This is the summary post on my metal music listening experience with a couple of headphones )) Primary targets:
- to find the best of the best
- to find hidden synergy treasures for headphones traditionaly not reccomended for metal
- to have fun in a process )
Marks in a table below were taken as a result of long listening sessions at home, with headphones in my ownership or guesting no less than for 2 weeks. I do not make marks as a result of short listening at hi-fi shop or as a result of browsing frequency response measurements in the Internet.
Detailed notes on subjenres (currently posted for doom metal) are here:
General considerations are under spoiler (Click to show)
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.
(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 ))
DAC: Lynx Hilo, Mytek Stereo192-DSD
Amps: Beta22, Burson Soloist, Lynx HA-61, Headamp KGSS
Any critics, advices, additions and corrections are welcome.
Before we start - link on a great post from Iron_Dreamer with some deep thoughts on headphones for metal listening
In the group of basic level headphones, somewhat surprisingly appeared a mutually complementary pair - Shure SRH840 and Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO. Relative failures of one of these cans on the part of subgenres are compensated by excellent performance on the other part. In the case of budget trip to a desert island, this pair could fulfill any metallic and non-metallic musical need of me.
If the task is to select only headphones - you can use any of the following - Shure SRH840, Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO, Audio-technica ATH-M50, Beyerdynamic DT990 PRO, AKG Q701. Whatever your choice would be, the result in any case is decent. (My personal champion - Shure SRH840). The other cans look like niche players, but I must say that almost every headphones have subgenre in their prime.
These cans have rather flat frequency response, but they are not too "flat". They have confident tight bass with good extention. Clean, slightly elevated treble. Nice natural mid-range. Soundstage is wide enough, especially for sealed headphones. The sound is airy, which, combined with a relatively flat frequency response and amount of bass perfect for metal, gives very interesting results.
Doom: Sobriety and a lot of bass are better than just sobriety )) Smooth sound with slightly elevated highs, moderately rumbling bass. I expected on general technical assumptions that M50 should be better on Doom. But having parity at bass, 840 have more rich timbre, great midrange of 840 leaves no chance of M50.
Power: Speed, air. Well measured, evil drive. Deep bass. At their level - just fine
Symphonic: A little strange - but very good (for its level of course). Reasonable doses of openness (for closed cans) and lots of emotions.
Progressive: And again, great for the level (and closed cans) result. Wide soundstage, rich timbres, bass - all the way through.
Death: Bust of bright colors does not look serious.
Grindcore: Needlessly hysterically. Not prohibitive, but very, very unpleasant.
Industrial: Too lightweight for this genre. Balloons look inappropriate on the steel mills.
Thrash: Too hysterical, something more dark and easy (e.g. M50) seems more appropriate.
One of my favorite entry-level ears. For light and bright mood.
Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO (250 om)
Again, despite the word "PRO" in the title, we have the device that is actually focused on music listening, not just technical analysis. Gorgeous bass punch, slightly playful (but not so much as in 840) treble. Slightly withdrawn mid-range. A small soundstage (not really small for closed cans). Headphones have well integrated, in a way liquid sound, not overwhelmed with excessive details.
What is good:
Doom: Perfect. One of the best Doom presentations ever. Thick, dense, viscous bass and overall coherent sound - very base matching genre interpretation.
Thrash: Rollicking, cheerful. Texture and speed of bass – direct hit for the genre.
Industrial: Very convincing. More technical and cool interpretation would be more traditional. But not so comfortable as on 770.
Black: Ohhh. Anaal Nathrakh - brain if seeping out of the ears and warm pleasant streams flow down the cheeks from the headphone cups.
Alternative: Driving, delicious, powerful. What more could you want?
What is not so good:
Symphonic: Lack of width of soundstage and lack of air are painfully present.
Sludge, Stoner: Too “coherent”, more details are wanted here. A bit of brightness would be appropriate here.
Progressive: Mediocre. Wide spacious soundstage is must have here.
Power: Too narrow and rather flat.
Death: A little something is missing to make 770 Death presentation perfect. May be a bit of brightness or may be a bit of darkness.
According to the results, Beyers 770, along with Shure 840 – my favorite entry-level cans. For a dark mood.
Really nice basic level cans. In the pros - bass adequate for bass heavy genres, not too tedious (compared with some headphones-colleagues) treble. In cons - somewhat harsh / plastic notes in timbre, not too wide soundstage. The result is a lot of drive, highly energetic presentation without fatal technical faults.
Grindcore and Industrial - 200% hit (powerful, controlled bass, sterile high-tech sound). For the rest of subgenres (for me) due to the harsh timbre notes - not ideal. If this is not prominent problem for the listener - subjectively ears will be one of the best or may be THE best at the basic level.
Beyerdynamic DT990 (250 om)
For me, 990 represent something in the middle of Shure 840 and Beyers 770. Sound recalls 770, but it's diluted by wide soundstage and less punch (as a result of open construction). There is no longer such integrity of sound, as 770 has, but also there is no so much air, as 840 gives. Bass is adequate for metal music. Treble is relatively "comfortable", 990 are not the most detailed cans. Soundstage is a little wider than the average.
The absence of sheer timbre coloring, the presence of soundstage wider than the average allow 990 to play Alternative and Heavy Metal. On Death the hit for genre is more on emotional basis, than on purely technical - the balance of power and gloomy atmosphere is gorgeous. At Goth, 990 get to the point on combination of relatively broad soundstage, relatively bright sound and grim, in no way sweet atmosphere.
Not the best in a line of Grado products. Not a big surprise that after 325 we had 325i, and then 325is. Hard, sharp , extremely bright sound. Mids traditionally good (with the color of Grado). Bass is moderate. Soundstage is chamber (again, sort of tradition for the classical line of Grado headphones). Very specific sound, it takes time to get used to. I personally had a period of time (after listening 125 Grado for a couple of years) when 325 were really good for me. But, being referenced to colleagues on a level, alas, 325 do not have peak performance at any subgenre. Nevertheless, there are high hopes that the 325is will be interesting, looking forward to try.
Audio-technica ATH-PRO 700 MK2
Subwoofers on the ears, volume control in the hands of Conan the Barbarian . I suppose that sometimes there is a definite need for such a thing... Mid- and high-frequency are recessed, scene is rolled into a ball.
Love/hate cans (surprisingly, while they have the PRO label), for good result on some genre there should be resonance of headphones taste "curve" with the "curve" of the genre. Predictably good at Industrial - transition of the quantity of bass to sound quality. Not too serious character + bass of these cans = real fun on the Thrash. Inhumanity, speed and darkness give peak at Grindcore and Death, the interpretation is ambiguous, but for me personally - very tasty.
Really peculiar device, that submerges you into a specific vintage feel simply by being in your hands. Bass is brutal, mid-range is protruding and, alas, treble is unintelligible. In general, the sound level is not high, very strictly genre-oriented.
Bomb explodes on genres similar to the classic rock. So Heavy Metal and Thrash are extremely tasty. Peak of the shape for the ears comes on hard rock and classic rock. Headphones can also be sincerely recommended for punk rock listening, impressions are guaranteed.
TDS-7 (no mods)
General impressions are very similar to Koss PRO/4AAA. Brutal, "atmospheric", vintage device. Extremely powerful bass. Flat, with no colouring mid-range. Muffled, not detailed highs. Soundstage size is minimal possible. Niche players. More sort of historical artefact, than device for daily casual listening.
Cans were good on Alternative and Thrash metal. On Alternative metal powerful TDS-7 style bass is really in place, lack of resolution is replaced by drive and crazy hangout inherent to these cans. On Thrash bass of TDS-7 is on its place again, drive and vintage fleur - are good, technical faults are looking like special sound effect added for good at production stage.
Headphones in spite of on-the-ear construction type (construction obvously does not let drivers to show what they really can and calls for modders) with no excuses for age could be recommended not as the artefact of the past, but as the day-by-day music listening device, competitive on basic level. If you like their flavour they could be one of the best actually.
Open construction type lets to build TDS-15 considerable soundstage. Bass is big and controlled enough fot the metal. Mid range is flat (may be a bit warm). There is a little accent on highs.
These cans can play the rock, from classic to alternative, so they are predictacly good on Alternative and Heavy metal. They are almost as good as Beyers 770 on Black (770 got more punch, TDS-15 - more air, and surprise - that's appears good on Black). TDS-15 are good on Progressive and Symphonic metal - on the one hand they are tight, powerful and energetic, ont he other hand - they have rather wide soundstage (a bit wider soundstage, actually would be excellent, but for basic level it's more than okay). Finally good results for Doom metal become great on Stoner/Sludge having open, light and airy character of TDS-15.
