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Need help choosing open headphones in the $200-$300 range

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

Hello, I am looking to purchase a pair of heaphones to match with the O2+ODAC combo (which I will purchase in about a week). I am still a bit new to this quality

 

I have zero'd in on the AKG Q701's and the Beyerdynamics DT 880 Pro's.

 

They both seem like really great headphones from what I have heard but I have some concerns.

 

For instance, the Q701 (and it's brothers) are reputed to have these wide open soundstage's (which drew me to them) and perform well from for the type of music I listen to (instrumental/orchestral stuff). However, they have been called cold and analytical. One reviewer went so far as to call them "very sterile." Are they really that bad in this area? I have also heard them referred as bass light.

 

As for DT 880 Pro's, they have been described as good all-rounder's but not particularly excellent in any area. Also they have been called a bit bass light.

 

I currently only have a senn PC 360 used with a Xonar Essence STX.

 

I am currently leaning towards the AKG's due to descriptions like 'open soundstage' and 'clarity' but I would like to get some input from other people especially concerning that 'sterile' thing (don't really know what that sounds like but it doesn't sound good).

 

Any other headphone suggestions?


Edited by lumzi23 - 1/26/14 at 4:55am
post #2 of 46

Right now I have tried both, they are both bright headphones, so you will expect light bass because of their brightness(both are not any means bass light). But, Beyer DT880 have more bass base on my personal impression. Both have very clean sound. Q701 has wider sound stage I will say, but some what too analytical which distract me from enjoying the music.

 

I tried DT880 with EQ down the peak at 8kHz, and its phenomena! So engaging without listening fatigue. Both Q701 and DT880 cause fatigue to me if not EQed.

 

Another suggestion will be Sennheiser HD650 or HD600 (around $400 and $300). I own both HD650 and Beyer DT880 now. I find HD650s to be ultra smooth, no listening fatigue what so ever (don't need EQ), but some what dark and have more bass compare to Beyer DT880. Sound stage is in between DT880 and Q701.

 

Q701 have a bad headband design if you are concerned with comfort. I can feel the pressure point it creates after long term listening. HD650 and DT880 have no such issue.


Edited by JeWorms - 1/26/14 at 5:31am
post #3 of 46

I have Q701s and Beyer 990s 600 ohms, can't help you on the 880, but I'd say you're fairly close with the Q701.  Though I'd say Q701 might be a tad bass light, but am not entirely sure they're just not accurate when it comes to bass.  Really 'clean' headphones.  I've tried to express my thoughts on them here:   http://www.head-fi.org/t/698953/grado-sr80-to-akg-k701-an-upgrade/15#post_10189611  In the end, I think they do sound clinical indeed, which might just be a word for detailed and accurate.  So if by cold and analytical you mean accurate and detailed, and by romantic and emotional you mean ...  Something else...  Then yeah, they are rather "very sterile" because they don't seem to me like they're trying to do anything to the music, they just shoot it as it is, and that's what make it a great transducer.  Seems that too accurate can be a downside for some though.


Edited by GirgleMirt - 1/26/14 at 7:10am
post #4 of 46
They definitely do lack some richness (akg headphones)
I can't help you with beyers but I've never enjoyed a pair of beyers and that's after owning the t5p and using the T1 a lot at meets
post #5 of 46

Based on memory, I think the DT 880 Pros (250) had more bass quantity than the Q701, but DT 880 emphasis on the high frequency got fatiguing. For the Q701, there are some reversible mods to help with bass quantity so consider those options but some tracks revealed the AKG had some 'artificial' smearing effects particularly in distant cymbals - not that I tried to nitpick, but it became noticeable and enough to draw that attention to that flaw. I've had 3 Qs.. I had such a love/hate with them lol but glad I've found the Beyers in this price range.

 

The DT 880 Premium (600ohm) on the other hand is a significant improvement throughout and definitely favored over the Q701. Another comparison is comfort. The Beyers were cozier in the long term than the AKGs. I had no issue with the AKG headband bumps, but somehow the ear-pad pressure on the jawline got a bit uncomfortable.

post #6 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by talisman42 View Post

Based on memory, I think the DT 880 Pros (250) had more bass quantity than the Q701, but DT 880 emphasis on the high frequency got fatiguing. For the Q701, there are some reversible mods to help with bass quantity so consider those options but some tracks revealed the AKG had some 'artificial' smearing effects particularly in distant cymbals - not that I tried to nitpick, but it became noticeable and enough to draw that attention to that flaw. I've had 3 Qs.. I had such a love/hate with them lol but glad I've found the Beyers in this price range.

