Need a new set of < $450 cans!
May 27, 2015 at 7:27 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

imadedend

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Hey all.
 
Been doing a heck of a lot of research over the past week, and I've narrowed down my selection, but really need some help coming to a conclusion.
 
I'm in Australia, so of course everything is expensive, but I'm look at the $300-$450AUD range.
 
Preferences
 
I listen to a lot of EDM (trance, vocal, etc.), but appreciate jazz and other genres, so I guess a warmer sound would be better. I like my treble to be clear and precise, without being too harsh, and the bass to have good extension without being too boomy or bloated (a la Beats). I'll also use these for gaming. I expect my headset to give out anytime soon, and whilst it has served me well I would prefer to use the V Moda boom mic I just ordered, plus a good standalone headphone. Thus, I'd prefer them to have great imaging/soundstage for positional audio in games too.
 
Must be circumaural, open or closed I'm not super fussed.
 
I'd really love for them to connect to the headphones with a 3.5mm jack. Not only because proprietary cables are a little bit of a pain, but also because the V Moda boom mic relies on a 3.5mm jack. This is not an absolute dealbreaker as I can get a Mod Mic instead, but would prefer not to have to shell out another 70 bucks for it.
 
I currently own the B&O H6 which is an incredible headphone, but it's my set of choice for when I leave the house, so I'd like a set to live on my desk. However, I wouldn't be against taking this next pair out of the house, so something not too hard to drive that also looks presentable would be ideal.
 
Source is a Schiit Modi 2 Uber + Magni 2 Uber stack for the desk, plus a FiiO E12 + iPhone when out and about.
 
Current Choices
 
- HiFiMan HE-400 (about $400 here, plus the velour pads which are apparently necessary)
Mainly picked this because of its "best-in-class" performance at this price point. The comfort is apparently a little bit of an issue, and there's that proprietary cable, but I might be able to overlook it if they're as good as people say. Open back so the soundstage/positional audio in games should be better.
 
- Master and Dynamic MH40 (girlfriend is going to NY and can get them for ~$360USD, so about $460AUD)
These satisfy all my criteria: 3.5mm input, good looks, apparently very comfy, portable so they can be taken out. I'm just not 100% on how they compare with the HE-400. Closed, so might not be as good for games.
 
- HD600/650 ($350-$450AUD)
Dont really need to explain why these are on the list, but they do have the proprietary cable.
 
- Mr Speakers Mad Dogs (around $400)
Can't really come to a conclusion on these. I think one version has a 3.5mm input on the side? They're apparently pretty incredible and compare well with the HiFiMans, but they are closed so I guess the soundstage wouldn't be so great? Correct me if I'm wrong.
 
Any other suggestions are welcome, just don't give me too much choice 
tongue.gif

 
Thanks!
 
May 27, 2015 at 8:09 AM Post #2 of 10

Woodhouse

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I currently own the HD600 and I've tested the HE-400 and HD650; the HD600 suits your needs in a lot of ways. Its bass response is generally tight and well extended, while the treble is detailed without being harsh. Its definitely a warmish headphone, but as a result the mids are quite forward. Imaging is good, but the soundstage is relatively small compared to other headphones at this price, so I don't think they'd be the best for gaming. I also personally find it a bit tiring with some EDM because it is so intimate; I prefer my DT880 for electronic.
 
The HE-400 I personally find too warm, the treble is not to my liking, plus the comfort and weight is generally poor. Again, the HD650 can sound a bit too warm to my ears, and wouldn't be a great for gaming. I'd recommend the DT880 for its soundstage and bass response, but you may find the treble a touch strong (though I'd argue its only the case with poor recordings) and it's definitely not a warm can. The AKG Q701 has a huge soundstage and generally solid imaging. Its bass is tight but a bit weaker than the other phones you mentioned (bass heads should definitely steer clear), but I'm a big fan of it generally for its' detail and instrument separation. I'd seriously consider this option, it's currently available from A2A for $349. Plus it has a 3.5mm connection.
 
Let me know if you try the Mad Dogs though, I've been seriously tempted to buy a pair for myself, as I'm currently without a pair of closed backs!
 
May 27, 2015 at 8:54 AM Post #3 of 10

imadedend

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I currently own the HD600 and I've tested the HE-400 and HD650; the HD600 suits your needs in a lot of ways. Its bass response is generally tight and well extended, while the treble is detailed without being harsh. Its definitely a warmish headphone, but as a result the mids are quite forward. Imaging is good, but the soundstage is relatively small compared to other headphones at this price, so I don't think they'd be the best for gaming. I also personally find it a bit tiring with some EDM because it is so intimate; I prefer my DT880 for electronic.