Amount of bass is more than enough fo metal. Bass is not slow or wooly - bass control is impressive and the punch is great, but may be a little attacks resolution problem is present. Quality of bass for PORTABLE headphones is prominent. Mids are slightly recessed, fortunately without stark warm or cold colouring. Highs are a moderately dark, with no "veil". The soundstage is average / slightly less than the average (for closed cans).
Tasting notes of selected metal subgenres:
Black: If you listen really hard, you can diagnose insufficiently sharp attacks on the Black (i.e. Anaal Nathrakh - Forging Towards the Sunset), sound lacks clarity a bit. But the overall picture, power, flavor and balance - in complete synchronization with the genre.
Death: Slightly darkish balance, lack of highs plays bad joke with the Death, not enough sharpness, sparks and brightness (in a good sense of the word).
Alternative: On the Alternative it's just not enough of air, sound is muffled for genre.
Doom: Excellent (does not exceed ears for listening at home - compared with Beyers770), but for the portables the result is magnificent.
Gothic: Muffled and unnecessarily brutal, not their niche genre.
Grindcore: Again, just not enough of resolution, but the power and enthusiasm... The result - really impressive.
Industrial: The amount of bass is good, sub-bass is present, highs are not strangled, mids are not warm. Good. Good.
The grand total - perhaps the best portable metal cand for a reasonable price and one of the best basshead headphones allaround.
According to the personal preferences - I rather do not like these cans, still too unnatural, too heavily distorted tonal balance. In a direct comparison, switching to Beyers 770 make you feel that you listen something light and extremely sharp. Make Beyers 770 to feel like Grado - this is something... So, for me M-100 are in no way relevant for use as single cans for every day use. As portables and as superweapon on certain subgenres - they are really good here.
Perhaps I like, I like very much the concept of AKG sound (this cold, crisp, sharp, slightly detached sound, wide soundstage) on metal. Q701 respectively at the basic level, for me personally, stand quite on a par with the other leaders. But. If you compare Q701 with the K712... 712 is actually higher on the head.
So, Q701. We have a little lack of bass for the metal. Smooth, cool midrange. Slightly accented highs. The soundstage is wide, spacious.
Where 701 are good:
Progressive: And once again the wide soundstage, great technique and cold sound flavour add up to radically adequate combination for genre. A slight bass shortage becomes invisible.
Symphonic: Impressions are the same as on Progressive. With regard to the genre may be noted, Nightwish old albums sound nice, despite the "technicality" of cans. Interesting.
Goth: What killer-doctors prescribed. Wide, cold and gloomy.
Power: It is spacious, transparent, cool. Successfull.
Grindcore: Thin sharp needles come just under the nails with hammers. Jackhammers. Impressive.
Black: Not enough bass-power, but more than enough of resolution. Clear, wide and involving.
Death: Not enough of bass pressure, but fierce sparks fly from the eyes. Speed and accuracy - strictly in place.
What is to criticize:
Doom: Fat broth with ground bone (must have for the Doom) is not cooked. Alas. Sludge, Stoner: Not so bad as on Doom, but nothing good also. Scrapes and scratches instead of humming rolls as would befit.
Alternative: Technically good, but perhaps too cold and neutral, there is no emotional fusion with rather frivolous genre.
Industrial: Brushed metal in the sound. But. Cans stroke the metal, they're not beating on the head with it.
Thrash: Oh. Too much of brightness, electric welding. Where are my sunglasses? ,
Overall, I repeat. Q701 for me among the basic level leaders.
Professional cans with very special, extremely flat character. It was interesting to try such a device on metal.
When I listen to 250, I can not shake the feeling that I listen to E-MU 0404 (regardless of amp/DAC I used). Unforgettable dry taste.
Bass at 250 is quite good, not elevated, in general, sufficient for metal. Mids are nice and smooth. Tops with a slight touch of "darkness". Chamber soundstage. On high-speed genres tend to smooth out attacks - perhaps the most conspicuous of technical problems.
Black: Wow, this is something there. Does not involves as Beyerdynamic 770 or V-Moda M-100, but detached, mechanistic, darkish interpretation makes the horror to move somewhere in the depths of the body. Impressive.
Death: Shivers the size of a mouse are crawling on my back...
Alternative: It is acceptable in terms of tonal balance (admittable bass volume, mids and hight are okay). But comrades 250 are very detached. No emotional response. All the time I want to add volume, but does not help anyway.
Industrial: No core competence - 250 does not have distinct sub-bass. Bass thumps, but to no avail.
Power: Genre is supposed to be funny, entertaining. And here, as if the school teacher of music is back. With the same zeal and drive.
Heavy Metal: Stressed, radically anti-involving performance. Highs and mids are gray, no fun on bass.
Grindcore: Soft attacks, as if the sounds are rounded. Not a problem for a slower subgenres, but here it is really disturbing.
Grand total. Cans for fans of a specific "professional", "flat" sound. Either you like them and then it's possible to throw on them any genre you can think about. Or do not like, so behold the results of my review.
Middle level headphones
Bullies with a style. The mix of full-size headphone driver with a portable design leads to precisely this result. Cans are not too “balanced” - powerful bass (thanks to the driver), tasty mids (thanks to the driver again), not the most modest highs. Soundstage, alas, is small.
Headphones show their best on these metal subgenres:
Doom: In the middle weight class – one of the titans. ES10 easily let you to forget shortcomings (yes, it's not the most detailed cans, for example) and listen only to the merits (fat, stringy as toffee bass – “must have” for the Doom). Gestalt response of ES10 with Doom is impressive.
Black: Fast and provocative, a kind of small Denon D7000. Well, may be a bit darkish compared to 7000.
Heavy Metal: A simple device with a skillfully tilted balance, charged with drive and charisma is a way ahead of more flat but boring competitors.
Power: Despite the fact that bass is trying to overshadow mids, charisma of ES10 (or call it “colouring” if you dislike them) definitely puts the overall impression of music to the joyful and merry plane, greatly related to the Power.
Overall, probably the best for metal portable headphones of the middle level (that I had opportunity to listen to date). Can with cheerful character and charisma.
And once again, cans with obvious and explicit talents outside heavy metal genres. But perhaps it’s even more interesting to try them metal, than straight metal-able headphones.
For me, the keyword on W1000X is "air." You can feel the air in sound, in headbands touch to your head and in overall aftertaste of music performed by W1000X.
Objectively talking the only thing, which is painfully lacking in relation to metal - bass, here the "air" plays a bad joke. Mids are the best, that the cans have, it's hard not to fall in love with this coloration. Highs are delicate, along with wide (for closed headphones) soundstage, pose a significant part of the overall airy image.
Predictably enough ears showed themselves well on non-extreme metal subgenres, closer to rock / classic – the better:
Heavy Metal: Softness and naturalness are welcome here, headphones are weaving amazing cohesive musical canvas.
Symphonic: Unlike the D600 - very soft, airy and judicious performance. Sincerely and good. Antipode of D600 for the one who prefers judicious performance to sheer entertainment.
Thrash: Imperfect, but it is noteworthy performance. Feels like soft balls are rolled in the stomach. Looks like inappropriate for the Trash, but extremely interesting anyway.
Alternative: A surprise once again! Comrade W1000X demonstrates amazing ability to play alternative metal. Hooray! Diablo Swing Orchestra and Serj Tankian hail W1000X.
As a result, here we have cans, that are able to make a very fresh notes in non-extreme metal subgenres performance.
By far one of the best cans at middle level. Comfortable fit. Wide, very wide soundstage (for closed headphones). Powerful bass, but alas not well controlled (bass kin of hang out on the wide soundstage). Highhs may become too bright on the bright DAC/amp, no complaints on the on a neutral or dark gear. Overall a bit too sweet sound character, has a tendency to embellish, to apply "Photoshop effects" to sound.
Death: A sea of fun! I’m not sure, that Death should play soy joyfully, but when D600 play – they generate the most diverse emotions. Thanks for that.
Black: Well measured heavy bass (unlike on a number of other sub-genres) – the key to success.
Doom: Technical potency (yes, yes, again it’s about of volume of bass, albeit imperfectly controlled) coincides with the profile of the genre. Yes. They play doom. Savory.
Sludge, Stoner: Despite the overload on the bass, potentially unacceptable, D600 play Sludge/Stoner with more enthusiasm than their colleagues headphones on middle level.
Power: Probably the best cans for Power on the middle level (may be except AKG 712). Moderately lightweight and cheerful sound signature, nice midrange. Swollen bass is trying get in the way, but fortunately it fails to spoil the feast.
Symphonic: Slightly too brutal, but fun and cheerful anyway. Unintelligent, but entertaining interpretation of Sympho-metal.
