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M50, HD558/598/Momentum or other (and possibly amp?)

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello long time listener (errr lurker) first time caller (umm poster) :o


I have decided I want some better phones and from all I have read and my budget have narrowed it down to Audio Technia ATH-M50 and Sennheiser HD-558/598/momentum.


Now where I am in Australia I am unable to actually listen to the phones, all the stores near me only sell crap like Monster or Beats with some Sennheisers so I can try the HD-558 but not the other 3 phones. From the prices I can get the phones online I'm basically looking at spending as much as the HD-598 (around $210AU without postage) but am willing to get the Momentum (around $280AU) if they actually are worth the extra money but if the difference wouldn't be much then naturally I would rather not spend the extra.


Now for some background.


I am by no means an audiophile, i've never had any really good equipment. At the moment I listen to my music from my computer with just a base ASUS DG soundcard or a Sony Walkman NWZE465 (which I have to say is the best sounding mobile player i've ever used which has been quite a lot over the past decade). I currently have some Sennheiser HD-438s  (I know, but they were 65% off and do actually sound pretty good though i'd only ever had like $25 headphones before that lol).


I listen to a lot of different music but am quite fond of stuff with a lot of strings/orchestral sounds or carried/operatic (is that a word :confused_face:) vocals such as the following :



Thomas Bergersen

Ivan Torrent
Two Steps From Hell
Liquid Cinema


The stuff I listen to sounds fine at the moment but I can't help but think it can definitely sound better even if a lot of it is compressed to hell (much as I hate it I can see why they might want to do it to most mainstream music but don't understand wtf they do it to soundtrack music since the director or whoever has the track in the movie play to the volume he wants anyway and most people that hear it will only hear it in the movie so what is there to gain from compressing it to make it sound louder......).


I guess firstly would better phones give an improvement to the sound given my sources and current phones or would it just be a waste of money?


Secondly considering my sources I have also been considering a cheap headphone amp as I keep reading how much better the sound is compared to straight out of a PC or mobile device. I'm not looking to spend much only up to $120AU which is something like the Fiio-E17 which I have read a lot of good things about and how much better things sound, but of course there are still reviews which say it sounds crap or doesn't make it sound any better just louder.


I have no interest in the music being louder (usually only listen at night and only have the sony set to like 13/30 and that's fine) so my only interest in an amp is to run a line-out from the Sony to it to make it sound better, would something like the E17 be an improvement in sound quality with whatever phones you recommend (or even my HD-438s) or once again would it simply be a waste of money and no real use expect to make it louder?


So since prices are so different around the world (and more expensive here) think in relative terms of my budget being the street cost of HD-598s (will up to the cost of Momentums if spending that much more really is worth it) on a pair of phones and if it's worth it around half the cost of that on an amp. So much good but also bad (guess you get that with something so subjective) about anything that is out so i've picked the 4 which I think meet what I want however since I can not try them and have never actually tried anything good I am after your advice as to if they or something else is worth my time getting.


EDIT: oopsie typos :bigsmile_face:

Edited by Bingles - 12/22/13 at 6:48am
post #2 of 5

Hopefully you disable the motherboard's on-board audio? in the BIOS, when you installed the Xonar DG.

The Xonar DG comes with a basic headphone amplifier which is ok for headphones up to 150-Ohms.

You do have the option of connecting an external headphone amplifier to the Xonar DG, if needed.


The HD558 and HD598 come with the same driver, the HD558 has some tape on the inside of the cups that covers 40% of the air holes, which (I guess) increase bass but takes away a little mids and treble.

So removing the tape makes the HD558 sound more like the HD598, but not a exact match.

Maybe check around for some used HD558s.


The ATH-M50 offer more (louder?) bass then the HD558/HD598, but the HD558/HD598 should be better with mids, sound stage, surround sound, treble.

post #3 of 5

Welcome! I'll try to help you out. So you chose two open back and two closed backed headphones. To determine which one is right for you, we need to know whether you intend to listen to these headphones solely at home or not. This is because open back headphones leak sound, meaning that anybody in the room or on the bus will pretty much know what you are listening to. Also depending on the headphones, you may need an amp, but we should determine what type of headphones that you prefer first!


I also want to ask about your music files. It sounds like you are downloading it from the internet? If that is the case, you definitely want to either download higher quality versions of them, or buy/borrow CD's and rip them to your computer. I recommend at least either 320kbps or ~256kbps (VBR).

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Just at home in bed before I go to sleep so closed or open doesn't matter just on the budget of those phones.


All the files are 320k mp3 ripped from CD or downloaded from google and a few of the soundtrack stuff in 256k aac from itunes since it isn't available on google or CD here ).

Edited by Bingles - 12/25/13 at 7:10am
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Bump, incase it got lost :P

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