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Best sounding Closed headphones under $500?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

In your opinion what are the best sounding Closed headphones?

post #2 of 29

Define "best" please.  What characteristics are YOU personally looking for.  Your best and my best are likely to be very different .......

post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 

Rich bass, clear vocals, and  good sound stage.
 

post #4 of 29

Before I begin - you should probably specify what you will be plugging these 'phones into, as that's quite important too. 

 

I would say the Beyerdynamic T70 without a doubt - so long as you have an amp that can drive it. On amps that do well with high impedance headphones, it is an absolute masterpiece from sub-low to inaudible-high, and it's immensely comfortable. I use it with the Schiit Valhalla and I get rich bass throughout a massive soundstage, insane textural clarity, and mids pronounced and warm in ways I've never heard. 

 

If, however, you're running it off a FiiO E9, computer soundcard/speakers headphone port or an iPhone or something, the extremely high impedance in the lows will leave you with a bassless can - the rest of the volume performance will still be great due to the efficiency of the Tesla driver, but that efficiency doesn't carry through to the low-end. The T70 is a "250 Ohm" set (with shocking efficiency for a 250), but the impedance graph looks like this:

 

It's off the charts in the lows like nobody's business. If your source won't cut through an impedance like that, you're SOL with them. If it can, these are godlike. I also have to say, it's the most comfortable set I've ever worn, and I've worn some of the most famous for comfort. The padding is called "Velour", but it's more of a velvet-covered memory-foam, providing a better seal than foamy velour on cheaper sets, and a very soft, luxurious, nonfatiguing feel. the construction's pretty solid, with nice cut metal forks holding the cans, and a hefty but non-straining-weight. 

 

There's a T70p model for portability which is rated at 32 Ohms, and in theory should work much better on standard-impedance sources. I haven't heard it, but what reviews I've seen do say that it seems to have more bass on those devices. That in mind, it still has unusually high impedance for a 32 set, compared to, say, the Sennheiser HD439:

 

So odds are, without a decent amping solution, it'll still not be great, and the lowered impedance also means a little less precision detail (though you wouldn't be able to tell either way without an amp and DAC capable of delivering that detail). I'd recommend you give the T70 and/or T70p a spin if possible, with this fact about them in mind that many seem to miss.

 

If you want to take a much lower priced, low risk alternative, look into the Sennheiser HD439 - it's only about $100, and it's a great set - it looks like a snazzy set of openbacks but is closed, it's around-the-ear comfortable with velour cups, it's cheap, and it's got that Sennheiser fidelity. For a smartphone, laptop or other device like that as your main driving element, I think it's probably one of the best possible choices you can make, price-to-sound. It is very, very light in the hand and feels a bit cheaply made to hold, but once you're wearing it, it disappears thanks to the light weight and velour - just don't abuse it, and if you do break it, it's only a $100 set. 

 

If you do want to spend more on a 32-ohm, I'd say look into the ATH-a900x - it's very good, very bassy, very comfortable, and will run on just about anything. The one complaint you'll see with the 900x is that it has an unusual "paddle" style headband - some people love it and it works great for them, some people don't. It's without a doubt better than the Sennheiser HD439, but more than twice as much, and YMMV with the headband - the paddles make it or break it for most people.


Edited by IorekByrnison - 8/11/13 at 4:07pm
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by IorekByrnison View Post

Before I begin - you should probably specify what you will be plugging these 'phones into, as that's quite important too. 

 

I would say the Beyerdynamic T70 without a doubt - so long as you have an amp that can drive it. On amps that do well with high impedance headphones, it is an absolute masterpiece from sub-low to inaudible-high, and it's immensely comfortable. I use it with the Schiit Valhalla and I get rich bass throughout a massive soundstage, insane textural clarity, and mids pronounced and warm in ways I've never heard. 

 

If, however, you're running it off a FiiO E9, computer soundcard/speakers headphone port or an iPhone or something, the extremely high impedance in the lows will leave you with a bassless can - the rest of the volume performance will still be great due to the efficiency of the Tesla driver, but that efficiency doesn't carry through to the low-end. The T70 is a "250 Ohm" set (with shocking efficiency for a 250), but the impedance graph looks like this:

 

It's off the charts in the lows like nobody's business. If your source won't cut through an impedance like that, you're SOL with them. If it can, these are godlike. I also have to say, it's the most comfortable set I've ever worn, and I've worn some of the most famous for comfort. The padding is called "Velour", but it's more of a velvet-covered memory-foam, providing a better seal than foamy velour on cheaper sets, and a very soft, luxurious, nonfatiguing feel. the construction's pretty solid, with nice cut metal forks holding the cans, and a hefty but non-straining-weight. 

 

There's a T70p model for portability which is rated at 32 Ohms, and in theory should work much better on standard-impedance sources. I haven't heard it, but what reviews I've seen do say that it seems to have more bass on those devices. That in mind, it still has unusually high impedance for a 32 set, compared to, say, the Sennheiser HD439:

 

So odds are, without a decent amping solution, it'll still not be great, and the lowered impedance also means a little less precision detail (though you wouldn't be able to tell either way without an amp and DAC capable of delivering that detail). I'd recommend you give the T70 and/or T70p a spin if possible, with this fact about them in mind that many seem to miss.