That turns out not too well:
Thrash: Amorphous, bulky, slow. Characters of cheerful songs rotate in a tank with oil, wrapped in a soft protective shell…
Progressive: Fat and lard, looks like a greasy pan. Repulsive.
Alternative: Bass excess confidently leads the brain into the overdrive.
Overall, despite the impressive and apparent viability of a broad range of metal subgenres, D600 remain extremely non-neutral, non-flat and son non-universal headphones. Initial enthusiasm, if you are not full bore, is practically guaranteed. But how this enthusiasm will last, is much more difficult to say. Alas, for the cans with this level of "curvature", chances for close boredom coming are far from zero.
Denon AH-D2000 (padauk cups mod)
Bad guys (in a good sense) even against “not so good guys” colleagues)) Mod consists of 1) replacement of the cups - padauk cups installed and 2) tonal balance adjustment by sound absorbing material application. Result – very bass-heavy and heavy-weight headphones (probably another reason for gestalt response with heavy metal genres). Bass is powerful and well-controlled. Denon X000 drive is in place. Mids, alas, are imperfect, a bit recessed as compared with original D2000/D5000. Soundstage is narrow. Highs are quite acceptable.
Black: Dark, dense and comfortable. Feels like Alien’s larva rotating in the mucus in the parent shell.
Doom: Ununexpectedly great. With such a bass it can not be not great.
Heavy Metal: Wood consonant to live (at least relatively live) genres. Another confirmation.
Industrial: Wooden sledgehammer gives lessons of Industrial with a human face. (Key point - concentrated bass hits right to the spot).
Thrash: Moderately natural and immoderately involving. Bass - exactly what you need, ample but well controlled and concentrated.
What’s not so good:
Symphonic: Not their day (genre). Narrowish scene and pluses (fat bass) become more outs.
Progressive: Alas, sheer lack of subtlety, delicacy and space.
Goth: Instead of light melancholy we have boredom here – looks like Shrek is in sadness.
In total, one of the best cans for the metal. And once again, not too versatile / neutral headphones. Love / hate test is presumed.
Headpnones left a mixed impression. On the one hand it is very flat, accurate cans with a good bass and large soundstage (for closed cans), pleasant mids and rather comfortable highs (sounds delicious, does not it?). 1540 received were highly rated on innerfidelity. Retail price on 1540 is rock solid and does not drop down day by day. But… Cans (for me personally) do not have the "highlight" that could make them a champion and this is the main complaint.
For example, what do we have on Doom. I expected 1540 are the good old 840, but better in every way possible. Technically that’s very close to the truth. But it turns out that in his weight class 840 - prominent ears, and 1540 - just good ... It's easy unbalance (compared with 1540), that adds 840 some pepper. And we don’t have “spice” in 1540. All good, but there is no spark in them. OK, but no more.
Where headphones did show their best:
Progressive: This is where the combination of the formally high performance with mild highs rise, appropriate soundstage and prominent bass is more than welcome. Their finest hour.
Alternative: Modesty and precision give 200% hit.
Smooth, balanced, accurate and calm headphones. No obvious problems. Do not jump through the head.
Final Audio Design Pandora Hope VI
Headphones are assigned to the middle level category due to their excessive "nonflatness", although considering the price ($ 699) they are closer to the top level. It’s desirable in comparison with their colleagues to praise Pandora Hope VI, and not vice versa.
To begin with, the cans sound signature is “painted” furiously as psychedelic matryoshka on the Arbat street. Or taking into account country and manufacturer, let’s remember anime (robots and cyberpunk type). Timbre is filled with liquid metal. Bass is thick, greasy and full of balanced armature buzzy meat. To make such a fat sound (fat often not found in the original record) hard task even for LCD-2. And nevertheless bass is extremely fast and mobile. Strange and interesting experience. Mids are perhaps even dryish, no such sweetness and forwardness as one would expect from such a breed of Japanese headphones. Highs are sparkling (in a good sense of the word, not overly bright), armature-style highs. Soundstage is wide, especially for the closed cans.
Let's look at the bright stripes of this cocktail:
Alternative: Perhaps for the first time listening for metal music I hear so metal. Indeed, steel notes are present in a voice of Pandora. Unique, fascinating.
Doom: And here all is perfect. Isodynamic top cans can do better, but the price tag is going to be top also.
Sludge, Stoner: At Doom it was good and it’s good here also. Buzzing bass meat is in it’s place.
Power: Have fun. Rollicking. Bells are ringing. Gypsy-style power metal Very worth of listening, very special.
Grindcore: A clear, sharp, powerful attacks do not show faults found on Death and Black. Balanced armature creates a background, really interesting in the context of grindcore.
Thrash: Wow. Roller coaster with a stop in the pool and splashing fountains. Refreshes and invigorates. Does not come off. Even a slight lack of punch is forgivable, perhaps.
Let's look at the dark stripes:
Industrial: The problem with punch is still present plus it’s multiplied by visible on industrial music insufficient extension of the bass.
Black: First impression – dynamic and fleshy at the same time. But final impression is spoiled by the cluttering of small details by armature-style buzzing.
Progressive: Broad soundstage pleases certainly, but for the genre more neutral and more technical presentation would be a plus. Playfulness is clearly superfluous. Although such a rollicking version can really please somebody.
Cans - feast, cans - holiday. Unnatural, but very exciting. At the middle level – positively are monsters. If you don’t care too much about neutrality – Pandora could be even top cans for you.
Sennheiser HD 600
First of all I must admit that I really like these cans, therefore, it is likely that the level of subjectivity in the estimates will continue to be slightly above average.
Bass undistinguished, on the verge of adequacy for the genre. Mids are smooth, cool. Highs are probably slightly elevated, but not ringing, not tiresome bright. Soundstage size - not huge, but too small also. All in all - a balanced, calm, nice and cool headphones.
A few words on Senns 600 vs 650. Despite the fact that I like 600 more than 650 (tonal balance of 600, their general approach on musical material reproduction), it should be noted that according to the timbre richness 650 is still far ahead of 600. Halftones on the musical canvas are more visible and more tasty. Another interesting moment: replacement of cable for Toxic unlike the 650 does not lead to radical changes in tonal balance, changes are very slight.
Alternative: Not bad, not bad. Well measured hysteria.
Power: Very specific feelings. Such an ugly, scary tales 600 tell. But I like them, I can not help myself. Technically speaking. The wider stage would be nice, but in grand total all the same - excellent.
Heavy Metal: No questions. Drive - in place, energy - present. There is no explicit problems.
Progressive: Restrained, smooth, clear, calm. Zen-progressive. It pulls into the maelstrom.
Sludge, Stoner: Expectations on bass performance (compared to the Doom) are decreased and 600 proudly reflects the needs of the genre.
Thrash: Fresh and energetic. More bass punch would lead to launch beyond the Earth's orbit, but geostationary orbit launch is also good enough )
Goth: Well, well... Dreary, cold, sad. Atmosphere - direct hit, tonal balance - more than adequate.
Not so attractive:
Black: Against the best of the best - not enough of resolution, slightly mushy. But the tonal balance is quite the topic for Black.
Death: Mediocre (the same results as on Black).
Grindcore: Not too bad - relatively clear and sharp, but not enough for the genre. More bass punch is desperately needed.
Symphonic: Not bad, but... Too formal. Puzzling, how is it comes from the cans capable of great Thrash performance. But it's the fact. Two white gloves on each hand, at least one could be removed.
Doom: More convincing than the 650 with the stock cable, but still far from the ideal.
Industrial: Tonal balance is good, cold shivers are running. But not enough of bass punch to the liver, alas.
Grand total. And as a result we have an excellent balanced universal cans, which may well be used as the only headphones. A more promising - a couple of serious Senns 600 and their antipode, such as Denon D600. Or headphones with a unique sound signature, such as AD700. Fresh emotions every day are guaranteed )
Sennheiser HD 650
For the review were used 650 with a stock cable and with a hybrid cable from Toxic. The first listen with Toxic was very optimistic - a bass was noticeably added, "veil" almost dissipated. But alas, everything appeared not so simple, tonal balance balance was severely damaged by Toxic, instead of flat, accurate balance we have the classical U-shaped balance. On some genres it became inbearable to listen 650. Anyway, it makes sense to consider result of testing 650 as the sum for two cables. And I am sure that at more thoughtful selection of cables it is possible to reach much higher results.
Perhaps there is no sense to describe in details so well known headhones as 650, I will be brief. With stock cable we have not too powerful bass, for metal - on the verge of suitability, for part of metal subgenres - beyond. Right and good mids. Darkish "veiled" highs. Soundstage is slightly wider than average, detail level - not the highest. With Toxic - bass increases in the volume (the subbass doesn't appear), control of a bass becomes worse. "Veil", due to raising highs, dissipates.
