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What headphones to get?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for new headphones.  My previous ones were the Sony MDR-V6, but something happened recently, and when I plug it in all the way, I'm not hearing the full sound.

 

I have to only plug it in to the last groove.

 

I first strongly considered the Sennheiser HD 380, then the Sennheiser HD 598.

 

I liked the 598, but I don't think I can get an open ear back, most of my listening right now is during my commute, and I don't want sound to leak out and bother others.  I know that's not the best environment to listen to music, but nothing I can do.

 

I'm having trouble finding a closed ear equivalent.

 

What is a pair that:

 

1)  Has replaceable parts, especially the cable.

 

2)  Closed ear design so it doesn't disturb others.

 

3)  Low impedance, so it doesn't need an amp and can be powered by portable audio players, which is my most common way to listen to music with headphones.  I still want it to come with a 1/4" adapter, so I can plug it into something which requires a bigger jack, like an amp or receiver. 

 

I'll also sometimes listen to music on my desktop CD player and sound card.

 

I have a feeling the 598 sounds at least moderately better than the 380, so I don't want to consider the 380 anymore.

 

Thanks.

post #2 of 28
How about a headphone that is somewhat similar to the V6 frequency response, but improves greatly on the sound? Soundmagic HP150. It has a fairly neutral response with a very slight rise in emphasis toward the low and high end. But better all around SQ than the V6, and with deeper bass extension, too. Better soundstage and imaging. I think the comfort is better as well. The HP150 just came out, and is a revision of the HP100 with similar sound, so you can look for reviews of the HP100 to find out more. The HP150 comes with a short detachable cable and and an extension. It is 32 ohm, so fairly easy to drive with portable devices.
post #3 of 28

Somehow, the OP raises more questions than most threads of this nature do. Let me try to answer this: you want a headphone that you think sounds better than another one? What makes you say that? Does something about how the sound signature has been described appeal to you?

 

Anyway, I'm just going to stick to the basics: closed portables. I'll describe each one as well as I can and they'll each be about the price of the Sennheiser HD 598s or less.

 

  • Onkyo ES-FC300 ($129-149): I have a few gripes with this in terms of build quality, but it doesn't break easily. The only real Achilles' heel is in the connectors, which shouldn't be a problem if you don't remove them frequently (and in fact, you're not supposed to). There are no replaceable pads currently for sale, but the cable can be swapped out with either Onkyo's overpriced replacements or possibly Shure's much more reasonably-priced IEM cables. These headphones are pretty flat but have a strong bass extension; it goes very deep. The headphone is slightly warm sounding, but not by much. Although these are on-ear, they have very big drivers and enclosures, and are the perfect size for a supra-aural. My top pick out of all the headphones I'm recommending.
  • Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear ($140-200): The price on these headphones is incredibly erratic. It comes in multiple colors that each have a different demand. I've seen these go as low as $109 if you know where to look. Right now, the black-and-red color is ~$140 on Amazon. It sounds pretty close to the full-sized Sennheiser Momentums, which I would honestly recommend over this if the Pittards leather and size aren't a problem for you. These sound pretty bassy, and might be too much for you. Otherwise, I think it's a great headphone for the general user - and remarkably comfortable, too. It's covered in synthetic suede called alcantara, and it is very soft. The enclosures on these are tiny, though.
  • Sony MDR-V6 ($99): Don't look at me like that. If you liked the headphone enough, just buy another. Although I understand that when one headphone breaks, you're not exactly hurrying to go buy another. The 7506 is the same headphone with a different sticker; sometimes it's cheaper, like right now. You could buy that instead.
  • V-Moda XS ($199): Has enclosures about the same size at the Momentum On-Ear. Much bassier headphone, but not lacking in clarity. It's not the most detailed headphone out of all of these, and it's easily the bassiest - which you might hate, since you liked the MDR-V6, but I'm including it because it's an excellent portable. Comfortable and lightweight. Doesn't isolate that great, though. You could also get the M-80, the predecessor to the XS which is dirt cheap on Amazon right now. Buy direct, if you must though: V-Moda is tight-assed about honoring warranties if you didn't. Don't take this as a tangential suggestion for the Crossfade LP series, though: those sound awful. Not everyone will agree, but they sound like absolute garbage to me.
  • Audio Technica ATH-M50 ($109): These headphones are beyond overrated, if only because every single person on the planet seems to love them. Although they deserve their praise... somewhat. Other than a remarkably lacking soundstage and recessed mids, these headphones pretty much do everything right: price (right now, anyway), comfort, sound quality, build quality, the works. I haven't heard the M50X, but it apparently sounds similar but more refined. It also has a removable cable, which the original lacks.
  • Shure SRH440 ($99): Hesitant to recommend this one because it has such a very long cable, and in its stock configuration, is not very comfortable. If you're willing, buy the Shure SRH840 replacement pads and put them on this (it's easy). Your ears will thank you when they aren't pressing against the baffle. Won't do anything about the cheapo headband, though. Also, the cables have a proprietary locking mechanism; but that's okay, because like I said, Shure replacement cables are reasonably priced. Finally, these headphones are picky with their source: they have no low-end at all on my Nexus 4. However, perplexingly, they sound just fine from a Sansa Clip. If you are willing to put up with all of these gripes, you'll be rewarded with an incredibly neutral - if somewhat bright - sound at an incredibly reasonable price. People will say it's lacking in bass. I say it doesn't need any more.

