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Increasing Headphone Inventory - Purchase advice

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by BritaMineral, May 2, 2019.
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  1. BritaMineral
    Hey all,

    I'm pretty new to the forums, and am trying to decide on what my next set of cans should be. My current daily drivers are a pair of secondhand Grado SR-225's (not E, not I, just 225.) I enjoy the sound out of them, amping with a Schiit Fulla 2. I also have a pair of Audio Technica M50x's, but those mostly collect dust these days. (Bass is too muddy, and the cable broke. It's an easy thing to fix, I just haven't gotten around to getting a new cable because I like the Grados more.)

    I typically listen to relatively modern, guitar based music - some heavier (Baroness, Torche), some not so much (Karate, Jason Molina), most of it independently produced - as well as film/game scores. I also like Scott Walker a lot, whatever "genre" he falls into, and will take music recommendations from anyone willing to entertain my annoying ass in conversation. The headphones will likely be used for some video games, but getting a "gaming" headset is far from my focus here.

    All of my listening is done at my computer. I'm looking for something with more/better soundstage/imaging and separation than the Grados, and so am trying to choose between the following:

    -Sennheiser HD6xx - "it's better on tubes" I get it, but still.
    -Hifiman HE4xx - seems like an affordable, good entry into planars.
    -Hifiman Sundara - but, is it better enough to just skip the 4xx?

    I know these three models are fairly popular and written about often, but this is an expensive hobby, so I'd like to get something that I can be comfortable/satisfied with for the next year or so before I get the upgrade itch again. Does anyone with experience with some combination of these headphones have a suggestion they'd like to share? Have I just been chasing a hype train and not realizing it? Am I channeling a bunch of beginner energy and you, an experienced audiophile, just want to shoot this kind of nonsense down? I'm here for it.

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
  2. SilverEars
    Scratch the 4XX off the list. I'm biased toward 6XX.
  3. Slim1970
    Based on those headphones I’d start with the Sundara’s. They are an improved 4xx. The 6xx is also a nice headphone to start out with. It’s a safe headphone to get and it’s pretty natural sounding and scales well with better gear. It’s also has a warmer tone than the other two on list. If you wanted a more lively sound then I’d still say the Sundara’s are great buy. What Grados do you own?
    Wheel Hoss likes this.
  4. BritaMineral
    I’ve owned two sets of Grados so far. I bought a pair of Sr60s back in 2011. Upgraded to Sr225s a few months ago. It was a nice improvement, but I’m looking to explore beyond the “grado sound” that I keep reading about on audiophile forums. I don’t even know how to quantify what that means, other than it (probably) being an allusion to their particular tuning.
  5. protoss
    Who said that?
  6. BritaMineral
    I’ve read a bunch of posts here and on reddit that have said 6-series Senns are “best” played on tube amps. Not necessarily that they’re only good with tubes. The usual refrain (almost verbatim) is that “tubes make them shine.”
  7. protoss
    Ahh 6 series,

    Only the HD600 is good on tubes. Read more closely

    HD650 dont need tubes. HD650 is aka HD6xx
  8. BritaMineral
    Good to know. Thanks.
  9. Slim1970
    I really like my HD650’s on solid state amps. I think they sound the best out of my speaker amp with the HE-adapter. It’s the best I’ve heard the HD650’s sound. I hated them on tubes. They sounded way to soft and boring to my ears.
  10. SilverEars
    I think OTL is good with HD600/6XX, 300 ohms. I think that's what he must referring to when talking about tubes with them. I think Sennheiser 300 ohms are well matched with OTL.

    Bottlehead crack is an OTL, and interestingly 120 output impedance, and it's imaging is quite good. I doubt that you can get that kind of imaging from a solid-state.

    What's interesting is that it's 120 output impedance, and it doesn't sound warm in a reverb sense, it has lots of bass impact, and it's not slow at all, it's quite responsive. I think it's due to the speedball.
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
    BritaMineral likes this.
  11. Jodet
    Scratch the 6XX off the list. I'm biased toward the 4XX.

    And I kinda doubt the Sundara is that much better than the 4XX. I had both and kept the 4xx. The next really big step (IMHO) is the Beyerdynamic Amiron Home for about $550. That's a meaningful upgrade from the cans you're looking at. That's a great headphone. Most comfortable I've ever used and sounds great besides.
  12. MtnMan307
    No mention of the K7XX? It has better soundstage than any of the headphones recommended so far. In some ways it also outranks the HD650/6XX. The bass hits harder and goes deeper, for one. K7XX has more treble energy as well. 650/6XX has intoxicating midrange though, but a more intimate and colored presentation. With a good amp the K7XX sounds more like an $800 headphone than the $200 actual price.
  13. SilverEars
    Kinda doubt based on assumption without hearing it? Sundara is better most definately, they are not alike if that's what you're assuming. I steer away from Beyers due to tonality.
    Wheel Hoss likes this.
  14. SilverEars
    AKG mids, particularly arn't good. Tonally, K7XX is sub par. Their tonality is skewed toward bass shy and treble emphasis, lackibg the presence region as well.
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
  15. Jodet
    I had both the Sundara and the 4XX at the same time, did a direct compare. I wouldn't argue that the Sundara isn't better than the 4XX... but they are close.

    Agree with you completely on the Beyers and tonality. However.... the Amiron Home does not have the typical Beyer sound. Lots of reviews, check it out. Here's a helpful one:

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