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The King of Budget Neutrality - KRK KNS 8400s

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I'm going to try to keep everything short and to the point.

 

Background : I am a heavy classical listener, attend numerous concerts throughout the year, and listen to classical music pretty much single day for hours.

 

My head fi experience - I got into headphones few months ago, and I have gone through the following headphones : HD650, HD558, KRK KNS 6400, KRK KNS 8400, Panasonic HTF 600, DJ100.

 

 

What headfi did to me : Ever since joining head fi, I've been thinking about headphones when I attended concerts. After the most recent 2 concerts within the last week and a half (SF Symphony playing brandenburg concertos by bach, and New York Philharmonic last night playing tchaikovsky 4th and Bronfman playing beethoven piano concerto 3 with dvorak's overture as an opener), I strongly agree that my KRK KNS 8400s are as neutral and true to the recording as they get for my budget range headphone ranges.

 

The only complaint with the KNS 8400s is the closed headphone, so there isn't a huge sense of 3 dimensional sound space, but nevertheless, they are the closest out of any of the headphones out there.

 

 

Again, these are everything that I heard and is in my OWN experiences and opinions, so I'm not claiming that this is 100% true, but I feel that I have a stronger grasp of music then the average person.

 

 

The verdict : 

 

I was worried before purchasing the 8400s because people were complaining about harsh treble and lack of bass, but THEY LIE! (bold claim, I know. Ha.) I don't want to go into too much details, but I feel like the 8400s produce them exactly as they do, and that's what I wanted. Also, as everyone else said about these, the details and separation, the accuracy of the soundstage is all there. I tried to find flaws in it, but I could not.

 

The Sennheisers seriously have a major veil to them that I have a hard time listening to. The details just aren't there, and the trebles not represented accurately and too recessed. I believe Sennheiser was going for that, but it doesn't match what I'm seeking. If anyone wants an accurate representation of a classical concert, I would NOT recommend these to anyone; however, they are VERY comfortable, and I absolutely love them for enjoyment when I listen to Muse. The soundstage on both 558s and 650s were very nice, and I can wear these headphones for hours.

 

 

 

I didn't do a full review on the KRK KNS 8400s because there are plenty of reviews by other people on them, but I just wanted to share with head fi my thoughts on neutrality and headphones, and what I believe to be an honest and neutral headphone at this budget range. At this budget range of around 100 dollars, I don't think you'll find any headphones for neutrality as good as the KNS 8400s. I may get around trying to get a HM5 for review, but I'm really satisfied with the KNS 8400s for what I'm looking for in music for closed headphones.

 

 

I am currently thinking of replacing my open headphone with the AKG K702, but I'm still doing my research on it, and I heard it's uncomfortable which is a shame. I'm sure I can find a workaround if the sound is that great.

 

 

I'm currently listening to Tchaikovsky's 4th with my KNS 8400s, and I feel as if I was sitting in that concert hall last night minus the soundstage. ON A SIDE NOTE, that was one the most amazing concerts in my lifetime. It's my 2nd concert that I know I will NEVER forget, and I also got a picture with Maestro Gilbert which is absolutely amazing. Anyways, asides from the open headphone choice, I also plan on building my own speakers over summer, so I look forward to getting into speaker building as well. Well, this ends my thoughts on my current set of headphones and the term neutrality!

 

 

 

FINAL WORDS : Neutrality is not for everyone. Almost everyone that's not experienced with high quality music found my KNS 8400s extremely boring and unengaging to listen to, and I totally understand. Get something that you'll enjoy your music with, and forget what everyone else tells you. As long as you're happy with the sound, that's all that matters. For me, my "fun" headphones are headphones that replicate the recording in a true fashion, so find the right headphones for your genre of music and your preferences in sound. I tried to keep this  neat and simple, but I gave up half way through. I see why everyone posts such a long block thought now, haha.

post #2 of 24

Nice review. I'm always been a fan of these since getting them. I've owned 3 pairs! Some will prefer the 6400 over the 8400, but lately i've been suggesting the 8400. The 8400 seems to get everything right for me. I don't view the 6400 as a downgrade, just another flavor for those that like a slightly different signature.

 

I'll admit that I said that my first pair was bass light and had harsh treble. I think it's possible I got a lemon because the latest pair isn't even close to being bass light. It has even better sub-bass than even my Q701 and HD-600. The 6400 may be better for some with specific music. The 8400 would be better with say acoustic music or classical etc. I wonder how with the 8400 I get an impression of a large soundstage than the 6400? Very strange.

