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New to professional headphones. Any help is extremely appreciated.

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for a pair of headphones that I can use at work and also for some amateur recording at home. I want to find the best balance between isolation from outside sounds, quality and comfort. Here are a few phones I've been recommended:

 

Audio-Technica ATH-M50

 

AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII 

 

Direct Sound EX29 

 

Sennheiser HD-280 PRO

 

AKG K 701 

 

I'm worried enough about my hearing since I've had tinnitus for years and I want to continue performing and listening to music. Work drives me nuts so I need a distraction, something that can cut off outside sounds without having to blast the volume. I hope these descriptions aren't too vague and someone can offer some advice. I'd like to cut off my price range at $350 or so. Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 13
Okay to start out, disclaimer, I have only heard the M50, K271, and I currently own the 280 Pro. You will NOT want the 701 because it is a fully open back.

With that out of the way, are you looking for neutral headphones in particular? You did say home recording so that's what I'm assuming.

The M50 is too colored to be something to use for mix checking, but for tracking they're alright. The cups aren't that comfortable though in my experience and they are more bass heavy and have some coloration in the midrange that makes them deviate from neutral. (I'm comparing to an HD600 that I've heard as my definition of neutrality here)

The K271 is extremely smooth and very neutral as long as you aren't considering the bass. I've only heard them with the velour pads. There might be more accurate bass with the pleather pads. You can really rely on the mids and highs from what I heard from them though, and they are very comfortable especially with the velour pads.

The 280 Pro is very polarizing. On one hand it's the most isolating headphone I've ever heard, in that it is like putting on hearing protection. With that comes an aggressive clamp, but the ear pads are surprisingly comfortable for being pleather. The sound is far from neutral though, with an enhanced sub bass, a sucked out mid bass, and rolled off upper treble as well as a slight nasal tonality to the mids. Awesome for tracking with almost zero bleed but definitely not for mixing.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply.

 

As far as I know, I am looking for neutral headphones. For mixing, I believe that's ideal if I understand correctly? At the same time, I'd still want them to sound good with a casual listen, since I'll be using them throughout the work week.

 

Is the bass too overpowering with the K271? 

post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuzzmFrog84 View Post

Thanks for the reply.

As far as I know, I am looking for neutral headphones. For mixing, I believe that's ideal if I understand correctly? At the same time, I'd still want them to sound good with a casual listen, since I'll be using them throughout the work week.

Is the bass too overpowering with the K271? 
Oops sorry I wasn't specific. The K271 is very underpowering when it comes to the bass. I have a 240 Studio myself which is essentially a semi open 271, and somehow I really don't mind the lack of sub bass because the mids and highs are just so good for the price. I don't know how easy it is for you to return if you don't like them, I know amazon is really easy for returns if you're in the USA though. Out of the ones you listed and what I know, the 271 have the most natural mids and highs.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hm, the K271 sounds almost like a perfect match except for the bass issue.

 

I live in the USA and was looking at reviews on amazon. The negative reviews all seem to mention the same issue. Is there something that you would recommend that comes close with accurate bass?

 

Also, how is the isolation with the 240?

post #6 of 13
Shure SRH440 are awesome for neutrality. Their only downfall is a slight roughness to the mids but that kind of works in your favor in that it will prevent you from creating a harsh recording. The upper mids are a little more elevated than say the M50 or 280 but nowhere near the painful mids of the 7506. I've heard all of these cans.

The 240 is a professional headphone but it doesn't have a lot of sub bass energy, but does have a warmer presentation in terms of upper bass than the 271 and a better soundstage. Because it is semi-open, there is little to no isolation and leakage is significantly more. Their soundstage is definitely a big plus and their smooth, extended, and clean treble and very pleasing mids but not so pleasing as to be inaccurate, are awesome. But I don't think you can make a really good bass judgement with them like you can with the Shure. I love my Shure, I actually bought it after testing a good 10 other cans in a SamAsh once and none of them sounded as neutral as it. I specifically chose it over the M50 and over the even more expensive alternative, the SRH840. I think you'll find it a useful tool and enjoyable can overall alike. It just sounds right to me. I further confirmed this by A/B testing it against an HD600 and the difference was shockingly close considering the price difference between those headphones.
Edited by metal571 - 6/6/14 at 7:49pm
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Wow, I was just looking at these. They are damn cheap too! Thanks a lot for your input. 

post #8 of 13
K240 studio +1
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arty McGhee View Post

K240 studio +1

They are good, but they aren't closed back so they won't help very much at work. I absolutely love mine, they're on my head right now, but the bass is more accurate on the Shures plus they are closed back. One of the only cans I actually trust for both tracking and doing amateur mix/master checks.

 

The 240s also take a TON of time to fully burn in and take a lot more power than average to drive.


Edited by metal571 - 6/6/14 at 10:02pm
post #10 of 13
Maybe some Sony MDR7506's?
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZappBrannigan View Post

Maybe some Sony MDR7506's?

Those are bright and harsh and grating. I don't think they're for everyone, they certainly weren't for me. Some say they are neutral, but after I heard the HD600 I have to say the 7506s sound awful because of their upper mid coloration.

post #12 of 13
Ahh yes, they were on the sharp side when they were fresh out of the box.

I removed the stock 3m cabling and replaced them with a different 1.2m cable that I had lying around (from a Sony ZX100) and the change in the sound was very noticeable.

Still, probably not the best choice since they required some DIY work to sound how they do now
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZappBrannigan View Post

Ahh yes, they were on the sharp side when they were fresh out of the box.

I removed the stock 3m cabling and replaced them with a different 1.2m cable that I had lying around (from a Sony ZX100) and the change in the sound was very noticeable.

Still, probably not the best choice since they required some DIY work to sound how they do now

Even after burn-in they still had their midrange brightness spike, and yeah not too many people are going to replace the cable.

 

The more I hear about the M40x, the more I like it. Was just listening to the Sonic Sense samples and the recording of the M40x sounds almost exactly the same as the reference material. It's something that needs to be checked out more I think, if the OP is looking for neutrality.

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