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Best unamped for $300?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I have a $300 budget and want to upgrade from my JVC RX700s. I generally listen to Trance and other electronic music streamed from Rdio while plugged in directly to my Macbook Air.

 

I've been considering the following headphones, but I haven't reached a decision: 

 

- V-Moda M-100

- Sennheiser Momentum

- Sony MDR-1R

- Philips Fidelio L1

 

Comfort is a priority to get me through long coding sessions. My initial research suggests that the M-100 might have the best sound signature for the music I listen to, with the MDR-1R being the most comfortable.

 

UPDATE:

 

 

I just tried out the Momentum, K550, and A900X at my local Best Buy.

 

Momentum

Loved the sound with all genres. Very lightweight and no pressure on the top of the head. Unfortunately, the ear cups are too small. These are simply not circumaural headphones. However, with a little adjusting, I was able to get a somewhat comfortable fit. Coming from RX700s, they still feel very cramped. I might go back tomorrow to play around with the fit a bit more. It's hard to judge how these will feel after several hours of listening during a 15 minute demo.

 

K550

I've read a lot of praise for these headphones, but I was extremely disappointed with the sound. I would describe the sound as hollow, artificial, and plasticky, with a severe lack of bass. I'm not sure if had a good seal or not, or maybe the AKG sound is just not for me -- they just sounded cheap.

 

A900X

Having owned the A500 in the past, I knew what kind of sound to except and I was not disappointed. These sounded just as good as the Momentums. Unfortunately, as many users have pointed out, the wing system does not work as well as previous models. These sunk down on top of my ears and felt pretty awkward.

 

Unless I can get the fit issue with the Momentum sorted out, it looks like it's down to the M100 and MDR-1R.


Edited by acti0n - 2/9/13 at 6:34pm
post #2 of 27

A lot of people may disagree - but personally I feel like you'd do a lot better going $200/$100 Headphone/Amp respectively, or $250/50. Whatever really.

 

Even my extremely efficient cans don't blossom until I hook them into at least a portable amplifier. It may just be me, but I can't get on board with unamped cans, especially not while a FiiO E11 or something of the likes is attainable for only like $60.

 

You may want to check out some DT990s though, they're great efficient headphones and have the oomph for electronica. As long as isolation isn't an issue.

post #3 of 27

Sony MDR-1R,

post #4 of 27

Dt770 pro80 (they are not very demanding with amps) 


Edited by thecourier - 2/8/13 at 8:58pm
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by thecourier View Post

Dt770 pro80 (they are not very demanding with amps) 

 

Au contraire mon frère.  They improve greatly with amplification, more than any headphone I've heard.

post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 

The more I read about these headphones the more I think NONE of them are suitable upgrades. Here's why:

 

M100: Uncomfortable due to shallow earpads. Everything else about these seem awesome, but none if it matters if they're uncomfortable.

 

Momentum: Tiny earcups. I have averaged-sized ears, but a lot of people who are complaining about these do too. The Philips Uptowns fit me ok, are the Momentum's ear cups larger or smaller?

 

MDR-1R: Loose headphone jack creates line noise when moving. Sound signature doesn't seem to fit the music I listen to.

 

Fidelio L1: Probably requires amp, sound quality might be inferior.

post #7 of 27

If you live by a Best Buy, they might have the Momentum on demo. I tried one today and my ears fit in them and I thought I had larger-than-average ears.

post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by acti0n View Post

The more I read about these headphones the more I think NONE of them are suitable upgrades. Here's why:

 

M100: Uncomfortable due to shallow earpads. Everything else about these seem awesome, but none if it matters if they're uncomfortable.

 

Momentum: Tiny earcups. I have averaged-sized ears, but a lot of people who are complaining about these do too. The Philips Uptowns fit me ok, are the Momentum's ear cups larger or smaller?

 

MDR-1R: Loose headphone jack creates line noise when moving. Sound signature doesn't seem to fit the music I listen to.

 

Fidelio L1: Probably requires amp, sound quality might be inferior.

I'm a fellow electronic music fan that was facing almost the exact same dilemma as you, not too long ago.  It was between the M-100s, MOMENTUMs and MDR-1R for me.  I was able to borrow both the MOMENTUMs and the M-100 before I made my final decision on the MDR-1R.  I can't provide any input on the Fidelio though.  With regards to the quoted defect of the Sony, all I can say is that I did not personally experience such a problem.  The standard cable that I got plugs in snugly to both the headphone and the source with no issues, and no other part of my headphone makes any other extraneous noise.

