Closed-back Headphones ~$300 Budget
May 7, 2017 at 7:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 11

thefifthgiant

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I'm looking for a new pair of headphones for use at work and on the go. My current set is a pair of Ath-m50s (old model, not m50x) that I bought around 6 years ago. I was really happy with them for a long time, but I eventually stopped using them due to discomfort. They are a little to bulky and heavy for me, with a lot of clamping force, and the pleather pads got too hot after listening for several hours. Last week, I decided to try upgrading the pads with a set of brainwavz hybrid pleather/velour pads. Comfort was greatly improved, as my ears were no longer in contact with the larger pads, and the velour ring around the edge made them much cooler. Overall, it was much better despite the fact that the thicker pads increased the clamping force. I even noticed improvements in the sound, because the sound-stage seemed more open than before. The problem however, was that the bass completely vanished! I'm not a huge bass head, but I appreciate some punch, and there were several songs where I could't even hear the bass lines in the song anymore. I have heard that others have had the same problem with these pads, but I assumed that they were exaggerating, and were just bass heads. Anyway, long story short I am in the market for some new phones, for around $300 or less.

My wishlist includes:
- Closed-back design (I need to be able to use at work and on a plane)
- easy to drive (I have an ipod classic that I use on the go, and I would like to be able to use these without having to carry around a portable amp as well.)
- large earpads (I didn't like how the m50s pressed on my ears despite being "over-ear")
- Velour/fabric pads, if for breathe-ability, removable is preferred as well
- removable cable (or at least one that isn't 10 feet long like the m50s)

Sound wise, I am happy with the quality of the M50s, but for my price range I am hoping to be able to step it up the sound quality a bit. I have been looking at a few different options, but I am having trouble finding a the right combo or comfort and sound in a closed-back design. I was looking at the Beyerdynamic DT770 pros for the large/comfortable pads, but I am not sure about the sound quality and size compared to the M50s, and seem to have many different versions of varying sound quality and a long, non-replaceable cable. I also looked at the oppo pm3, but they are a bit out of my price range and they don't have removable pads. I have heard good things about the Sony MDR1A too, but it seems that the build quality may be a little cheap, and may be overpriced. Of course there is also Sennheiser, but all of the usual recommendations are open-back.

Sorry for the novel, just hoping that someone would have some insight. I have a feeling that my wishlist is too specific for my budget, but please prove me wrong! Cheers
 
May 7, 2017 at 8:31 PM Post #3 of 11

PL4Y3R 0N3

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Other than the velour pads the Meze 99 Classics should fit the bill here. Sound wise they are a nice step up, comfort wise as well. They have never been hot on me either, but YMMV.
 
May 7, 2017 at 8:52 PM Post #4 of 11

serman005

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There are not a lot of closed options in this price range, unfortunately. There are even fewer with velour pads, sadly. As @PL4Y3R ON3 suggested, your best sonic option is probably the MEZE 99 Classics. I know some owners have played with the pads and you might look into that to see if people have swapped out for velour or not. I am unsure. If you must have velour, you may be looking at a DT770. Your question about velour pads and bass response is generally speaking, true. Bass response is usually better with the better-isolating leather and pleather. The DT770 are sort of an exception to this rule. You might also check out the Kingston HyperX Cloud II. It has in the past had a cloth option.
 
May 7, 2017 at 10:04 PM Post #5 of 11

thefifthgiant

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Both the HP50 and the 99 classic look like good options, they are new to me and I'll definitely look into them both. Has anyone had experience with both of these headphones? how does their overall comfort compare?

There are not a lot of closed options in this price range, unfortunately. There are even fewer with velour pads, sadly. As @PL4Y3R ON3 suggested, your best sonic option is probably the MEZE 99 Classics. I know some owners have played with the pads and you might look into that to see if people have swapped out for velour or not. I am unsure. If you must have velour, you may be looking at a DT770. Your question about velour pads and bass response is generally speaking, true. Bass response is usually better with the better-isolating leather and pleather. The DT770 are sort of an exception to this rule. You might also check out the Kingston HyperX Cloud II. It has in the past had a cloth option.

