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My venture into headphone high end

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

I've decided to get a really nice pair of headphones in the $1000 range but wasn't about to spend that kind of money without hearing them first. After much reading of reviews both professional and personal, graphs and charts of frequency response, square wave measurements, etc, I had narrowed my choices to the LCD2s, T1s, and HE-500s. Lucky for me there is a local retailer who carries all of those but unlucky for me, they recently moved and won't have a "listening bar" until after the new year which wouldn't work for me. Again, lucky for me, someone here posted about the headphone tryout program that The Cable Company offers and I took advantage of that. So...


I was most looking forward to hearing the T1s because I own the DT1350s and have owned the DT880s and 770s and like their "house sound" so when I first put on the T1s and fired up the amp, I didn't like what I heard. The midrange and bass were great but the highs were very shrill and sharp (this was at normal to lower volume). After about 10 minutes I took them off and decided they weren't for me. Next up was the LCD2s. 


They sound great. There has been plenty written about them and many posters have talked about a minimized treble but I didn't find that to be the case. The highs weren't as evident as the HiFiMAN 'phones and certainly not nearly as forward as the T1s but I found them pretty nice. Of course everyone probably knows about the bass and I found it very satisfying so I won't go on about that. The only problem I had with these headphones was the headband. No matter where I positioned them, I got a slightly painful spot. I tried them with the earpieces fully extended, completely retracted and many spots in between, in various spots on my head and the result was the same, a small but painful spot where the headband touched my noggin. Dang. On the HE-500s, so I thought. When I opened the last box, I discovered they had sent the HE-6s which was fine because I had kind of wanted to try those too.


I'd read about how those headphones need a lot of power and boy they aren't kidding. My vintage Denon receiver had the volume knob about 1 o'clock to achieve a reasonable volume. My Bottlehead Crack had to be cranked to about 3:30 to achieve the same volume. That aside, the sound was outstanding. The highs are great, the midrange is sweet and the bass is full. But because those aren't the one's I wanted, I contacted The Cable Co. and they 2 day FedEx'd me the correct pair with no shipping charges. Outstanding customer service. 


The day the HE-500s arrived I put them on and really liked their sound. To me it is similar the HE-6s but without the power needs. So I had soon narrowed it down the these and the LCD2s but there was the issue of the headband. In all honesty, after hearing the T1s, I was leaning heavily toward the LCDs but the fit was a big issue to me. I tried on 3 more occasions to find a position that would work and never did. I kept them on as long as 90 minutes non-stop and when I took them off, I felt like I had a spot on my head that had had the blood flow cut off and was numb. No matter how great they sound, if it becomes painful to wear them, they don't get worn. So that brings me to my decision.


The HiFiMAN HE-500 headphones should be here next week. The sound is very good to me in all the frequencies. The bass is maybe a smidge less than the LCDs but only ever so slightly less, imo. The upside to getting these is I saved at least $300 that I can use toward a DAC (I don't currently have one) or some other headphone related item. 

post #2 of 2

Nice writeup of your experiences. All this stuff is grist for the mill for all of us and invaluable to those facing the same sort of decision. It's a shame you couldn't have experimented with some sort of headband padding on the LCD-2; I have a feeling the pressure point problem wasn't insoluble. Never mind, you still ended up with a great pair of headphones.

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