Recommendations for complementary headphones or an all-arounder?
Oct 28, 2015 at 3:52 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 24


New Head-Fier
Aug 3, 2011

I usually switch between the Fiiio E17 and Odac/02 combo(able to upgrade). JRiver (WASAPI). I'm going to be using these only at home in a quite environment. They can be closed or open. If you want you can check out my Bandcamp to see my musical preferences ( to sum up: ambient,electroacoustic,downtempo,minimal/drone,neoclassical,metal(post,experimental,sludge,doom,dm,bm,stoner,tech, hardcore,crust,progressive..) rock(prog,alt,post,psychedelic,jam,hard) folk, indie, jazz, shoegaze, dream pop, post punk, idm. Price range really could be around the $1000 maybe more if needed.. So overall headphones that have good PRaT, realistic timbre, accurate soundstage leaning towards the intimate side, realistic imaging, comfortable, and most importantly musical and engaging. I prefer a SLIGHTLY warm ss but again staying very close to a balanced neutral/natural presentation. Can't be too analytical and unforgiving of poorly recorded music. I would also be fine with buying two pairs of headphones to go with different genres but I would prefer an allrounder.


Currently the headphones I own are the AKG K240 studios, ATH-M50's, Mad Dog 3.2's. I recently returned the He-400i's I enjoyed them but the model I got had some physical defects, and I couldn't get used to the soundstage/imaging both seemed very unnatural. The sound is a little too artificial and mechanical for my liking. Kind of oddly punchy. My issues with the M50's are they can be harsh and too forward, not enough mids, too much bass, plastic treble. The AKG's I enjoy but they are lacking bass, and can be woolly. They get muddy/congested with the faster/denser music. I definitely enjoy the soundstage on those because they don't seem overly spread out or unnatural. The Mad Dogs 3.2's I haven't gotten to use too much so far they seem a bit boxy sounding, too liquid, cavernous, a tad too dark, and again they have that odd unnatural soundstage and imaging. They have great PRaT though. I'm starting to think I'm not a fan of the ortho sound, who knows. I have read some opinions on the soundstage of the original HE-400's and saw some were turned off by the soundstage/imaging in regards to the sounds coming out of nowhere in a 3-D sense that wasn't realistic or true to the recordings. Even the M50's which of course are more closed in still never really sounded unnatural to me. I REALLY enjoy the sound signature of my VSonic GR07's I just couldn't get a nice fit no matter how many tips I tried.

Thoughts so far

I was thinking the Shure 840's would be great but I saw they don't do so well for the metal subgenres I listen to.. The main thing that turns me away from the 840's is some say the treble is harsh or a tad too bright. They did seem perfect at a time when I was told they are neutral with slight warmth so just enough fun factor, which is what I'm looking for. Especially in that range before headphones become too resolving and analytical. Some of the recordings and music I listen to are already harsh, cold, and bright enough as is. That leads me into the NadViso hp50's which I thought would be good but might be too slow. There's been complaints about the soundstage being weird or malfunctioning. I read that for metal like sludge and stoner they sound off and too smoothed over. The Yamaha HPH MT222 seemed great until I read that they are too analytical, and really bring out poor recordings. I wasn't sure if they would be fast enough but the mids and lows seem to be spot on for what I'm looking for especially for metal and rock. The Brainwavz HM5 could be too boring, and bright. I'm guessing the bass will be a little too recessed for my tastes. The Soundmagic HP150 seemed good until I read they have a glassy harshness to them. After that the Senn. HD 25 1 II seemed good but uncomfortable. The Sony MDR MA 900 could be too polite for the metal and rock. The Senn hd 600 comes up a lot but I think they will be too slow and need just a tad more bass for my liking. The DT 880's probably too bright, analytical and thin for metal. The Philips Fidelio X2 I may pull the trigger on for the electronic,ambient, folk etc .. could they be my all-arounders? The HE-500's I think are going to be uncomfortable and have the same issues the 400i's had but be smoother and a tad more natural. Next the Oppo PM3, probably too boring and polite for metal/rock. Others that crossed my mind are the Philips SHP9500, GMP 8.35 German Maestro, Sony MDR7520, B&W P7, Beyer. 150-250(seems perfect so far), Focal Spirit classic/professional. I think I will be turned off by the Grado house sound but I'm still curious about the 325e. The Senn. HD598 has also always been on my radar but seems too slow and mellow for metal, but could be good for the other genres.. My predictions could all be wrong feel free to correct me.
Oct 29, 2015 at 2:50 AM Post #5 of 24
It might help to break your post into paragraphs :). AKG K712 Pro or K7XX would work IMHO... perhaps too diffuse of a stage though. Have you considered a Stax rig? NAD HP50 might work for a closed can. The HD600 might work if you match it with a speedy amp.
Oct 29, 2015 at 3:50 AM Post #6 of 24
Thanks that post did look a little too dense and intimidating at first. I'm going to read up on the AKG's now. Funny you mention STAX I was just told from Music Alchemist to really consider them..pricey but could be worth the investment. I really wanted the NAD's. Are they slow at all?? I mean I've kind of gotten used to the AKG 240's sluggishness at times so they don't have to be all stars. The 600's are just as high up on my list same concerns with speed though, also read they can be a bit hot sounding?? O2 not fast enough ?
Oct 29, 2015 at 9:02 AM Post #7 of 24
DT150 sounds like something you'd like and they are fairly cheap compared to peformance also. As always I recommend trying them out before purchase if possible or at least buy them from a place where it's possible to return just in case.
Oct 29, 2015 at 9:13 AM Post #8 of 24
I haven't heard Stax myself, and Music Alchemist hypes them like he owns the company, but the sound style fits your needs.