I will stop only on comparative pluses of ears with different cables:
HD 650 (Toxic cable)
Doom: Darkness, no haste and prosperity of a bass. Very tasty.
Sludge, Stoner: Lighter, with more bass, than stock 650 - that's what is necessary on Sludge.
Alternative: Quite vigorously and moderately punchy, enough of "crazyness" (especially on 650 standarts)
HD 650 (stock cable)
Heavy Metal: 650 play excellent, true and original without stock cable. Smooth and clean.
Goth: Balanced and sad, darkness o- is a hallmark, a notorious veil adds atmosphere and doesn't cause irritation.
Thrash: Flat tonal balance, bass quite sufficient for a genre. The darkish signature creates feeling of slowness here, it seems admissible flavoring feature, someone could find it. Me for example )
Extreme metal subgenres - Black, Death, Grindcore headphones, alas, do not play and on my feelings won't play with any cable - seem not possible to rise detail and speed levels so considerably.
Grand total. With couple of cables we have headhones, rather universal on metal, which can be recommended to fans of a dark sound. They aren't favourites, in 2014 there are options more interesting. (Please, perceive the conclusion adjusted for my taste of a bright sound))
AKG K712 PRO
Initially I had an idea to listen 712 in comparison with 812, but at the first test it became clear that there is no sense in such a test. 812 and 712 are animals of obviously different levela (a top top level and a top middle level) and different character (ultra-bright with an average soundstage and darkish with a wide scene). Next I tried to compare 712 to Denons D600, again it made no sense, at fast switch from cans to cans it was too obvious, that D600 have very "non-flat" character. As a result I listened 712 in parallel with Senns 650. And in my opinion result are not in favor of 650, objectively, without discounts for a personal taste.
The character of cans a bit darkish, cool (as a matter of a fact I expected something brighter), fast and accurate. Relative darkness doesn't affect resolution, detail level is quite high. Mids are natural and have cold spirit. Soundstage is wide, not such a stadium as Senns 800 have, but scene is much wider than average, cans are airy . Headphones have enough bass for heavy genres, often there was a wish to get more slam, but generally we have enough of low frequencies. It seems reasonable to assume, that increase of bass pressure would lead to problems with a soundstage air
Symphonic: Natural niche for 712. Very broad soundstage, moderately sparkling treble, cool mids, adequate bass and flat overal balance.
Power: Space, speed. Compact and quite sufficient bass. Bit of brightness for fun.
Industrial: Accurate and cold. Nice infrabass extention. Quantity of a bass - good or great? Perhaps Ultrasone 2900 Industrial interpretation is better, but if you to compare to any other middle level colleague - it's perfect.
Sludge, Stoner: There is no such a hard requirements to quantity of a bass as on Doom. Great mids, wide soundstage and easy sound flow make gestalt response with genre.
Black: Perfect - accurate, quick, with great bass control. It would be possible to add some punch on low frequencies, but then "air" would dissipate perhaps.
Progressive: It is predictably great. Vast soundstage, cool, technically perfect.
Doom: There is no enough bass concentration (surprisingly just a little).
Death: Somewhat strange, but even more sharp transients, than 712 have, would be welcomed here and it would be great to add some bite at treble.
Grindcore: Here we seriously lack the bass slam, a wide sounstage becomes an obstacle for great Grindcore performance.
Overall, in my opinion, 712 today are the best cans for heavy genres on the middle level.
Top level headphones
Headphones remind searchlight device in the operating room, the bright light floods every nook and cranny of the object under consideration. And the object is pushed straight to the one's nose and even if you do not want, you can see every minor feature of records and every single fault. So, the first thing you notice - headphones are extremely detailed, clynical and analytical. Crisp attack, very strict decay with no artificial reverberation (somewhere it might be good, but might be somewhere and not) . Sennheisers 800 are not less detailed, but due to its vast soundstage 800 do not push detail so straightforward to your eyes.
Headphones have a fairly aggressive highs, I suspect that for many, brightness could be excessive, for me it is generally okay (nevertheless, even HE-6 and Signature Pro are somewhat softer compared to K812) . Mids are good - smooth, clean and delicious. Bass - ample enough for heavy genres, with a good extension, sub-bass is present. Soundstage is not a huge one, due to the high resolution imaging is really great. The general character of cans - cool, perhaps even sterile .
Practically all the metal music subgenres (except Doom) are technically superb, "Good" rating instead of "The Best" was prescribed on the basis of sheer taste preferences rather than objective performance.
Let's look at the impressions on subgenres:
Doom: For adequate Doom bass reproduction 812 bass just is not big and concentrated enough, accent on highs is not really relevant on Doom.
Progressive: Perhaps the very best interpretation of Progressive I listened up to date. The balance is just ideal for the genre - tight bass under strict control, smooth mids, slightly cold sound, not too wide soundstage, extreme detail level - looks like great feature on Progressive metal.
Symphonic: Performance is so impressive (soundstage wide enough, bass well measured, treble crisp and tasty, details level is stellar), so that is not good. Indeed it is impossible to listen to imperfect records now. And if you can not listen to Nightwish, it's time to think again about "Impressive performance".
Power: Perfect interpretation, if not the best. Enough of air and speed. Lacks a soul a little. Atmosphere of interpretation recalls reading Lord of the Rings in the operating room. Much less technically perfect, but much warmer treatment of Grado RS1i and Denon D7000 for me closer to the content of the genre.
Black: Inhuman resolution allows each thread to unravel in the densest and most imperfect recordings. Drive and power do not let to lose interest for music. In terms of overall performance - a draw with LCD-2.
Death: I do not fully understand what happened, but here searchlight feature fails and LCD-2 seems more focused (not to mention that more tasty).
Industrial: Onсe more naturally occupied niche. Temperature - subzero, technological and playful presentes sub-bass, crisp attack, no reverberation
812 vs T1. Compared to 812, T1 has recessed middle and grainy highs, bass is not too punchy. Nothing to talk about, when you switch fast from 812 to T1.
812 vs HE-6. HE-6 soundstage is slightly wider, HE-6 are a bit more laid-back, 812 are more forward. HE-6 have a somewhat drier sound, 812 are a tad warmer, juicier. 812 squeezes every drop from Tesla-generated bass, but Panzer-powerful yet structured and detailed bass of HE-6 is obviously better on metal. Subjectively, mids at 812 are a bit forward too (not a tonal balance problem, just part of sound signature). HE-6 play more comfortable and 812 with maniacal precision renders the attack and do not pull reverberation .
As a result, I really, really like these cans. Is it possible to listen to music through AKG K812? The question is open for me... Headphones were borrowed for a couple of weeks, maybe a little later I will buy them to find the answer.
TDS-7 (Snorry mod).
Very peculiar cans.
The result of original TDS-7 modification (by leading Russian headphones modding artisan Snorry) is significant and undeniable. Considering plain sound characteristics whether they are undoubted flagship cans capable to replace say LCD-2 or HE500? For me the answer is - no. (In parenthesis I have to add that the answer is correct just for me, I admit that from other subjective position the answer may be different. And I am eager to try TDS- 15 mod, it suggests that the result may be a higher level, the flagship without any "if") .When you hold them in your hands, you can feel the aura no industrial product could ever have and they simply one of the best looking cans I ever had. And with addition this factor, for me personally TDS- 7 Snorry mod certainly belongs to the very top category.
What I did like about them. They are true isodynamic cans with special sound attributed to isodynamic drivers. They are in a way similar to HE500 by a cold, not too sparkling sound.
What I did NOT like about them. Unfortunately they still have harshness and a bit of grain on bass inherited from original TDS-7. Also they are very demanding from amplification; on Burson Soloist it was not so simple to find sweet spot of comfortable loudness. The problem is - decreasing volume results in increasing of "darkness" in sound, increasing of "veil" thickness (well, may be for someone it could be plus, not minus as for me, I prefer more "bright" sound).
Headphones have thunderous bass, rather flat mids and not annoying a little "dark" highs. Soundstage is not too small.
The most impressive they vere on
- Heavy Metal (brutal bass, not too accurate whole sound picture, vintage charm that starts from getting headphones and expands tremendously when music is on)
- Thrash (a lot of drive, not too rafinated sound have internal synergy with Thrash music)
- Grindcore (signal peaks are higher and attacks are more distinct compared to Black and Death, where headphones were a step from perfect; tank-like power and airplane-like speed are breathtaking, prescribed fot the genre)
On other subgenres cans were very close to the top performers and can be (if like their flavour) used as a single metal headphones.
Conclusions (predictably) are not too magical. For jazz, classic rock W5000 - are definitely among of the best cans I've ever listened to, but the metal is another story... And yet.
