$200 for one can to rule them all. Sub $300 shootout?
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AzureBeat

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So, that's my objective. I currently have $200 for headphones. I may get more sometime, but at this moment I'm not sure. If I do get more, than I'll have $300 to play with, so I'd like to see a sub $300 can shootout. (I did search for one, and didn't see such a thread.) So here's what I'd love to see, posts describing, objectively, the nature of any given pair of cans, not comparing them to others. Discussion and comparisons can happen later, but the introduction will be all facts. I may even update the OP with the info. So kind of like this:
 

V-moda M-100
V shaped sound signature, bass is strong, treble extends, mids are unremarkable/hidden.
 
Pros: (Best?) Basshead cans, tough, durable, ultra compact, good isolation, detachable cable, good looking, customizable.
Cons: Expensive, Basshead cans, cable microphonics.
 
Opinion and Commentary: A can that is good for modern electronic music. Can it be EQ'd effectively? i.e. do the mids sound bad if they are amplified?

So this is just a template filled with information from reading. If you want to know music I listen to, it's everything from amateur electronic artists to Les Mis to Bach. Metal(not death or heavy), classical, rock, trancy, dubstepy, technoy, all kindsy
of electronic music, not rap, not hip-hop(I think) . . .
 
Home use, gaming, on the go, these will be used for everything. I have a Scarlett 2i4 that I plan to use to run these, and a Sansa Clip Zip for portable use. For my personal preference, not the collection of <$300 cans, they should isolate moderately well and have a FR somewhere between M-100 and neutralish.
 
Other cans I've looked at: Sony MDR-1R, AKG 1/267, UE6000, T50RP, Mad Dogs, SoundMAGIC HP100.
 
If I got the T50RP, what effect would putting the Dog Pads only on have? Get the full mod later.
 
 
AKG K701
Stronger high and mids, detailed.
Pros: ?
Cons: (Bad isolation)?
 
MDR-1R
good bass, good mids and treble. (Which means?)
Pros: Excellent removable cables that are the right length for portable use. Extremely comfortable headphone.
Cons: Poor isolation.
 
K550
Bass lightly emphisized, mids and treble(Detailed?)
Pros:Comfort is good.
Cons: Cable is a bit long.
 
SRH-940
Good bass, detailed mids and treble.
Pros: Excellent detail, good imaging, good soundstage for a closed can, decent isolation, decently comfortable and can be used for hours on end, and has 2 interchangable cables.
Cons: May be too bright and fatiguing for some, may not have enough bass for some, headband breaking issues, may be bulky for portable use.
Overall generalisation: A clear bright can, probably suitable for classical, jazz, instrumental music, trance, rock (can't list them all). eq tuning must be done very carefully as to not push the treble up any higher.
 
Audio Technica ATH-A900X:
Neutral lower-bass with good extension, slightly boosted mid-bass. Mid-range is neutral. Slight boost to lower-treble; upper-treble is neutral.
Pros:
Cons:
 
Comments: Good all-rounder.
 
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Bagheera

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What kind of music do you listen to?  I don't own any of the following, but I've been reading reviews on a few headphones in that price range. If my memory serves correctly, the summaries are:
 
  1. AKG K701: Cold and analytical presentation. Good for studio use. Not very "musical".
  1. AKG K550: Slightly boosted bass, bass extension is good. Mid-range is neutral (but may sound recessed to some due to bass & lower-treble boost). Lower-treble is boosted and sounds "bright"; upper-treble is rolled off. Good "musical" headphones; good all-arounder.
  1. Audio Technica ATH-A900X: Neutral lower-bass, slightly boosted mid-bass. Bass extension is good. Mid-range is neutral. Slight boost to lower-treble; upper-treble is neutral. Good all-arounder.
 
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BillsonChang007

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What kind of music do you listen to?  I don't own any of the following, but I've been reading reviews on a few headphones in that price range. If my memory serves correctly, the summaries are:

  • AKG K701: Cold and analytical presentation. Good for studio use. Not very "musical".
  • AKG K550: Slightly boosted bass, bass extension is good. Mid-range is neutral (but may sound recessed to some due to bass & lower-treble boost). Lower-treble is boosted and sounds "bright"; upper-treble is rolled off. Good "musical" headphones; good all-arounder.
  • Audio Technica ATH-A900X: Neutral lower-bass, slightly boosted mid-bass. Bass extension is good. Mid-range is neutral. Slight boost to lower-treble; upper-treble is neutral. Good all-arounder.

