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Help a Koss Pro4AA lover relieve massive neck pain without breaking the bank?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I can't take it any more! I can't! :basshead:

 

Obviously, I'm not a total newbie (but I am new around here - long time lurker, etc. Hi!) I have great ears still and I know what I like in terms of balance. And I've got a nice setup with my sources. But the time has finally come to get cans that are not actively trying to kill me. Preferably without breaking the bank. By which I mean: something in the $250 and under (preferably under) range.

 

So, to elaborate on what I'm looking for in terms of sound: flat response. "Punched up" bass makes me want to "punch out" people. Muddle the mids and I can't enjoy my analog synthesizers. And my audiologist envies me because I have zero loss at 20kHz. If I want to mess with response, that's what the EQ is for.

No surprise, over the ear is preferred - IEMs or in-ears are a total non-starter at any price or quality. Thicker pads are also a good thing, as I wear glasses. Material, well, I'm not too picky - I don't mind the Pro4AAs, though I do love the pads on my Bose QC15s (shush - can't beat free and they're great in airplanes.) But relatively low clamping force is a must, with good isolation - I use Cherry MX Green and IBM buckling spring keyboards exclusively. I'd prefer something that doesn't need an amp, but I'm open to it for cans that play nice with the Millett Starving Student - building isn't buying. ;) But I don't really turn the volume up so much either.

Also of note, I tend to wear them 8-12 hours at a stretch. So replaceable pads are pretty high up on the list, as I do wear them out. I don't have a real preference as to open vs. closed back though. I've used both - just keep coming back to Koss because I apparently can only pick the worst possible losers in the $150-or-less category.

 

And let's be honest: approximately none of you compare against Pro4AAs. Makes it hard to compare. Come on, they're the green-ish gold standard since forever!

 

As far as what I listen to with them, here's the list of what I don't listen to instead:
- Country and/or Western

Here's a couple examples of the general styles I most frequently listen to though:

- Mighty Switch Force OST, Machinae Supremacy, Tom Waits, Steely Dan, Way Out West, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Rotersand, Royksopp, Eisbrecher, KMFDM, Eric Claptop, Esperanza Spalding, The Flaming Lips, Iomgen Heap, Funker Vogt, Daft Punk, Stevie Wonder - you get the point.

 

So have at it. What's out there in designs made after 1970 that's worth my time?

Double bonus points if it either comes in white or has an actual lifetime warranty.

post #2 of 11

headphone comfort is a very individual thing.  Sizing and sensitivities are unique to each person.  We can point you to headphones that are generally considered to be comfortable and mention others that have garnered complaints for being uncomfortable.  However, the only way to know for sure is to wear them yourself for a time equivalent to your longest listening session.

 

I find the following quality cans to be among the most comfortable KRK KNS 8400, Senn HD 598 and the Audio Technica ATH AD 900X.  But you may or may not...

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KG Jag View Post
 

headphone comfort is a very individual thing.  Sizing and sensitivities are unique to each person.  We can point you to headphones that are generally considered to be comfortable and mention others that have garnered complaints for being uncomfortable.  However, the only way to know for sure is to wear them yourself for a time equivalent to your longest listening session.

 

I find the following quality cans to be among the most comfortable KRK KNS 8400, Senn HD 598 and the Audio Technica ATH AD 900X.  But you may or may not...

 

To be sure, but let's be honest here: they're the heaviest damn headphones known to man. In event of zombie apocalypse, you can arm yourself with an IBM Model M and Koss Pro4AA's and you're set. If it wasn't for that, I would probably own four pairs and build a giant shrine to them. (Granted, I have things tuned specifically for them, but that's a given with any good cans and source.) But what am I telling you for? You already know this of the Pro4AA's.

 

So not really talking in terms of "comfort" - talking in terms of "phones that weigh less with comparable audio quality." And since the preceding paragraph is truth and I don't see a zombie apocalypse scheduled this week, that's probably an awful lot of cans. Especially since years of Pro4AA use have likely made my neck comparable to the Hulk.