The DT 880 Premium (600ohm) on the other hand is a significant improvement throughout and definitely favored over the Q701. Another comparison is comfort. The Beyers were cozier in the long term than the AKGs. I had no issue with the AKG headband bumps, but somehow the ear-pad pressure on the jawline got a bit uncomfortable.

Hated the bumps on the AKgs. Caused major discomfort for me.
post #7 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lumzi23 View Post
 

Hello, I am looking to purchase a pair of heaphones to match with the O2+ODAC combo (which I will purchase in about a week). I am still a bit new to this quality

I have zero'd in on the AKG Q701's and the Beyerdynamics DT 880 Pro's.

They both seem like really great headphones from what I have heard but I have some concerns.

For instance, the Q701 (and it's brothers) are reputed to have these wide open soundstage's (which drew me to them) and perform well from for the type of music I listen to (instrumental/orchestral stuff). However, they have been called cold and analytical. One reviewer went so far as to call them "very sterile." Are they really that bad in this area? I have also heard them referred as bass light.

As for DT 880 Pro's, they have been described as good all-rounder's but not particularly excellent in any area. Also they have been called a bit bass light.

I currently only have a senn PC 360 used with a Xonar Essence STX.

I am currently leaning towards the AKG's due to descriptions like 'open sound stage' and 'clarity' but I would like to get some input from other people especially concerning that 'sterile' thing (don't really know what that sounds like but it doesn't sound good).

Any other headphone suggestions?

Get the DT880s and just use the Asus Xonar Essence STX.

 

Did you disable the motherboard's on-board audio? in the BIOS

Try using the Unified Xonar Drivers.

Use the program Foobar2000 (with component updates) for playing audio (music) files.

post #8 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GirgleMirt View Post
 

I have Q701s and Beyer 990s 600 ohms, can't help you on the 880, but I'd say you're fairly close with the Q701.  Though I'd say Q701 might be a tad bass light, but am not entirely sure they're just not accurate when it comes to bass.  Really 'clean' headphones.  I've tried to express my thoughts on them here:   http://www.head-fi.org/t/698953/grado-sr80-to-akg-k701-an-upgrade/15#post_10189611  In the end, I think they do sound clinical indeed, which might just be a word for detailed and accurate.  So if by cold and analytical you mean accurate and detailed, and by romantic and emotional you mean ...  Something else...  Then yeah, they are rather "very sterile" because they don't seem to me like they're trying to do anything to the music, they just shoot it as it is, and that's what make it a great transducer.  Seems that too accurate can be a downside for some though.

Edit: Going by you link I think I like both qualities you mentioned. I like that 'lingering' sound but I also like detail. I really wish there was a way for be to test them before I buy but where I live that is simply not possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GL1TCH3D View Post


Hated the bumps on the AKgs. Caused major discomfort for me.

So they are really uncomfortable. When I get a haircut the PC 360's can be a bit uncomfortable. Definitely something to consider.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeWorms View Post
 

Right now I have tried both, they are both bright headphones, so you will expect light bass because of their brightness(both are not any means bass light). But, Beyer DT880 have more bass base on my personal impression. Both have very clean sound. Q701 has wider sound stage I will say, but some what too analytical which distract me from enjoying the music.

 

I tried DT880 with EQ down the peak at 8kHz, and its phenomena! So engaging without listening fatigue. Both Q701 and DT880 cause fatigue to me if not EQed.

 

Another suggestion will be Sennheiser HD650 or HD600 (around $400 and $300). I own both HD650 and Beyer DT880 now. I find HD650s to be ultra smooth, no listening fatigue what so ever (don't need EQ), but some what dark and have more bass compare to Beyer DT880. Sound stage is in between DT880 and Q701.

 

Q701 have a bad headband design if you are concerned with comfort. I can feel the pressure point it creates after long term listening. HD650 and DT880 have no such issue.

Them being bright headphones is consistent with what I have heard. Concerning the HD 600 (can't afford the HD 650's) how are they as headphones. I had only heard some negative things about them which is why I didn't really consider them (plus, they are also a wee bit expensive compared to the other two).

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by talisman42 View Post
 

Based on memory, I think the DT 880 Pros (250) had more bass quantity than the Q701, but DT 880 emphasis on the high frequency got fatiguing. For the Q701, there are some reversible mods to help with bass quantity so consider those options but some tracks revealed the AKG had some 'artificial' smearing effects particularly in distant cymbals - not that I tried to nitpick, but it became noticeable and enough to draw that attention to that flaw. I've had 3 Qs.. I had such a love/hate with them lol but glad I've found the Beyers in this price range.

