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Closed. Flat response. Soundstage. Does something like that exists?

post #1 of 86
Thread Starter 

Well, as title suggest, I'm looking for the holy (affordable) grail of headphones.

Current cans are HD280 pro, yes, you can laugh at me, these are my first "real" headphones, I've had them over 2 years now.

Now please don't suggest something like the Senns HD800, because I'm still just a student, and I'm not in the position to sell my car for some (almost perfect) cans.

The top I can spend at the moment is around 200 USD, tough if there's a really good candidate, I might try to save money for it (300 USD is still comfy).

Also, it's a HUGE plus if the headphone is available in popular stores in the US (best buy, target, etc.), the reason for this is that I don't actually live in the US, but I sometimes do some shopping there.

I would also really appreciate if you'd provide frequency charts, as I kinda personally prefer something objectively measured (not trying to bash personal opinion though).

 

I've come across some really good candidates, well, at least in the flat response aspect, soundstage still needs review-research:

 

Audio Technica ATH-A900X

Audio Technica ATH-A700X

Audio Technica ATH-A900

Audio Technica ATH-A700

AKG K271 MK II

Shure SRH440

Shure SRH840 (graph from headphone.org shows a crapload of low-bass)

Shure SRH940

Sennheiser HD380 pro

Beyerdynamic DT770 (mids are garbage though)

 

Edit:

KRK systems KNS 8400 ; bad soundstage according to some reviews.

KRK systems KNS 6400 ; same problem as above, sub par soundstage.

Fischer Audio FA-003 ; praised for neutrality and soundstage, however I can't seem to find them at any store.

BRAINWAVZ HM5 ; rebranded FA-003s, praised as well, also SUPER cheap.


Edited by JCRG - 1/6/13 at 9:40pm
post #2 of 86

huh, have u checked their prices at amazon..

half would be within 200?

 

akg240mk2 is a semi open/closed. 

post #3 of 86
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorspeaker View Post

huh, have u checked their prices at amazon..

half would be within 200?

 

akg240mk2 is a semi open/closed. 

 


I checked them at bestbuy, because that's where I'm hoping to find them; amazon does not ship to Mexico, so it's impractical to use it as price reference.

 

Also, the K240 MKII is dead now that I know that it's not closed.


Edited by JCRG - 1/6/13 at 2:28am
post #4 of 86

Well they are at the top end of your budget (300) but I find the Fostex Mad Dog headphones to be amazingly great. Pretty darn flat response rate, pretty good isolation, and great soundstage for a closed headphone. 

post #5 of 86

go for a srh940 from the sell/trade section here.

post #6 of 86
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KCxSmacker View Post

Well they are at the top end of your budget (300) but I find the Fostex Mad Dog headphones to be amazingly great. Pretty darn flat response rate, pretty good isolation, and great soundstage for a closed headphone. 

 

I can't seem to find those in any store.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sofastreamer View Post

go for a srh940 from the sell/trade section here.

 

There are no trades for Mexico.

post #7 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCRG View Post

Well, as title suggest, I'm looking for the holy (affordable) grail of headphones.
Current cans are HD280 pro, yes, you can laugh at me, these are my first "real" headphones, I've had them over 2 years now.
Now please don't suggest something like the Senns HD800, because I'm still just a student, and I'm not in the position to sell my car for some (almost perfect) cans.
The top I can spend at the moment is around 200 USD, tough if there's a really good candidate, I might try to save money for it (300 USD is still comfy).

I'm going to ask what your basis for wanting a "flat" response is - do you know what "flat" sounds like? Do you know if it suits you or not? etc. And do you mean perceptually flat? Or measured flat? Or what? There is no simple "consumer reports 1-10" scheme here.

Anyways, your budget is realistic, and there's some good options in and around it, especially if you can deal with international retailers (like AudioCubes).
Quote:
Also, it's a HUGE plus if the headphone is available in popular stores in the US (best buy, target, etc.), the reason for this is that I don't actually live in the US, but I sometimes do some shopping there.
I would also really appreciate if you'd provide frequency charts, as I kinda personally prefer something objectively measured (not trying to bash personal opinion though).

Gotcha on the retailers, will keep in mind. As far as the measurements thing, I'm gonna say that by and large it's still a crapshoot. There is no "proof" and measurements will not show you soundstage nor give you a really good idea of how something sounds (this is "just" personal experience talking) - not to mention that there's no standardization on measurements. *shrug*

They're helpful, but I would not consider them the final-word by any stretch of the imagination.
Quote:
I've come across some really good candidates, well, at least in the flat response aspect, soundstage still needs review-research:

Audio Technica ATH-A900X
Audio Technica ATH-A700X
Audio Technica ATH-A900
Audio Technica ATH-A700
AKG K271 MK II
Shure SRH440
Shure SRH840 (graph from headphone.org shows a crapload of low-bass)
Shure SRH940
Sennheiser HD380 pro
Beyerdynamic DT770 (mids are garbage though)
KRK systems KNS 6400 (super flat for sub 150 cans)
KRK systems KNS 8400 (seem similar to the SRH840)


I'd suggest the HD 380Pro, A900X, or the Bose AE2 if you want soundstage. All have angled drivers, and sound relatively good for what they are - the AE2 are my personal pick (the 380 are too congested and boomy, the A900X are too hot in the upper mids and fit weird). You might also look at the Koss MV1 and TBSE - neither has a huge soundstage (this isn't a bad thing), but they both sound good, have good imaging, and are closed. I'd also remove the non "X" Audio-Technicas from your list - the pads will wear out fairly quickly and aren't cheap to replace (this is just across the board; they changed the pads on the newer models, and it seems to have addressed the problem, if you really want the A900 you can get leather pads from one of the W series for ~$70 to solve the issue as well).

