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Introduction and advice for an ambitious newcomer (over-ear < 250$)

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi there fellow gods of knowledge!

 

I'd like to introduce myself first before bombarding you with my questions as I intend to have a good time at this board not make it a one-stop shot...

I'm a 24 year old Austrian. My audiophile history sadly is little to non-existant, however in my community I have always felt that I'm the only one who's

striving for the better equipment, when all others took the easy path of heading to amazon and chose the cheapest thing that'll just do for the lowest price...

 

My listening environment 99% of the time is my home where I mainly listen with my Sennheiser PC 165 USB Headset which I have owned for the longest time now...

For outdoors I have tried quite a few Sennheiser In-Ears (CX-300, 400 and 500), Philips SHE 9850 and I now own my third pair of SHE 9800's (one lost, one broken before).

 

I've just recently exchanged my ancient Sound Blaster X-Fi Extreme Music for the new Sound Blaster ZxR and I run WinAmp with the WASAPI plug-in in exclusive mode.

 

Since the fatiguing of my PC 165 USB has become unbearable (sound as pain-wise) and my ears have decided that they don't want in-ears anymore (also pain-wise),

I'll now take the big leap and step into the audiophile community. I've looked at reviews for the Sennheiser PC 360 over and over again but I've made the decision now

not to go for a dedicated headset. I'd rather get good cans and put on the AntLion ModMic, as soon as their 4.0 line is available...

 

What I want now:

A pair of decent over-ears in the price range up to 250$. The should be comfy as well as good-looking as I might use them outdoors as well (no sport)...

I do game as well but positional audio should not be of any concerns since I seldomly relied on that anyways. My Counter-Strike days are over.

Nevertheless they should be wearable for hours without hot ears or pain on the upper "ear flaps"...

I used to be on the bass-head side but I want to get away from that. I'd rather try something that has punchy (not lacking) bass than something that has an overdone whump in the bottom frequencies.

I've mainly used to listen to electronic music like drum and bass before but I find myself to like music from all genres nowadays, so the cans should be allrounders.

 

Big soundstage is a must for me so open to semi-open should be the way to go, correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm definitely looking for an airy experience that'll let me sit alone in a silent crowd hearing the performers in every spine-shivering detail...

I really, really fancy the design of AKG's black Q701s and I would have bought them straight away if they weren't said to sound so clinical and revealing (Price is a bit too high though).

My music library has been built up for years and sadly has a lot of low-bitrate mp3s in it from my teenager days. Nowadays I go for high bitrate VBR encoding or straight FLAC.

Since the Q701s really do need amping it shouldn't be a problem on my SB ZxR. But for outdoors a second pair of different cans would maybe be better... Feel free to post your ideas.

 

Sennheiser's HD650s are sadly out of my price range and although I like the reviews the HD598s got, I cannot get to like their colouring (maybe the HD595s? No they seem to lack bass...).

The reviews for the AKG K240 MKII are looking ok and I could also go for them instead of the Q701, but the terms "hard to drive" keep me a bit recessed as of now...

If someone could elaborate on that, I'd really appreciate it.

Beyerdynamic's DT-line also looks good. Their design seems a bit outdated for my likings but may be worth a shot if you approve of them.

 

Feel free to throw in any competitors you want to suggest. There sadly is no store with a good selection in my vicinity to try a few cans before, so I have to rely on what you write...

 

In short:

For design I would like to go for something like the Q701s as i said before.

They do not need to sound flat or analytical at all, but a good soundstage is what I'm looking for. I'm really open to anything and not fixed in any way to the AKG lineup.

I do like Sennheiser but their lineup and opinions on them are so wide-spread that I really find myself unable to compare reviews on them.

Main use is indoors, but if they are good for outdoors im happy as well.

Buying the right pair is somewhat crucial to me as this might be my headphones for the next few years to come.

 

Thanks for any participation you can manage. I'm looking forward to a good time at this board!

 

Greetz, Unr3aL


Edited by Unr3aL - 11/3/13 at 1:55pm
post #2 of 17

This post is way too long for me to want to read it.

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I'm sorry for that. I just wanted to combine it a bit with introducing myself, so people can get a picture of me and my listening preferences.

I might've as well split it up into two topics but I didn't want to clutter the board.

 

But: Since you took the time to write that sentence, you could've also skipped the introduction and read the part from "What I want now".

