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Best Studio Headphones - Page 18

post #256 of 326
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinocelt View Post
 

 

Thanks for the feedback. Recently, I listened to a bunch of headphones over five hours.

  • Sennheiser HD6 Mix. My biggest deception. The most comfortable of the headphones I tried, but the sound was plain weird.
  • Shure SHR1540. Good stuff. Maybe the most euphonic of the headphones I tried, but not the most neutral -- the sound is warm and somewhat soft.
  • NAD Viso HP50. Ugly, but sounds good! I liked it as much or better than the SHR1540, and it is more neutral. The sound is very cohesive.
  • Sony MDR7510. The biggest surprise. I tried it mostly to see if the MDR7520 would fit me, but the sound was actually quite good. On par with the HP50, IMO.
  • Sennheiser Momentum. Best looking, with good neutralish sound. I liked the HP50 just a bit better, sound-wise.
  • Sennheiser Momentum On Ear. Very cute. Same sound signature as the Momentum, just not quite as refined.
  • Audio Technica M50x. Not bad. While it isn't quite a basshead pair of headphones, it is still clear that the bass is north of neutral.
  • Sennheiser HD25 Aluminum. This is a basshead pair of headphones! The sound is good, but clearly not neutral.
  • Marshall Monitor. Weird sound, if not quite as much as that of the HD6 Mix. Muffled. Its sound can be changed, though, and I didn't try that.

 

And, according to Sony and some comparisons I've read, the 7510 is similar to the 7520 but the later is just better in every way. It should be too, considering the price difference. No doubt the 7510 is better value for money, but I'm not sure how much you're taking that aspect into consideration?


Edited by Mike F - 5/3/14 at 7:05am
post #257 of 326
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike F View Post
 

And, according to Sony and some comparisons I've read, the 7510 is similar to the 7520 but the later is just better in every way. It should be too, considering the price difference. No doubt the 7510 is better value for money, but I'm not sure how much you're taking that aspect into consideration?

 

Not at all. I just didn't have the opportunity of trying the MDR7520, as I would have wished.

post #258 of 326
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinocelt View Post
 

 

Not at all. I just didn't have the opportunity of trying the MDR7520, as I would have wished.

 

I had the 7520 at home from April 19th to April 25th. Short review here. I'll probably flesh this out and post it as a full review onsite later with specific song examples.

 

What I Loved About Them:

 

1. Ergonomics: They are very comfortable and lightweight. They fit securely without uncomfortable clamping force and the pads/cups are large enough to easily accommodate medium sized ears. (The makers of the FSP and Momentum should really take notes on the 7520's design.) Isolation was excellent because fit and seal was very good, even with glasses.

2. Build: They are amazingly well built with a rigid magnesium body. Probably the most reassuring build quality I've ever seen in a small circumaural.

3. Bass: They have the best bass extension of any dynamic headphone I've used. They go low and deep without an appreciable bass/midbass hump. 

4. Plankton: They are very detailed and revealing, with a fairly neutral sound that's great at (very) low volume levels. 

5. They have a pretty neutral frequency response (with, as above, strong detail retrieval and resolution), but they don't sounding dry or analytical. They're really musical. Midrange is slightly forward, especially upper mids, but less so than on the Focal Spirit Pro. 

 

What I Didn't Like: 

 

1. Imaging: they seem a bit closed in, even for a closed headphone. Sometimes it made the music seem intimate, other times claustrophobic. While their staging is small, instrument separation is still good and their overall presentation didn't seem muddled or unclear.

2. Treble rolloff: the roll off isn't extremely noticeable, on careful listening the top octave is shelved on strings and brass instruments. 