At a higher price tier, I'd suggest the Kenwood KH-K1000 (remember I mentioned AudioCubes earlier?), which have a more natural response than the A900X with a similar stage, better staging than the MV1 or TBSE, good extension, and a fairly clean overall sound. Nice mids too - especially if you're into female vocalists. You might also look at the Audio-Technica ESW9, while they have a relatively intimate sound-stage (they're on-ear, that's to be expected), they have a nice overall presentation (the mids are the show-stopper though), the highs are rolled down and they're fairly non-fatiguing as a result, good bass impact, and decent extension.

All of these will be much warmer than your 280s, and probably take some getting used to, but overall I think they'd all be a pleasant change of pace.

If isolation were a non-issue, I'd also suggest the Ultrasone HFI-2400 - they don't leak much, but they don't provide much isolation either. Fairly smooth, warm, dark, mid-bass driven presentation - great for movies, games, electronic music, grunge/punk, etc and competent as all-rounders. Good sound-stage too (thank S-LOGIC).

I can elaborate on any/all of the suggestions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCRG View Post

I can't seem to find those in any store.

You have to buy them from the guy who makes them - I think he's called "Mr Speakers" or something like that - no idea if he ships internationally and I don't know anything about their sound (I haven't tried them).
Quote:

There are no trades for Mexico.

A lot of sellers will ship internationally if you ask politely and aren't shifty about it - you'll probably have to cover shipping though, which shouldn't be too bad from the US to Mexico. Not saying it's the only option, but communication certainly goes a long way.
post #8 of 86
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


I'm going to ask what your basis for wanting a "flat" response is - do you know what "flat" sounds like? Do you know if it suits you or not? etc. And do you mean perceptually flat? Or measured flat? Or what? There is no simple "consumer reports 1-10" scheme here.

I would most likely mean analytical, perhaps cold?, with no frequency emphasized, both measured and perceived flat (e.g., the KNS6400 measures flat but doesn't sounds so).

I think I should have stated that I want them for music composing and competitive gaming.

 

And as for the international shipping, to be honest, between the high costs, and the insecurity of the US to Mexico customs (I've heard lots of nasty experiences), I don't think is worth it.

 

Nevertheless, you're most thanked for your comment, you seem the type who likes to aid other people :)

post #9 of 86

what about the 550?   I know they are in Best Buy (Magnolia Stores)
 

post #10 of 86
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magicman74 View Post

what about the 550?   I know they are in Best Buy (Magnolia Stores)
 


550 what?

post #11 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCRG View Post


550 what?


AKG K550

post #12 of 86
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magicman74 View Post


AKG K550


Eh, there seems to be a lot of complains about the upper mids, for a headphone that price, you'd expect better.

post #13 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCRG View Post

I would most likely mean analytical, perhaps cold?

Why would you want to listen to that? tongue.gif

Anyways, that's basically 180* from what a lot of headphones these days target. Analytical and bright by itself isn't all that rare (but it is with closed cans - most closed cans have jacked up bass, at least most recent ones), but cold is not very popular (because it's, well, cold). The only can I can think of that would *maybe* approach what you want in analytical and cold, that's also closed, would be the Beyerdynamic T70 - but I really don't like suggesting those (and they probably blow your budget apart).
Quote:
, with no frequency emphasized, both measured and perceived flat (e.g., the KNS6400 measures flat but doesn't sounds so).

You cannot have measured AND perceived flat - measured flat will be perceived bright and bass-light, perceived flat will measure with a V-curve. It's one or the other (there is no "absolute flat"). You also have to remember that FR is one piece of the pie, not the whole thing, so you can have a headphone that measures "flat" but still sounds boomy or harsh or sibilant, or one that measures bass or treble boosted and sounds clean as a whistle. Most closed headphones will be more towards the "boomy bass" side (it's just a recent trend more than anything else), which limits your options (and I completely understand not wanting a bass boomer).
Quote:
I think I should have stated that I want them for music composing and competitive gaming.

The first one is easy - basically pick a studio monitor (and I think the HD 280 are a fine example as any), the second one is not - now you're talking about good soundstaging, imaging, that sort of thing. And closed headphones are at a disadvantage there. Out of curiosity, would you consider having two headphones? In other words keeping the HD 280 as a monitor, and getting something better suited just for gaming and music enjoyment? I think that'd be the easiest choice here.
Quote:
And as for the international shipping, to be honest, between the high costs, and the insecurity of the US to Mexico customs (I've heard lots of nasty experiences), I don't think is worth it.

