$300 Headphone Help and Recommendations
May 12, 2015 at 3:25 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

Signal Down

New Head-Fier
May 12, 2015
I'm currently looking to replace my 3 year old Sennheiser HD 449's which I've used heavily for listening to Classical recordings, some industrial rock like Nine Inch Nails, some rock music  (Pink Floyd) and just recently some experimental ambient music. So far, from focusing on Sennheiser and Shure's line of headphones, I've narrowed my choices down to the HD 600, HD 650 and the SRH1440. Right now the 600 is on Amazon for about $280 while the 650 and 1440 are sitting at 300.
To drive my headphones I am using a Soundblaster 3D Recon 'Fatal1ty' card which is advertised as having a 600ohm amplifier built in. From a thread I found after searching here a while back, a few users recommended a dedicated amplifier for someone looking at the HD600 with my exact same soundcard. From this I figure I can't get all of what I could get out of the 600/650 unless I purchase an amplifier.
I mention the SRH-1440 because it is easier to drive due to its very low impedance and would probably be a better fit for my hardware, but I noticed that they cover a smaller frequency range compared to the 600/650. From my end I'm confused by what I read since the documentation with the card says it supports phones up to a rated impedance of 600 while the HD 600 and 650's are rated for only 300. Am I missing something?
Now, I have the following questions:
1. Will my soundcard drive the 600 and 650's adequately given their impedance of 300?
2. If the 600 or 650's can be driven well enough, will their ability to produce a better range of frequencies cause them to absolutely sound better than the 1440's?
3. Have any of you had personal experience with all or some of the cans I've considered? If so how do they compare to a lower end phone like the 449?
4. Do you have any recommendations on other models from different brands? Please post them if you do.
May 13, 2015 at 1:30 AM Post #3 of 4

Me x3

Member of the Trade: FiiO Store Argentina
Nov 22, 2012
1. I guess you'll be ok in terms of volume, altough a dedicated amp should bring the best out of any of those 3 headphones.
    High quality dedicated devices usually beat soundcards like your in terms of transparency and control.
I would say, first pick the headphone that's closer to your likings and enjoy it for some time, then try a dedicated DAC/Amp and decide if it worth the money. Even a very cheap Fiio E10K can provide very good sound quality and enough power to drive something like HD650 or SRH-1440.
2. The range doesn't matter.
HD600 is a neutralish headphone, bass light for some.
HD650 is darker (less treble presence) and more laid back (just a tad more bass)
SRH-1440 is a brighter headphone (more upfront treble/'detailed' presentation)
Overall the SRH-1440 is a more agressive sounding headphone, while the Senns are more relaxed. Different flavours, you know.
That's what matters.
3. Higher end headphones are more precise, more controlled bass, more transparency, better instrument separation/soundstage.
The Beyerdynamic DT880 250 Ohm (Pro or Premium): It's a very neutral headphone, slightly on the bright side. Tight bass, precise positioning. It's a very good all rounder that shines with well recorded music. It can be quite unforgiving with poorly recorded music (cold sounding or sibilant)
The Fidelio X2: Warm headphone, big bass, and soft treble. Build quality is very nice. This are very sensitive, so you don't need a powerful amplifier to drive them, altough a very clean DAC/Amp should improve the sound quality for sure.
ATH AD900X: Easy to drive as well, wing-headband, read about this model if you want, haven't tried them yet. It's other neutralish quality headphone.
The Beyerdynamic DT990 250 Ohm (Pro or Premium): Big bass, and crystal clear, bright treble. The midrange is quite recessed but still clear. Open soundstage. This headphone is really unforgiving with over bright or flawed recordings.
Hifiman HE-400: Planar Magnetic headphone, probably best bass of all the headphones listed. It's a bright headphone, but different than DT990. Soundstage and comfort are weak points. Still a very interesting headphone.
Hope this helps!
Me x3
May 13, 2015 at 11:41 AM Post #4 of 4


Headphoneus Supremus
Dec 16, 2011
grand rapids, mi
HD600s are $229 at Adorama: http://slickdeals.net/f/7847715-sennheiser-hd600-audiophile-dynamic-headphones-229-free-shipping-no-rebates

That leaves you money toward a headphone amp, like the Schiit Magni 2 (which would drive the heck out of them).

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