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Recommendations for upgrade from 558 (Xonar Essence, $250-$300)?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,

 

I'm looking for recommendations on a new/different/upgraded set of cans from my current HD558s.  I use them exclusively with my computer at home, 90% of the time after kids are in bed (music, movies, games), 10% of the time playing games while they're up.  Further details about my setup follow (I saw this format in another thread and liked it):

 

Soundcard: Asus Xonar Essence STX ( pci-e )

Format: Apple iTunes Plus (256 kbps AAC), some Pandora radio

Preference (boosted or natural/neutral): Not sure, I think I tend towards neutral, maybe with a small boost.  Before the 558s, I had a set of UE super.fi 5 pros, and loved the sound, though they weren't as accurate as the 558s are.

Musical instrument: grew up playing classical piano, now I sing 2nd bass in a good chamber choir

Genres: classical, choral, rock, alternative, movie sound tracks, games (no jazz, no R&B, no hip hop, no rap, little electronic)

Volume: 10% - 20% of the main PC volume

What type of listener are you: I listen to whole songs/movements, both in dedicated listening sessions, and as background music (Pandora is almost always for background, not dedicated listening).  I also play games - mainly RPGs (Mass Effect series, Elder Scrolls series, Knights of the Old Republic, etc.), not a big FPS guy though I like the chaos of Unreal Tournament, Star Wars: The Old Republic (MMO).

 

The reason that I'm looking for another/different set of cans is that, while I love the accuracy and clarity of the 558s, they just don't excite me, I feel like they don't really make the music come alive.  I've done a lot of reading of threads on this forum in the last 18 hours, and have seen references to the Sennheiser "veil" - this is probably what I'm experiencing, and I don't like it - everything sounds just slightly muted.  I also hear a lot about the wide/expansive sound stages that open headphones tend to give, but I don't really feel like I can hear the position of orchestral instruments with the Sennheisers; I much preferred the sound of my Ultimate Ears, where the sound was right there, like I was right in the middle of it.  I preferred the more intimate sound of the UEs.  And I liked their more present bass.  It wasn't thumpy, really, there was just a little more of it.  I was listening to a recording, by a men's choir, of "Sleep, Little Baby Jesus Boy" last night, and was loving the last chord of the song, where the 2nd basses hit a low C...but I couldn't help but think that they could have been louder, or else my cans could have brought them out a little more.

 

What the 558s have, that the UEs didn't have, is accuracy, which is important to me.  I like hearing fine detail in the music I listen to.  And so, I'm looking for a set of cans that gives me the accuracy of the 558s with the close, intimate sound of the UEs, and that makes the music come alive.

 

And they HAVE to be comfortable.  These will be around-the-ear headphones, as my earlobes stick out farther than most - the 558s are pretty comfortable to wear.

 

I've seen a few threads saying that the Beyer DT 770s and 880s pair pretty nicely with the Xonar Essence soundcard.  I realize that the 770s are closed, while the 880s are basically open...but I also see that the 770s have greatly boosted bass, even compared to the 770s...which I'm not sure I will like...

 

I'm not nearly as familiar with closed headphones as I am open ones...so maybe I should be looking there?  

 

Budget is $250...$300 if there's a compelling reason to step up the extra $50.  Seems Amazon.com has at least a few of deals right now...(link).

 

Your recommendations?

post #2 of 8

The Sennheiser "veil" has to do with a misconception a number of years ago when most cans were overly bright and Sennheisers were very neutral some folks came up with that label because they were not used to neutral. Hence the below graphic.

:deadhorse:

 

You may not like closed cans as you are probably used to the better soundstage of open cans. If you want more bass consider the below, compared to the 558's:

Sennheiser HD650 - has more bass and has that great soundstage. If your card doesn't have a good output stage you may need an amp. You can get a Schitt Magni for around $100. Unfortunately the total $ will be over your budget but sounds awesome.

Sennheiser Momentum - has more bass but is closed so you will not have the same soundstage but has good isolation. One has to try these to see how they fit as their earcups are on the small side. The treble might be a tad rolled off compared to the 558's but is not veiled.

 

I have 558's, 600's and Momentums. The 600's rule. Did you do the black foam mod to your 558's? Takes a few minutes, easy as pie.

post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by phendric View Post
 

I'm looking for recommendations on a new/different/upgraded set of cans from my current HD558s.  I use them exclusively with my computer at home, 90% of the time after kids are in bed (music, movies, games), 10% of the time playing games while they're up.  Further details about my setup follow (I saw this format in another thread and liked it):

Soundcard: Asus Xonar Essence STX ( pci-e )

Format: Apple iTunes Plus (256 kbps AAC), some Pandora radio

What type of listener are you: I listen to whole songs/movements, both in dedicated listening sessions, and as background music (Pandora is almost always for background, not dedicated listening).  I also play games - mainly RPGs (Mass Effect series, Elder Scrolls series, Knights of the Old Republic, etc.), not a big FPS guy though I like the chaos of Unreal Tournament, Star Wars: The Old Republic (MMO).

I've seen a few threads saying that the Beyer DT 770s and 880s pair pretty nicely with the Xonar Essence soundcard.  I realize that the 770s are closed, while the 880s are basically open...but I also see that the 770s have greatly boosted bass, even compared to the 770s...which I'm not sure I will like...

I'm not nearly as familiar with closed headphones as I am open ones...so maybe I should be looking there?  

Budget is $250...$300 if there's a compelling reason to step up the extra $50.  Seems Amazon.com has at least a few of deals right now...

Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro 250-Ohm would be a nice upgrade, $200 (new)

Used Beyer DT880 Premium 600-Ohm are only $190, the STX can drive them (It's what I own and would buy again).