Technical performance. The volume of the bass is usually enough, but the punch is really noticeably lacking. Mids - accented, warm Audio-technica endorphins. Higs - not bad, no excessive brightness. Soundstage - quite a wide, but at the top level W5000 are far from champions title.
Opportunity to rejoice.
Doom: Hmm. Strange, but I rather like the result. Not the best of the best, but still. Softness and roundness are woven into the more than acceptable texture. What is missing - the sense of total bass control.
Power: Technically - not perfect (speed, control ...), but the fun factor is staggering )) We put the highest mark, so that experience was not lost.
Heavy Metal: The closest to the classic rock genre played out perfectly - naturally. Fascinating and ornamentally beautiful.
Goth: slowness, traditional vocals - excellent conditions for 5000 to express themselves. Even a warm sound signature does not look like a fault.
Sludge, Stoner: After results for Doom-s expectations here were high. Alas. Still, Sludge / Stoner Metal is more metal than rock. W5000 lack in a raw power to play like the best of the best.
Alternative: Slow tracks - incomparable. But fast ones... I wish they were not. Softness and roundness are inappropriate here.
Industrial: You can listen to the sounds, but why? Headphones are surprised with the listener.
Black: Sound canvas does not turn into a mess. It's not mess ... It's a snowy morning landscape - the spaces between the houses are filled with smooth transitions. But as the original did not have such transitions.
Death: Impressions similar to those obtained on Black, just drifts above the snow even thicker.
Grindcore: Another snow genre (see Black, Death). We ride from the mountains On the snow-cats with a diesel engine. Sometimes even funny.
Progressive: And again, again a dual impression - on leisurely tracks all is great, for fast ones - put out the light.
Symphonic: Opera vocal, non-electric instruments, the atmosphere - yes. Assertive, energetic parts - no.
Thrash: Rock 'n' roll frenzy - A grade. Speed - C. Total - B.
All in all - not enough of raw power, too intelligent/soft/rounded to play metal. But definitely there are some interesting metal subgenre niches, you can treat them as a bonus to the W5000 talents on non-metal music genres.
Headphones are really versatile (as for example Fostex 900 are) and I really do not have a desire to look for areas where they are not good enough. But I have to, duty calls )
Bass is tasty, true orthodynamic-style, quantity is decentely measured, bass flavour is closer to the LCD-3 than the LCD-2. Mids are great, clean, maybe a little cool. Higs are balanced without the brightness or "comfortable" mute. Headphones are substantially neutral compared LCD-2, LCD-3. Soundstage not extremely spacious, but quite adequate.
Alternative: The аmazing hybrid of purity, freshness, lightness and solidity. At Diablo Swing Orchestra this combination is particularly surprising - as if an elephant floats in the sky... And not like a butterfly, bul like a dragonfly, instantly moving and stiffening, soaring buzzing wings.
Doom: The smile stretches from ear to ear. It's great that Audeze stays Audeze on Doom. Bass in place. LCD-X paint a brighter picture than 2 and 3, but it does not look wrong.
Heavy Metal: It would be strange to find problems on Heavy Metal for cans with sound signature of LCD-X. So no problems. Normal flight.
Black: Well, compared to other relatively bright top headphones (eg Fostex 900) the tiny lack of detail is present. For LCD-2, 3, it looks like part of the concept, for LCD-X rather a disadvantage. But given that the LCD-X are considerably better than the 600 Fostex anyway, they definitely deserve the highest mark.
Symphonic: Neutrality and purity - are present. Bass pressure - at a decent level. Techniques and fun. Harmony.
Thrash: Grabs you and drags it over the ruts and rocks, straight muzzle down. Exciting. Drive. Quantity and quality of bass - what you need. Without undue hysteria. Top.
Goth: Sadness, transparent tears are streaming down. Coolness, clarity and transparency - all in favor. One of the best.
Sludge, Stoner: And here LCD-X are clearly ahead of LCD-2 (unlike Doom situation), a bit of brightness - that's what LCD-2 do not have enough to become the best.
What is not so cool:
Industrial: LCD-X compared to Fostex 600/900, LCD-2 are not spectacular enough. Though in general, and not so bad.
Power: Not so bad, as LCD-2 are, but still too heavy for such a light and relaxed genre. Angels flutter in wrought iron boots. Or try to.
Death: Still too soft, LCDlacks sharpness for Death. Rounded, quietly. Insufficient nervousness.
Progressive: Fine, but for the top headphones - imperfect. Too massive, ponderous. Instead of air and wide-open space - a bit too much of substance in the atmosphere.
Overall. Cans resemble Hifiman 500 pumped up to the level of the LCD-3 Audeze, a combination of 500-style neutrality and Audeze trademark sound signature. Certainly one of the best and most versatile cans for metal.
Also it is necessary to say a few words about the comparison with the Fostex 600. According the table it looks like that 600 are very close to the level of LCD-X. Alas, this is not so when it comes to the technical capabilities, LCD-X is certainly much higher. But if we talk about the emotional component, without direct technical comparison of 600 / LCD-X - the table is right. Perhaps I should allocate a separate category in the table for the LCD-X, Fostex 900 and other supertops, but so far it seems to me unnecessary complication.
Among earphones of top level 560 most of all remind LCD-X (except for one, but very important point). Alas, at present I don't have LCD-X. Comparison was carried out with HE-500 (mostly) and HE-6.
Technical parameters. A bass - not the best in 560. Orthodynamic colleagues sound powerful. 560... Don't sound so. In the competitive world it is necessary to be allocated with something. Probably in it there was a task of 560 authors. Mids are cool, level, intelligent and sensual. Highs are smooth, fluid. A soundstage not titanic, 500's soundstage seem a bit wider, though it would be incorrect to call 560's soundstage a small one.
While 560 listening there was a RSA Dark Star amplifier on a visit. It should be noted that quality growth of 560 from more interesting amplifier was signifactly more, than of 500.
Heavy Metal: Keyword - magic. The magic of Black Sabbath through the direct channel comes to a brain. 500 look rough and clumsy compared to 560.
Alternative: Fine, pure and joyful. It can be slightly too intelligent in comparison with rude 500 fellows (rough aggression is pertinent on alternative). But the battlefield remains for 560. Compared to them 500 play simplistic, the increase of drive doesn't help.
Sludge, Stoner: 560 play rock, not metal. Perhaps here it isn't bad. Possibly because 560 really rocks.
Power: Everything seems not bad, almost, almost perfect, but something isn't enough here to get absolutely top result at the top level. May be a bit of madness?
Goth: The gothic is good, good. Hysterically, viscously. An ice block on a breast. There is no sense to compare with 500, other level of adequacy to a genre.
Not too joyful:
Industrial: The miracle doesn't happen, without of a liver bass massage the excellent result is unattainable. But in general it is possible to listen not without interest - cold smooth metal in sound signature is quite pertinent on a genre.
Doom: The dire shortage of a key resource - bass. Instead of a Doom we have a Hard Rock here.
Black: Bleak. There is no bass punch, too smooth. It is impossible to tell that it is absolutely bad - cool sound signature is really in plave. But after switch on 500 adrenaline emission is detected, at the return switching - sleeping pill.
Death: As well as on Black - not enough power of the adequate atmosphere.
Grindcore: Accurate, but weak. Needles are distinct, but aren't long enough and are hammered into the head half-heartedly. 500 play with modest technical skill, but a fervor of 500 makes much bigger impression.
Progressive: I understood not at once that isn't pleasant to me. 560 play prog metal as a prog-rock. It isn't too bad. But that's not metal - is no power, no pressure.
Symphonic: "Simfo" is quite good, "metal" is lightweight.
Thrash: Same problem.560 play rock, not metal. Fervent and vigorous Hard Rock. for metal there is no weight.
Grand total. Full impression that earphones are made to show their best on not too heavy genres and distinguish themselves from competitors. The solution of a task - quite original orthodynamic cans surpassing 500 in every point except for heavy genres. If you compare them to HE-6 - 560 are far from superiority, regardless of a genre. The current price of 500 - 560 - 6 reflects in my opinion the general ratio of qualitative distinctions.
Fostex TH-900 (with custom 1584 litz wires cable)
Headphones were tested with with custom 1584 litz wires cable. Cable exaggerates all abilities of earphones - they play even more pure, even more sharp, even quicker.
Bass thorough, quite sufficient for worthy metal reproduction. Mids are good with bit of warmth. Highs are bright, perhaps slightly too bright for a fan of dark sound. The soundstage is wide and free, not any open cans have so much of space.
Industrial: Wow. Surprise. I always thought that for industrial demands cold technogenic coloring - but here - warmth can also pertinently appear if other technical capabilities correspond to a genre. Here all quite so. 600 seem rather turbid and wadded in comparison with 900.