O2 is a good start for HD600s. "Hot" sounding - maybe on bad source material, it's a smooth treble though. You'll get what's recorded.

The HP50 isn't the fastest in the world (though quite detailed, it doesn't have boosted treble to fake detail/speed), but ticks all of the other boxes.
Oct 29, 2015 at 9:26 AM Post #9 of 24

Hi guys,
I had Fidelio X2 and Hifiman HE- 400i . Now I have the Fostex TH600 and L2 Fidelio. Of these, for me the most versatile are the L2 .
They also need very little power for excellent sound with an iPhone sounds great and needless power . They are very comfortable . On the other hand , there are people who have complained of acute slightly , but that is easily solved , lightly use the EQ . You can always cut , but much more difficult to add when no where. The bass is deep and very fast and have a delicious mids.
Oct 29, 2015 at 1:21 PM Post #10 of 24
Karnitool12, I think we are talking apples & oranges. A variable loudness control allows you to boost bass & treble relative to the midrange. Think some McIntosh/Yamaha amps/receivers. Scanned the JRivers website quickly but didn't notice anything about 'variable loudness control.'
Oct 29, 2015 at 1:36 PM Post #12 of 24
Ya I thought you meant the setting to even out the sound so there is less peaky volume (usually for movie watching). With JRiver I don't believe there is a setting for that, but if there was one I wouldn't even enable it. So ya my bad.. I'm a novice when it comes to sound science stuff and this hobby in general. Are we talking about a special type of eq? If so I never use eq, I don't have anything against eq just never learned how to configure one. I was linked some resources to learning eq but have been putting it off for now.
Oct 29, 2015 at 1:41 PM Post #13 of 24
  DT150 sounds like something you'd like and they are fairly cheap compared to peformance also. As always I recommend trying them out before purchase if possible or at least buy them from a place where it's possible to return just in case.

 Thanks for your help, I'm very close to pulling the trigger on them. I will make sure to check the return policy of course even though I always feel bad returning headphones. 
Oct 29, 2015 at 1:46 PM Post #14 of 24
Compression is what you're talking about - good for movies, yes.
Variable Loudness EQ compensates for the fact that at lower volumes, your ears focus on the mids more (voices etc.... evolutionary advantage). The type of EQ then compensates for that. Check out Or it may just be used to talk about variable bass/treble controls.
Oct 29, 2015 at 2:31 PM Post #15 of 24
Okay now that I somewhat understand what this EQ does.. where does it tie into my sound preference or my experience with other headphones. Is it so I can tweak say the Dog 3.2's to my desired preference? Or does it have to do with me perceiving an odd sound stage with the orthos I have tried? Also can I only apply this eq if I have an amp that has it? 

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