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Darker leaning neutral headphones for monitoring?

  1. Not Yet
    I'm not a headphone kind of person but every once in a while I buy a pair thinking I may found my match, but I am really never pleased. The last time I was here was a long time ago, maybe 2 years? Here’s what I’ve tried so far:
    • KRK KNS-8400: detail level to the extreme, extremely forward sounding, makes bad masters sound horrendous, needs a full seal so no go with glasses.
    • Audio Technica MSR7: too bright... just not what I think of when I want to listen to music. Does strange things to songs like Coldplay – Birds. I dug up my old post here on them and I literally wrote "I want darker" and "more neutral" in response to them.
    • Monster NCredible N-Pulse: I got these for free and they are the Monster brand, so I was expecting them to be horrible but surprisingly they aren’t too bad. They are unnaturally bass boosted, but it’s a fun dark sound that works with some music like Britney's "Glory" album.
    • Samson HP10: I also received these for free, but they are pretty terrible quality. I reserve them for podcasts or unimportant things.
    This time I bought the Beyerdynamic DT 880 (250ohms, the special edition chrome one, which looks great BTW, why is there not as many posts about this when I was looking them up?). I was looking for neutral headphones that weren’t too expensive. I want neutral because I have Bitwig Studio and some audio things, so I want an accurate representation when I work with them. I have zero experience with open headphones though, so I was primarily concerned with how loud the audio they would leak would be. Another family member has basically active listening all the damn time and living with them is a nightmare as a result. Anyways, the DT 880 are semi open so I thought that was a good middle ground and there looks to not be many semi-open headphones on the market.

    First impression: these are a bit bright, but maybe I can get used to them. It's much easier to hear reverb trails and how things decay, as well as make out a lot more detail than I have with my speakers. They make the DAT Politics album "Wow Twist" sound incredible. They don’t leak that much noise either which I like, and now I am quite interested in fully open headphones to see what those would be like.

    After some time: there is a hollowness to these that is off-putting. I’ve heard before that singers want to be "on top" of their track, but with these, I find the opposite - the vocal range has a tendency to recede or just not feel entirely right. One example of this is the Atlas Genius - A Perfect End or Ariana Grande - Greedy. And about the brightness - I am not a brightness fan, but it's not just brightness that bothers me, it's the relationship of the treble to the mids in these headphones. It's like they're too close, but not in a good way, or there is some “air” boost that is ****ing with my head. If I were to just bump the treble up (like the 10k+ range) even more and make it extreme, that should make it worse, but it at least gives more separation between the highs and mids. Right now I feel like the mid? treble rides above the mids in a way that highlights their lack of body. Running them through Toneboosters Morphit also kinda confirms my suspicions as it corrects them by increasing bass and giving them some mid range.

    Amping: How much difference does an amp make? I bought a CEntrance DACport HD but it will take a while to get here given it’s MassDrop. Right now I’ve only used my phone (HTC 10), which can drive them ok, as well as my computer’s headphone port surprisingly. I have to have both at max or near max most of the time, but the actual volume is better than I thought it would be.

    Others?: Are there other heaphones for music production similar to the DT 880, but not as bright or slightly dark? I say similar to because these are a good price point, comfortable (strangely a bit loose at times however), and don’t leak tons of sound like I expected. I’d be down for fully open ones now though if they are similar in the sound leakage department. The sound of the DT 880s right is really not how I expected or remember music if I were to play it in my head. It'd imagine there must be something out there for me though since every company's interpretation of "neutral" varies and there is no perfect headphone yet. I feel like the pickiest person out there, but I also seem to be sensitive to treble.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  2. Rvl1
    I use Sony mdr-cd900st , Senn Hd595 , Akg k712
    Hooked up to my mixers for monitoring
    The cd900st is probably the best because it is closed , on ear type

    But I havent done any recording recently so there might be newer ones available
    But the Sony has been and probably still the standard in all the Japanese studios I ever went to
  3. ScareDe2
    Darker leaning neutral, that is the definition of a Sennheiser HD650 I think.
    audiobomber likes this.
  4. audiobomber
    That was my thought as well. The OP's wish list sounds like a description of the HD 650, both the fit and sound.
  5. buke9
    If you are in a different room monitoring then I guess but I would want a closed back if I’m in the room music is being made as it could certainly be picked up on mics unless it is electronic instruments then ok.
  6. PurpleAngel Contributor
  7. Not Yet
    Thanks for your responses guys! I'll definitely be looking at the HD650, like if I can get a deal on it on black Friday because it is up there in price. I've also done some additional research too, because you know how idealization works. HIFIMAN Sundara, Audio-Technica ATH-R70x, Shure SRH1840/1440.

    It looks like HIFIMAN has could be superior with it's planar magnetic design, but has a history of quality control with things breaking.

    The Audio Technica is also interesting to me because it's also a reference style headphone that isn't talked about much but looks to compete with the HD600/650, but with a lower MSRP and is newer.

    I'm just working in the box. I don't have any passion or knowledge where I'd get to the point of open headphones getting in the way lol. I'm not even a musician.
  8. PurpleAngel Contributor
  9. PointyFox
    The AKG K7XX is like a HD650 but cheaper.
  10. audiobomber
    The Massdrop 6XX is the same as the HD 650 at a much lower price, You may be able to find one second-hand.
    You asked if an amp can make a difference, and the answer is yes, absolutely. So can the DAC and even cables. You should wait for your new DAC/amp to arrive so you can evaluate the DT 880 with the new gear.
  11. PurpleAngel Contributor
    I like my HD58X, better then my K7XX (IMHO)
  12. PointyFox
    I haven't tried it, but I did like the K7XX better than my HD600 :)
  13. Not Yet
    I'm too much of a little ***** to wait, and the HD6XX happened to be on massdrop now for 13 hours more when I saw it so I took the plunge.