Sludge, Stoner: On a Sludge in comparison with Doom clean, not too meaty soundsignature is welcomed. 900 have one.
Heavy Metal: It is possible to grumble a little on excessive aggressiveness, but whether it will a subject on Heavy Metal-e? Doubtfully.
Black: That is required. Crazy speed, drive and punch. The highest detail level allows to consider every tiny tendrill and avery smallest teeth on mandibles of Black monsters. Not so distinguished punch into a liver as Signature Pro has, but more than enough nevertheless.
Death: There were certain doubts about possible excessive brightness of 900 for a genre. After short accustoming to real sound signature - we sweep doubts aside. Impressions aren't worse, than on a Black.
b: It's cool. Considerably accurate, detailed (600 Fostex a muddy compared to 900), punches nails. Possibly the best take from headphones I ever heard.
Progressive: It was possible not to check 900 performance on prog metal. One of the best executions. A wide scene, air, energy, great technical performace.
Symphonic: One more predictable hit. Natural, without curved "taste" sounding, with a bass pepper - the recipe of hit for the chimera of a symphonic and metal music.
Thrash: Power? It is at 900. In prosperity. A lot of.
Power: Cheerful and joyful, despite high technical performance, there is no wish to send imperfect records to a garbage can, there is an opportunity to abstract and take pleasure in mood.
Not quite positive:
Doom: We will dare to be capricious. It is not necessary here to turn on fog lights and to examine what is hidden behind the fog. On the contrary, it is expedient to collect fog more dense, to get less detailed and bright highd, to add more bass.
Goth: Technically everything is faultless. But emotionally bright, juicy, warm sound is strictly not coherent to a genre.
Tendency however. The higher class of headphones, the higher their genre universality including metal subgenres. 900 are universal and aren't boring. A top choice for the fan of rather bright dynamic earphones with a warm note in aftertaste. (I will make a reservation for readers not familiar with my tastes, in my estimates and conclusions it makes sense to do the amendment on my tolerance to brightness).
First of all it is necessary to admit that I don't like these cans. Subjectively - I'm not fan of "dark" sound signature (with some really prominent exceptions). Objectively - we have far from neutral pretentious headphones with commercial, comfortable sound made to tempt unsophisticated listener. Well, anyway, 650-Senns-fan-reader can safely add 0,5 - 1 points to my marks. For the others, I will risk to assume, it will be okay only with rather bright amplifier - I stopped on the Soloist, with Zen (really dark amp) it was physically impossible to listen Z7 for me. The huge field for recable activity also detected, with a serious custom cable everything can appear not so bad.
So. The bass is clearly elevated, powerful, rather fast, but slightly soft. Mids are slightly on the cool side, not to tell that mids are recessed, but with a delicate hint of it. Tops are "comfortable", too much "comfortable", a lot of "veil" here. The soundstage is not stadium-wide, but also far from chamber style, something standart-ish for closed cans.
I like it.
Doom: Abilities of cans hit the mark accurately, shortcomings turn to pluses. The viscous, dark, fat sound - all is as is should to be on Doom.
Heavy Metal: I am surprised. The cans that look unbalanced on majority of other subgenres look opposite here - the sound picture is well balanced. Nothing sticks out, doesn't draw in anywhere. Obviously cans were deliberatly tuned for music material like this.
Sludge, Stoner: The result is predictable for genre, that sonically combines Doom and Heavy Metal. Balanced as on the Heavy-metal with a little dash of Doom-y fat bass.
Thrash: A bit slow, but not over the border slow (like i.e. on Grindcore). Some untidy/soft notes look nice here, as well as a cheerful bass slam.
I do not like it.
Industrial: Under-over-spicy ) Midbass is okay in quantity, but it would be good to have more subbass, adequate massage of a liver doesn't happen. Plus softish character of bass - not quite that is necessary here, too soft for sharp industrial edges and blades.
Alternative: Darkness and softness inappropriate here. On the contrary, fun, transparency and brightness we would welcom.
Power: There is nothing to brag, alas. Rather heavyweight and gloomy. Soundstage is mediocre. Anti-synergy.
Progressive: Deja vu of impressions on Power. There is nothing to brag, alas. Rather heavyweight and gloomy. Soundstage is mediocre. Anti-synergy.
Symphonic: Deja vu again,,,,
Black: Too slow, too slow, than it should be. And slightly a bit too soft, than it would be desirable. But on the general atmosphere quite gets to expectations.
Death: Again too slow, too soft. Instead of the bright splashes of clean blood we have flow of dark muddy substance.
Grindcore: Each nail being hammered into a brain by music will be wrapped up in a velvet tissue. And it is told to hammer owner not to hurry. The familiar picture, not becoming from it is more pleasant.
Goth: Instead of pure grief we have fluffy, heavyweight presentation.
Total. Dark headphones with commercial, comfortable soundsignature.
We welcome one more headphones which talents lie outside metal genres. Alas, Stax SR-009 for me are among "great, but non-metal headphones". It's rather sad for the person spoiled by a bass volume of many of top contemporary dynamic and isodynamic cans to find such a problem, actually the only problem, in a supertop headphones. 009 just don't provide enough of bass pressure for metal. Other technical parameters of 009 surely bypass most of competitors.
Couple of words about technical performance. I listened 009 with Wooaudio WES (tubes used - Tesla EL34, Sylvania 6SL7GT). Also tried 009 on Headamp KGSS, but its powerful and brawny character, considerably concealed pluses of 009, but but could not cope to conceal the only minus (bass performance). With WES 009 possess the stunning, huge scene. Exciting, detailed, with no trace of fatiguing brightness. Natural, stunningly realistic mids, originally - dead neutral, with tubes used - slightly warm. A bass - fast, detailed, extended, but compared to many top cans, not too large in volume.
That was pleasant on metal:
Progressive: Slightly pale, but nevertheless extremely impressive reflection of abilities 009 to play a prog-rock (The genre created for headphones, the headphones created for a genre. Behind each turn, the new line - an invariable new portion of endorphins. Wide, airy. Ideal contact of 009 signature with music material.) …
Heavy Metal: The vocal hypnotizes and moves you far beyond. Instrumental parts flow like clouds in the sky. Above than "simply perfect". But shoot me at my foot - it seems that it's is possible to perform Hard Rock even better.
Symphonic: Symphonic and vocal fragments are at such a level… The endorphin volume quite replaces the easiest failure of the drive (compared to 007). Better than many of the best, but not absolute top perhaps.
Goth: And this is perhaps not "simply the best", but "the best of the best". The abundance of voice parts allows to clear up, reveal in the full grew key pluses, generally slow tempo with no need in bass shock doesn't allow minus to creep out.
That was pleasant less:
Industrial: Pressure of a metal wall has to smear you methodically on a floor. Doesn't smear. There is no massage of liver on the infra-bass.
Sludge, Stoner: Where power and light-hearted enthusiasm are necessary - 009 give in, alas. Lack of bass pressure and lack of crazy energy.
Power: Technically perhaps quite okay - soundstage is wide, the vocal is great, a lack of a bass isn't too bad. But atmosphere... 009 play too serious and even for Power metal.
Black: Very precise and accurate. But bomehow toy-like... On a bass - as if you you look at the tiny dwarfs through magnifying glass. But it supposed to be a terrible giant, arousing fear.
Death: Impressions on Black repeated. The little man behaves violently representing the titan.
Grindcore: Accurately, but not impactful enough. Filigree, but not brutal. Seemingly razor-sharp, but razor doesn't cut a throat.
Doom: Not so bad as could follow from abstract bass volume shortage analysis. The bass after all has excellent extent, the infra-bass is present. But the level of low frequency fat is really low to recreate impressive Doom atmosphere.
Alternative: Technically everything is almost okay, but for top top level cans - not ideal. Not enough of slam, not so desperate as in other metal subgenres, but nevertheless. Lack of "spark", 009 play too even and true.
Grand total. If the considerable part of music preferences of yours consusts of nonmetallic genres, with a highest probability minuses noted in the review can be irrelevant for you. It is possible to ignore them safely and to considet 009 best cans for metal also. If there is no wish or it is impossible for you to ignore more bass-heavy dynamic/orthodynamic cans, alas, in my opinion - 009 on metal are niche players, one of the of the best however for these niches.
On non-metal genres I listened 007 on WES, on a meatal - KGSS. Alas, on both amplifiers there was a feeling that 007 are under-amplified. On non-metal genres with WES such a feeling perhaps even makes the certain flavour, that a right for existence. KGSS plays fast and powerful metal better, than WES, but... Impression that 007 can play better, much better does not leave me.