3. Sibilance: for me, this was the deal breaker and it requires some explanation.

 

I think of myself as a fairly low volume listener. I'm pretty conservative about my volume levels as I want to be able to hear clearly into old age. I never use the high gain setting on my amps*. Using my Leckerton UHA-6S MKII as a volume reference: on low impedance/high efficiency headphones, I never ever exceed 8:30 on the potentiometer**. For normal listening, I hang out at around 7-7:30***. Why all this setup and volume commentary just to talk about sibilance? Because at very low volume levels, the 7520 isn't very sibilant at all. However, when I exceeded 7:45 on the Leckerton's pot, the sibilance became hotter and hot; by 8:15 it became pretty well intolerable****. At first, I chalked this up to the extremely revealing nature of the 7520. But it was showing up on well-recorded material and, as volume increased, the sibilance showed with far more prominence than either my AKG K550 or my Sennheiser HD25-II Amperior - both headphones with a reputation for sibilance. The sibilance doesn't show up on my Paradox either, which is also a very resolving headphone.

 

Wrap Up:

 

I purchased the MDR-7520 for use as a mobile headphone for listening during my commutes to downtown Chicago on the L. Commuting in a noisy environment generally means listening at higher than normal listening levels. My attempts to use the 7520 in that regard were a painful, dismal failure. (I ended up listening to the PAA-1 Pro earbuds I had stashed in my backpack instead.) However, for use in a very quiet studio or in an acoustically-treated room, these could be very good headphones in those spaces. 

 

 

 

____________________________________

* Granted, that's because I don't own any headphones less sensitive/higher impedance than the DT250-250s, Paradox, and HD580/600. So, with no particularly hard to drive headphones the need to ratchet up to high gain just is not there.

** The only times I come close to that level is for quiet material recorded prior to the loudness wars. 

*** Just past the channel imbalance level on the UHA-6S MKII.

**** While I'm using the Leckerton as a reference point here, this was also the case on my smartphone (Note II), and on my E11 and O2 amps as well.

post #259 of 326

I'm listening to Dr. Chesky’s Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc now on my 7520's. Certainly a true binaural recording has proper soundstage and imaging on them. I also just cannot make them sibilant, even listening at much higher than my normal listening levels which, like yours, are normally quite low. Listening to an mp3 of a very forward female vocal at higher volume revealed some amount of sibilance in the expected places, but no more than I would expect to hear on my ATC100ASL studio monitors. http://www.atcloudspeakers.co.uk/professional/loudspeakers/scm100asl-pro/

 

I would totally agree with the rest of your assessment though! I love the build quality and comfort of the 7520. IMO they make the HD 800 seem a bit 'plasticy' by comparison, and if anything I find them more comfortable. That's very personal though of course.


Edited by Mike F - 5/3/14 at 1:04pm
post #260 of 326

Austin, as an additional thought, the 7520's do benefit from a good burn in period, so perhaps that might have been an issue? My experience (and also the experience of others as reported in the 7520 thread) is that after around 200 hours the treble smooths out (without becoming less detailed) and the bass tightens up. I haven't listened to many of the newer studio headphones (like the FSP) but I've heard a fair few studio cans in my time from the likes of Beyer, AKG, Shure etc, and not only are the 7520's the best closed headphone I heard, but they are one of the best headphones I've heard period, and that includes the HD 800 (which I also own)! 

post #261 of 326
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike F View Post
 

Austin, as an additional thought, the 7520's do benefit from a good burn in period, so perhaps that might have been an issue? My experience (and also the experience of others as reported in the 7520 thread) is that after around 200 hours the treble smooths out (without becoming less detailed) and the bass tightens up. I haven't listened to many of the newer studio headphones (like the FSP) but I've heard a fair few studio cans in my time from the likes of Beyer, AKG, Shure etc, and not only are the 7520's the best closed headphone I heard, but they are one of the best headphones I've heard period, and that includes the HD 800 (which I also own)! 

 

Yeah, I've read that re: burn in over in the thread as well. (I posted over in the 7520 thread while I had them in hand. Just for burn-in sake, I left them in a file cabinet/desk drawer for a couple nights overnight. So beyond my listening, they had another 20 or so hours of just random tracks running). 

 

I'm also not ruling out pair or batch production variance. There seem to be a number of people in the 7520 thread that have had sibilance issues with these...and a number of people that haven't. I'm not willing to believe that that many people just "hear differently" with that type of strict binary difference on something that seems so glaringly...or perhaps sharply...obvious. I've had quite a few headphones that have exhibited pair variance in the past. (With my Beyerdynamic DT 250-250 & DT1350, NAD Viso HP50, and AKG K550, I had to go through doubles on all of these until I found one that sounded right. I actually sent my HP50 back on a warranty service because the first one sounded so damn awful.) 

