Picky Music Lover Needs Help with Closed Backs :)
Jun 28, 2018 at 6:38 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 38

mikewar94

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Hello -

I've put ~10-15 hrs of research into this and have made some real progress, but find myself at the point where I need input from a professional / sound addict :)

I'm looking for a pair of closed back headphones, max $200. Use is for at work / traveling, so I want something that “enhances” the experience a bit (e.g. punchy bass). Not analyzing music or anything so the “flat” options are out of that picture atm. Use with my iPhone (FLAC and mp3 files) primarily, but possibly my computers. Looking for closed because I plan to use at work.

I listen to almost every genre except pop country, but my primaries are: death metal (#1), black metal, rap (except mumble rap, favorite artists include Nas, Danny Brown, Capone and Noreaga, Mobb Deep, Eminem....), "soft rock" (like Elton John), indie/folk - especially Elliott Smith, and 80s pop.

The primary features I'm looking for are:
  • Punchy, clear bass, but not overpowering
  • Mids neutral. But truly neutral.....I've gotten "the M50xs have neutral mids" but they sound more recessed. This is pretty important because I listen to a lot of metal
  • Clear and clean highs. I suppose "neutral" but don't want any of the more powerful cymbal hits sacrificed
  • Soundstage - not super picky about this, but it is nice when it's larger and you feel more "surrounded". I’ve heard there are often sacrifices with the punchy bass for the open soundstage, but don’t know how true this is. I played Vacant Planets by Death (reissue version) on the DT770s and 880s and it sounded incredible. Only thing with the Beyers is they sounded a bit flat.....really liked them but the sound wasn’t “enhanced” enough, esp the bass
  • Comfort. This obviously means something different to every person, but I think I prefer something that surrounds rather than sits on the ears, unless they’re soft cloth pads like the 770s. My only real experience with extended use is the Bose Quiet Comfort which I bought and returned in 2014 cause they hurt after an hour or two, but I assume most ear pads have to be better than those…..
Most of my research is Googling comparisons with this thread as an anchor: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/headphones-for-metal-music-ultimate-solution.715478/

I’ve only tried the 770s / 880s, Focal Listens, and M50xs. And of course the Bose QCs. Likes for DTs listed above; Focal Listens I definitely liked but they didn’t really stand out to me…..seemed a bit flat; M50xs I liked but the mids seemed a bit recessed, did like their power, though.

I apologize ahead of time if my requirements seem picky…..I assume you’re used to it, though, being audiophiles :)

Thank you,
Mike
 
Jun 29, 2018 at 3:20 AM Post #3 of 38

Mhog55

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Metal / Rock - Imaging and separation is an absolute must above all else. The last thing you want is a congested sound. In my experience, Soundstage isn't too important, however it's nice to have. In this price range it's difficult to find a set of cans that checks both boxes. Mids are a must and can't sit too far back in mix. Clear treble without becoming harsh, and tight bass is almost equally important. Again, difficult to get it all, especially for 200 bones. I primarily listen to rock, AC DC, Priest, Ozzy, Ratt, etc. I can recommend 3 headphones in your price range, and I'll try to break them down a bit.
Sennheiser HD 25 -
Very fast, tight bass, clear treble, upfront mids, incredible separation, in your face but never too much. They handle guitar distortion like a Champ, and kick drums are slamming.Build quality isn't the greatest, and they can be tight and uncomfortable for long sessions. Trust me, the sound with rock and metal makes up for it. When I want to feel the adrenaline rush, hit the gym, or just rock out, these are the cans I'm reaching for. Again, they are aggressive, but never to much. Rap sounds really good to. Soft rock, um probably not my 1st choice. These are also on ear.
Beoplay H6 -
Very clear and balanced with an ever so slight bass bump. Separation is fantastic, and these have the best Soundstage I've heard in a closed back for 200 bucks. They can handle all your genres in spades. High build quality and parts. These might be some of the most comfortable cans I've ever put on. If I'm going to jump around from genre to genre, I'm grabbing these. They handle guitar distortion well, though not as good as the HD 25. Drums sound good, and vocals are superb. Soft rock - oh yes indeed. I really can't say enough good things about these cans. These would be the best daily drivers. The cable sucks and you will want to replace it asap.
1 more triple driver over ear -
Best for portability. They fold up, the others don't. Honestly, I can't decide if these have a very slight, and I mean slight V shape sound, or if they sound more balanced. Bass is more emphasized than the H6 but it's never intrusive. Mids are definitely good, though I prefer the other two more. The treble is a bit brighter as well, but it's like crystal clear - crystal. They will handle all genres, but I don't feel like they do vocals and guitars as well as the other 2. They would be my last choice for rock and metal, but my 2nd choice for rap and soft rock.
So in summary, if you want the one stop does it all - H6 all day.
If portability is priority, 1 mores.
For a more aggressive sound and speed - HD 25
At this price point you kinda have to decide what's most important, and what you can live without. I'd recommend reading some reviews on all 3. Plenty of information online. Look for patterns of consistency. Good luck. Keep us posted
 
Jun 29, 2018 at 1:08 PM Post #5 of 38

mikewar94

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These are all incredible recommendations.....thank you so much. I've researched all the recommendations and am going to try them in a store, if possible.

