Are my ears broken or do I need a new set of cans?
May 14, 2015 at 2:27 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

starcraftjunkie

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Hello, long time lurker, first time poster.
 
For a little background of my headphone experience starts with a pair of Sennheiser HD280PROSennheiser HD280PROs about 6 years ago. They were my first headphones that weren't cheap toss away Koss ones. They were pretty decent for my needs back then when I was just into casual gaming. After using them for a few years I played around with the EQ settings on windows (probably not a good idea but didn't know any better) to boost the bass. I remember them sounding quite magical to me back then because I was aiming for nice bass. Soon after that they broke and it was on to a new set of headphones.
 
I purchased a pair of ATH-M50s to replace my HD280s after the amount of glowing reviews online. At first I didn't know what I thought of them and after getting past a few months of casual use I found that I enjoyed them, but they just lack the bass I was looking for. I started getting into music around this time, more specifically I listen to EDM such as trance and DnB. I am inexperienced in the audiophile world, but I believe that my M50s have nice highs and mids with a small presence of bass. I read that they're a more balanced set of headphones that don't offer that much for bass.
 
So my question is, do I really crave the boom kind of bass or am I missing something? It just feels like my M50s are empty. It feels like the there is a bass presence but I can't feel it, almost like it's artificial or something (not sure how to exactly explain it)? I use my headphones for most of the day for casual use but again my main focus is on bass heavy EDM music. So I assume that I'm looking for something that empathizes lows and highs as well as bass. I power my headphones with my desktop's motherboard. I started thinking that I might need some new cans. If so, I was thinking a budget of around 200-300 bucks. On top of that, I'd assume most or at least some headphones at this range require some kind of amp. I'll wager that it might be worth getting some decent cans and then focus on an amp at another time, or maybe just get a decent budget sound card for the desktop? Not interested in dumping a bunch of money on an amp, or one at all if I can get away with it.
 
May 14, 2015 at 3:23 AM Post #2 of 13

cdsa35000

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Most "audiopile" hps are bass light as they're compensated with HQ more powerful source headamps to deliver more better low bass.

Get this new hp don't need amp if want bass:
350x700px-LL-6f208efd_DSC_9620.jpeg

http://www.head-fi.org/t/766311/sennheiser-hd-630vb-review-first-impressions#post_11595230
 
May 14, 2015 at 4:01 AM Post #3 of 13

inthere

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Only problem with the 630vb is the cable is not detachable. It also costs over $500. 
 
For your budget ($200-300) The most bass you're going to get is from Beats Solo 2 ($179). Sennheiser Urbanite XL ($189) has decent bass and so do Marshall Monitors (about $140 or less)
 
Beats Solo 2 is also louder than anything in its price range, so if you think your headphones are lacking in that area you should be fine with the Beats. You'll also never need a headphone amp as amplification is Beats mortal enemy. The Beats will definitely emphasize the low end a LOT, but as far as emphasizing highs nope, not at chance. You get used to it with extended listening but you just won't get it. You'll also be able to listen to Beats in any store before you buy them so that's a big help. 
 
Sennheiser Urbanite have much clearer highs than the Beats but not as much bass. Not as loud as Beats but compared to the Beats it will sound like you've taken off ear muffs. Also there seems to be a problem with the Urbanite ear pads; they come off pretty easily. They're also pretty small so if your setup is cluttered they can easily get lost.
 
The Marshall Monitors are very good solid headphones and the cheapest of the 3 I've mentioned. Decent volume but also not as loud as Beats. The bass is boosted very slightly and the highs are recessed but not at all muddy like the Beats highs and VERY sweet sounding and clear. Vocals are close and intimate and it's a very magical sounding headphone. 
 
May 14, 2015 at 4:06 AM Post #4 of 13

headsounds

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Coming from a basshead (me)... My setup is wonderful, it will cost around 500 bucks... JVC ha-sz2000 headphones, schiit magni and modi, a few cables, one being a 1/8 female to 1/4 male for the headphone jack on the Magni.
 
Trust me. without eq, the headphones still have a great sub bass and bass presence, highs might be to laid back for you, but it's perfect for me. I'm very sensitive to sibilance, and forward treble.
 
No other headphones on earth can match the bass on these... 130Db at 30hz...  They will rattle your eardrums and shake your cheeks silly, if you want them to, otherwise, just listen at a decent volume, and smile at the gnarly wobbles you always dreamed of.
 
