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Lost in a sea of headphones, have some odd requirements

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi folks,


So I'm in the market for a new set of headphones. I've searched the net and read probably thousands of reviews on this site over the last few hours and am still having difficulty coming to a decision.


First up, my background:

- I am a semi-pro composer for film, games, media etc. I'd like to do some mixing on the headphones, but prefer to use my KRK RP6 G2 monitors (this should show you I'm not loaded with Hans Zimmer's set up. I do, however, adore my Rokits).

- However, I will also use the phones to play guitar, listen to music, watch movies, play games etc at night. As a result, I'm not sure something totally neutral is right for me - I could always get the basic mix together and then touch up any bass using my monitors.


I was looking at the Shure 940's initially, then was swayed to the Sennheiser HD650s (the absolute limit of my budget). I was set on them, but then read that through an iPhone they are pitiful. While I'll use my in-ear Sennheisers out and about most of the time, sometimes I watch a film on my iPad or listen to some music while away from my computer. This has pulled me away from the 650's as apparently the iphone/ipad is not enough to drive them.


At my computer, my audio interface is a MOTU Traveller, and my headphones would be going through that - it's got tonnes of power but I'm sure the amp is not comparable to what you guys are mostly using!


The 650's seem perfect in every other way - a bit more of a pronounced bass, so for the many soundtracks and metal songs I'll be listening too, as well as games/films, there is a little bit of power while preserving a decent amount of neutrality to not go off the rails too much for mixing. I'm wondering if it is worth 'unconsidering' them over the iphone/ipad issue. I'd prefer them to be closed, but mainly because of public listening. If I can't use em with an iphone/ipad though, this wouldn't be happening so it becomes a non issue.



I was hoping to gather your thoughts on the whole thing - perhaps there are some other can's I've not considered? I started my journey by looking at the Shure 840s on recommendations, move up to the 940's, then onto the 650s. I've briefly looked at lots of other brands but the 650's seem to get great praise.


Any and all advice greatly appreciated!

post #2 of 23

650s are a far cry from closed headphones. If you use them in public places, the sound leakage is significant. People several feet away from you will be able to hear sound from the headphones if you're using them at a decent level. They are not meant to be used at work (assuming you have coworkers nearby)/on the go.


The iPhone/iPad can be used with the 650s unamped, but I found that even on max volume there are times when the sound isn't as loud as you'd like it to be. Battery drain may become an issue as well. You definitely lose something in the sound quality but it's a bearable loss, so long as you do plan on getting a suitable amp in the future. If not, you'd be much better off with the Shure series. 

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply. My main issue with the Shure's is that apparently the bass is severly lacking, and while I wouldn't say I'm a 'basshead' (new term I learnt today!), I'd like it to be there. Other than that, apparently they also have some comfort issues. 

post #4 of 23



Brainwavz HM5 with a Fiio E10 (or E7 if you want to go portable) (assuming you're using PC). Neutral and very isolated for real work. For the fun times, you flick the "bass" setting on, and suddenly it's rumble time in a good way. Well under budget.


Very best,

post #5 of 23
Originally Posted by jcs88 View Post

Thanks for the reply. My main issue with the Shure's is that apparently the bass is severly lacking, and while I wouldn't say I'm a 'basshead' (new term I learnt today!), I'd like it to be there. Other than that, apparently they also have some comfort issues. 

Comfort was the issue I had with the Shures as well when I gave them a whirl. But my head is on the rather large side so I never know if my issues with comfort are shared by others.


Mal recommended the HM5 and from my brief time with them, they were very enjoyable. Comfortable and definitely perform beyond their price point.


If you're okay with open headphones and sound leakage, my bias is the Senn 598s. Love the look, the comfort is just incredible and anything with pronounced vocals sound heavenly on the headphones. Bass is slightly lacking, but is there and is presented well. If you play with EQ, you can definitely find a bass level that will make even hip hop and EDM enjoyable on the headphones. And yes, they sound just fine out of iPhone/iPad. <:

Edited by HideousPride - 9/7/12 at 1:51pm
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 

The more I think and read the more I think I'll go with the 650s...seem to have a very good sound - a bit of a bigger (non neutral) bass will make games/movies more enjoyable for me. I'll use me CX500s for my ipod/ipad and be done with it?


I realise the MOTU Traveller might not be the best amp for listening but it definitely has the power to run the 650s. I'm also thinking the 650's are the most future proof out of the lot? Bear in mind they are incredibly expensive to me and the only reason I'm stretching that far is because I'll have some Amazon credit.

post #7 of 23

I don't know about the 940s and others but the Shure 840s have healthy bass.