 

If you want to take a much lower priced, low risk alternative, look into the Sennheiser HD439 - it's only about $100, and it's a great set - it looks like a snazzy set of openbacks but is closed, it's around-the-ear comfortable with velour cups, it's cheap, and it's got that Sennheiser fidelity. For a smartphone, laptop or other device like that as your main driving element, I think it's probably one of the best possible choices you can make, price-to-sound. It is very, very light in the hand and feels a bit cheaply made to hold, but once you're wearing it, it disappears thanks to the light weight and velour - just don't abuse it, and if you do break it, it's only a $100 set. 

 

If you do want to spend more on a 32-ohm, I'd say look into the ATH-a900x - it's very good, very bassy, very comfortable, and will run on just about anything. The one complaint you'll see with the 900x is that it has an unusual "paddle" style headband - some people love it and it works great for them, some people don't. It's without a doubt better than the Sennheiser HD439, but more than twice as much, and YMMV with the headband - the paddles make it or break it for most people.

Thank you for this post.  What portable DAC/AMP do you recommend to drive the t70's?

post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioGurl View Post

Rich bass, clear vocals, and  good sound stage.
 

 

Thanks smile.gif

 

Is it possible to get a little more specific?

 

See if you can indicate following .....

 

  1. What is your source?  With or without added amplification?
  2. What is primary use?  You mentioned closed - so are these mainly for portable use?  Is there size limitations?  How worried are you about looks?
  3. How much isolation required?
  4. What are the main genres you listen to?
  5. Do you prefer neutral (balanced) / bright / or dark (bassy) signature?

 

Anything extra to go on would help.

post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooko View Post

 

Thanks smile.gif

 

Is it possible to get a little more specific?

 

See if you can indicate following .....

 

  1. What is your source?  With or without added amplification?
  2. What is primary use?  You mentioned closed - so are these mainly for portable use?  Is there size limitations?  How worried are you about looks?
  3. How much isolation required?
  4. What are the main genres you listen to?
  5. Do you prefer neutral (balanced) / bright / or dark (bassy) signature?

 

Anything extra to go on would help.

 

1. Fiio E17 (Willing to purchase another dac/amp if needed, up to $500)

2. Home use

3. Good isolation. Sometimes I will watch movies or listen to music at might and I dont want everyone to hear what I am listening too.

4. Everything from dubstep, country music, classical music, Beatles, and bass heavy electronic type music.

5. Bassy but clear with vocals.  I like the different sounds in the music to sound seperated. I dont know if that makes any sense.

post #8 of 29

Sorry last question - should have asked this earlier .....

 

Which cans have you heard before?  What did you like about them, dislike about them?

post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooko View Post

Sorry last question - should have asked this earlier .....

 

Which cans have you heard before?  What did you like about them, dislike about them?

 

LCD 2 = They sound great. I love everything about them.  Maybe the bass can be a little stronger.

post #10 of 29

If you like the LCD-2 then you'll probably like the Audio Technica range. The only thing to beware of is the newer X models (eg A900X) have poor support from their 3D wing, so make sure you buy from somewhere that accepts returns, and open the box carefully as it rips easily. The higher up 1000/2000/5000 models may be worth investigating.

post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioGurl View Post

Thank you for this post.  What portable DAC/AMP do you recommend to drive the t70's?

None. T70 are mains line or nothing. Cutting through all that impedance is done best by a Class A tube amp like the Valhalla, which are inherently not-portable.

post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by commando View Post

If you like the LCD-2 then you'll probably like the Audio Technica range. The only thing to beware of is the newer X models (eg A900X) have poor support from their 3D wing, so make sure you buy from somewhere that accepts returns, and open the box carefully as it rips easily. The higher up 1000/2000/5000 models may be worth investigating.


ATH-A900x

 

I see the x you were talking about.  Am I better of with the ATH or the t70's?

post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioGurl View Post


ATH-A900x

 

I see the x you were talking about.  Am I better of with the ATH or the t70's?

 


T70s look MUCH better than A900X's - I returned my X because of the poor 3D wing support. I was really just commenting that you'd probably like the audio technica sound signature, but to avoid the newest designs because of that headband.

post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 

What is the best portable dac/amp I should buy to power up the T70?

 

At the moment I only have the Fiio E17.

post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioGurl View Post

 

LCD 2 = They sound great. I love everything about them.  Maybe the bass can be a little stronger.

 

Thanks - exactly what I was looking for.  So you're looking for a closed headphone (doesn't need to be portable) that is as close to LCD 2 sound as you can get - with maybe a little bit more bass impact.

 

Unfortunately I haven't heard the LCD2 - so I'll let someone who has answer definitively.  However - I'd suggest looking into the MadDogs (I did some research on these a while ago).  Here's a thread that may get you well on your way.  Good luck.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/631320/what-is-the-closest-headphone-to-the-lcd2

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