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Headphones for metal music - ultimate solution / Doom metal

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Hello, dear colleagues!

 

Looking through depths of Internet for impressions on metal music listening at headphones I am constantly disappointed by these matters
   1. In listening experience descriptions metal music usually is considered as "metal" without subgenre division. What consistent conclusions about headphones-music synergy can be done when first person is listening Doom metal and second person is listening Black metal...
   2. Even if discussion is limited by one subgenre of metal, attempts to write down subgenre characteristics (from headphones listening position) are very rare. Usually different persons (obviously with different personal priorities) are sharing their experience of listening on different headphones, and so, there is no chance to understand which cans are really the best on subgenre under consideration.

 

And so I started the effort to systematize unsystematizable at least in my humble brain and to publish results on Russian headphones enthusiast forum Doctorhead.ru. 
http://forum.doctorhead.ru/index.php?showtopic=26477

http://forum.doctorhead.ru/index.php?showtopic=26832

(Yes, I am not a native English-speaking person, so I am sorry for possible bugs in translation).

 

Head-fi posting is inevitable step in a quest for a metal headphones perfection ))

In headphone + subgenre listening notes I'm trying to be as brief as possible. Notes are subjective and emotional much more than technical. General subgenre description is a bit more technical with some tonal balance and scene considerations.
Any critics, advices, additions and corrections are welcome.

 

And so, Metal \ Doom, general characteristics:
IMHO "meat" of LF is the key ability of headphones for the adequate listening impressions of doom metal. There should be fat, touchable bass. ""Slow"" sound is a plus, there is no need to hurry here. Wide scene could be a bad trick. Small, intimate, closed scene is preferable here."

 

Notes in a table below were taken as a result of long listening sessions at home, with headphones in my ownership or (in a couple of cases) guesting no less than for 2 weeks. I do not take notes as a result of short listening at hi-fi shop or as a result of browsing frequency response measurements in the Internet.

 

 