You know: People who step into a community and try to impress with a good introduction are often very excited for their first answer... Your's was honestly a bit disappointing for a newbie like me.

 

I don't know the guys and gurus here as of now, so I'm sorry if I accidentally upset a guru now.

 

Thanks for the answer though. I've shortened the OP a bit now...

 

Greetz, Unr3aL


Edited by Unr3aL - 11/3/13 at 1:38pm
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unr3aL View Post
 

Yeah, I'm sorry for that. I just wanted to combine it a bit with introducing myself, so people can get a picture of me and my listening preferences.

I might've as well split it up into two topics but I didn't want to clutter the board.

But: Since you took the time to write that sentence, you could've also skipped the introduction and read the part from "What I want now".

You know: People who step into a community and try to impress with a good introduction are often very excited for their first answer... Your's was honestly a bit disappointing for a newbie like me.

I don't know the guys and gurus here as of now, so I'm sorry if I accidentally upset a guru now.

"Guru" LOL

 

AKG K612K Pro (120-Ohm) headphones, not for portable use, but should work fine with the ZxR.

Have not used them myself, but so far seem to get mostly positive feedback.

post #5 of 17
I had the Q701 for a while and wouldn't necessarily call them too revealing. You'll definitely know when you are listening to poor source material, but it won't make the sound unpleasant. Just a little dull and flat, since you will know how much better they can sound with a good recording. But I could easily enjoy music videos on YouTube or streaming on netflix with them. They are a little bright IMO, so they are shining a spotlight on the details, but the highs are fairly smooth and forgiving at the same time. This is a little paradoxical, as they are bright overall but don't do the spikey painful treble thing as much as my other headphones. The bass goes very deep but falls a bit short on impact. And you are right, they should not at all be used without an amp.

I also had the Beyerdynamic DT990 pro. IDK what you mean about the design being outdated. Cosmetically, maybe, but it's not like there have been any major advances in dynamic headphone drivers recently. People have been enjoying both these and AKG K701s since the beginning of head-fi.

Anyway, DT990 gets you more bass, slightly harsher treble, smaller but also moderately more deep soundstage, and a bit less of an amp requirement compared to Q701. An amp is still recommended, but they are more ok without an amp than the AKGs.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
@PurpleAngel
That's my problem. Most cans in the price range I've looked at get "mostly" positive feedback. That's why I find it so hard to compare them, since reviewers can't possibly relate to all other headphones.
The K612 look nice though, but I wonder about the difference to the K701/Q701s... As for those I've read a lot about a certain love/hate-releationship in general sound signature...

@manbear
For the Beyerdynamics "design" i was indeed more referring to the looks than the driver design.
For what I've learned until now, most audiophile cans are recommended to be used with an amp so I might just consider buying a portable amp when the time comes to take those precious cans outdoors.
Until then i might just overcome those short terms of outdoor usage with my in-ears...
Since my ZxR should be able to drive just about every pair of cans out there i might just replace the condition "no amping required" with "cost-effective portable amping possible".

I assume the DT990s are the superior ones in the DT line. Would you prefer those over the Q701/K701? Or are the differences and shortcomings so little that a small tick on the Equalizer can easily solve them? I'm not shy to a little physical modding either.
And if you prefer the DT990s: Which version would you recommend? I don't really fancy a coiled cable since i might want to use up to 3m when laying back on my chair.
Or do you have any other suggestions that I personally haven't mentioned in the OP yet? Some Sennheisers might be worth a look but I haven't had luck with their build quality recently (in-line volume controls are definitely not their field, some had problems with L/R balance).

Thanks so far for the answers!

Greetz, Unr3aL
Edited by Unr3aL - 11/3/13 at 3:52pm
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unr3aL View Post


I assume the DT990s are the superior ones in the DT line. Would you prefer those over the Q701/K701? Or are the differences and shortcomings so little that a small tick on the Equalizer can easily solve them? I'm not shy to a little physical modding either.
And if you prefer the DT990s: Which version would you recommend? I don't really fancy a coiled cable since i might want to use up to 3m when laying back on my chair.
Or do you have any other suggestions that I personally haven't mentioned in the OP yet? Some Sennheisers might be worth a look but I haven't had luck with their build quality recently (in-line volume controls are definitely not their field, some had proplems with L/R balance).

Thanks so far for the answers!