 

I didn't break the $200 barrier. Ask me if you want some more recommendations beyond that price.


Edited by Dragonzeanse - 7/30/14 at 1:46am
post #4 of 28
Just get a UE6000 and call it a day. You can get one for the same price that it would cost to replace your broken headphones and get a detachable cable, great looks, superb isolation, mic/controller, and much better sound. Seems like a no brainer.
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

How about a headphone that is somewhat similar to the V6 frequency response, but improves greatly on the sound? Soundmagic HP150. It has a fairly neutral response with a very slight rise in emphasis toward the low and high end. But better all around SQ than the V6, and with deeper bass extension, too. Better soundstage and imaging. I think the comfort is better as well. The HP150 just came out, and is a revision of the HP100 with similar sound, so you can look for reviews of the HP100 to find out more. The HP150 comes with a short detachable cable and and an extension. It is 32 ohm, so fairly easy to drive with portable devices.

Thanks.  Sounds like it has everything I'm looking for.

post #6 of 28
Someone has just been able to compare the HP100 and HP150, and they feel that the HP150 might have a tad bit more bass and treble emphasis than the HP100. But close enough, that he wasn't completely sure. For whatever that's worth smily_headphones1.gif

I do think if you enjoyed the V6 and would like something somewhat similar in frequency (not exactly the same), but better, you would not be unhappy with the HP150. For me, it's a step up over the ATH-M50 and the Onkyo ES-FC300. The M50 has more bass emphasis for those that like that, but other than that, the HP150 does everything else better (and that's not even better if you are not into extra bass). It's been awhile since I heard the ES-FC300. I enjoyed them a bit more than the M50. I felt the sound had a tiny bit of grain. And then they are on ear, although comfortable compared to many on ear to me. The UE6000 is a somewhat bassy (not super bass heavy) dark sounding headphone; it would be quite a change in sound from the V6. I have not heard it, but frequency response measurements and user opinions seem to agree that the SRH440's bass rolls off heavy starting at around 100hz, so no good bass extension (bass light like a bookshelf speaker in comparison to a tower), and it has a lot of upper treble emphasis, so very bright.
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonzeanse View Post
 

Somehow, the OP raises more questions than most threads of this nature do. Let me try to answer this: you want a headphone that you think sounds better than another one? What makes you say that? Does something about how the sound signature has been described appeal to you?

 

 

Just when reading reviews, especially with people comparing Sennheiser products among themselves, it seemed that people agreed that the HD598 was better than the HD380, and worth the extra cost.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dragonzeanse View Post
 

Somehow, the OP raises more questions than most threads of this nature do. Let me try to answer this: you want a headphone that you think sounds better than another one? What makes you say that? Does something about how the sound signature has been described appeal to you?