 

If I heard a non-sibilant 7520, I'd hold on to it. With the exception of that one flaw, those are some really great headphones. I may give them a shot again some time and if I see them at a meet I won't hesitate to take a listen to see if theirs sound like the ones I had.

post #262 of 326
Quote:
Originally Posted by AustinValentine View Post
 

I've had quite a few headphones that have exhibited pair variance in the past. (With my Beyerdynamic DT 250-250 & DT1350, NAD Viso HP50, and AKG K550, I had to go through doubles on all of these until I found one that sounded right. I actually sent my HP50 back on a warranty service because the first one sounded so damn awful.)

 

You're much more patient than I am. If a firm can't get the first pair right (I'm looking at you, Beyer), I don't bother with a second one of the same model.

post #263 of 326
Quote:
Originally Posted by AustinValentine View Post



I'm also not ruling out pair or batch production variance. There seem to be a number of people in the 7520 thread that have had sibilance issues with these...and a number of people that haven't. I'm not willing to believe that that many people just "hear differently" with that type of strict binary difference on something that seems so glaringly...or perhaps sharply...obvious. I've had quite a few headphones that have exhibited pair variance in the past. (With my Beyerdynamic DT 250-250 & DT1350, NAD Viso HP50, and AKG K550, I had to go through doubles on all of these until I found one that sounded right. I actually sent my HP50 back on a warranty service because the first one sounded so damn awful.) 

The sibilance issue is certainly very baffling. Some people seem to experience it (and I don't question your opinion) and others not, and although I agree that a certain amount of variation from one unit to another is to be expected, I do wonder whether this can really account for the differences that people report.

As we've said, the Sonys are nothing if not extremely well made, and it's worth remembering that Sony has years of experience of making professional studio headphones which are to be found in major recording studios throughout the world. Some very small variation from one pair to another might be possible, but whole batches which are very sibilant and other whole batches which are not seems, with respect, very unlikely to me.

FWIW I liked them so much that I bought a second pair about nine months after I bought the first pair. The second pair were from B&H and the first from a dealer in the UK. They sound virtually identical.

Again, I'm not denying your experience and there must be some reason for the differences of opinion, but I worry that speculation that there could be a big difference from pair to pair might be misleading.
Edited by Mike F - 5/4/14 at 2:30am
post #264 of 326

If you all like balanced and neutral with extended airy highs and accurate deep tight bass that rumbles when needed to, get the Alpha Dogs : ]

 

post #265 of 326

I've always wanted to own a pair just for listening! But...how are they for monitoring, editing or even *gasp mixing? I discovered early on with the 7506's (my first really nice headphone) that a theoretically balanced frequency response (according to headroom anyway) does not a good mixing headphone make. There's a je ne sais quoi to a studio headphone that requires more than a balanced sound.

 

I've been ping-ponging between the 7520 and the FSP for a while. The "flatness" I've heard of the FSP attracts me, but the headphones look mechanically overengineered. The 7520 just has trouble in the gimbals from what I've read, but the FSP seems to break all over the place.

post #266 of 326

Just ordered myself a set of MDR-7506s. You just can't not have a set of these around for referencing...they are the Yamaha NS-10s of studio cans. The funny part is I used to own an MDR-V6 but thought they were too shrill so I sold them and they sold on eBay in about 24 hours. I guess I changed my mind. I really want that super-flat in your face sound again. It's good to have one headphone to compare all others to, and that was definitely the thing about the V6 before.

 

I make some metal guitar covers on YouTube, so I think I'll use the 7506s for setting the virtual amp tone, my 280 Pros for tracking because of their awesome isolation so I don't have to hear the unamped guitar strings at all, and then both my SRH440s and the 7506s for the final mix EQ. It's too bad I can't really afford any studio monitors...yet.

 

"Sorry about your wallet" is starting to come into play here for me. Oh, head-fi.


