Massdrop Headphones recommendation for metal music
Oct 31, 2018 at 11:39 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25

SCBbestof

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Hi folks,

I've been following this forum for a while, but only now I got to actually make an account and join this awesome community.

As an aspiring audiophile I want to ask which of the Massdrop exclusive headphones do you think I should get for music consumption + computer use. I'm looking at headphones around 200$, since I'm just starting in this journey.

So far, Sennheiser HD6XX | Hifiman HE4XX | AKG K7XX have caught my eyes.

The genres I primarily listen are: Death/Metalcore/Symphonic/Power/Heavy/Melodeath Metal + some mellow rock music (Pink Floyd-like) + some electronic music (rarely) + hip-hop (rarely).

I would have gone straight for the HD6XX since everyone says they are great, but I heard that it might sound 'boring' for metal. Also, I don't think I can drive 300ohms from my Xonar DS sound card and I would like something that I can use right away, without a DAC/Amp, hence I started looking at other cups (HE4XX and K7XX).

Sorry in advance if I'm not asking the right questions or giving the right details.

Thanks!
 
Oct 31, 2018 at 2:26 PM Post #2 of 25

kukkurovaca

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I'm not sure what the specs are for your soundcard, but if you want something you don't have to worry about driving, then I'm not sure any of those three are the best choicel.

If you want an option that is for sure easy to drive, you might also want to include the 58X.

Power requirements (to hit 110db):
HD6XX, 66.6mW at 300ohm
HE4XX, 49.78mW at 35ohm
K7XX, 51.1mW at 62ohm
HD58X, 13.33mW at 150ohm

Or maybe just factor in the cost of an inexpensive amp.
 
Oct 31, 2018 at 3:28 PM Post #3 of 25

SCBbestof

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I'm not sure what the specs are for your soundcard, but if you want something you don't have to worry about driving, then I'm not sure any of those three are the best choicel.

If you want an option that is for sure easy to drive, you might also want to include the 58X.

Power requirements (to hit 110db):
HD6XX, 66.6mW at 300ohm
HE4XX, 49.78mW at 35ohm
K7XX, 51.1mW at 62ohm
HD58X, 13.33mW at 150ohm

Or maybe just factor in the cost of an inexpensive amp.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any impedance rating for my soundcard. The most information I could find is the specs on the Asus website: https://www.asus.com/us/Sound-Cards/Xonar_DS/specifications/

I don't mind buying a decent amp either. I plan on using these headphones only at home with my PC or with my guitar processor (Line 6 Pod HD500X, about 700ohms rating, I wouldn't worry about that), so I won't mind having a good amp on my desk since, as far as I know, there are really good ones for around 100$.
 
Oct 31, 2018 at 3:32 PM Post #4 of 25

kukkurovaca

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Unfortunately, I couldn't find any impedance rating for my soundcard. The most information I could find is the specs on the Asus website: https://www.asus.com/us/Sound-Cards/Xonar_DS/specifications/

I don't mind buying a decent amp either. I plan on using these headphones only at home with my PC or with my guitar processor (Line 6 Pod HD500X, about 700ohms rating, I wouldn't worry about that), so I won't mind having a good amp on my desk since, as far as I know, there are really good ones for around 100$.

Yeah, you can also go by the VRMS instead of the wattage at a given impedance, but if the 1 VRMS listed there is a max power output, then that's pretty weak, I think.

There are definitely good amp options at $100 that will drive anything you need them to, like the Schiit Magni or the Monoprice Cavalli Liquid Spark. And you can go even cheaper if need be; I have a $30 Walnut F1 portable amp that has no problem driving demanding headphones. (It just sucks at IEMs.)
 
Oct 31, 2018 at 3:40 PM Post #5 of 25

SCBbestof

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Yeah, you can also go by the VRMS instead of the wattage at a given impedance, but if the 1 VRMS listed there is a max power output, then that's pretty weak, I think.

There are definitely good amp options at $100 that will drive anything you need them to, like the Schiit Magni or the Monoprice Cavalli Liquid Spark. And you can go even cheaper if need be; I have a $30 Walnut F1 portable amp that has no problem driving demanding headphones. (It just sucks at IEMs.)

Thanks for the recommendation!!

I heard a lot of good things about the Magni 3 and the Walnut looks interesting too (especially for its price). I think I'll lean a bit towards the Magni, since I searched a bit now and I can find a couple of used one for around 50$, but I should choose my headphone first and then worry about what amps is good for them, right?
 
