Hey all, I've been mostly into IEMs for the 2 years I've been on Head-Fi, and I've got pretty much everything I want in that department, but I'm beginning to dabble with a friend in producing electronic music, so I want to take it to the next level and get a real full-size can.
I have 3 favorite BA earphones, and there are attributes of each that I really like and would like to look for in a full-size can.
My favorite is the SM3, and the things I like about it are mostly technical in nature. I have de-filtered mine, and I love it's clarity, crispness, balanced tonality, and imaging. I wish it had a little more grunt in the lows, which is what I like about the Klipsch X10: the deep, detailed, punchy bass is great, but it does distract from, well, everything else. I would like something, ideally, with a level of warmth falling somewhere between the defiltered SM3 and the X10; as I remember, the stock, filtered SM3 was still a little too warm. The third would be the TF10: it's super dynamic, really fun to listen to, but it does sound artificial, which I'm not interested in for my full-size. The X10 and TF10 are too colored for me. I don't want anything that is overly colored, especially in terms of bass muddying up the spectrum, but I also don't want it to sound dead. I'm not rich, so this is going to most likely be a personal listening can, too.
So, I am looking for a closed, full-sized can, preferably one that can be powered by a portable device, but I'm not totally opposed to getting an amp; I assume I will need one some day anyways, and I assume I will probably have to keep my options as open as possible to meet all of these requirements...
The short and sweet: I want something crisp sounding, very dynamic, neutral to slightly warm, with slightly elevated bass that is well extended and textured, good treble extension, mids that are forward without being aggressive, and as good of a soundstage as I can get in a closed can.
Once upon a time I considered the VMODA M100, but after reading reviews I feel certain that the bass will be noticeably too much and that it's not a neutral sounding phone; the M80 sounded very glossy to my ears, like my TF10 with less treble detail and less bass punch, which I didn't like because it seemed to hinder detail, and the presentation just wasn't very natural.
My current top 2 are the AKG K550 and the KRK KNS 8400; they seem to be perfect for my needs for the most part, but both are commented on as being bass light. I also considered the DT660, DT770, and Custom One Pro, but the DT660 didn't have quite enough bass for my taste, and I am worried from reviews that the mids on DT770 will be too recessed for accurate reproduction. Reviews don't seem great on the Custom One Pro.
I enjoyed the HD598 when I demo'd it, but the bass feels loose and a bit soft, and it was a bit too warm and dark for my taste. Something between the Sennheiser house sound and the DT660 would be perfect for me.
I've tried the ATH M50 and it sounded like crap to me for some reason. I think it was the recessed mids. I prefer my $100 Shure SE215 to them for any purpose; they sounded dull and lifeless to me, and the bass was doofy and one-note-ish. I much preferred the DT660.
Are there others I should be considering? My budget is not unlimited, I'm trying to keep it under 500 for all the pieces, but I want to do this right, and I am going to be doing more research and comparisons, so if there is anything that fits the bill, let me know, and if it's over $600 I'll do my research and find the next best thing for what suits me.
Edited by Gilly87 - 11/21/12 at 8:12pm