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Good all-arounders for a neophyte

  1. ottoborden

    tl;dr Been looking at Elear, Aeon and Z1R for metal (from death metal to radio rock), rap/hip-hop and 70s prog rock (Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd, Yes) through a Modi 2 & Magni 3? For Spotify at home; isolation irrelevant. I like to listen a little on the loud side.


    So I've sold my monitors and am committed to jumping into headphones. Sound signature I'm looking for is strong bass and mids (most of the music I listen to is mid and bass centric with predominantly male vocalists). Treble, preferably would be at least well defined without being overly recessed. I know I can't have it all so I'd error on the side of bass and mids.

    I'm lucky enough to have a Hi-Fi chain in my area where I was able to listen to a lot of cans (though only through an old Macbook Air with a Focusrite 2i2). The ones that grabbed me and really stuck in my mind were the Elear. Almost bought them on the spot over the weekend but prudence prevailed.

    Grabbed a pair of Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro from Guitar Center that I really liked the sound of (now returned). But this was basically the first pair of decent cans I'd owned. Despite what I read on the net I found them to be fairly bassy and dark (but again I don't have much experience). Much more so than the AKG K7XX I've been using the last 2 days. To my ears the AKGs just sound a little thin. They seem to have burned in some with pink noise and music but they just don't have "impact" or "slam" to my ear.

    The Elear seems to be aiming for (and achieving) a very visceral listening experience. I really enjoyed how "impactful" they were. They struck me as very solid all-arounders as I got a chance to sample many different genres on them. Don't remember them falling on their face anywhere. The demo model at the store did have the clicking issue in the left driver though. Found it pushing the volume on XXX. FEAT. U2. by Kendrick Lamar (around 45 seconds in). I'm willing to forgive this as my understanding is it's a QC issue and I could exchange for a pair without that issue.

    I was pretty pumped for the Aeon Closed but Currawong stated in his review video that he thought MrSpeakers (in general) sounded similar to the Massdrop K7XX, which I've been listening to for 2 days. In fact from several reviewers I've heard that MrSpeakers is shooting for technical excellence more so than a "natural sound" or "fun experience". If I want a very engaging headphone then the Aeons may not be right for me? Or at least not the best in their category.

    The Sony Z1R just came onto my radar a few days ago. It's a significant jump in price, but I'm willing to make an investment for the right set of cans. From what I understand the depth and clarity of their bass is unmatched. But nothing is perfect and they may have some issues in the mids? My understanding is that the Z1Rs can "slam" and stay clean. The mids are clear; not drowned out by the abundant bass. And I believe it has sparkly highs that are very clear and rarely cross into sibilant territory.

    So as far as I can tell I could 1) pick between the Elear and Aeon and make some compromises around the $1k price point or 2) go with the Z1Rs and have an excellent all-arounder but will have to spend significantly more.

    If you actually read all this thank you :) Probably me sorting my own thoughts out more than anything else.

    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
  2. buke9
    You have picked three very different headphones. While I don’t own any of them I have heard them all. You saying the DT 990’s being dark is a bit strange to me as I found them fairly bright and no ways dark. Yes Mr Speakers doesn’t make fun sounding headphones (the Alpha Dogs were pretty good at it though) but calling them unnatural in sound I don’t think I would call them that. The Z1R’s the one thing I didn’t like about them was the highs as I found them to be a bit grainy and didn’t have the sparkle as the Ether-C’s but do have the bass that they lack. If you want bass slam then you might want to look at the Audeze LCD line as they do it very well. I’m no a fan of the Elears as they are a good headphone they just don’t do it for me YMMV as this is just my opinion . There are a lot of different headphones out there just curious why these 3?
  3. ottoborden
    Those 3 seemed to tick a lot of boxes for me from the reviews I've read and watched. All 3 have few technical weaknesses and would perform well across a variety of music. No? I'm certainly open to more suggestions.

    My first pick was in fact the LCD-2 but I was able to listen to a pair last weekend and I was not very impressed with them. They felt....sluggish to me. Sluggish and a little loose (listening to fast metal). Maybe I should listen to them again. I listened to them after hearing the Elear so I had been biased by that point I assume.

    Again I am new to all this, but I was surprised by what I read about DT 990's online. I listened a wide range of music on them and they never struck me as bright. At least not as bright as the K7XX. But perhaps I'm mistaking bright / cold. I've heard the "AKG sound" described as analytical/cold. The DT 990s might be better described as quite bright but also warm? If so then maybe I want a V shaped can...

    Also I didn't mean any insult to the MrSpeakers brand or their fans, just trying to wrap my head around their sound and feel. If the comparison between MrSpeakers and the K7XXs is accurate then the brand probably isn't for me. At least not right now.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
  4. bixby
    You have good ears. Your notes on your likes and dislikes with the cans I have heard are similar. I was not a big fan of the Ether -C when I heard them and I used to own Mad Dogs. Elears are good but overpriced in my opinion. A better choice at lower cost might be the Senn hd-650s. Never found a modern day AKG that I like.

    You may wish to seek out the Shure 1540 as it is slightly v shaped and is very comfy. But as Tyl points out in his review the treble may get a tad tizzy when played loud. I only have limited time with them so cannot confirm. LCD-2s are rather relaxed sounding and really pretty heavy, but lots folks love them for lack of fatigue.

    Maybe one of the newer Beyers like the 1990 pro or amiron can be auditioned to see if you like those. Good luck with the search!
  5. FastAndClean
    audeze lcd2, you can wait a little bit for the new lcd2c impressions to come
  6. ottoborden
    Welp I dun gon n dun it...order the Elear from my local dealer. Just couldn't resist anymore.

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