Looking for the best open-ear setup for under/around 500. (mostly listen to metal)
Feb 21, 2022 at 10:04 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 30

MEETmyARSENAL

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After getting a Sennheiser HD1 (wired) in 2017 and putting my SR80i away ever since, I finally knocked the dust off of it for the first time today and forgot how much I LOVED these headphones. After 2 hours I immediately remembered how uncomfortable these things are (even with the replacement cups) and how it gets distorted at higher volumes on my pc. So, I want something significantly comfier. And better. And I'm not a broke college student anymore so I can actually afford to spend a few bucks.

So, since I love open ear so much, I want to finally get my "endgame" setup for my pc. I've done a little research, and so far top options look like HD6XX / HD650 and Sundara. I'm leaning HD6XX since it's extremely budget friendly, looks comfy (all reviews I've seen ditto this as well) and everyone raves about it. I'm a total noob to DACs + amps, though I know I'll need to get one of each if I at least get the HD6XX (but I think a half decent one of each should be able to fit the $500 budget?). I'd rather have cans that fit the whole genre better as a whole rather than excel at a handful of specific subgenres.

Edit2: add HD560s to the mix. I'm seeing that this is cheaper, and some are even saying it's better than the hd6xx? I find that hard to believe at such a cheaper price though. Looks like people are saying it's better for gaming too, which I do a lot of. Though I'm not playing multiplayer fps these days where footstep positioning is super important (ex. Doom eternal, god of war, dark souls, etc. I love the soundtracks and the general sounds of weapons, etc). Sounds like they're easier to drive, but does that mean hd6xx would be a lot better when paired with a strong amp?

As for the Sundara, are planar magnetic cans a massive difference maker, or not so much for metal? Or is it just "different" (neither better nor worse?) Will that set need a driver?

Any help is GREATLY appreciated. I'm all ears to trying other sets of cans / amps / etc as well.

Edit: I should mention that "bang for the buck" is the most important thing to me here
 
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Feb 21, 2022 at 10:58 PM Post #3 of 30

m-i-c-k-e-y

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Feb 22, 2022 at 2:27 AM Post #4 of 30

dunring

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The HD6XX I always found too tame for metal. A fun combo is one I've had is the Beyerdynamic dt880 250 ohm black edition, and a safe bet is the JDS Atom DAC Stack. That combo would be fun, the Hifiman HD4XX planar is one I have and great for metal, but the treble on the Sundara is better if it's in the budget.
The Schiit Magni Modi has more power, as long as the volume wheel location is something you're ok with.
 
Feb 22, 2022 at 8:17 AM Post #5 of 30

MEETmyARSENAL

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The HD6XX I always found too tame for metal. A fun combo is one I've had is the Beyerdynamic dt880 250 ohm black edition, and a safe bet is the JDS Atom DAC Stack. That combo would be fun, the Hifiman HD4XX planar is one I have and great for metal, but the treble on the Sundara is better if it's in the budget.
The Schiit Magni Modi has more power, as long as the volume wheel location is something you're ok with.
Does "too tame" mean too flat of a response curve?
 
Feb 22, 2022 at 5:25 PM Post #6 of 30

Mhog55

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What's your budget for the headphones? Are you willing to purchase used? The 650 wouldn't be my 1st choice for metal. What traits and characteristics are you looking for in a headphone? Do you have a preferred type of sound signature?
 
Feb 22, 2022 at 5:33 PM Post #7 of 30

MEETmyARSENAL

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What's your budget for the headphones? Are you willing to purchase used? The 650 wouldn't be my 1st choice for metal. What traits and characteristics are you looking for in a headphone? Do you have a preferred type of sound signature?
I typically prefer not to buy used, bonus points if I can get a warranty as well.

I'm trying not to go over 500 for everything, but if I have to go up 100 or 200 I wouldn't mind, as long as the justification is that it's worth the bang for the buck.

Not too sure what sound signature I prefer most, but I love hearing every single part of the song come to life. So I guess leaning neutral would be good?
 
Feb 22, 2022 at 7:17 PM Post #9 of 30

Mhog55

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I typically prefer not to buy used, bonus points if I can get a warranty as well.

I'm trying not to go over 500 for everything, but if I have to go up 100 or 200 I wouldn't mind, as long as the justification is that it's worth the bang for the buck.

Not too sure what sound signature I prefer most, but I love hearing every single part of the song come to life. So I guess leaning neutral would be good?
Personally, I haven't heard a better headphone for metal under 300 dollars than the Sennheiser 58X. I much prefer it for that genre to any other similarly priced Sennheiser. But again, it all depends on your tastes and preferences, but the 58X plays quite nicely with aggressive and energetic music. The whole matter is extremely subjective, but do some research on this set of headphones. Maybe pair them with the newest generation Ifi Hip or Zen dac. Make sure to get a decent 4.4mm balanced cable to use with the setup - it makes a difference.
 