Hi!

Apologize but your K550 description are wrong to me. I tried them & find your description completely opposite. The bass lacks some slams. Some might like it while some might not. Although it does not have the quantity, the quality is there. Pretty right and does not bleed can't say it is extremely tight as I tried a few headphones with more bass and tighter a lil one of them are ATH-WS70. The mids are not at all recessed to my memory. It is smooth and clean sounding. Some might find it thin sounding if you didn't get good seal. The treble & vocals sound rather artificial a little. Proper amping is required here as my iNano 3rd did not manage to power it. Soundstage are excellent for a closed headphone & details are at it's best but it still can't win SRH-940s in terms of details.

For $300 without an amp, the Sony MDR-1R sound best although it sound rather slow a little but I kind of prefer it over Momentums. Do note that, we all have different opinion.

If your ears are getting itchy and in need for headphone under $200 with an Active-NC, the UE6000 sound best for it's price + features. If you are no basshead, this wouldn't be the best choice and I will recommend you the HD598 for open and K550 for closed. Both will benefits from amping.

Honest & personally, I find the K550 the best sounding closed headphone under $300. I have yet to try a few open headphone under $300 to tell if the K550 the best sounding headphone under $300 be it open or closed.

I hope this help!
Billson :)
 
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Bagheera

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Quote:
Hi!

Apologize but your K550 description are wrong to me. I tried them & find your description completely opposite. The bass lacks some slams. Some might like it while some might not. Although it does not have the quantity, the quality is there. Pretty right and does not bleed can't say it is extremely tight as I tried a few headphones with more bass and tighter a lil one of them are ATH-WS70. The mids are not at all recessed to my memory. It is smooth and clean sounding. Some might find it thin sounding if you didn't get good seal. The treble & vocals sound rather artificial a little. Proper amping is required here as my iNano 3rd did not manage to power it. Soundstage are excellent for a closed headphone & details are at it's best but it still can't win SRH-940s in terms of details.

For $300 without an amp, the Sony MDR-1R sound best although it sound rather slow a little but I kind of prefer it over Momentums. Do note that, we all have different opinion.

If your ears are getting itchy and in need for headphone under $200 with an Active-NC, the UE6000 sound best for it's price + features. If you are no basshead, this wouldn't be the best choice and I will recommend you the HD598 for open and K550 for closed. Both will benefits from amping.

Honest & personally, I find the K550 the best sounding closed headphone under $300. I have yet to try a few open headphone under $300 to tell if the K550 the best sounding headphone under $300 be it open or closed.

I hope this help!
Billson
 


Heheh no offense taken - like I said I do not own these - they are just summaries of the general consensus from reviews I've read. :)
 
I've seen at least four frequency response graphs for the K550 and the bass is definitely boosted across the entire range (but the curve is very linear, so the effect shouldn't be unnatural - InnerFidelity confirmed that K550 has bass-enhancement ports). The mid-range isn't technically recessed - but I've read several people saying it feels that way - which led me to believe that it may just appear so due to the boosted bass and the peak at 8-10k.  (Do note that there is a fairly significant dip in the frequencies between 2-8KHz)
 
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Quote:
 


Heheh no offense taken - like I said I do not own these - they are just summaries of the general consensus from reviews I've read. :)
 
I've seen at least four frequency response graphs for the K550 and the bass is definitely boosted across the entire range (but the curve is very linear, so the effect shouldn't be unnatural - InnerFidelity confirmed that K550 has bass-enhancement ports). The mid-range isn't technically recessed - but I've read several people saying it feels that way - which led me to believe that it may just appear so due to the boosted bass and the peak at 8-10k.  (Do note that there is a fairly significant dip in the frequencies between 2-8KHz)
The reason one or two reviewers claims that the K550 mids are rather recessed is because of the upper mids. It is a good thing to not emphasized at 5KHz-8KHz to reduce unwanted noise. I don't see any bass boost by reading the Head-Room headphone graph and do keep it in mind that FR graph are sometimes not so accurate. To my knowledge & experience(although limited), bass are highly effected by seal, open or closed design & most importantly to immediately note if a headphone are meant for basshead, the bass at around 100-250Hz are usually 3dB more than the mids.
 
