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MidFi: Reviews and Discussions! [Reviewed: AKG K400; Alessandro MS Pro]

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 

Update:

I loaned a pair of DT880 for myself in the end, and decided to start reviewing all these MidFi headphones!

 

AKG K400: http://www.head-fi.org/t/645254/midfi-reviews-and-discussions-welcomed-reviewed-akg-k400/30#post_9079140

Alessandro MS Pro: http://www.head-fi.org/t/645254/midfi-reviews-and-discussions-welcomed-reviewed-akg-k400/30#post_9086124

 


My current inventory looks like this:

 

Senn HD580, AKG K400, Beyer DT1350, Denon D5000 and an Alessandro MSPro.

 

Now I know this is rather ridiculous but I am sure there are other people who consider the AKG/Beyer/Senn to be THE TRIO to get... What would it offer to the tables, or should I sell the DT1350 for a pair of 880...

 

Source/Amp wise I am quite confident. I have a slightly warm/neutral NFB5.2 as well as a Darkvoice 336 (just did the output caps mod btw!). I am however quite uncomfortable with treble peaks. Bass is welcomed as long as it does not come in with the sacrifice of mids. I am starting to appreciate mids more and more.

 

I like to try out different 'sound signatures' and sort of 'collect' them. In my opinion I have already quite capable headphones for both a smooth sound (HD580), an aggressive sound (MSPro), naturally-romantically-clear mids from the K400 (I ultimately preferred it over the K500, by a hair), and some of the most heavy bass from my D5000.

 

The little beyer DT1350 to me sounds very natural. It is a very nice headphone except for 1. the comfort, and 2. the smoothness! It sounds so so smooth and 'unreal' at times, I do not know how to explain it. I know my ears adjust to it after a few songs and they start rocking.

 

I've heard some saying the DT880 sounds a bit like the TF10. Well I'm liking my triple-fi's more and more these days, even over the GR07. I found the TF10 sim. to the HD25 and preferred the former, while the GR07 sounding quite sim. to DT1350 and I think I'm preferring the later.

 

Music preference wise, a lot of rock, a lot of progressive, then jazz, then older pop and a bit of everything else.

 

So what do you think? Buy blindly to complete the Trio/4 Kings/MidFi Endgame, or hold my sanity and do not buy something I will never use?


Edited by mrAdrian - 1/22/13 at 11:55pm
post #2 of 50

Heya,

 

Seeing as you already have the HD580, the DT880 is just another flavor, but those two headphones pretty much are similar, more than different.

 

I think the game is changed these days. I for one don't care for Sennheiser at all anymore. And I started with the HD580 back in the 90's. I find other headphones to be more interesting, but that's just me. I really enjoy Beyer, Grado and Hifiman for example. Even though I can't wear the Grado for very long, I still enjoy it for it's sound. I think Hifiman is really on the rise and easily bumps one of the classic trio from any collection. The HE-400 is simply phenomenal.

 

I would say try and get a HE-400 into your collection. Then you'll see what you think about the other headphones and whether they get head time after a while.

 

Very best,

post #3 of 50
Thread Starter 

But they were the classics!

 

Jokes aside, from my research the HE400 seems like an alternative to the D5000. I recall you being a big Denon fan right?

 

Fact is I'm more interested in the HE500 but money doesn't allow me to... I mean a used DT880 is currently at the ~$200 mark

post #4 of 50

From a tonal balance sound-signature point of view, there are only 4 that can exist;

 

1). Dark = strong bass, neutral mids, weak treble - (Sennheiser HD650)

2). 'v'-shaped = strong bass, weak mids, strong treble - (Beyerdynamic DT880)

3). 'n'-shaped = weak bass, strong mids, weak treble - (Audio Technica ATH AD2000)

4). Bright = weak bass, neutral mids, strong treble - (AKG K701)

 

From the 'classic trio', I would say the K701 falls under 'bright' category, the DT880 falls under the 'v'-shaped category, and the HD650 either falls under the dark category. IMPORTANT that this is only relative to each other. They are all relatively neutral. For example, the HD650 is classified as dark in the trio, but is obviously a lot brighter than a real bass head closed headphone with little to no treble (probably like the Sony XB series).