Edited by metal571 - 5/5/14 at 1:28pm
post #267 of 326
Quote:
Originally Posted by metal571 View Post
 

Just ordered myself a set of MDR-7506s. You just can't not have a set of these around for referencing...they are the Yamaha NS-10s of studio cans. The funny part is I used to own an MDR-V6 but thought they were too shrill so I sold them and they sold on eBay in about 24 hours. I guess I changed my mind. I really want that super-flat in your face sound again. It's good to have one headphone to compare all others to, and that was definitely the thing about the V6 before.

 

I make some metal guitar covers on YouTube, so I think I'll use the 7506s for setting the virtual amp tone, my 280 Pros for tracking because of their awesome isolation so I don't have to hear the unamped guitar strings at all, and then both my SRH440s and the 7506s for the final mix EQ. It's too bad I can't really afford any studio monitors...yet.

 

"Sorry about your wallet" is starting to come into play here for me. Oh, head-fi.

If you buy used you can get great studio monitors for half the price. They're not exactly something that gets moved about or subject to damage, so generally buying used speakers is a great idea.

post #268 of 326

7520's on the way! I'll give them a listen and let everyone know what I think!

post #269 of 326

All right everyone! I've had the 7520's for a couple of days now, and I have no intention of returning them AT ALL. I got them used from B&H for $250 after wrestling with myself for a few days, so I'll consider these burned in. B&H doesn't do anything but a cursory driver inspection, so I doubt they would be able to tell if it's off or if its fake. I don't think it is. The packaging is exactly the way it's supposed to be, and I don't think there's a market for 7520 fakes. The only ding I found was a little depression in the headband on the front right where the frame ends and the metal band begins (owners will know where I'm referring to). One last disclaimer. The best listening device I have is my phone; I'm away from my rig and my interface this month, so bear with me.

 

I only have a few things to add to AustinValentine's evaluation, some addenda and some contentions. Otherwise, assume my impressions are similar/identical:

 

1. THE CREAKING, and the build: I really do love the build, but I was immediately smacked with the creaking problem a lot of people talk about. It's more substantial in the left side, and it only seems to affect the gimbals that hold the cups in place. The other axis is buttery smooth. There are a lot of solutions I might try. Someone in the 7520 thread suggested putting some twine in there. Another had step-by-steps for the Z-1000 for taking it apart and getting some material, maybe WD40 in the yokes.It stops creaking when I press the yokes to the earcups, so clearly it either needs to be lubed up or filled in. Despite this, I feel like I could toss them around. The headphones feel solid. I'm still going to baby them because I feel that finish is susceptible to scratches and chips. One cool things about the Spirit Pro is their finish is designed to mask scratches and dings. Very clever of Focal. The 7520's have a really antiseptic design I like, but I'm afraid to ruin it! Haha.

 

2. Sibilance: This was a weird thing for me, because I've read about the sibilance issues of the 7520's long before I listened to them. My first reaction toward my go-tos for sibilance (early Sara Bareilles and assorted K-Pop) was, "I can totally see why some people would have a problem with that." It was surreal. It wasn't "I have a problem with that," but some strange empathy for everyone who has ever complained about the sibilance of the 7520's. I think this is where I started hopping on board the 7520 train proper. I could hear that something was wrong without feeling smacked in the face by it. If the 7520 adds sibilance, it does so a bit like a Yamaha NS-10 does for mids. It really made me vigilant about it, but I clearly don't mind it too much. It'll be helpful, if anything.

 

3. Soundstage and imaging: I don't like a large soundstage. In headphones. I'm making no bones about it; the 7520's are only here because my somewhat transient lifestyle at the moment won't let me sanely grab a pair of monitor speakers for serious mixing. I love speaker listening. I love speaker mixing. It's no contest for me. Since I'm not asking for speakers on my ears, the small soundstage in the 7520's doesn't bother me at all! Compared to my 7506's, which, out of all listening devices that I take seriously, have an acceptably large soundstage (some might disagree) but the weirdest imaging I have ever heard, the 7520's imaging is astounding. I fired up some big Saint-Seans pieces and I could place things perfectly.

