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Recommendations for exciting open back headphones on a budget

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Time for an upgrade. The following are my requirements. I'm curious what you guys think.

 

Budget - < $450

Source - Fiio E18 now (plus ODAC+O2 or Schiit stack in a few months).

Requirements for Isolation - Absolutely none.

Preferred Type of Headphone - Open air.

Preferred tonal balance - Fundamentally balanced, but also vibrant and exciting particularly in the mid-range. Not too much emphasis on bass.

Past headphones - Grado/Alessandro (they died but they were great), AKG K240, AKG K551, Beyerdyanmic T51i.

Preferred Music - Indie, acustic, pop, rock, and virtually everything else. I listen to a very wide range of music.

Candidates - So far I considered the Grado RS325e, HE-400, Mad Dog, and HD650. A friend of mine who is really into audio recommended cheap vintage orthodynamics (e.g., HP50, YH-100) and to save my money. I don't doubt that they sound great but I'm not sure about their soundstage and they are not so easy to source. I'm very open to other suggestions. I'm OK with buying used as well, if not too hard to find.

 

My current main headphones are the AKG551 which are plenty decent for closed back. However I'm looking for something much more exciting with excellent soundstage, that make you feel like the music is being played in your room, with clear distinction of where the individual instruments are located. Comfort is also very important. I don't care about looks or size as I'll be using them at home exclusively.

 

I realize that my current portable amp/dac combo limits me in terms of what it can drive. I'd be fine with headphones that are decent with the E18 but will shine when I get a better amp. I would not be okay with a pair that down right suck with my E18, as a few months could pass before I acquire a more powerful amp.

 

Thank you for you input.

post #2 of 18

Call or email these folks:

 

http://www.alessandro-products.com/main.php?p=ordering

 

As of a week ago, they still had MS-2is they were selling for $225 plus $10 shipping.  They were closing out the MS-1 & 2 based on the Grado i & is models due to release of new "e" series Grado cans.

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you KG Jag. I called them up and they asked me to email them. We'll see. How would they compare to the new MS2 and the SR325e? The $100 difference is not a big deal.

post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by acangiano View Post
 

Thank you KG Jag. I called them up and they asked me to email them. We'll see. How would they compare to the new MS2 and the SR325e? The $100 difference is not a big deal.


I have not yet heard any of the "e" line above the SR-80.

 

The Alessandro has less strident treble vs. the 325 is.  The MS-2is is one of my favorite cans in its (until recently-normal) price range.

post #5 of 18

The Fostex T50-RP 'Orthodynamic' headphones are ~ 120$ new and had got good reviews.

 

http://www.headfonia.com/the-fostex-orthodynamics-t50rp-and-t40rp-mk2/

post #6 of 18
I'd stick with the Grados. They fulfill everything you're after.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by acangiano View Post

My current main headphones are the AKG551 which are plenty decent for closed back. However I'm looking for something much more exciting with excellent soundstage, that make you feel like the music is being played in your room, with clear distinction of where the individual instruments are located. Comfort is also very important. I don't care about looks or size as I'll be using them at home exclusively.


So why not consider open AKGs? The K612s or something in the Q/K7xx series? The AKGs are known for soundstage, as opposed to the Grados you are considering, which are not.
post #8 of 18

I've got the HE-400 and Grado SR-60.  If you liked the Grados then you might not like the HE-400 since they have more bass and weigh quite a bit more.  Something like the AKG Q701 or Beyerdynamic DT 990 might be more to your liking.

post #9 of 18
If you like the K551 then a full size open backed AKG will probably give you what you want. The 701 is a steal for current prices and has a vast soundstage and "exciting" treble for impressive imaging as well. It's bass light but that doesn't seem to be a problem for you, so I'd say that's a natural recommendation given your needs. It's low impedance but not particularly easy to drive nor difficult either, while at the same time scaling up well with better amps
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by clegger View Post
 

I've got the HE-400 and Grado SR-60.  If you liked the Grados then you might not like the HE-400 since they have more bass and weigh quite a bit more.  Something like the AKG Q701 or Beyerdynamic DT 990 might be more to your liking.

 

Would agree with this...either is a solid headphone.  The Q701s are a tremendous value and I enjoy them with a wide variety of music. The DT990s are a 'fun' headphone and the treble can be hot on some recordings but coming from Grados that shouldn't be a problem!

 

That said, if I had your budget right now, I'd personally get the HE500s...

 
RazorDog! SALE Price: $495.00

http://www.razordogaudio.com/products/hifiman-he-500-planar-driver-headphone-b-stock-100-tested-and-complete?utm_source=googleshopping&utm_medium=cpc

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GearMe View Post

 

That said, if I had your budget right now, I'd personally get the HE500s...

 

That's kind of what I'm thinking as well. Especially since I extended the budget a little. My only concern is that I have an E18 and I'm afraid that the HE-500 won't sound good with it. I do plan to get a better amp/dac combo in the future, but that might be in a while.

 

Which affordable ($200-300) amp/dac would work well with the HE-500, BTW?


Edited by acangiano - 8/11/14 at 2:51pm
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by acangiano View Post

Which affordable ($200-300) amp/dac would work well with the HE-500, BTW?

 

If money is a concern get the headphones first, try them with your current DAC / AMP.  You might be surprised and like them enough without spending even more on an amp.

 

Just a heads-up that the HE-500 does weigh quite a bit so if comfort for extended listening sessions is key then you may want to look for something else.  If sound quality trumps comfort then I wouldn't hesitate recommending any HiFiMan ortho.

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by acangiano View Post
 

 

That's kind of what I'm thinking as well. Especially since I extended the budget a little. My only concern is that I have an E18 and I'm afraid that the HE-500 won't sound good with it. I do plan to get a better amp/dac combo in the future, but that might be in a while.

 

Which affordable ($200-300) amp/dac would work well with the HE-500, BTW?

 

Well...I'm hoping my Magni is enough for a while.  People that own the 500s say they're not that difficult to drive and it sounds like they're fine with the Magni.  We'll see...probably upgrade (Lyr 2?) down the road though.

post #14 of 18

I suggest the AT-AD900X. 900X are almost analytical with their flat frequency response, lightweight, and extremely comfortable. Price is under your budget. Would make a good introduction to open-air phones. The Fostex T-50 "Rocky" recommends are un-modded MadDogs.


Edited by 20fenix08 - 8/11/14 at 3:40pm
post #15 of 18
Originally Posted by clegger View Post

 

If money is a concern get the headphones first, try them with your current DAC / AMP.  You might be surprised and like them enough without spending even more on an amp.

 

Just a heads-up that the HE-500 does weigh quite a bit so if comfort for extended listening sessions is key then you may want to look for something else.  If sound quality trumps comfort then I wouldn't hesitate recommending any HiFiMan ortho.

 

Comfort...yeah the HiFiMAN cans were 'big and heavy' when I tried them.  This didn't bother me but then neither do the headband bumps on my Q701s.  The HE500s are the first can I've heard that I'd spend that kind of money on.  


Edited by GearMe - 8/11/14 at 3:40pm
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