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Time for a careful, well thought out upgrade.

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Hello \o

This post is to ask for help picking new headphones. I have surfed the interwebs in a quest for new cans for a while now, so I'll make a few suggestions and hopefully you can prevent me from picking the wrong set, or maybe even tell me about a product I have not yet stumbled upon.

As I explained in my introduction post, my current headphones (Prodipe PRO800) are dying. I would like to replace them with something better.

Info:
I mostly listen to FLAC music files on my computer, in my bedroom, through a Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Titanium.
I listen to all genres. I sometimes play with the built-in equalizer for fun but I usually stop after five tracks due to fatigue.
It would be great if I could use the new headphones with a (semi-)portable device some time in the future. I'm thinking about impedance in particular.

I like:
Articulate, breathy, full, gentle, spacious, transparent sound. I pay attention to sub-bass a lot, and I like detailed lower mids.
String instruments and electronic drums.
Completely artificial sounds. Sounds that couldn't exist in real-life.

I don't like:
What's around 100Hz.
Peaks between 2kHz and 8kHz, which hurt my ears. I know I'm not the only one.
Boomy sound.

I need:
Comfort. Regarding both sound and fit. I spend up to eight hours with my headphones on since I have no speakers.
Robustness. Build quality. I would like to keep them for a long time, and I'm often on the road.
SQ as described above.
Sub 200€. I realize compromises will have to be made.
Not too ugly. In my eye, of course.

I don't care much for:
Open or closed. I've never had the opportunity to feel the difference.
Foldability. I carry a huge bag around when I travel anyway.

Portability. I never listen to music while walking or doing sports.
New or used.

Products that have retained my attention:
Several are above budget but I keep them in the list so I remember to try them out when I can.

Denon

  • AH-D340
  • AH-D600

AKG

  • K271 mkII
  • K701
  • Q701

SONY

  • MDR-1R

AUDIO-TECHNICA

  • ATH-A900X
  • ATH-M50

ULTRASONE

  • HFI-780
  • HFI-2400

PHILIPS

  • FIDELIO L1

ONKYO

  • ES-HF300
  • ES-FC300

V-MODA

  • M80
  • M100

SHURE

  • SRH840
  • SRH940


Notes:
About a year ago I wanted the Shure SRH840. For several reasons I renounced but now I am reconsidering them.
I briefly tried a pair of AKG K272. I thought they were terrible but the conditions were less an ideal.
The Audio-Technica M50 seem to be the kind of thing I'm looking for. They don't look very comfy or robust, though. Besides, they are 155€ on thomann.de and there are Ultrasone HFI-2400 priced at 156€ in b-stock.
The Fidelio L1 and Onkyo ES-HF300 seem about right for me as well.
The design of some Sennheisers freak me out a little (they look like snails!).

So,
In which direction from there?

post #2 of 22
Hello!

First of all, by just looking at the headphone impedance, it does not tell you much if it require an amp.

From your list, I will strike out Sony MDR-1R, Audio Technica ATH-M50 and SRH-840. If you are looking for something transparent, I would much prefer the Sennheiser Momentum, AKG K550, PSB M4U1. If you like the ATH-M50, you might like the UE6000!

Hope this helps!
Billson smily_headphones1.gif
post #3 of 22

How much higher in comfort you rank over sound quality?  I demoed the MDR-1R and they are super comfy and inline with your budget, but SQ wise it is not as good as some of the others.  The M50 is a long time middle ground good choice here in Head-fi and for good reasons, but like you have said its build might not be as good (decent comfort).  The D600 seems to be a good pick for you but does cost a bit more.

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for this valuable input!

 

BillsonChang007,

I checked out the PSB and they do not look the part in terms of comfort in robustness. I still put them on my paper list to check out in person. I did find them at 115$ at meritline.com or 160€ at cobrason.com. I couldn't find the Logitech UE6000 here in France. Only the UE9000 at the Apple Store for 350€.

The AKG K550 are 140€ so I will try them out as soon as possible.

 

DrSheep,

I would say I'm more concerned with comfort than I am with true audiophile grade sound reproduction. But that doesn't mean I don't care about the sound signature either.

From the reviews, I had this impression with the M50 as well. I remember googling "upgrade from M50" during my research.

I also found the AH-D600 for 260€ on materiel.net or 250€ used at priceminister.com.

 

Quick question for the regulars: is buying overseas and shipping usually worth it (USA>UE or EU>USA) ?


Edited by n49o7 - 7/26/13 at 5:51am
post #5 of 22
Not at all trying to advertise for PSB, but the PSB's are actually really comfortable on my head. Build quality does not look as bad as they look in the picture. What I mean is, the PSB might made be made of plastic but for the hinges and some important parts where headphones usually stress at are made of stainless steel. It also come with a carrying pouch!

If you are still worried about the PSB's build quality, the AKG K550 are made of mostly metals and very little plastics.