 

For me, the breakdown went like this:

The MOMENTUMs were knocked out early because of comfort.  My ears are easily agitated by headphones that clamp on them, so circumaural is the only way to go.  The MOMENTUM cups were small to the point where they felt more like supra-aural headphones and I couldn't wear them for very long without pain.

 

The real decision was between the M-100 and the MDR-1R.  While the M-100 wasn't uncomfortable by any means, it couldn't hold a candle to the comfort of the Sony.  The Sony is super lightweight, the pads are soft, the clamping force is perfect and so evenly-distributed that they feel secure on my head while moving, but cause no irritation at all.  After a while, they feel like they aren't even there.  Aside from my retired XB-500, I've never felt headphones as comfortable as the MDR-1R.

 

The real decision came down to sound though.  In the end, the MDR-1R has a much better and forward midrange, and the treble is great on both cans.  The M-100s I borrowed were burned in, and had better bass at the time of comparison, but I found that the MDR-1R filled in the bass gap nicely after burn-in.  As a fellow fan of electronic music, I can recommend the Sony pair without reservation.  Electronic music is a really broad genre though, and I might listen to different artists than you.

 

EDIT:  I would also recommend not being so down about a headphone just because of a few negative comments here and there, especially when most of the comments about these headphones are overwhelmingly positive.  There will always be a defective pair out there that gives someone a bad experience, or that one hipster who just has to speak out in hatred of a product because everyone else likes it.  Don't assume that a headphone is bad or not right for you unless there are a lot of people with personal experience with the headphone that express negativity.  Truth be told, I imagine any one of the three headphones that I tried would be nice for you, assuming they are comfortable enough.


Edited by Caessa - 2/8/13 at 11:15pm
post #9 of 27
The momentum feels semi on ear when I wear them, but they are so comfortable.
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 

I demoed a few headphones in the $300 range at Best Buy today, including the Momentum. I updated the original post with my reactions.

post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheReem View Post

Beyerdynamic DT770 there some of the best headphones closed you will find out of the selection of mid level headphones. The M100 I have had a lot of time with there not audiophile headphones there basically a cleaner set of beats.

I had the DT770-600, not great unamped, BUT a prety fine headphone in the price range, which makes me agree in principle with the above.  I might consider the 80 ohm version for unmapped (in fact I am considering them...).  If you are ok with used, they seem to show ip at fairly reasonable prices in the FS section.

post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caessa View Post

The real decision was between the M-100 and the MDR-1R.  While the M-100 wasn't uncomfortable by any means, it couldn't hold a candle to the comfort of the Sony.  The Sony is super lightweight, the pads are soft, the clamping force is perfect and so evenly-distributed that they feel secure on my head while moving, but cause no irritation at all.  After a while, they feel like they aren't even there.  Aside from my retired XB-500, I've never felt headphones as comfortable as the MDR-1R.

 

The real decision came down to sound though.  In the end, the MDR-1R has a much better and forward midrange, and the treble is great on both cans.  The M-100s I borrowed were burned in, and had better bass at the time of comparison, but I found that the MDR-1R filled in the bass gap nicely after burn-in.  As a fellow fan of electronic music, I can recommend the Sony pair without reservation.  Electronic music is a really broad genre though, and I might listen to different artists than you.

 

After demoing the Momentum at Best Buy, I, too, have narrowed it down to the M-100 and MDR-1R.

 

Without hearing either, it's hard to make a decision based on sound, but the consensus seems to be that the M-100 has more bass, and the MDR-1R has more mids. Based on this, I'm inclined to believe I would prefer M-100 for my music tastes. Additionally, the M-100 is more portable since it folds and appears to have better build quality and materials. However, some have complained of comfort issues with the M-100, while there is the unanimous opinion that the MDR-1R is very comfortable, which I value a lot. 

post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfetan44 View Post

Sony MDR-1R,


Yep, these are quite amazing in sound and comfort department.

post #14 of 27
What about something like the Ultrasone Pro 750? I'm looking into that myself.
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnomeplay View Post

A lot of people may disagree - but personally I feel like you'd do a lot better going $200/$100 Headphone/Amp respectively, or $250/50. Whatever really.

 

Even my extremely efficient cans don't blossom until I hook them into at least a portable amplifier. It may just be me, but I can't get on board with unamped cans, especially not while a FiiO E11 or something of the likes is attainable for only like $60.

 

You may want to check out some DT990s though, they're great efficient headphones and have the oomph for electronica. As long as isolation isn't an issue.

Agree completely with that first statement.  You would always be better off with a slightly cheaper headphone and some sort of headphone-specific amp.  And no, as a MOT, I don't sell any amp for less than that and I would still say the same thing.  Heck, you'd be better off with a CMoy and a very slightly cheaper headphone than without.  It's how I started out ... just MHO.

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