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Need help with model choice (akg, beyer, ultrasone)

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by arkfi, Sep 4, 2012.
  1. arkfi
    Hi, I'm in the market for a great, long-lasting pair of full-size closed headphones.  I've been browsing the Head-Fi forums for a while now and have gotten quite a lot of great information (thanks!).  After demo-ing a few models at a local pro-audio store, I'm left with a few questions that they (at the store) couldn't really answer.
    I should probably mention that I'm not an audiophile but I do appreciate sound clarity across the spectrum.  Also, I intend to use these headphones for various activities: music listening (mostly electronica but not limited to it), movie watching, and some mixing (hobby)... in other words, they should be more "fun" than "balanced".  My budget is 500$ give or take.
    So here I'll list my impressions of the various models I've demo'd and used in the past, and I'm hoping this would be the best way for you guys to come up with ideas and suggestions on what I should be looking for.
    1. Koss TD55...  First decent cans I've ever owned, about 12 years ago.  Not sure on the exact model number, but anyway, these were my first love.  Definitely not head-fi material, but to put things in perspective, after they broke I've always wanted to find headphones with bass that rumbles as much as these did.  And I do mean rumble... it was like a mini massage chair for my ears.
    2. Sony MDR-V150...  After trying to find a decent replacement for my Koss, I settled on these because they had a decent amount of bass (I'm a bit of a basshead if you didn't pick that up already) while the presentation wasn't completely garbled like most other models I'd tried then.  After a while I forgot about the Koss, and I must confess I actually liked these very much.
    3. Bose TriPort...  When I demo'd these about 4-5 years ago, I was very impressed by the isolation, sound clarity and separation, and by the bass and especially the sub-bass.  They didn't rumble as much as the Koss, but the overall sound quality (much higher than anything I'd tried thus far) had me buying them on the spot.  They lasted me until recently, and now I'm looking for a replacement that sounds as good if not better.
    4. Dre Beats variety...  Yes, I figured I'd try them on just to see what the hype was about.  They didn't stay on my head much longer than a few seconds.  Here's what wasn't bad about them: bass quantity, and looks.  Everything else was sh**.  Now if I could find some headphones with that much bass, but with the whole spectrum being as clear as my Bose were, I'd be happy.
    5. Bose AE2...  Obvious choice, at least for a test-drive.  Their presentation is pretty much the same as the TriPort, but they don't isolate as much, and that's a downgrade for me.  They're not as comfortable either, as the TriPort basically snugged my ears while these just frame them.  Also, possibly due to lesser isolation, I find the bass to be slightly less impressive than in the TriPort.
    6. Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 250Ohms...  That's where my demo adventures started at the pro-audio store, and my first time listening to true head-fi material.  Now, you should know that I was testing this (and all others below) with my iPhone, amped by a FiiO E7.  First impression: holy cr** the sound is clear!  Second impression (after cranking the amp to max volume): holy cr** the volume is low!  Obviously I had to try the 80Ohms version to get the kind of volume I'm interested in.
    7. Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80Ohms...  Ok, now we're getting somewhere.  I really love these, and at less than 200$ it almost feels like a steal.  The only thing that kept me from buying them outright is this: the bass doesn't rumble.  The bass is great, I hear it better than ever, but I don't feel it.  If I'm never gonna find headphones with rumbling bass like the Koss, these would be my first choice.  Now, I realize that maybe the lack of rumble might be due to the high impedance which would require a much stronger amp than a FiiO E7 to get the drivers shaking. If that's the case, then I should probably look into lower impedance models.  I'd very much like some input on this.
    8. Sennheiser HD25...  Can't remember the exact model number, mainly because I wasn't impressed by the overall presentation, nor was I looking for on-ear headphones.  But I had to try them, as I'd never tried closed Sennheiser cans before.  Good, but not impressive enough.
    9. Ultrasone Pro650...  I had read a lot about Ultrasone on these forums and was looking forward to try them on.  This quest for head-fi basshead cans actually started with me reading a Dre Beats customer review stating that the Pro900 would re-educate anyone who thinks Dre Beats bass is where it's at.  The store didn't hold Pro900's, and to keep it short, the Pro650 were disappointing.  Not enough bass, not by a long shot.  Overall sound quality was good, though not as good as the DT-770 Pro.
    That's my story so far.  With all this info, I'm hoping some of you could answer the following questions for me:
    • Would the Ultrasone Pro900 produce bass that rumbles my head at decently high volumes without killing the rest of the spectrum?
    • How clear is the sound in the Pro900 when compared to the DT-770 Pro?  I hate sibilance, and some people seem to experience it with the Pro900; personally I thought the highs were perfect in the 770 and a little too strong in the Pro650 I demo'd.
