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Best open 'overear' headphone (nevermind the price)

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

What do you think the best headphone there is. I've got an Sennheiser 540 Reference and it's the best i ever heard...

post #2 of 14
Best at what? For example, HD600 is best at playing harpsichord music. But almost no one here cares about that.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

So yours is the HD600 ;)


With best i mean : Overall, over-ear. I see i wrote 'open' which isn't necesarry

post #4 of 14
You mean like best for all or most of the genres I listen to?
post #5 of 14

Sennheiser HD800

Stax SR-009

Audeze LCD3

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Yep, so country, jazz, pop, classic, rap, hiphop, soul etcetera :)

post #7 of 14
Classical K501, HD600
Jazz HE400, K501, HD600
Metal SR225i, K340
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

Maybe we can add why we think those are great?


HD 540:

- Crisp hi-tones,

- Balanced low tones (bass)

- Ritchness of the sound

- Durable (have it over 25 years now)

- Comfort (over ear, almost can't feel it's on my head)

- Open (music sounds more roomy)

- Cable (3 m)


had over 20 headphone in my live (i'm 45 years old) and this one is by far my best...

post #9 of 14
Is that the 540 or 540-II? What's the impedance?
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

I really don't know :dt880smile:

post #11 of 14

Sennheiser HD600


i. Easy enough to drive yet scales well. If the power's out my iPad does an acceptable job driving it (ditto the headphone output on Marantz CDPs), but it still sounds a lot better on a good amp, like my Meier Cantate.2 (and other Meier amps), Schiit Asgard, Gilmore Lite, etc.


ii. Coherent, believable (to scale) soundstage. If you have good enough speakers, and you miniaturize it such that what it's reproducing isn't the size of an actual band but like those desktop toy bands that start moving and dancing when you play music next to it, this is what the HD600 does. By contrast the Prestige Series Grados tend to make recordings that have a lot of instruments/layers in them sound like they're throwing everything at you, and the imaging has a strong L-C-R with recessed areas between L-C and C-R, then when you wear them a little bit forward of the earlobes to minimize that,the tonal quality of the SR225 and SR80 is more like the HD600 (on a good amp) and a bit away from Grado.

Note that for $200 new I'd still say the SR225 is hard to beat, and that I still like the RS-1, although it costs a lot more than the HD600 now; also Grados fold and their customer support is top notch.


iii. Relatively neutral response, with some bass dialed in to be forgiving of some upstream components. I've had quite a few afternoons of listening to different gear and nearly every source can sound different on these. Some lesser amps tend to exacerbate its bass response, but some of these amps have a clean and flat output, and the bass on the HD600 compensates for lack of outright grunt so at least the bass drum is audible enough with a bit of kick to them (just don't expect them to go anywhere near a subwoofer).


iv. Easily serviceable. Designed to be easily taken apart and serviced by owners, although parts availability varies with local distributors. Also, $60 for earpads.


v. Comfort. I can wear these for hours; if anything, old pads will not be so comfortable, but that's true with just about any headphone.


vi. Price. Back when it came out the K501 (and maybe the RS-1) was the only one that came close to its price-performance ratio. Now at less than that, and even less if you get refurbished units, it's even harder to beat. And it's been here a long time.



2. AKG K701/2. Instead of somewhat forgiving transparency and relatively easy to drive, this one is very picky with amps - so far the only amps I really liked on these (that I have tried so far) were the Burson Soloist and the Meier Cantate.2, but even this one's a bit far off in second place, as only the Burson really pushed it. It was like a stubborn stallion who while it won't throw you off wouldn't run either, but give it a good amp and it will charge an infantry line at full gallop. Also the earpads are $45 each last I checked.

Note: I have not had enough head time on the K501.


3. Sennheiser HD800. Think of the HD600 as more precise, and remove that upper bass response that makes it forgiving of some sources/amps. It just sounds cleaner and clearer. Personally though it's not $1,000 clearer - for the MSRP on this and some amps+DACs people use on them I can set up a speaker system. A thin-walled apartment should be the only reason to get those headphone systems over speakers.

post #12 of 14

There is no single best.  It depends on what kind of sound you like, what genre of music you listen to and also what you use as your reference.


Some choices:   Audeze LCD 3/X, Senn HD800, Stax.


I own a pair of HD650s and wouldnt put it up there in the same category as the above.   The LCD 2/3s do everything the 650s do but better.

Edited by vkalia - 4/18/14 at 10:15am
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

Great responses :)


As far... How they look like.. I was wondering and also submited them here :)



 sennheiser hd800


 sennheiser hd 540


akg 701


akg k 501


sennheiser hd 600


Stax SR-009

post #14 of 14
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post

Best at what? For example, HD600 is best at playing harpsichord music. But almost no one here cares about that.

I very much enjoy harpsichord music! So I will take note of that.

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