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Where do I go from here (HD650s)?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I have a pair of Sennheiser HD650s, and am about to order a FiiO E12 Montblanc for it.   I'll be pairing it with an iPod Classic via line-out for now but will probably get a better media player soon.   

 

Question 1:    

I listen to a wide array of music - classic, metal, classic rock, hip-hop and electronica, and am looking for a comparably priced headphone which will have a different sound palette with this system and complement the HD650s.    I dont like bright headphones or enhanced treble.  I do like headphones with a great dynamic range, superb transient response, and solid, deep, tight (not boomy) bass.     Will the Hifiman HE 400s give me this sound or do I need to get to the HE 500s for this?    Or any other recommendations?

 

Question 2:  

Re my other gear, I have a pair of Sennheiser HD518 for travel, and I also use a Bose (yeah yeah, I know... it was the only one i  could find in the airport dutyfree) headphones at work, but have ordered a V-Moda M80 for office use.   I use these with a Galaxy Note 2 and with my laptop.

 

Would something like a FiiO E6 help with the sound here?   I'd prefer to have a separate set of gear for travel use and home use.

 

Question 3:  

At some later point, I am considering upgrading to a high-end, summit-fi headphone system.

 

 

Re my general tastes:  I dont care much anymore for audiophile hair-splitting (I got over those tendencies over a decade ago after I got a 2A3-based system;  my Stereophile approved solid stage gear all got sold soon afterwards).   I havent listened to my Reference Recording CDs in over a decade, my favorite classic music CDs are mono recordings of Toscanini and Furtwangler:  in other words, I listen to music, not audio.    And I love the rich, warm single-ended tube sound. 

 

Given these preferences above, how much of an improvement will I notice if I spent $2000-3000 on an amp/headphone setup?    Or should I leave that for the golden ears and stick to this setup?  I know this is a fairly subjective question, but opinions would still be appreciated.   For regular audio, I kinda know what my sweet spot for price/performance is;   I dont really know what that is for headphones, so am trying to get a sense.

 

Thanks,

Vandit

post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by vkalia View Post

Question 1:  

  Will the Hifiman HE 400s give me this sound or do I need to get to the HE 500s for this?    Or any other recommendations?

 

HE-500 would be a better contrast to the HD650, as most have found the 400 to be more trebly, which you say you don't like.

HE-500 is one of the most neutral headphones with massive dynamic range out there at any price.

Also you'd need to pair the HE-500 with a powerful amp to squeeze the most performance out of it. Many report powerful amps like the Schiit Lyr/Mjolnir to work well. However others report enjoying the HE-500 on lesser powered amps like the Schiit Magni, Objective 2 or Fiio E09 amps etc. Other people don't really hear a difference enough to care which amp they use.

 

After spending $1000 on an amp and dac, spending in the range of $2000-3000 for extra equipment won't radically change the quality of the listening experience, mostly the flavour.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post

HE-500 would be a better contrast to the HD650, as most have found the 400 to be more trebly, which you say you don't like.

HE-500 is one of the most neutral headphones with massive dynamic range out there at any price.

Also you'd need to pair the HE-500 with a powerful amp to squeeze the most performance out of it. Many report powerful amps like the Schiit Lyr/Mjolnir to work well. However others report enjoying the HE-500 on lesser powered amps like the Schiit Magni, Objective 2 or Fiio E09 amps etc. Other people don't really hear a difference enough to care which amp they use.

 

After spending $1000 on an amp and dac, spending in the range of $2000-3000 for extra equipment won't radically change the quality of the listening experience, mostly the flavour.

 

Thanks for that info, GreQ.

 

I was thinking about the HE-500 as well, but to be honest, the $700 mark seems to fall into a nether region for me.    It isnt cheap enough to be a budget set of cans (say $500 or under), and, if I am going to be getting a pair of summit-fi cans in the not-too-distant future, then why spend $700 on these?

 

Also, whatever cans I get now will need to be driven by the FiiO E12s - the summit-fi rig and the more expensive amps I will only get a few months or more later, once I know I am getting enough listening time with the 650/FiiO setup.    

 

The reason I was considering the HE-400s was that I could get a taste of the Hifiman sound with them, and if it was promising, invest in a more expensive rig.    How bright is bright?  If the overall response is balanced (ie, the forward treble is also matched by full-bodied mids and deep lows), I can live with that.   

 

On a slightly different note, do you reckon the HE-500s could work as "THE" headphones, btw, if paired with the right amps?    If so, they might be an option down the road.  The "massive dynamic range" bit certainly got my attention.

post #4 of 8

I had the HE-400 and HE-500.  I found the HE-400 way too bright.  Once or twice I literally took the headphones off because the high frequencies that I was hearing became uncomfortable.  Also, the HE-400 had more bass rumble than I desire.  I sold these.  The HE-500, to me, are much better.  I have never had a problem with the treble.  The bass is there and plenty for me.  Vocals sound great. 

 

There is also a question of comfort with the HE-X00.  I find them quite comfortable but many don't.  Trying them on before purchase is definitely a good idea to see how you experience them. 

 

Hope that helps.

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by vkalia View Post

 

I was thinking about the HE-500 as well, but to be honest, the $700 mark seems to fall into a nether region for me.    It isnt cheap enough to be a budget set of cans (say $500 or under), and, if I am going to be getting a pair of summit-fi cans in the not-too-distant future, then why spend $700 on these?