MHog55 - if I need to drop a tiny bit more to get everything, I'm willing to do it, but was hoping to find something for less than 200......it looks like there can be some significant differences with a $50 bump (e.g. just read a good review of the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0s that look like they have everything). Have you tried these or something similar?

Will definitely keep updated as I move along........thanks again for the help!
 
Jun 29, 2018 at 1:22 PM Post #6 of 38

Mhog55

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Punchy, relatively clear bass - check
Not over powering - depends on who you talk to. For me, it was a bit much at times
Neutral mids - nope, recessed was my take
Clean and clear highs - Nope, very rolled off imo
I just described the sound of the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 and HD1
For whatever reason these headphones received a lot of hype most everywhere, making me equally excited to audition them. They are a very warm sounding headphone. Inoffensive and boring was my take, but others may state different.
The H6 can be had for 200 new if you shop around. I got mine on ebay for Father's day. They are a discontinued item.
 
Jul 2, 2018 at 5:55 PM Post #9 of 38

Mhog55

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Picked up the Sennheiser HD1s at a local store for $180. Couldn't be happier. Exactly what I was looking for - all the reqs. Soundstage is quite impressive, too.
Glad you found something you like. From my experience, these cans are quite different from your original what you originally described you were seeking. Just proves that it's extremely difficult to describe what one is hearing and provide recommendations as we all hear differently. Tricky indeed
 
Jul 2, 2018 at 8:53 PM Post #10 of 38

mikewar94

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It IS interesting! I actually only associated the name "momentum" with what you described, and not "HD1" (though you wrote it), for some reason. I tried them out in a store and was impressed. Thought it was the first time I heard of them.

I've read a number of reviews that agree with you (about them being overrated, can't remember reasons). I agree about the highs being rolled off but was willing to make that sacrifice for the rest of the feature set. The mids are interesting....most of the time they stand out, but there are a number of songs where they do feel a bit recessed, though those are rare. The file formats are all different so I don't think they're most recessed with a particular format.....not quite sure what it is.

I couldn't test the H6 so that certainly played a role.....I think the determining factor for me was the way guitars sound (which I suppose are mostly in the mids). Elliott Smith sounds absolutely incredible (with the exception of one song....what could these inconsistencies be?) and so does the guitar work in many of my old school death metal songs, which I have yet to hear in another pair of headphones - clarity and catchiness of the HM-2 guitar pedal.

Many of the reviews for these say the highs are clean and clear.....wonder what other people are hearing. It's interesting how my impression is a mix of yours et al'. Thanks again for the help!
 
Jul 2, 2018 at 10:47 PM Post #11 of 38

Mhog55

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It IS interesting! I actually only associated the name "momentum" with what you described, and not "HD1" (though you wrote it), for some reason. I tried them out in a store and was impressed. Thought it was the first time I heard of them.

I've read a number of reviews that agree with you (about them being overrated, can't remember reasons). I agree about the highs being rolled off but was willing to make that sacrifice for the rest of the feature set. The mids are interesting....most of the time they stand out, but there are a number of songs where they do feel a bit recessed, though those are rare. The file formats are all different so I don't think they're most recessed with a particular format.....not quite sure what it is.

I couldn't test the H6 so that certainly played a role.....I think the determining factor for me was the way guitars sound (which I suppose are mostly in the mids). Elliott Smith sounds absolutely incredible (with the exception of one song....what could these inconsistencies be?) and so does the guitar work in many of my old school death metal songs, which I have yet to hear in another pair of headphones - clarity and catchiness of the HM-2 guitar pedal.

Many of the reviews for these say the highs are clean and clear.....wonder what other people are hearing. It's interesting how my impression is a mix of yours et al'. Thanks again for the help!
I think after you've heard a good amount of headphones, you might change your mind. Not about liking the HD1, but about how they sound. I recall my 1st great sounding headphone - M-Audio Q40. Still have and love it. I didn't think it get much better. What I thought I was hearing wasn't exactly accurate to my thoughts upon spending time with other cans. Then it was just kinda like these sound great, or these don't sound so great. Now that I have several headphones to compare, I have a better understanding of what good mids / separation / , congestion / bloated bass / veil and etc indeed sound like. At least I think I do. I'm still a newbie
 
Jul 3, 2018 at 1:09 PM Post #13 of 38

Mhog55

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Just out of curiosity - what version of the HD1s did you try? The wired or the wireless (Bluetooth) version?
I tried both the wireless versions, on and over ear in wired mode, connected to my V30
 
Jul 3, 2018 at 10:50 PM Post #15 of 38

Mhog55

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Ah. Got it. What are your thoughts on portable amps? If I wanted to increase the highs a bit......I hate the idea of an equalizer because you make sacrifices every increase you make.
I don't know a lot about portable amps. Before I got my V30, I was using a Fiio E6. Mostly because it was tiny. I don't really consider an amp portable if I have to use some sort of straps to attach it to my phone, and have the straps covering the phone screen so I can't really use it. The E6 is inexpensive, and it will drive any relatively efficient headphones to ear bleeding levels. It has 3 settings. One retains the natural sound of the music device, one increases the low end, and the other just sort of softens everything. It's compact, portable, and does the trick. The other inexpensive one you might want to look into is the Creative Sound Blaster. If you're looking at more expensive amps/dacs, I'm not your guy lol
 

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