Best-sounding open & closed headphones... with no EQ-ing or mods!
Jun 10, 2020 at 12:58 PM Post #16 of 86

DivineCurrent

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That suggests that all good hi-fi speakers have the same tonality. I suspect that there is as much subjective variation in speakers as headphones.

Yes it is true speakers vary a lot, I guess I should have clarified I'm talking about speakers that have the least deviation from flat when measured correctly in a well treated listening room. Now whether or not that subjectively sounds good to the listener is a whole other story, to my ears it does. Also, most good speakers tend to have less dips and spikes than headphones, in general not always.
 
Jun 10, 2020 at 1:10 PM Post #17 of 86

ADUHF

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Thank you also to Mightygrey, SilverEars, MrPanda, Kammerat Rebeka, Malevolent, DivineCurrent, and Kernmac btw for your opinions. They are all appreciated.
 
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Jun 10, 2020 at 1:22 PM Post #18 of 86

ADUHF

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Yes it is true speakers vary a lot, I guess I should have clarified I'm talking about speakers that have the least deviation from flat when measured correctly in a well treated listening room. Now whether or not that subjectively sounds good to the listener is a whole other story, to my ears it does. Also, most good speakers tend to have less dips and spikes than headphones, in general not always.

FYI, the Harman headphone target is based (loosely) on the steady-state response of anechoically flat speakers in a room, with some room gain in the bass, and rolloff in the treble due to beaming and absorption. So it does deviate a bit from a flat in-room (aka steady-state) response.

These are the latest versions for both over-ear and in-ear headphones, in case anyone's interested...

EX_z4f1U8AA8V6_


These are intended only for rough estimation purposes btw. Especially in the treble, where some peaks and valleys are normal due to various resonances within the ear.
 
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Jun 10, 2020 at 5:27 PM Post #20 of 86

Kernmac

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How would you define it, Kernmac?
I wouldn't. Best is simply too broad, an almost erroneous word. What is the best car? What is the best wine? Etc. If someone is seeking anything even approaching an objective discussion/comparison (in what is an extremely subjective topic) then a more specific descriptor than "best" will need to be used. However the net will always be inundated with what is the best ...........................requests.
 
Jun 10, 2020 at 5:34 PM Post #21 of 86

Undun

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Well, I have an off-center opinion on things, since I'm neither a fan of a balanced signature nor of open-back cans in general.

With that said, the best-sounding headphones, IMO, are -

Open: Audeze LCD-3, Audeze LCD-4, Focal Utopia
Closed: Audeze LCD-XC, Fostex TH900 Mk2, Sony MDR-Z1R
Ah man, you're really about that bass eh? I've heard most of what you've mentioned, very dynamic indeed!
 
Jun 10, 2020 at 5:58 PM Post #22 of 86

chesebert

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Curious to know what you think are the best-sounding full-sized headphones "out-of-the box", without any EQ-ing, tone adjustments, or other modifications.

Sound quality is the sole criteria here, whatever that means to you. If you want to break them down by price though (e.g. low, high, very-high), or open vs. closed, or in some other way (e.g. planar vs. dynamic), please be my guest. I leave that up to you though.
Sennheiser HE-1 The problem is that headphone does everything correclty but doesn't really excel anywhere and therefore it's kind of meh when compared to others with EQ/mods. Oh and you also need to shell out $50k for the privilege of not using EQ/mods.
 
Jun 10, 2020 at 8:43 PM Post #23 of 86

Malevolent

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Ah man, you're really about that bass eh? I've heard most of what you've mentioned, very dynamic indeed!
Yeah, I'm an unabashed basshead. :)

I stray far away from headphones that challenge for the crown in areas such as absolute neutrality, top-end clarity, staging size, and micro-detail retrieval. To be honest. I can appreciate the inherent characteristics of world-beater headphones such as the SR-009, HE1000 V2, or an HD800S, but I can't say that I would enjoy using these headphones for anything more than 30 minutes, let alone an extended period of time.
 
Jun 11, 2020 at 1:40 AM Post #25 of 86

etroze86

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For me the best are headphones that take zero time for my ears and brain to adjust to them. 2 pair that I own right now that come to mind are the Audeze LCD2 closed back and Aeon Flow Open Retuned. I can put them down and not listen to them for days, pick them up and they just sing to my ears immediately. Few pairs that sound good but take my ears a long time to adjust are Audioquest Nighthawks, Hifiman 4xx and Audeze iSine 10s.
 
