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Looking for headphone for classical music between $250-$1000

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I've recently discovered that my preference in music is changing, and classical is really growing on me.  Most of my current headphones have been bought with Alt Rock and some EDM in mind, HE-400 and the Dunu DN-1000 being my primary headphone/IEM currently.

 

I have been listening to classical music using the Etymotic HF5, MartinLogan Mikros 90, and Sennheiser HD598.  I have comfort issues with both the Ety and the M90, and find the HD598 comfortable and enjoyable.  I am also utterly ignorant on which headphones are decent for classical music at the higher price ranges.  Hell, on one of the threads I read, someone suggested that the HE-400 is good for classical, but I haven't gotten around to giving it a real listen to test it, especially considering I find the mids to be weak compared to the bass and treble.

 

I would like to stay away from any IEM, so I'd like to get myself a good headphone for classical.  As far what I would use as sources, if the suggestions could be driven from a Fiio X3, that would be magnificent.  I know with many high end phones I will not get the most out them from the amount of amping the X3 provides, and I can always buy a more powerful portable amp, like the Fiio E12.  Isolation is not an issue for me whatsoever, as the only reason I'm using portable sources is that I listen in various parts inside and outside my house, so whatever I get will not be a computer desk only headphone.  As far as other amping, I also use a Fiio E9i connected to an old iphone for SiriusXM streaming, and a rockboxed 5th gen ipod.

 

I know the price range is huge, but I'm just trying to get an idea of which headphones will work well with this type of music.  Plus, if there is a headphone that performs quite well, but is rather difficult to drive, this will give me a bit of a buffer to make sure I purchase an adequate amp.  I'm sure I'm forgetting other useful information, and sorry in advance.

 

If this information helps at all, I have lifelong depth perception problems, so while I haven't checked into testing it, there's also a chance it might affect my perception of soundstage as well.  I only bring this up because I'm pretty sure that's the case.  I can't even comprehend how people can tell how far away instruments are using headphones and high quality recordings.  Still, if soundstage is good on a particular headphone, its not going to hurt.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

Oh yeah, one last thing.  I have no clue when it comes to headphones for classical music if mentioning the composers I listen to most will help.  I primarily have been listening to Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, and Stravinsky.  Thanks again!

post #2 of 23

I use the AKG K712 Pro for classical almost everyday and they really do that genre justice.  I prefer the HD800 over the K712 Pro, but that headphone is out most people's price range.

 

The K712 Pro does require a decent amp to sound its best which at under $450 gives you that much needed financial buffer.

 

If you are big into classical I suggest giving these tracks a listen:

 

Album:  Game Music

Artist:  Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà

Track(s) of Interest:  Halo 3: One Final Effort

 

Album:  Véronique Gens, Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe

Artist:  Mass in B Minor, BWV 232: Laudamus Te

Track(s) of Interest:  Mass in B Minor, BWV 232

 

Album:  Bach: the Complete Cello Suites

Artist:  Klaus-Peter Hahn

Track(s) of Interest:  Suite for Violoncello Solo No. 1 In G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prelude

post #3 of 23

I have the same problem. Haven't found a headphone under 1000 $ for classical music yet. I have tested the AKG 712pro for several days. To my impression it was lacking of clarity and/or resolution. The effect is not that obvious with classical music but when comparing it to other headphones the difference was noticeable. I have to admit that my observations are based an a brand new headphone without a proper "break in".

Same with DT880 which did not have enough resulution compared e.g. with the beyerdynamic t70p. Unfortunately, the latter one has a bit a can-like tonality which affects the vocals.

I had the opportunity to listen in a music store to the audio technica AD1000x and instantly liked it. Open, very light, good resolution. I will give this one or the AD2000x a try. I have also tried the audeze LCD-X. This one had the best sound so far but was far too heavy on my head. I could't wear these for a long time.

On my wish list are: Ultrasone signature pro, beyerdynamic t5p and the AKG K812pro. The latter one is overpriced but maybe it's possible to get a used one. Also, the announced Hifiman HE560 and the oppo PM1 both look promising. They are not available yet but I will keep an eye on them.

