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Best all around headphones (gaming, music, movies) for under $300

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'm having some trouble deciding on which headphones are better for me. I have looked at the HD 598, Sony MA900, DT 880 Premium, Fidelio X1. Currently I only own a Sennheiser HD 280 Pro so I'm looking for a good upgrade with the following:

- Neutral sound. I a balanced headphone instead of a bass/mid/treble heavy one. I do like some good, tight (not overwhelming) bass in my music once in a while.

- Big soundstage. This is for gaming an movies since I intend to use virtual surround from my PC (from either a Xonar Dx/SB Z sound card). This is also why I' only looking for open headphones.

- Sound Quality. Of course non of the above really matters if the sound quality is subpar.

- Build Quality. I want these headphones to last for a while. I'm very careful with things so it's not like it has to have industrial-like materials but for example, I've heard the MA900 are very flimsy.

- Comfort. Anything would be better than my current headphones so while I want something that doesn't bother me, I'll choose quality over comfort unless the difference is too pronounced.

 

I'm also looking for a portable amp but I'm already set on the Fiio E11. So for example the 250 ohm impedance of the DT 880 wouldn't be a problem.

post #2 of 10

For what I think is a good value.

Sennheiser HD558, $131.26

Sound Blaster Z (SB1500), $95

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Ok now I'm deciding between the Fidelio X1 and the MA900. The DT880/990 from what I've read seem to have a very pronounced treble, which I don't like. The HD 598 is not completely out but most people here agree that the MA900 are just better in almost every way. Also, it does not seem to be very apart from the cheaper HD558. The Fidelio X1 is the most expensive of the bunch but seems to be more on par with the MA900 and has a better build quality.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Do yo have a Sound Blaster Z? I've read some people complaining about the lack of a gain/impedance control when using the headphone jack on this card. This would make a lower impedance headphones practicably unusable since some users say that a 6% volume in windows is extremely loud!. This only applies to the Z since the Zxr has a gain control setting.

post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by raul219 View Post
 

Do yo have a Sound Blaster Z? I've read some people complaining about the lack of a gain/impedance control when using the headphone jack on this card. This would make a lower impedance headphones practicably unusable since some users say that a 6% volume in windows is extremely loud!. This only applies to the Z since the ZxR has a gain control setting.

I look at the Z as the best for it's budget range, the STX has a better headphone amplifier, but the STX is around $175.

The Z headphone output (Ohm ?)might have a higher impedance then the STX (10-Ohm), but the Z should have a lower impedance then the Xonar DX or D1 (100-Ohm).

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'm not talking about the output impedance of the headphone jacks but the amp impedance range. Amps usually have an impedance range for which they work best. For example, the SB Zxr says it can drive headphones with up to 600 ohm impedance. Their drivers come with a setting that allows you to choose a High gain (for high impedance headphones) or low gain (for lower impedance) so everything should be fine. The Z also can drive headphones up to 600 ohm but does not have this high/low gain setting. Some people say that instead this is chosen automatically by the card and that there shouldn't be any problems with low impedance headphones (such as the X1 and especially the MA900) but there are reports that this doesn't work well and the gain is just too high for lower impedances. So high that a 6% sound setting in windows is already bordering on painful. Now imagine using some speakers at 20%, switch to headphones and forget to lower the volume.....boom!! This could be a problem and a deal breaker for me.

post #7 of 10

You already have looked at the best offerings (excluding the HD598). 

post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by raul219 View Post
 

Such as the X1 and especially the MA900)

I'd forget to lower the volume.....boom!! This could be a problem and a deal breaker for me.

As your already planning on getting the Fiio E11 portable battery powered amplifier.

And Fiio E11 has a headphone output impedance of around 1-Ohm :)

The Fiio E11 should be able to drive the 12-Ohm MA900 thru to the 250-Ohm DT880.

Near max volume, my Fiio E11 can even drive my 600-Ohm headphones.

If you get a Xonar DX or D1, used $60, you can plug the E11 into the XonarDX/D1.

For around $15 you can get two spare batteries (BL-5B) for the E11 and a simple AC battery recharge.

With the Xonar/E11 combo, you can pick whatever headphones you like.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

I know. I just couldn't decide between all of them. Right now I'm almost decided on the MA900s. My only doubt is, as I already mentioned, whether to get a Sound Blaster Z which comes with a headphone amp or the Xonar DX.

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by raul219 View Post
 

I know. I just couldn't decide between all of them. Right now I'm almost decided on the MA900s. My only doubt is, as I already mentioned, whether to get a Sound Blaster Z which comes with a headphone amp or the Xonar DX.

I'm fairly sure the Magni headphone amplifier way out class the Z's built in head amp.

You could save a little by buying a cheaper sound card, like a used Xonar DS and use that with the Magni.

 

 

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