First of all thanks for all the great reviews, I've been a very avid reader before I decided to post this.
I look for a closed back headphone which will be used 50% for commuting, 50% for at home listening and which offers good or very good isolation. I kind of look for the kind of headphone which offers good sound quality while on the go, but also enables me to listen to details of the music when I'm at home in the quiet.
I have owned Koss Porta Pro, Audio Technica ATH M50 & WS99, Focal Spirit Classic and PSB M4U2.
My quest so far:
Coming from Koss Porta Pros a few years back, I upgraded and used Audio Technica ATH M50s for nearly 3 years. I liked the sound, but also wanted to know what else is available in terms of sound quality.
I got a good deal on a pair of Audio Technica ATH WS99 last year, so decided to upgrade and clearly found that they surpassed the M50s in terms of clarity, sound stage and bass reproduction.
However, after one year of use, I notice that I tend to listen to loud on the WS99 due to their rather mediocre isolation (I think they are semi-open), which sometimes leads to ear pain.
Thus I did my research, read reviews on headphones up to 500€ (which I can’t afford!) and decided to settle with the 300€ price range.
I ordered a pair of Focal Spirit Classic which, sound quality wise, was a revelation for me (similiar to the step from Koss to M50s): It offered really great sound quality, I heard a big soundstage for the first time in a headphone, could clearly discern the instruments and also heard much more detail in every frequency without a clearly overemphasized part. Most strikingly, there was a sense of the layering to records, thus I could clearly hear the difference between a bad and a good production (which also made the phone much less forgiving than my previous ones). I think the resolution on these phones was REALLY good, especially in the mids.
Unfortunately, the first time I took the Focals on the bus, I noticed that the isolation is VERY poor! Due to the very natural bass representation (maybe a tad to reduced), I just heard the middles and highs which made the sound overly tinny. Furthermore, I noticed that after long periods of listening (4hrs+), I felt pressure on the middle on my head due to the distribution of weight. Thus, with a broken heart, I sent them back.
I did further research, read a lot on popular choices like the Sennheiser Momentum Over Ear (I have average ears which also fit in the Focals which are similiary small) and Beyerdynamic T51P, NAD VISO HP50 and PSBs.
I finally decided to settle on the PSBs and got a very good deal on a pair of former demo units of the PSB M4U2.
Although I like the sound quality, I’m slightly disappointed, since to my ears at least, its not much better than the WS99 I own. The bass is really nice, mids and highs are clear and its voice representation is really good. Also they isolate reaally good and work well with the ANC on buses, but somehow, they don’t wow me like the FOCALS did. The soundstage is quite congested and they lack the sense of layering which I described above.
So here’s my question:
Is there another phone I should give a try, which offers very high resolution without sounding sibilant and offers great sense of instrument seperation, soundstage and layering for a a maximum of 300€ (also used ones).
Also I wonder whether it is an either or thing: either great details and less emphasized bass (Focal, B&O H6) or great bass and less details (PSB M4U2, WS99)?
My sources are: Ipod Classic 6G, LG Optimus G, iBasso DX50. Files are always 320kbits and lots of flac. I listen to various kinds of music and want a good all around performer, although my main current interest is very detailed deep house (Pantha du Prince, Christian Loeffler) and Indie rock music (The Maccabees, Junip, Sufjan Stevens, Balthazar, etc.).
Other phones I tried:
Sony MDR1A: too boomy for me, I feel like the bass compromises detail in other frequencies.
Beyerdynamic DT770: boomy bass, but nice sense of soundstage. A little too big for portable use.
B&W P7: Quite good, but also a tad too overemphasized bass, also too expensive.
B&O H6: nice, detailled sound, but unfortunately same issue as with FOCAL, bad isolation, I could already hear too much of the surrounding noise in a rather empty Apple Store.
Other considerations: What do Sennheiser Momentum Over, Beyer T51p or JBL Sonos S700 ears sound like? Do the FOCAL Pros have a better isolation?
Any help would be greatly appreciated!