Mid-centric closed headphones?
Feb 22, 2013 at 5:04 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 27

Kukuk

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I've been kind of out of the loop with new headphones lately, and am wondering what closed headphones out there are very mid-centric. I've owned the AKG K271s (which are great) and the Sony MDR-CD900STs (which are beyond marvelous), and I've heard, very briefly, Beyerdynamic DT48's, but I'm wondering what else in this price range has a very nice mid range.
 
Mid range is absolutely paramount to me, and I can happily sacrifice things like bass and soundstage for a yummy mid range. How are the Sony MDR-Z1000's in the mid-department? Do they lose the ridiculous harshness that the ZX700's have?
 
Any thoughts are welcome. And if you have any trade offers from my K501s, those are also very welcome!
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Feb 22, 2013 at 5:43 AM Post #2 of 27

BillsonChang007

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Hello!
 
I'm your neighbor! Midrange lover 
size]
 So far, the best midrange headphone I ever tried are those from Shures and a few from AKG. Like the AKG K550 <-You don't have to satisfy soundstage here and also the K167 which I find the mids quite forward yet remaining smooth. If you are no Basshead, I would recommend to turn down the bass on K167 as it wasn't all that clean with the bass. 
 
Billson 
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Feb 22, 2013 at 5:47 AM Post #3 of 27

Kukuk

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Have you heard the K271s? If so, how do you think they compare to the K550s?
 
Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen someone compare the two, so if anyone else could chime it, that would be great!
 
Feb 22, 2013 at 10:13 AM Post #4 of 27

Bill-P

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And here is another midrange lover.
 
Up to the $500 price range, you have 3 very good choices:
 
Mr. Speaker's Mad Dog: couple this with a decent clean amp, and you have yourself a rig that can match $1000 headphones. I'm not exaggerating. The Mad Dog can easily go toe to toe with LCD-2 to my ears, and it's definitely a step above HD800 where listening fatigue is concerned.
 
Audio Technica ESW9: I think this might well be the ultimate midrange headphone at under the $300 price range. The midrange is smooth, lush, and very resolving. It sounds very tube-like. And you don't need an amp at all, so it's really good for those on a budget.
 
Audio Technica ES10: not as smooth or lush as the ESW9, but you get a side-serving of bass. So if you're into rap or hip hop, these will give you that extra punch. If you couple them with a good amp, their ability to reproduce music also scales up exponentially, but they don't sound too bad directly out of your source.
 
Feb 22, 2013 at 10:16 AM Post #5 of 27

viralcow

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Quote:
Have you heard the K271s? If so, how do you think they compare to the K550s?
 
Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen someone compare the two, so if anyone else could chime it, that would be great!

 
 
I've made a small write up comparing the two on the K550 appreciation thread somewhere... I think whether you'll like the K550 depends on what you mean by mid-centric.
 
TL;DR version:
Biggest gripe with the K271 is its roll off in both directions. Sub-bass is missing and treble lacks sparkle. A little anemic sounding due to its puny bass response.
 
The K550 fixes the K271's extension problems. It has better bass (in both quality and quantity), and a slight treble boost. Creates a more detailed sound, but might make the midrange seem pale in comparison. It also has better build quality, comfort, isolation, and less grain than the K271, so overall it is a better headphone... but I hate its upper mids. It sounds harsh and strident, like there's almost an extended peak in the frequency response. I listen to a lot of orchestral, vocal, acoustic, and soft rock so I prefer headphones that leave my upper mids alone.
 
If you can get over the upper mids, the K550s are the way to go. I think I'm exaggerating the issue a bit here, I think it varies from person to person, so you should hear the K550s for yourself.
 
Feb 22, 2013 at 5:20 PM Post #6 of 27

Kukuk

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Quote:
 
 
I've made a small write up comparing the two on the K550 appreciation thread somewhere... I think whether you'll like the K550 depends on what you mean by mid-centric.
 
TL;DR version:
Biggest gripe with the K271 is its roll off in both directions. Sub-bass is missing and treble lacks sparkle. A little anemic sounding due to its puny bass response.
 
The K550 fixes the K271's extension problems. It has better bass (in both quality and quantity), and a slight treble boost. Creates a more detailed sound, but might make the midrange seem pale in comparison. It also has better build quality, comfort, isolation, and less grain than the K271, so overall it is a better headphone... but I hate its upper mids. It sounds harsh and strident, like there's almost an extended peak in the frequency response. I listen to a lot of orchestral, vocal, acoustic, and soft rock so I prefer headphones that leave my upper mids alone.
 
If you can get over the upper mids, the K550s are the way to go. I think I'm exaggerating the issue a bit here, I think it varies from person to person, so you should hear the K550s for yourself.

 
 
Ah, if it has a peaky upper-mid range, I don't think I'd like it all that much. It's my problem with the K501s, and why I'm getting rid of them.
 
It's interesting that you even mention a harsh mid range on them, because a couple reviews, namely Tyl's review of them, he doesn't mention that. And he also doesn't mention that with the Sony MDR-ZX700, which I felt had one of the harshest mid ranges I've ever heard. And ALSO I've never heard anyone mention that K501s having a harsh upper-mid range. I don't know if you've heard the other two headphones, but maybe we have the same sensitivity in that regard.
 
Quote:
And here is another midrange lover.
 
Up to the $500 price range, you have 3 very good choices:
 
Mr. Speaker's Mad Dog: couple this with a decent clean amp, and you have yourself a rig that can match $1000 headphones. I'm not exaggerating. The Mad Dog can easily go toe to toe with LCD-2 to my ears, and it's definitely a step above HD800 where listening fatigue is concerned.
 