 

It's true that some find these completely un-musical, but I don't get that. I find them quite fun and engaging, but they certainly don't have a very warm sound with lots of bass that some people seem to like. It's not very forgiving of garbage tracks, which can be annoying sometimes.

 

I actually prefer these to the SRH-940 and K550, but not everyone will. K550 may be technically better to some, but I prefer the mids of my 8400 by far. Fans of classical would still love the K550 though I think.

 

BTW I think the 8400 is a hidden gem for those that need a closed headphone for gaming. It's just amazing with Skyrim! Crystal clear and even holds up to the Q701 for gaming.

 

If you ever want to try a new open headphone for classical I suggest hunting down the K501. It's quite impressive for classical. Q701 I love too, but some have issues with it's headphone. The K501 and K601 don't have those bumps. K601 is good for classical but doesn't have the treble of the Q701. It's much warmer too I think.

post #3 of 24

Glad you like them.  The 8400s are still my mainstays, and the isolation is quite lovely, especially with having a roommate again.

post #4 of 24

They were pretty great when I had them a few weeks ago. Definitely liked them more than the HM5.

 

Sound was a bit thin and flat, but then again, that was intended. Headband is atrocious though.

post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post

They were pretty great when I had them a few weeks ago. Definitely liked them more than the HM5.

 

Sound was a bit thin and flat, but then again, that was intended. Headband is atrocious though.

 

Did you try them with your M-Stage? I've found them much fuller sounding in the mids with my HRT MSII and a good amp. My Headroom Micro Amp loves them.

 

The HRT is a perfect match for the KNS-8400.

 

I'm not a fan of the headband. It has that weird square look to it. These things could fit King Kong! It's amazing how much the headband will stretch out.

 

For very small heads they might be a little loose, but not like an AD700.

 

I actually found the K550 to have much thinner mids than the KRK KNS-8400. K550 mids just didn't do it for me. Seemed close to being recessed almost.

post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

Did you try them with your M-Stage? I've found them much fuller sounding in the mids with my HRT MSII and a good amp. My Headroom Micro Amp loves them.

 

The HRT is a perfect match for the KNS-8400.

 

I'm not a fan of the headband. It has that weird square look to it. These things could fit King Kong! It's amazing how much the headband will stretch out.

 

For very small heads they might be a little loose, but not like an AD700.

 

I actually found the K550 to have much thinner mids than the KRK KNS-8400. K550 mids just didn't do it for me. Seemed close to being recessed almost.

 

To be honest, I can't even remember! I probably did at some point.

 

The headband is just too uncomfortable. It's actually worse than the Q701 headband. Is that even possible?

 

I find the K550 to rival the Q701 midrange from what I remember. I loved my second pair of Q701s (the pair I used with the M-Stage and HRT). The only complaint I had was it needed a bit more to the bottom end. Not only does the K550 fix that, but also adds the benefits of being closed, plus much more comfort. Looks too! I really, really love the sound of them. Didn't know it was possible to make a closed Q701 "fix", but they pulled it off. Definitely in my top 3, maybe even 2.

post #7 of 24

I had issues with the headband.  My current pair is the second I've owned, and on both I removed the dense foam from the headband cushions and replaced it with artificial down (polyester fibers).  I find them very comfortable now.

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marximus View Post

Glad you like them.  The 8400s are still my mainstays, and the isolation is quite lovely, especially with having a roommate again.

 

Definitely agree on the isolation. I also have a roommate, and the isolation is pretty good. It's also not fatiguing, so I can wear them for a long time without my head hurting from the music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

Nice review. I'm always been a fan of these since getting them. I've owned 3 pairs! Some will prefer the 6400 over the 8400, but lately i've been suggesting the 8400. The 8400 seems to get everything right for me. I don't view the 6400 as a downgrade, just another flavor for those that like a slightly different signature.

 

I'll admit that I said that my first pair was bass light and had harsh treble. I think it's possible I got a lemon because the latest pair isn't even close to being bass light. It has even better sub-bass than even my Q701 and HD-600. The 6400 may be better for some with specific music. The 8400 would be better with say acoustic music or classical etc. I wonder how with the 8400 I get an impression of a large soundstage than the 6400? Very strange.

 

It's true that some find these completely un-musical, but I don't get that. I find them quite fun and engaging, but they certainly don't have a very warm sound with lots of bass that some people seem to like. It's not very forgiving of garbage tracks, which can be annoying sometimes.

 

I actually prefer these to the SRH-940 and K550, but not everyone will. K550 may be technically better to some, but I prefer the mids of my 8400 by far. Fans of classical would still love the K550 though I think.