Also should note, I vastly prefer headband resting on top of my head and apparently I have a weird shape or something. Both Pro4AAs and QC15s are all the way 'in' - no extension at ALL. One notch on either side with the QC15s and they're falling off my head. I run into this issue with a LOT of headphones.

 

So I guess perhaps I should clarify by saying "chuck comfort out the window" for starters, and break it down by the critical things.

  • Has to weigh less than Pro4AAs. Weight is the big issue. So, that's what, everything but Pro4As? ;)
  • Has to be full over the ear circumaural, not supra-aural. Sorry Grado fans.
  • Has to have frequency range equal to or comparable to Pro4AA's (10Hz-25kHz).
  • I love me some flat curves. Response curves, that is.
  • Lower skull clamping force is a necessity, but how it gets there doesn't matter. Oh, and my head is apparently tiny.
  • Better isolation is better, no upper bound. Headphones on is pretty much "not even if the building is on fire" DND.
  • Looking in the price range of $50-$250.

I mostly liked the K702's raw (burned in, no EQ, no adjustments, no amp) but they were a little iffy on the pads with glasses. By contrast, I really disliked the K240 MkII - bass and upper-mid (for me that's around the 10kHz area) end felt excessively loud. Plus I really do not want to limit myself to just AKG if there's better out there.

 

Things that I could care less about or will sacrifice to the altar of budget:

  • Aesthetics. I'd love something in white, but that's a bonus. Cord style doesn't matter either.
  • Who makes it. If Joe's Cans sounds just as good as Koss, more power to Joe. I'm not brand loyal.
  • I don't mind giving up a little of the bottom end - 70-25kHz+, I can live with that no problems.

 

I'm very, very skittish when it comes to Senns for two big reasons. One, their headband design always seems to either attempt to crush my skull with some success or be too big to fit at all. Two, every time I see them on others I feel like I'm hearing their music more clearly than they are. So if you're up for it, sell me on 'em - bear in mind, I realistically need >=26dB ambient isolation.

 

Any chance you can compare the D900X's to the M50's? Stupidly didn't listen first - the M50's went back fast. Way too much bass, way too little mid. Lesson learned, take non-comparative supposedly objective reviews with truckload of salt. M50's made me a very sad panda. Comfy though! Really liked that headband, even more than AKG, and only a little loose for me. (Definitely would not survive headbanging, but neither do the QC15s.)

 

And I have to nix the KRK's already, sadly - and being a Rokit G2 fan (for casual stuff), it kinda hurts. But the KNS-6400's I tried on hurt way more. I think they used very narrow heads for the average or something. I didn't even try listening to them - they were having great success in dislodging my glasses and limited success in crushing my skull. In hard numbers, KRK claims 4N - so anything at or above 3N is probably out the window. :(

post #4 of 11

The Pro 4AA in its classic form from the 70's are heavy and feel heavy, but are eclipsed in that regard by a number of orthos like the LCD-2 & 3 (both way above your price range).

 

Your sensitivities run different from mine.  I wear glasses and find the Q 701 to be very comfortable.  The KRK KNS 8400 has better pads than the 6400.  I find the 8400 to be a very comfortable can.  Almost no one finds the very light 900X to be uncomfortable, but maybe some would not like the wing design.  I find the 900X to have more comfortable pads, less clamping pressure and less weight to wear than the M-50. 

 

You really need to try them before you buy them.  You have very specific preferences and requirements that strongly indicate that only you can apply and determine what can feels/works best for you.

post #5 of 11

I have the Koss pro 4aa, and after wearing them for even a few minutes, putting on my Beyerdynamic DT880 premiums feels like pillows on my ears.  Divinely comfortable, much lighter weight.  The DT880's are open though, or semi-open as beyer calls them, so they can provide a bit of isolation.  I also use a mech keyboard and i can still hear the keys a little bit when typing with the DT880's on, but not enough to be a bother.  If i have the volume up to an average listening level, i dont even notice the mech keys.