The HE-400 I personally find too warm, the treble is not to my liking, plus the comfort and weight is generally poor. Again, the HD650 can sound a bit too warm to my ears, and wouldn't be a great for gaming. I'd recommend the DT880 for its soundstage and bass response, but you may find the treble a touch strong (though I'd argue its only the case with poor recordings) and it's definitely not a warm can. The AKG Q701 has a huge soundstage and generally solid imaging. Its bass is tight but a bit weaker than the other phones you mentioned (bass heads should definitely steer clear), but I'm a big fan of it generally for its' detail and instrument separation. I'd seriously consider this option, it's currently available from A2A for $349. Plus it has a 3.5mm connection.

Let me know if you try the Mad Dogs though, I've been seriously tempted to buy a pair for myself, as I'm currently without a pair of closed backs!


I should mention that the H6 has very bright treble and less of a warm sound overall, so I think I would prefer a warmer sounding headphone to contrast that.

Would you say the hd600 sounds superior to the hd650? From what I've read that seems to be the case.
 
May 27, 2015 at 9:04 AM Post #4 of 10

Woodhouse

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I should mention that the H6 has very bright treble and less of a warm sound overall, so I think I would prefer a warmer sounding headphone to contrast that.

Would you say the hd600 sounds superior to the hd650? From what I've read that seems to be the case.


The HD650 is darker, has a deeper/bigger bass response, and is harder to amp well. The HD600 is faster (the HD650's bass can be slow), and is a lot more suited to a wide range of genres. The HD650 IMHO sounds awful with electronic music, while the HD600 generally sounds very good. I found the HD600 to be the better headphone, but for people with a brilliant amplifier and who mostly listen to rock, the HD650 is probably a better fit. If you're looking for a warmer sound to balance a brighter can, but want to be able to listen to electronic and not sacrifice on detail, the HD600 should be your go to every time. Otherwise I'd say go the Mad Dogs.
 
May 27, 2015 at 11:06 AM Post #6 of 10

BobMonkhouse

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Denon AH-MM400 are my "reference" headphones, I compare all others to them. The soundstage can't compete with some open back cans but it's above average due to the precise separation and great extension in both ends. The imaging is incredible. They're very well balanced which makes them versatile for different genres. The bass has great body but never boomy. The pads are on the small-ish side but very comfortable. Some find Oppo PM-3 signature mentioned above very similar to the Denons.
 
May 27, 2015 at 7:47 PM Post #8 of 10

imadedend

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  Oppo PM-3 ?

  Denon AH-MM400 are my "reference" headphones, I compare all others to them. The soundstage can't compete with some open back cans but it's above average due to the precise separation and great extension in both ends. The imaging is incredible. They're very well balanced which makes them versatile for different genres. The bass has great body but never boomy. The pads are on the small-ish side but very comfortable. Some find Oppo PM-3 signature mentioned above very similar to the Denons.

 
The PM-3 is $500 though, a little out of my price range. Thanks for the suggestion though!
  Have you considered the Sony MDR-7520's? I am very satisfied with mine. I usually pair them with my E12 or XM6 depending on where I am using them.

I haven't really considered Sonys. Not a huge fan of the brand in general, but of course I may be wrong!
 
Read Tyll's review of the MH40 and figure it's not good enough for $460, especially considering the H6 are already my "stylish" headphones, and they're more expensive than the Mad Dogs and HE 400.
 
I watched another review of the Mad Dogs and it seems that the only downside is the soundstage versus the HE 400s, but it's apparently minor. Given they're both $400 I'm leaning more towards the Mad Dogs. The sound is arguably just as good as the HE 400, they're much more comfortable than the 400s, and they have the 3.5mm input so I can plug the BoomMic into them. Also, considering I would have to get the $45 pads on top of the price of the HE 400 I think this is a no brainer, so I think I'll buy them from A2A! The only concern is driving them if I want to leave the house, so I'll have to see how they go off the E12.
 
I'll be sure to post some impressions when I get them.
 
Jun 4, 2015 at 1:03 AM Post #10 of 10

imadedend

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Well okay I've done a 180.
 
So A2A didn't have the Mad Dogs in stock (they are end of life so I wasn't expecting much). One of their team got in touch to say they had a pair in Sydney they were shipping down for me, but it ended up being a Mad Dog Pro, so they apologised and said they could give me a deal on the Pro to apologise.
 
Seeing as the MDP only comes with a balanced connector, not 3.5mm, I wouldn't be able to use the boom mic. So, as I would essentially have to do without the 3.5mm input, I started looking at other headphones, and came across the brand new Audeze EL-8.
 
Being $1000AUD and thus more than double my budget I thought, "That's okay, I'll save up and get them later," but A2A got back to me and made a great offer for the Audezes, and seeing as I just scored a new job I thought why not reward myself, so i bought them (the open version). The price worked out to be less than if I bought them full price in America, with the exchange rate, so it was a great deal.
 
They're now sitting at home, delivered today, whilst I'm in the office itching for 5PM to arrive so I can head back and have a listen. Really excited!
 
Big thanks to A2A for their customer service.
 

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