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What is the best headphone for female vocal under $700?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi, a total newbie here. Just discovered head-fi a few days ago. I was a long time augiogon user and an audio hobbyist, but was never into headphones. Now that I have a new baby, I am getting into headphone arena, and it looks like it'll be just as fun as the speaker-based audiophile hobby.

 

As a starter, I'd like to get a nice set of cans and a decent amp. The amp selection will have to depend on what cans I get, so I'd like to ask if you can help select the phones first. 

 

I spend most time listening to classical, jazz and classic rock. Of the three, I listen for the sound the most with sound for jazz, particularly female vocal (Fitzgerald, Holiday, Krall, Peggy Lee, Cole, Nora Jones, etc.). Sooo, what do you think are the best headphones for female vocal? I look for transparency, "there in the front row" realism, soundstage (although, it'll be a compromise compared to speakers, I understand), PRAT, and overall musicality.

 

My budget is < $700 new or used. So far, I find myself interested in  

 

- Sennheiser HD600 (more so than 650)

- HifiMan HE500

- Koss ESP 950

- Audeze LCD 2 

 

What would you recommend among the list above? Any other cans I should consider? 

 

Thanks,

Henry 

post #2 of 14

The best female vocal's I've heard is with Audio Technica's. Namely the W5000.

 

Others will disagree with me. C'est la vie.

post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by hk91320 View Post
 

Hi, a total newbie here. Just discovered head-fi a few days ago. I was a long time augiogon user and an audio hobbyist, but was never into headphones. Now that I have a new baby, I am getting into headphone arena, and it looks like it'll be just as fun as the speaker-based audiophile hobby.

 

As a starter, I'd like to get a nice set of cans and a decent amp. The amp selection will have to depend on what cans I get, so I'd like to ask if you can help select the phones first. 

 

I spend most time listening to classical, jazz and classic rock. Of the three, I listen for the sound the most with sound for jazz, particularly female vocal (Fitzgerald, Holiday, Krall, Peggy Lee, Cole, Nora Jones, etc.). Sooo, what do you think are the best headphones for female vocal? I look for transparency, "there in the front row" realism, soundstage (although, it'll be a compromise compared to speakers, I understand), PRAT, and overall musicality.

 

My budget is < $700 new or used. So far, I find myself interested in  

 

- Sennheiser HD600 (more so than 650)

- HifiMan HE500

- Koss ESP 950

- Audeze LCD 2 

 

What would you recommend among the list above? Any other cans I should consider? 

 

Thanks,

Henry 

The HE 500 is the best in that price range--unless you are looking for a colored sound signature.

 

There in the front row = small sound stage.  Think Grado SR line.

 

None of these listed cans has an especially large sound stage.  For a large sound stage you need to turn to cans like the Q701, T1 or HD 800--all of which are probably well above or below your price point.

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by viralcow View Post
 

The best female vocal's I've heard is with Audio Technica's. Namely the W5000.

 

Others will disagree with me. C'est la vie.

 

Haven't heard them, but this (plus their $730 current street price) scares me away:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13#user_ATHW5000

post #5 of 14

Heya,

 

Hifiman HE500 would be excellent at this limit.

 

If you want something more intimate and less expensive, pick up a used Shure SRH940. Amazing for vocals.

 

Very best,

post #6 of 14

HD600 is still the best headphone in the world with regards to tonality. Not even the far more technically capable flagships can beat it its natural timbre.

 

W3000ANV is better than W5000. Very expensive though.

 

LCD2 would probably be better for male vocals than female.

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input so far. I'm staying away from AT W5000 as I do see it as risky... Not sure about Q701 or SRH940. I'm afraid it might be fatiguing. Details are nice, but realism is more important to me.  As for HD800 and T1, I think they will be out of my price range (especially since they'll require more $ amp). Blueangel makes a good point about LCD2 being more male-vocal cans. I also might rule out Koss for its reputation for unreliable construction.

 

So.... that narrows it down to HD600 and HE500. Any other suggestions? If I were to pick between HD600 and HE500, what are the pros and cons? Thx, experts. 

post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by hk91320 View Post
 

...

 

So.... that narrows it down to HD600 and HE500. Any other suggestions? If I were to pick between HD600 and HE500, what are the pros and cons? Thx, experts. 

 

To my ears the HE 500 beats the HD 600 in every category--except that the HE 500 is heavier and a bit harder to drive.  Of course it should be better given the price difference between these two excellent cans.

 

This is an excellent review and analysis of both of these cans (and many others):

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13#user_HE500

post #9 of 14
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueangel2323 View Post
 

Here's another comparison: http://www.head-fi.org/t/656160/review-hifiman-he-500-vs-sennheiser-hd600

 

I keep seeing that review pop up. It seems like most people disagree with him... It also looks like he doesn't even own the HD600 anymore...


Edited by cheuh - 10/4/13 at 5:16pm
post #11 of 14

I listen to everything on your list, and I've tried out most of the mid-fi headphones, and I can unequivocally state that there is nothing better than the AT AD2000 for female vocals.  The closed woody AT's don't approach the AD2000 until you get to the limited edition ones, which are out of budget.

 

Not to mention that I think the best bargain in headphones is probably the AD2000.  I haven't heard the AD2000X and if it's an improvement on the AD2000.

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Failed Engineer View Post
 

I listen to everything on your list, and I've tried out most of the mid-fi headphones, and I can unequivocally state that there is nothing better than the AT AD2000 for female vocals.  The closed woody AT's don't approach the AD2000 until you get to the limited edition ones, which are out of budget.

 

Not to mention that I think the best bargain in headphones is probably the AD2000.  I haven't heard the AD2000X and if it's an improvement on the AD2000.

 

 

I think the open AT's are next on my list.

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by KG Jag View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by viralcow View Post
 

The best female vocal's I've heard is with Audio Technica's. Namely the W5000.

 

Others will disagree with me. C'est la vie.

 

Haven't heard them, but this (plus their $730 current street price) scares me away:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13#user_ATHW5000


W5000 does female vocals better than W3000ANV IMO :)

post #14 of 14
AD2000 is not great for classical, but for simple vocals, it's freaking great, maybe the best there is. I didn't listen to the AD2000x, but from what I hear it moves towards a more neutral signature (and it loses the AD2000 midrange in the process), probably making it a better overall headphone - it's certainly worth trying one to see if the HD600 has a (much more expensive) challenger.

Overall the HD600 is better than the AD2000 and the HE500 is probably even better than that (provided you can live with a bit of upper treble tizz to gain way (way!) better bass).

Anyway, the short answer to your question is AD2000, with a honorable mention to the Grado HF2 (try before you buy on the HF2).

As always, the longer you listen to a headphone and the more genres you listen to and (crucial) the better recorded the music is, the more you will gravitate towards a neutral sound signature. You have been warned. smily_headphones1.gif
Edited by eugenius - 10/6/13 at 6:51am
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