Hey everyone, this is my first post. But I used this forum to research headphones, so thought I would try and contribute to the community a bit.
I wanted a pair of cans for home use/critical listening. I already have a home theater setup, but it was a little lacking in the pure musical detail department, so I wanted something that could deliver that. Lucky for me, I have a great audio store that has dozens of pairs ready to demo side by side, ranging from $100-$1400. I was shopping in the $200-$400 range. Some of the pairs demoed included:
Sennheiser Momentum, HD-598, HD-600
Focal (forget the model)
Grado SR 325i
The source was rahpsody running through a $300 headphone amp (sorry, didnt get the make). I listened to mostly rock, both heavy and some acoustic stuff. I also put some old school rap in for bass tests.
My first and foremost requirement was a quality music listening experience. I have a nice Denon receiver, so power is not an issue. If I could find a closed back pair that was efficient enough to use with my nexus tablet, that would be a bonus, but I was not going to sacrifice musical quality to get that. Price was also not a huge factor for me, but I wanted to stay under 500.
After switching/listening for about an hour, I eliminated the open back Sennheisers. In my opinion they just didnt sound as rich and full as the others. Out of the open back designs, I liked the Grados best. They also had a lower price tag, which was a nice bonus. I left the store recommending Grados to anyone I knew on a budget, who didn't care about noise isolation. Dollar for dollar and purely based on sound, they are tough to beat.
In the closed back designs, I liked the Momentums, PSBs, and B&W in terms of sound quality. Comfort wise, I liked the Momentums the best, they were very light and fit my ears nicely. But I kept going back to the B&Ws, they had a warm, rich sound that i really enjoyed. The PSBs also sounded really good to my ears, but I did not care about noise cancelling, and they were very "plastic-ey". Might be a dumb reason to some people, but they just felt like cheap Chinese plastic in my hands.
I ended up eliminating the Grados when I got to my bass tests. They just didnt have as much punch as the other phones, which I guess is to be expected, since they are in a different price bracket.
The Momentums and the P7s were more similar than they were different in terms of SQ. they both had great resolution, tight and detailed base, and a pretty neutral sound. The Senns seemed a little brighter and maybe slightly more detailed on the highs (such as tracks with strings), where the P7s and slightly more detailed mids and a stronger more balanced low end. But keep in mind to my ears these were pretty subtle differences.
The closing factor for me was build quality. There aren't very many things built like the P7s anymore. No visible plastic in sight, these babies are mostly leather and metal. Like great headphones from the 60s and 70s, with care I expect to have these for a very, very long time. I take good care of my equipment, and I do not plan on becoming a "collector" of many pairs of headphones. The PSBs sounded great, but I just do not believe they would hold up to 10+ years of regular use. I feel like the B&Ws will. Some reviews have said they are too expensive for the sound quality. While I agree you can get headphones that are arguably as good sounding for less money, they will not be as well built. That is where the extra $100-$150 goes in my opinion, the build quality. Anyone looking for a great pair of cans that will last for many years, I cannot recommend these enough.
If anyone has any questions about my comparison thoughts, let me know. Thanks for the great forum