 

4. Levels: I can listen to these quietly. I love that. The bass somehow gets through. Not midbass, bass. The drivers move air even when I'm listening very quietly. I tried this out on a piece I put out a bit ago: https://soundcloud.com/bkschatzki/spira-overture I could hear the low hits through the clutter, and I've already revisited the mix in my head after one listen. I can't wait to get back to my rig and fix this guy up.

 

This is a great little headphone. It's a lot smaller than you imagine it to be. Something about top end headphones makes me think they're all huge, but they're only a hair bulkier than my old 7506's. I still wouldn't dream of using them outside. These are studio/plane-ride cans through-and-through.

post #270 of 326
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kierkes View Post

 

1. THE CREAKING, and the build: I really do love the build, but I was immediately smacked with the creaking problem a lot of people talk about. It's more substantial in the left side, and it only seems to affect the gimbals that hold the cups in place. The other axis is buttery smooth. There are a lot of solutions I might try. Someone in the 7520 thread suggested putting some twine in there. Another had step-by-steps for the Z-1000 for taking it apart and getting some material, maybe WD40 in the yokes.It stops creaking when I press the yokes to the earcups, so clearly it either needs to be lubed up or filled in. Despite this, I feel like I could toss them around. The headphones feel solid. I'm still going to baby them because I feel that finish is susceptible to scratches and chips. One cool things about the Spirit Pro is their finish is designed to mask scratches and dings. Very clever of Focal. The 7520's have a really antiseptic design I like, but I'm afraid to ruin it! Haha.

 

2. Sibilance: This was a weird thing for me, because I've read about the sibilance issues of the 7520's long before I listened to them. My first reaction toward my go-tos for sibilance (early Sara Bareilles and assorted K-Pop) was, "I can totally see why some people would have a problem with that." It was surreal. It wasn't "I have a problem with that," but some strange empathy for everyone who has ever complained about the sibilance of the 7520's. I think this is where I started hopping on board the 7520 train proper. I could hear that something was wrong without feeling smacked in the face by it. If the 7520 adds sibilance, it does so a bit like a Yamaha NS-10 does for mids. It really made me vigilant about it, but I clearly don't mind it too much. It'll be helpful, if anything.

 

3. Soundstage and imaging: I don't like a large soundstage. In headphones. I'm making no bones about it; the 7520's are only here because my somewhat transient lifestyle at the moment won't let me sanely grab a pair of monitor speakers for serious mixing. I love speaker listening. I love speaker mixing. It's no contest for me. Since I'm not asking for speakers on my ears, the small soundstage in the 7520's doesn't bother me at all! Compared to my 7506's, which, out of all listening devices that I take seriously, have an acceptably large soundstage (some might disagree) but the weirdest imaging I have ever heard, the 7520's imaging is astounding. I fired up some big Saint-Seans pieces and I could place things perfectly.

 

4. Levels: I can listen to these quietly. I love that. The bass somehow gets through. Not midbass, bass. The drivers move air even when I'm listening very quietly. I tried this out on a piece I put out a bit ago: https://soundcloud.com/bkschatzki/spira-overture I could hear the low hits through the clutter, and I've already revisited the mix in my head after one listen. I can't wait to get back to my rig and fix this guy up.

 

This is a great little headphone. It's a lot smaller than you imagine it to be. Something about top end headphones makes me think they're all huge, but they're only a hair bulkier than my old 7506's. I still wouldn't dream of using them outside. These are studio/plane-ride cans through-and-through.

 

Mine don't have any creaking at all, although I previously used the 7509HD (which I think is underrated, at least here on HeadFi) and they creak a LOT, so I don't think I'd even notice a bit of creaking.

 

I think that you've described the sibilance issue very well.

 

I absolutely agree with what you say about the soundstage. I have HD800's which have by all accounts the best soundstage of any headphone, but, like you, I don't miss that at all on the 7520's, probably mostly because the imaging is so good.

 

I also love the fact that they work so well at low levels.

 

Yes, they're quite small, and, unusually, they look even better when you're wearing them than when you're not!


Edited by Mike F - 5/9/14 at 1:21am
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