Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 Discussion Thread
Oct 17, 2015 at 12:48 PM Post #1,054 of 2,788

john57

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I noticed that technobear thought that the MSR7 treble was a bit laid back and lack details. Just to show that another person opinion or experience can be completely different from mine. In the end only your ears know for sure.
 
Oct 17, 2015 at 1:31 PM Post #1,055 of 2,788

solblack

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Welcome, enjoy
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Oct 17, 2015 at 3:20 PM Post #1,056 of 2,788

XERO1

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  I noticed that technobear thought that the MSR7 treble was a bit laid back and lack details. Just to show that another person opinion or experience can be completely different from mine. In the end only your ears know for sure.

 
No offence is meant by this, but anybody who thinks the MSR7's treble is laid-back and lacking detail should really consider having their hearing checked.
 
I'm being genuinely serious about this.
 
Oct 17, 2015 at 5:53 PM Post #1,057 of 2,788

Pianist

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  Anyone tested the audio technica msr ath7 against shure shr 1540?

 
I have owned both for a few months now. They are both excellent sounding, but are polar opposites in terms of sound signature. MSR7 is quite forward sounding with a fast, snappy attack, emphasis on the upper mids and lower treble with a slight lack of bass relative to the mids and highs. SRH1540 has a warm tilt to its sound with emphasis on bass, particularly the sub bass below 100 Hz. The upper mids are much more withdrawn on the Shures relative to the MSR7 and the sound of the SRH1540 is quite a bit more spacious (or distant, depending on how you look at it) and more laid back.
 
In terms of pure sound quality, MSR7 edges out the SRH1540 in bass tightness and definition, as the former has significantly less distortion below 200 Hz, especially at high volume levels. However, I cannot say that MSR7 has better bass - I think SRH1540 actually has the more satisfying low end. Despite having cleaner bass, MSR7 can also lack punch and presence down there, which SRH1540 has in spades. Actually, SRH1540 can have the opposite issue of producing somewhat excessive amounts of sub bass with some music, especially at high volumes. Overall, I think SRH1540 has a more natural bass presence and I can actually hear more low level information, more texture in the bass of the Shures vs. the MSR7, even though the bass on the Shures is a tad looser, less controlled.
 
Mids can sound overly forward and shouty on the MSR7 with some music, especially lively, energetic recordings. In terms of sound quality in the mids, I think SRH1540 actually beats the MSR7. The Shures have stellar mids. The midrange on the SRH1540 is extremely resolving, especially in terms of micro detail retrieval/texture, but also has a very pleasing, warm tone to it - just a bit of coloration - that adds magic to the sound. I guess one could say that SRH1540 has those classic Shure mids. Just yummy.
tongue.gif
Male vocals are probably the best I've heard on the SRH1540. The only issue with the mids on the Shures is that they are a tad recessed relative to the bass and highs, so they can sometimes lack a little bit of presence. MSR7 doesn't sound quite as textured in the mids as SRH1540, but does have more perceived clarity, probably because the mids on the MSR7 are much more forward vs. SRH1540.
 
The lower and mid treble is more edgy and forward on the MSR7. The highs on the MSR7 are extremely resolving and clear, but also have a hint of some unnatural metallic coloration at times - just a hint though. SRH1540 has very natural highs - I think more natural than those of MSR7. The Shures have a softer, more polite treble, but with very little loss of perceived clarity and similar, if not quite the same level of treble resolution that MSR7 has. Like with the mids, the highs on MSR7 are simply easier to hear because they are more forward sounding. SRH1540 doesn't draw attention to its highs, but the quality is still all there on the Shures. I would say that both have extremely good highs for closed back dynamic headphones and actually approach the very best open headphones in treble quality.
 
Soundstage is rather small and shallow on the MSR7, although imaging is very sharp and well defined. I would say MSR7 has a decent soundstage for a closed back headphone. SRH1540 does much better and actually has a pretty darn spacious sound for a closed back, approaching the spaciousness of my HD600 and K612 Pro. Soundstage width is not really great on the SRH1540, just OK, but soundstage depth/layering is remarkable. SRH1540 can, at times, convey more perceived depth to the sound than even my HD600 and K612 Pro.
 
