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Looking for an open backed headphone to replace failing HD540 reference II

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I have a pair of Sennheiser HD 540 reference II headphones that are starting to fail me (I believe it is the contact springs) so I am in the market for something open backed to replace them. My problem is that I can't really find a frequency response curve of the HD540 II's to compare them to other headphones I have looked at; the closest I can find is this GoldenEars review of the HD540 reference gold (which I believe has a similar sound, except for less bass):

http://en.goldenears.net/GR_Headphones/16553

 

However, as these HD540 II's are over 20 years old I have had to do some things to them that have probably changed the sound signature, like replacing the stock velour earpads with spare SRH 840 earpads (which worked surprisingly well), as well as making custom paper baffle covers to replace the original ones that came off.

 

As far as I can tell, the sound of the HD540 II's that I have is mostly neutral, with some sort of treble emphasis. I think it is around 4-6 kHz, but again I can't really be sure. I also have a pair of Shure SRH 840's which apparently have a peak above that and a dip around 5Khz, and the treble peak on the 540s definitely seems to be lower than that of the 840s. This makes the 540s render things like cymbals, violins, and pianos far more realistically than the SRH 840s, and I would ideally like to find another headphone that can do this. While the SRH 840 treble sounds a bit "thin" because of the upper treble emphasis, the HD540 treble sounds much more substantial. Basically, I want treble with a lot of detail, but without sibilance and with a realistic sound.

 

In terms of the rest of the frequency range I am looking for flatness with bass that is present, but not emphasized. I would like to get as much bass extension as I can, but I realize that open ear headphones are often weak in that department. One other major consideration is comfort; I hate headphones with shallow earcups that have the driver rest on your ear, so I want a pair that completely surrounds my ear without touching it.

 

I have been looking at the AKG K702, K712, Beyerdynamic DT880 and DT990, Sennheiser HD600, Shure SRH 1840 and some others but without actually listening to them I have no idea if they have the sound I want (since going based on frequency response curves isn't all that reliable). I will mostly be using these with an E07K.

 

Thanks in advance!

post #2 of 17
Thread Starter 

It seems like the need for moderator approval on this thread caused it to slip off the first page before literally anyone could see it, so I am going to go ahead and bump this...

post #3 of 17

Sorry to hear about your impending loss.

 

Their charts have never been particularly intuitive to me. Does one of their chart that seem representative of what you're hearing, particularly in the treble?

 

Preliminarily, I suggest going with HD600 or HD650. With their rolled off trebles, they are unlikely to offend.

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post
 

Sorry to hear about your impending loss.

 

Their charts have never been particularly intuitive to me. Does one of their chart that seem representative of what you're hearing, particularly in the treble?

 

Preliminarily, I suggest going with HD600 or HD650. With their rolled off trebles, they are unlikely to offend.

The first graph on that page seems to show a bit of a peak from 4-6 Khz, which is probably what I am hearing, as my SRH 840's seem to have a trough in that area and as a result have much different sounding treble (seems to be more upper treble and less lower treble than the HD540s).

 

My Shure's are already pretty laid back sounding because of their big midbass hump, so what I am looking for now is something that is a bit "sharper" sounding with more treble energy, but ideally without a tone of sibilance.

post #5 of 17

I am familiar with the Shures, and I enjoy them. I probably recommend that model more than any other because it plays so many genres well.

 

I would describe K70x's treble as crisp overall and occasionally a little bright with some records, but not sibilant. I think it offers more and has fewer deficiencies than DT880, which can certainly be sibilant and bright. When I read the descriptions of HD540 on the 540 thread, it sounded to me most like K702, and it's one of the few left on the short list of models I might like to own.

 

DT990 has some of the bass you find with the Shures so it's not really what you're looking for. I haven't heard K712. My understanding is that it sounds similar to K702, but with a good deal more bass. If that's right, then it's wrong too. The general difference in bass between K702 / DT880 and K712 / DT990 is made clear on the chart below.

 

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post
 

I am familiar with the Shures, and I enjoy them. I probably recommend that model more than any other because it plays so many genres well.