Had a quick listening on the UE9000 and the sound are similar to UE6000 but the UE6k offer better clarity. What about the Sennheiser Momentum? XD

Billson smily_headphones1.gif
post #6 of 22

I second the Momentum for SQ but not long term comfort, as the OP stated the requirement for 8+ hours of use...

post #7 of 22

ever heard of the mad dog mod of the fostex t50rp here? they are quite popular... I never auditioned it though. the d600 sounded musical but I don't know if its necessarily transparent... I only had a very short time with it. the k550 sounds cleaner and leaner with less bass, whether you like the sound more, I wouldn't know. due to the cleaner sound signature, I did prefer the k550 on my first listen though later on I was amazed at how d600 does visceral bass. the k550's pad is easier to get hot and the d600 has a deeper pad that keeps your ears from touching the protective cover in front of the driver. the d600 is undoubtedly the more comfortable headphone. the 1r and q701, had very short time with it, so not going to comment on those. good luck with your research and update us with whatever you pick!!!

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'm back at last!

 

Could not thank you for your input before I left so ... thanks!

 

While I was away I had the opportunity to try the Audio Technica ATH-500X, M50, AKG K171 and K77, the Beats Pro and Studio, BeyerDynamic DT770Pro, Denon D600, Sennheiser HD518, HD558, HD598, HD600, HD700, HD800 and Momentum, the Philips Fidelio M1, Sony MD-1R, Grado SR60i and SR125i, Parrot Zik, Focal Spirit One, Pro-ject One and a few unidentified others. I have also refined my expectations in terms of sound signature.

 

I was leaning towards the Denon D600 but was disappointed. I found the highs very aggressive, the salesman said it was the "japanese sound". It was true of the Sony as well, although I guess both need break-in. I found many too bassy, like the Focal, Beats Pro or M50. Many were also uncomfortable, like the M1 or the Pro-ject.

 

Which leads me to the more pleasant surprises. The Beats Studio were a bit heavy but comfortable. All the Sennheisers sounded good to me. I was left wanting a bit more punch in the sub-bass, though. I have to mention the HD800. It was completely mad. It needs appropriate amping, but it well send shivers down your neck. And the HD700 are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The Grado SR125i were very pleasant with jazz but too warm for classical, I think. The DT770 seemed the more versatile. They were not much fun, but I found the mids detailed and I missed that when I went back to my Prodipe.

 

I've looked at the PSB and the mad dog mod. They are a bit hard to come by, here in France. I have to buy them if I want to hear them. By the way, MrSpeakers announced their next headphones. They're not in my budget but they seem interesting.

 

So here I am. There are many more models I wanted to try out but the shops don't seem to have that big of a stock (or even range). In the meantime, I have managed to squeeze out a few more weeks from my Prodipe Pro800, thanks to new tape. The more I wait, the higher the budget - following a strongly logarithmic curve.

 

I would described my ideal signature as not bright but balanced with sub-bass capabilities (20-60Hz) and 'space' (air/soundstage?). In that perspective, are there any models I should really try?


Edited by n49o7 - 8/28/13 at 6:12am
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

Small bump if that's okay.

post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by n49o7 View Post

I'm back at last!

 

Could not thank you for your input before I left so ... thanks!

 

While I was away I had the opportunity to try the Audio Technica ATH-500X, M50, AKG K171 and K77, the Beats Pro and Studio, BeyerDynamic DT770Pro, Denon D600, Sennheiser HD518, HD558, HD598, HD600, HD700, HD800 and Momentum, the Philips Fidelio M1, Sony MD-1R, Grado SR60i and SR125i, Parrot Zik, Focal Spirit One, Pro-ject One and a few unidentified others. I have also refined my expectations in terms of sound signature.

 

I was leaning towards the Denon D600 but was disappointed. I found the highs very aggressive, the salesman said it was the "japanese sound". It was true of the Sony as well, although I guess both need break-in. I found many too bassy, like the Focal, Beats Pro or M50. Many were also uncomfortable, like the M1 or the Pro-ject.

 

Which leads me to the more pleasant surprises. The Beats Studio were a bit heavy but comfortable. All the Sennheisers sounded good to me. I was left wanting a bit more punch in the sub-bass, though. I have to mention the HD800. It was completely mad. It needs appropriate amping, but it well send shivers down your neck. And the HD700 are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The Grado SR125i were very pleasant with jazz but too warm for classical, I think. The DT770 seemed the more versatile. They were not much fun, but I found the mids detailed and I missed that when I went back to my Prodipe.

 

I've looked at the PSB and the mad dog mod. They are a bit hard to come by, here in France. I have to buy them if I want to hear them. By the way, MrSpeakers announced their next headphones. They're not in my budget but they seem interesting.

 

So here I am. There are many more models I wanted to try out but the shops don't seem to have that big of a stock (or even range). In the meantime, I have managed to squeeze out a few more weeks from my Prodipe Pro800, thanks to new tape. The more I wait, the higher the budget - following a strongly logarithmic curve.

 

I would described my ideal signature as not bright but balanced with sub-bass capabilities (20-60Hz) and 'space' (air/soundstage?). In that perspective, are there any models I should really try?