Greetz, Unr3aL

Some people prefer the DT880 over the DT990 (less bass emphasis, more neutral), but I've only heard the DT-990. I recommend the 250 ohm pro version because it is by far the cheapest. The primary differences between the versions are cosmetic, so the more expensive versions just seem like a huge ripoff IMO. I think the pro version is the only one in your price range anyway.

I preferred the Q701 by a small margin, mostly because of the bigger soundstage, smoother but also more detailed treble, and the more natural midrange. The midrange of the DT990 falls back in the mix too much for my tastes. The DT990 is more fun in the bass department, but I think the Q701 goes deeper and has better control. The Q701 also has an incredibly long detachable cable.

Sennheiser HD598 are worth considering. I have seen them in person and don't find them to be ugly, but YMMV. Also, Phillips Fidelio X1 are something you should definitely consider. Maybe hifiman HE300 if you can find a deal on them. EDIT: add the sony ma900
Edited by manbear - 11/3/13 at 2:52pm
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unr3aL View Post

@PurpleAngel
That's my problem. Most cans in the price range I've looked at get "mostly" positive feedback. That's why I find it so hard to compare them, since reviewers can't possibly relate to all other headphones.
The K612 look nice though, but I wonder about the difference to the K701/Q701s... As for those I've read a lot about a certain love/hate-releationship in general sound signature...

The K612 Pros are cheaper then the K701/Q701, but the K612 Pro should sound better then the K240s.

Feel free to read up on the K612 pros

http://www.head-fi.org/t/216596/akg-k601-k612-pro-owners-unite

 

AKG K702 vs K612 Pro

http://www.head-fi.org/t/685483/akg-k702-the-classic-vs-k612-pro-the-upstart-review-and-comparison

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unr3aL View Post

@PurpleAngel
That's my problem. Most cans in the price range I've looked at get "mostly" positive feedback. That's why I find it so hard to compare them, since reviewers can't possibly relate to all other headphones.

This is because they are all good. Really, it's hard to go wrong. This website is about tiny details that can't necessarily even be shown to exist in blind tests.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
The Fidelio X1 is definitely an eyecatcher and for what it's worth the reviews seem to deem it a very "fun" sound. Definitely a good way to go. If the fun doesn't go too far from my idea of audiophile listening they could be it. I'll read more!
I could easily find a deal on the Hifiman but they cost about 250€ which is more at the upper end of what I'd like to spend. I have to read up on them though since the Q701s cost about the same...

As for the Sony MA900: I'm sorry but I really don't like the looks of them although they offer a good price. They are off the table for me.

The tiny details as you said, are the ones that bother me. If I'm not at least 99% sure about what I buy, I'll always perceive the shortcomings of a product much stronger.
Good thing this is a board about details, in most other boards people would be easily bored by such in-depth reviewing and comparing. That's why I'm here.
But really, please tell me if I take it too far and bother about things that really don't matter. wink.gif

@PurpleAngel
Thanks for the links. I took a glimpse on it and they seem to perform quite nice in comparison. I'll read more tomorrow on all the suggestions.

Meanwhile feel free to post more suggestions and opinions on the ones that have already been thrown into the ring.
I would in fact really like to hear what you have to say about the performance of the Fidelios in comparison to the others.
That way the battle wouldn't be so one-sided between AKG and Beyerdynamic.

Thanks to you my idea starts to take shape though, I don't think it'll be long until I can make a decision! As of now I have to go to bed - work tomorrow...

Greetz, Unr3aL
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Okay, I'm gonna bump this now. The battle for me seems to be between the Philips Fidelio X1 and the Q701s (or maybe a yet unknown opponent you might introduce to me).
I have now read up a lot on both of them and I need a last bit of help for my decision.

I know now, that the X1 have a rather warm sound signature and might be falling behind the Q701s in terms of airyness and a bit in soundstage.
The mids might be a slight bit drawn-back but not overly recessed as some say, so this shouldn't be an issue.
In terms of bass, they might just be the best one can get for open cans in that price range since they're bassheavy but do not seem to harm the rest of the stage in any way (and if they do, there's still EQ biggrin.gif)
They are also easy to drive and do not seem to be so incredibly hungry for power in the lows as the AKGs are (which need reasonable amping therefore).