 

Anyway, I'm just going to stick to the basics: closed portables. I'll describe each one as well as I can and they'll each be about the price of the Sennheiser HD 598s or less.

 

  • Onkyo ES-FC300 ($129-149): I have a few gripes with this in terms of build quality, but it doesn't break easily. The only real Achilles' heel is in the connectors, which shouldn't be a problem if you don't remove them frequently (and in fact, you're not supposed to). There are no replaceable pads currently for sale, but the cable can be swapped out with either Onkyo's overpriced replacements or possibly Shure's much more reasonably-priced IEM cables. These headphones are pretty flat but have a strong bass extension; it goes very deep. The headphone is slightly warm sounding, but not by much. Although these are on-ear, they have very big drivers and enclosures, and are the perfect size for a supra-aural. My top pick out of all the headphones I'm recommending.
  • Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear ($140-200): The price on these headphones is incredibly erratic. It comes in multiple colors that each have a different demand. I've seen these go as low as $109 if you know where to look. Right now, the black-and-red color is ~$140 on Amazon. It sounds pretty close to the full-sized Sennheiser Momentums, which I would honestly recommend over this if the Pittards leather and size aren't a problem for you. These sound pretty bassy, and might be too much for you. Otherwise, I think it's a great headphone for the general user - and remarkably comfortable, too. It's covered in synthetic suede called alcantara, and it is very soft. The enclosures on these are tiny, though.
  • Sony MDR-V6 ($99): Don't look at me like that. If you liked the headphone enough, just buy another. Although I understand that when one headphone breaks, you're not exactly hurrying to go buy another. The 7506 is the same headphone with a different sticker; sometimes it's cheaper, like right now. You could buy that instead.
  • V-Moda XS ($199): Has enclosures about the same size at the Momentum On-Ear. Much bassier headphone, but not lacking in clarity. It's not the most detailed headphone out of all of these, and it's easily the bassiest - which you might hate, since you liked the MDR-V6, but I'm including it because it's an excellent portable. Comfortable and lightweight. Doesn't isolate that great, though. You could also get the M-80, the predecessor to the XS which is dirt cheap on Amazon right now. Buy direct, if you must though: V-Moda is tight-assed about honoring warranties if you didn't. Don't take this as a tangential suggestion for the Crossfade LP series, though: those sound awful. Not everyone will agree, but they sound like absolute garbage to me.
  • Audio Technica ATH-M50 ($109): These headphones are beyond overrated, if only because every single person on the planet seems to love them. Although they deserve their praise... somewhat. Other than a remarkably lacking soundstage and recessed mids, these headphones pretty much do everything right: price (right now, anyway), comfort, sound quality, build quality, the works. I haven't heard the M50X, but it apparently sounds similar but more refined. It also has a removable cable, which the original lacks.
  • Shure SRH440 ($99): Hesitant to recommend this one because it has such a very long cable, and in its stock configuration, is not very comfortable. If you're willing, buy the Shure SRH840 replacement pads and put them on this (it's easy). Your ears will thank you when they aren't pressing against the baffle. Won't do anything about the cheapo headband, though. Also, the cables have a proprietary locking mechanism; but that's okay, because like I said, Shure replacement cables are reasonably priced. Finally, these headphones are picky with their source: they have no low-end at all on my Nexus 4. However, perplexingly, they sound just fine from a Sansa Clip. If you are willing to put up with all of these gripes, you'll be rewarded with an incredibly neutral - if somewhat bright - sound at an incredibly reasonable price. People will say it's lacking in bass. I say it doesn't need any more.

 

I didn't break the $200 barrier. Ask me if you want some more recommendations beyond that price.

 

Thanks.

 

So far when reading more about the Onkyo, Momentum on-ear, and V-Moda XS, they don't seem to come with 1/4" adapters.  But can they be used with one?  I have a few 1/4" inch adapters, so I don't need another one, but just want to find out if I can use adapters.

 

I liked the V6's sound, but that doesn't mean I can't like another headphone too.  Some of my liking it was also the fact that it was my first serious headphone, and I did think it was better than my previous headphones.  So I was relieved that something I got ended up being worth it, and that I could tell the difference.

