable to listen to on these. Rock music just comes to life with these headphones. Classic rock, 80s rock, metal, alternative, you name it!


Bass: The bass on these is very natural sounding.  It sounds like an actual instrument when it needs to and is punchy when it needs to be. Bass is clean and blends in nicely with the rest of the music. You can hear it when you need to but it never distracts you, its more natural sounding than the AKGs bass and has the same punch and slightly less detail. Definitely not bassy headphones. Bass is present but doesn't sound too good on Rap/HipHop or other bass heavy genres which is why Grado is not recommended for these genres. Pop/Rap/HipHop/Mainstream/Electronic are all enjoyed on other headphones. Hard to explain, but if those are your main genres, these are not for you. These are perfect however for anything else.


Soundstage: Close to you (second seat maybe) and very forward sounding. A little congested for some genres but still decent sounding overall. The in-your-face sound is perfect for rock/metal though. You will want to start headbanging if you put on anything heavy like screamo or death metal.


These headphones require an amp to sound their best but do not require as much as the other headphones mentioned here. A small portable amp will do.


Ergonomics/Design: These can get uncomfortable. The pads are rough and hard at first but soften up over time. I use my hair to make them more comfortable to wear. These headphones are heavier than others because of the metal but it isn't as bad as some people say. They can press on the ear a little too much at times but bending the headband seems to fix these. These are ok on comfortable. The vintage design is pleasing and these headphones are more durable than they look, The leather headband is nice too. Many grado owners have enjoyed their pair for many years (up to 20 years even in some cases). The cable is nice and heavy but rather short (5-6 feet i think). An extension cord is available from Grado and will not affect the sound (according to Grado).





Beyerdynamic DT990 - 600 ohm version





Price: currently 279 at Amazon, usually 299-359 is the price. It jumps around alot with 329 being a common price as well as anything else in between the mentioned price range.


Impedance: 600 Ohms


Sound signature: Boosted Bass and Treble, slightly recessed mids.


Opinions: Brand new, these where extremely bright, about as bright as the Grados while being alot more sibilant. These also start to burn-in quickly and the treble while still sibilant and on the bright side, becomes smooth and easier on the ears. Bass also improves and the mids open up.


These headphones have a V-shaped response curve. They have pronounced bass and treble response while having slightly recessed mids. They are quite detailed however, and have good separation. These are quite fun to listen to as they are lively and make music fun sounding with their non-linear frequency response.


Highs: While definitely strident and bright, they are still smooth and don't hurt to listen to (at normal listening levels). Some songs may appear to be brighter than others, but generally, the highs are tame and are fun to listen to. Vocals sound good and music gains an airy texture to it. The highs are detailed and never shrill or harsh and make for a nice lively sound. the only downside to the highs is that they can tend to sound a little artificial at times compared to the other headphones, this can be a turn-off to some.


Mids: very slightly recessed, but  only noticeable on some songs. Mostly on bass heavy songs, you can notice the recessed mids. Despite this, they are not bad and are quite detailed, right on the K701's level. Basically K701 mids but recessed and slightly smoother.  the mids can sound a little artificial at times compared to the other headphones, this however is just the sound signature and isn't an issue to most people.


Bass: The bass on these is great. Just as much bass as the HD 650s have. mid and upper bass is punchy and fun to listen to. These are good for trance/techno music cause of this. Bass is detailed, punchy, and fast. Not as tight as K701 bass nor as detailed. However, bass is more pronounced and is quite enjoyable. Low bass is great on these as on the right songs, you can really hear the low bass rumble. Low bass while strong and loud compared to the rest of the spectrum, it isn't as loud as you might think, it all kinda depends on the song. Some rap songs could use more bass, but drum and bass for some reason sounds great. Movies are also great with these, the low bass in movies is heard quite well and these cans give that subwoofer rumble people enjoy when watching movies. Explosions and the such are always punchy with these and have that nice boom to them.

Overall though, bass is good for rap/hiphop/drum and bass/electronic/pop/etc.


Soundstage: Average. Nice wide separation  and a good balance overall. Its a mix between Grado and AKG soundstage. In a way though, its like AKG soundstage but not as open. Instead of the feeling of drifting into infinity, its controlled and has its end. Its done just right I think. No downsides to the beyer's soundstage.


These headphones definitely require an amp to sound their best due to high impedance.


Ergonomics/Design: Similar in side to AKG K701, but slightly smaller. Headphones are nice and sturdy complete with metal accents and leather headband. Cushions are very soft and fun to touch. The headphones are definitely some of the best i've seen in terms of build quality and comfort. These go around the ears like the K701 and also are extremely comfy. Cable is 10 ft long and of average build quality. 




