ATH-W2002 has an extremely emphasized / forward midrange which gives really good vocals. Definitely more vocal emphasis than HD600,650, and Grado SR325. I have yet to hear K701 (please hurry FedEx), but from what I have read it is probably not going to be easy to find anything with more vocal emphasis than the ATH W series. Furthermore, the midrange is very nice on them also, very smooth and detailed. They have a close in soundstage with excellent instrument separation and I think this closeness is really key to the way they sound with vocals, it is very intimate.
President treasurer secretary and sole member of the Cayman Islands Head-Fi Club.
Nov 29, 2002
Originally Posted by drlee27 Interesting, I thought I would get a recommendation of Grado cans.
Same here. I guess the Senn cans can thought of as "vocals" oriented cans, especially male vocals because of their alluring, ever so smooth and soothing midrange. The Grados are more lively in the upper registers and probably favor female vocals more so than male vocals.
Another possibility would be along the lines of the Sony SA5000, Stax SR-404, or Audio Technica AD2000 varieties, all of which are very quick and detailed and have extended upper frequencies. One caveat: sometimes "quickness" can mean bad things for vocals, particularly when the decay is as quick as is the leading edge of notes. This is a problem that I've experienced with the SA5000's in particular. Some would refer to these types of headphones as "light and airy" but I think that's an over generalization because they all respond well to different amplification and sources and thus can have a very pronounced bass response in the right system. Yet, in general, It think you would find them to be quite pleasant with most vocal styles, both male and female.
A third train of thought would the "middle of the road" types of sonic presentations where no particular aspect (highs, mids, or lows) is given special emphasis. In other words, neutral cans. Here, I'm thinking along the lines of the AKG K701 or Senn HD650 (especially with the Zu Mobius, Moon Audio Silver Dragon, or Equinox replacement cables) or even the Beyer DT880 (although I like the other two a little better). These cans do vocals well, but in truth, they do pretty much everything well and just get out of the way and let whatever is on the recording pass through. The nice thing about these types of "neutral" cans, is that they "support" the vocals quite well without causing any offense to the listener. What I mean by this is that vocals are seldom presented without musical accompanyment, and the K701, HD650 and DT880's of the world won't ever make you cringe from ear bleeding highs or make you deaf from subsonic lows. They all do bass reasonably well but not to the detriment of anything else. In other words, it doesn't dominate the presentation.
Grado RS-1 with flat pads and a tube amp or the long discontinued AKG K340. Also consider the Grado PS-1 Pro, though it might be a bit hard to get a hold of one. None of them are neutral, they all have warm emphasized midrange which gives vocals a fuller sound.
Originally Posted by drlee27 HD650's vocals are smooth, refined, and full bodied, but laid back, not forward enough for my taste.
I agree, especially with rock music. However, they sound amazing with all my metal (especially metal with male vocals); likely something to do with the mixdown and mastering of well-produced, energetic metal emphasizing certain synergistic sonic ranges.