Have you heard what 17hz sounds like? With the sz2000, amped, you can. It's nutty.
 
They are also the best sounding headphones I've ever listened to... Not really saying much, but they really have a good overall presentation.
 
You will not regret it.
 
If you are a little short of the whole combo, I'll even pitch in to help you out.
 
Oh, I forgot, I have Alpha Dog pads, which really helped me out, because the stock pads are quite thin, and I have big ears, it was uncomfortable. There are many pad options under 30 bucks, i think the alphas were 70? or something.
 
May 14, 2015 at 4:33 AM Post #5 of 13

Raketen

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Sorry, this question is a bit obvious, but- Have you tried listening to your M50s from anything other than the PC- like an mp3 player or a phone? They sound the same? If not- Onboard audio can be good but it can also be a bit restricted in terms of what it can adequately drive (even my 32 ohm 770 don't sound quite right from my laptp's headphone out), so it might be worth investing in a discrete soundcard or a cheap dac/amp (probably find a pretty good deal on something like a previous gen/used card).
 
I think you will find quite a few headphones in that range don't need extra amp, though many amps have bass boosts which can be good at boosting without distorting the overall sound too much - might even be just the thing for your M50s, if they respond that sort of thing well (I've got a JDS C5 and its boost works pretty well with most my headphones).
 
Have you tried any DSP type bass boost outside of Windows settings? That could also help- though I don't know much about it (thinking something like the ClearBass EQ on my Walkman, which works very well). Oftentimes soundcards will come with their own driver/management software that has some built-in DSP you can enable, or can find a good eq/dsp plugin for your mp3 software maybe?
 
The Bass Club thread might be worth digging into- a little extreme philosophy of total bass excess (they don't even rate the m50 lol), but there's lots of info to parse for just ample but not ridiculous bass:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/716711/the-best-bass-headphones-are-the-extreme-bass-club
 http://www.head-fi.org/a/the-best-bass-headphones-a-head-fi-wiki
 
May 14, 2015 at 5:09 AM Post #6 of 13

inthere

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Headsounds is right about his setup-and if you can get JVC HA-SZ2000's with his help pitching in, I'd personally jump at the chance if i were you. Nothing else really comes close for under $300. I haven't thought about using mine with Alpha pads-thanks for that Headsounds. I have Alpha Dogs but I think I'll order a pair in stead of stripping my Dogs because they're great headphones too. 
 
However, I have the Magni/Modi stack and I think you can do better with an Aune T1 Mk2(I also have one) for $165-you can save a few $ and get a better sound. OR, Do a Schiit Fulla for about $79 instead of the stack and you have a chance of coming in under your $300 budget. 
 
At any rate, I also have ATH-M50's and I personally don't think there's too much available to make those sound good, I hate em with a passion. On top of sounding like crap, they're also uncomfortable. 
 
I wonder if Alpha pads will fit them?
 
May 14, 2015 at 3:03 PM Post #7 of 13

starcraftjunkie

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Oh my, I wasn't expecting so many replies. Thank you guys.
 
Quote:
Most "audiopile" hps are bass light as they're compensated with HQ more powerful source headamps to deliver more better low bass....

 
This was what I was assuming. However as inthere said, those cans are double my price range :frowning2:
 
 
  Only problem with the 630vb is the cable is not detachable. It also costs over $500....

 
No offense, but the first thing I learned around head-fi is never buy any beats products and monster cables. I've listened to store models and they sounded like they just had poorly EQ boosted bass and the rest of the range was muffled. Maybe it was the particular pair I was using?
 
The Sennheiser Urbanite XL look interesting. If you've had them before how large are they? My ATH-M50s are tiny and I had to bend them out so they didn't apply as much pressure on my head that it made me have headaches. I have a big head.
 
 
  Coming from a basshead (me)... My setup is wonderful, it will cost around 500 bucks... JVC ha-sz2000 headphones, schiit magni and modi...

 
 
Now the ha-sz2000 looks very very interesting. Huge for a large head and those pads look very isolating and comfortable. I think I have an identical situation as you as far as being sensitive to hissing and treble. I forgot to add in my original post that I also enjoy trance with lots of vocals and classical instruments. Do these phones just blast bass and muffle the rest of the sound ranges? I know no set of cans can do it all perfectly, it's all preference, but like I said about the beats in my first reply, they sounded like it was all bass and not much of anything else. I'm not looking for subwoofers, I'm looking for headphones that have a decent range with great bass.
 