 

As far as sound quality, the DT880's are much clearer and more detailed than the 4aa's.  Just a better all around headphone.

 

There is also the Beyer DT770, a closed back phone, but from what ive read, those are quite bassy.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by KG Jag View Post
 

The Pro 4AA in its classic form from the 70's are heavy and feel heavy, but are eclipsed in that regard by a number of orthos like the LCD-2 & 3 (both way above your price range).

 

Your sensitivities run different from mine.  I wear glasses and find the Q 701 to be very comfortable.  The KRK KNS 8400 has better pads than the 6400.  I find the 8400 to be a very comfortable can.  Almost no one finds the very light 900X to be uncomfortable, but maybe some would not like the wing design.  I find the 900X to have more comfortable pads, less clamping pressure and less weight to wear than the M-50. 

 

You really need to try them before you buy them.  You have very specific preferences and requirements that strongly indicate that only you can apply and determine what can feels/works best for you.


Sadly that is the truth on the LCD-3's. Honestly though if those were in my range, I'd say "$&*#@! IT" and buy ESP950's. (You know you want two. Or four. Or thirty.)

 

I think the Q701's got different stock pads than the K702's. I only tried the leatherette - not my cans, so couldn't really say "hey gimme velvet pads try nao plz." Other than the pads dislodging my glasses and not giving a really good seal, me likey AKG fit. They also didn't sag overmuch despite the suspension setup. I was really quite happy with them other than the pad problem.

 

I suppose that does narrow things down further still; D900X's are sadly out since they'll almost definitely fall off my head. Sitting still while listening to bouncy music, doesn't happen. I'm amazed my QC15s haven't fallen apart some days.

 

The 8400 won't fare any better with the pads - the problem was above the pads. (It usually is.) Like I said, super weird shape to my head apparently. Only explanation I've got for it. I actually liked the feel of the pads on the 6400, but there was just too much clamp up above them. And anything looser than the M50's is definitely a deal breaker - I found them looser than my QC15's out of the box. (Again: super weird head shape apparently!) I don't even know how to measure that problem other than "4N is way too much and whatever M50 is is nearly too little."

 

Unfortunately, yeah, I have really specific problems more than preferences. I mean, the preference part is easy: flat! (Or I can go into my studio monitor preferences, but then everyone will just go 'oh, right, STAX/ESP950/etc.') Flat and fits? Not so easy. And there's not exactly a lot of places to audition around here, making things all the worse. Glad I stumbled upon the KRKs.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrocCap View Post
 

I have the Koss pro 4aa, and after wearing them for even a few minutes, putting on my Beyerdynamic DT880 premiums feels like pillows on my ears.  Divinely comfortable, much lighter weight.  The DT880's are open though, or semi-open as beyer calls them, so they can provide a bit of isolation.  I also use a mech keyboard and i can still hear the keys a little bit when typing with the DT880's on, but not enough to be a bother.  If i have the volume up to an average listening level, i dont even notice the mech keys.

 

As far as sound quality, the DT880's are much clearer and more detailed than the 4aa's.  Just a better all around headphone.

 

There is also the Beyer DT770, a closed back phone, but from what ive read, those are quite bassy.

 

Hahaha, it's more like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders! Oh wait, it literally has! No wonder it feels like that, right? ;)

 

Which keyboard are you typing on exactly? If there's one thing I'm pickier about than my audio, it's my keyboards, and I know exactly how every keyboard sounds - because there's about a 90% chance I've typed on it. My keyboards are all on the extreme end of loud, even my quiet ones - two DK9008G2 Pro PBTs. (I bottom out 80g switches at 130WPM is why. Pianist!) I was looking at the DT770's as an alternative to the 880/990 but that would potentially put the kibosh on that.

