Best all-rounder open back headphones with plenty of "attack"
Jun 21, 2015 at 3:02 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15

Jwood013

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It's been a while since I've been here. Glad to see everything is going well.

I have the itch to upgrade again, so here I am.

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The genres I listen to faithfully -

Metal of every subgenre. I am a metalhead. More specifically, bands such as Mastodon, Amon Amarth, Metallica, Ozzy and the likes.

EDM

I also adore orchestral music and bands like Warduna.

Alternative/indie/classic rock also finds its way into my library via bands like Chicago, Imagine Dragons, OMAM and The Head and The Heart.

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The criteria I have for these headphones is as follows:

Reaches deep into the low end. I want sub bass to be clear, but not loud. An example of this is the intro of the third verse in "Glory and Gore" by Lorde. I just want to be able to hear it, nothing more.

In general, punchy and quick bass is a necessity for me. Blast beats on the bass drums should be detailed.

However, I still want neutral or slightly forward mids. Nothing much more to say about that.

I enjoy detail and sparkle in the high end. Being able to hear individual hits on cymbals is an amazing thing, rather than each hit just blending together.

Soundstage is most definitely of importance given my love for orchestras and bands with a more natural, "live" sound to them.

Currently I have my DT770/80 which I use for music production so that's not leaving. I would be selling my HD558 because I've decided it's not the sound I want.

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Don't think I haven't done research though!

I think my best bet would be the ATH AD900x. Pairing this with my humble Fiio E11 (which is a warm amp) sounds like just what I need. I'm aware they don't have amazing rumbly bass, which is a good thing to me.

Other options I've strongly considered and what keeps me from choosing them -

Mayflower V1 (T50RP mod). These headphones having orthodynamic drivers means they are quick and accurate. The V1 mod fits my sound criteria, but I don't like the price point given I'll have to pick up a new cable and the HD518 headband. It is also semi open, but it's closed more than anything which is an instant turn off.

Grado SR225e. These are a compelling option, but being I'm extremely picky with comfort and I need either a great fitting IEM or a very comfy full sized headphone I can't bring myself to take a chance on them, even with some modding. They also (according to reviews) don't expose sub bass when it should be exposed, which is a turn off.

My budget is $100-$200. I'd like to keep it around $150.

Any thoughts and/or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

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Edit - Some after thoughts:

The Fidelio X1 is a good option as well, but I haven't heard or read any reviews of it that have anything to do with metal. It seems to be a basshead's open-back delight, so great for movies and generally all music, but I'm not a basshead.

I'm really starting to lean toward the SR225e. If I don't like them, I can always send them back right? The more I read about the Grado comfort, the more it looks like the people that complain about the comfort are complaining about it right out of the box without stretching the headband or giving the ear pads any time to really break in. Plus, it would be nice to have some more portable headphones than what I currently have.

I have considered the AKG Q701, but it doesn't have the bass I need and I fear that with the general poor production quality of metal it will make my listening experience less than enjoyable.

Speaking of, I know metal does tend to have bad production quality (honestly, what popular music doesn't?) so the Grado SR225e would be a bit more forgiving while allowing me to enjoy the bliss of high quality productions as well. The ATH AD900x does that as well I believe.

The fight really breaks down to "Do I want the more portable one?" The answer is more or less "Yes" being I already have the DT770. I guess the Grados are in the forefront now. Any thoughts?
 
Jun 22, 2015 at 8:28 PM Post #3 of 15

Me x3

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Why not just getting the Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro?
 
Jun 22, 2015 at 9:37 PM Post #4 of 15

Pana Sonic

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I happen to own the AD-900X as well as the K240S. If you're referring to this:
https://youtu.be/vEHHh8IBhpY?t=2m9s
 
Then yeah, I can hear the sub-bass. But while it is there, the AD-900X mostly focuses on the female vocals and sparkles. I wouldn't necessarily call the bass weak (it had some impact in this video), but its not the emphasis and you'll be listening more to the higher sounds.
 
