I'm looking for something to fill the hole between the two extremes of my favorite
headphones for low volume listening. I want a natural compression that will keep
the volume level steady and low, but not allow soft sections to drop inaudible or
loud blasts of sound to jump out and attack my ears. There should still be detail
and instrumentation separation. It doesn't need a big soundstage; it can even be
forward and central sounding even boring but it must be detailed. When speaking
of low volume sessions I mean around 8 and 9 O'clock with a headphone amp
to keep drivers moving correctly. Easy levels where you can still hear the phone
or doorbell ring while music is playing even with closed cans.
Right now my MDR-V6 puts out great sound for symphonies, classic rock jazz
and <70s recordings at low volumes It seems to naturally compress everything so
there aren't any huge jumps in sound like my other headphones with wider
dynamics and bigger sound stages. It has a more central and forward sound that
is great for low volumes, but it doesn't separate instrumentation very well. Dance
music and other modern synthetic genres can sometimes sound weird; especially
at normal or louder listening levels. The Sony normally doesn't need an amp, but
at extreme low volumes the extra voltage helps to keep SQ up.
My DT150 at the other side of the low volume extreme is great at rendering synthetic
music. There is always punchy precise bass and nice separation of instruments and
sounds synthetic or otherwise. Treble remains accurate at low levels and vocals and
mids don't suffer either. Dance and pop music always stays at one volume so long
sessions are not a problem on the beyerdynamics. Listening to symphonies at low
volumes is hard though. The dynamic range of this headphone is so huge that a soft
small string line or bassoon solo that leaps to a full symphony attack can be too
intense for long listening sessions. I tried the headphones without an amp to see if
the dynamic range would get compressed, but it did not help. Instead bass impact
and instrumentation separation suffered at the lower volumes.
I tried all my other headphones at low volumes but none of them sound as good as
the two above. SQ on the other headphones suffered at volumes below 10 O'clock
with or without an amp. 10 O'clock on my systems seems to be just above normal
listening levels where most music will create the isolation in closed and semi-open
cans that prevents me from hearing the phone ring. These volumes though can be
hard on your ears when listening to long symphonies operas movies or multiple albums.