Oct 31, 2018 at 3:46 PM Post #6 of 25

kukkurovaca

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Thanks for the recommendation!!

I heard a lot of good things about the Magni 3 and the Walnut looks interesting too (especially for its price). I think I'll lean a bit towards the Magni, since I searched a bit now and I can find a couple of used one for around 50$, but I should choose my headphone first and then worry about what amps is good for them, right?

Yeah, you want to prioritize the headphones for sure. Don't worry too much about getting just the right amp to pair with them, though. (Down the road a ways you might want to experiment with combinations like maybe getting a tube amp to go with an HD600, stuff like that.)

Since you're mostly listening to metal, maybe check out this youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/metal571/videos

Very detailed reviews, and I think he's covered most of the models you're looking at here, or close enough.
 
Oct 31, 2018 at 5:18 PM Post #7 of 25

audiofil

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Salut!
Given your requirements, my choice would be the 4xx. Explanations below:
AKG K7xx. Straight out the soundcard these headphones will be rather shrill and piercing. They do require a good amp to deliver (preferably one on the warmer side of neutral).
Also, even though they have good speed and separation, I don't think their intrinsic tonality is well suited for metal.
In a pinch you could EQ the headphones and I think the soundcard has power to push them loud enough, but you may find yourself looking for something else sooner rather than later.

6xx ... I think it handles metal and pretty much every other genre of music very well. But, as you've found already, this is not the go-to headphone when you think about metal.
Personally, I would buy this headphone if the music I listen to would be more acoustic-centric (i.e. jazz, classical, etc) and I would link them to a very good DAC and amp (they scale enormously with better upstream equipment).
It will sound good even out of a mobile phone (my wife loves the 6xx's to death even powered by her phone), but plug it to a high quality source and amp and they become something else completely.

And now the 4xx ... I think this one represents the middle ground. It's not as amplifier dependent as the other two and will sound pretty good when run from a soundcard or even a mobile phone. Of course, they will leap some more if you feed them from a better source and amp.
I also think the 4xx possesses enough qualities (speed, separation, lack of harshness, solid bass) to do very well with metal, but also any other genres you'd fancy listening to.

You'll be in for a treat no matter what you choose. Good luck in your search and have fun!
 
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Oct 31, 2018 at 5:22 PM Post #8 of 25

Monsterzero

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I wouldnt buy any of those headphones w/o an amp,esp. the 6xx and 7xx. The 4xx I have no experience with as I no longer support HiFiMan,anyways I'd recommend a Grado 80e,which will run you around 100.00usd. Theyre very easy to drive and for the price cannot be beat for metal. Theyre not on Massdrop,but I'd assume on Amazon.

FWIW I founded this thread and in all my headphone reviews I discuss how each does with metal (link in signature.)
 
Oct 31, 2018 at 6:29 PM Post #9 of 25

SCBbestof

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Yeah, you want to prioritize the headphones for sure. Don't worry too much about getting just the right amp to pair with them, though. (Down the road a ways you might want to experiment with combinations like maybe getting a tube amp to go with an HD600, stuff like that.)

Since you're mostly listening to metal, maybe check out this youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/metal571/videos

Very detailed reviews, and I think he's covered most of the models you're looking at here, or close enough.

I looked at some videos. Thanks for sharing as it really helped me formulate an opinion! :D

I wouldnt buy any of those headphones w/o an amp,esp. the 6xx and 7xx. The 4xx I have no experience with as I no longer support HiFiMan,anyways I'd recommend a Grado 80e,which will run you around 100.00usd. Theyre very easy to drive and for the price cannot be beat for metal. Theyre not on Massdrop,but I'd assume on Amazon.

FWIW I founded this thread and in all my headphone reviews I discuss how each does with metal (link in signature.)

+

Salut!
Given your requirements, my choice would be the 40xx. Explanations below:
AKG K7xx. Straight out the soundcard these headphones will be rather shrill and piercing. They do require a good amp to deliver (preferably one on the warmer side of neutral).
Also, even though they have good speed and separation, I don't think their intrinsic tonality is well suited for metal.
In a pinch you could EQ the headphones and I think the soundcard has power to push them loud enough, but you may find yourself looking for something else sooner rather than later.

