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Best "Starter" Headphones? - HiFiMan HE-400 / AKG K712 / Sennheiser HD650 / Sennheiser HD600

Poll Results: Which Option Would You Suggest?

 
  • 17% (12)
    HiFiMan HE-400
  • 13% (9)
    AKG K712
  • 14% (10)
    Sennheiser HD650
  • 50% (35)
    Sennheiser HD600
  • 4% (3)
    Other (Please List in Thread)
69 Total Votes  
post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I am looking to enter into the audiophile world. I'm hoping to find as nice a pair of headphones as possible in the Used Market for around $300, as that fits well into my budget and allows me room to purchase a nice Amp and possibly DAC to pair with them. I will likely have a microphone added to this setup for skype chat. 

 

I'm aware that sound preferences are extremely subjective so I'm not looking for a "these are the best" answer but more of I will try my best to accurately describe my limited experience and wants/needs. I've been researching a ton which is what led me to narrowing it down to these options, though I may have missed a few options here and there. It is difficult to find reliable information because there's a lot of "I bought this so it is the greatest" logic out there. I am looking to learn in addition to making a great purchase that I will enjoy so I greatly encourage a detailed description of experience with these headphones.

 

As for my experience, the only notable decent quality headphones I have used were my Sennheiser PC360 Headset and Sennheiser G4ME Zero & One Headsets. (The main thing I learned from the Zero is that I dislike Closed Headphones. It gives me an "inside my head" type of experience and is extremely unpleasant, especially when talking in voice chat. I would prefer an Open Headphone as I will be using them in a quiet environment at home.) The former was paired with an Astro Mixamp and the latter with the SupremeFX IV on my Asus Maximus V Formula Motherboard. Before that, I was into home theater surround setups a bit and tried thing such as the older Energy RCs, Polk Monitors, and Klipsch all connected to a Denon unit. From what I have discovered, I prefer a somewhat neutral to warm sound with accurate, fast bass and an overall tonality that isn't TOO bright. The Sennheisers, Energy RCs, and Polk Monitors all loosely fit into this category. The Klipsch I Could Not listen to for more than a short period of time because it was unbelievably fatiguing and actually just gave me a headache. I've never tried any of these with an adequate amp and dac, though, so my preferences are unreliable. I will be doing that this time, though, most likely with a Magni/Vali + Modi or O2/ODAC combo. (Might consider a Fiio or something else if they compare for that price range.)

 

For the uses of these headphones, I would guess somewhere around 50% Music, 30% Movies & TV Shows, and 20% Gaming. For music, I listen to pretty much everything so I would appreciate a pair of headphones that sound great in all scenarios from acoustic to heavy metal or even dubstep/electronic. I'm not sure how to be overly specific on the movies and tv shows. I watch a lot of different genres so universality is key. In terms of gaming, it's normally MOBA/MMO with some campaigns of new games so I'd like nice detail & clarity plus a decent fun factor but not "bass head' headphones that are muddy and cluttered in sound. There definitely won't be any pro/competitive level FPS or anything of that nature.

 

I've tried to explain everything as best I can but please don't rule out a great headphone without explaining the pros and cons because I very well may be wrong since I haven't experienced anything of this quality.

 

With all of that in mind, what do you guys think of these four options that I listed? Are any of them clear choices above the rest for me or is it a toss up? Did I leave out any other great options or do I need to exclude any of these?

 

Please let me know what you guys think. I would greatly appreciate it as I would like to have this settled and make a purchase this weekend so I can have them on the way to me by Monday.

 

Thanks so much!

post #2 of 26

I think your best bet would be the 600s.  I've owned all the rest (the 712s, kind of; I owned the K702 65th Anniversary) and I think the 600s are the most versatile.  I keep meaning to buy them again....