I also have a huge head with big ears. If you've ever worn the ATH-M50s, as a reference, my ears touch under all sides of the whole pad when they're fit inside them. If I don't adjust them inside the cups then the pads rest on a good part of my ear. You said something about the stock pads for the ha-sz2000 to be a bit small?
 
I've been looking these up, looks like they're going for around 200-250$ ish. Looks like they're all imported from Japan too (most of ebay and all of amazon). That might mean steeper shipping costs for reasonable delivery time and the cost of possible customs tax? I am up for used gear if need be, I just don't have the posts required to use the trade section. Local craigslist is no help either even though I live in a huge city.
 
 
  Sorry, this question is a bit obvious, but- Have you tried listening to your M50s from anything other than the PC- like an mp3 player or a phone? They sound the same...

 
 
I've used a few of my cellphones with different EQ settings and a walkman with an EQ setting. My current phone the oneplus one is said to have some sort of enhanced phone amp on it that does a good job on EQ. With all of this compared to my computers EQ, I never noticed anything. I've never tried an actual amp because I've never had one so I cannot comment on that. I am just assuming that it might give it a bit of a boost but maybe not as much as I want as far as my M50s are concerned. I've used third party software for EQing but it was just placebo effects.
 
 
  Headsounds is right about his setup-and if you can get JVC HA-SZ2000's with his help pitching in, I'd personally jump at the chance if i were you....

 
I agree with your opinion of the M50s besides sounding like crap. Maybe I haven't heard anything that's truly good because I'm not an audiophile, but I still thought they did a pretty good job in everything but bass. I think I rushed into these headphones because of the reviews and never realized that they're not designed for bass at all and will not be able to be boosted up to the levels I wanted.
 
I am not familiar with amps too much because I have never had a real need for one. I've heard that some headphones require them to function, some require them to sound good, some can use them to sound better, and some don't sound or sound worse with one. I've also heard that different technology and manufacturers have their own style of amps that add different "flavors" on music like making them warm or colder. Am I correct on this? I might have to research this up a little more. If anything it might be worth getting a pair of headphones like the sz2000 which you guys said doesn't require an amp and then purchase one when the budget permits. Or maybe just finding a good used deal for the whole setup inside my range might be possible?
 
May 14, 2015 at 4:08 PM Post #8 of 13

Raketen

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I've also heard that different technology and manufacturers have their own style of amps that add different "flavors" on music like making them warm or colder. Am I correct on this? I might have to research this up a little more. If anything it might be worth getting a pair of headphones like the sz2000 which you guys said doesn't require an amp and then purchase one when the budget permits. Or maybe just finding a good used deal for the whole setup inside my range might be possible?

 
Like you've probably experienced, changing headphones usually offers the biggest difference in sound- Amps can change/color the sound,alter soundtage/imaging or have features to enchance certain aspects, but in my (admittedly limited) experience in more subtle ways, provided your headphone is being adequately driven (but the  M50 is known to be OK with portable source amps like on phones, and your experience is consistent across different devices so that's probably not the problem).
 
If budget is a major concern, doing some research and finding the right headphones first is probably the best step, especially if what Inthere says about the m50 nor responding to amping/ boost/enchancement very well. If budget permits or later down the line probably worth investing in at least a reputable soundcard and/or amp, and/or dac/amp like the Schiitstack other guys mentioned- previous gen or used baseline quality stuff can be found pretty cheap on newegg, amazon, ebay, or trade forums. (i just keep mentioning soundcards since you seem to be a gamer, and they can provide some good non-"audiophile" features games sometimes utilize like positional audio/surround type stuff)
 
In addition to sz1000/2000 (currently the bass kings on the basshead threads) might look into something like VModa Crossfade, Sony MDR-XB series, or maybe Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro (variable bass ports) or DT770 (though they will want an amp. I really like my 770s, but only occasionally dip my toes into extra bass, so they might not be up to your level, and like the m50 designed to accomodate some extent of studio/monitor use so relatively flat). Def worth perusing the different bass threads too.
 
