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In search of the perfect headphone (for me, that is)

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

hi!

 

I am as the title says, looking for the "perfect" headphone for me. been reading a lot but I think the opinions are too different to make any sense of it right now. making this thread in hope of it being a bit easier to understand.

I've been listening to (and owning) a lot of headphones, but I can't seem to be happy with any pair of full size ones.

anyhow, what I am looking for is basically a pair with nice sound stage and instrument separation, nice punchy bass - though I don't care if the quantity is on the lower side. quality over quantity here.

top priority: NICE and kind of forward midrange-upper midrange. I want it to be quite detailed but not harsh.

the treble should be nice and detailed, but definitely not harsh.

and "fast" sound, if that makes any sense.

comfort is also something I value highly.

 

Will be using an AMB M^3 with Sigma11 power supply, and my AMB Gamma2 DIY DAC.

 

-------

 

to make it easier understanding what I think of harsh and right amount of bass etc. here are some examples of the more higher end headphones I've heard:

(* = used with my DIY AMB CK2-3 solid state amplifier and AMB Gamma2 DIY DAC)

 

Sennheiser

*HD600: bit too loose bass, too tame treble. I guess the midrange is not too bad, but not "clear" enough for my liking

*HD650: same as above, bit better IMO but not by a lot. both the old version and the new silver mesh version.

HD800: I don't remember these that well, listened to them in a loud store a few years ago. impressive sound stage, but I think I found the midrange to be a bit withdrawn. might have been the setting for it so please give me your opinions on it tongue.gif

 

AKG

*K601: bit too harsh treble if I remember correctly, and the bass was almost a bit TOO shy.

*K701: like above, but nicer bass.

 

HiFiMan

HE-500: midrange a bit too withdrawn, bit too "warm". sound stage not the best. great sounding but not *quite* what I am looking for.

HE-400: like above, but I think maybe less warm and less detailed? believe I like the HE-500 better... midrange is not quite the same. listened to these and HE-500 with the HiFiMan EF5 amplifier and my iPod as source.

*HE-4: really good bass, great treble, but way too withdrawn midrange for my taste.

 

Audio-Technica

*ATH-AD700: nice sound stage, not bad midrange, quite nice treble from what I can remember. few years back now...

*ATH-ESW9: sweet midrange! but soo lacking detail and bass way too boom-y. treble is too boring. sound stage frankly is just bad.

*ATH-ESW10: these improve on all points of the ESW9. really nice midrange. I found them a bit too uncomfortable though. really liked the sound. could have been more "refined" and better sound stage though.

also currently own the ATH-CK100 IEM's, and find these to be just right in terms of sound signature. so in case anyone knows these, and happen to know a pair of full size with similar sound, that would be awesome.

 

Beyerdynamic

*DT880 600Ohm: quite nice bass, bit too "slow" (?) and way too recessed mids. treble got a bit harsh at times. cool sound stage if I remember correctly.

DT770 80Ohm: just horrible. everything I don't want in a headphone, right here. beyersmile.png

 

those are just some examples, I've heard and owned a lot of headphones but I think I narrowed it down to some of the more well-known ones on here.

 

I hope I'm not too confusing. I don't have the best memory so some things might be a bit off from what I would think if I re-listened to headphones.

I don't know where to look any more. I've read that the LCD-2/3 are slow. STAX I would have to save up quite a bit more for (new amp AND headphones) but I'm willing to listen to suggestions.

 

thanks!


Edited by munchzilla - 7/21/12 at 11:35pm
post #2 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by munchzilla View Post

hi!

 

I am as the title says, looking for the "perfect" headphone for me. been reading a lot but I think the opinions are too different to make any sense of it right now. making this thread in hope of it being a bit easier to understand.

I've been listening to (and owning) a lot of headphones, but I can't seem to be happy with any pair of full size ones.

anyhow, what I am looking for is basically a pair with nice sound stage and instrument separation, nice punchy bass - though I don't care if the quantity is on the lower side. quality over quantity here.

top priority: NICE and kind of forward midrange-upper midrange. I want it to be quite detailed but not harsh.

the treble should be nice and detailed, but definitely not harsh.

and "fast" sound, if that makes any sense.

comfort is also something I value highly.

 

Will be using an AMB M^3 with Sigma11 power supply, and my AMB Gamma2 DIY DAC.

