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Help buying phones around $400-800, between 'beginner' & 'Summit-Fi'

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Looking for some recommendations / opinions on my next headphone purchase. I currently own MDR-7506, MDR-1R, K545, and Fidelio X1's (and some custom molded UE Pro IEM's). Looking to take the next step up but not quite into the realm of "summit-fi" headphones, more like the level before Summit-Fi, in the price range of $400-800. 

 

I primarily listen to rock music, both classic, modern, indie, etc. Also some electronic but not like dubstep or anything like that, more like electronic rock. I own a few closed-back and only one open, so I'm definitely fine getting an open-back, as it seems like most of the highest rated headphones in this range are in that category anyhow.

 

After a lot of reading & research, I'm mostly considering the HD-600, HD650, HE-400, HE-500, or Fostex TH 600. I also am really lusting after the Shure SRH 1540's, but I don't know if they can really compete with the others in terms of sound quality… Seems like the verdict is still kinda out on those, maybe cause they're newer. I also am very keen to experience the Sennheiser sound, since I don't own any and they are so highly praised around here. Although, as much as Senn's are loved, it seems like the HE-500 are actually more praised for their sound quality sometimes. What do you guys think? Are there any other ones that I'm overlooking? 

 

EDIT: I forgot to mention - I am looking for something that is, ideally, a significant step-up or at least a CHANGE from the X1's. Those are pretty awesome and I think some compare them in overall quality to the HD 600 & HD 650's. I just don't want to get something that is pretty close to what I already have - I'm hoping to make a significant step here. If I can't do that at this price range, than I may opt to wait and save up to a 'summit-fi' model, which would probably be the K812. I'm constantly lusting for those.


Edited by thievesarmy - 4/2/14 at 2:50pm
post #2 of 13
What amp do you have? The HE-500 is supposed to need a good bit of juice. Also, with your budget, you might want to wait until the new Hifimans come out.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Schiit Magni / Vali. Willing to upgrade to the Asgard (or better amp) if necessary.

 

When are the new HifiMan's coming out?

post #4 of 13
What sound signature do you prefer? That will help you decide, especially between the new he-560 vs the he-500.
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by thievesarmy View Post

 

When are the new HifiMan's coming out?


It should be a couple weeks, based on the Hifiman thread at least. The new Hifimans are also supposed to need less juice if I understand correctly, so you could potentially keep your current amps and put more money into the headphones. 

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kernel8888 View Post

What sound signature do you prefer? That will help you decide, especially between the new he-560 vs the he-500.

 

Hmmm... Not really sure, I haven't gotten to the point that I know much about sound signatures yet. I will say, I love both my 7506's and my X1's probably more than the others. I am extremely happy with the K545's sound but haven't listened to them as much, they're just newer though. The MDR-1R are the most disappointing to me sound-wise, which sucks because they are so comfortable & appealing on the eyes. I would say that I like the "warmth" sound, and nice treble, as long as it's not too bright - I find that wears on my ears. Bass response is nice, I think both the X1's & K545's bass quality / response is all I need. I'm not looking for more bass than that.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

I forgot to mention something - I am looking for something that is, ideally, a significant step-up or at least a CHANGE from the X1's. Those are pretty awesome and I think some compare them in overall quality to the HD 600 & HD 650's. I just don't want to get something that is pretty close to what I already have - I'm hoping to make a significant step here. If I can't do that at this price range, than I may opt to wait and save up to a 'summit-fi' model, which would probably be the K812. I'm constantly lusting for those.

post #8 of 13
Well I have tried the hd700 and the he400/500 extensively. Most people that have heard the hd700 consider it a clear step up from the hd6xx series, even if they prefer the sound sig of the older 6xx's better. I think that the he-500 is just a notch above the hd700 in most ways.

That being said, for the price right now I think that the he-500 is just a notch above the hd700 because of its slightly better refinement and musicality. That should be a testament of the value of the he500. used b-stock can be had on razordog for 495.
post #9 of 13

I'm on the same hunt within the same price range. I have the Fidelio X1s and am looking for something just below that summit-fi range. I have very similar musical taste and find the X1s to be a great headphone but a bit muddled and slow on some of the faster stuff I listen to. I recently bought a pair of modded Grado SR325i pretty much specifically for hard rock/metal but have yet to get my hands on them. If you have some extra coin I'd highly recommend a pair of Grado SR80i, I really dig mine and it would be a relatively low cost great sounding companion to your X1s.