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thank You for your input. What would you say are the key differences between the 600's and 650's sound? I've tried to find the differences but depending on where you look, the opinions differ vastly. lol 

 

As I understand it, the K712s and K702 Annies are identical in all aspects so I'm sure your experience with them is certainly reliable. How would you compare their sound to that of the HE-400 and 600s/650s? I'm basically just trying to figure out the pros and cons of each one and hopefully make the best decision on them from there. I'm new to this but I believe the main differences to acknowledge would be the detail & clarity, bass accuracy & impact, and then how they produce the mid range & treble. I'm learning as I go. :)

 

Thanks!

post #4 of 26

I never heard any of them, but I think that most balanced/neutral one will be best as a starter, which is HD600 (opinion based on graphs). When you get confident what kind of colorations you like then you could experiment with others.

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 

That makes a lot of sense and it appears nearly everyone thinks the HD600 would be the best bet. I think I'll cross off the HD650 and K712s for now. It seems the HD600 is the better choice for me between the Sennheisers and I honestly can't get a clear view on the K712s because the reviews and opinions on them vary so greatly. Hopefully, I can try all of them sometime in the future. Is there a general "best path" to take in terms of trying different headphones with each type of sound signature?

 

The HE-400s still have me intrigued, though. I've found nothing but gleaming reviews on them as to their overall tonality and how they work amazingly with any type of music or uses. I've seen a few comparisons of them to the HD600 which describe them as being similar in overall sound but with the HE-400s being more amp friendly with better bass and are a bit more "fun" sounding. Can you guys give me a general overview of those two compared to each other?

 

My final question is if I look to purchase one of those, what would be the going price for each? (New or Used) I'd like to save as much as possible, obviously, but the prices between the different marketplaces I have checked range quite a lot so I'm not sure what to aim for.

 

Thanks!

post #6 of 26

My first quality headphones was the HD600 and I have been very pleased with them.  I voted that way, looked at the results and they seem to be the clear front runner.

post #7 of 26

Used pair of HD650s for ~$300 would be such a good pair of starters it'd be a LONG time before you need anything else. At least in my opinion.

post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 

Here is my final question before I order, and I may even end up getting both the HD600s and HE-400s to try if I can make it work and keep the ones I like most. I would prefer to just buy one and save myself the trouble if possible, though. 

 

What will be the best option for me with ~ $150-$200 for an Amp & Dac and connected to my PC? From what I've seen, the Schiit Magni + Modi and O2 + ODAC Combos seem to be the front runners by far for anything in that price range. From what I've read, the HE-400s will work great with anything decent. However, I've seen a lot of claims that the HD600s & HD650s are extremely picky with their setups. What do you guys think here? I know there is a ton of preference for the HD600s here but I just want to be sure that the HE-400s have been heard  for comparison and that my budget and setup will be taken into account.

 

Thanks a lot!

post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melee View Post
 

What will be the best option for me with ~ $150-$200 for an Amp & Dac and connected to my PC? From what I've seen, the Schiit Magni + Modi and O2 + ODAC Combos seem to be the front runners by far for anything in that price range. From what I've read, the HE-400s will work great with anything decent. However, I've seen a lot of claims that the HD600s & HD650s are extremely picky with their setups. What do you guys think here? I know there is a ton of preference for the HD600s here but I just want to be sure that the HE-400s have been heard  for comparison and that my budget and setup will be taken into account.

 

Thanks a lot!

 

The HD-600 and Bottlehead Crack amplifier has been my setup since I ever got into Hi-Fi audio.  I haven't really heard a need to change.  It's been said that the Crack amp is one of the best value:price ratios in the range you're looking at.  Then again, it's a kit that may take you a couple evenings of wire cutting/stripping and soldering.  Well worth it in my opinion.  I can't comment on other amplifiers.

post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 

I found a great deal on a pair of HE-400s so I snagged them with the mindset that since I have a Sennheiser G4me One in my possession, I can listen to both and compare their overall tonality. I'm aware the 558/598 drivers won't be identical to the HD600s, but since I owned the PC360 for a long while and now this, comparing them to the HE-400s on the same amp and source should give me a better view of my preferences in sound. I hope this was a wise choice. :o I greatly appreciate all of the help and advice. Sennheiser has always been wonderful in my experience with their gaming headsets so I'm sure the HD600s are fantastic. I'm thinking this route might benefit me more in the long run for being able to pinpoint what I'm looking for and my gut was telling me to go with the HE-400s, at least for right now.