KGSS + 007 have well controlled, dense bass. Euphoric electrostatic air on mids and highs is blown off a bit - welcome to solidstate amplification. Mids of 007 are a little more flat compared to 009. The soundstage is much less, than 009's scene. But, the most amusing - 007's minuses manage to turn to pluses on some genres.
Heavy Metal: If 009 were made as lethal weapon for progressive rock, 007 MK2 were created as hard rock lethal weapon. Add some more of "meat", "brutality" and even reduced soundstage (in comparison with 009) - everything in 007 sound signature develops in pluses on a genre, realizing outstanding result.
Doom: Somewhat unexpected. Strangely enough, even on going to an overload (hello, Monolord) 007 don't give in neither on density nor on power. The pure mids gives special, fauvorable for Doom flavour.
Sludge, Stoner: Genre is a mix of Doom and Heavy metal and so are results.
Alternative: Well. The vocal fascinates in an ordinary electrostatic manner. PRAT drives. The bass slam is more than enough for the genre. Above than "an average excellent".
Thrash: If cans are magnificent on vigorous rock, is it the reason to give them top marks for every rock-ish genre? On Thrash - definitely. Energy whips, speed impresses, detail level id striking, but not straining.
Black, Death, Grindcore: I listened 007 on Black for a long, I was thinking, I was looking for an answer on forum threads. What's the problem?, It seems like everything is accurate and balanced, technical abilities of 007 fit Black metal very well. But. Anyway. On Black, Death and Grindcore after couple of minutes of listening subconscious message doesn't allow to take full pleasure from music. A bass. Drums sound as if at peaks of signals sinusoidal tops are cut off plainly. Or in poles between "humps" of peaks of signals sand is filled up. Terribly unpleasant. The most probable reason for this - KGSS (not hv version) under-amplifies 007 MK2. At least on on fast extreme genres.
Power: No. Not enough of space for power-metal soul to take off. Too seriously it thumps, too heavy for a flight.
Progressive, Symphonic: Excessively heavy, especially on contrast with 009, there is no the wide and ringing emptiness, magical "nowhere" from which sounds of music appears. A closet - not a soundstage for Progressive and Symphonic metal.
Goth: Typically mediocre for vigorous cans. It is not a right time for and joyful run. It is better to sit and grieve in a cold of the night.
With a regret I has to note that if 009 on nonmetallic genres unambiguously make absolutely indelible impression, 007 on metal don't make such radical impression. Certainly 007 are among top of the top headphones, but they're not top of the top of the top )) I had no time for adaptation to 007 sound signature, couple of weeks is not enough? Perhaps. Not my sound? Possibly. But feelings from 009 listening were like "Wow...", from 007 it was more loke "Hmm, somehow something isn't perfect, it seems like cans XXX play it better". And even thus that as a rule XXX played at the similar level, but in a different way, 007 were by default considered as catching up...
Planning to try 007 later on more appropriate amplification.
In advance I apologize for possible bias in estimates, but for today AB-1266 are my personal absolute best of the best headphones. And in overall classification of the cans which are present at the spreadsheet it seems reasonable to allocate separate category for Abysses and Stax 009. Having mids of Abyss very close to that give 009, the bass is powerful and sound (great thing compared do 009), highs are sparkling and playful (with no excess for me), a soundstage - at least no worse, than of 009. So my personal conclusion is obvious.
If to reflect a little more. In excellent (for me) and really universal system there should be at least couple of earphones. The first - cold, sharp, bright, fast. The second - warm, soft, dark, slow. Abyss - an ideal first half of ideal couple (budget alternative - Hifiman HE-6). The second half - two-headed, consisting of good old non-fazor Audeze LCD-3 and LCD-2.
Actually it makes sense to consider marks below taking into account that Abyss considerably surpass the vast majority of top headphones. What will turn out in synergy of subgenres/Abyss distinctive features?
Black: Extremely easy and extremely powerful in a same time. Butterflies flit and bees made from a stainless steel sting with diamond stings. Purest mids and the shock wave bass makes performance on genre perfect.
Death: Impressions as on Black. Plus - there is present a spark on high frequencies which competitors often lack, so performance is great on Black, but not so good on Death. And again surprise (see note on Symphonic) it is possible to listen bad technical quality records with pleasure, not with nausea )
Grindcore: Let's re-read impressions on Black once again. Ideal ruthlessness. Nails are inhumanly sharp, being earned with a top accuracy, speed and enthusiasm. Dynamic is like crazy - an instant stop and a lightning fast start on the maximum speed.
Industrial: Cold, technogenic atmosphere. The powerful blow of massive bass hammer instantly arising from nowhere. And pure, smooth as ice, ringing song of electronic instruments.
Symphonic: Vast soundstage, excellent mids, cheerful bass and highs. Every feature turns as advantage for a genre, there is no much to write. But anyway. in spite of all technical perfection of cans they can play imperfect records really nice (for example early Nightwish albums), without causing desire to throw out record in a toilet bowl. Probably special endorphine generator of Abysses distract from quirk in a record.
Power: I was afraid that performance on Power is going to be too cold and formal. Hurrah, I was wrong. Enthusiasm on bass and bright pleasure of highs, the excellent mids and vast, echoing (in a good sense) soundstage don't allow my concerns to come true.
Progressive: Natural supersynergy, that reminds deepest connection of Stax 009 with progressive rock. End of the game cans for Prog metal.
Thrash: It is so good (again), that it becomes tiny bit not ideal. Too straight, seems like Abysses lack some imperfect highlight to reack real perfection.
Not so well
Alternative: Technically speaking connection with genre is good, there is nothing to complain about. But on dynamic headphones, with their easy note of imperfection cpompared to Abysses, specific taste of dynamic drivers gives the maximum completeness in a linking of genre with cans.
Doom: Doom needs the darkness. Abysses shine with powerful headlights in a dense fog made by guitars and this light rins the atmosphere. Doom is listenable, but it's obvious, that there is a potential of much better performance.
Heavy Metal: One more caprise. Yes, from a technical point of view everything is great, so great that it turns into minus. Abysses slightly lack goofy imperfect enthusiasm, cool neutrality is not so welcome here.
Sludge, Stoner: Unlike a Doom, brightness is not so severe critical shortcoming. Everything is good, isn't enough unless slightly healthy slovenliness and laxity, everything is too correct.
Grand total. Theoretically and practically the best headphones for heavy genres (for me).
Beyond the scope of metal subgenres. To be fair, it is necessary to tell that despite great performance of Abysses on jazz and progressive rock, 009 will remain for me the best on these genres.
In the first words should be noted that in the face of the Pioneers, we certainly welcome true TOTL headphones. But how T these TOTL are? Price makes one to expect interesting surprises and most of the latest TOTL cans justified these expectations. Here, alas, at least for myself, I did not find significant surprises (but I admit that for serious classical music listener situation could be very different).
Sound signature of headphones is deliberately neutral. But, not quite absolutely completely neutral ) Highs are no problem - detail worthy TOTL title in the absence of brightness which can strain on Senns 800 or say AKG 812. Mids perhaps could be neutral and natural, but taste of mids... I do not like such cold and "gray" mids (can't find another words). The same 800 I think neutrally and are neutral-neutral in my view proceeds in the light color. LF particular, with the rise of fashion, but not linear, an impression that is raised mostly lower bass (without continuing to bully sub-bass). Rather like effectively, quickly and without busting by volume. The scene is spacious in size, decent stamp (but not the stadium like the course 800).
But first, one more feature. Compared to 800 (and not only to them), there is something "material" in a sound, a sort of "dark matter". No veil, such kind of substance, that is not obstructing the lens, not masking details, but anyway clearly presents, giving the "weight" of the sound. Is this good or bad? Hard to say. I'm more at side of ease and transparency of the heart 800. But that's what can generate interest om classical music.
Couple more words on 800 vs MASTER1. If we consider a pair of HD600 / HD650 and 800 as evolved successor of 600, it looks quite logical, that Pioneers would look like a sort of 850, a product of a long evolution of the 650. I'm not a fan of 650, please take this into consideration reading my subjective notes on Pioneers )
Impressions on jazz and metal.
Jazz. Good, but not great. "Good" - technical level is extremely high, nothing special to complain about. Well, may be except that "the materiality of sound" feature and powerful bass add corporality to a piano and that's impressive. But same factors unnecessary add weigth to female vocals and a more ephemeral instruments. And final "not great" - they're too cool and detached, cans don't give feeling of participation to the heard, death sentence for jazz reproducing device.
Goth: There were doubts that the Pioneers will become champions at some subgenre. But here we have the same "click" as on classical music. All "particularities" make leap from quantitative to qualitative. Slow pace, detachment and coolness - exactly as it should be for Goth, the bass adds scale. Everything is appropriate.