Sennheiser HD 650 with Blue Dragon cable.




Price: usually around 325-400. These are the most expensive out of the 3 headphones. I've seen then alot for 399-499, however, they are easy to get for around 335-350 as the price has dropped. NOTE: Recently, these headphones have had a price increase and are back at the $499 price range, I don't know if this is sennheiser trying to set the prices or if its just random. Anyways, you can still find some 350. Despite the current higher price, i still keep these on the list since they are in the same tier as the other headphones mentioned. 


Impedance: 300 Ohms


Sound signature: Slightly boosted bass, overall balanced sound though, warm rich and laid-back.


Opinions: Muffled and veiled when new, after 100 hours, they begin to open up more and develop.


These headphones have a laid-back sound to them and are good for just about any type of music. The sound is smooth, relaxed, rich, and slightly tube sounding. Definitely warm but very enjoyable to listen to. These generally aren't as revealing as the other headphones and are good for listening to lower bitrate music as they are forgiving and will hide some of the flaws. These are also the least fatiguing of all the headphones due to their relaxed sounds signature. The strong bass off these is pronounced but generally less than the Beyerdynamic DT990s. These are great for electronic/rap/hiphop/mainstream/pop/ and well...just about anything else too. These however, may be too dark for classical and too warm for some vocal music.


Highs: Very smooth and clean. Never fatiguing and great quality. For treble sensitive people, these are great. For pop music and electronic, these are great as the smoothness helps reduce fatigue while helping to make the bass sound louder. Overall great highs, never harsh and quite natural sounding.


Mids: Warm and laid back. These are also very smooth and balanced. very clean mids and some of the best along with the AKG. AKG quality mids but laid back. When I mean laid-back, i mean neutral and not pronounced. They are smooth and not recessed by any means. Overall very enjoyable as well. They however, are not as detailed as the other headphones here. They aren't as detailed and revealing, but are clean and refined compared to many headphones.


Bass: Amazing. Not as tight as the other headphones. Bass however is strong, detailed, and refined. Very fun bass with a subwoofer feel to it. However, more controlled than the Beyerdynamic. Low bass like i said is strong and clean, these go deep and never sound muddy or boomy. Mid bass however tends to be more relaxed and slower than the Beyerdynamic. Thus, these are better for Rap/Hiphop and less for techno/trance since they aren't as punchy, so some songs may seem bass light. Bass however is right on par with the Beyers for the most part. 



Soundstage: Balanced soundstage with a relaxed sound. About as far as the AKGs but less wide and more closed. Not the best for instrumental/classical but good for everything else.


These headphones need proper amping as well to sound their best due to their 300 ohm impedance. A desktop amp works best.


Ergonomics/Design: mostly plastic design with only metal grills. Cable is removable which allows for easy upgrading. Stock cable is decent but aftermarkets are typically better. Cushions are soft and about the same as the K701's. The HD 650s can be a little tight but the plastic headband can be stretched a bit and then these become extremely comfy. Build quality is great as plastic is strong and of good quality.







Denon AH-D2000





Price: currently 329 at amazon. most retailers sell for 350 and these can be found for around 250. (call J&R, most head-fiers who do this end up getting them for about 215-250 shipped). 


Impedance: 25 Ohms


Sound signature: Boosted Bass and Treble, slightly recessed mids. Imagine the beats studios, with a HUGE sound quality increase. The sound signature is very lively and musical with alot of energy. These headphones are just amazing for watching movies...


Opinions: Very strong sub-bass, these headphones go down very low and will hit hard when they need to. The Mids are slightly recessed and the highs have a slight sparkle to them. Closed headphones are better for work environments but leak alot of sound compared to most other closed headphones.  These headphones are very good all-rounders that most people will enjoy. 


These headphones have a V-shaped response curve. Not as much as the Beyerdynamic DT 990 however. They tend to have a sound that most people will find enjoyable (Mainstream bassy sound vs. audiophile sound). However, the quality is much better than that of regular headphones. 


Highs: The highs have a slight sparkle to them that makes them nice and detailed. The highs are not as good as the beyer 990s though. I can't really say much about the highs. They are generally non-fatiguing and shouldn't be a problem to most listeners.


Mids: The most recessed mids out of all the headphones in this review. However, the mids still have good detail and weight to them. The headphones work great with rap, hiphop, electronic, pop, and most mainstream music. The mids are good, but not as good as some of the other headphones here. I would say these are just a slight step down from the DT 990.


