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Closed Full-Size Headphones @150$ - anything else worth mentioning or M-50 own everything ? :))

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I am in the lookout for a good pair of closed and comfortable headphones for home use without spending more than 150-180$.


So, closed because I like to listen at pretty high volumes and most of the time during the night in the bedroom while my wife sleeps. The home set up consists of a laptop with a poor SQ sound card so everything will go through a recently bought Fiio E10 DAC/Amp. I am very pleased with the SQ provided by the Fiio E10. In order to fully understand the sound I am after, let me tell you what headphones I currently own and what my thoughts are on them.

1. Sennheiser HD-555 ( modded ) - I am not that happy with the sound of these. I find them rather flat and too neutral for my taste. I need to have the bass ON my E10 and also I need to lift up the right side of the EQ in Foobar to crisp out the highs a bit. While the detail is there, the sound signature seems too flat. They are my first open back pair so I just might not be used to the airy feeling of this headphone genre. However they are pretty much the most comfortable headphones I have ever tested/had, by a large margin.

2. AKG K181 DJ - I got them used at a great price, mostly out of curiosity. I don't like DJ oriented products but these sounded just too good not to buy - especially at a good price. I was very surprised that some DJ branded headphones can sound THIS GOOD. They have a SMALL/LARGE knob on each can which is mostly a bass enhancer, and although the bass is still very well controlled I like the Small setting better, while I prefer to use the BASS button on the Fiio. Overall the sound is great, I am don't use any "audiophile" oriented terms but I must admit everything sounds great when thrown at them. Except for the BASS ON setting on the Fiio, I don't feel the need to adjust anything on the EQ so I keep it off. The bad part of them is simply the comfort level. They are VERY tight on the ears, everything gets hot and they feel quite uncomfortable after 1-2 hours of non-stop wear.

3. Brainwavs ProAlpha - although they are IEMs ... are worth mentioning as I currently use them as they isolate the sound perfectly so the wife can sleep ( sigh :) ) and also the sound is not bad if I add a bit bass on the EQ.

4. BOSE QC 3 - I have had them for about 1 month but I never use them as I don't like the Sound Canceling feature. They are not even mine, a friend gave them to me to get them sold. They are BRAND NEW, and although the sound is not bad, I am not very found of the somewhat exagerated bass. Although I am a bass freak and I always keep the E10s bass on, sometimes I add a bit more on the EQ, the bass on the BOSEs however ... seems a bit too over the head.


Music that I listen to : Jazz, Blues, Rock and sometime some electronic Tech House sets. Right now I am listening to a playlist with Michael Buble and Katie Melua on shuffle :)


So an ideal pair would have the comfort level of the Senn 555 and the sound signature of the AKGs K181 :) - and one thing I have learned the past years is that on a lot of things, especially sound gear - I have to HEAR IT to be sure I like it. For example, a lot of people have great opinions on Sennheiser 4xx line, which I simply detest. Also the 555s I own, received great reviews and I find them somewhat too dull. I also tested a pair of Beyers on a hi-fi store in France recently, it was a pretty expensive pair ( 200+ euros ) - the DT 990 or 880 - I don't remember exactly the model but the sound out of my iphone was simply a joke. VERY poor voice ... I held them on for about 20-30 seconds while I went through 3-4 songs and that was it ... I laughed and left. I am aware that most likely the iphone was not able to drive them to their full potential and being new, not burned in at all but still ... they were pretty much the lamest "good" headphones I have ever put on my head.


So - let's get to the M50s shall we ? First of all, I have never listened to AudioTechnica so except for the online reviews, I have no idea if I will like them or not. All reviewers say they are comfortable to wear, great sound - and they are closed. So keep in mind I like the K181 - any idea if I could love the M50s ? Any other contenders for this price range ?? Thanks.


Sorry for any spelling mistakes on this long post - I am from Romania so all my English comes from movies and internet :P

post #2 of 8

Have you considered any of Shure's offerings? FWIW the SRH 750s and 840s may be worth considering.

post #3 of 8

Hey I'm an iShuffle user too for portable use and own the M50's.