    I thought to myself "two pairs is probably excessive, especially with no amp here yet", but I've already sold the other 2 pairs I didn't like on eBay in the past. What's adding one more to the list!? At least I'll have one more point of reference even if things go south.

    When I get my amp, I might see if I can just drive to guitar center and try some display models if they have any out.
  14. PurpleAngel Contributor
    I'm assuming the K7XX's wider surround sound is one of the reasons for liking the K7XX, over the HD600?
  15. Not Yet
    Hi Guys.

    I’m back. Shortly after I posted here a couple days ago, I my DACport HD arrived, and then just today, my HD6XX! I know I am just le headphone amateur, however I thought I would update the thread incase anybody was interested and also just as a way to document my own experiences. I’ve also realized how good a site like this is still around. A lot of niche forums have been overtaken by Facebook or Reddit or another modern social media platform, but they never manage to capture the original spirit of a dedicated forum. I still remember what it was like before everything became consolidated and then mainstream. Good thing Head-Fi is still around.

    First thoughts on the DACport HD with DT 880 special edition
    • Immediately noticed: the headphone is more “forced” sounding, in that the bass and midrange seems to be more present or “solid”. Something is going on, but not sure how to explain it.
    • The brightness of the headphone is still present; however it doesn’t seem to be as highlighted or given the room to really stand out as the dominant characteristic
    • Gotta run it in high gain. Low gain is doable but even a bit quieter than my motherboard! I would say that low gain has a brighter, less forced sound however, on high gain it “beefs” things up at the expense of “forcedfulness”. Perfect track that references this is the chorus of Ariana Grande – Into You. Those sparkly chimes during the chorus are not so easy to hear when in high gain.
    I’m surprised that it has made a difference like this. I thought it was mainly just going to amplify the sound and that’s it. I’ve realized there is a slight brightness to my motherboard’s audio (Realtek ALC887) after trying out the DACport HD. It's something you notice in reverb trails and is something that is not easy to put my finger on, it’s just a little more spacious and brighter. I would say it’s a good thing Realtek implemented though, as it really is minimal enough to not draw attention to itself, but it probably helps a lot of consumer equipment “sound better” without going overboard. Like I said, I was surprised how well my motherboard’s integrated audio drove both of these headphones and while they are different, they are not drastically different than the DACport HD.

    Thoughts on HD6XX:
    • Damn, these are TIGHT. Shape seems better on the HD6XX, whereas pressure and materials on the DT880. Still, I wonder how fast these will get uncomfortable? A lot of headphones sit directly on my face bones, I have a thinner face.
    • First noticed: Mid-rangey compared to DT 880. Vocals and in general things sound “up”.
    • Sound signature reminds me of speakers. I have the JBL LSR305 speakers (untreated room though, so take with a grain of salt) and while they are highly rated, I’ve also heard they are a bit mid centric. These HD6XX are in the same vein, but perhaps a little more lower mid centric
    • I would say these sound similar to how I remember music in my mind, however with what sounds like EQ “congestion”. It's that midrange or lower midrange I just mentioned.
    • These are lot more “3D” sounding compared to the DT 880. They just sound a bit more projected in multiple dimensions (probably due to the fully open design vs semi-open).
    • They are dark compared to the DT 880, however not in the way I expected. When I talk say dark, I mean pitch black. Metaphor time: Night, dead of the night, dead silent, or a cool nature, like one’s “professional” mask you put on when going to work. I’m talking sub bass, the stuff that really gives bassline EDM life, that slap that you can FEEL, or the ridiculous lows you hear in rap from time to time. The darkness here, it is brown, not black. So I hear it is as smoothness and lean away from bright, but not a depth (dark).
    • I guess what really meant to say is I want a neutral headphone with a sub bass boost. I often feel like the subs are what is missing in audio and want just them to be raised only.
    • Really, the HD6XX is more speaker-like and smooth, whereas the DT 880 has that analytical nature to it, but also sounds recessed and “wrong”. I would say the DT 880 is the cliché way I originally thought of headphones, like “They’re not superior to speakers at all, but I can hear all the details now!!!!!!1!!”
    • I mentioned DAT Politics before and I have to bring them up again. I now am convinced their WOW Twist album was done using a system with some system brightness. “What’s DAT?” from that album does not translate as nicely to the HD6XX. It has some videogame-esq synths that take way better to DT 880 and and sound sharper and better in every way, like it was just meant to be, it's obvious. With the HD6XX they are just there, flatter.
    I am definitely glad I got the MassDrop HD6XX to try. I would say that they are a lot better than the DT 880 for me. The DT 880 is slightly cheaper, feels better, more convenient case, leaks less sound, and looks nicer, however it’s brightness makes it sound off for extended listening and that is really what we buy headphones for.

    I think I’m gonna just go down the rabbit hole further till I find a perfect headphone though (without breaking the bank!) Right now, the HD6XX is good but the warmness doesn't fit everything I listen to, like "Dance to This" video below. I listen to mainly top 40 (female vocal) pop and various electronic music (experimental, progressive, bassline, minimal), however I want something that is also in the reference/neutral category. I think I'm going to see if I can get the Audiotecnica R70X if it's on sale.

    bit too warm with HD6XX

    Terrible source though,but to give you an idea. Suits DT880 better. So kawaii
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018

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