Feb 22, 2022 at 7:23 PM Post #10 of 30

Mhog55

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For what it's worth, I've also owned the 660s. It was too bright, lean, with no coloration to bring that emotional content to rock and metal. Other people's ears might disagree of course. The 58X has the sub bass and mids to do the genre solid. One thing though, if you're looking for a significant out of your head experience, the Sennheiser 6 series is not going to get you there. Not many cans in this price range will. It's of my opinion that with hard rock and metal, a big soundstage isn't priority. Instrument separation and overall tonality is more important for me.
 
Feb 23, 2022 at 10:47 AM Post #11 of 30

MEETmyARSENAL

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For what it's worth, I've also owned the 660s. It was too bright, lean, with no coloration to bring that emotional content to rock and metal. Other people's ears might disagree of course. The 58X has the sub bass and mids to do the genre solid. One thing though, if you're looking for a significant out of your head experience, the Sennheiser 6 series is not going to get you there. Not many cans in this price range will. It's of my opinion that with hard rock and metal, a big soundstage isn't priority. Instrument separation and overall tonality is more important for me.
I appreciate that, thanks. You said that Soundstage isn't priority for metal and 6 doesn't excel at that, while also mentioning separation and tonality are important - does the 6 series excel at that better than the 5?
 
Feb 23, 2022 at 12:27 PM Post #12 of 30

Mhog55

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I appreciate that, thanks. You said that Soundstage isn't priority for metal and 6 doesn't excel at that, while also mentioning separation and tonality are important - does the 6 series excel at that better than the 5?
For me, more fun and engaging, especially the 58X. Also important imo for listening to metal. Some people prefer neutrality though. It's all personal preference. Just as some people prefer a dark/warm signature, and some people prefer a bright/dry signature. If you can think a little more about what type of presentation you might like, it becomes easier for people to provide recommendations. Best means a lot of different things to different people.
 
Feb 23, 2022 at 12:55 PM Post #13 of 30

MEETmyARSENAL

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What's the difference between dark/warm? I really like the way metal sounds on my sr80i, but I just wish that there was slightly stronger bass (but not by a lot; though I really like the crisp/clean bass over something muddy) and doesn't sound distorted at higher volumes on my pc.

Will these sennheiser cans (whichever one i go with) have these same issues, or am I likely safe from them? I typically use spotify at the highest possible audio quality for streaming and downloads.
 
Feb 23, 2022 at 1:19 PM Post #14 of 30

Mhog55

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Dark - Upper mids and lower treble are moderately restrained. No sibilance, harshness or peaks. Can result in a lack of air and brilliance.
Warm - Emphasis in the upper bass and lower mids..
Dry can be somewhat sterile and cold sounding. Not much coloration.
The 58X has a strong bass section for an open back headphone, though nowhere near overbearing. The 650 has less bass. The mids aren't recessed, vocals and guitars really come through. The treble section can be slightly bright/hot at times with certain recordings, but nothing fatiguing.
The only knock on the 58X is that it does have a slight veil - grain to the sound. So if you're looking for something extremely clear or clinical, this isn't it. That wouldn't be my preference for metal anyways. I'm not sure a highly resolving open back exists in this price range. That being said, if you prefer that type of sound, resolving of details, fairly flat and bright with a bigger soundstage, you could look into the Hifiman Sundara. It won't have the bass you're looking for though. I would take the time to read through the dedicated threads of any headphones you're interested in.
 
Feb 23, 2022 at 1:24 PM Post #15 of 30

MEETmyARSENAL

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Dark - Upper mids and lower treble are moderately restrained. No sibilance, harshness or peaks. Can result in a lack of air and brilliance.
Warm - Emphasis in the upper bass and lower mids..
Dry can be somewhat sterile and cold sounding. Not much coloration.
The 58X has a strong bass section for an open back headphone, though nowhere near overbearing. The 650 has less bass. The mids aren't recessed, vocals and guitars really come through. The treble section can be slightly bright/hot at times with certain recordings, but nothing fatiguing.
The only knock on the 58X is that it does have a slight veil - grain to the sound. So if you're looking for something extremely clear or clinical, this isn't it. That wouldn't be my preference for metal anyways. I'm not sure a highly resolving open back exists in this price range. That being said, if you prefer that type of sound, resolving of details, fairly flat and bright with a bigger soundstage, you could look into the Hifiman Sundara. It won't have the bass you're looking for though. I would take the time to read through the dedicated threads of any headphones you're interested in.
Thank you again. After reading this description I think I prefer warm over cold. I think it comes down to 6xx vs sundara at this point for me.

From what I hear (and the way the pads on it look), the Sundara will be uncomfortable on my ears (I have a large head + big ears) which I'm not a fan of. Do a lot of people get alternate pads for it?
 

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