 

BTW I think the 8400 is a hidden gem for those that need a closed headphone for gaming. It's just amazing with Skyrim! Crystal clear and even holds up to the Q701 for gaming.

 

If you ever want to try a new open headphone for classical I suggest hunting down the K501. It's quite impressive for classical. Q701 I love too, but some have issues with it's headphone. The K501 and K601 don't have those bumps. K601 is good for classical but doesn't have the treble of the Q701. It's much warmer too I think.

I've been trying awhile to get the K501s, but not much luck.

 

Between the Q701 and K701/K702 series, which one would you say are closer to the 8400s in terms of sound quality? Also, just out of curiosity, how does the bass quantity in 8400s match up to the Q701 or K70x series?

post #9 of 24

Nice review ;)

 

I own the KRK-KNS8400 and they are very neutral, more neutral than my T1's I would say (the T1's are warmer than neutral), but can be sterile to my ears. They don't have much bass and the highs can make a lit of music sound like it's in a tin can. Acoustic music sounds good on them, especially some MTV Unplugged albums.

post #10 of 24

Thanks for the review.  I'm always interested in what's in the $150 league that can rival the $300 - $350 range from other producers.  It seems like a great thing about the KRKs is that they are carried by Guitar Center.  I like to usually purchase locally - if I can.  Returns are easy if something doesn't work out for me.  Then again, there are those other types of headphones that can only be procured via mail order.  I wonder how the 8400s perform with the blues and jazz?

post #11 of 24

I can try some blues and jazz for ya and let you know ;)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wje View Post

Thanks for the review.  I'm always interested in what's in the $150 league that can rival the $300 - $350 range from other producers.  It seems like a great thing about the KRKs is that they are carried by Guitar Center.  I like to usually purchase locally - if I can.  Returns are easy if something doesn't work out for me.  Then again, there are those other types of headphones that can only be procured via mail order.  I wonder how the 8400s perform with the blues and jazz?

post #12 of 24

I use my 8400 for monitoring since they're my go-to cans in a studio environment (flat, detail monsters, and closed are a combination that the MSDR-V6 used to dominate, but these are on a completely different level), then master with my T5p. I love them to death even though I barely get my hands on them.

post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wje View Post

Thanks for the review.  I'm always interested in what's in the $150 league that can rival the $300 - $350 range from other producers.  It seems like a great thing about the KRKs is that they are carried by Guitar Center.  I like to usually purchase locally - if I can.  Returns are easy if something doesn't work out for me.  Then again, there are those other types of headphones that can only be procured via mail order.  I wonder how the 8400s perform with the blues and jazz?

 

Your comment got me switching over to my jazz recordings. The feeling I get when listening to jazz recordings on the 8400s is as if I'm at a jazz club. Listening to some Hiromi right now, and that's exactly what it sounds like. It's not engaging in your face, but it's just there.

 

Switching over to some big band stuff (Mingus Big Band), I feel like I'm there with the performance, and there's a very authentic feel to it. It's not like the Sennheiser engaging, fun, and emphasized mids, but it's more like you're just kind of there live in the back listening. There's a ridiculous amount of detail and clarity between the instruments. Everything from the piano comping to the walking bass line is present very clear, and I don't get this on my Sennheisers.

 

I just switched over to my Benny Goodman playlist to see how old recordings sound like, and again, it sounds pretty authentic like it was recorded that way at a recording studio. There's also a slight hiss and static, but I feel like this just adds to the realness of the recording.

 

I'm a big fan of hearing everything, so I prefer the KNS 8400s over HD650 or HD558s, but I still do listen to jazz on the Sennheisers because they're enjoyable and the bad stuff doesn't come out as much, but I always turn to my KNS 8400 for critical music listening in Jazz also.

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 

When I first got these awhile ago, I felt that the sound was thin and treble was harsh, but I was in love with the amount of detail and clarity. After listening to them for awhile and going to a lot of live events like classical concerts, I learned to appreciate these headphones a LOT more, it's incredible. Everytime I listen now, I feel like this is the real recording, and how the producers wanted to record it.

 

The only problem is that I'm having a hard time listening to my Sennheisers now. mad.gif

post #15 of 24
Great post on a great headphone. I sold these and repurchased them just recently because I realized how much I missed them and what a great find they were. Truly amazing at the price (even though the headband is ugly - wish it conformed to the head). I also appreciate live music and these truly do live concert recordings justice.

Recently I've been wondering how they compare to Sennheiser HD380s. Anyone have any input on that?
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