Out of all the headphones you have tested, may we all know which one do you prefer most? FiiO makes "bang for buck" products so I does the FiiO E12. They are really powerful as well according to Jude in the 2013 Head-Fi Summer Guide

 

Billson :)

post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by n49o7 View Post

I'm back at last!

 

Could not thank you for your input before I left so ... thanks!

 

While I was away I had the opportunity to try the Audio Technica ATH-500X, M50, AKG K171 and K77, the Beats Pro and Studio, BeyerDynamic DT770Pro, Denon D600, Sennheiser HD518, HD558, HD598, HD600, HD700, HD800 and Momentum, the Philips Fidelio M1, Sony MD-1R, Grado SR60i and SR125i, Parrot Zik, Focal Spirit One, Pro-ject One and a few unidentified others. I have also refined my expectations in terms of sound signature.

 

I was leaning towards the Denon D600 but was disappointed. I found the highs very aggressive, the salesman said it was the "japanese sound". It was true of the Sony as well, although I guess both need break-in. I found many too bassy, like the Focal, Beats Pro or M50. Many were also uncomfortable, like the M1 or the Pro-ject.

 

Which leads me to the more pleasant surprises. The Beats Studio were a bit heavy but comfortable. All the Sennheisers sounded good to me. I was left wanting a bit more punch in the sub-bass, though. I have to mention the HD800. It was completely mad. It needs appropriate amping, but it well send shivers down your neck. And the HD700 are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The Grado SR125i were very pleasant with jazz but too warm for classical, I think. The DT770 seemed the more versatile. They were not much fun, but I found the mids detailed and I missed that when I went back to my Prodipe.

 

I've looked at the PSB and the mad dog mod. They are a bit hard to come by, here in France. I have to buy them if I want to hear them. By the way, MrSpeakers announced their next headphones. They're not in my budget but they seem interesting.

 

So here I am. There are many more models I wanted to try out but the shops don't seem to have that big of a stock (or even range). In the meantime, I have managed to squeeze out a few more weeks from my Prodipe Pro800, thanks to new tape. The more I wait, the higher the budget - following a strongly logarithmic curve.

 

I would described my ideal signature as not bright but balanced with sub-bass capabilities (20-60Hz) and 'space' (air/soundstage?). In that perspective, are there any models I should really try?

Soundstage is a matter of perception and what youre used to...I really like the Senn 600s,like their neutral sound,and coupled with a Continental portable tube amp they had some nice thump to them....likewise the 650s have more of an aggressive sound on the lower end than the 600s but are fairly amp picky...demo'd them today w/ the HiFi M8 and it blew my mind,but IMO they have less soundstage than the 600s... then of course I listyen to the T1s and made both the 600s and 650s sound mehhhh...so my point is Ignorance is bliss esp when youre talking about really stepping up from a 400.00 can to a 1200.00 can

but IMO for the price its hard to beat the 600s,or the 650(if you can afford and find a good amp for it

post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 

I must admit that I have trouble forgetting the HD800. Regarding the Sennheiser, can I consider the range from HD518 to HD650 as 'equivalent but better' or are there differences in sound signature? I'm reluctant to go to the shop again, they are busy with redecorating the whole thing and I already spent 40mn there the other day. Either way I think I should try more BeyerDynamic models. Again, can I expect roughly the same type of sound as the DT770Pro? I'm asking because I know AKG headphones can have fairly different sound. Are Sennheiser and BeyerDynamic more consistent across their range?

 

Got what you meant about the E12 (sorry, I ninja-edited my post). I guess E12+HD650 is a whole other deal budget-wise but I'll keep it in mind. I'm thinking of selling my sound card and move to a mini ITX computer chassis.

post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by n49o7 View Post

I must admit that I have trouble forgetting the HD800. Regarding the Sennheiser, can I consider the range from HD518 to HD650 as 'equivalent but better' or are there differences in sound signature? I'm reluctant to go to the shop again, they are busy with redecorating the whole thing and I already spent 40mn there the other day. Either way I think I should try more BeyerDynamic models. Again, can I expect roughly the same type of sound as the DT770Pro? I'm asking because I know AKG headphones can have fairly different sound. Are Sennheiser and BeyerDynamic more consistent across their range?

 

Got what you meant about the E12 (sorry, I ninja-edited my post). I guess E12+HD650 is a whole other deal budget-wise but I'll keep it in mind. I'm thinking of selling my sound card and move to a mini ITX computer chassis.

Given what you're looking for in sound signature, comfort level and your amp capabilities, I would look into the HD600, M100, and Sennheiser Amperior.

post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 

So I felt that it was time to act and I bought the HD600 second hand (for 150€ + shipping). I felt that it was a good first buy with its unamped drive capability and amped scalability.

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by n49o7 View Post

So I felt that it was time to act and I bought the HD600 second hand (for 150€ + shipping). I felt that it was a good first buy with its unamped drive capability and amped scalability.

Excellent choice. It's stood the test of time, you'll enjoy it.

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