Looking for closed-back headphones for (mostly) Baroque music under $200
Jul 22, 2011 at 10:42 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4


New Head-Fier
Jul 22, 2011
Hey guys, first post here.
I'm looking for some over-ear, closed back headphones to use for mostly Baroque and Renaissance music. I think that the best way to describe what I want is 'clarity'. My music tends to have a lot of different instruments playing at once, and I'd like to be able to hear all of them. So 'strong bass' isn't as important as 'clear bass'- if there are two string basses playing along with a bassoon, I really want to be able to hear the differences in timber more than I care about shaking my eardrums out of my head. Also, the sound signature I'd want for a purely vocal early Renaissance track is not what I'd want for a late Romantic violin concerto. To use the bass example, I wouldn't want particularly powerful bass on the Renaissance track because then it would sound muddy, but if I had that same bass on the Romantic track it would sound like something was missing.
For that reason I'm thinking that I'd want some studio headphones. I don't really care how they look, but a really long cord would be kind of a pain in the ass. I was thinking about the ATH-M50 headphones since they have a coiled cord and are somewhat collapsible. I also understand that they are quite durable, which is very important. I would be wearing these outside/generally traveling with them so it would be nice to not instantly lose my money. Since I'm a music major I will never actually make any money so it would be nice for these to last a while.
Are the M50s generally considered decent headphones? Right now Amazon has them for $160 which would be doable for me fairly soon. I know that this can be a contentious issue for some people- basically if the consensus is that these don't suck and have a clear sound then that's fine by me.
(edited for an attempt at clarity.)
Jul 23, 2011 at 1:32 AM Post #2 of 4


Headphoneus Supremus
May 1, 2007
Portage, Michigan
Not a whole lot of closed headphones are good for this type of music, due to a smaller soundstage. I always prefer open headphones, but of course this isn't always an option.
The M50 is quite good, but I found my pair to have bloated bass and recessed mids. The latest version is supposedly a little better and has more treble. I don't think they're worth $150 or whatever they're asking for them now. The soundstage of the M50 is pretty poor.
One headphone to try and demo is the KRK KNS-6400. It has a very balanced signature, but it still fun and engaging to listen to. The 8400 had more treble extension, but I found it less natural. The main reason I'd pick the 6400 is that it has one of the best soundstages of ANY closed headphone I've ever heard. I think the main reason is that it has some "vents" and angled drivers.
Comfort is pretty much the best if you spend $20 extra and upgrade it's pads to the 8400's memory foam pads. The stock pads are fine, but memory foam pads are totally worth it. The 8400 (which I like less) comes with them.
The cable is straight and replaceable. You can demo them possibly if you have a Guitar Center in your area. They run about $99. Sound clarity is pretty impressive and not really a step down from the 8400. Sounds just as clear as even my K601 and a few other headphones. That's one of the main reasons I love them. That and the detail. The 6400 is a detail monster and isn't too forgiving of source quality though. The level of detail is up there with the DT-880 and even better than my K601.
Right now the KRK KNS-6400 is the best under $200 closed/unamped headphone I've heard...and I'm probably up to maybe a few dozen by now.
Jul 23, 2011 at 3:22 AM Post #3 of 4

Uncle Erik

Uncle Exotic
Mar 18, 2006
You sound like a candidate for the Beyerdynamic DT48. Closed, has clarity in spades, highly transparent, and nails timbre of almost all acoustic instruments.

Check out the DT48 threads - I think it is exactly what you're looking for. It has a bit of history, too. The DT48 was introduced in 1937 as the first stereo headphone, but because of the war, it didn't go into production until 1951. Beyerdynamic has been making it ever since.

They run around $300 new, but used ones turn up for $75-$150 or so. Beyerdynamic stocks replacement cords, headbands, everything, so you can make an older one nice. The turned aluminum earcups are wonderful, too. Few headphones are this well made.

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