:)
 
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dweaver

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K550 - nice bass but not very hard slam, very good mids and treble. Comfort is good. Cable is a bit long.

MDR1R, good bass that is stronger than the K550, good mids and treble but not as detailed as the K550. Excellent removable cables that are the right length for portable use. Extremely comfortable headphone.

SRH-940, bass is good and has good slam, mids and treble are excellent with above average detail. The best imaging and sound stage of the 3 but closely followed by the K550. Cable is replaceable but is long so may not be best for portable use. Headphone comfortable and has pretty good seal but is not as comfortable as the other two headphones and is the most bulky and heaviest.
 
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devhen

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What's the point of this thread if people are going to post about headphones they've never heard? 

 
Generally speaking, for cans under $300, personally I think it would be pretty hard to beat the HD600 and DT880. I say "generally speaking" because both are somewhat bass-light and aren't good for portable listening but overall these are considered two of the best cans in this price range.
 
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BillsonChang007

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Quote:
K550 - nice bass but not very hard slam, very good mids and treble. Comfort is good. Cable is a bit long.

MDR1R, good bass that is stronger than the K550, good mids and treble but not as detailed as the K550. Excellent removable cables that are the right length for portable use. Extremely comfortable headphone.

SRH-940, bass is good and has good slam, mids and treble are excellent with above average detail. The best imaging and sound stage of the 3 but closely followed by the K550. Cable is replaceable but is long so may not be best for portable use. Headphone comfortable and has pretty good seal but is not as comfortable as the other two headphones and is the most bulky and heaviest.
AGREE! With your MDR-1R & K550 quick review but not sure about the SRH-940...never get to try it... Hope I could try this weekend though! 
 
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sofastreamer

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Quote:
K550 - nice bass but not very hard slam, very good mids and treble. Comfort is good. Cable is a bit long.

MDR1R, good bass that is stronger than the K550, good mids and treble but not as detailed as the K550. Excellent removable cables that are the right length for portable use. Extremely comfortable headphone.

SRH-940, bass is good and has good slam, mids and treble are excellent with above average detail. The best imaging and sound stage of the 3 but closely followed by the K550. Cable is replaceable but is long so may not be best for portable use. Headphone comfortable and has pretty good seal but is not as comfortable as the other two headphones and is the most bulky and heaviest.
could not have said it better myself. have to ad: k550 can sound harsh and tiny at times. isolation on mdr1r is mediocre.
 
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Of the ones you've looked at, I've only owned the M-100 and demoed the UE6000. The M-100 is probably the best closed-back basshead cans out there today. If electronic music is your thing, then you're in for a treat with the M-100. It also is fine on most rock, although it starts to falter on classical pieces. The UE6000 is surprisingly level in passive mode, and did well with the acoustic tracks I listened to through it.
 
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SRH940
Pros: Excellent detail, crisp mids, tight punchy bass, good imaging, good soundstage for a closed can, decent isolation, decently comfortable and can be used for hours on end, and has 2 interchangable cables.
Cons: May be too bright and fatiguing for some, may not have enough bass for some, headband breaking issues, may be bulky for portable use.
Overall generalisation: A clear bright can, probably suitable for classical, jazz, instrumental music, trance, rock (can't list them all). eq tuning must be done very carefully as to not push the treble up any higher.
 
HD598
Pros: Excellent soundstage, lively vocals, bass that is sufficient but a little gentle, present but non fatiguing treble, laid back and soothing sound presentation, very comfortable as ears hardly touch the earcup inside.
cons: Almost no isolation,bass lacks punch,may be considered as boring due to its slightly gentle bass and laid back presentation, quite bulky for portable use, has a 10ft cable with default 6.3 termination, which is in most cases unnessasary. .
Overall generalisation: A laid back relaxing can, suitable for classical, jazz, soft rock, raggae, trance, (can't list them all). eq tuning can be used to push the forward vocals back and to increase the subbass and sparkle of the treble. must be careful as this does not respond too well to treble eq'ing

K550
*not auditioned it before*

oh wait must the headphones be closed back?
 oops sorry about that i didn't read that earlier 
 
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AzureBeat

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For my purposes, I'd prefer that, but I'm also compiling all the info in the first post. So just note that they are open.
 
