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Closed full-sized headphones for extended time listening

  1. Kazz123
    Hi head-fi, long time lurker here.

    I'm looking for non-fatiguing over-ear closed-back headphones for up to 300$ for daily listening at work - I pretty much work while constantly listening to music, so like 6-8 hours per day. Previously had the option to use speakers, which I prefer, but the office situation changed and I am in a shared space now, hence the need for this thread.

    Priorities lie in comfort and sound quality. Don't care about the looks or materials they are made of. I will drive them with a proper table-top amp, so impedance is no prob either. Sound isolation is not that important - the office is noisy enough for any closed-back to suffice. Open backs would be too much leakage and will disturb those around me of course. I own a pair of DT-880s, which are technically semi-open but in reality leak as much as any open pair.

    As far as sound signature goes, I usually listen to music with either my JBL LSR-305 monitors, so very neutral sound, or DT-880, so a bit V-shaped but not too far from neutral. Also own the Focal Spirit Classic (which are not comfortable for my head, so if anyone wants them I'm selling haha), so I don't mind a bit of warmth.
    I'm OK with any nice sound as long as the signature doesn't have overbearing spikes that are obviously unpleasant. Anything is alright if all the frequencies are there to a good enough level.

    Unfortunately no demo possibilities where I live, so gotta base decisions off of descriptions and reviews. So far my research resulted these options:
    • Sony MDR 1-A. Comfort is said to be great, sound as well. They look hella fine too.
    • Sennheiser HD598 Cs. All good, although they look bulky af haha, and not too many reviews around.
    • AKG K550. Don't mind the big size since my head and ears are not of the small variety.
    • AKG K271. Second pair of AKGs, not sure how they compare with 550.
    • Fostex T50RP MK3 with a pair of third party pads. Not a fan of modding tbh, but who knows.
    Of course, open to any alternatives. It's just the threads about these particular pairs sparked my interest judging by the descriptions. If something from this list is clearly a worse choice in your opinion, let me know.

    If someone has personal experience with any of those, especially if you owned different ones and can compare, I'd love some feedback.

    Thanks in advance!! :)

    P.S. Yes, used the search. Yes, there have been some threads like this, but most are old and not very comprehensive. Plus my needs are somehow super specific.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  2. serman005
    Interesting that you posted as I was just listening to a very nice Verdi Requiem from the Amsterdam Concertgebou recorded in January. Small world. In your price range my preference would be for the MEZE 99 Classics, (296 euros on amazon.de).. Slightly warmish, very detailed, and beautifully made. Definitely worth checking out. If you want to spend less, I would add the SoundMAGIC HP151, which is absolutely terrific and a steal at its price. Also, definitely work looking into. I am not a fan of the HD598CS--I would prefer the K550 and the SONY. Haven't heard an un-modded T50RP MK3 so can't say. Haven't heard the other AKG, sorry.
    Kazz123 likes this.
  3. cossix
    +1 for Meze 99. I would stay away from the MDR 1A, I tried a friend's pair for a week and the build quality wasn't great, the earcups were very shallow, and the bass was muddy.

    Btw how do you like the LSR305? I'm planning on getting some soon :)
    Kazz123 likes this.
  4. god-bluff
    You are unlikely to beat the Focal Spirit Classic for sound, significantly . Keep them and get used to the fit. It does improve especially when the headband starts inevitably cracking :frowning2:

    Edit l. Actually if they are still intact sell them while you still can and maybe try the Focal Listen?!?? Can't imagine it sounds better but may be more robust with slightly bigger pads I believe
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  5. Monsterzero
    I will toss a darkhorse candidate into the fray....

    Sennheiser HD250 Linear 1 or linear 2

    Highly overlooked and forgotten gem...Only possible negatives are finding one and they def need an amp.

    Picked up one on a whim recenty for 75.00 including shipping and I can say with a straight face I much prefer it to HD600 or 650.
    Kazz123 likes this.
  6. Kazz123
    Heard of them and they do seem interesting, if only the design wasn't so flashy haha. Maybe the Neo can be an option.