Brand Model Level Genre tasting notes Grade
Creative Aurvana Live! Entry Well… OK, bass is prone to drone at extreme low end, but is's texture is really good, warm character in the middle - quite a theme, highs are well dosed for the genre. Given the level of the ears, it is possible to forgive them minor flaws. Anyway Doom flows in them! The Best
Ritmix RH-508 Entry Looks very similar to Creative Aurvana Live!. 508 do play the Doom. But their minor faults are no so minor, bass is not under control any more and walks by himself. Good
Sennheiser HD 449 Entry Compared to CAL and Ritmix - higher technical level is obvious. But headphones do not play Doom. No bass and flat sound. It feels like cold water pours on you. Average
Shure SRH840 Basic Modesty and a lot of bass is much better than just modesty )) Generally balanced response with a bit rise on a HF, ripping modestly grim bass. Because of technical characteristics, considerations M50 had to be ahead of 840. But. Parity at LF, plus timbre richness of 840, plus nice MF of 840 and M50 have no chance to be best. The Best
Audio-technica ATH-M50 Basic Much, much better, than 700 MK2. A bit of sparkle at HF, a bit more natural MF, a wider scene and voila - we have a good listening experience. Experience is no more than a good, but OK for basic level headphones. A bit flat compared to 840, still. Good
Audio-technica ATH-PRO 700 MK2 Basic Real brute. Even quantity of LF cannot save 700 MK2. Brute character crushes to dust general impression on these cans. Average
Beyerdynamic DT990 PRO (250 om) Basic Lightweight, no punch, drive is leaving through the grills and dissolves in the air. Open construction is no good here. Average
Grado SR325 Basic Too much ringing. Really, it's too much for me. Average
Koss PRO/4AAA Basic Negative. No wonder - no control over watery LF. Average
Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO (250 om) Basic Excellent, one of the best cans on Doom metal I ever heard. Thick, dense, viscous bass integrated with a precisely measured mids and highs into a smooth dark fluid sound. Absolutely involving genre interpretation. I'm completely agree with fastnbulbous, 770 are really Cans of Doom. The Best
TDS TDS-15 Basic Compared to Beyerdynamic 770 I can't say, that TDS-15 are the best of the best basic level Doom metal headphones. But they are very, really good and very different (compared to 770). Isodynamic sound, detailed and textured bass, feeling of the air, breathing. That's their style. The Best
TDS TDS-7 Basic I never thought that the lack of detail is such a big problem for headphones on Doom metal. But alas, when the bass gets on the rest of the frequency range, obscuring everything… Average
Audio-technica ATH-AD700 Basic It looks very similar to W1000X. Gorgeous mid-range, great airy atmosphere, but they lack bass concentration. Good
AKG K601 Middle No density here. Nutrient soup puree (forming the basis for adequate reproduction of the doom) is absent here. Average
Audio-technica ATH-ES10 Middle One of the titans in middle range headphones category. It seems natural not to look for flaws (yes, may be ES10 are not most detailed cans in a World, but who cares?), but to listen for the best of these cans (bass faaat and delicious as a toffee). Impressive Doom subgenre synergy. The Best
Ultrasone PRO 2900 Middle A lot of fat and oil. Total performance is very good, but not the best. We have here synthetic oil, unnatural a bit, that's no good for the genre. Good
Shure SRH1540 Middle 1540 are the 840 but even better. Technically. On doom metal 840 are the one of the best on their level (beginner). 1540 are good, no more among middle range cans… Some sweet swiveling in sound (compared to 1540) adds a pepper for 840, and 1540 have none. They are OK, no more. Good
Denon AH-D2000 (padauk cups mod) Middle Ununexpectedly great. Bass. With such a bass it can't be no great. The rest of the ingredients for the genre are in place. The Best
Denon AH-D600 Middle Technical profile of the cans totally fits for the genre, so predictably they are very good. Yeah. They play doom. Very tasty. The Best
Audio-technica ATH-W1000X Middle OK, but no more. LF does not have enough concentration. Good
Philips Fidelo X1 (with Shure 2900 cable) Middle Predictably the best. How could it be other way? May be it's even too doomy and dark )) The Best
Bowers & Wilkins P7 Middle No. Key words in bass description are "soft" and "lean" instead of "thick" and "fat". Average
Audeze LCD-2 Top Simply the best. The rest are living in another dimension. The Best
Denon AH-D7000 Top Well.... One more interdimensional traveler )) (see LCD-2.comment). The Best
Grado PS500 Top Nice. But. Too much HF ringing. Good
Fostex TH-600 Top Good, but not so good, as 7000 are. Extraordinary chunky bass meal of 7000 is diluted here by lower LF volume and is smashed around the plate rim by the highly detailed sound. However, generally it's OK nevertheless. Very very very good (if you do not compare them with the best). Good
Sennheiser HD 800 Top Paint is too watery in a key part of sound picture (bass) and a canvas is too wide. Atmosphere of doom dissolved in a vast space instead of been concentrated. Average
Grado RS1i Top Too much of light in a doom grave. Too Bad
Hifiman HE-500 Top Watery and grainy in a same time. Not ideal for the genre. Average
Grado GS1000 Top Alas, bass is a bit not rich enough for genre, although we cannot say that it's all too bad and everything is lost. Actually result has good load of fun and is worth to try. Good
Beyerdynamic T1 Top Too bad. Just not enough of bass. Average
TDS TDS-7 (Snorry mod) Top Bass has a bit of grain, it’s not so fluid like LCD-2 and this ruins impression. Mids and highs are good for Doom but a teaspoon of bass hoarseness does not allow reaching the ideal. Good

 

 

 

 

List of listening material:

Candlemass - Death Magic Doom
Cathedral - The Ethereal Mirror
Earthless - From The Ages
Electric Wizard - Electric Wizard
Orchid - Mouths Of Madness
Subrosa - More Constant Than The Gods
Blood Ceremony - Blood Ceremony
Witchcraft - The Alchemist

Monolord - Empress Rising

 

DAC and amplifiers used:
Mytek Stereo192-DSD -> Burson Soloist, Lynx HA-61.


Edited by levap - 5/6/14 at 4:33am
post #2 of 29
Subscribed:o
post #3 of 29

This is awesome! It's what I was looking for last summer, before I ended up writing my Cans Of Doom piece. I agree with your assessments of the ATH-50, D-2000 and LCD-2, but am a little surprised you haven't tried the DT 770 Pro (250 Ohm) or Ultrasone HFI-780. Even with a huge collection you can't try everything of course. Do you plan to review more on this thread? I'd be curious to hear about the NAD Viso HP50, Now if we can just get an Abyss donated to the community to pass around for review ;)

 

Nice doom selection, but you're missing an example of something more thick and psychedelic along the lines of Electric Wizard's Dopethrone or Sleep's Dopesmoker. Other newer favorites are Elder, Wo Fat, Conan, Goatess and just out last week are new Pilgrim and my new favorite Monolord - Empress Rising.