SRH1540 seems to have wider dynamic range than MSR7 - the Shures can convey dynamic contrasts in music more effectively, more vividly to my ears. The remarkable soundstage depth/layering of the SRH1540 certainly helps with this also, while MSR7's lackluster layering makes it sound less dynamic than it probably is.
 
Both are easy to drive with MSR7 being a tad more sensitive and louder than SRH1540 at the same volume setting. For whatever reason, despite being extremely resolving and clear, I don't feel that MSR7 scales nearly as well as SRH1540 does with better amps and DACs... Even though MSR7 seems highly resolving, I think that this is at least partially the result of its forward, aggressive presentation. SRH1540 is far more distant and laid back and so it may not seem as resolving on brief listen. However, I think that careful listening reveals SRH1540 to be perhaps even clearer and more resolving. At least, the mids definitely sound more textured and articulate on the Shures vs. MSR7 to my ears...
 
Those who like their music fast, forward and exciting may prefer MSR7 sound greatly. Those who like a smoother, a more relaxed approach may greatly prefer SRH1540. Personally, I think SRH1540 a has higher sound quality overall, but doesn't impress as much as MSR7 on first listen. MSR7 is a great headphone to bring to headphone meets to impress people. lol
 
Also, keep in mind that neither of these two headphones is a great option for those seeking a neutral tonal balance, as both deviate from neutrality by a good margin. MSR7 is too forward in the upper mids, while SRH1540 is too emphasized in the sub bass... For a more even tonal balance, I would look into NAD Viso HP50 and Focal Spirit Classic and Professional. Oppo PM-3 also seems like a good option for a neutral tonality.
 
Oct 18, 2015 at 1:54 PM Post #1,059 of 2,788

XERO1

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I pretty much agree with everything that Pianist said above about the MSR7's overall SQ.
 
They are technically excellent but are very forward sounding and lack enough bass to properly balance everything out.
 
The MSR7 is a headphone that I can only enjoy for short listening sessions because they just become too fatiguing when listened to at higher volume levels, which is how I usually prefer to listen to most of my music.
 
Oct 19, 2015 at 12:25 AM Post #1,060 of 2,788

zazex

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I have owned both for a few months now. They are both excellent sounding, but are polar opposites in terms of sound signature. MSR7 is quite forward sounding with a fast, snappy attack, emphasis on the upper mids and lower treble with a slight lack of bass relative to the mids and highs. SRH1540 has a warm tilt to its sound with emphasis on bass, particularly the sub bass below 100 Hz. The upper mids are much more withdrawn on the Shures relative to the MSR7 and the sound of the SRH1540 is quite a bit more spacious (or distant, depending on how you look at it) and more laid back.
 
In terms of pure sound quality, MSR7 edges out the SRH1540 in bass tightness and definition, as the former has significantly less distortion below 200 Hz, especially at high volume levels. However, I cannot say that MSR7 has better bass - I think SRH1540 actually has the more satisfying low end. Despite having cleaner bass, MSR7 can also lack punch and presence down there, which SRH1540 has in spades. Actually, SRH1540 can have the opposite issue of producing somewhat excessive amounts of sub bass with some music, especially at high volumes. Overall, I think SRH1540 has a more natural bass presence and I can actually hear more low level information, more texture in the bass of the Shures vs. the MSR7, even though the bass on the Shures is a tad looser, less controlled.
 
Mids can sound overly forward and shouty on the MSR7 with some music, especially lively, energetic recordings. In terms of sound quality in the mids, I think SRH1540 actually beats the MSR7. The Shures have stellar mids. The midrange on the SRH1540 is extremely resolving, especially in terms of micro detail retrieval/texture, but also has a very pleasing, warm tone to it - just a bit of coloration - that adds magic to the sound. I guess one could say that SRH1540 has those classic Shure mids. Just yummy.
tongue.gif
Male vocals are probably the best I've heard on the SRH1540. The only issue with the mids on the Shures is that they are a tad recessed relative to the bass and highs, so they can sometimes lack a little bit of presence. MSR7 doesn't sound quite as textured in the mids as SRH1540, but does have more perceived clarity, probably because the mids on the MSR7 are much more forward vs. SRH1540.
 