 

That aside,  my search has led me to 2 headphones, the HE-500 and the AKG712. From what I've read the HE-500 will offer a bit more in the department of instrument separation and linear bass and a laid back sound while the AKG712 will be a bit brighter, very detailed and fairly neutral with a bit of a bass bump compared to the K702. The K712 sounds like the more aggressive sounding phone while offering great detail and soundstage. I've also read that the K712 is a bit less amp picky which is very appealing to me. My preference is to run a portable amp/DAC off my laptop as opposed to being tethered to a listening station. 

 

I'll watch and see what you come up with, I'll report back as well.

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by thievesarmy View Post
 

I would say that I like the "warmth" sound, and nice treble, as long as it's not too bright - I find that wears on my ears. Bass response is nice, I think both the X1's & K545's bass quality / response is all I need. I'm not looking for more bass than that.

 

It sounds as if you would like HD650 and HE500.

 

I go back and forth about which is better, and it's hard for me to decide because I like HD600 quite a bit more. I don't find the other models under $2k more enjoyable for the music I listen to, except sometimes HD800 for orchestral.

 

If you like a darker sound, you'll probably end up with an Audeze.

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by benthughes View Post
 

I'm on the same hunt within the same price range. I have the Fidelio X1s and am looking for something just below that summit-fi range. I have very similar musical taste and find the X1s to be a great headphone but a bit muddled and slow on some of the faster stuff I listen to. I recently bought a pair of modded Grado SR325i pretty much specifically for hard rock/metal but have yet to get my hands on them. If you have some extra coin I'd highly recommend a pair of Grado SR80i, I really dig mine and it would be a relatively low cost great sounding companion to your X1s.

 

That aside,  my search has led me to 2 headphones, the HE-500 and the AKG712. From what I've read the HE-500 will offer a bit more in the department of instrument separation and linear bass and a laid back sound while the AKG712 will be a bit brighter, very detailed and fairly neutral with a bit of a bass bump compared to the K702. The K712 sounds like the more aggressive sounding phone while offering great detail and soundstage. I've also read that the K712 is a bit less amp picky which is very appealing to me. My preference is to run a portable amp/DAC off my laptop as opposed to being tethered to a listening station. 

 

I'll watch and see what you come up with, I'll report back as well.

interesting. Will be very curious to hear what you end up with - I am very keen to get a nice pair of AKG's, but I'm pretty much settled on getting their K812's, whenever I do climb to the "summit-fi" level. I'm completely in love with them. 

 

RE: the Grado's, Are the SR80i's different than the X1's? I must admit, I have been very curious to experience the "Grado sound" and $99 is cheap enough that I'd take a flyer on them based on all the solid reviews & your recommendation, I just don't need to get them if they're not that different from my X1's or the phones I already have. 

post #12 of 13
The Grados are very different from the X1s. Not neutral but very fun sounding, fast and reasonably well detailed. Some may consider them harsh and compared to the X1s I'd somewhat agree but the level of detail and speed they offer is nice, especially at the price.

I was listening to a bunch of different music through my Grados the other day. MacBook Pro - optical out- fiio e17 and have to say that even with electronic music like AWOLnation and Massive Attack the sound was decent. Everything is well controlled and the bass extends down well although it's not big sounding like the X1s, more flat and punchy.

The X1s are good for electronic music, sometimes I feel like they were made for some of the newer Nine Inch Nails stuff and their more laid back albums ( think Still). I'm leaning toward to AKGs because they're fairly neutral, have a bump on the bottom that's supposed to not walk all over everything down there and are well extended.

I'm leaning on my Denon d2000 as my fun headphone, Grados to rock out and the AKGs for a general use and recording can.

Maybe I'll get an amp down the line but for these relatively low impedance cans I've never felt the need for anything over the e17.
post #13 of 13
Everything in this world is relative. You may hate the Grados but for $90 i can still wholeheartedly recommend them. Especially to scratch that itch while you search.
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