 

From this, you can see, that one important sound signature is missing: the 'n'-shaped sound signature. This gives a very lush, old-school, romantic sort of sound, as the midrange is where the majority of the music is at (other than some electronic genres). You can see, I have filled this spot in with the AD2000, which many consider as the unofficial 'fourth member' of the trio.

 

Obviously, you now have other options for full-sized open headphones, for example, the Grado SR325is is bright, the Shure SRH1440 is 'n'-shaped, the Hifiman HE-4 is 'v'-shaped, the Philips Fidelio X1 is dark, and these could make a whole other collection and still fill in all the sound signatures.

 

And, also note that these sound signatures only refer to tonal balance. There are other ways in which a headphones can sound very differently to each other - even if they have a similar tonal balance. These categories include soundstage, transient response (which makes some headphones sound 'fast' or 'slow') and many others which I can't think of right now. For example, although the K701 and SR325is are both bright in tonal balance, the enormous soundstage of the K701 makes it sound completely distinct from the SR325is. Likewise, the HE-4 has broadly the same tonal balance as the DT880, yet I've read that it offers a very fast transient response, therefore probably sounds completely different to the DT880.

 

Finally, the degree to which the headphones offer there respective sound-signatures can differ. For example, I've classified the DT880 as being 'v'-shaped, because the midrange is not as pronounced as the bass or treble. However, they are very slightly 'v'-shaped, and you could get much more extreme examples in consumer-orientated headphones.


Edited by bassophile - 1/9/13 at 6:56am
post #5 of 50
Thread Starter 

Well I do consider my gf's AD900 part of 'my' inventory, and believe it or not the K400 is a lovely n. Moreover, the AD2000 is really far away from my budget ;) I must add that the AD900 is really a fine fine piece of coloured headphone, at the price range that we are looking at!

 

p.s. you really got me interested in trying a pair of AD2000 as I always thought it would take more of a prominent mid to treble tilt, with some major ATH mid-treble female vocal focused colouration.

 

I appreciate your response however, and I think we are thinking alike each other at this sound signature/tonal balance craziness. How fast and how much treble has the DT880 got might be the key to my own question.

 

I didn't like the K701 on quite a few occasions under different equipment. Bright and overly analytical just isn't my thing. I used to have a SA3000 - much better; and I got it for $100, but I sold it in the end. Midrange just wasn't enough to compensate that amazing amount and quality of the treble.

post #6 of 50

Yeh, its just fun trying out all the different tonal balances. When I was completely new to audio, I didn't believe that headphones or speakers could try to sound different - I just thought they were all going after the same sound, but some were simply better than others.

 

Then I bought the Etymotic ER-4P and used it for a good 2 years, before getting a Futuresonics Atrio. Needless to say my mind was blown, as they are some of the most different sounding earphones you can get!

post #7 of 50
Thread Starter 

Ha ER4P and the Atrio, you either did your research very well or else I could imagine your face when your Atrio's arrived etysmile.gif

post #8 of 50

I'd second malveaux's suggestion.

 

Try the HE-400's and figure how they fare in you ears. They are a cut above the 880/650/701 imo, in relatively the same price bracket.

 

And from there you could sell your mid-fi cans to get something "better" - like HE-500's or something if you find yourself wanting to continue your journey up the the headphone ladder.

post #9 of 50
Thread Starter 

DT880 in house from a loan! Life is good :D

post #10 of 50

HE-400, still. They are simply better than dt-880.. IMO

post #11 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

HE-400, still. They are simply better than dt-880.. IMO

 

Have you heard both at the same time? What makes the HE-400 better than the DT-880?

post #12 of 50
Thread Starter 

I am interested as well. The DT880 certainly has flaws but it is a very nice headphone to my ears.

 

Also regardless of which headphone is better, at least the DT880 used are now running around or even UNDER $200 biggrin.gif and that makes them VERY ATTRACTIVE headphones to own

post #13 of 50

They are definitely attractive for half the price. But personally I think the HE-400 does pretty much everything better except transparency and the treble is also a bit more metallic. I think the soundstage is more intimate, but still more realistic with the HE-400. It also seems way faster and almost a bid etchy (in a good way) compared to the dt-880. My first impression on the HE-400 was that it almost cut through fast paced metal with ease, whilst the dt-880 sounded sloppy in comparison.