The lower and mid treble is more edgy and forward on the MSR7. The highs on the MSR7 are extremely resolving and clear, but also have a hint of some unnatural metallic coloration at times - just a hint though. SRH1540 has very natural highs - I think more natural than those of MSR7. The Shures have a softer, more polite treble, but with very little loss of perceived clarity and similar, if not quite the same level of treble resolution that MSR7 has. Like with the mids, the highs on MSR7 are simply easier to hear because they are more forward sounding. SRH1540 doesn't draw attention to its highs, but the quality is still all there on the Shures. I would say that both have extremely good highs for closed back dynamic headphones and actually approach the very best open headphones in treble quality.
 
Soundstage is rather small and shallow on the MSR7, although imaging is very sharp and well defined. I would say MSR7 has a decent soundstage for a closed back headphone. SRH1540 does much better and actually has a pretty darn spacious sound for a closed back, approaching the spaciousness of my HD600 and K612 Pro. Soundstage width is not really great on the SRH1540, just OK, but soundstage depth/layering is remarkable. SRH1540 can, at times, convey more perceived depth to the sound than even my HD600 and K612 Pro.
 
SRH1540 seems to have wider dynamic range than MSR7 - the Shures can convey dynamic contrasts in music more effectively, more vividly to my ears. The remarkable soundstage depth/layering of the SRH1540 certainly helps with this also, while MSR7's lackluster layering makes it sound less dynamic than it probably is.
 
Both are easy to drive with MSR7 being a tad more sensitive and louder than SRH1540 at the same volume setting. For whatever reason, despite being extremely resolving and clear, I don't feel that MSR7 scales nearly as well as SRH1540 does with better amps and DACs... Even though MSR7 seems highly resolving, I think that this is at least partially the result of its forward, aggressive presentation. SRH1540 is far more distant and laid back and so it may not seem as resolving on brief listen. However, I think that careful listening reveals SRH1540 to be perhaps even clearer and more resolving. At least, the mids definitely sound more textured and articulate on the Shures vs. MSR7 to my ears...
 
Those who like their music fast, forward and exciting may prefer MSR7 sound greatly. Those who like a smoother, a more relaxed approach may greatly prefer SRH1540. Personally, I think SRH1540 a has higher sound quality overall, but doesn't impress as much as MSR7 on first listen. MSR7 is a great headphone to bring to headphone meets to impress people. lol
 
Also, keep in mind that neither of these two headphones is a great option for those seeking a neutral tonal balance, as both deviate from neutrality by a good margin. MSR7 is too forward in the upper mids, while SRH1540 is too emphasized in the sub bass... For a more even tonal balance, I would look into NAD Viso HP50 and Focal Spirit Classic and Professional. Oppo PM-3 also seems like a good option for a neutral tonality.

 
I think this is a terrific comparison/review.  (I also own both of these headphones BTW.)
Rich in content and most fair in its presentation.
 
Towards the end you write, "Personally, I think SRH1540 a has higher sound quality overall...."
I agree. I think the MSR7's are outstanding headphones, and I think the
1540's are the next step up.
(Another interesting comparison is the 1540's vs. the Sony MDR Z7's, but that's obviously for
a different thread.)
 
Oct 19, 2015 at 6:37 AM Post #1,061 of 2,788

woodpecker

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  Soundstage is rather small and shallow on the MSR7, although imaging is very sharp and well defined. I would say MSR7 has a decent soundstage for a closed back headphone. SRH1540 does much better and actually has a pretty darn spacious sound for a closed back, approaching the spaciousness of my HD600 and K612 Pro. Soundstage width is not really great on the SRH1540, just OK, but soundstage depth/layering is remarkable. SRH1540 can, at times, convey more perceived depth to the sound than even my HD600 and K612 Pro.


From my point of view I would classify the HD600 as semi-open headphones, because of their lack of soundstage depth. Their soundstage is airy and a (little) bit spacious, but feels distant and (too) small for open headphones. On higher volumes I got the feeling the soundstage might be bigger on the MSR7, though not wider, because the drivers are positioned closer to the ears. I always find myself increasing the volume on the HD600, because they feel lacking in sound compared to the produced volume. A proper full sized closed headphones such as the W1000 develop bigger and wider soundstage.
 