 

From reading this thread and doing some initial research, I like the Onkyo and Soundmagic HP 150 the best.

 

What recommendations do you have beyond $200?  I'll consider a few.

post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 

In case anyone's curious, the portable devices I use are the iPod Video, and Sansa Fuze+.

 

I just got the iPod video repaired (new hard drive, replacement battery).  I wanted to keep it because it has an engraved message to me in the back.

 

While that was being repaired (I wasn't sure if it could be fixed), I ended up getting the Fuze+.  I like how it could play FLAC, even though I only have two things that are FLAC (one album; one live concert recording of a show I went to). 

 

To keep a common format between the two players, I use fairly high bitrate mp3s.  So I don't have to have two libraries with different formats.

 

I just alternate between using the two players, depending on the day.

post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 

I've also noticed some headphones with upper frequencies of 37K+.  Are people able to discern frequencies that high (compaared to headphones with highs of 28K or 30K), and are any of those that can be recommended, which also meet the criteria in the OP?  

Thanks.

post #10 of 28
Wikipedia will tell all you need to know about human range of hearing. I think if a headphone says 20 to 20K, that's good smily_headphones1.gif
post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Wikipedia will tell all you need to know about human range of hearing. I think if a headphone says 20 to 20K, that's good smily_headphones1.gif

Yeah, I had read that.

 

Wasn't sure how accurate or reliable that was, so thought I'd ask around on here too.

post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 

Do you think the difference in cables between the Onkyo ES-FC300 and Onkyo ES-HS300 is worth it to get the HS300?

 

The SoundMagic HP 150 is still in the mix.

 

What do you think about the PSB M4U 1?  I've just spent the past hour reading about them.

post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 

One more question.

 

If I occasionally listen to a portable radio, with any of these headphones, will they sound much worse than the MDR-V6 did?  I'm a little concerned with comments on various headphones saying that poor quality audio won't sound good, and might sound worse.

 

So, how will these various headphones in general handle radio?  Will they be about the same, given the quality of a radio broadcast?  Or will some headphones make radio really sound worse?

 

Thanks.

post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 

Bump, any comments about the last few posts?  :)

post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 

My search has now taken me to PSB M4U 1 vs. the Bowers and Wilkins P7.

 

I've read that the P7 has better "instrument separation", and is more dynamic.

 

It has better sensitivity (111 db vs. 102 for the PSB), so it will need less to be louder.

 

It requires even less to drive it, 22 ohm impedance vs. 32 for the PSB.

 

Both use 40 mm drivers.

 

The sound also might depend on what type of music, but I listen to all kinds of hard rock and heavy metal mostly.  And throw in Stevie Ray Vaughan, or Franz Ferdinand or Heart, and some punk (Green Day, The Offspring).  I only have a little classic rock but will probably get more eventually.

 

I'm sure some things I listen to are more layered, while others will have more instruments.

 

PSB gives you more value with an extra set of ear pads, and more convenience with the headphone jack going on either L or R earpiece.  Some like the case for the M4U better.

 

The PSB doesn't have proprietary cables, while the P7 has proprietary ones, and is less convenient to get to because you have to take the ear cup off.

 

Focusing just on the sound, what do you think I should get?

 

And I hope whatever I get both sounds better than the MDR-V6, since I'm spending more.  And I hope they don't need lossless audio for them to sound great, but will enhance the sound of high quality mp3s and AAC.  I hope they will make my existing library, which contain little lossless audio, sound even better than the MDR-V6.

 

I will occasionally listen to music with the headphones on CDs, but that is not my most common method, due to time. 

 

So, will I really notice a difference in sound with one vs. the other, or for the library I have, will they both be very similar?

 

Maybe I'll get an amp or something further down the line, who knows, but for now, what should I do with the setup I have?

 

I don't know if I have a preference for neutral or colored sound.  I'm sure I'll like either as long as they sound better than my previous pair.  And I was happy that the MDR-V6 sounded better than basic headphones, so I liked those too.

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