 

The midrange on the HE-400 is more full and way more engaging with a very solid bass. Both which the dt-880 laggs to some extend. The HE-400 just seems more natiral and also with decent/good transparency, but the treble is not as detailed as I would wish. On the other hand, the dt-880 treble is a bit too much for me. Not sibilant or anything, it just make them lack realism. At the same time they seem a slight bit shouty at times, possibly due to too much upper mids.

post #14 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

They are definitely attractive for half the price. But personally I think the HE-400 does pretty much everything better except transparency and the treble is also a bit more metallic. I think the soundstage is more intimate, but still more realistic with the HE-400. It also seems way faster and almost a bid etchy (in a good way) compared to the dt-880. My first impression on the HE-400 was that it almost cut through fast paced metal with ease, whilst the dt-880 sounded sloppy in comparison.

 

The midrange on the HE-400 is more full and way more engaging with a very solid bass. Both which the dt-880 laggs to some extend. The HE-400 just seems more natiral and also with decent/good transparency, but the treble is not as detailed as I would wish. On the other hand, the dt-880 treble is a bit too much for me. Not sibilant or anything, it just make them lack realism. At the same time they seem a slight bit shouty at times, possibly due to too much upper mids.

 

Hmm interesting. So which treble do you find it better/worse? I'll say the DT880 treble is sibilant for me too, especially since they do not have prominent mids. Whenever I hear a headphone, I try to go louder until I have satisfying levels of mids. When the DT880 reaches that level, it is sibilant. I think they will be great headphones for orchestral/jazz or anything that doesn't scream for loudness (e.g. rock, prog rock, metal etc). It is nice having a smiley face instead of a super U face compared to the Denon's however. I liked how they are able to be right between detailed and smooth - until the volume is up and eventually ears get tired.

 

I actually did not notice them being slow until you mentioned it. Then I remember the days when I had a Sony SA3000 and its details, speed, treble is just Wow.

 

The mids aren't as bad as some might have said. They ARE lean but its not like a hole in your music. It is not as meaty as say a Sennheiser, but just erm, lean. I'm running out of words obviously. It takes a few songs to adjust to, depending on which headphone I was previously listening to, but I think it is very enjoyable in its own way too.

post #15 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrAdrian View Post

 

Hmm interesting. So which treble do you find it better/worse? I'll say the DT880 treble is sibilant for me too, especially since they do not have prominent mids. Whenever I hear a headphone, I try to go louder until I have satisfying levels of mids. When the DT880 reaches that level, it is sibilant. I think they will be great headphones for orchestral/jazz or anything that doesn't scream for loudness (e.g. rock, prog rock, metal etc). It is nice having a smiley face instead of a super U face compared to the Denon's however. I liked how they are able to be right between detailed and smooth - until the volume is up and eventually ears get tired.

 

I actually did not notice them being slow until you mentioned it. Then I remember the days when I had a Sony SA3000 and its details, speed, treble is just Wow.

 

The mids aren't as bad as some might have said. They ARE lean but its not like a hole in your music. It is not as meaty as say a Sennheiser, but just erm, lean. I'm running out of words obviously. It takes a few songs to adjust to, depending on which headphone I was previously listening to, but I think it is very enjoyable in its own way too.

The mids might not be as bad as I have said. But I think they are, compared to the HE-400.

 

I don't find the dt-880 objectively slow, but the HE-400 is very fast, probably due to its planar magnetic drivers.

 

IF I isolate the treble from the rest of the spectrum, I prefer the dt-880 for more detail and variation and a slight better transparency. The HE-400's treble can be slightly uniform, and the 'tzzz' of a high hat sound too much the same across songs and artists. But the details and etc. are there on the HE-400, they are just not as apparent. 

 

But over all, I would never be really satisfied owning the dt-880, but the HE-400 could be my end 'phone. It is not perfect, but I find it to be somewhere between high-end and mid-end, whilst the dt-880 is definitely mid-end. I am not annoyed by the flaws of the HE-400, but with the dt-880 I never really get what I want and I'm always looking for more.

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