 
 


 
Oct 19, 2015 at 10:35 PM Post #1,062 of 2,788

Pianist

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From my point of view I would classify the HD600 as semi-open headphones, because of their lack of soundstage depth. Their soundstage is airy and a (little) bit spacious, but feels distant and (too) small for open headphones. On higher volumes I got the feeling the soundstage might be bigger on the MSR7, though not wider, because the drivers are positioned closer to the ears. I always find myself increasing the volume on the HD600, because they feel lacking in sound compared to the produced volume. A proper full sized closed headphones such as the W1000 develop bigger and wider soundstage.

 
What do you plug the HD600 into? Personally I use them with my Fiio X5 or Asus Essence STX and Objective 2 amp. I think that with these sources, HD600 is the second best sounding headphone out of those I have owned overall, after HD800. SRH1540 also shares the second spot with HD600 for me at this time, as I am still undecided which of the two sound better to me. HD600 has quite a spacious and open sound with good width, as well as depth. I can understand what you mean by HD600 sounding "small." I think it's the emphasis on the presence region around 3-4 kHz that can give the impression of a somewhat thin sound. However, I don't encounter this issue very often, especially if I don't obsess over it... Most of the time HD600 sounds full and rich to my ears. I also perceive HD600 as incredibly transparent, which basically means that when I listen to them, I can easily get an illusion as though the music is not coming from drivers strapped to my head, but rather that the music performance is actually taking place near my ears/head, and if I use my imagination a bit and close my eyes, I can feel like I am in a studio or concert hall during the music performance... In other words, HD600 sounds highly natural and realistic to my ears. There are very few headphones I've heard that are as good or better than HD600 in realism. I do think MSR7 comes close and can even sound more realistic than HD600 sometimes, because of the former's superior speed and clarity. However, to my ears HD600 ultimately wins because it sounds more open, spacious, linear and effortless than MSR7. I do feel that SRH1540 often sounds more transparent than HD600 in the mids and highs and I would probably rate it as better sounding overall in the mids and highs, but the bass is more linear and natural sounding on the HD600, even though SRH1540 has bigger, more pleasing bass sometimes. Even HD800 can sound less natural than HD600 at times due to its treble peak taking away from the transparency. HD600 also has that small emphasis on the presence region, but it's really quite minor to me, like I mentioned previously, and rarely bothersome, at least a lot less than the HD800's treble peak, for example.
 
Oh and BTW, HD600 is, in fact, a very open design - if you look at one of the driver housings under the sun or lamp light, you will see right through the drivers. Put your hand or some object in between the driver and the light and you will see the object quite clearly. I never doubted this though, because HD600 always sounded very airy and spacious to my ears. It does not have a huge, exaggerated soundstage a la K701 or HD800, but I would say that HD600's soundstage is realistic in that it doesn't take away from the headphone's transparency/realism.
 
Another reason why HD600 may sound closed in is because it can have quite a muddy, bloated bass with weak and/or low quality amps, or amps that don't work well with HD600's signature or impedance for whatever other reasons, like excessively high output impedance... I am surprised how bad, muddy and low-fi the bass sounds on the HD600 with my old iPod and how it almost magically tightens up greatly with my Fiio X5 + Objective 2.
 
Oct 20, 2015 at 7:06 AM Post #1,063 of 2,788

woodpecker

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At the moment I use the internal amp of the STX. It's not perfect, but it does the job. I've posted some of my findings of the HD600 comparison in the R70x thread. Being more of a loudspeaker guy, I could never accept the HD580/HD600 character. To me, the HD600 do not portray the music as it would sound live. Though they are exceptionally smooth and transparent, I don't consider them accurate. Maybe it's because I prefer the brighter sound from Audio Technica or the type of the music I listen to.
 
The MSR7 still sound phenomenal when plugged to the ipad/phone jack. I need to keep reminding myself that these are afterall, a portable headphones. And far less fatiguing than HD600. I would agree with the observation, that HD600 are mid oriented headphones. With a proper music, they can sound special. However the foamy/cushiony parts degrade rather quickly and the distance from the ears and drivers decreases, which produces warmer sound with somewhat richer bass.
 
From where I stand, the MSR7 and HD600 are headphones for two different musical taste or type of listening. I you like one of them, you probably dislike the other one.
 
