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Looking for first pair of non-IEM 'phones

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi! I'm seeking some guidance from you experts here.  I'm not really too knowledgeable or familiar concerning on/around ear phones - from the sound I should expect from a particular model, to model nomenclature by brand. I guess this is where you guys come in.


I take public transit/am on foot quite a bit of the time, so I've always relied on IEM phones for their portability and lack of bulk - I've owned quite a few pairs over the years, but as of now I tend to alternate between three fairly decent pairs - a UE Triple.Fi 10 (w/ Comply TX-500 tips and FiiO UC-RE1 cable), Klipsch Image S4 (Comply T-100 tips), and most recently the Martinlogan Mikros 70.  They're all fine for what they are, but they all obviously lack something compared to my tower speakers at home.


My Usage: 


My main use for these headphones would likely NOT be for portable use - I want something that can sound closer to my speakers for home use, late at night.  Late at night I often pop in a Blu-ray or listen to music while pulling an all-nighter cramming. I can't crank the volume too high at these times because I don't want to bother neighbors or family. I find all my IEMs dissatisfying in one way or another for reproducing movie soundtracks or music, mainly that they don't sound fleshed out enough.  I'm assuming some full-sized phones would give me a much more satisfactory sound. 



What I'm looking for:


Not sure how to articulate this exactly, but I guess I'd like to capture as much of the character of my current speakers in a headphone as possible within a reasonable budget. Currently, I'm using a pair of Monitor Audio RX6 loudspeakers at home, which I love.  If I had to describe their sound,  I'd have to say they're largely neutral, with a very prominent midrange without being shouty - vocal recordings sound excellent on these. Treble is bright and forward without being harsh or fatiguing, or over-extending (I find this to be particular problem with my UE TF.10). Both mids and highs are very detailed.  Bass is very meaty but tight without being boomy or overwhelming.  I like bass, but not in abundant quantity.  In fact, I find that since I've gotten these speakers, I rarely even turn of my subwoofer (Martinlogan Dynamo 700), so I'm not a real basshead. Fairly precise imaging with a nice big soundstage is also a nice characteristic of these towers.  If you need more eloquent language on what I'm seeking, it might help to read stereophile's review of the RX6: http://www.stereophile.com/content/monitor-audio-silver-rx6-loudspeaker


To sum up the above: I'd have to say that I'm looking for something balanced, detailed, and with good imaging.


Here are my sources:


-For at-home music listening, I almost exclusively listen through Airplay via my Apple TV.  I have it connected to an Audioengine D1, which has a built-in headphone amp.  I don't know how good the amp built in to the D1 is (using it just as a DAC as of now), but I'm sure it'll be okay for now.


-For all non-Apple TV sources (e.g. TV, Blu-Ray), the phones would plug directly into the front headphone input on my receiver, a Marantz SR5006.  


Budget and Brand:


I don't have a specific budget set, but I don't want to go crazy on these as they probably won't take prominence over my speakers for music listening, but I do want a fairly good to decent pair.  I don't have any experience with on vs. over the ear, but over the ear would be fine since these don't need to be portable, but I'm open to either.


I don't want to rule out any manufacturer, but I do get a discount on a few select brands of phones through my employer.  So I may be able to get a better headphone for a lower price than if I had to pay retail.  I've never checked how much discount I get, but I'm assuming it's decent.  Off the top of my head here a few I know I can get a discount on:


Sennheiser: Amperior, Momentum, HD280 PRO, HD439, HD558, HD598, HD650, HD800 (likely way too expensive)

AKG: K550, Q701

Audio-Technica: ATH-A900X, ATH-EWS9A

B&W: P3, P5

Sony: MDRX10, MDRV55

Pioneer: HDJ-2000, HDJ-500


I'm assuming at least one of the above models should be a good fit for me.  If there's something better I should be looking at, though, let me know.  


thanks in advance for reading this long-winded post.  I appreciate any guidance or advice!

post #2 of 7

The B & W P5 is an excellent headphone.  They fit, seal, and sound great and have a bit of style to them as well.  I use mine for home listening while in bed and they work great for that because they are low profile.  The P3 does not sound anywhere as good.


The Audio Technica ATH-M50 comes to mind and was my first dabble into higher end headphones.  I highly recommend those as well.  For something a tad more luxurious the AKG K550 would be an excellent choice if you prefer a darker sounding headphone.  The AKG Q701 is the brighter version, but offers little to no isolation.  I would not stray too far away from those listed here because I know for sure that the headphones mentioned in my post sound great and are also built really well.

post #3 of 7



Sounds like you might be interested in:


Sennheiser HD600

AKG Q701

AKG K550

Hifiman HE-400

Beyer DT880

Beyer T70

AudioTechnica AD900

AudioTechnica A900X

Shure SRH940

Sony MA900


Based on your descriptions, it sounds like you may like the Beyer T70, Shure SRH940, AKG Q701 and Sony MA900 the best.


Very best,

post #4 of 7
I'll add the soundmagic HP100 or HP200, both great for what you need.
post #5 of 7



Said to be what the P5 would sound like if retuned. They also have an ebay store if you don't live in the US.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the recs guys.  After some more consideration I'm most interested in the AKGs and am going to test the K550 and Q701s out when I get back to work.  Hopefully I'll like one of them:)

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Not that anybody cares, but after listening to some different 'phones at work, I ended up buying the HD598s. Surprisingly I did not like K550 at all with the few CDs I tried. My favorite for sound and comfort were actually the audio-technica ATH-W1000X, but they obviously occupy a different price bracket. I tested each headphone plugged into the front HP jack of a Marantz PM-15S2B amplifier. found the 598 to be a good compromise. Thanks everyone here for the advice!
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