Jun 11, 2020 at 2:19 AM Post #26 of 86

Undun

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Yeah, I'm an unabashed basshead. :)

I stray far away from headphones that challenge for the crown in areas such as absolute neutrality, top-end clarity, staging size, and micro-detail retrieval. To be honest. I can appreciate the inherent characteristics of world-beater headphones such as the SR-009, HE1000 V2, or an HD800S, but I can't say that I would enjoy using these headphones for anything more than 30 minutes, let alone an extended period of time.

I absolutely agree, musical > clinical for me :). Probably why I liked the Focal and Audeze house sound a lot, they're both quite dynamic, albeit in different ways. I've yet to try the new MrSpeakers offerings but after the crazy covid lockdown "season" (however long that may be), I hope to possibly demo some. Those are the brands I'm paying most attention to, nowadays.

To add some input to the thread: I'd go with the Audeze LCD 4/4z & X/MX-4, Hifiman Arya & HE-6, Focal Clear, Focal Elegia (currently owned, so yea there's some bias :smile:), and Ether Flow Open (1.0, haven't tried 1.1s) as far as what I've heard...
 
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Jun 11, 2020 at 3:39 AM Post #27 of 86

newworld666

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I would recommend none of mine :
-> Electrostatic (Stax SR-003, Kingsound KS-H04),
-> Closed (Sony Z7M2, Ultrasone Ed15 Veritas),
-> Open (Heddphone),
-> Even IEM (Airpods pro, Cambridge Melomania 1, B&O E8II)

I definitely lose a lot of pleasure without any PEQ and I can notice that they all get also a big benefit being connected to an amp with enough peak power when needed (of course not with Bluetooth IEM).

It's so far from the pleasure we can get with all of those headphones when some PEQ is correctly applied trough Neutron Player or USB player Pro, that I don't listen any more to an headphone without any correction like PEQ.
 
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Jun 11, 2020 at 2:14 PM Post #28 of 86

Malevolent

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I absolutely agree, musical > clinical for me :). Probably why I liked the Focal and Audeze house sound a lot, they're both quite dynamic, albeit in different ways. I've yet to try the new MrSpeakers offerings but after the crazy covid lockdown "season" (however long that may be), I hope to possibly demo some. Those are the brands I'm paying most attention to, nowadays.

To add some input to the thread: I'd go with the Audeze LCD 4/4z & X/MX-4, Hifiman HE-6, Focal Clear, Focal Elegia (currently owned, so yea there's some bias :smile:), and Ether Flow Open (1.0, haven't tried 1.1s) as far as what I've heard...
In the realm of top-end headphones, the Audeze house sound is an acquired one. Ostensibly, they don't appear particularly interested in creating the most neutral and detailed headphones; rather, their philosophy appears to be this - "Let's take our house sound, then refine it as best we can". I am definitely on board with that idea. :)
 
Jun 11, 2020 at 6:27 PM Post #29 of 86

ADUHF

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Thank you kinkling, chesebert, descloud, etroze86, Undun, and newworld666 for you inputs as well. I don't have 50k for new HPs, chesebert. So guess I'll have to make due with some EQ for the time bein. :wink: Still curious to hear other's opinions though on this topic.

On a sidenote, my 5 or 6 year old AKG K553's broke again. And I think I'm probably done tryin to repair em at this point. So probably time to move onto somethin new. I'm currently now using an old pair of Sony ZX100's, because they are the only HPs I have that are still working at this point. And they sound pretty awful. :)

The two best-sounding closed HPs in my price range (<$200) at that time I bought the AKG's were probably the AT M50X and Beats Solo2 (wired version). I had issues with the fit and sound of both of those HPs though, which is why I ended up with the K553's instead. I have sampled a few HPs at GC since that time. And one of the better-sounding open-backs was the Beyer DT-990 imo. They have a few issues though in both the treble and upper bass/low midrange. So I'd probably EQ them, like I did my old AKG K553's, if I got them.

GC and Sam Ash have both reopened in my area btw, with some social distancing restrictions.
 
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Jun 11, 2020 at 6:32 PM Post #30 of 86

ADUHF

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I wouldn't. Best is simply too broad, an almost erroneous word. What is the best car? What is the best wine? Etc. If someone is seeking anything even approaching an objective discussion/comparison (in what is an extremely subjective topic) then a more specific descriptor than "best" will need to be used. However the net will always be inundated with what is the best ...........................requests.

I can understand your opinion on this, Kernmac. But I think you may be tryin to read a little too much into this question.
 
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