Powerful and Clean Headphones for Indie Rock and Chillwave?
Apr 6, 2013 at 6:36 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4


New Head-Fier
Jul 1, 2012
Hey guys,

     I was looking for a pair of full sized headphones. I've never owned a pair of good full sized headphones; however, I've owned Etymotic hf5 IEM and Klipsch IMAGE S4 IEM and I enjoyed them both. I'm mostly concerned with the quality of the mids and lower treble. I'm not looking for basshead "wub-wub" cans, but bass does need to be present. I recently listened to my friend's ath-AD700 and noted that the bass was definitely too lacking. The highs on the ath-AD700 were also quite piercing and caused minor ear fatigue on sustained highs.
I plan on using these headphones with a FIIO e17 dac/amp.

What I'm looking for in a pair of headphones (In order of importance):
1. Sound Quality:
     a. Powerful Sound (without a loss in detail) - I don't want to just hear the piano key or guitar strum, but feel the instrument behind the noise (not "feel" in a bassy shake you kind of way)
     b. Clean/Clear Sound - Good instrument separation
     c. Large Soundstage
2. Comfort - I wear glasses, so the ability to comfortably wear the headphones for an extended period of time is very important
3. Good Build Construction & Aesthetics
Price: I'm looking for something around the price of $200; however, I'm willing to be flexible with the price if a good pair of headphones come along.
I mostly listen to indie rock and chillwave. Some bands I consider to describe my taste are: Arcade Fire, Beach House, Beirut, Death Cab for Cutie, Fanfarlo, Grizzly Bear, M83, Modest Mouse and Neutral Milk Hotel.
Neutral Milk Hotel - Two Headed Boy:
Arcade Fire - Modern Man:
Beirut - Scenic World:
Fanfarlo - The Walls Are Coming Down:
M83 - Reunion:
Modest Mouse - Dramamine:
I've been looking into the ath-AD900x and ath-A900x. Since comfort is a big deal for me, these both seem like good choices too me. However, I'm a bit concerned if the ath-AD900x will have enough bass. Any suggestions about these headphones or any others would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for all your help,
Apr 6, 2013 at 7:51 PM Post #2 of 4


100+ Head-Fier
Nov 30, 2012
I listen to exactly the same music as you do and also was looking for the exact same type of headphones that you were. This also led me to purchase both the ath-ad900x and ath-a900x. When I first got the ath-ad900x I thought that it definitely lacked the impact that my Westone w2 iems offered. However after a couple weeks of listening to the ath-ad900x, I feel the impact is definitely good enough that I don't notice that lack of impact. I think the best part of the ath-ad900x is the instrument separation, something that the ath-a900x is worse than the ath-ad900x in that regard. The comfort on the ath-ad900x is vastly superior than the 900x(ath-a900x is quite heavy, wings are flimsy and heat up after using for prolonged periods. I would definitely recommend the ath-ad900x, but if you want something that delivers a lot of impact you may want to get a closed pair of cans.

Edit. Also in regards to the highs, they were quite fatiguing at first, but either the headphones got burned in or my ears just got use to the high. I almost sold the headphones due to the siblance, but after time seemed to go away.
May 10, 2013 at 8:08 PM Post #3 of 4


100+ Head-Fier
Jan 16, 2012
We have the same taste my man.  I actually found your thread just putting "indie" in the search bar.  I'm also in the market for a cheap $200-$400 range headphone well suited for indie.
I too owned the Audio Technica AD-700's (not the x model) back in the day, and the airy goodness that phone delivered while listening Yeasayer - 2080 wowed me.  I almost kept them for that but i was missing out on that bass impact. I didn't own them long enough to see if I'd get used to the bass shyness, but what I will say is that even in indie music you want something with impact.  Especially since you do listen to stuff like M83 and Grizzly Bear.  When that finale comes around in Grizzly Bear - Lullabye, you wanna feel it.  I definitely want to try the A900x one of these days because I did appreciate some aspects of the AD-700's.
If you can stretch your budget a bit, you should definitely go for the Hifiman HE-400. They retail for $400 and turn up used around $330 or so in the forums.  I can split my life into two phases:  Before I heard the HE-400 and after I heard the HE-400s.  Seriously they're that good.  I don't have those anymore either, sadly.  (I buy and sell alot).  I ran them out of the E17.  If you don't have a DAC/amp, i've heard *some* people say they ran them fine from an ipod, etc.  I've never tried.  But yeah, they do everything right:  separation, clarity, bass response.  Planar technology is pretty much godly. 
Right now I'm looking at the Soundmagic HP100.  I'd look those up too if I were you.  They're right at $200 and I've only seen really glowing reviews about them that say that they sound better for the price. 
Also, just throwing this out there:  Klipsch Image X10 is a great option for an IEM that does all genres well.  Apparently when they came out they retailed for $330, but now they can be had on Amazon for like $100.  If you dont like the tips that come with those, you can get a pack of Comply foam tips for like $20.  I can't listen to any IEMs without Comply's foam tips. 
Hope that helps bro.
May 10, 2013 at 11:59 PM Post #4 of 4


Headphoneus Supremus
Nov 15, 2008
Riverdale, NY
I highly recommend the Sony MDR MA 900.
IMO they sound better and are more comfortable than the AT's you mentioned
as well as the Soundmagic 100 (which are very good closed headphones).
Comfort and clarity are outstanding.
Bass is excellent.
Build quality is very good, and much better than it seems at first look -
these are very light headphones.
Soundstage is hugely satisfying.
The Hifiman 400's are significantly pricier...
if you're ready to go there, the 400's are indeed a very solid choice
Note - as for "powerful sound", and "feeling" the music -- IME those
terms are more applicable to speakers.  But, that said, headphones
can be dynamic and the MA 900's definitely are.  Perhaps the 70mm (!)
drivers help in that regard.  But the key point is that this type of dynamic
sound points to amplification.  It doesn't need to cost a lot, $100. or so
will do very well.

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