Newbie's review of his first headphone sampling run
Feb 19, 2014 at 9:58 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5


New Head-Fier
Feb 19, 2014
So I found myself mysteriously drawn into the headphone business a couple months ago, and got myself a first pair of "decent" fullsize headphone according to a head-fi-er's advice --- the fischer fa-003 --- it was praised for its unmatched neutrality and soundstage at its price level. However I was quite disapointed by the sound it produced, so I went on and did some research online, reading reviews, surfing reddits... Eventually I realised that my ears are the most reliable advicer I can ever have, so I decided to sample some headphones.
I went to B&H 9th avenue in Mannhattan following other people's suggestions, with a pair of ears long wanted to experience the "hifi" sound, I begun my jounery...

Baptised by classical music through all my life, and being a piano player myself, my ears just cannot bear the noise and disturbance created by pop music, so my catagory is very limited, but I am hoping to enjoy some ragtime or jazz later on. The tracks I used in this sampling are: BWV 537-Bach, La Campanella-Liszt, Pastorale-Beethoven, Nocturnes Op.9 No.1-Chopin. All flac 690Kbps, source from a nexus 10.
HD 600
One of the most praised headphone from what I read, my expectation for this one is huge, and ready to be blown away by it. The comforte is unparalled, the headband so light and the velorpads so soft that I hardly feel it on my head, and the open back design makes my ears feel so fresh after so many years behind the closed back headphones. The organ works from Bach sounds very nice but I think a little more bass would be perfect. The Liszt etude is my track to test the treble, it sounds a little bit dull compare to a real piano, which has a very clear, bell-like sound. It is the symphony by Beethoven really pulls this headphone apart from the others. The different instruments are extremely distinguishable and clear, and I can clearly hear the notes from the drums and double basses in the right wing compare to a sea of bassy vibration produced by my previous headphones. Overall the headphone is great, but I expected a lot more imaging from a open back headphone.
AKG 701
The AKG 701 called to my attention for its supreme soundstage mentioned by numerous people. While the soundstage is much, much bigger than that of the HD 600, I find its sound signature much to my disliking, too "spiky" for classical music in my opinion, maybe good for more modern musics.
HD 800
The model they had in store is broken, the wire connected to the right driver is exposed and disjointed, but it doesn't stop me from realising its glory---OMG THE SOUNDSTAGE IS AMMMMMMMAAAAAZZINNNGGGG!!!!!!!!! It has got almost double the soundstage of the AKG 701 and the sound of the HD 600, but much more lucid, penatrative, and crystalline. The trebles are exactly what I want them to be, and the bass is just the right amount --- warm, but not muddy. I can only imagine the sound coming out of this with proper amplification and properly working wires.
DT 990 pro
I heard mixed review about this one, my brother says it is too "soft", and some people says it is not very good. It is bigger than what I've thought, but very comfortable nontheless. Listening to the Beethoven symphony, I discovered that the instruments are less separable than the HD 600, everything kind of all jumbled up together. Bass is adequate compare to the ones I heard before, and treble not as clear as the HD 600. However the soundstage is greater than that of the HD 600, considering it it being a third of the HD 600's, I still think this is a good deal.
HE 400
I sampled this one in another store as the B&H doesn't have an opened one. It is not as heavy as people on the Internet described it to be, in fact, it is almost the same as any other headphones for me. The first thing that caught my attention is the bass. It is very different from the other headphones, quite difficult to describe using the "sound dictionary" I have right now. I find the treble very unlikable for the musics I listen to, too low to even call it "treble" in my point of view. The soundstage is quite limited from what I heard, but a little more open than that of the HD 600. All in all, not a headphone for me.
The headphoens I sampled this time are all without proper amplifications, for the source I used is merely a tablet (not to mention wire and DAC, which I have no idea how they affect the sound). I am planning to attend the next head-fi meetup in NY, looking forward to test some other headphone and make my final decision of buying one!
P.S. Please excuse me of any misuse of terminology and point out the areas I can improve on, it is a new field I am stepping in and need quite a lot guidance, thanks very much for reading!
Feb 21, 2014 at 1:44 AM Post #3 of 5


1000+ Head-Fier
Dec 4, 2005
Nice write up. 
Welcome to Head - Fi and this crazy hobby.
Feb 21, 2014 at 2:34 AM Post #4 of 5


1000+ Head-Fier
Dec 3, 2013
Pretty good. Up and coming reviewer? 


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