 

I would describe K70x's treble as crisp overall and occasionally a little bright with some records, but not sibilant. I think it offers more and has fewer deficiencies than DT880, which can certainly be sibilant and bright. When I read the descriptions of HD540 on the 540 thread, it sounded to me most like K702, and it's one of the few left on the short list of models I might like to own.

 

DT990 has some of the bass you find with the Shures so it's not really what you're looking for. I haven't heard K712. My understanding is that it sounds similar to K702, but with a good deal more bass. If that's right, then it's wrong too. The general difference in bass between K702 / DT880 and K712 / DT990 is made clear on the chart below.

 

Yeah the K702 seems more like what I am looking for, but I haven't been able to determine if they have changed at all since they moved production over to China; there are people on various sites complaining about this and saying that Chinese products are junk, but this is probably just stereotyping more than anything else, and I have no issues with buying products that are made in China.

 

I am looking for something to do what my SRH 840's don't do, so I would prefer flat, extended (but not emphasized) bass, as the peak of the 840s can get pretty boomy.

post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mjolnir125 View Post
 

Yeah the K702 seems more like what I am looking for, but I haven't been able to determine if they have changed at all since they moved production over to China; there are people on various sites complaining about this and saying that Chinese products are junk, but this is probably just stereotyping more than anything else, and I have no issues with buying products that are made in China.

 

I expect there isn't much difference--if any whatsoever. I would buy a used Austrian one. Try to make sure it wasn't used with an Asgard 1, as it has been known to damage drivers in non-obvious ways.

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post
 

 

I expect there isn't much difference--if any whatsoever. I would buy a used Austrian one. Try to make sure it wasn't used with an Asgard 1, as it has been known to damage drivers in non-obvious ways.

 

 

I don't value it enough to buy a used pair instead of a new one, and besides, the Chinese made ones apparently don't have the headband bumps that some people find uncomfortable.

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mjolnir125 View Post


I don't value it enough to buy a used pair instead of a new one, and besides, the Chinese made ones apparently don't have the headband bumps that some people find uncomfortable.

Are you sure about the bumps? I know that K702 annie, K612, and K712 don't have them. They don't bother me, though the original seven bump models might have.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yeah, they got rid of the bumps for the normal k702 apparently, but I don't know how long ago.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

I ordered the K702. I am not sure if they will end up being the Austrian or Chinese made versions (and if they will have the newer flat headband or not), but for $190 new I don't really mind.

post #12 of 17

At that price it's probably the Chinese but it should be fine. Obviously, AKG moved to China to compete on price (but with whom?).

 

I hope you like it. Please post a comparison of it and HD540 at some point so I can get a better idea of HD540. I tried to follow that thread, but it it's hard when I haven't heard what I'm reading about.

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

I am not sure my HD540 Reference II's (which are slightly different than the HD540 that came before it; apparently they have more bass) will sound like what another pair would, since I am using different earpads and have done some other mods on them. I can't really remember what they sounded like before modification, but now they sound very detailed and have very nice sounding treble. The overall sound is very flat, and the midrange is not really emphasized but i wouldn't call it recessed either; it is there and you can hear all of it, but it isn't as prominent as the treble. Other headphones I have used like the ATH M50's have midrange that is noticeably recessed, so much so that I have to strain to hear it. This isn't the case with the HD540 II's, probably because of the larger soundstage and better instrument spacing.

 

Hopefully the K702's will have a similar sound, and I hope my E07k is an adequate amp for them... I don't really mind if they are the chinese made version, as it seems like that means they will have the flat headband which is probably more comfortable.

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

So I got the K702's; the bass is definitely just the amount I wanted, but I am still getting used to the treble and the comfort is a bit odd with how big and stiff the earpads are. I got the flat headband made in china version which is fine with me.

post #15 of 17
The earpads will get softer over time.

I would burn it in with some pink noise (http://simplynoise.com) to tighten the bass and smooth the treble.

I'd be curious to see a photo of the headband without the bumps, if you can manage it.
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