    • Would the bass in the DT-770 Pro actually rumble if I used a more powerful amp than a FiiO E7, EQ or not?
    • I read about the Denon cans being great for bassheads... given all I've said, should I look for a store that demo's them or has a lenient return policy?  Or is it obvious they wouldn't sound right to my ears?
    • What about the AKG K550?  Reviews I read on these forums seem to imply that I should try them before making any decision.
    • Would there actually be a Koss model with that rumbling bass I'm so obsessed about, but also with the kind of sound clarity found in the DT-770 Pro or even just the Bose TriPort or AE2?
    Thanks so very much for taking the time to read my wall of text and helping me make the right investment.  Cheers!
  2. MalVeauX
    1. Nope. The mid-bass hump is so pronounced that the mids are bled into. And the treble is spiked, per Ultrasone's house sound signature. They're very "V". They're fun, but I think they're just too focused on mid-bass. What you want is sub bass rumble. The PRO900 isn't the one.
    2. The PRO900 has very piercing highs. The DT770 is bright too, but the PRO900 is brighter. Shred your ears. You liked the DT770 treble, so that means you'll like most of Beyer's signature house sound, and also means you'll probably like Denon's treble.
    3. The DT770 is closer to neutral than it is to being a big basshead headphone, contrary to lots of information on the web and here. The DT770 gets very bassy when you essentially tweak it or equalize it to be focused more on bass. The DT770 with the Fiio E10 and E11 for example with EQ (bass) set to 2 is very bassy, quite rumbly.
    4. Bingo. This is what you want. Denon D5000 first. D2000 second. Go used. Combine with E10/E11 and the sub-bass rumble is out of control.
    5. Not going to give you the rumble in bass you want. These are more reference, so the bass is not going to be like what you're looking for.
    6. Not really. Instead, look to Fostex TH900, Denon D5000/2000, DT770, T50RP modded like the Mad Dog version and Sony XB1000.
    End of the day, everything you're describing sounds like Denon house signature. The D5000 is pretty much exactly the headphone you're going to want. If you liked the DT770, you'll absolutely love the D5000. It has the same sparkly treble, better mids, and much more sub-bass. It's an earth quake waiting to happen, but not to the point of hurting the rest of the sound. It's what I call a "audiophile's basshead headphone". Plus it's just luxury to behold... wood, silver, sleaved, etc. Exquisite headphone. And it runs and sounds great from anything
    Very best,
  3. arkfi
    Woah, thanks for the quick reply!  Very helpful! ... except for the part where you suggest to look for Fostex TH900's when my budget is 500$... hehe.
    Now to go look for a pair of Denons to try out before buying... unless I find a used pair for cheap.  So far my searches didn't yield anything in my region. :frowning2:
    If anyone else cares to confirm MalVeauX's comments, or suggest something different, that'll be icing on the cake.
    Thanks again!
  4. arkfi
    Hey MalVeauX,
    I read somewhere that the Denons have lackluster isolation.  Would you agree?
    I'm actually considering postponing my purchase and seeing how the new Denons are performing.  I kinda like their design.
  5. MalVeauX
    The Denons do not have superb isolation. They isolation better than open air headphones. But they do leak, I find they leak more out than in. The new Denon D600 however has better isolation and a similar sound, but not quite the same. Lots of impressions in the relevant threads on their new offerings.
    Very best,
  6. arkfi
    Got me a pair of D2000's... they don't disappoint!  Got me wondering how much better the D5000's are.
    Now to find an amp that can pump the amount of bass I want without distortion...  Hmmm, you mentioned the E11... I wonder how well it handles high bass levels compared to the E7.  The E7 is alright but I want more! :)
    Thanks again MalVeauX, your suggestion was dead-on.
  7. MalVeauX
    The D5000 has slightly more sub-bass and mid-bass, slightly better mids, and the same treble. I like it better myself. I went from D2K to D5K pretty quickly. But they're harder to find and the cost is basically double, for what is essentially the same headphone merely tweaked and redressed (wood cups, silver cable). So unless you just have money to burn, stick with the D2K. If you can get a really good deal (aka $300) for the D5000, then go for it, but if it's $400~500 every where, or used even, then I would consider just staying with the D2K.
    You can definitely take it to new heights with the E11. Set to EQ2, it rumbles like an earth quake with zero distortion. The Fiio method of bass enhancement on the E11 and E10 is fantastic, no distortion, but a solid +3db bump in bass.
    Figure out if this is your final headphone, and consider having the cable modded professionally (BTG Audio does a great job) to be a shorter more robust cable perhaps, or even have it dampened, etc. The Denon has a lot of room to grow.
    Very best,

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