May 14, 2015 at 4:16 PM Post #9 of 13

bassmongerxoxo

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Like you've probably experienced, changing headphones usually offers the biggest difference in sound- Amps can change/color the sound or have features to enchance certain aspects, but in my (admittedly limited) experience in more subtle ways, provided your headphone is being adequately driven (but the  M50 is known to be OK with portable source amps like on phones, and your experience is consistent across different devices so that's probably not the problem). If budget is a major concern, doing some research and finding the right headphones first is probably the best step, especially if what Inthere says about the m50 nor responding to boost/enchancement very well. If budget permits or later down the line probably worth investing in at least a reputable soundcard and/or amp, and/or dac/amp like the other guys mentioned- previous gen or used baseline quality stuff can be found pretty cheap on newegg, amazon, ebay, or trade forums. (i just keep mentioning soundcards since you seem to be a gamer, and they can provide some good non-"audiophile" features games sometimes utilize like positional audio/surround type stuff)
 
In addition to sz1000/2000 (currently the bass kings on the basshead threads) might look into something like VModa Crossfade, Sony MDR-XB series, or maybe Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro (variable bass ports) or DT770 (though they will want an amp. I really like my 770s, but only occasionally dip my toes into extra bass, so they might not be up to your level, and like the m50 designed to accomodate some extent of studio/monitor use so relatively flat). Def worth perusing the different bass threads too.

 
I would personally give the Sony MDR-XB's a shot
 
May 14, 2015 at 5:30 PM Post #10 of 13

starcraftjunkie

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Like you've probably experienced, changing headphones usually offers the biggest difference in sound- Amps can change/color the sound,alter soundtage/imaging...

 
 
That was what I was under the impression. After doing some quick research on soundcards vs separate dac/amps, it was said that the separate setup will sound better in the end but lack the features the soundcard can offer like a proper software EQ and extra jacks on the back. Another thing I was a little worried about was interference with a motherboard jack if you amped up headphones, something a soundcard should probably fix.
 
Headsounds suggested to me that I should probably worry about some kind of amplification before getting new cans because I would probably ultimately need to get a setup in the end. That it might fix my M50s to what I wanted and then I wouldn't have to worry about a new set of cans.
   
I would personally give the Sony MDR-XB's a shot

 
Looks interesting. On the very high end of my budget though. Would it need any kind of amplification though? That would push it out of my budget- or at least until I can afford an amp setup.
 
May 14, 2015 at 7:00 PM Post #11 of 13

inthere

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No offense, but the first thing I learned around head-fi is never buy any beats products and monster cables. I've listened to store models and they sounded like they just had poorly EQ boosted bass and the rest of the range was muffled. Maybe it was the particular pair I was using?
 
The Sennheiser Urbanite XL look interesting. If you've had them before how large are they? My ATH-M50s are tiny and I had to bend them out so they didn't apply as much pressure on my head that it made me have headaches. I have a big head.

 
 Sennheiser Urbanite XL needs an amp, the regular Urbanite is much louder and does not need an amp, but it's on ear if that's a concern. Both can fit on my very large head easily. One problem I've had with the Urbanites though is the ear pads come off quite easily. 
 
May 14, 2015 at 11:00 PM Post #12 of 13

Raketen

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Really? On-ear sensitivity is 8db higher than XL, same impedance, but still kind of surprising - they come either wireless or with an in-line remote, so clearly intended for mobile use. Not saying an amp wouldn't be good, just surprised if they aren't also good straight out of a phone.
 
May 14, 2015 at 11:31 PM Post #13 of 13
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  Really? On-ear sensitivity is 8db higher than XL, same impedance, but still kind of surprising - they come either wireless or with an in-line remote, so clearly intended for mobile use. Not saying an amp wouldn't be good, just surprised if they aren't also good straight out of a phone.

 
This
 
I reviewed the XL earlier this year - http://www.head-fi.org/products/sennheiser-urbanite-xl-black-over-ear-headphones/reviews/12696
 
On amplification:
 The Urbanite is easily powered straight out of the portable devices I have, and although I tested it with both the X3ii – both unamped and amped with the E11K, I haven’t noticed any difference in dynamics.  The Urbanite were designed to be efficiently run straight from a DAP or smart phone – and they shine without the need for extra power.

 
As with all my A/B comparisons - I volume match with an SPL meter before comparing amped vs unamped - to make sure I'm not being influenced by one being louder than the other. 
 

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