Looking for the best open-ear setup for under/around 500. (mostly listen to metal)
Feb 23, 2022 at 1:51 PM Post #16 of 30

Mhog55

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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?
Pad swapping is common. Just bear in mind that with the 650, you're going to need a powerful amp to properly drive them. You won't need as much power with the 58X, but if you don't like the 6xx, you can then try the 58X. And again, I would highly recommend using them balanced. So get an amp/dac with it. You will need a different cable as well.
 
Feb 23, 2022 at 2:47 PM Post #17 of 30

MEETmyARSENAL

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Pad swapping is common. Just bear in mind that with the 650, you're going to need a powerful amp to properly drive them. You won't need as much power with the 58X, but if you don't like the 6xx, you can then try the 58X. And again, I would highly recommend using them balanced. So get an amp/dac with it. You will need a different cable as well.
I don't mind spending a few to get a nice amp for the 6XX
 
Feb 24, 2022 at 12:03 AM Post #18 of 30

MEETmyARSENAL

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Did a bit more research tonight. I'm leaning a tad more towards sundara but ****... they're both so close and it's hard to pick one. Sundara sounds like it's more fun though.

For anyone that's tried both, which is more comfortable?
 
Feb 24, 2022 at 1:27 AM Post #19 of 30

Mhog55

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Did a bit more research tonight. I'm leaning a tad more towards sundara but ****... they're both so close and it's hard to pick one. Sundara sounds like it's more fun though.

For anyone that's tried both, which is more comfortable?
Definitely more different than similar. Hope you find the right ones.
 
Feb 24, 2022 at 1:58 AM Post #20 of 30

C_Lindbergh

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HD650 if you want the budget alternative, ZMF Aelous if you want the end-game, they're both excellent for metal/rock music. I don't really think there's a great option in the waste pricing space in-between these headphones, maybe I'm wrong tho.

They're both very musical and warm, without loosing too much detaials (especially on the Aelous).

Unless ofc you want a more aggressive sound, which is also suited for metal, but personally those kinds of headphones are just too much for me when it comes to long term listing to metal.
 
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Feb 24, 2022 at 1:02 PM Post #21 of 30

MEETmyARSENAL

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After doing even more research, I was leaning slightly in favor of the sundara, but now the 1990 pro really has my eye. Sure, it's 600, but I can bend the budget a tad.

Two main questions:
1. Is that pair a significant upgrade over the sundara / HD6-series?
2. How much should I realistically expect to spend on a dac+amp for them? I'm hoping I can get something great under 150/200.
 
Feb 24, 2022 at 8:23 PM Post #24 of 30

Zack W

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I listen to a lot of metal as well. I like a heavier, full bodied sound. As long as it is not "dark" or too slow, or not detailed.

I have HE-560 and do not care for them. They sound too thin to really satisfy me. I did a damping mod and put thicker pads on. These things helped, but not enough. They do have a lot of detail and are vocal forward. They might represent a logical upgrade from lower end Grados, I suppose. I had 325i back in the day and I loved them at the time. But I gave them up easily for my first set of planars.

My friend has 6XX and I do not care for them at all! I don't understand what people see in them. They are dark, slow, not that clear and just seem veiled. 58X on the other hand, I quite like for the price! I bought a set for my little brother and listened to them on my own gear a little bit. They had satisfying frequency response and quite clear. Energetic, lively and easy to drive. They benefit from warmer electronics to the extent that I preferred them directly out of my iPhone that I had at the time, more so than my THX-789. But less so than my Violectric V281. I don't have any of that gear any more though.

I kinda skimmed through, so, sorry if this was answered. But, are you talking $500 for just phones, or a whole system? In either case, I might just focus on phones. If you don't have an amp yet, get something efficient enough to run on your portable gear or sound card. I know it might not be a popular opinion around here.. But I feel like the low end has gotten pretty good. Dedicated electronics might not come into their own until a slightly higher price point. I mean, I'm listening to Metallica on ~$6k right now and it's great. But listening out of my $20 Koss KSC-35 or $40 Sennheiser ear buds directly from my smartphone hardly sucks. Diminishing returns are brutal.

If you have an amp or even a pretty good sound card, I would suggest used or B-stock Audeze LCD-2c. They don't have the last word in resolution (although they scale well with better electronics) but they sound really big and they kick ass. I loved mine for a long time and finally gave them to my little brother as well. It seems like you are looking at a lot of phones on the sharper but thinner side. If you really like screeching death metal guitar, that kind of sound will be intense and get your blood pumping. LCD-2c are not laid back, but not thin, screaming high end either. They will give you wonderful, gutsy grunge electric guitar and electric bass. Meaty kick drums that move the air around them as they should. They have perfectly fine high end but won't send your dog running from the room.

As always, try to audition stuff if you can. In the sub $500 range, you are dealing with a lot of products that might be more specialized. Do a few things really well, but fall down elsewhere. FWIW, I enjoy electronic and acoustic and appreciate a wide variety of music, even though metal and electronic are my staples. I think 58X or LCD-2c can do anything well if their signatures are to your liking.
 
Feb 24, 2022 at 9:03 PM Post #25 of 30

buke9

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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
“I want to finally get my “endgame’ setup for my pc.” So you don’t expect to have anything better ever ?
 
Feb 25, 2022 at 2:29 AM Post #26 of 30

ProtegeManiac

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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.