 

The DT 880 Premium (600ohm) on the other hand is a significant improvement throughout and definitely favored over the Q701. Another comparison is comfort. The Beyers were cozier in the long term than the AKGs. I had no issue with the AKG headband bumps, but somehow the ear-pad pressure on the jawline got a bit uncomfortable.

So, is there a significant difference between the DT 880 Pros (250) and the 600 ohm version. About the smearing, is it really bad? To be honest I was leaning towards the AKG's but a lot of you seem to be pointing towards the DT 880's. One thing I want is really clear/transparent sound. This seems to be one of the AKG's strong points but how do the DT800's compare.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

Get the DT880s and just use the Asus Xonar Essence STX.

 

Did you disable the motherboard's on-board audio? in the BIOS

Try using the Unified Xonar Drivers.

Use the program Foobar2000 (with component updates) for playing audio (music) files.

I have and I am using the unified drivers. I think I might have damaged the STX. I moved them to a different PCIe slot but didn't realise that the pins on the underside were touching the heatsink. Also, for some reason or the other I haven't been too pleased with the STX. When it works it sounds beautiful but it doesn't work (at least in my experience). Sometimes it just sounds bland/flat.

 

Also, I am using foobar already.

 

So you recommend the DT800. Could you give some reasons if possible?


Edited by lumzi23 - 1/26/14 at 9:06pm
post #9 of 46

The dt880s are just so damn cold a sterile, they give you a nice picture from top to bottom but no emotion. And yeah, go ahead and blame the "recording". The beyers are also sibilant. The AKG's are nice, I liked them. They are smooth, have a very nice vertical soundstage (have a big sound) and had a very likeable midrange. What I didn't about them was that they were bass light and really not very engaging either, but much more so than the beyers. I really did like the akg's, I think that is one of those headphones every head-fier should hear on their journey. Though most of them will end up selling it, on that note, buy one from the FS forums! You can get one on the lower end of $200.

 

The sennheiser hd-600's are nice too. Though I personally found them to be slow and veiled. I think allot of that has to do with an amp, you will need a very nice amp for the senns.

 

If I was in your shoes, I'd try all three and see which fits best. Really any one of them would be a great headphone for where you are right now.

post #10 of 46
I just wrapped kleenex around the headband of the akgs to be less bumpy but still annoying that I had to do that
post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lumzi23 View Post
 

I have and I am using the unified drivers. I think I might have damaged the STX. I moved them to a different PCIe slot but didn't realise that the pins on the underside were touching the heatsink. Also, for some reason or the other I haven't been too pleased with the STX. When it works it sounds beautiful but it doesn't work (at least in my experience). Sometimes it just sounds bland/flat.

 

Also, I am using foobar already.

 

So you recommend the DT800. Could you give some reasons if possible?

So you could have a slightly broken STX.

One more thing you could try is to remove the heat shield and make sure the three op-amps are firmly seated.

Could even spend less then $10 for a pair of LME49720NA op-amps and replace the two I/V op-amps.

(A real long shot at trying to fix it)

 

But it could be the STX is not repairable.

 

I know the DT880 sound (I own two), never listened to the Q701, but I think I somewhat understand the Q701 sound.

But I would guess you would be happy with either headphone.

post #12 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

So you could have a slightly broken STX.

One more thing you could try is to remove the heat shield and make sure the three op-amps are firmly seated.

Could even spend less then $10 for a pair of LME49720NA op-amps and replace the two I/V op-amps.

(A real long shot at trying to fix it)

 

But it could be the STX is not repairable.

 

I know the DT880 sound (I own two), never listened to the Q701, but I think I somewhat understand the Q701 sound.

But I would guess you would be happy with either headphone.

I would be willing to try that actually (still getting the O2+ODAC though).

 

So you are happy with DT880's. Do you think either phone would be a complete or near complete upgrade over the PC 360's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GL1TCH3D View Post

I just wrapped kleenex around the headband of the akgs to be less bumpy but still annoying that I had to do that

I might be willing to put up with that if I liked the sound enough, but yeah that would be annoying. How do you think they would compare to my PC 360's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arteom View Post
 

The dt880s are just so damn cold a sterile, they give you a nice picture from top to bottom but no emotion. And yeah, go ahead and blame the "recording". The beyers are also sibilant. The AKG's are nice, I liked them. They are smooth, have a very nice vertical soundstage (have a big sound) and had a very likeable midrange. What I didn't about them was that they were bass light and really not very engaging either, but much more so than the beyers. I really did like the akg's, I think that is one of those headphones every head-fier should hear on their journey. Though most of them will end up selling it, on that note, buy one from the FS forums! You can get one on the lower end of $200.