 

http://monolord.bandcamp.com/


Edited by Fastnbulbous - 4/6/14 at 7:28am
post #4 of 29

Perfect! I really need to get some alone time with my Alpha Dogs and post a review. My personally owned favorite Doom is Electric Wizard - Dopethrone. It's not perfect, but still good. There is just some distortion used that sounds exactly like blown speakers. It trips me out EVERY time I listen!!!

post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fastnbulbous View Post
 

This is awesome! It's what I was looking for last summer, before I ended up writing my Cans Of Doom piece. I agree with your assessments of the ATH-50, D-2000 and LCD-2, but am a little surprised you haven't tried the DT 770 Pro (250 Ohm) or Ultrasone HFI-780. Even with a huge collection you can't try everything of course. Do you plan to review more on this thread? I'd be curious to hear about the NAD Viso HP50, Now if we can just get an Abyss donated to the community to pass around for review ;)

 

Nice doom selection, but you're missing an example of something more thick and psychedelic along the lines of Electric Wizard's Dopethrone or Sleep's Dopesmoker. Other newer favorites are Elder, Wo Fat, Conan, Goatess and just out last week are new Pilgrim and my new favorite Monolord - Empress Rising.

 

http://monolord.bandcamp.com/

I was looking for something like this for several times last year and finally decided to start this quest myself. Actually, I have to say, that «Cans Of Doom» of yours is one of the best efforts in this area (thank to Google, I read it before) and one of the triggers to start my own research.

 

I still have a lot of great headphones to try and it really excites me! 770 and 880 Beyers are on the way of purchasing negotiations, review will take 2-3 of weeks (first assumptions could be wrong, so it takes time). Now are ready notes on Koss PRO/4AAA, AKG K601, Audio-technica ATH-W1000X. And, couple of days ago Beyerdynamic T1 arrived to my hands. Strange a bit selection for doom headphones testing but my effort covers Alternative, Black, Death, Doom, Goth, Grindcore, Heavy Metal, Industrial, Power, Progressive, Sludge/Stoner, Symphonic and Thrash )))  You can see grand total table here http://forum.doctorhead.ru/index.php?showtopic=26832  (it's in English, comments translation and table posting coming soon).

 

Going to try your doom music advices, Electric Wizard is one of my favorites in fact, but others are new ones for me.

post #6 of 29

i'm listening to black metal, i have srh840 for the last 2\3 years, they are simply great!

got hd600 for demo and they are simply just wining in every aspect, i will upgrade to hd600 without a blink.

veil, slowness, is just a lie, no idea why people says thous things..

 

you should try them next.


Edited by guy3134 - 4/8/14 at 12:26am
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
I have SRH840 for about 3 years now and for me they are simply the best basic level headphones for metal overall! Nevertheless, black and death are not in their prime on them, it seems a bit flat and boring… Unlike Doom, Progressive, Power, Alternative, Sympho-metal, 840 are really good here!

Did not try 600 Senns still. Once ipon a time I had 650 Senns, but did not test them on metal seriously. If 600 have much less “veil” problem (that 650 really had), it is worth trying, they are in my wish list now )) Currently, in middle range headphones, my favorites on black/death are Denon D5000, D2000 (wooden cups) and new D600. Have you any opinion on Senns 600 / Denons with black metal?
post #8 of 29

i don't like basshead cans, i don't like bass at all tbh.

i agree about how good the shure are but i don't agree that you think they are boring with black.

 

i'm not a guy of many words, but one thing is for sure: the hd600 with black are simply match from heaven.

foobar flacs>aune t1/eh6992>hd600


Edited by guy3134 - 4/8/14 at 3:19am
post #9 of 29

I assume you're talking about the Sennheiser HD 600, not the Denon? It does make sense, they could handle the symphonic qualities of some BM while mellowing out the shrieks. However, we're talking about DOOM here and bass is important!

 

Any opinions on V-Moda Crossfade M-100?

post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fastnbulbous View Post
 

Any opinions on V-Moda Crossfade M-100?

No opinion yet, added them to my wishlist.

Btw 770 are in my hands for a couple of days. So far - they are definitely among the best ))

post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 

I'm Listening now Monolord, Empress Rising + LCD-2. And I can physically feel velvety bass on my tongue and fingertips… Who needs speakers if you can experience something like this on headphones? ))

post #12 of 29

Cool, I've been using the LCD-2 for most of my heavy listening too! Glad you're enjoying the Monolord!

post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 

Today additions (for notes see the table in a topic header post)

    - Philips Fidelo X1 - Really, really good on doom middle range headphones for extreamly "dark" sound fans

    - Audio-technica ATH-W1000X - Good but not the best

    - Koss PRO/4AAA, AKG K601 - Mediocre on doom. Not the best genre for them.

 

Beyerdynamic T1, 770 PRO and Grado GS1000 are on their way.

post #14 of 29
A fantastic effort with that table. I'm impressed smily_headphones1.gif

But this post would seem a better fit in the headphones forum, rather than the introduction section since it is an ongoing developing resource. You might ask the mods to move it. smily_headphones1.gif
post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 

Done. We are now in the "Headphones (full-size)" forum.

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