 

-------

 

to make it easier understanding what I think of harsh and right amount of bass etc. here are some examples of the more higher end headphones I've heard:

(* = used with my DIY AMB CK2-3 solid state amplifier and AMB Gamma2 DIY DAC)

 

Sennheiser

*HD600: bit too loose bass, too tame treble. I guess the midrange is not too bad, but not "clear" enough for my liking

*HD650: same as above, bit better IMO but not by a lot. both the old version and the new silver mesh version.

HD800: I don't remember these that well, listened to them in a loud store a few years ago. impressive sound stage, but I think I found the midrange to be a bit withdrawn. might have been the setting for it so please give me your opinions on it tongue.gif

 

AKG

*K601: bit too harsh treble if I remember correctly, and the bass was almost a bit TOO shy.

*K701: like above, but nicer bass.

 

HiFiMan

HE-500: midrange a bit too withdrawn, bit too "warm". sound stage not the best. great sounding but not *quite* what I am looking for.

HE-400: like above, but I think maybe less warm and less detailed? believe I like the HE-500 better... midrange is not quite the same. listened to these and HE-500 with the HiFiMan EF5 amplifier and my iPod as source.

*HE-4: really good bass, great treble, but way too withdrawn midrange for my taste.

 

Audio-Technica

*ATH-AD700: nice sound stage, not bad midrange, quite nice treble from what I can remember. few years back now...

*ATH-ESW9: sweet midrange! but soo lacking detail and bass way too boom-y. treble is too boring. sound stage frankly is just bad.

*ATH-ESW10: these improve on all points of the ESW9. really nice midrange. I found them a bit too uncomfortable though. really liked the sound. could have been more "refined" and better sound stage though.

also currently own the ATH-CK100 IEM's, and find these to be just right in terms of sound signature. so in case anyone knows these, and happen to know a pair of full size with similar sound, that would be awesome.

 

Beyerdynamic

*DT880 600Ohm: quite nice bass, bit too "slow" (?) and way too recessed mids. treble got a bit harsh at times. cool sound stage if I remember correctly.

DT770 80Ohm: just horrible. everything I don't want in a headphone, right here. beyersmile.png

 

those are just some examples, I've heard and owned a lot of headphones but I think I narrowed it down to some of the more well-known ones on here.

 

I hope I'm not too confusing. I don't have the best memory so some things might be a bit off from what I would think if I re-listened to headphones.

I don't know where to look any more. I've read that the LCD-2/3 are slow. STAX I would have to save up quite a bit more for (new amp AND headphones) but I'm willing to listen to suggestions.

 

thanks!

HD 598 meets all your requirements except the 'fast" part. It kinda is on the slow side like all Sennheiser headphones (except maybe HD 800). Slightly forward midrange, very good soundstage (imaging especially), slightly bass lean (but punchy), non-fatiguing treble. Some people have commented that the HD 598 is the most comfortable headphone they have ever worn. 

 

You could also look into the Stax headphones... though your wallet will cry. 

post #3 of 27
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 

hi!

I've actually heard the HD598 (and owned the 595, and 555) but I can't say I'm very impressed. the bass felt too loose and the treble was a bit too tame and non-detailed.

can't complain about the sound stage and midrange though. seems to be quite good in all of the HD5**/HD6** series. and as you said, they are indeed not that fast.

I've actually been looking at STAX, but I can't demo them where I live currently. so I have no idea what they sound like. but I am definitely interested in hearing and perhaps purchasing them.

 

thanks smily_headphones1.gif

post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by munchzilla View Post

hi!

I've actually heard the HD598 (and owned the 595, and 555) but I can't say I'm very impressed. the bass felt too loose and the treble was a bit too tame and non-detailed.

can't complain about the sound stage and midrange though. seems to be quite good in all of the HD5**/HD6** series. and as you said, they are indeed not that fast.

I've actually been looking at STAX, but I can't demo them where I live currently. so I have no idea what they sound like. but I am definitely interested in hearing and perhaps purchasing them.

 

thanks smily_headphones1.gif

Haha no problem. I'm afraid there aren't any headphones that are even close to perfect sigh. I personally want a HD 598 with a more refined sound, more details, more clarity, better bass (slightly more in quantity, better extension), and an even better soundstage. But that's pretty much the definition of perfect. 

 

Btw perhaps you did not use the right kind of amp with the HD 598. It's hard to find an amp that works well with low impedance headphones, that's not portable. With a good amount of damping factor, the HD 598 has a pretty compact bass. Can't vouch for the treble though. Compared to something like the Beyerdynamic, the detail of the treble should be lacking in comparison. The bass of the HD 598 isn't exactly all that detailed either, but I still say it has punchy bass. 