Oct 20, 2015 at 10:57 AM Post #1,064 of 2,788

Pianist

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  At the moment I use the internal amp of the STX. It's not perfect, but it does the job. I've posted some of my findings of the HD600 comparison in the R70x thread. Being more of a loudspeaker guy, I could never accept the HD580/HD600 character. To me, the HD600 do not portray the music as it would sound live. Though they are exceptionally smooth and transparent, I don't consider them accurate. Maybe it's because I prefer the brighter sound from Audio Technica or the type of the music I listen to.
 
The MSR7 still sound phenomenal when plugged to the ipad/phone jack. I need to keep reminding myself that these are afterall, a portable headphones. And far less fatiguing than HD600. I would agree with the observation, that HD600 are mid oriented headphones. With a proper music, they can sound special. However the foamy/cushiony parts degrade rather quickly and the distance from the ears and drivers decreases, which produces warmer sound with somewhat richer bass.
 
From where I stand, the MSR7 and HD600 are headphones for two different musical taste or type of listening. I you like one of them, you probably dislike the other one.

 
So I assume that you feel that MSR7 sounds more accurate than HD600 then? I can definitely understand that. Actually, I really like both of these headphones. I can appreciate each one for what it is, although nowadays with sites like Innerfidelity around, that can provide nice, objective assessments of headphones through measurements, I don't bother with headphones that measure poorly... If MSR7 had the square wave response of HD600, I wouldn't get it and if HD600 had the frequency response of MSR7, I wouldn't get it.
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However both measure well in different ways, complimenting each other well, and I think that the graphs for both of these headphones on Innerfidelity correlate very well with what I hear from them... HD600 has a more neutral, flatter frequency response with a nice, natural lift in the mdbass and a fairly gently rolled off sub bass... MSR7 is clearly leaner in the bass and tipped up the midrange - it's a tad bright and bass light. However, MSR7 has lower bass distortion and a cleaner square wave response versus HD600, so MSR7 is more accurate in these aspects. I perceive MSR7 as cleaner, clearer, faster than HD600. MSR7 also has more apparent resolution, although I think it's just more forward sounding, so that details are easier to hear with it compared to the more laid back HD600. HD600 beats MSR7 in dynamics, sense of space and air and just sounds more natural and effortless to me. MSR7 doesn't really sound closed in, but it doesn't have the spaciousness of HD600 and that's really not surprising, because MSR7 is a closed headphone after all. I haven't heard a closed headphone with the air and space of HD600 yet. SRH1540 comes close, but isn't quite there either.
 
Overall, I do rate HD600 higher than MSR7 in sound quality, although MSR7 can beat HD600 in a number of ways. HD600 is simply more transparent to me. MSR7's closed back design and the resulting lack of space and openness in the sound always makes me feel like I am listening to headphone, whereas with HD600, I feel more like I am listening to speakers and that the sound is coming alive around me. I feel HD600 can also scale higher with better equipment, especially amps, partially due to its great transparency, but also because of its higher impedance that makes it much easier to pair with amps of various output impedances...
 
BTW, I just read your impressions of the HD600 in the R70x thread... Ok, I can't agree that HD600 has distorted highs. Not sure what you mean by that. Look at the measurements for HD600 - the highs are very clean and low distortion on them... I hear the HD600 treble as really clean and very detailed too. It may be the STX amp, which does sound somewhat brittle/tinny in the highs to me. I don't feel MSR7 is more detailed than HD600 in the highs. Actually, I seem to hear highs better through HD600, although that's probably because HD600 emphasizes them more. MSR7 doesn't have the refinement and sense of air in the upper highs that HD600 has, not because it doesn't have extension, but because HD600 just sounds more open...
 
As for Harman target response, neither of the two follows it well obviously. HD600 does a bit better than MSR7 in this regard because it actually has a slight lift in the mid bass, while MSR7 has recessed bass relative to the mids. I perceive MSR7 as somewhat cold sounding and lacking natural weight in the low frequencies, although it does have very tight and well extended bass.
 
For more speaker like experience in accordance with the Harman curve, I think NAD Viso HP50, Focal Spirit Classic/Professional, Shure 1540 and Phillips Fidelio line will work far better than HD600 and MSR7... I haven't heard the R70x, but I thought that it's pretty flat and doesn't have bass emphasis. I could be wrong... Haven't seen any measurements for it yet either.
 