    Yep, some people definitely mentioned the lack of bass clarity. Will probably not get them then.
    Haha, yep, and that makes me so sad. If only there was a way to make these a little more comfortable. Now I'm stuck with a choice between comfortable cans that all would not sound as good. In my case I guess I am ready to trade a bit of the sound quality for comfort. If my usual listening session wasn't so lengthy wouldn't even think of selling these or exchanging them for something else. Actually I might get used to the Focals with time, in any case I can't even post in the sell/trade forums for quite a while, maybe I'll change my mind by then haha.

    Huh, never even heard of them. At first I thought they are the DT250, but realized you said Sennheiser and that it's a totally different pair. Will def look into them, thanks for the tip.
  7. Kazz123
    They're great! Amazingly neutral sound, surgical precision in the highs, and for a speaker of the size these go very low. Also, never heard such a clearly defined ghost center channel from any monitors, the fancy waveguides really do their job. Luckily could demo and compare when I was planning to buy them, preferred them so much to all the alternatives - HS5s have no low end, KRKs have no high end, Adam A3X were a close second but a little less bass so they would need a sub. Couldn't recommend these more.
    cossix likes this.
  8. Danielbea122
    Sony mdr 1a hands down my fave closed back. I bought them twice because I gave my cousin my first pair when he went off to school and needed closed back.

    Kazz123 and Intensecure like this.
  9. god-bluff
    A headphone that sounds nearly as good as the Classic (some people who haven't owned both may say sound better; not me; but it certainly has a bigger soundstage) is the original Beyer 'Tank' the DT150

    cheap as chips, ugly as sin and built like err..Tank.

    The HD250 is certainly supposed to be one of the best closed backs. They're hard to find and usually snapped by Graham Slee fans in the UK for big money. I may however be able to aquire a pair as new in the next couple of weeks!
    Malfunkt likes this.
  10. Monsterzero
    I hadnt heard of them til recently either. I belong to a vintage audio forum and a member over there was selling a pair of Sennheiser 250s for 75.00,so I Googled them and could only find this thread.

    Clearly not many know about them,or figure that since theyre old,they must suck.....WRONG!

    They come in 300 and 600 ohm variety and will need an amp,but damn they sound good and are worth the extra effort to acquire a pair.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
    Malfunkt likes this.
  11. gemNeye
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
    Monsterzero likes this.
  12. mgc468
    I just got a set of meze 99 classics myself. Definitely worth a look. Quite pleased for the money
  13. Malfunkt
    I use headphones a ton while working.

    Regarding the HD250, they are old, but if you get one in good condition you are golden. Hard to say whether the Mk 1 or 2 is better or 300ohm vs 600ohm. I can say it ticks your boxes of not having any spikes. The bass is fairly strong but balanced and the highs soft yet still present - even more so than the HD650. These headphones are very light and it's easy to get after market cables and pads.

    It's a bit of coincidence that a few of us on your thread are familiar with them.

    The K271 is quite a nice headphone. I had an old mk1 over a decade ago. Light on bass.

    The Fostex THx00 and related series of headphone are very good if you want a bit more bass push.

    K550 is a fine choice but can be hard to get a seal.

    For common headphones available at department stores, Sennheiser Momentum 2 wired is quite fine, again no offensive spikes. Fairly portable too.
    Kazz123 likes this.
  14. Kazz123
    Haha What. I guess it makes sense as a collectible because of the brand-new condition, but pragmatically a used good condition would probably be the same in terms of sound and way cheaper.

    Thanks for the advice Malfunkt. Very helpful in my choice. Some digging and I found a guy selling a pair of first-gen HD250 600 Ohm with new earpads for a bit under 100. Thinking it might be good to buy them. Are these the ones you have experience with or the MK2?

    Heard them at a store, not my cup of tea at all unfortunately. Actually was slightly surprised by both the price and how highly some people regard them. Almost on-ear, and the sound wasn't that impressive somehow. Of course they probably fit some people's tastes.[/QUOTE]
  15. Malfunkt
    Yes, have a Linear Mk 1 600ohm. For $100 that's very good and well worth it. It is also better from a frequency presentation standpoint than the Momentum. The headphone was designed as a true studio headphone. Sennheiser's more modern replacements such as the HD280 aren't nearly as good as the HD250. The HD280 is actually cheaper and more plasticky (both in sound and feel).
    Kazz123 likes this.

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