 

Thanks so much for all the help!

post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 

One more quick question if you guys don't mind.

 

What Amp/Dac Combo would you guys recommend to pair with the HE-400s and HD600s? I searched everywhere but, as usual, read completely split opinions depending on where it was posted. Normally, it seems, people struggle to be unbiased and simply state that whatever they own is the greatest thing ever made.

 

I'm assuming the Magni/Modi or O2/ODAC combo would be my best bet? It will all be ran through my PC, though, so I wasn't sure if a decent sound card would be better than the other DACs and then just snag one of the Amps to pair with it? Let me know what you guys think. Hoping to decide and order today so that everything will ship out tomorrow.

 

Thanks! 

post #12 of 26

Quote:

Originally Posted by Melee View Post
 

I'm assuming the Magni/Modi or O2/ODAC combo would be my best bet? 

I have O2+ODAC and I see no reason to ever upgrade it, the only difference I can hear, between this and my integrated PC sound card, is more power and zero noise.

 

If you decide to get either, then probably Schiit stack will be better. The amp is not so well measured like O2, but it's cheaper, better looking and provides more power. ODAC is superior to Modi but the difference is so small that it's inaudible to human ear. Also Schiit gives you 5 year warranty.


Edited by ieee754 - 3/30/14 at 2:18pm
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melee View Post

 

What Amp/Dac Combo would you guys recommend to pair with the HE-400s and HD600s? I searched everywhere but, as usual, read completely split opinions depending on where it was posted. Normally, it seems, people struggle to be unbiased and simply state that whatever they own is the greatest thing ever made.

 

Well, there's an explanation for that - why do they own those to begin with? Others might have a limited experience, but the rest might have tried a bunch of amps (or others), finally found one they really liked, and perhaps even several years down the road they couldn't really find anything else that has this much performance at that price range. There might be cheaper amps might have a better value in terms of god performance to very low price ratio, but with not that much more money they get a really good midrange amp, and from there $1,000 amps don't make that much of a difference to them anymore. It's not always like someone living in a small town and married a person who has been attending the same Church since they were kids and they never moved out of there; sometimes it may be more along the lines of Sex and the City with dozens of exciting discoveries, disappointments, failures, along the way then daddy's Ivy League princess finally finds her adorable, loyal, chubby, hairy but bald on top husband after all sorts f guys that include an uncircumsized guy who decided to "walk the dog around the block" before committing to her and an ex-husband who had a creepy relationship with his mother and develops an erectile dysfunction with anyone that he is married to since they feel too much like the mother at that point.

Yeah, yeah, so I watched the series; I actually liked sitting down with my then-girlfriend watching her shows even though she hated Law & Order, SVU, Monday Night Football and Wrestlemania, alright?

post #14 of 26

I badly want the HD650 as kind of an end-game setup for some time to come ...

And you are considering it for an intro headphone. Lucky! 

post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melee View Post
 

One more quick question if you guys don't mind.

 

What Amp/Dac Combo would you guys recommend to pair with the HE-400s and HD600s? I searched everywhere but, as usual, read completely split opinions depending on where it was posted. Normally, it seems, people struggle to be unbiased and simply state that whatever they own is the greatest thing ever made.

 

I'm assuming the Magni/Modi or O2/ODAC combo would be my best bet? It will all be ran through my PC, though, so I wasn't sure if a decent sound card would be better than the other DACs and then just snag one of the Amps to pair with it? Let me know what you guys think. Hoping to decide and order today so that everything will ship out tomorrow.

 

Thanks! 

I'll take the He-400's, but they won't be your last pair of headphones. The HD-650's scale well with equipment, so you'll be changing your amp a lot more than your headphones. 

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