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End-game closed-back recommendations

  1. Luke Redgen
    Hi Guys,

    First time poster, please be gentle. :) I have been doing a lot of Google/Head-Fi Forum based searching to determine the best options for the best possible closed-back set-up between the 2k-3k AUD range ($1596-$2393 USD) to replace my current portable solutions. I bought a pair of Shure SRH-1540s based partly on similar research but find that they sound bad at high volume even though I do like them a lot.

    I figure it might help to include the type of music I'm wanting to mostly listen to and some of my other preferences. I have eclectic tastes so something versatile but with a focus on Hip-Hop/R'n'B (here sub-bass presence is more important than 'slam', something the SRH-1540 is good at until it reaches too high a volume), alternative rock and indie and electronic music (again, deeper is more important than impactful). The SRH-1540 has a great sound signature and is surprisingly the headphone I think has the best soundstage compared even to the two open back models I own, but I'm looking for better bass authority at high volumes and a brighter sound since the SRH-1540 to me sounds rolled off and muted and can be boring and clinical at times. Most importantly, it suffers greatly at high volumes, hence the reason I want to upgrade.

    In addition to the SRH-1540, I have Momentum 2.0 which has a somewhat congested soundstage, the bass is lacking and I actually find the treble fatiguing on certain high pitch drum sounds which led me to purchase the ATH-M50x as I found it terrible for rap/hip-hop. The ATH-M50x sounds muddy and veiled to me although I really do like the bass on it and the treble is OK, but the mids are lacking probably more so than all of my headphones.

    I have two pairs of open-backs, the Grado SR225E apart from being horribly uncomfortable sounds nice but despite being completely open lacks soundstage and is extremely bright without as much bass as I might like. The most preferable headphones I own are my Oppo PM-1s which I really like the bass presence on and can get very loud and maintain perfect composure. Soundstage again would be my only complaint.

    So yeah, TL;DR I am looking for a closed-back headphone with great bass authority, a broad soundstage (well, as much as you can with a closed-back headphone), a bit brighter than the SRH-1540 for excitement and is able to be turned up loud. My shortlist are the Audeze LCD-XC, MrSpeaker Ether C Flow, Fostex TH900 and possibly the HiFiMan Edition X v2. Let me know you're suggestions, if you need any more info and thanks for anyone who can lend a hand.
  2. Luke Redgen
    Also should probably add that I'm interested in DAP/Amp pairings. I bought a Cayin C5 to downgrade my FiiO x5iii down in the input chain to transport given that to my ears the x5 has pretty lousy SQ properties. Considering a desktop option like a Schitt amp/dac or a new DAP like the A&K Kann. If I do upgrade it'll come out of that budget though.
  3. serman005
    What is your budget for the amp and DAP and/or DAC?
    I like your list of possibilities for headphones. I would add to it the ZMF Atticus (serious bass) or Eikon. Maybe you have already read about them. If not, you might do so and see what you think. One of them might just work for you.
  4. Luke Redgen
    My budget for the headphones and the Amp/DAC is, let's say, $1500-2500USD. That means if I spend more on the Amp/DAC I'd be potentially spending less on the headphones and vice-versa.

    I haven't read much about them so I'll check them out, thanks for the advice. :) Will update with my thoughts when I've done some research. Part of my desire to research as completely as possible is that living in Melbourne, Australia I'm not necessarily going to be able to test before I buy so I want to be as absolutely thorough as possible if Jaben or anybody else hasn't got one I can try.
  5. serman005
    Look forward to your thoughts.
  6. Luke Redgen
    They sound very interesting, although two headphones that sound like they both have a whole lot of advantages that interest me unique to each is kinda cruel for someone trying to narrow his options down to one. :ksc75smile: (these emojis are weird).

    I like the sound of the Atticus with its big bass and controlled treble but also the Eikon with its interesting technology and more detailed sound but my big concern is that they seem to be semi-open. I should probably also point out that I want to use them in an office environment so some sound leakage is alright but too much sound leakage is probably a deal-breaker. Do you own either/both? I gather the Atticus is forgiving, musical and warm with lots of bass but maybe not as much detail and clarity as LCD-XC or their Eikon. To me that's appealing since it sounds like its also more versatile genre wise. Excessive detail especially in treble are the main reasons I'm willing to fork out so much cash to replace my Momentum 2.0s/SRH-1540 as my daily driver.
  7. banco-sg
    End game closed back? I would say Sony Z1R, it is totally awesome. Pretty much ticks all your boxes, It has great bass, good 3d soundstage, the only problem it is a warm can. So you might want to try it out first.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
  8. Ra97oR
    I would say Z1R is a good choice. It very open sounding for a closed back, with a very satisfying bass.

    Just make sure you pair it with a system with good control. It might sound a bit bloated if the front end is too warm and soft.
  9. banco-sg
    Yes, but if you listen to mostly vocal heavy, they will sound really smooth and sweet.
  10. serman005
    No, I do not own either, but have had a chance to hear them.
  11. kombucha
    I've done similar research but with no real plan to spend the money anytime soon. The TH900 and Z1R are the first two I would try if I got serious, based on everything I've read.
  12. Luke Redgen
    The Z1R sounds very interesting. It blows up a fair amount of my budget but that's fine so long as I can find a DAC/Amp pairing that suits it for like 700 bucks which I think I could do with a Schiit stack. Let's assume that I went the Z1R route, what amp/DAC would people suggest as a good pairing? I'm keen on a portable option but I am coming around to the notion that if I want to get serious I should probably have a desktop solution.
  13. banco-sg
    Z1R is very easy to drive, so you don't really need to find a very beefy amp. Personally i use ZH1ES dac/amp, but it might be too soft/warm to your liking. If you want something more neutral with more attack (and of course, decent pricing), i suggest you to go for iFi iDSD Black Label. I tested the pair and it sounds great too. On a plus side, the dac/amp is actually portable, or rather transportable (it has battery).
  14. Luke Redgen
    So I know I disappeared on this thread I started, in the end I needed to re-budget but I am now ready to purchase, and now I'm getting a little nervous about dropping a lot of money without being disappointed like I was with the SRH-1540. Naturally headphones are somewhat subjective but reading about the Z1R a lot of late, and reading the Inner Fidelity review and the Head-Fi thread on the headphones makes me worry a little about possible treble spikes and distortion at loud volumes, both of which I find to be issues with the SRH-1540.

    Since the ZMF is kinda hard to import to Aus I have narrowed down to the TH-900mk2 or the Z1R. The TH-900 is $1700 and the Z1R is $2k. Price isn't really my sticking point, but it's worth noting. Which is the safer bet? I would love to test them but it's not feasible around here unfortunately.
  15. ctaxxxx
    You're using it in an office environment? Having owned the TH-900 in the past, I would recommend against those. The isolation is not the best for a closed back imo. Though with the higher treble emphasis, it guess it would be more suitable for lower volume listening...

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