ESW9 or HFI780 for metal/trip-hop/electro ?
Jul 26, 2010 at 3:41 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5


New Head-Fier
Jul 22, 2010
Hi !
This is my first post on this forum I've been reading for a month now, glad to finally join this community. I'm a french reader of Head-Fi, and will probably stay there for a moment !
But first, I'll begin as many, by a question, even I read tons of posts to find my answer before that : I actually own an AKG K450, and would like to find a new headphone for a great sound improvement.
Here are some information that could be useful :
- Music listened : Metal (Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Fear Factory, Nine Inch Nails or Faith No More), Trip-Hop (Massive Attack, Ez3kiel and mainly european bands) or Electro (Trentemoller, Vitalic, Daft Punk...)
As a drummer, I enjoy listening to drums details, the AKG K450 was quite good for this job. Tried the Sennheiser HD25 recently, it was also excellent, but I'm not a huge fan of it's design.
- MP3 players : iPhone 4 (main), Sansa Fuze (don't really want to use it), no amp
- Encoding : most of my albums are in ALAC (encoded with XLD on Mac) from FLAC files and original albums, VBR 320, and maybe some crappy CBR 128 somewhere
- Use : work, travel, street
- Max budget : 300$
I'm actually hesitating between the Audio Technica ESW9 and the Ultrasone HFI 780. I read a lot on both of these headphones, and I still have some questions :
- Will the ESW9 be nervous enough to listen to my kind of music ? I read that it could be "muddy" and warmer than other headphones 
For example, will the drums be muddy for bands like Opeth (track "Lotus Eater") or Fear Factory (track "Powershifter") ? I read it could be ok for rock, so it only concerns this kind of "speed" bands.
- Will the HFI 780 be comfortable enough to listen metal for few hours ?
As I read on HeadFi, it seems to be more adapted for metal (and close to the HD 25 sound), but even if I like a powerful sound, comfort is also important. I don't want to have a too "metallic" sound, or something hard to wear more than an hour. Moreover, this headphone seems really interesting with an ALO mod, but I'd prefer buying something nice without modding it.
Both are close in terms of price (300$ for the ESW9 and 260$ for the HFI 780, shipping included), so my choice will only consider accuracy (for the drums mainly), and comfort.
Thanks for having read this looong post/question, and thanks in advance for your help !
Hope you'll understand what I tried to write, feel free to ask for more explanations 

Jul 26, 2010 at 10:35 AM Post #2 of 5
You can read the reviews of ESW9 here , Hfi 780 are more suitable for you as they are more aggresive, IMO . ESW9 are warmer , they couldn't play fast-paced music well .But HFI 780 S-logic sound is quite unique , you'll either like it , or hate it . For HFi 780 comfort issue , you can get the DT250 velour pads.
Jul 26, 2010 at 10:54 AM Post #3 of 5
I don't listen to that kind of music but I believe the ESW9 to be rapid enough. It's got a warm touch, but it's an excellent all-rounder, amped or not. Calling it "muddy" isn't really fair. If the statement was made compared to more expensive and neutral phones, I'd take the argument, but not else.
I looked at the ultrasones once but I was discouraged with the S-Logic. Haven't heard it so my fear may be unfounded.
Jul 26, 2010 at 11:24 AM Post #4 of 5
Thanks for your replies !
Indeed the HFI 780 was (at first) the most suitable for what I listen. I had 2 problems with - cable lenght and comfort - but it seems to be solved (sold with a shorter cable and DT250 velour pads available).
blueyan & rob, you still have 2 different point of view, it just make me hesitate a bit more 

Before having a third answer (or a word from someone listening to the same music), I'll keep reading what I can concerning these 2 headphones !
There's also a matter of design : the HFI780 seems to be made of metal-like plastic, don't know how it'll last compared to wood
Aug 4, 2010 at 5:47 PM Post #5 of 5
An update, the day I received the HFI 780 I bought to CspotJwalk on this forum.
The difference with my AKG K450 is amazing, on lossless tracks (from metal to electro), I truly love it, even if (at first) there are tons of bass, maybe too much for some music. Some EQ settings may be useful, sometimes.
Thanks blueyan then, it was a good choice for the kind of music I listen to.
I've also read some posts concerning the Fiio E7, and was wondering if it could be useful with this HFI ? Will I get a real SQ increase (from an iPhone 4 and lossless music), something I could clearly hear ?
I don't want to spend much more money on a portable amp for now, and the reviews (here and on anythingbutipod) are quite positive for $85 amp.
Thanks for advices or answers !

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