 

Also, whatever cans I get now will need to be driven by the FiiO E12s - the summit-fi rig and the more expensive amps I will only get a few months or more later, once I know I am getting enough listening time with the 650/FiiO setup.    

 

The reason I was considering the HE-400s was that I could get a taste of the Hifiman sound with them, and if it was promising, invest in a more expensive rig.    How bright is bright?  If the overall response is balanced (ie, the forward treble is also matched by full-bodied mids and deep lows), I can live with that.   

 

On a slightly different note, do you reckon the HE-500s could work as "THE" headphones, btw, if paired with the right amps?    If so, they might be an option down the road.  The "massive dynamic range" bit certainly got my attention.

HE-500 is probably the 'entry level' sumit-fi headphone. It's basically the HE-6 with lower resistance, as the HE-6 requires the strongest headphone amp you can find, or just run it off speaker taps - that said, some people run the HE-500 from speaker taps too, with reportedly excellent results.

I've also tried running my HE-500 from speaker taps, but didn't notice any real difference in sound. It actually got slightly worse if anything.

 

It's certainly my end-game headphone. I never really planned on entering the realms of summit-fi anyway, and technically I'm still far from it. 

As I said before - over a certain price ($400-500) for headphones, it's not so much the technical acrobatics of the headphones, but the flavour and presentation of sound that is different (with a few coffer draining exceptions). 

Which basically means, audition, audition, audition - no amount of words or reading will ever come close to hearing how different each of these top-end headphones can be. 

 

Never auditioned the HE-400, so I don't know how it's bass complements the treble. I was lucky enough to audition an HE-500 when I did where I'm at in the world. 

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitetriton View Post

I had the HE-400 and HE-500.  I found the HE-400 way too bright.  Once or twice I literally took the headphones off because the high frequencies that I was hearing became uncomfortable. 

 

Ok, that's good to know.    That pretty much rules the HE-400 off my list.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post

HE-500 is probably the 'entry level' sumit-fi headphone....

It's certainly my end-game headphone. 

 

I've spent inordinate amount of hours reading reviews of the HE-500 and the LCD-2, and I think in the end, I am likely going to get both the headphones as part of my end-game setup, which is looking something like this:

- Source:  iPod Classic 160GB or some other 

- DAC:  TBD

- Amp:   TBD - leaning towards the Shiit Lyr or some other SET.

- Cans:   LCD2.2s, HE-500s

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post
As I said before - over a certain price ($400-500) for headphones, it's not so much the technical acrobatics of the headphones, but the flavour and presentation of sound that is different (with a few coffer draining exceptions). 

Which basically means, audition, audition, audition - no amount of words or reading will ever come close to hearing how different each of these top-end headphones can be. 

 

Yeah, I know... sadly, this is one thing I simply cannot do (I live in a very remote location).     Applying what my experience was with regular audiphile gear, I am approaching my end-game requirements with the following concepts:

- Solid state is solid state:  as long as numbers are good and no clipping occurs, it is virtually impossible to tell one SS amp apart from another

- SET destroys SS  :)  (ok, this is my personal preference but hey)

- One set of speakers (or headphones) will likely not be enough for all my musical tastes.

 

 

For the time being, I have the FiiO E12 and also just ordered the Bravo Audio Ocean amp - that should be enough to drive the HD650s.   I am now debating whether I should get another $350-400 headphone for the time being, perhaps to refine my preferences further (and to have a basis for evaluating the HD650s), or if I should move towards the end-game rig right away.

 

Were I able to evaluate the eq in a shop, I'd cut out the middle chain and go straight to end-game.  But since I cannot, a more measured approach - including long-term listening to a different sound might be the way to go.

 

So let me refine my question:   what sub-$500 headphone is comparable in quality to the Sennheiser HD650s, but has a different audio palette/sonic signature (something more dynamic/lively/fun)?

 

[Thanks for all the help so far in helping me refine my thinking, btw]

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by vkalia View Post

So let me refine my question:   what sub-$500 headphone is comparable in quality to the Sennheiser HD650s, but has a different audio palette/sonic signature (something more dynamic/lively/fun)?

 

[Thanks for all the help so far in helping me refine my thinking, btw]

To mix things up even more, I'd get a closed can like the Bang & Olufsen H6 or Sennheiser Momentum. Then you'd have a good set of outdoor cans too. 

They're heavier on the bass slam than the HD650, but they're both somewhat genre masters, so you'll have a fresh sound from either.

 

For an even more 'fun' sound signature (slightly more emphasised bass/treble) the PSB M4U2 is also good.  

 

If however you don't want to sacrifice any soundstage or comfort, the AKG K550 is impossible to beat at the price. It has a tad less detail than the other three, but I think a 'bigger sound' and slightly better dynamic range.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post

To mix things up even more, I'd get a closed can like the Bang & Olufsen H6 or Sennheiser Momentum. Then you'd have a good set of outdoor cans too. 

They're heavier on the bass slam than the HD650, but they're both somewhat genre masters, so you'll have a fresh sound from either.

 

For an even more 'fun' sound signature (slightly more emphasised bass/treble) the PSB M4U2 is also good.  

 

If however you don't want to sacrifice any soundstage or comfort, the AKG K550 is impossible to beat at the price. It has a tad less detail than the other three, but I think a 'bigger sound' and slightly better dynamic range.

 

I am not married to the idea of open cans only.      I have 2 Sennheiser phones already (a 518 and the 650s) and I think it is about time I try something different :)

 

The PSBs sound like they'd be the ticket!

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