Looking for the Soundstage, Bass, & Detail of HD 681 with the Warmth of Monoprice 8323
Apr 25, 2015 at 3:00 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 3

brainjiggles

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I've had the opportunity to try Superlux HD 681 & Monoprice 8323 headphones and I am hoping you can give me a bit of guidance in finding just the right pair in my price range.
 
Source: Realtek ALC 1150 115db SNR HD Audio with built-in audio amplifier on a GA-Z97X Gaming 5 motherboard
 
Use: Daily music and gaming.
 
Genres: All kinds of stuff. Alternative rock/metal (Tool, SoaD, etc), Industrial, Rap, Electronic music (Dubstep, Hardstyle, and lots I don't even know the name of...), R & B, Classical, I listen to damn near everything. I also love bass!
 
Design: Open or Semi-open Circumaural
 
Budget: Under $70
 
I listened to a lot of stuff on these two pairs to see the differences for myself, but it was some Michael Jackson FLAC tracks which really brought into contrast what I like and don't like about these two pairs.
 
HD 681:  I love the wide soundstage and great detail on the HD 681. I also love the big bass. I hate the highs. They are often annoying and sometimes uncomfortable. In some Michael Jackson tracks, they are hideous and his voice is murdered into something thin and shrill. Instead of the warmth of his voice, it sounds almost as a cariacature of his voice. I find the highs to be lacking in substance, just over-pronounced in a thin range of the high end to the point of discomfort.
 
Monoprice 8323: I like the warmth of the mids and lower highs. They really brought out Jackson's silky smooth voice in a way that left me just disappointed with the HD 681. Though, the 8323 sounds very closed in and congested in comparison. It's like everything else in the spectrum is gathered up in an attempt to boost the really nice mids and warm lower highs, but the rest of the frequencies are all mushed up and muddled in the process. I get that it's closed vs semi-open contributing here, but I am using this experience to help express my desires in a pair of phones.
 
Are there any headphones which have what I'm looking for within my budget? Or am I just dreaming?
 
I've been looking at the Superlux 668b/SR850 or possibly the HD 681 Evo. Though it seems those pairs may also have their own problems with the highs. That's a problem for me because the highs being too pronounced makes me not want to listen to them very long at all for some kinds of music.
 
AKG K240 also seems nice, but lack in bass according to reviews I've read.
 
What about Sony MA-300 compared to the above pairs?
 
I was also tempted by the Panasonic HTF-600s from all the rave reviews, but then realized that they aren't open-backed. I don't want a substantial reduction in soundstage from what the HD 681 provide.
 
I don't have any big music stores in my area where I can go and try out a wide range of headphones, unfortunately. We have a couple small local music stores, but they all have a very basic selection of headphones and focus almost exclusively on instruments. 
 
Thanks for any assistance you can provide. :)
 
edit: I cleaned up some confusing plural uses of the model numbers. 
 
Apr 25, 2015 at 6:24 PM Post #2 of 3

serman005

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  I've had the opportunity to try Superlux HD 681 & Monoprice 8323 headphones and I am hoping you can give me a bit of guidance in finding just the right pair in my price range.
 
Source: Realtek ALC 1150 115db SNR HD Audio with built-in audio amplifier on a GA-Z97X Gaming 5 motherboard
 
Use: Daily music and gaming.
 
Genres: All kinds of stuff. Alternative rock/metal (Tool, SoaD, etc), Industrial, Rap, Electronic music (Dubstep, Hardstyle, and lots I don't even know the name of...), R & B, Classical, I listen to damn near everything. I also love bass!
 
Design: Open or Semi-open Circumaural
 
Budget: Under $70
 
I listened to a lot of stuff on these two pairs to see the differences for myself, but it was some Michael Jackson FLAC tracks which really brought into contrast what I like and don't like about these two pairs.
 
HD 681s:  I love the wide soundstage and great detail on the HD 681s. I also love the big bass. I hate the highs. They are often annoying and sometimes uncomfortable. In some Michael Jackson tracks, they are hideous and his voice is murdered into something thin and shrill. Instead of the warmth of his voice, it sounds almost as a cariacature of his voice. I find the highs to be lacking in substance, just over-pronounced in a thin range of the high end to the point of discomfort.
 
Monoprice 8323: I like the warmth of the mids and lower highs. They really brought out Jackson's silky smooth voice in a way that left me just disappointed with the HD 681s. Though, these 8323s sound very closed in and congested in comparison. It's like everything else in the spectrum is gathered up in an attempt to boost the really nice mids and warm lower highs, but the rest of the frequencies are all mushed up and muddled in the process. I get that it's closed vs semi-open contributing here, but I am using this experience to help express my desires in a pair of phones.
 
Are there any headphones which have what I'm looking for within my budget? Or am I just dreaming?
 
I've been looking at the Superlux 668b/SR850 or possibly the HD 681 Evo. Though it seems those pairs may also have their own problems with the highs. That's a problem for me because the highs being too pronounced makes me not want to listen to them very long at all for some kinds of music.
 
AKG K240s also seem nice, but lack in bass according to reviews I've read.
 
What about Sony MA-300s compared to the above pairs?
 
I was also tempted by the Panasonic HTF-600s from all the rave reviews, but then realized that they aren't open-backed. I don't want a substantial reduction in soundstage from what the HD 681s provide.
 
I don't have any big music stores in my area where I can go and try out a wide range of headphones, unfortunately. We have a couple small local music stores, but they all have a very basic selection of headphones and focus almost exclusively on instruments. 
 
Thanks for any assistance you can provide. :)


Personally, I don't find the 681 Evo to be remotely sibilant or harsh in treble. If anything, it is just the opposite--they do have a definite bass emphasis. I would describe them as laid-back. Nice soundstage. I enjoy mine very much. They definitely have a different sound compared to the 681B and the 668B, which have the treble emphasis you describe well. I also wonder about a Senn HD518 for you, which would be just about within your budget right now (amazon) and which sounds very good (and which I also find very non-sibilant). Very warm. Good soundstage, less bass than the Evo. One more to consider is the Takstar HI-2050--not sure what its price is right now. Worth reading about, though. A couple of thoughts for you. In any event, good luck to you!
 
Apr 27, 2015 at 6:26 PM Post #3 of 3

christobale

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I think I have pretty similar tastes in music and preferred sound signature as you, and I would definitely recommend the HD 681 Evo. It has plenty of bass and a nice, warm smooth sound. The Sennheiser 518 would definitely be worth looking into as Serman005 said, but I'm not sure if it would have enough bass for you (I have Sennheiser 558 and usually prefer the HD 681 Evos unless I'm listening to something not bass heavy or watching a movie).
 
I tried the Sony Mdr-Ma300 and own the lower model MA100, and as good as they sound for the price, they's significantly brighter and thinner sounding than the HD 681 Evo. They don't really have the warm sound that I think you're looking for, although they do have a nice, wide soundstage.
 
Also, the Samson SR850 is just a rebranded Superlux HD 681, so you would still have the bright highs but otherwise great sound.
 

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