6xx ... I think it handles metal and pretty much every other genre of music very well. But, as you've found already, this is not the go-to headphone when you think about metal.
Personally, I would buy this headphone if the music I listen to would be more acoustic-centric (i.e. jazz, classical, etc) and I would link them to a very good DAC and amp (they scale enormously with better upstream equipment).
It will sound good even out of a mobile phone (my wife loves the 6xx's to death even powered by her phone), but plug it to a high quality source and amp and they become something else completely.

And now the 4xx ... I think this one represents the middle ground. It's not as amplifier dependent as the other two and will sound pretty good when run from a soundcard or even a mobile phone. Of course, they will leap some more if you feed them from a better source and amp.
I also think the 4xx possesses enough qualities (speed, separation, lack of harshness, solid bass) to do very well with metal, but also any other genres you'd fancy listening to.

You'll be in for a treat no matter what you choose. Good luck in your search and have fun!

Thanks for the recommendations. I'm actually considering buying an amp too if needed. There are some pretty good ones at around 100$.

My only uncertainty with the 4XX is that I'd kinda like an all-round headphone (since I'll do more with it then just listening to metal) with a bit of focus on metal music. Something great for metal and average for the rest. I'm worried that 4XX might not do well with other genres and that's why I rejoice when I find out from people like you that those are ok in other circumstances as well.

Grado 80e seems good, but I think I'm trending more to something with clearer mid/upper bass for the drums. Now I'm a bit torn between the HE4XX and the HD6XX, but I'm leaning more towards the HE4XX due to the sound stage and the fact that they are something different and "in-your-face" (I like being blown away by speed combined with clarity, if that makes sense :D ). Also, I listen a lot of Symphonic, Power metal and Live performances, therefore I think sound stage is pretty important. That being said, I'm by far not an expert, so feel free to correct me.
 
Oct 31, 2018 at 6:37 PM Post #10 of 25

Monsterzero

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but I think I'm trending more to something with clearer mid/upper bass for the drums.

Grados have a very satisfying drum thump. Where they lack is the sub-bass rumble,but metal has little to no sub bass in it to begin with.
 
Oct 31, 2018 at 7:56 PM Post #11 of 25

SCBbestof

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Grados have a very satisfying drum thump. Where they lack is the sub-bass rumble,but metal has little to no sub bass in it to begin with.

Nvm. Unfortunately, there is no Amazon here and those are around 140 euros where I live :frowning2: Import tax + transport shows... Fortunately, Massdrop offers free shipping & handling (this is why I'm looking forward to buying something there), otherwise, that would have been crappy as well. Something ~200$ would have resulted in ~60-70$ in shipping & handling.
 
Oct 31, 2018 at 10:30 PM Post #12 of 25

Mhog55

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Not sure why you don't have the 58X on your list, but it should be at the very top imo. There was a recent thread in this sub section asking which headphones for metal - 6XX or 58X. Maybe take a look
 
Oct 31, 2018 at 11:02 PM Post #13 of 25

Cruelhand Luke

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You said you can get a used Magni for $50...I would get that and the 58X. It's within budget and you don't have any question whether you have enough power...and from what I have read they sound amazing for the money.
 
Nov 1, 2018 at 2:06 AM Post #14 of 25

audiofil

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... Fortunately, Massdrop offers free shipping & handling (this is why I'm looking forward to buying something there), otherwise, that would have been crappy as well. Something ~200$ would have resulted in ~60-70$ in shipping & handling.
If only that were true, I'm afraid. As far as I know, free shipping applies only to the US, not EU. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong.
Massdrop will charge for shipping to Romania, but it's very reasonable - $15 for most of the products.
Also, customs fees will be involved. Under 150 euro they will charge VAT (19%), over 150 euro you'll also pay customs charges (max. 5%) on top of the VAT.

SCBbestof said:
My only uncertainty with the 4XX is that I'd kinda like an all-round headphone (since I'll do more with it then just listening to metal) with a bit of focus on metal music. Something great for metal and average for the rest. I'm worried that 4XX might not do well with other genres and that's why I rejoice when I find out from people like you that those are ok in other circumstances as well.
On one hand, I find the 4xx more suitable/engaging than 6xx for metal. On the other, I don't consider metal as the no.1 forte of the 4xx.
I'm very much surprised how good these sound with classical music and jazz and their speaker-like portrayal of acoustic space. Reading the reviews and impressions prior to buying the 4xx I was expecting a bias from these headphones towards modern music (rock, metal, pop, etc), only to find I enjoy them quite a bit more on acoustic-type music.
 

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