Audio Technica ESW9: I think this might well be the ultimate midrange headphone at under the $300 price range. The midrange is smooth, lush, and very resolving. It sounds very tube-like. And you don't need an amp at all, so it's really good for those on a budget.
 
Audio Technica ES10: not as smooth or lush as the ESW9, but you get a side-serving of bass. So if you're into rap or hip hop, these will give you that extra punch. If you couple them with a good amp, their ability to reproduce music also scales up exponentially, but they don't sound too bad directly out of your source.

 
I think it's funny you mention a relatively cheap headphone going toe to toe with a high end headphone, because that's exactly what I thought about my old Sony MDR-CD900STs. Maybe not it's overall sound, but it's mid range absolutely stomped my friend's HE-500's into the ground. Just absolutely creamed them in terms of micro detail, lushness (when a singer had what could be called a lush voice), and just general realism.
 
I'll do some reading into the Mad Dogs and the ESW9s.
 
EDIT: Also, if anyone wants to get an idea of what kind of tuning I want on the mid range, think of a singer like Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, something that can pick up the fine grain of their voices. I'm not looking for something overly lush, and I'm certainly not looking for something overly forward, either.
 
Feb 22, 2013 at 6:22 PM Post #7 of 27

obobskivich

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How much do you want to spend?

I'll +1 the ESW9, and add the following:

- Kenwood KH-K1000
- Audio-Technica ATH-W1000X

I'd also add two open 'phones:

- Sony MDR-F1
- Koss ESP/950

Fire away with questions on any of them (I don't know what to respond with/direct you towards beyond a list at this point, but I am not unfamiliar with any of the above).
 
Feb 22, 2013 at 6:28 PM Post #8 of 27

Kukuk

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Mostly just seeing what I can get out of a trade. Being that money is rare for me these days, it's about all I can do to get new headphones.
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The MDR-F1's are a headphone of interest to me, but they seem to be pretty rare. Have you heard any of the headphones I listed above? I'd be interested to know how any of them compare to the F1's.
 
I seem to have pretty particular taste in headphones, so finding people people who have not only heard what I've heard, and heard what I'm interested in is pretty rare.
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Feb 22, 2013 at 6:48 PM Post #9 of 27

obobskivich

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Mostly just seeing what I can get out of a trade. Being that money is rare for me these days, it's about all I can do to get new headphones. :p


Ah, makes sense.

The MDR-F1's are a headphone of interest to me, but they seem to be pretty rare.


Indeed, and unfortunately. I think they pop up on eBay sometimes though.

Have you heard any of the headphones I listed above? I'd be interested to know how any of them compare to the F1's.


Unfortunately no, the only thing we seem to have in common is the Koss DJ100/TBSE. :xf_eek:

I had the K701 for a long time (and feel comfortable talking about them in comparison), if that helps any...
 
Feb 22, 2013 at 6:53 PM Post #10 of 27

Kukuk

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Hah, I've heard the K702s, but not enough to really get a feel for where they fit in with the rest of the headphones I've heard. What a bind.
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Feb 22, 2013 at 7:32 PM Post #11 of 27

obobskivich

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One thing you might do, especially if you have a portable player - Magnolia sells the K550 and ESW9, so you could go and demo those in person. I could at least provide info relative to the ESW9 if that'd help, and I'm sure there's plenty of people who could provide information relative to the K550 as well. Or you might just like one of them so much that you end up buying it on the spot, that could always work too. :)
 
Feb 22, 2013 at 8:47 PM Post #12 of 27

HeroicPenguin

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Quote:
 
 
EDIT: Also, if anyone wants to get an idea of what kind of tuning I want on the mid range, think of a singer like Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, something that can pick up the fine grain of their voices. I'm not looking for something overly lush, and I'm certainly not looking for something overly forward, either.

 
I tend to favor the mids too, but I like a bit of color and lushness to my mids. The ESW9 definitely provided that and was great for female vocalists and slower music (I'd imagine vocal jazz would be great, but I don't listen to that). Mazzy Star was amazing, if you're familiar with it. However, I'm not sure if it would be great at picking up the distinct voices of someone like Dylan, Cohen, or Tom Waits -- it's a bit too smooth for something like that. However, I'd still give it a try.
 
If you like them, then I'd consider the Sony MDR-1R too. It's a reasonably priced portable (with a bit of a bass emphasis), but I found it like a better ESW9. I even thought it was better than the Z1000, but I think my views there don't match consensus.
 
Feb 22, 2013 at 8:51 PM Post #13 of 27

Kukuk

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Quote:
 
I tend to favor the mids too, but I like a bit of color and lushness to my mids. The ESW9 definitely provided that and was great for female vocalists and slower music (I'd imagine vocal jazz would be great, but I don't listen to that). Mazzy Star was amazing, if you're familiar with it. However, I'm not sure if it would be great at picking up the distinct voices of someone like Dylan, Cohen, or Tom Waits -- it's a bit too smooth for something like that. However, I'd still give it a try.
 
If you like them, then I'd consider the Sony MDR-1R too. It's a reasonably priced portable (with a bit of a bass emphasis), but I found it like a better ESW9. I even thought it was better than the Z1000, but I think my views there don't match consensus.

 
Ooh, forgot about that one, I'll look into that one as well.
 
I'm one of those crazies that typically like a really, really dry, uncolored, boring sound. I certainly like other sound signatures, but the drier the mids, the better. Do you think, again, at least in the mids, the Z1000s and 1Rs would fit that description?
 

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