 

So, hm, AKG K701 vs. AKG K702 vs. DT770 Pro (supposedly less of the bass excess?) vs DT990 250 Pro (supposedly flatter version of the 990) seems like a reasonable list of options for me? They all seem to have one or more of the big points overwhelmingly in their favor - are the velvet pads on the AKGs much softer than the leather ones? Boy, that just went to a weird place - compare the 'luscious pillows' of the BDs to the 'velvet softness' of the AKGs. :confused_face:

 

Any recommendations on big chains where I might be able to audition Beyer 770 Pro / 990 Pro? I hate being the guy who orders, has for a few days, ships back going "OH GODS EARBLEED."

post #7 of 11
Quote:

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by CrocCap View Post
 

I have the Koss pro 4aa, and after wearing them for even a few minutes, putting on my Beyerdynamic DT880 premiums feels like pillows on my ears.  Divinely comfortable, much lighter weight.  The DT880's are open though, or semi-open as beyer calls them, so they can provide a bit of isolation.  I also use a mech keyboard and i can still hear the keys a little bit when typing with the DT880's on, but not enough to be a bother.  If i have the volume up to an average listening level, i dont even notice the mech keys.

 

As far as sound quality, the DT880's are much clearer and more detailed than the 4aa's.  Just a better all around headphone.

 

There is also the Beyer DT770, a closed back phone, but from what ive read, those are quite bassy.

 

Hahaha, it's more like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders! Oh wait, it literally has! No wonder it feels like that, right? ;)

 

Which keyboard are you typing on exactly? If there's one thing I'm pickier about than my audio, it's my keyboards, and I know exactly how every keyboard sounds - because there's about a 90% chance I've typed on it. My keyboards are all on the extreme end of loud, even my quiet ones - two DK9008G2 Pro PBTs. (I bottom out 80g switches at 130WPM is why. Pianist!) I was looking at the DT770's as an alternative to the 880/990 but that would potentially put the kibosh on that.

 

So, hm, AKG K701 vs. AKG K702 vs. DT770 Pro (supposedly less of the bass excess?) vs DT990 250 Pro (supposedly flatter version of the 990) seems like a reasonable list of options for me? They all seem to have one or more of the big points overwhelmingly in their favor - are the velvet pads on the AKGs much softer than the leather ones? Boy, that just went to a weird place - compare the 'luscious pillows' of the BDs to the 'velvet softness' of the AKGs. :confused_face:

 

Any recommendations on big chains where I might be able to audition Beyer 770 Pro / 990 Pro? I hate being the guy who orders, has for a few days, ships back going "OH GODS EARBLEED."

 

The Koss Pro4AA is really a nostalgia headphone, nothing more at this point.  I had one back in the early 70's and enjoyed it when I had it, but the industry left it long ago.  If you can get over your desire to stick with closed, the world of headphones could be your oyster.  Mine had the old fluid-filled pads which dried out after several years.;)  I agree with most of the assessments above.  The K701 and its derivatives would really open your eyes and ears, so to speak.  Although, I think you could quickly get used to the Sennheiser clamping force on the 580/600/650 family.  They loosen up over time and are so comfortable that you really don't notice it.

 

If you go for the K701, try to pick the K712 or the Q701..  The original K701 is a fantastic headphone, but the center bump on the headband can be excruciating.  The Q701's moved it off of dead center, but got rid of them altogether on the K712.  The Beyer DT880 is also a good choice, but the quality improves with the highest impedance you can stand.  The 600-ohm DT880 is a world-class headphone (as are all I've mentioned), but it can be tough to amp with that kind of impedance.  The Sennheisers are probably the easiest to amp consistently, while the K701 family is tough as well - needing a lot of current-impulse capability.

 

There's also a second choice - you might be interested in a Senn HD25-II (or Amperior or HD26).  Those are on-ear, closed and IMHO, are greatly superior to the Koss.  People in broadcast wear them for hours.  You see them on the heads of NFL play-by-play guys all the time.