 

 

 

post #4 of 23
Of in production models, HD800 for orchestral and HD600 for all other subgenres. I'm more specific in my profile.
post #5 of 23
I would recommend the HD800, but looking at your amp options, you might not get what you paid for. Care to spend on a better amp, that is if you're willing to go for the HD800.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
The problem with the hd800, while probably ideal, will blow the budget given Sennheiser's pricing tendancy , especially after adding the cost of an amp. As far as the hd600 is concerned, my worry is that I've read a bit how multiple people feel the hd598 give it a run for its money. I will certainly look into the K712 Pro.

A used hd700 seems findable for not much more than a hd600, does anyone know how well this handles classical?
post #7 of 23

LCD2s.   Dont look back.

 

I prefer my HD800s for jazz and small ensemble stuff, and even for some orchestral works - but nothing comes close to matching the thunder of an orchestra unleashed as the LCD2s (well, maybe the 3s).    

 

Actually, let me qualify my suggestion a little.  I guess it depends on what kind of performances you like.  If you like the studied, methodical approach of guys like Karajan and Bernstein, vs the balls-to-the-wall approach of Reiner, Solti or Gergiev.   I am in the latter camp and the LCD2s are "it" for me - although when i want to listen to a more measured performance, I do use the 800s.

post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saoshyant View Post

The problem with the hd800, while probably ideal, will blow the budget given Sennheiser's pricing tendancy , especially after adding the cost of an amp. As far as the hd600 is concerned, my worry is that I've read a bit how multiple people feel the hd598 give it a run for its money. I will certainly look into the K712 Pro.

A used hd700 seems findable for not much more than a hd600, does anyone know how well this handles classical?

The fact that HD558/598 is good doesn't detract from HD600 and HD650, which are very good. HD700 is more colored and fun; I felt it suited rock better.
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

I only really asked about the HD700 b/c there are a couple options for buying it around $500 right now.  I  know most seemed to find it overpriced at the 1000 or so it originally came out as, but at half that, it might actually be a good deal.  Plus it doesn't hurt that I also listen to a large amount of rock, which it seems to do well with.

 

I would love to give the Audeze a try, but those will most likely blow my budget as well.

 

And as far as what I like, I'm still in the early stages of learning classical music, so I have no clue which camps I would be in.  Sorry I can't be more helpful about that.

 

Too bad as far as I know, there isn't really a place for me to audition any of these in the Austin area.

post #10 of 23

Really enjoy my K701 and HD650 for classical music.  Two very different sounding cans though.  The 701 I find to be flat, dry and accurate... "analytical" I don't think would be too far off base either.  Love the 701 imaging and soundstage too.  The HD650 conversely is warm, relaxing, soothing... a great chill out headphone IMHO.

 

Either one is a winner, and I don't think I could easily pick one over the other.

 

For under a grand I think you can get an audioquest dragonfly and good amp too.

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

I've yet to get to listen to any decent AKG, having only heard 3 very low end offerings of theirs.  I have to admit something like the K701 or K712 is certainly tempting and in my consideration, and the impedance on both should be within the X3's capability.  I haven't looked into how sensitive they really are tho.  I'm just not a stationary listener by nature, so if I were to buy an amp, I'd just do a line out on the X3 to something more powerful like a E12, or research another higher power portable amp.  My favorite listening to classical so far is the Etymotic HF5, which certainly strikes me as an analytical IEM, but I find comfort issues with it.  So AKG is certainly looking like a good option, thanks for the suggestion.

post #12 of 23
"The K701, to my ears, is the Etymotic of full size headphones." -- an anonymous engineer
post #13 of 23

you could also look into planar magnetics like the hifiman he-500 or the new he560.

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 

I don't have any experience with the HE-500, but coming from alot of HE-400 use, I'd be apprehensive about that route for classical.

post #15 of 23

the he500/560 is is very different from the he400.

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