Bass: The Sub-bass on these headphones is just crazy good. It goes down very low and works great for anyone who loves rap, hiphop, dubstep, drum and bass!!! The sound is very subwoofer like and while the bass is slightly loose, its still very clean and very fun. Rather than focusing on "audiophile" bass, these headphones tend to go towards the "fun" bass that you would hear from car subwoofers and the like. Also, the sub-bass hits alot harder than any of the other headphones in this review, without ever muddying up the sound. The mid bass isn't as punchy as the DT 990. However, the mid-bass is still very fun and good for electronic music. If you are a basshead, you won't be disappointed with these, especially in the really low end. These headphones go lower than any of the other headphones here. 


Soundstage: About the same as the HD650s, slightly congested, better than most closed headphones though. Separation isn't the best on these. This shouldnt be a problem for most people though, since most of the music this headphone is good at doesn't need much soundstage to sound good. As long as you don't listen to classical or instrumentals on these, you should be ok with the soundstage. 


These headphones sound great off an ipod or a laptop but still benefit from a headphone amp. (any cheap one will be a noticeable improvement). 


Ergonomics/Design: The build quality of these is OK. They are not as durable as some of the other headphones on this review though. Some users report problems with the screw that makes the ear cups swivel. I have not noticed any problem, as long as you take care of them, you should be ok. The cable is nice and long but also stiff since its made out of some tech-flex material or something. Due to the thickness of the cable, these headphones should not be considered for portable use.





Well thats my long but still short comparison of these headphones. I hope this helps some of you decide which one is best for you :) Remember though, this is what I heard to the best of my ability and while I try to  be as accurate as possible in my description, I might be a little off. My warm might be a veil to someone else as my loud bass might be muddy to someone else.


-The Dubstep Girl

Edited by Dubstep Girl - 2/7/13 at 12:13pm
post #2 of 167

Very nice.  I was deciding between these exact 4 pairs of cans and the HE-300's.


If you had to choose 1 pair for metal music which would it be?  I don't have or probably never will have the quality of amping that you do though.

post #3 of 167

Excellent review of this awesome foursome


Quite a quartet of winning headphones you have there, nice blend ~ cannot think of a genre that

would leave you scrambling for a headphone.


Solid rig too I might add!

post #4 of 167

*salute* Great review. I was think far into the future I may get a HD650; your review has convinced me.


OT: "dubstep" and "girl", a rare combination dt880smile.png

post #5 of 167

Thanks for the review! I'm looking to getting my first $275 - $350 set of headphones sometime so this is a great for me. k701smile.gif

Just a question, for someone with the username, "Dubstep Girl", no love for Ultrasone Pro 900 or Denon D2000?

post #6 of 167
Originally Posted by tool462 View Post

Very nice.  I was deciding between these exact 4 pairs of cans and the HE-300's.


If you had to choose 1 pair for metal music which would it be?  I don't have or probably never will have the quality of amping that you do though.

The answer lies in the review RE: Grado 325is


"These headphones are quite detailed as well and are unrivaled at anything in the rock/metal genre."



post #7 of 167

Nice work. Did you check that the respective output impedance/s of your tube amplifiers are low enough as to not affect frequency balance of some of the h/phones?



post #8 of 167

Nice read, should be good info for someone looking to enter head-fi at a reasonable pricepoint.

post #9 of 167

Very nice. I was hoping there was a D2000 somewhere in the comparisons but very nice read. Thanks for your comparo.

post #10 of 167

Thanks for the review. I will give my HD 650 more time then

post #11 of 167

Great review. I was at point of deciding between HD650 or AKg 702s, glad I went with the K702.

post #12 of 167

Agreed great review! Ninja, I also love my AKG Q701.


post #13 of 167
Thread Starter 
i am planning on buying some d2000s or pro900 soon, i will compare them when i buy them.
post #14 of 167
Thread Starter 
i am planning on buying some d2000s or pro900 soon, i will compare them when i buy them.
post #15 of 167
Originally Posted by Dubstep Girl View Post

i am planning on buying some d2000s or pro900 soon, i will compare them when i buy them.

Look forward to this. I just got a D2000 myself. Fantabulous HPs....Just for kicks you should try a $30 budget can the HTF600. To compare to these 2.. For kicks. You are a fan of dub. You would love the HTF600.. $30... And not even remotely a joke..These aren't going to be at the level of a D2000 or Pro900 but you would be surprised just how close.

Edited by Dsnuts - 10/16/11 at 1:19pm
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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Comparison of 5 popular cans in the $250-350 range - K701, HD650, DT990/600ohm, SR325is, D2000 - UPDATED!!!!