They don't perform too badly but I find that they lack separation, clarity

and soundstage when compared to other 'portable device friendly' headphones

for the same money.


My recommendation?


If you want to stay closed then the Shure 440/840 and Ultrasone 580 would

be very good. The 580 might be a little bass heavy but it sounds clearer

than the M50. The 440/840 are more natural but don't have that bottom

bass bloom ~ my ultimate recommendation would be the semi-open

AKG 242HD ~ easy to drive and it isolates reasonably well, plenty

of people use it as a portable here in Melbourne without leakage issues.

Edited by Gwarmi - 11/9/11 at 3:53pm
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the fast answers, first off I don't know if I made myself clear. I want the phones for INDOOR use only and I also do own a DAC/Amp ( Fiio E10 ) I will be using most of the time ( my laptop internal card is dreadful ). So I don't care about portability ... my brainwavz are covering that segment pretty well - and I drive an Audi A4 with BOSE OEM installed that I feed from my iphone and the quality is IMPRESSIVE - I don't walk much - pretty much drive all over the place so need for portability.


I decided on the M50s after reading this review :


The guy has 9 phones in this review and one of them is the K181 I actually like as a sound. I also played with the HD25-1 and I like those too. The reviewer also likes the sound of these and highly praises the M50s so I figured I might be on to something here considering we're on the same page :)


Now I am a bit worried about the FAKE madness regarding the M50s. I live in Romania and ebay is pretty much my only source to get stuff. There are a few local national stores that have the M50s for sale for 230$ which I find to be very much.

There is this guy swearing he's an Autorised Dealer and the REAL THING, also has a great feedback.


Also, ebay has the Buyer Protection Program that allows you to get your money back, and especially in case of counterfitted items, you don't even need to send them back - you are advised to have them destroyed after you get paid back.


The worse part is that there is NOT A SINGLE store in my town to even HEARD of audiophile brands ... let alone allow you to test anything so I have to rely on internet reviews on my purchases and audio gear is such a subjective matter for me ... DAMN !!!


I donno...

post #5 of 8

He runs a music store & production studio ~ you'd have to assume they're real, if they're not - then official shop fronts

selling fakes is proof that the world is becoming a straaange place 




One way to tell very quickly is to remove the left ear pad ~ underneath you should a little square white

stick with the number '1032' on it.


If it's not there and they sound really bad. Yep, fake.

Edited by Gwarmi - 11/9/11 at 5:07pm
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Right now am I am hitting it up with a pair of Audio Technica M50 on my tiny E10 and I must say I really like them. I have them up against my AKGs K181 and although the AKGs sound VERY GOOD, I find the M50s to be a bit wider and cleaner with a slightly better separation. I don't have any other similar products to have them put against so they will be my next purchase :) And the most important thing, they feel very comfortable - not as the Senn 555 because of the vinyl pads that help isolating the sound. The ears sweat a bit after a long use but they are very good. The Senn 555 are probably among the most comfortable headphones EVER.  Too bad the sound doesn't match that :)

post #7 of 8

I sound like a broken record recommending these all the time, but the Sony MDR-V6 is still an excellent headphone.  IMHO, it's better with the same sound as the Beats Studio, at less than 1/3 the price.  A good place to purchase them is at B&H Photo, where you can get the after-market velour cushions ($83 for the entire combo):



With the velour cushions, the V6's are as good as any closed headphone short of $200.  Over $200, there are several headphones that are much better than the Beats - I just used that as a convenient comparison to show how good the Sony's are for the price.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

I never heard the Beats but word goes out that the bass is somehow bloated and "consumer" oriented. So if they Sonys are going that road, I will probably not like them that much. Also I am a bit afraid of the suspect low cost on the V6s :) Also having the M50s for the testing and actually enjoying them as I actually do, I don't feel comfortable going for a pair I haven't heard or know much about.


Could the AKG K271 MK II be a true contender for the M50s instead ?

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