I can understand that. FWIW, AudioCubes does not ship from the US - they ship from Osaka, Japan. I don't know how much EMS costs into Mexico, but I know to the US it isn't terrible, and as long as you don't have massive import duties it shouldn't be terrible for you either. You could e-mail them and ask (they're very helpful, by and large - might take them a day or two to respond, but I think that's the time delay more than anything).
Quote:
Nevertheless, you're most thanked for your comment, you seem the type who likes to aid other people smily_headphones1.gif

You're welcome, and thanks for the kind words.

Now, reading this got me thinking about more of what you're actually describing - I'm going to lean on the Koss headphones pretty heavily in terms of what I want to suggest. The TBSE taking the front of the running - they're relatively uncolored, they don't blow anything out of proportion, they have good imaging, they're comfortable, they're under $200, and should be available from a variety of places (and while I say "TBSE" - the Koss DJ100 and DJ200 are basically the same headphone with different packaging) - I know Koss themselves ship internationally (http://www.koss.com/en/support/international_shipping), they list a Mexican distributor as well:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koss Website 
Equipos Y Cintas S.A. De C.V.
Website: www.equiposycintas.com.mx
Email: koss@equiposycintas.com.mx

And I think Best Buy sells the DJ100 as well (if you know roughly where in the US you're going to shop, I know the Best Buy website can check local inventory if you can provide a zipcode or store #).


The MV1 are a bit more colored, more "live" sounding with some mid/treble emphasis, but it isn't nasty. I think they're mislabeled as "professional monitors" but they're very good nonetheless. Easy to listen to for a long time, and good enough imaging. Somewhat heavy though.

The other option, and take this suggestion with a bit of a grain of salt (because I'm suggesting it based on a 44 year old pair of headphones sitting on my dining room table) would be the Pro4-AA (which is the archetypal Koss headphone). Very clean/clear sound (they're massively damped), and relatively flat throughout without being overly clinical or cold. They're easy to listen to, but aren't over-emphasized anywhere. They were originally designed as studio monitors and hi-fi, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and accordingly weigh a ton. But they might be the ticket for what you want. You will need some sort of headphone amplifier (or stereo receiver, or PC soundcard with an amp, etc) if you get the MV1 or Pro4-AA, as both are 250R and will not play nice with a lot of portable devices or line-out soundcards.

Here's the DJ100 and Pro4-AA product pages (figure I'm already on the site, why not?):
http://www.koss.com/en/products/headphones/full_size_headphones/PRODJ100__PRODJ100_Full_Size_Headphones
http://www.koss.com/en/products/headphones/full_size_headphones/PRO4AA__PRO4AA_Full_Size_Headphone

The MV1 was (as far as I can tell) recently discontinued - I know Amazon still has a few (doesn't help much, I know), but otherwise I'm not sure where else to look. I don't think they were ever majorly popular, so I'm not sure if stores like Best Buy or Target ever picked them up (but admittedly, I didn't even know Target sold headphones until two weeks ago!).

And just for grins, measurement data on all of them:
http://www.geocities.jp/ryumatsuba/prodj100.html
http://www.geocities.jp/ryumatsuba/pro4aa.html
http://www.geocities.jp/ryumatsuba/mv1.html

My listening impressions do not agree with the MV1 measurements (there is no way that's a +20 dB spike, maybe +5 or +10, but not +20), just figured I'd point that out (and He&Bi's measurements do not agree with other place's measurements of the MV1 either - but most other places have even more screwed up looking graphs (GE's looks like the FR was beaten on with a stick - and they certainly do not sound like that)). I'm wondering if the pads are just hard to seal on a measurement rig (they're easy to put onto your head, but I don't think I could get them (correctly) onto someone else's head - they're kind of odd shaped).

If you can look at open headphones (if you don't really need the isolation, I would - and if you're thinking you need a pair for travel, I'd say let the HD 280 do that, and consider a nice open-back pair for at home if you can), I'd again suggest the HFI-2400 as well. They'll have better soundstaging than any of the Koss models, and have a bit of extra bass impact (it isn't overbearing, and is only when called upon), so they would be a good pick for gaming and movies imho - they're fun for music, but I'd absolutely not use them as a reference for mixing or composition (at least without knowing their quirks).
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCRG View Post


Eh, there seems to be a lot of complains about the upper mids, for a headphone that price, you'd expect better.

I would agree - having heard them. The build quality is nice, but getting a seal takes a bit of adjustment (this always annoys me when headphones can't just be "plopped on"), and they're a bit hot in the upper mids. Compared to modern ~$300 closed headphones, I think they're a fine showing (which is sadly not saying much), but compared to all headphones overall, I certainly expected more.
Edited by obobskivich - 1/6/13 at 2:07pm
post #14 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by sofastreamer View Post

go for a srh940

 

X2.  They have all 3 features you are looking for.

post #15 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCRG View Post

 

I can't seem to find those in any store.

 

http://www.mrspeakers.com/index.php?route=common/home

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