 

The sennheiser hd-600's are nice too. Though I personally found them to be slow and veiled. I think allot of that has to do with an amp, you will need a very nice amp for the senns.

 

If I was in your shoes, I'd try all three and see which fits best. Really any one of them would be a great headphone for where you are right now.

I would love to try before I buy but in my country that is not possible. The only one of these phones I have seen in my location are the Q701's in an online store, but I don't think I would be allowed to return them if I don't like them. So you think any of the 3 phones would be a complete upgrade over my current setup.


Edited by lumzi23 - 1/26/14 at 9:42pm
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lumzi23 View Post
 

 

Them being bright headphones is consistent with what I have heard. Concerning the HD 600 (can't afford the HD 650's) how are they as headphones. I had only heard some negative things about them which is why I didn't really consider them (plus, they are also a wee bit expensive compared to the other two).

 

So there is a significant difference between the DT 880 Pros (250) and the 600 ohm version. About the smearing, is it really bad? To be honest I was leaning towards the AKG's but a lot of you seem to be pointing towards the DT 880's. One thing I want is really clear/transparent sound. This seems to be one of the AKG's strong points but how do the DT800's compare.

 

 

 

HD600 and HD650 are very similar in most ways, HD650 are just slightly more refined and slightly darker sounding than HD600. Many will consider them as musical which means you can enjoy the music without being distracted by the highs(no harshness). They are as detailed as DT880 and Q701 IMO, just in a way that the highs are not exaggerated and not giving you a false sense of detail and you can discover much more bass and mid information much more easily as they are less bright.

 

I have tried many headphones (AKG K712,Q701,K812, Beyer DT880,T1, Senn HD800) and I find HD650s are the most enjoyable and smooth right out of box without EQ, amp ungrade and spend a lot of money smooth out treble harshness. They can sound good even with iPhone. They are not amp or source picky and can scale very high with better amp and source.

 

If you are concerned about listening fatigue then HD600 or HD650 are the most safe one.

 

If you like wide sound stage and brightness and don't care about the bumps on AKGs, then Q701 is very good.

 

If you don't mind narrower sound stage(which is good for certain music) and want a good all rounder, DT880 is the one. BTW DT880 is slightly less bright than Q701 from my impression.

 

DT880 can be so engaging and have no harshness when properly EQed down the treble peak (haven't buy and tried that with Q701, I just hate their headband bumps).

From measurement data, DT880 250ohm and 600ohm doesn't have a big difference but the 600ohm one are indeed more refined and most people refer to the 600Ohm one as more balanced(less treble). If you choose DT880 then choose the 600ohm one because O2 and ODAC can properly driven them and you have better SQ.

 

My personal ranking: 

 

Treble Smoothness:  HD600/650  >  DT880  >  Q701

Treble clarity:            DT880  >  Q701                             (did not include Senns because its hard to justify with less treble presents)  

Wearing comfort:      DT880  >  HD600/650  >  Q701

Sound stage:            Q701   >  HD600/650  >  DT880

Bass quality:             DT880  >  HD600/650  > Q701

Bass quatity:             HD600/650  > DT880  > Q701

Sound Richness and Musicality(make you forget you are wearing headphones):    HD600/650  > DT880  > Q701

post #14 of 46

If we're playing the least dangerous choice game (not that I've ever liked this way of choosing), HD600 couldn't possibly offend and it's very good. I've noticed several on FS at your desired price. Between the other two, K70x has better soundstage and DT880 is more comfortable.

post #15 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lumzi23 View Post
 

I would be willing to try that actually (still getting the O2+ODAC though).

 

So you are happy with DT880's. Do you think either phone would be a complete or near complete upgrade over the PC 360's.

I might be willing to put up with that if I liked the sound enough, but yeah that would be annoying. How do you think they would compare to my PC 360's..

I have the Senn HD558, which uses the same 50-Ohm driver as the PC360, so you should like the DT880s audio quality over the PC360.

I would also assume you would like the Q701 sound quality, over the PC360s.

The DT880s should have a little more bass and the Q701 a little better mid range.

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