 

You might look on Tyll's "wall of fame" on innerfidelity.com.  Keep in mind that Tyll tends to like warm, mid-bass phones with some thump and tends to get frustrated over a little tizziness in the high-end.  Someone with your hearing might easily prefer an extended-response headphone with lots of sparkle.  That would tend toward the K701 family and the Beyers.

post #8 of 11

Quote:

Originally Posted by RootWyrm View Post
 

 

Quote:

 

 

Hahaha, it's more like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders! Oh wait, it literally has! No wonder it feels like that, right? ;)

 

Which keyboard are you typing on exactly? If there's one thing I'm pickier about than my audio, it's my keyboards, and I know exactly how every keyboard sounds - because there's about a 90% chance I've typed on it. My keyboards are all on the extreme end of loud, even my quiet ones - two DK9008G2 Pro PBTs. (I bottom out 80g switches at 130WPM is why. Pianist!) I was looking at the DT770's as an alternative to the 880/990 but that would potentially put the kibosh on that.

 

So, hm, AKG K701 vs. AKG K702 vs. DT770 Pro (supposedly less of the bass excess?) vs DT990 250 Pro (supposedly flatter version of the 990) seems like a reasonable list of options for me? They all seem to have one or more of the big points overwhelmingly in their favor - are the velvet pads on the AKGs much softer than the leather ones? Boy, that just went to a weird place - compare the 'luscious pillows' of the BDs to the 'velvet softness' of the AKGs. :confused_face:

 

Any recommendations on big chains where I might be able to audition Beyer 770 Pro / 990 Pro? I hate being the guy who orders, has for a few days, ships back going "OH GODS EARBLEED."

Im using a DAS keyboard with mx brown switches, not as loud as those IBM buckling spring ones though.

 

My local guitar center has DT770's along with some other closed full sized headphones, like Shure 840 and Sennheiser HD280's, and guitar center is usually pretty good about letting you try products in store.  Could give that a shot.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
 The Koss Pro4AA is really a nostalgia headphone, nothing more at this point.  I had one back in the early 70's and enjoyed it when I had it, but the industry left it long ago.  If you can get over your desire to stick with closed, the world of headphones could be your oyster.  Mine had the old fluid-filled pads which dried out after several years.;)  I agree with most of the assessments above.  The K701 and its derivatives would really open your eyes and ears, so to speak.  Although, I think you could quickly get used to the Sennheiser clamping force on the 580/600/650 family.  They loosen up over time and are so comfortable that you really don't notice it.

 

Well, the newest ones seem to be, sure. I'm not a fan of those drivers. These are not the newest ones by any stretch. I should put the mods back on them and show 'em off - cheating bastard that I am, I have a lambskin wrap for the headband. But it has to be circumaural, period. I need isolation - supra-aurals are echo-chambers of distraction. And my doctor made it excruciatingly clear to me after last time that IEMs are strictly off limits, unless I want to be deaf. I do not want to be deaf.

As far as clamping force? I don't care how much you break in 6N cans, they are going to crush. And if they're pushing entirely at the top, which is the problem I have, you are done unless you have a burning desire to develop migraines. And Sennheiser has been the worst headband design for that problem, sole exception being Momentums. (But ugh, talk about brand markup.)

 

Quote:
 If you go for the K701, try to pick the K712 or the Q701..  The original K701 is a fantastic headphone, but the center bump on the headband can be excruciating.  The Q701's moved it off of dead center, but got rid of them altogether on the K712.  The Beyer DT880 is also a good choice, but the quality improves with the highest impedance you can stand.  The 600-ohm DT880 is a world-class headphone (as are all I've mentioned), but it can be tough to amp with that kind of impedance.  The Sennheisers are probably the easiest to amp consistently, while the K701 family is tough as well - needing a lot of current-impulse capability.

 

The bump is personal preference - and I like the bump! The current K701/K702 supposedly no longer has the bump anyway. (Or it does. It's not clear.) The K702's I listened to were not amped and sounded fantastic. Obviously burned in and with a properly tuned source. Still not terribly surprising given they're 62 @ 1kHz. They can go straight to hell if I need to amp 600 ohms to get decent sound though. Pretty sure the Starving Student can't push that - certainly I don't know how to make it push that much. Not to mention the DT880/600's are way over budget - but the DT880/250 Pros are in.

