Comparison of Sennheiser Amperior, Beyerdynamic DT-1350, Martin Logan Micros 90. And Yamaha HPH-200 (or, how I spent my winter vacation)
When I decided to do this, I had no idea what I was biting off. I had gotten the Yamaha, and was interested in how it compared to other on-ear purchases I had made recently (a thank you for depleting the bank account to the Deals Thread, now the Deals Discussion thread, and, as Wayne pointed out, soon to be the Discussions of the Deals Discussion Thread), so, I got my legal pad ready and started to take notes when I had a few spare minutes (I wound up just shy of War and Peace). I came to this expecting to be the spoiler…the HPH-200 was garnering universal ecstatic laudits, people were sacrificing their first born to get a pair, so, seeing how they were open (and I generally am in the minority who prefers closed), I thought I’d put my contrary $0.02 in. Didn't quite turn out that way, though. Listening was mostly through a Fiio X3, Cardas line-out cable, ALO National.
Action Hero-Fountains of Wayne
Amelita-Court Yard Hounds
If It Takes All Night-Valley Lodge
Two Different Things-Caitlyn Cary and Thad Cockrell
B. B.'S Blues-Branford Marsalis
Put Me On Top-Aimee Mann
Waltz for Debby-Bill Evans
(a short listen to Wishin’ and Hopin’-Dusty Springfield; Doom-Ben Goldberg)
OK, instead of going through my 8 pages of notes, let me say: I can (and am) live with any of these on ear phones. They all do well by the music, though the presentations are different.
Sennheiser Amperior-I think this one edges out the others. It does great in the soundstage department, good, solid bass (slightly soft in comparison to the Miknos 90, but more in quantity). The high end is revealing, air between instruments is quite amazing, and the “jump” or “bop” factor (the thing that has me gyrating around the house, to the embarrassment of my family) is fabulous. Detail is really good, instrument timbre and presence are outstanding.
Martin Logan Mikros 90-Another great set of phones. Stage wide, though not as wide as the others to my ears (though sometimes I’d not be listening for it, and be amazed at how good it got the sound of the venue). The darkest spaces between instruments, great tonal color, slightly less bass than the others in amount, but makes up for this with the most real bass, sharp edges, real defined notes in the bass, not a feel of a general note as many do. Highs, mid detail the best,of the group, really get a natural/real sound of the instruments, vocals, and space. Loses out slightly to the Senn in “jump/bop”, but barely. Also very finicky about how you wear it-like an iem, have to place it exactly right to get bass and full spectrum of music. The dedicated Head-Fi thread has some folks describing their rituals for getting it placed properly. I’d say this is the one that gives the best feel of the original venue/recording, accurate and fun, nice combo.
Yamaha HPH-200-As I mentioned, I’m generally not such a fan of open headphones. I think they often blanch out tone color in exchange for the wide soundstage they can produce. And, in fact, I do think the Yamahas lose a tiny bit in detail to the other three, and the space between instruments is not quite as distinct. I feel a slight overall darkness in the presentation. It does perform well in all the frequencies, though, good detailed treble, rich meds, bass present and impactful (though slightly loose, the other 3 detail better). Bass just jumps, though: the presentation rocks! It does do the wide soundstage thing great, and it was often hard to take it off and go to the next headphone, it’s really involving, with gobs of “Jump/bop” factor. Wishin’ and Hopin’ really grabbed my heart on these. When you got that, who gives a hoot about dark space between instruments! (until I go back to the Senns, which have space, detail, and “jump/bop” factor like mad!)
Beryedynamic DT-1350-Wide soundstage, similar to Senns, details well but seems more clinical than the others. I hear a slight coloration in the sound, details abound but don’t come together as on the others, sometimes I felt the mids were slightly recessed. I’d say these headphones are more about the brain and less about the heart/booty.
In terms of fit/construction…The Senns have a nice feel to them, plastic headband that feels solid, plush earpads, not too tight/good comfort. The Beyers are similarly constructed, have a bit more clamping force, but as the headband is metal, I’d expect it can be stretched to the users comfort. The ML’s as I’ve said are unusual beasts, they have a thick, leather covered headband, have to be worn slightly in FRONT of the ear to get the best sound, and movements can throw them off and change the sound. Still, when all is aligned well, the moon and stars are just right, these sound incredible.
The Yamahas just don’t feel as well constructed as the others, very plasticky. They have less clamping force, though, so I can see many will find them most comfortable. They have round velour pads, larger than the others, almost large enough to be over rather than on ears. On my ears, this felt odd on my lobes, and made it less comfortable than it would seem they should be (this is definitely a function of my small head and ear shape, and I’m sure works fine for many)
I guess I’m supposed to rate these in preference order now. OK, biting the bullet, really do like them all, but I’d have to drop the Beyers behind the others. I’d put the Senns slightly ahead of the pack, but the Yamaha and the ML are nipping at its heels.
(not the same Aimee Mann song, couldn't find that one, had to post something by her...)