One concern about the Sennheisers is they won't have that "eye-popping" effect on the percussions and the vocals moved farther forward (towards you) that Grados have. If your only problem with the SR80i is the comfort, maybe you'd be better off getting something like the Headphile C-Pads that allow mounting of Beyerdynamic pads on Grados. It will alter the sound a bit, but then you can also go for all-wood driver housings to get some of the bottom end back.

That said, it's not that the Sennheisers are bad for metal. I have the HD600 (older versions) and EQ out the 3500hz bump, making it sound closer to the HD650. Just that I'm not particularly fond of Grados for metal, because contrary to what most people like, the presentation sounds like Hulk is on stage throwing everything towards me.

One way to put it is: I prefer things to sound like I'm in the middle of the San Francisco opera house with Tarja Turunen or James Hetfield several rows ahead of me than me standing and craning my neck up at James' crotch (nor Tarja's...just....no) because if I look straight I'm face to face with the freaking bouncers while having the monitors literally pounding my chest. Not that that's bad either, just that 1) I can accept headphones don't do that and 2) there's a difference between a Sonus Faber Stradivari Homage doing that compared to how concert monitors and the actual drums hit you in the front row (and then barely hear anything else, because they don't tune the speakers for the front row much less being able to also hear the stage monitors).
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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.

Think of it this way: the Kia Stinger gets to 60mph faster than a Ferrari 456GT, even with less power and worse power to weight ratio, because AWD is worth more than the weight it adds. And unless you had the Ferrari reupholstered and maintained the other bits well, it won't feel as nice as the Genesis G70 either. Might as well upgrade that Alpine stereo unless you want to switch out CDs (although the Ferrari won't have any warranty issues by now so unless you have an idiot destroying electrical bits, might as well install a fully custom sound system in case you hit traffic during that weekend road trip).

So now you can have a lower impedance, higher sensitivity driver (ie doesn't require as much voltage nor current) that doesn't have a worse response when it comes to headphones, and can have a slightly more expansive soundstage too.

On the upside having 150ohm or higher impedance has one advantage: amp output impedance is less of a problem.


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?)

It's just different and whether you like it. Do you want a flat 20hz to 1,000hz, but with deeper valleys and taller peaks from 1,000hz to 10,000hz?

There's one other benefit when it comes to amps, but not that relevant vs these Sennheisers: Planars are less affected by damping factor issues due to high output impedance. But if you're comparing it to a 300ohm headphone then the 300ohm headphone will still be less affected anyway.

Will that set need a driver?

Not sure what you mean, they both have two drivers. It's not like a home speaker for example where each channel can have two or more.


Does "too tame" mean too flat of a response curve?

It means not feeling the percussion strikes popping right in front of your eyes.


What's the difference between dark/warm?

It's a spectrum. Warm > dark > just outright nasal.

Think of it like this: Katherine Hepburn > James Earl Jones > Jerry Seinfeld coming out of a midwoofer (not a midrange) without a tweeter.

The Sundara though in terms of voices might sound closer to Jerry Seinfeld out of a fullrange speaker.


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;...

If you mod the SR80 you'll get a bit more bass, starting with higher density Beyer leather pads on the C-Pads.

Then you can just upgrade to an RS1 or RS2 and transfer the C-pads.


...though I really like the crisp/clean bass over something muddy) and doesn't sound distorted at higher volumes on my pc.

You'll need a bunch of things for that.

1. Drivers that don't distort when pushed

2. Amp that won't distort in case you need to push the output

If your PC is distorting, no way around it, even with a Grado you may need to get an amp. Just be aware I'm not sure if that's all your PC or also the drivers just getting pushed too hard (or if your motherboard audio just has a high output impedance).


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.

Depends on what the issue is.

If it was the impedance, but it gets enough power to push it to the output you want, then it won't distort.

If it was just lacking power at 32ohms or thereabouts, good luck trying to drive 300ohms with lower sensitivity with the same motherboard.
 
May 17, 2022 at 10:45 PM Post #27 of 30

MEETmyARSENAL

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Just gonna leave us hanging?
“I want to finally get my “endgame’ setup for my pc.” So you don’t expect to have anything better ever ?
I decided on the DT 1990, after 3 months so far, I'm in love with them. They sound phenomenal to me (despite how polaring these are in the community, fortunately I'm crazy enough to actually enjoy the stock tuning on the B pads. These cans are incredible for metal and EDM)

That being said, I've fallen in the rabbit hole now. Already planning what I might get as a complementary/ upgrade pair in a few months from now.
 
May 17, 2022 at 11:51 PM Post #28 of 30

earmonger

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Stay out of the rabbit hole. There is way too much snake oil and confirmation bias in audiophile land. Metal and EDM have specific and contrasting demands: impact, space, clarity, viscerality, aggression, euphoria. If you are in love with the tuning and the comfort of your Beyers, just enjoy the music. That's most important.
 
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May 20, 2022 at 10:39 PM Post #29 of 30

MEETmyARSENAL

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Stay out of the rabbit hole. There is way too much snake oil and confirmation bias in audiophile land. Metal and EDM have specific and contrasting demands: impact, space, clarity, viscerality, aggression, euphoria. If you are in love with the tuning and the comfort of your Beyers, just enjoy the music. That's most important.
Absolutely. I'm fully aware that the headphones I chose (and love) are quite unpopular with a lot of folk, and that's okay to me.
 

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