Sadly, the K712's while possessing a dreamy curve, are absolutely not happening - again, $50-250 range. If you can find me K712's in there, pretty please link so I can buy a dozen. I can't get them below $380 - which ain't bad considering the $700 list, but still way over budget.

Bear in mind, I keep volume pretty dang low with rare excursions. Again: do not wanna be deaf.

 

Quote:
There's also a second choice - you might be interested in a Senn HD25-II (or Amperior or HD26).  Those are on-ear, closed and IMHO, are greatly superior to the Koss.  People in broadcast wear them for hours.  You see them on the heads of NFL play-by-play guys all the time.

 

Found the frequency response curves for the Amperiors and HD25-SPs. Wow that is a big drop at 7kHz - I'd guess to dial out vocal sibilance? Problem being then you throw a good synthesizer at it like I regularly do, and splat hard on the highs. Best way to demonstrate it is go back to my first post, fire up the Mighty Switch Force OST. Go to track 10, Yummy and track 6, Love You Love You Love - or better still, buy it on Bandcamp in lossless. Now play with your EQ a bit. Yup - my favorite flavor of bright leads are deep in that gap.

 

Quote:
You might look on Tyll's "wall of fame" on innerfidelity.com.  Keep in mind that Tyll tends to like warm, mid-bass phones with some thump and tends to get frustrated over a little tizziness in the high-end.  Someone with your hearing might easily prefer an extended-response headphone with lots of sparkle.  That would tend toward the K701 family and the Beyers. 

 

Will do! At this point, it kinda looks like it's down to AKG K702, added Shure SRH840 on strength of specs, and added Philips Fidelio X1's to the short list thanks to Tyll. So that narrows the questions down tremendously.

 

K702's, well, unless somebody can find K712's on one hell of a sale... or K812's. ;)

 

Shure SRH840's, well, all the questions I guess. They seem to be well liked, and I can't say I dislike the the apparent price point. Just how much clamping force do they have though? Anyone wearing them with glasses that have thick arms? Because those pads look frighteningly thin.

 

Fidelio X1/28's, well, who's wearing 'em with glasses? Has anyone figured out some way to replace the pads? There is no chance those pads will last even a year, so if there really is no replacement, this needs to come off the shortlist post haste. Other than the pads and being tuned for warmth over accuracy (I s'pose I can give it a shot) any reason to stay away?

 

Quote:

 Im using a DAS keyboard with mx brown switches, not as loud as those IBM buckling spring ones though.

 

Oh gods. While Das is the loudest of the Browns by far (cheap ABS keycaps = echo chambers) yeah, it is nowhere near buckling springs. Forget MX Greens on a plate mount. Sooooo, that would definitely knock the DT880's out of consideration.

 

Quote:

My local guitar center has DT770's along with some other closed full sized headphones, like Shure 840 and Sennheiser HD280's, and guitar center is usually pretty good about letting you try products in store.  Could give that a shot.

 

Heh, where do you think I found the KRKs? My local one didn't have anything but DT250s though - everything else was ship to store - and only had Shure's low end stuff in stock. I don't think they're expecting that store to survive much longer - four stores in 50 miles and it's the only one without GC Garage or Vintage. Would truly suck if they closed it down - it's the only store around here with people who actually KNOW analog synths.

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by RootWyrm View Post
 

 

Oh gods. While Das is the loudest of the Browns by far (cheap ABS keycaps = echo chambers) yeah, it is nowhere near buckling springs. Forget MX Greens on a plate mount. Sooooo, that would definitely knock the DT880's out of consideration.

 

 

yea, i should upgrade to the stainless steel key caps...

post #11 of 11

I'm sorry, but this is typical. Someone wants the world in headphones and wants to spend pennies to get it.  You've been given a lot of good advice in this thread.  I suggest you go back and bust another piggy bank and get something that's really worth the time and effort you've been putting in these posts.

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