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Help finding headphones for gaming/music on somewhat of a budget

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hello all. Fairly long time lurker, first time poster. Just want to start off by giving a big thank you to the community for providing a wealth of information for curious eyes like mine. Seriously, you guys rock. Now...onto my situation.  

 

I'm looking for some help deciding between a few different headphones(or finding something completely off my radar haha) which will primarily be used for playing games into the night while my fiance is sleeping. Plan on using them for listening to music and watching videos/movies as well. 

 

I suppose it might be useful for me to expound upon what I've had experience with headphonese. Forgive me if I'm a bit long winded, I'm not the most concise person in the world. 

 

The first pair of full sized headphones I purchased were the Sennheiser HD201's three or so years ago. I liked the step up in sound quality over the various pack in earbuds I had been using with everything for years, but I found them to be extremely uncomfortable as my ears touched the drivers. They weren't bad for quick listening sessions, but they simply didn't hold up during long gaming sessions.

 

Eventually, the comfort issues and the curiosity about what a step up in sound quality got the better of me and I stepped up to a pair of Superlux 668b's. This was quite a jump from up from the HD201's and much closer to what I was looking for. The wider soundstage really added something to games and I found the effect to be pleasing for music and other applications as well. The overall sound quality was a notable improvement. I don't have the audio vocabulary to articulate exactly why, but I will say that the more forward and present bass was something I enjoyed. I've enjoyed these headphones quite a bit, but it's getting to be about time for me to move on and try something else. The issues I had with them are fairly minor, but there are a few I feel are noteworthy. In spite of the somewhat exaggerated bass being something I find pleasing, it's just a tad too boomy at certain points, leading to a loss of clarity. That's something I can deal with/EQ out....but the real thing that has me looking to move on is the same thing that did in the HD201; comfort. I've tried everything short of buying new earpads for them...but I just can't get to a point with them where I can wear them for more than a hour at a time. Sock mod, stretching...in the end, the pads are just too hard, cheap, and unforgiving. I'll probably still keep them around, but I'm at the point where I want to try something new. I know that there's certain pads that will fit, but the ones that seem optimal for what I'm looking for cost nearly as much as the headphones themselves did.

 

TL;DR version: I've only had the HD201's and 668b's. The HD201's were too low end and uncomfortable, while the 668b's sounded pretty good to me but were uncomfortable as well. 

 

So that's where I've been. Here's where I'm trying to get to.

 

-Having only had extensive experience with open headphones, I'm looking into trying something closed and isolating. I would be willing to go open if it was that much better and suited my

 

-As wide of a soundstage as possible. I understand that this is something that closed headphones do not do as well as open headphones, so as wide as that contraint allows.

 

-Something a tick towards the boomier side with regards to bass would be appreciated as well, but I'm willing to try something more neutral a try as well.  

 

-Lastly and most importantly, I'm looking for something that's comfortable for long listening/gameplay sessions. I don't think I'm as sensitive to clamp as some people are, but cheap earpads that aren't padded well enough are a big no no. Weight isn't really a mitigating factor for me either. I've tried out a friends ATH-AD700's before and didn't have a huge issue with them in terms of how heavy they were. 

 

As I've touched on, my primary usage will be for games. I used to listen to quite a bit of heavier music(metal mainly, Isis still is my favorite band), but lately my tastes seem to have mellowed out a bit and I no longer have a genre I can single out as being my favorite. Classical, some indie, and post rock are probably what I listen to the most at the moment, but I really don't listen to music as much as I used to :/ Hoping some new headphones will change that. 

 

They'll be plugged in directly to my computer. I have what was advertised as a fairly high end audio solution on my motherboard(G1 Sniper 5 from Gigabyte), with an seperated portion of the PCB dedicated to sound and a swappable OP Amp output as well. There's also a headphone amp for the front panel audio. From playing with both, the OP Amp port really does seem to raise the volume quite a bit and bring out the characteristics of my 668b's much better, so I'll likely use that. Not sure of the technical specifications of it and I wouldn't think it would drive a really high impedance headphone, but I think I should be able to get buy if the power requirement is a little higher than average. 