 
I also tried listening to Ozzy's "Crazy Train" and what stood out to me was the individual clashing of the cymbals as well as a focus on Ozzy's voice. The particular video I listened to on Youtube was extremely clear but had no impact in the bass.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMR5zf1J1Hs
 
 
EDM works perfect on these if you listen more for the atmosphere rather than the bass. The piano sounds really nice on "Distant Skies" by Unique.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Tad3mD2OiI
 
 
They do have the sound that you were describing, but I'm not sure I would use them for music like Metallica or Ozzy (then again, I don't listen to rock or metal). Metal sounds fine enough on these, but there's a huge emphasis on vocals. I think most people might use them for Japanese idol music or instrumental stuff without needing an amp.
 
 
Personally, I think this is the kind of music where they really excel:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfCJla94vzg
 
Not only do they make the vocals alone become the music, but the sparkles really become sparkly like stars. That, combined with the airy sound makes them spread across the room beautifully.
 
 
EDIT: AD-900X doesn't need an amp. In fact, an amp would probably be a waste of money. AD-900X doesn't change much between sources.
 
Jun 23, 2015 at 1:17 PM Post #7 of 15

Jwood013

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  I happen to own the AD-900X as well as the K240S. If you're referring to this:
https://youtu.be/vEHHh8IBhpY?t=2m9s
 
Then yeah, I can hear the sub-bass. But while it is there, the AD-900X mostly focuses on the female vocals and sparkles. I wouldn't necessarily call the bass weak (it had some impact in this video), but its not the emphasis and you'll be listening more to the higher sounds.
 
 
I also tried listening to Ozzy's "Crazy Train" and what stood out to me was the individual clashing of the cymbals as well as a focus on Ozzy's voice. The particular video I listened to on Youtube was extremely clear but had no impact in the bass.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMR5zf1J1Hs
 
 
EDM works perfect on these if you listen more for the atmosphere rather than the bass. The piano sounds really nice on "Distant Skies" by Unique.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Tad3mD2OiI
 
 
They do have the sound that you were describing, but I'm not sure I would use them for music like Metallica or Ozzy (then again, I don't listen to rock or metal). Metal sounds fine enough on these, but there's a huge emphasis on vocals. I think most people might use them for Japanese idol music or instrumental stuff without needing an amp.
 
 
Personally, I think this is the kind of music where they really excel:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfCJla94vzg
 
Not only do they make the vocals alone become the music, but the sparkles really become sparkly like stars. That, combined with the airy sound makes them spread across the room beautifully.
 
 
EDIT: AD-900X doesn't need an amp. In fact, an amp would probably be a waste of money. AD-900X doesn't change much between sources.

Thank you so much for the info. 
 
As far as the amp goes, I bought this thing for $40 a while back for my Beyer's primarily. Thanks for the info on that as well.
 
Jun 23, 2015 at 3:20 PM Post #11 of 15

Me x3

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I've noted them, but the very long cable plus lack of being able to detach the cable led me to dismiss them. I forgot that I can just braid the cable like I did to my DT770's cable, so they seem to be an option; Gonna read some reviews on them and see if they're for me.

 
K612 is like K/Q701 but warmer, more bass and softer treble. Still AKG house sound, neutral, open, airy yet not as analytical as K/Q701
It's quite hard to drive, so a little amp like Fiio E11K might be a good addition in the future (If you don't have an amp yet)
 
Jun 23, 2015 at 3:41 PM Post #12 of 15

Jwood013

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K612 is like K/Q701 but warmer, more bass and softer treble. Still AKG house sound, neutral, open, airy yet not as analytical as K/Q701
It's quite hard to drive, so a little amp like Fiio E11K might be a good addition in the future (If you don't have an amp yet)

I've been reading some reviews on them and they are attractive to me. They look ridiculously huge on your head, but that's a price I guess I'm willing to pay. I'll consider them further. Edit - I do have a Fiio E11, which is enough for the K612
 
Jun 23, 2015 at 9:00 PM Post #15 of 15

BobMonkhouse

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I've heard K550 and K7XX, and own K612. I don't think K612 lack details. I use them when in particular mood and for a limited music selection. But I'm positive it's going to suite OP's requirements and preferences. The upper mids lower treble are a bit too much for me with fatiguing female voices, but they're not sibilant and provide very nice sense of clarity and air. The bass is tight and articulate with good transition to the mids which are not warm enough for me and feel a bit recessed. When you play more mid-centric pieces, you realize the mids are not recessed; the highs are rather too much forward. Still, I can see they're exactly what the OP needs in this price range for his music genres.
 

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