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Looking for opinions on new headphones

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

So, I wouldn't really describe myself as an audiophile, but I can often discern the difference between a 320kbps MP3 and a FLAC file from the same source. I'm currently using a pair of Sennheiser HD 202's that I've had for a few years. They're good, and I've been happy with them, but now that I'm actually re-building my music library in FLAC, I've been paying a lot more attention to sound quality than I used to.


I intend to use my setup for everything. Music, videos, games, whatever. I have no music preferences, though I do have a lot of rock, classical, and electronica/dance. The HD 202's are starting to feel a bit bland now that I'm giving sound more thought. Of course, the rest of my system isn't exactly set up for sound quality either. Here's what I'm using:


Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer PCI sound card

Sennheiser HD 202 headphones

Logitech X-540 surround sound speakers


As you can tell, for sound, I've basically bought the best of the budget mid-range. Now, I crave more. I looked at the Sennheiser HD 448's since they went on sale (around $60), but I'm afraid that they won't be much different from what I already have. I'm also worried that no matter what I get, my sound card simply isn't up to par for producing good sound for my devices. I've considered getting one of the new Sound Blaster Recon3D's, but I've also heard it said that Creative doesn't really make the best sound equipment anyway. I like Creative and I'm not the kind of person who likes to poo-poo a company for being "too mainstream." I also don't really trust the Xonar, yet.


For now, I'm just in the market for some circumaural headphones that will make my games sound terrifyingly realistic, where I can get every nuance from my music and videos. Any suggestions (within a reasonable budget) would be highly appreciated. Thanks!

Edited by Royal Amethyst - 1/4/12 at 11:18pm
post #2 of 19

Are you looking for an open or closed headphone? Might help narrow down some options.

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

I would prefer closed because I don't know if the open-air ones would be heard through think walls/floors/ceilings. If the open-air ones are externally quiet enough, I wouldn't mind, since they're supposed to be more accurate, yes?

post #4 of 19


Don't worry, open headphones definitely aren't loud enough to be heard in a different room at reasonable listening levels...if they were that would surely bust a listener's ears! They are somewhat audible to someone in the same room though, so you might have to decide whether that is a concern to you. 
Also, you should specify your "reasonable budget," as that'll cover quite a range here for different people. tongue.gif
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Well, when I'm playing games or listening to music, I generally try to switch to my headphones at night as to not keep the house up, since they say they can hear me otherwise.

Anyway, the price range I was looking at was around the Sennheiser HD 448, HD 515, HD 518, Audio Technica ATH-A700, M50 range. Around there.

post #6 of 19

As for a future sound card purchase, you might look into the HT Omega Claro Plus+. It features both Dolby Live and Dolby Headphone so you'd be able to utilize 7.1 surround sound for your games.


I know you're not looking into getting a new one now, but just for future reference.

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

I've looked at the different sound cards, and I have a sound card-specific thread over in that yonder forum, but I'll just copypasta what I found on sound devices:


  • Auzentech, Xonar, and HT | Omega cards are what people like to recommend
  • Auzentech cards are good and often affordable, but hard to come by, and I have seen several people complain of cards dying after a few months to a year, with horrible customer service
  • Xonar cards cannot natively decode Blu-Ray audio standards at this time, though offer OpenAL and other Dolby API features.
  • HT | Omega cards have DirectSound which can only emulate OpenAL or EAX, which it lacks natively, but is otherwise known for having good I/O ports


Basically, I would like OpenAL support. (Getting my info from here: http://sound-cards-review.toptenreviews.com/)


post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

Okay so, I'm basically just feeling like giving up and buying something. I've been researching for waaay too long and now I just want to dive in. The Sennheiser HD 448 is currently $49.99 on Amazon, would that be a significant difference from my HD 202?

post #9 of 19

There are lots of headphones in the sub $100 range you haven't mentioned that might work for you.  I doubt you'll get much difference with the lower level Sennheisers...they all seem to have a veiled sound, which can be mellow, but not something I personally like very much.


Have you considered the Superlux 681, Superlux 668 or Samson 850?  KRK 6400?  Shure 440?


At a higher price level, the ATH-M50's you did mention would be more attractive to me, but I'm not the one buying anything here. :)



post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 

I haven't looked at those ones you mentioned, but I notice they're almost the same price as the HD 448s, which I thought had a highly slashed price because they were ending that line soon. Would I be able to get excellent quality headphones for $50-$60? Like I said, I'm looking for a significant upgrade, not just an incremental one, if possible.

post #11 of 19

The Superluxes have been regarded as excellent sound for their price for a while now.  The biggest complaint I've heard about them is that their build quality isn't the best. 


The Samson is a Superlux clone.  And the KRK and Shure are pretty good for their price range.  All of these would be a step up from the 202's you have now, but each has its own strengths and weaknesses in sound.  You can't expect perfection at this price point.


There is plenty of information regarding each one here in the forums. 

post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

Okay, so let's knock my price-range up to the $80-$120 level. This includes Sennheiser HD 515, HD 518, Audio Technica ATH-A700, ATH-AD700, ATH-M50, Shure 440, AKG K240. Around there. Does that open up the sound quality barrier a bit more?

Thanks again for all your help.

post #13 of 19

Yes, you can get some fine headphones in that price range.  But you've got to remember, you're only going to get incremental improvements by spending more, and you're talking to guys who really emphasize those incremental steps.  smile.gif


I have the AKG 240's and can tell you that they have a fairly neutral sound, a bit of emphasis on the bass perhaps, but not something that would appeal to someone looking for massive bass output.  Reasonably good detail, good comfort for longer sessions.  A good all rounder, but not outstanding at any particular task.


The KRK 8400's are also in that range and should be given some serious consideration.  And the Sony MDR ZX700's. 


The ATH-AD700's have a definite lack of bass...many people complain about that from them.  You'd be better off with the M50's if you can afford them. 


Haven't read enough about those Sennheiser's to help you though.

post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 

Well, I don't min if it's neutral and doesn't hav explosive bass. Bass, I hear, tends to distort the natural sound of the music. Then again, I do like bass. So perhaps something with a decent amount of bass that still has a natural sound, if that even exists. But it sounds like the ATH-A(D)700 series seems to be pretty good sounding for the price, and the M50 is apparently a tiny step up. If the M50 also has a bit more bass than the ATH-AD700 like you say, maybe the ATH-M50 will work. That's $130, though, and a biiiiiiit of a stretch. I'll think about it.

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Well, I'm just going to put out there that I went and bought the Sennheiser HD 598 headphones at Electronics Expo with the coupon code "BOUNTII" which allowed me to get them down to $168.85 shipped, from $249.99. I hope these will be good for both music and games, and that my X-Fi XtremeGamer can properly drive them.


Thanks again for all your thoughts, opinions, and help!

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