Yes, that has unfortunately been my experience looking online. It seems that there isn't a huge market for the type of headphone I am describing. In fact, I have heard others say that there is no point in spending $300 on closed headphones at all, because it is a waste. Would I be better off just going with something cheaper for my needs?
 
May 7, 2017 at 10:30 PM Post #6 of 11

serman005

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Right. That depends on whether you think the DT770 might work for you or not. I must say, its treble is a wee bit strident for me. It really is v-shaped at its core. That said, if you think it will work, then you are done. If you don't, then maybe opening up the lower part of your budget could help create more options. You are in a bit of a pickle. ---(
 
May 8, 2017 at 7:02 PM Post #7 of 11

thefifthgiant

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Right. That depends on whether you think the DT770 might work for you or not. I must say, its treble is a wee bit strident for me. It really is v-shaped at its core. That said, if you think it will work, then you are done. If you don't, then maybe opening up the lower part of your budget could help create more options. You are in a bit of a pickle. ---(
Well, it not so much that I am unwilling to lower my budget, it's just that I am willing to go up to $300 in order to upgrade from my current set. If there is a cheaper pair that meet my needs, I will definitely consider it! I have been looking into the meze 99 classic, and was thinking that I might pull the trigger on those in a week or so after some more research. (Un)fortunately for me, I just found out about the 99 neo model that is coming out this year. The black color is more my style, and the $60 USD price drop is certainly attractive, so I might wait until they come out and hear more peoples impressions on how they sound compared to the classics. It's a little disappointing having to wait now that I was prepared for new phones right away :), but it seems that they are coming out soon (did they miss the original launch date?). I will keep looking in the meantime, but at the moment, it seems that the dt770 is my lower budget option, and the 99 Neo/classic may be my "higher end" option. If anyone has any more suggestions i'd love to hear them. I'm impressed by how helpful the users are on this forum!
 
May 8, 2017 at 8:33 PM Post #8 of 11

buke9

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I had the HP-50's for about a week. My problem is the bottom of the cup would no swivel down on the bottom to make a seal. I don't think I have a gargantuan head but they would not seal unless I pulled the adjustment all the way up and the headband was a inch from the top of my head. They did sound really good but the fit was too much to ignore. That was over two years ago so it is hard to compare sound. The Meze fit so much better and if you don't mind the inner part of the cup touching your ear you will be good. Some people freak out if thier ear is touching anything so just a warning.
 
May 9, 2017 at 7:12 AM Post #9 of 11

thefifthgiant

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I had the HP-50's for about a week. My problem is the bottom of the cup would no swivel down on the bottom to make a seal. I don't think I have a gargantuan head but they would not seal unless I pulled the adjustment all the way up and the headband was a inch from the top of my head. They did sound really good but the fit was too much to ignore. That was over two years ago so it is hard to compare sound. The Meze fit so much better and if you don't mind the inner part of the cup touching your ear you will be good. Some people freak out if thier ear is touching anything so just a warning.
Ok, good to know. Comfort is one of the biggest things I am looking for in a new set, and it seems that others have found the hp-50s uncomfortable as well.
 
May 10, 2017 at 5:15 PM Post #10 of 11

thefifthgiant

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Just a quick update, I have decided to return the velour earpads I bought in favor of the full pleather ones from brainwavz for my M50s. There is a chance that they will work out better than the ones I initially picked, and tide me over until I find a suitable replacement. I figure that if I am somewhat happy, I am less likely to blow my money before I put in the proper research :) I'm sure everybody here can relate to acquiring more gear than may be needed at one time!
 
May 10, 2017 at 6:14 PM Post #11 of 11

buke9

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It's your money after all so take as much time as you need.
 

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