Oct 20, 2015 at 12:49 PM Post #1,065 of 2,788

woodpecker

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So I assume that you feel that MSR7 sounds more accurate than HD600 then? I can definitely understand that. Actually, I really like both of these headphones. I can appreciate each one for what it is, although nowadays with sites like Innerfidelity around, that can provide nice, objective assessments of headphones through measurements, I don't bother with headphones that measure poorly... If MSR7 had the square wave response of HD600, I wouldn't get it and if HD600 had the frequency response of MSR7, I wouldn't get it.
biggrin.gif
However both measure well in different ways, complimenting each other well, and I think that the graphs for both of these headphones on Innerfidelity correlate very well with what I hear from them... HD600 has a more neutral, flatter frequency response with a nice, natural lift in the mdbass and a fairly gently rolled off sub bass... MSR7 is clearly leaner in the bass and tipped up the midrange - it's a tad bright and bass light. However, MSR7 has lower bass distortion and a cleaner square wave response versus HD600, so MSR7 is more accurate in these aspects. I perceive MSR7 as cleaner, clearer, faster than HD600. MSR7 also has more apparent resolution, although I think it's just more forward sounding, so that details are easier to hear with it compared to the more laid back HD600. HD600 beats MSR7 in dynamics, sense of space and air and just sounds more natural and effortless to me. MSR7 doesn't really sound closed in, but it doesn't have the spaciousness of HD600 and that's really not surprising, because MSR7 is a closed headphone after all. I haven't heard a closed headphone with the air and space of HD600 yet. SRH1540 comes close, but isn't quite there either.
 
Overall, I do rate HD600 higher than MSR7 in sound quality, although MSR7 can beat HD600 in a number of ways. HD600 is simply more transparent to me. MSR7's closed back design and the resulting lack of space and openness in the sound always makes me feel like I am listening to headphone, whereas with HD600, I feel more like I am listening to speakers and that the sound is coming alive around me. I feel HD600 can also scale higher with better equipment, especially amps, partially due to its great transparency, but also because of its higher impedance that makes it much easier to pair with amps of various output impedances...
 
BTW, I just read your impressions of the HD600 in the R70x thread... Ok, I can't agree that HD600 has distorted highs. Not sure what you mean by that. Look at the measurements for HD600 - the highs are very clean and low distortion on them... I hear the HD600 treble as really clean and very detailed too. It may be the STX amp, which does sound somewhat brittle/tinny in the highs to me. I don't feel MSR7 is more detailed than HD600 in the highs. Actually, I seem to hear highs better through HD600, although that's probably because HD600 emphasizes them more. MSR7 doesn't have the refinement and sense of air in the upper highs that HD600 has, not because it doesn't have extension, but because HD600 just sounds more open...
 
As for Harman target response, neither of the two follows it well obviously. HD600 does a bit better than MSR7 in this regard because it actually has a slight lift in the mid bass, while MSR7 has recessed bass relative to the mids. I perceive MSR7 as somewhat cold sounding and lacking natural weight in the low frequencies, although it does have very tight and well extended bass.
 
For more speaker like experience in accordance with the Harman curve, I think NAD Viso HP50, Focal Spirit Classic/Professional, Shure 1540 and Phillips Fidelio line will work far better than HD600 and MSR7... I haven't heard the R70x, but I thought that it's pretty flat and doesn't have bass emphasis. I could be wrong... Haven't seen any measurements for it yet either.


I think you summed the differences between the HD600 and MSR7 perfectly. No arguments there. What I wanted to point out is that you're comparing a closed cans to the open ones and that tells something about the MSR7. The ATH woodies comes to mind if you want to check how airy and spacious a closed cans can sound.
 
On the highs/treble - what I perceive differently on the HD600, for example, is the sound of the cymbals. For me they do not sound as accurate as the MSR7 do. I've double checked the graphs on the Innerfidelity and it doesn't make sense. The HD600 treble is in nature more similar to the R70x than the MSR7, but it lacks proper decay and "splashiness" of the cymbals. There is something about the timbre that doesn't work for me and feels distorted. They sound clearly more fatiguing to my ears than they sound on the MSR7. It's just something the measurments don't tell and I cannot back it up with them. It's what I perceive and feel, a subjective experience if you may.
 
I agree with the list of Harman signatured headphones. The H. signature was more meant for the R70x. There shoud be some measurments posted in the R70x thread. The MSR7 are not Harman-ized.
 

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