They're not "wearable subwoofers" like some popular recommendations on here, but I would call them average to slightly above average in bass quantity (which is ideal to me) and stratospheric in bass clarity.

post #8 of 23

Since "healthy bass" is kind of a useless descriptor, for reference: The Shures rank 3rd for bass quantity out of the headphones in my signature behind the Q-40 and HFI-580, which have a constant "woofer" sound and cannot be used for recording/mixing (*). The Shures don't have a "woofer" sound. They have more of a traditional/realistic sub-bass. In bass quality/clarity they're either #1 or tied with the HFI-580s which I'm getting rid of due to their painful treble,


*External monitors are a million times better for mixing in general but the 840s at least provide a "second opinion" on a recording, whereas the 580s and Q40s do not realistically represent any sound signature but their own.


The 840s have superior bass in every way to the Grados and AKGs and Sonys. Quantity, quality, everything.


From what I've heard the 940s are the bass-anemic Shures but they're supposed to have even more clarity.

Edited by machoboy - 9/7/12 at 4:10pm
post #9 of 23

I agree with machoboy, the SRH840s have bass. It's just that it's appropriate bass that appears when it's needed instead of permanent bass that's always there regardless of the music. Howevver since you seem to want a slightly more "fun" headphone, the HM5's are probably your best bet.

post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply Macho!


It is hard for me to judge what 'good bass' means on here. As I said I'm running a pair of Rokit RP6's and love the sound, plenty of bass for me; relatively cheap monitors considering what is out there.



My main daily listening (when outside) is with a cheap pair of sennheiser CX500s. These are super bass heavy and I assume they are just tailored to the smiley EQ. I do like their sound though. I have an old pair of Sennheiser HD515 which I think sound awful in everway, so I want an upgrade from that!


I'm now wondering if I should just leave my mixing to my monitors and get a great pair of 'entertainment' headphones... - a fairly neutral sound would be nice though, as you say, to get a second opinion on a mix. Back to the 650s...The Shure 940s are still being considered. It's not getting any easier! ;)

post #11 of 23
Originally Posted by Tangster View Post

the SRH840s have bass. It's just that it's appropriate bass that appears when it's needed instead of permanent bass that's always there regardless of the music.

This is exactly how I would describe it. It's an intelligent bass that activates on trance tracks but turns off on bluegrass. I've enjoyed mixing with them so far (checking in-progress mixes for detail and headphone-friendliness).


The Q40s and 580s and other "bass headphones" will give you occasional rogue subwoofer sounds from anything. Violin solo or a cappella vocals, they always find some way to slip in a little BUMMPH BUMMPHH. Not cool. it's like having a little gnome on your shoulder who pours magical sugar and sprinkles all over everything you eat. Nice when you're eating ice cream, a little bothersome with filet mignon.


If you can afford the 650s then go for it. They're very nice. I tried a lot of headphones and settled on the Shures simply because they seem to blow away everything at $150 and are more often compared with stuff in the $200-400 range. However, I also love the sound of the higher-end Sennheisers.

Edited by machoboy - 9/7/12 at 4:29pm
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 

There seems to be a bit more of a swing towards the Shure 840s over the 940s - especially in sound quality (from random readings on the net). Any comments on that? I would have thought because of the 'higher' model number they are newer so sound better....


They seem more affordable but if the 650's sound worlds better then I'll go for them.

post #13 of 23

The 940s are supposed to have significantly less bass than the 840s and more of an emphasis on detailed treble.

I'm already impressed with the 840s treble and think they have just enough bass, so the 940s never grabbed my interest.


I can't speak from personal experience directly comparing the two but yeah, the 840s do seem to have far more fans than any other Shure models (not counting IEMs).

Edited by machoboy - 9/7/12 at 4:48pm
post #14 of 23

shure srh940 is a very bright and analytical headphone, the detail on it is superb but the bass impact is quite low. significantly less than the srh840, also very different from the HD650
A hd598 is roughly the same price as a srh940 and has less detail but has wide soudstage and some bass impact, just sayin

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 

It's hard to choose which road to go - "fun" or accurate. I guess I want something a little more fun than neutral, but not totally coloured. Seems the 840s make more sense? Just how much detail am I losing in the 840s vs the 940s?


In terms of price point the 650's seem almost double than the 840s..do they sound much better to warrant that? If not, is there something at the 840s price point (some  sennis perhaps) that are comparable? 


Many reviews comparing the two praise the 650s for more comfort and a stronger low end and warmer sound. I listen to a lot of soundtracks (I guess 'modern classical') with a lot going on in the low end, and also a lot of metal; I don't need insane bass but I'm thinking a 'warmer' sound is something I'm going to like. As long as the 650's don't have a muddy high end - I do like my shiny guitars! 

My main issue with the 650's is the fact that I won't be able to use em on my ipod/ipad - I like to 'fly the friendly skies' and chill out on my bed to really analyse some music. Not the end of the world, but a gripe.  Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, I'm worried I'll be 'wasting' them by listening through my Traveller and not through a super amp, but I really don't want to invest more.

Edited by jcs88 - 9/7/12 at 5:21pm
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