 

Unfortunately, I can't break the bank on this. I recently built a new computer that was frankly a little bit extravagant(I totally need water cooling though!), so in order to keep my finances(as well as my soon to be wife) happy, I'm looking to stick in the $100 to 150 range. I could push it up a bit, but that would require waiting...and I've got the bug right now. If it's really going to get me that much better of a headphone, I could...but I wouldn't push it up much further than that. I'm not an audiophile(although I do care about sound and quality) and at a certain point it's not a good value proposition for me to spend any more. 

 

TL;DR version: Mainly used for gaming at night when my girlfriend wants to sleep and I want to play vidyagaems. Will be plugged into what seems to be a somewhat high end onboard audio solution with an amp. I can't spend more than $200 right now and would prefer not to wait. 

 

Here's what I'm looking into at the moment. 

 

-Takstar Hi2050/Technical Pro . Breaking my rule about closed right off the bat. They seem to meet the comfort requirement quite well with their velour earpads. I haven't heard a whole ton about what kind of soundstage and bass they have, but what I have heard seems to be mostly positive overall. Quite the deal at $70ish dollars as well. 
 
-NVX Audio XPT100. A clone of the Fischer Audio FA-003/Brainwavz HM5. I initially considered the pair from Jaycar, but I want a company with US ties in case something goes wrong and I have to send them back. They also come with additional angled earpads that look interesting. The whole range of clones seem to have a good reputation with regards to comfort and supposedly have a good soundstage as well, but I'm wondering if it might be a little bit lacking in the bass department for me. I would say they're the current leader in the pack for the moment though. 
 
-Sennheiser HD 558. Another open headphone, but they seem to hit on soundstage and comfort. I've seen a few used pairs floating around for about $100, so that seem to deliver and exceptional value as well. It's always nice to buy from a good brand as well. 
 
-Beyerynamic DT770 Pro. Seem to have most of what I was looking for(although some seem to find them too be VERY bassy, which is not what I'm after), but they're at the upper range of my budget and I don't seem to see used pairs that I would feel good about buying floating around.  I have a feeling this is the pair that I should get, but I don't think my fiance would be terribly happy about hitting the top end(and a little over!) of my cap :/
 
-Sennheiser HD 439. Look like they have comfortable pads and good bass response. Haven't heard a whole ton with regards to the soundstage though....and that's really the one thing that would be an absolute dealbreaker for sound. A few concerns about the build quality, but I can't be terribly choosy about that are my price point. 
 
-Shure SRH840. Another winner based on the description of the sound, but they don't look like they pass for the comfort test...and they also reach up into the high end(and a little past) the budget I've set for myself. 
 
Willing to consider/look into anything anyone throws out there as well, not deadset on any of them.
 
 
TL;DR version: I can't make up my *******ed mind, help.
 
Thanks in advance for your help guys. Looking forward to reading through responses and finding the right pair of headphones. 
post #2 of 9

Have you seen this thread?  It seems like the CAL might suit you and it's only around $80.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ethan7000 View Post

Have you seen this thread?  It seems like the CAL might suit you and it's only around $80.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479

Hey, thanks a ton for the input. I've read through that thread a fair bit, yeah. Very informative. Seems to be a slight slant towards positional cues and competitive gaming there. That's not really my thing. I do play FPS' a fair bit(I'll probably play more with Battlefield 4 on the horizon), but it's not a favorite genre of mine and not something I'm super competitive about. I'm more of an RPG kind of guy. Positional cues are something I'm looking for, but as someone I read here once said, I'm not into competitive footstep listening. 

 

I'll look a bit more into the CAL. I've seen plenty of positive buzz about the sound quality. Slight concerns about the comfort though. I have a both a fairly large head and ears to match. I'm a little concerned that the comfort might be a bit of an issue for me(personally! Seems most people think they're fine).  Seem to be an excellent value and well within my price range though. There may be a place nearby where I could possibly try them out. I'll check them out for sure if there is. 

 

I'm thinking about adding the Denon AH-D1100 to the mix. Within my budget cap and seem to have some characteristics I'm after. Member reviews seem to indicate that the bass is in line with what I'm looking for and there's a somewhat wide soundstage as well. Comfort is noted(although not mentioned extensively) as being good and the pads appear to be big and soft enough. 