The DT770 are good closed cans, but the DT880 are better cans.


Edited by PurpleAngel - 12/17/13 at 4:39pm
post #4 of 8

Try getting a used pair of hifiman he-400, since they're currently 400 usd new.

 

otherwise, i think the dt880 is a great choice.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
An update - my in-laws got me the Beyer DT880 pros - but only in the 250-ohm variety. They've sounded great, though much more similar to the 558s than I expected. The build quality is fantastic, and they're really comfortable. Unfortunately, something is wrong with either the cable, or one of the internal connectors - as the cable moves around, I completely lose the sound on the left side.

So I'm going to be returning these phones to amazon.com for a refund, and am going to try again.

Two things I wish we're different: 1) I wish the cable were replaceable/detachable - it doesn't look like it is. I'm a little surprised that it's not, actually, in a pair of headphones like these. And 2) I wish they leaked less sound - my wife hates hearing me play some of the games I play (I got into Warframe this past week) clear across the room.

So - what do you recommend for a closed, circumaural, accurate but exciting, comfortable, well-built phone in the $300 range? My use case is in the original post. If closed phones really don't compare to open ones, tell me that. And is it worth my while to look at headsets? Beyerdynamic makes a $300 gaming headset that gamers I've talked to rave about, but I don't know how it is for general listening.

Replies to other posts below...
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post

The Sennheiser "veil" has to do with a misconception a number of years ago when most cans were overly bright and Sennheisers were very neutral some folks came up with that label because they were not used to neutral. Hence the below graphic.
deadhorse.gif

You may not like closed cans as you are probably used to the better soundstage of open cans. If you want more bass consider the below, compared to the 558's:
Sennheiser HD650 - has more bass and has that great soundstage. If your card doesn't have a good output stage you may need an amp. You can get a Schitt Magni for around $100. Unfortunately the total $ will be over your budget but sounds awesome.
Sennheiser Momentum - has more bass but is closed so you will not have the same soundstage but has good isolation. One has to try these to see how they fit as their earcups are on the small side. The treble might be a tad rolled off compared to the 558's but is not veiled.

I have 558's, 600's and Momentums. The 600's rule. Did you do the black foam mod to your 558's? Takes a few minutes, easy as pie.

Regardless of whether I'm hearing the Sennheiser "veil" or not, the fact remains that, while the sound is detailed and accurate, it doesn't really get my blood pumping...

I'm not in the market for another amp - I have a pretty good one in my sound card.

As for size of earpads, I prefer them to be a little larger - my ear lobes really dislike being mashed against my head, and are slightly large, so I want the earpads to be plenty large enough to completely surround them.

Yes, I did the black foam mod on the 558s.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro 250-Ohm would be a nice upgrade, $200 (new)
Used Beyer DT880 Premium 600-Ohm are only $190, the STX can drive them (It's what I own and would buy again).
The DT770 are good closed cans, but the DT880 are better cans.

They ARE good, like you say. I wonder if I can do as well in a closed can?

Quote:
Originally Posted by b0000 View Post

Try getting a used pair of hifiman he-400, since they're currently 400 usd new.

otherwise, i think the dt880 is a great choice.

I've not searched for this, and know I'll find something if I do, but how does the sound of the technology (spacing the name right now - electrostatic?) in the hifimans compare to the sound in traditional phones?
post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by phendric View Post

An update - my in-laws got me the Beyer DT880 pros - but only in the 250-ohm variety. They've sounded great, though much more similar to the 558s than I expected. The build quality is fantastic, and they're really comfortable. Unfortunately, something is wrong with either the cable, or one of the internal connectors - as the cable moves around, I completely lose the sound on the left side.
So I'm going to be returning these phones to amazon.com for a refund, and am going to try again.
Two things I wish we're different: 1) I wish the cable were replaceable/detachable - it doesn't look like it is. I'm a little surprised that it's not, actually, in a pair of headphones like these. And 2) I wish they leaked less sound - my wife hates hearing me play some of the games I play (I got into Warframe this past week) clear across the room.
So - what do you recommend for a closed, circumaural, accurate but exciting, comfortable, well-built phone in the $300 range? My use case is in the original post. If closed phones really don't compare to open ones, tell me that. And is it worth my while to look at headsets? Beyerdynamic makes a $300 gaming headset that gamers I've talked to rave about, but I don't know how it is for general listening.

The DT880 might have improve after 50 hours of use, but I guess you got a defective pair.

 

Audio Technica ATH-A900X closed headphones ($200-$220), with Hifiman Velour ear pads ($10).

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

The DT880 might have improve after 50 hours of use, but I guess you got a defective pair.

 

Audio Technica ATH-A900X closed headphones ($200-$220), with Hifiman Velour ear pads ($10).

 

I'm not opposed to getting another pair of DT880s.  I'm wondering, more, whether I can get similar sound in a closed can, or in a gaming headset.  If not, I'll stay with the Beyers, and persevere through the occasional complaints from my wife...

 

If I get another pair of DT880s, I'll probably go with the 600-ohm version, since that's what I wanted in the first place...

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by phendric View Post
 

 

I'm not opposed to getting another pair of DT880s.  I'm wondering, more, whether I can get similar sound in a closed can, or in a gaming headset.  If not, I'll stay with the Beyers, and persevere through the occasional complaints from my wife...

 

If I get another pair of DT880s, I'll probably go with the 600-ohm version, since that's what I wanted in the first place...

The A900X are my preferred closed headphones

I bought the DT880 Premium 600-Ohm only because I got a really really good deal on used.

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