However, I wonder if this is maybe the wrong path for me since i want to learn how music "should" be heard by an audiophile. Don't get me wrong, I do opt for a fun pair of cans, but I fear
standing in warm rain on a summer day with the crickets chirpin' (which can also be nice) as opposed to a night in an airy arena floated with icy and spine-shivering winds of details with the Q701s.
These are are at least the pictures I have in my head now from reading all those reviews. If I do take them too strong and the differences are really more of a minor kind then please just tell me...

If the AKGs are indeed the right path to go for an ongoing audiophile I just have one question i really need answered: Do they have bass?
Opinions and reviews on AKGs bass are so wide-scattered and go from non-locateable, dry, weak and shy to punchy and kickin...
I do honestly not know what to make of it. Some say the Q701s do have the better bass in the x7xx line some say they are all the same... But better to what? Better than shy might still be weak.
Too weak is definitely not for me since I intend to listen to electronic and bass-heavy music as well as watch movies and play games with them.

Those two cans might just be from two different worlds... Is there no middle-path? Good bass, but not overly warm with a wide soundstage and good air?

Thanks in advance for every response that gets me closer to my desired cans.

Greetzm Unr3aL
post #12 of 17

You may want to check out the new AKG K545's which are around msrp'ing at around $250 I think. They've got my interest...

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/670709/akg-new-headphone-k545

 

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unr3aL View Post

If the AKGs are indeed the right path to go for an ongoing audiophile I just have one question i really need answered: Do they have bass?
Opinions and reviews on AKGs bass are so wide-scattered and go from non-locateable, dry, weak and shy to punchy and kickin...
I do honestly not know what to make of it. Some say the Q701s do have the better bass in the x7xx line some say they are all the same... But better to what? Better than shy might still be weak.
Too weak is definitely not for me since I intend to listen to electronic and bass-heavy music as well as watch movies and play games with them.
 


I haven't heard the X1, so I can't really compare them to the AKGs for you, but I own the Q701 and can try to elaborate on the bass. Extension is A+. They can reproduce extremely deep bass. Detail and control in the bass is excellent. Coming from the DT990 previously, there were several songs I thought had a single bassline that the Q701 revealed to have multiple, overlapping basslines. Where the Q's fall a little short is in impact. Unless a song is recorded with really heavy bass, you hear the bass on the Q701 more than you feel it. I listen to electronic as well, and you don't truly feel the bass on the Q's unless you are listening to a song with serious bass.

For example, this song can vibrate your head and make your vision go a little blurry with the Q's: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLBeGTX0gzc. It can do serious bass when it's in the recording. 

For songs that aren't recorded with crazy subbass, where more of the bass information is in the midbass, the Q's aren't as fun (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6e6Hj7MwWaI). "Non-locateable" is too harsh IMO, but the Q does fall short of "punchy and kickin" on this kind of material. The bass is there, but you just hear it more than feel it.  

I wouldn't recommend the Q701 to a "basshead," but I think that they can reproduce bass enjoyably (to the standards of someone who does like bass) *when the recording has a healthy amount of deep bass in it.* They sound weak in the bass when the recording itself is also weak in the bass. 

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unr3aL View Post

@PurpleAngelThanks for the links. I took a glimpse on it and they seem to perform quite nice in comparison. I'll read more tomorrow on all the suggestions.
Meanwhile feel free to post more suggestions and opinions on the ones that have already been thrown into the ring.
I would in fact really like to hear what you have to say about the performance of the Fidelios in comparison to the others.
That way the battle wouldn't be so one-sided between AKG and Beyerdynamic.

Thanks to you my idea starts to take shape though, I don't think it'll be long until I can make a decision! As of now I have to go to bed - work tomorrow...

I've never used the Fidelio, but I believe the Fidelio are like an improved DT990 Pro 250-Ohm headphones, but as the Fidelio is only 30-Ohm is can easily be used with just about any portable audio player or smart phone.

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
I really do thank you all for helping me decide. I'll go for the Fidelio X1 for now.
Since I happen to listen to a lot of low bitrate audio (Youtube, old mp3s, etc) and do game and watch movies as well, I think I'm better off with them.
If I do have the opportunity to test a few other cans at any time (like the AKG for instance) I may consider a second buy in the future if I like them better.

The ability to drive them without amping is surely a plus, since I may show them to my friends as well (who have no clue about amping, I didn't have a clue a week ago as well).

I may post a little review in the dedicated thread when I get them, although I think the one's that have already been posted say everything.

Thanks again and good night for now!

Greetz, Unr3aL
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