Edited by gardenoflight - 8/27/13 at 10:37pm
post #4 of 9

Gemini HSR-1000 (Takstar Pro 80) closed headphones, around $50 on eBay.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Gemini HSR-1000 (Takstar Pro 80) closed headphones, around $50 on eBay.

Heard very good things about the sound and that price is hard to pass up...but I have a fairly large head and ears, which I heard do not go well with these headphones. Thanks a ton for the input though.

 

Found out there's a Best Buy a little ways up with a home theater center thing that will let me demo the HD 558's. There's a Guitar Center down the street from there as well. Not sure if they have demo's there, but I I figure it may be worth a look. They have a few Beyer's I'm interested in checking out in stock. 

post #6 of 9

Sorry for the double post, but I'm still looking for advice if anyone has any to give wink.gif

 

Took that trip to the Best Buy with the Magnolia Home Theater Center. Didn't make it to the Guitar Center though, unfortunately. The traffic up that way just ended up being too much for me to deal with tonight.

 

Still, it ended up being quite productive! I think I've eliminated the HD 558's as a choice for me. My ear touched the driver a little bit too much. The shape(supraural? Am I using that word correctly?) just may not be comfortable for my ears. Wasn't a big fan of the sound either. I liked the separation, detail, and clarity. I wasn't into the bass though. There was enough boom for me, but it didn't seem to extend low enough for my tastes. There was even a little bit of what sounded like clipping on the real low end. That could well be the equipment and track they're using at Best Buy, but I just wasn't into it. I've seen the mod that can fix some of that, but that in conjunction with the comfort issues just doesn't make it an ideal choice for me. Nice pair of headphones still though!

 

I was also able to try out the Denon AH-D600's and the AKG K550's. I liked both of them a ton more, especially the Denon's. A touch too much bass for me, but the comfort was really there for me. Nice soft leather earpads with plenty of padding. Seemed to less separation than the Senns had, but the sound was still big and engrossing. K550's seemed to be a mid point between the two while also hitting on the comfort. Unfortunately, both of those are out of my price range. Especially the Denon's.

 

I may just end up keeping the 668b's and saving up for the AH-D600's, but if there's something similar that I should be looking into at a lower price point I wouldn't mind that either biggrin.gif

 

edit: turns out I have two accounts. Crap. Sorry mods, made this one a long time ago with a different email.


Edited by gardenoflight6 - 8/29/13 at 4:02pm
post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by gardenoflight6 View Post

I was also able to try out the Denon AH-D600's and the AKG K550's. I liked both of them a ton more, especially the Denon's. A touch too much bass for me, but the comfort was really there for me. Nice soft leather earpads with plenty of padding. Seemed to less separation than the Senns had, but the sound was still big and engrossing. K550's seemed to be a mid point between the two while also hitting on the comfort. Unfortunately, both of those are out of my price range. Especially the Denon's.

Check for used AKH K550s on eBay, sometimes Harmon/AKG sells refurb K550s with full warranty.

Last week I got the Refurb K550s for $180 (including tax).

There also has been some good deals on used Audio Technica ATH-A900Xs in the "Headphone for Sale" thread.

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

There also has been some good deals on used Audio Technica ATH-A900Xs in the "Headphone for Sale" thread.

Yup, you can thank me for those Ath a900x deals, I low balled our market by like $40 and people followed suite ;3, but it's a great can and I enjoyed it with Rpg sound tracks as well! 

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

They actually had ATH-A900X's there and I did give them a try. Only briefly though. I think it was more to do with the condition of the floor model at Best Buy, but they just would not stay on my head for whatever reason. We're talking full on sliding off if not supported. Can't really comment to what I thought of the sound as I moved on...but I think I may have been a little hasty in doing so. I'm going to try to get a taste of the Beyer's over the weekend, so maybe I'll go back to the Best Buy and see what I think of strictly the sound. I'll have to scope around for potential deals on those if I like them, as well as the 550's. 

 

Wish there was a place I could try out the FA-003 or clones :/ Still kind of considering purchasing the NVX variant as it seems to have some compelling qualities at a "buy me now" price point. 

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