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Suggestions for an upgrade on my Vmoda M80s (~$500 budget)

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone,


My uncle loved my V-Moda M80s, so I ended up giving him the cans as a gift. My setup was V-Moda M80 + FiiO E17 (I bought both of these based on all the great feedback on these forums). Now I need new cans, I've been trying to decide what I want and how I want to improve on M80s. M80s are/were amazing for the price, however, I had a couple of concerns right out of the box. Burn-in period helped it to smooth it out or I ended up getting used to them :) 



  • Genres I mostly listen to: Jazz (Miles Davis, Niacin, Victor Wooten, etc.), Hard Rock (Deep Purple, Jimmy Hendrix, etc.), Classical, Occasional symphonic metal (e.g. nightwish, avantasia, epica, etc.)
  • I will only use these at home and during my flights
  • Source: iPhone 4s+Fiio E17 + FLAC/ALAC


Things I would like to improve on M80s for my next cans:


  • Vmoda had too much bass for me. If I listened to a bass heavy jazz song, the sound would be overwhelmed with bass and I ended up setting E17 with -2/-4 Bass and +4 treble. Honestly, I had my E17 setup as -2/4 bass +4/6 treble the majority of the time. When I didn't have the amp with me, I had to use Equ on my iphone to tone down the bass.
  • I felt like the sound got muddled during some of my hard rock songs. I'm in the market for closed cans, so I understand I may not get all that airy sound, huge soundstage that I would like to get
  • Comfort was one of the biggest issues for me. I use glasses so I now realize that "on-ear" earphones will not be comfortable for me. 


I extended my budget to $500, so I'm hoping to improve on those issues I had with M80s. What I'm looking for are:


  • Large sound stage (as much as a closed headphone allows)
  • Clarity
  • Clean but punchy bass (not sure how to explain this one but I would like to feel the drum hits while I'm listening to John Bonham's drum solo in Moby Dick)
  • Not muddle highs


Here are my contenders based on my research:


  • AKG 550 (looked into 551, but it seems like there is a SQ downgrade based on reviews on this forum)
  • M100 (I'm not sure if they will have the same issues with M80s but everyone is raving about them)
  • Sennheiser Momentum
  • Beyerdynamic DT880 (600 Ohms) - innerfidelity reviewed these better over 250 ohms and I don't mind carrying E17 with me on the plane


As of now, AKG 550 is leading the bunch for me due to clear sound, flexibility with different genres. I would really appreciate some feedback. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to do so. 


Thank you in advance!!!

post #2 of 7

Sounds like you could look into:


Sony MDR-1R (forward mids and highs, present bass but I did not found them overpowering. They have good soundstage, at least better than the M80s, they also look good and are extremely comfortable. I found the upper mids tiring though, but it's probably just me as a lot of people love these guys!. Pretty good for the price).


Shure SRH940s (tuned a bit bright but great mids and highs. Bass is not as present as the MDR-1Rs nor as the mid-bassy SRH840. Fairly comfortable due to the velour pads)


Some people are raving about the Sound Magic HP100s:



My faves right now are MrSpeakers Mad Dogs (modified Fostex T50rps) and Ultrasone Signature Pros. Both have a "warmish"/"bass tilt so I'm not sure if you'd like them but they do extremely good at everything I through at them.


If you are looking for "less bassy" than the M80, then DEFINITELY don't look into the V-Moda M100s, Yamaha Pro 500s, Denon (any), Beyer Custom Pros, etc. etc.



Good luck!

post #3 of 7

The DT880s are semi-open and leaks a lot, IMO that is near useless on a flight as it's just a too noisy environment. Never heard them but I would think they are good at home, but not on a plane.


The Momentums are lovely, in finish and sound. The cups are quite small, works for me but might not be ok for everyone.


I'd say to consider the logitech UE6000. Quite laid back sound and might not have the treble spark you seem to be looking for, though has the option to activate noise cancelling which I find is really nice when it's really noisy like on a flight. The sound is a bit bloated when the noise cancelling is on, but it's optional to use or not.

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the suggestions. It looks like I need to remove DT880s from my list due to leakage and M100 for having more bass than M80. I'm not a huge fan of Sony and read very mixed reviews about MDR-1R. I need to check momentum ear cup size. My ears are not big or small, so I'm assuming it should be fine. How do they fare against the AKG K550?


Any comments on AKG K550 based on the specs I provided?



post #5 of 7

Haven't had a chance to try the K550 as their reviews are all over the place. Some people find them bass-light, others bass heavy. Others believe that resonance play a part in the degraded audio experience they had with them, etc. etc. Most people believe that all of these differences are due to "fit" issues.


You can always buy them from some place like Crutchfield in case you'd like to return them.

In fact, you can go there and they should still have Factory Refurbished ones for like $225... if you use coupon code "3A184", you MIGHT get a $20 discount, effectively getting them at $205... or Go "used" (check our For Sale/Trade boards).

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks gelocks! great idea. I think it is worth trying. I will probably try and see myself. After all, everyone loves M80s and even though they are great, didn't really work for me.

post #7 of 7
Originally Posted by Gorkem View Post

Thanks gelocks! great idea. I think it is worth trying. I will probably try and see myself. After all, everyone loves M80s and even though they are great, didn't really work for me.


Yup... we all can pinpoint certain characteristics/signatures in headphones but our ears/brain are the final judges anyway! ;-)

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