First audiophile headphone recommendations
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propeng

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Hello, I have only recently found out about Head-Fi and the wonderful world of audiophilia, and I was wondering if there's anything I can do to improve my listening experience without having to spend too much. I am currently using a pair of Roccat Kave 5.1 headphones that are probably mediocre at best for music, and not a huge improvement over normal stereo headphones for gaming (their directionality is only very slightly better than most other headphones IMO), paired up with a Xonar DG sound card.
 
I mostly listen to pop, rock, smooth jazz and a bit of dubstep from time to time. I was considering getting the Sennheiser HD 558, but I'm still a bit hesitant because of all the reviews I've read of people complaining about how inadequate the bass is on the 558's. (I am not a basshead and I do realize there are lots of other factors I should be considering other than the bass.) I also don't think I'll be doing the foam mod anytime soon. Are these headphones good enough for those genres or should I get something with a little bit better sound quality without going over my $200 budget? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
 
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NA Blur

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Some headphones that come to mind:
 
1.)  Sennheiser HD-449
http://www.headphone.com/headphones/sennheiser-hd-449.php
Average Price: $120 US
 
2.)  Audio Technica ATH-M50
http://www.headphone.com/headphones/audio-technica-ath-m50sle.php
Average Price: $135 US
 
3.)  Audio Technica ATH-AD900
http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-57-headphones-compared-update-hifiman-he-400-added-12-24-12#user_ATHAD900
Average Price; $250 US
 
Be sure to check out Tyll Hertsens' "Wall of Fame"
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/innerfidelitys-wall-fame
 
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Quote:
I mostly listen to pop, rock, smooth jazz and a bit of dubstep from time to time. I was considering getting the Sennheiser HD 558, but I'm still a bit hesitant because of all the reviews I've read of people complaining about how inadequate the bass is on the 558's.
 
"Inadequate" doesn't describe it. The '558 doesn't emphasize its bass, so some find it inadequate. It's not a world-class bass performer, so some find it inadequate. Really, its not a piece of junk and it's not the best for everybody.
 
 
Are these headphones good enough for those genres or should I get something with a little bit better sound quality without going over my $200 budget? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

 
I recommend trying the gigantic Recommendations thread. The HD 558's are fine headphones but at $200 they're far from your only choice.
 
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I have a pair of 555's which were good for gaming/music.  The 558's are supposedly the improved version.  I think the 558 would be a good choice for you.  You can even do the mod where you open them up and remove the piece of tape to make them 598's.
 
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propeng

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Thanks for your feedback guys. I've been kinda leaning towards the Sennheiser HD 598 or the Beyerdynamic DT 770 pro now (which I do realize is bass-heavy). If I find the bass too overwhelming I might try using an equalizer to turn it down a bit, though I'm not sure how practical that would be.
 
I might just end up going with the HD 598. As far as I know it does have rolled off highs which I would prefer since my ears seem to be extra sensitive to sibilance. Again thanks for the feedback everyone.
 
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propeng

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Also if I do get the HD 598 would the amp built in the Xonar DG be able to drive it well enough?
 
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MrViolin

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Look no more. Maybe the HD 25-1 II. New amperiors are said to be better at 350, but that's 150 more. Although that 150 is for the machined anodized aluminum shells compared to the plastic shells of the hd 25-1 II. Whether it's worth it is controversial. 

Hm... how big are your ears? These aren't quite for big ears...Personally, when I jumped into the world of audiophilia 2 months back (had known about head-fi n some audio knowledge 2 years prior though), my pick was the Sony V-6. However, that was when Amazon was having the massive knockout sales for $50 (had to pay $4 tax= 54). At the moment they're $67 and idk when they'll be low again. It was a world of difference for me (I'd thought that my JVC's were good, but man, these guys opened new doors). Then again, my JVCs were $10-20. Bass was a lot more refined n everything was much clearer. It wasn't bloated bass, but refined bass in the perfect quantity. 
 
I've also heard of the ATH-M50(s) (S for studio... think the only difference is a coil cord... love coil cords) as a great phone to jump into. 
 
For build, the v6 is a tank. But be weary of the pads. Some ppl say they bight the dust few months-3 years. You can always get replacements cheap though. Magnesium/aluminum for the cups, steel extenders. 
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/607512/audio-technica-ath-m50-vs-sony-mdr-v6
 
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propeng

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I'll be mostly using these at home on my computer and occasionally on my phone when I'm doing other things around the house, so portability and build quality aren't really much of an issue for me as long as the headphone isn't extremely fragile. My ears are about average sized so that's not a concern either.
 
Is there a huge difference in sound quality between the HD 598 and the HD 25-1 II? I'd prefer to go with the least bright sounding of the two as my ears tend to notice sibilance a little bit more than usual.
 
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Quote:
I'll be mostly using these at home on my computer and occasionally on my phone when I'm doing other things around the house, so portability and build quality aren't really much of an issue for me as long as the headphone isn't extremely fragile. My ears are about average sized so that's not a concern either.
 
Is there a huge difference in sound quality between the HD 598 and the HD 25-1 II? I'd prefer to go with the least bright sounding of the two as my ears tend to notice sibilance a little bit more than usual.
the HD598 has i believe no problems with sibilance, though some people have complained about sibilance with the HD25-ii
the HD598 should sound better in almost every aspect than the HD25-ii, especially soundstage since it is a full size open compared to the closed back portable design.
 
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propeng

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Alright, I think I finally settled on the 598's. They do look gorgeous IMO. Unfortunately I'll have to spend a little bit more than I expected (an extra $80 for shipping and import taxes and whatnot) so I might not be able to get the headphones for another 2-3 weeks. When I do get them I'll let you know what I think.
 
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Don't count out the 558 if price is a concern. They use the same driver and are modable to essentially become 598's.
 
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propeng

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Quote:
Don't count out the 558 if price is a concern. They use the same driver and are modable to essentially become 598's.
I will get the HD 558 if I absolutely have to, though I would rather wait a bit longer and get the higher end model of course. Especially since if I do get the 558 I probably won't do the foam mod for a while (too scared of breaking the headphones and voiding my warranty).
 
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the foam modded HD558 will still not sound as good as the HDD598, very similar but a little cloudier and overall less refined. if you have the money, get the HD598, only if your budget is cut shoer then get the HD558. 
 
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