Industrial: Predictably among the best. Deep bass punch. Chill. Add some speed and Pioneers would be the best of the best.
Doom: And here is probably one of the best performances I ever heard. Slow pace, arkness, decent bass. It all fits Doom atmosphere.
Black: Slightly slow but ... For raw black metal is probably is a plus, in a combination dark, cold and poweful flavour of Pioneers.
Heavy Metal: This is good, but not outstanding. Techniques - score A, artistry, alas, only C.
Progressive: Once again, good, but not excellent. Wide soundstage, chill and seriousness - OK. But cans just do not have enough of speed on the bouncy fragments.
Symphonic: And once again - their home ground. But once again Pioneers are not the best of the best. In symphonic pieces - the best of the best. In metal - the same problems as we had on Progressive.
Not so good:
Alternative: Technique is very well, and mids and bass are good. But unbearable boring. And the worst than could happen on Alternative - boredom.
Sludge, Stoner: In all techniques more than decent, but it lacks drive critically.
Power: Well, not their ground. Instead of light cheer - solemn seriousness.
Death: Too softened. It begs to add brightness and fury.
Grindcore: Catastrophically lacks surgically sharp peaks, it's sad but peaks are relaxed, subjected to comfortable plastic surgery
Thrash: slow, too slow. And too serious.
Total. Headphones I did not like. And the problem is - I did not found a "spark" for me. A technical performance is very, very good, true TOTL headphones.
One more case when I have to warn about possible excessive positive bias in review. HE-6 - inner circle of inner circle of my favorite cans now.
HE-6 for me personally - final point for a search in a niche I would call call "neutral/cold TOTL cans" (niche where reside i.e. AKG 812 or Senns 800). Compared to AGK 812 in a case of HE-6 we plus delicious isodynamic bass and minus painfully-excessive-over-detailness. Compared to Senns 800 plus bass again and plus plus - much more energy and drive, HE-6 do not look at the musical material from a distance as the 800 do, but they're immediately and directly involved in action.
Review was made on almost stock version (with velour pads), only stock cable was repalced to cryo-silver from RAL to clean up the "veil" of stock cable. For amplification I used Accuphase P-300L - powerful enough to drive the HE-6 and mostly neutral (well, just adding a tiny grain of warmt to mids to soften the ruthless arctic nature of HE-6). In "real life" I use Lawton or suede custom made in LCD-2 size pads, remove grills, but for the review it was decided to listen to the version with a minimum of modifications so that the reader had a chance to consult with their own feelings on HE-6.
What do we have on technical side. Romantically speaking - in a same time air and light and instantly generated power. Highs for me and reasonably comfortable (compared i.e. to AKG 812) and at the same time "detailed". Mids are cool. Bass - clear, powerful and lightning fast at the same time, possibly the best bass in a headphones sound world. The soundstage in stock version of mediocre (that can be mitigated by modification).
What I like especially:
Black: Nose to nose with Abyss. Where Abyss lead with technically absolutely perfect performance, HE-6 being a bit inferior in accuracy and clarity get additional synergy with genre using their lack of soundstage vastness and adding some meat.
Death: On Death experience is similar to Black. And (like Abyss) HE-6 have a little piercing highs, that sum well with genre.
Grindcore: I thought here will happen clear defeat to Abyss for HE-6, but hurray, this does not happen. As on Death and Black - technical performance slightly more weak than that of the Abyss, but sound signature of HE-6 - the topic to the genre.
Thrash: And another time - direct hit for HE-6 to genre expectation. All benefits and all pluses of HE-6 for good - speed, powerful bass, cheerful and fresh highs, crazy drive, a compact space and a feeling of light imperfections, necessary for final docking with the genre.
Heavy Metal: It's great, nothing more to say. Excellent mids. Rock rolls. Highs entertain. Bass provide energy. But to reach the top of the top - instead of technogenic cool there should be a little vintage warmth to reach the vibe of classic Heavy Metal period.
Sludge, Stoner: Here (unlike Doom) amount of "meat", light-colored drive, non-giant soundstage scene - all converge. And, united, quantity goes into a new quality.
Alternative: Nothing to scold. Powerful and fast, sparkling and provocative, involving and fun. Playful highs in place, mids are good, bass generates energy.
What I do not like too much:
Industrial: Almost Excellent of Excellent. Cold and heartless, lightning-fast moving press of bass. But ... Perhaps velour pads soften the edges far more than it should be for the genre (can be cured by leather pads and more "clear" cable).
Doom: Good. I can not say that performance was really bad. But for ideal performance we don't need here such a "light" cans, even taking into account darkish velour pads, HE-6 does not reach level of "meat", which easily accessible with non-fazor LCD-2/3.
Power: Power is played as the Trash. Well, surprisingly similar. TOO powerful and energetic. It is necessary to open space and slightly reduce the pressure on the low frequencies.
Progressive: For the most part - great. If you do not compare, how much it could be better i.e. on Abysses ) There is not enough of space, desperate lack of soundstage width. The increase in "comfort" of highs (thanks to velour pads) is not quite appropriate for the genre, it is necessary to become even clearer, colder.
Symphonic: Repeats impressions on Progressive - not bad, but it is clear that in could be much, much better.
Goth: Overall tonal balance and cool atmosphere matches the genre. Generally. But tank-heavy bass... It should be more delicate.
Grand total - one of the best of the best for the metal (and not only for metal). Huge potential to tune sound signature by mods to suit your wishes.
General thoughts on cans features / genre demands mapping.
List of albums used for subgenre tastingList (Click to show)
A Perfect Circle - Emotive
Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Pinata
Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I
Faith No More - King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime
Primus - Antipop
Propagandhi - Failed States
Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine
Serj Tankian - Elect The Dead
System Of A Down - Hypnotize
Vista Chino - Peace
Alcest - Souvenirs d'un autre monde
Anaal Nathrakh - Vanitas
Bathory - The Return....
Burzum - Filosofem
Cobalt - Gin
Dimmu Borgir - Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
Immortal - Sons Of Northern Darkness
Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu
Rotting Christ - Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy
Satyricon - Now, Diabolical
Cannibal Corpse - Vile
Carcass - Surgical Steel
Dark Tranquillity - The Gallery
Death - Scream Bloody Gore
Entombed - Left Hand Path
Morbid Angel - Blessed Are The Sick
Napalm Death - Utilitarian
The Modern Age Slavery - Obedience
Candlemass - Death Magic Doom
Cathedral - The Ethereal Mirror
Earthless - From The Ages
Electric Wizard - Electric Wizard
Monolord - Empress Rising
Orchid - Mouths Of Madness
Subrosa - More Constant Than The Gods
Blood Ceremony - Blood Ceremony
Witchcraft - The Alchemist
Moonspell - Irreligious
My Dying Bride - A Map of All Our Failures
Paradise Lost - Icon
Type O Negative - Dead Again
Woods Of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light
Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity
Liberteer - Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees
Nails - Abandon All Life
Napalm Death - Scum
Pig Destroyer - Book Burner
Vhol - Vhol
AC/DC - Back In Black
Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Grave Digger - Knights Of The Cross
Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden
Judas Priest - British Steel
Saxon - Sacrifice
Scorpions - The Hot & Slow
Die Krupps - Odyssey Of The Mind
Ministry - Dark Side of the Spoon
Rammstein - Mutter
Rob Zombie - Hellbilly Deluxe
Blind Guardian - Tales From The Twilight World (2007 Remastered)
Children Of Bodom - Something Wild
Falconer - Falconer
Gamma Ray - Insanity & Genius (2002 Remastered)
Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1
Iced Earth - The Dark Saga
Manowar - Hail To England
Running Wild - Death Or Glory
Sabaton - Carolus Rex
Wuthering Heights - Far from the Madding Crowd
Agalloch - The Mantle
Anathema - Alternative 4
Animals As Leaders - Animals As Leaders
Mastodon - The Hunter
Opeth - Blackwater Park
Protest The Hero - Volition
Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused To Sing
The Ocean - Pelagial
Therion - Secret Of The Runes
Baroness - Blue Record
Isis - Wavering Radiant
Behold! The Monolith - Defender, Redeemist
Endless Boogie - Focus Level
Kyuss - Welcome to Sky Valley
Om - Advaitic Songs
Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction
Wiht - The Harrowing of the North
Apocalyptica - Plays Metallica By Four Cellos
Katatonia - Discouraged Ones
Moonspell - The Antidote
Nightwish - Oceanborn
Therion - Theli
Within Temptation - Mother Earth
Evile - Enter the Grave
Holy Moses - Master of Disaster
Kreator - Phantom Antichrist
Metallica - Master Of Puppets
Testament - Dark Roots Of Earth
Edited by levap - 1/8/17 at 12:02am