Edited by NimbleTurtle - 7/22/12 at 12:20am
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 

yeah - I don't think that is too far off from perfect with that description. wink.gif

anyway, perfect is a bit of a strong word - I just mean "most suited", of course.

 

I am unsure of what amp would be a good match but I think my CK2-3 sounded the best by far, out of all the 3 amps I've tried it with. (FiiO E9/E7 combo and just the built in one in my motherboard)

hmm I definitely think there is enough punch in the bass, just kind of meant a quick and snappy bass rather than the slightly loose one that I find the HD598 has. (and the other in the HD5**/HD6** series have)

 

at this rate I will probably end up with the SR-009... but I'm hopeful!

 

thanks

post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 

hi - shameful bump. my curiousity is killing me.

post #8 of 27

My one suggestion may interest you. I believe what you're searching for may be found in a Koss ESP/950, especially when paired with a Stax energizer (though the Koss E/90 unit is still great if you're tight on cash for awhile after the purchase). It has everything that's to be loved about electrostats, with discerning warmth thrown in. It's like an HD600 or HD650 with the detail and imaging cranked up to eleven. If you happen to live anywhere in the vicinity of Milwaukee, you can most likely demo one at Koss headquarters.

 

I do believe you'd be pleased with them.

post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 

hi! I have actually been recommended that one by a friend of mine (who has owned a pair) but he said that since I don't live in the US and that they are quite poorly constructed, I should probably look into something else first because of warranty issues. and from a quick google search it seems that what he says is not too uncommon... what are your thoughts on this?

thanks a lot for the recommendation! smily_headphones1.gif definitely on the list of 'interested in hearing'!

post #10 of 27

I've never had warranty issues with Koss, and have owned plenty of their headphones. I don't know if this is affected by where you live, but at least in the U.S. there's a lifetime warranty policy. I've had things repaired for free when I damaged them, and they even replaced a slightly defective set for me at no cost once. However, I know of people who have not had quite as good an experience.

 

If you can hear the ESP/950 for yourself and think it's right for you, I'd take the plunge. It's got a unique sound that I haven't quite heard anywhere else. If you're not in love with it, find something else and save some possible trouble.

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

yeah I've not actually had any problems with Koss in general, just this model in particular seemed to be a bit troublesome.

and it appears as if the warranty is only available for US customers, so that will be a problem for me.

I think such a rare headphone will be hard to find and listen to, but I'll keep my eyes open for sure! 

 

thanks!

post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 

hi - another bump! still looking for more suggestions smily_headphones1.gif

post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by munchzilla View Post

hi!

I've actually heard the HD598 (and owned the 595, and 555) but I can't say I'm very impressed. the bass felt too loose and the treble was a bit too tame and non-detailed.

can't complain about the sound stage and midrange though. seems to be quite good in all of the HD5**/HD6** series. and as you said, they are indeed not that fast.

I've actually been looking at STAX, but I can't demo them where I live currently. so I have no idea what they sound like. but I am definitely interested in hearing and perhaps purchasing them.

 

thanks smily_headphones1.gif

Orthos do good, tight bass - but the soundstage is something you will be sacrificing.

 

Do you run Mac or PC?  Maybe something like Fidelia with FHX would work as I've heard it opens the soundstage to sound more like speakers - but I haven't tried it and am actually trying to get opinions in the Computer Audio forum (I have Advanced Fidelia and am trying to decide whether to get FHX - especially since I can't spread it to Spotify).

post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 

hi!

I run both, actually. Mac OS X laptop and desktop is a custom built PC. and another laptop which is running Windows 7.

actually quite aware of the very good bass of orthos, having listened to a few of the HiFiMan ones and owned one pair wink.gif

unfortunately I found the midrange to be not sufficient. quite a bit recessed.

I am kiiind of debating whether I'm willing to sacrifice sound stage a bit in exchange for a good midrange - I have been reading up a bit on the LCD-3 but I can't really judge if they are still as dark as I have read that the LCD-2 (both revs) are. I am looking for something a bit brighter, however not too bright.

does anyone have any experience with the headphones I've mentioned plus the LCD-3 and some time to shed a bit of light on the matter?

 

Thanks!

post #15 of 27

Have you tried the D7000? It may be a bit too warm for your tastes, but if you don't like it you could always wait and see if the upcoming D7100 is more neutral as initial impressions of prototypes suggest.

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