I first got them a week ago and the 'wow' factor was stunning with what I started with. Sam Cooke? I nearly fell out of my chair. Joao Gilberto? Jaw-dropping. Curtis Mayfield, Waylon Jennings, Yo-Yo Ma, Nick Drake, Jimmy Smith -- all amazing.
But when it comes to rock? Jeesh. On records I'm very familiar with (Zeppelin, The Who, Gov't Mule, Los Lobos, Soundgarden, Mastodon, Neil Young, Rage Against the Machine, Black Crowes, Queens of the Stone Age, U2) all of a sudden drums seem buried and guitars are too polite. Even vocals seem to lack punch in these contexts. Same for my New Orleans brass band collection and James Brown/funk -- snares and kicks don't pop they way they should and horns are too laid back. (And for what it's worth, large bombastic orchestral pieces like Hans Zimmer soundtracks also seem restrained.) Even the jazzier end of my listening spectrum seemed flat if it was guitar-and-drums centric.
Now I should point out that I'm not allergic to hi-fi. My stereo setup includes a Rega turntable and old Denon CD player in to a nice Marantz feeding Linn speakers. Not breaking records but solid, and certainly does better with the records I mention. As for other headphones, my HD650s seem to have more utility for this genre despite being somewhat laid back. (My old Grado SR225s are naturally better in some ways for rock but I was looking for a fuller sound -- the Grados sometimes seem like they lack body.)
So my first question is, how do I describe what I'm looking for? I don't have the vocabulary to know what my sound signature is, but I could well believe that it's not neutral. So what is it?
Secondly, can anything be done for me with the HE-400? Amps are a Schiit Asgard and Nuforce HDP and I also have a DIY cable DAC (Burr Brown PCM 2702). Would an upgrade (or a downgrade) help me here? (Was thinking about an HRT or Centrance DAC but want to make sure I get this figured out before randomly buying things.)
I suspect the answer is that these headphones simply sound the way they sound. In which case ....
Question 3, what should I buy that will give me the great rock sounds I'm looking for? Upgrade the Grados to RS1? Beyer? How should I amp?
Thanks for any and all input!