 
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Quote:
Generally speaking, for cans under $300, personally I think it would be pretty hard to beat the HD600 and DT880. I say "generally speaking" because both are somewhat bass-light and aren't good for portable listening but overall these are considered two of the best cans in this price range.
 
I think you'd be surprised...
 
Anyway, here are cans I have actually heard, and some I do own
 
Audio Technica ESW9A: (do own this one, and by the way, this is a genuine pair. I know there are fake ones out there)
 
Pros: liquid, lush, smooth sound signature, almost tube-like, midrange emphasis, vocals sound way too good on these to be true (seriously), doesn't need an amp at all
Cons: not too good bass (weak and a bit congested, on a scale from 1 to 10, it's about 1.5), treble doesn't extend very far, though it sounds very smooth
 
Audio Technica ES7: (do own this one, and by the way, this is a genuine pair as well. I know there are fakes out there for this one as well)
 
Pros: smooth midrange, sparkling treble, decent bass with impact (not a lot of low bass, on a scale from 1 to 10, it's about 2), doesn't need an amp at all
Cons: not rumbling bass, can be sibilant, isolation is just okay, headband has hotspot on top, has an update coming out to address sound signature and comfort issues (ATH-ES700 <- this is cue for you to go look them up)
 
Audio Technica ES10: (no fake detected)
 
Pros: insane bass impact (almost too much at high volumes), very articulated and accentuated midrange, airy and sparkling treble, excellent instrument and frequency separation (no bleeding), very good soundstage for size (due to massive 53mm drivers)
Cons: very easy to scratch the titanium ear cups, bass can cause listening fatigue, stock ear pads are shizz, flimsy cable for the price range, despite the low impedance rating, it still needs some amping when paired with portable devices
 
V-Moda M80: (doesn't own this, but had a listen)
 
Pros: good bass (on a scale from 1 to 10, it's about 6), good midrange, slightly boosted treble, doesn't need an amp, has controls for smartphones and media players
Cons: weak instrument separation, not so good for busy music as the drivers struggle to keep up, and then sounds bunch up into a congested mess, ear cups are small so they may cause comfort issues
 
V-Moda M100: (doesn't own this, but had a listen)
 
Pros: very good bass with decent impact (on a scale from 1 to 10, it's about 8), good treble extension, slightly V-shaped sound, clean and clear, with very good instrument separation, decent soundstage
Cons: clamp is a bit hard, and it digs a bit into the skull in front of my ears, I can't imagine I'll be wearing these for long
 
Monster Beats Pro: (doesn't own this, but had a listen, verified to be genuine)
 
Pros: decent bass (on a scale from 1 to 10, it's about 3 or 4), decent treble, slight V-shaped sound, durable make (aluminum), solid design, pretty decent and clean looks
Cons: very heavy, very unwieldy, very uncomfortable, very bad with busy music (don't play heavy metal on these), distorts quite audibly at high volume
 
Beyerdynamic DT1350: (doesn't own this, but had a listen)
 
Pros: very good treble, very good midrange, very neutral sound with slight tilt toward being brighter, very clean and clear, very good instrument separation, okay soundstage, solid construction, very good-looking
Cons: very anemic bass (on a scale from 1 to 10, it's about 1), clamp is pretty hard and uncomfortable, small ear cups that dig into my ears a lot (it's a very uncomfortable and dirty feeling)
 
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streetdragon

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@Bill-P
your scale for bass seems to be calibrated in a very high scale
 do you rate it on quantity or quality or mix both to come out with a final score?
 
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I've tried allot of the $300 cans that have come out in the last couple years and the ultrasone pro 900 and mr.speakers maddogs get my vote hands down. You will probably need an amp with those two though.
 
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