Seeking closed, neutral cans for approx. $200
Jul 29, 2010 at 4:06 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 22

neochikara

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Good morning/afternoon/evening,
 
I've been reading these forums for months now and the depth of information and incredible, helpful, and insightful people here never cease to amaze me.  With that in mind, I have a small request of anyone who might be privy on some specific knowledge.  In about two weeks I'll be heading off for a university and will be in a dorm/roommate environment for hours each day.  As such, I'm looking for some headphones that are closed-back (unless there's magical open-back phones which don't leak like mad), but also somewhat neutral or a have a non-destructive coloration.  I've used a pair of Sennheiser HD-555 cans at home for the last two years and I love them to death (the adhesive foam mod really helped!), and though I've never looked into what people "in the know" would call the 555's sound signature, I do like it and am used to it.  I am, however, open to experiencing a new pair of cans that might have a "better" sound, but I listen to a huge range of music (genre depends on my mood or what I'm doing) and want to experience the music as it was intended to be heard.  Of course, my personal sonic preferences aren't that simple--I know I don't want a lean sound and I can't stand sibilance.  I prefer accurate and tight bass to the overly boomy, bloated sort (used to have Sennheiser CX-300's--those were crazy in that sense).
 
I think that covers most of the specifics of my request.  I have been eying Ultrasone and Beyerdynamic cans, but haven't found any impressions that would indicate that any single model meets my general wants.  I'm open to any company, but if the product was on Amazon and possibly available on Prime, or at the least available with quick shipping, that would be best.
 
And, of course, my budget is $200, possibly up to $220 at the absolute max to accommodate tax and shipping (I live in the US).
 
Edit:
 
Whoops, totally forgot to mention that I have a Nuforce uDAC amp already.  I love the little thing, even if it isn't the most neutral of amps (at least to my ears).  I've been using it with my aforementioned HD-555's, but mostly just to bypass horrendous onboard sound on the laptop I'll be taking to my university.  I do love how they amp my 555's, though.
 
I look forward to everyone's input and even more so to finally hearing my new cans--whatever they might be.  Thanks.
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 4:25 PM Post #3 of 22

revolink24

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That's really a very tricky situation. The Denon D2000 can be had for around $200, is closed, and to me sounds great. But it does leak a small amount of sound, and I wouldn't exactly describe it as "neutral." That being said, from my own experiences, "neutral" headphones, (HD800, Etymotics) are far from what many people who think they want neutral are looking for, which is a natural sound. The problem is that much music is recorded using less than neutral monitors, until the sound engineer/recording engineer thinks it sounds "right." This leads to the headphones with the flattest frequency response sounding the least like real live performance. The D2000's bass response also isn't the best in the world.
 
All these factors considered, I actually think the Audio-Technica A900s might be a good choice. The high-impedence Beyers sound good to me, but they need a pretty high-level amp to sound their best, in my own experience.
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 4:43 PM Post #4 of 22

neochikara

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Thanks for the input so far--especially the detail opinion, revolink24!  You are correct, though, I am looking for naturalness, not neutrality.  And yes, the high impendance Beyerdynamic cans were very tempting (Amazon has some stellar prices on them right now!), but I read a topic on these forums about driving those with my same amp (thanks, search function!) and the results were not pretty.  The 32ohm versions would work, I was able to gather, but I have yet to find a Beyer that matches what I'm looking for in headphones (approximately).
 
To answer your question, 1Time, the exact audio chain will be: Foobar2k (WASAPI) -> Nuforce uDAC -> (insert headphones here).
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 5:04 PM Post #6 of 22

NapalmK

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Quote:
Thanks for the input so far--especially the detail opinion, revolink24!  You are correct, though, I am looking for naturalness, not neutrality.  And yes, the high impendance Beyerdynamic cans were very tempting (Amazon has some stellar prices on them right now!), but I read a topic on these forums about driving those with my same amp (thanks, search function!) and the results were not pretty.  The 32ohm versions would work, I was able to gather, but I have yet to find a Beyer that matches what I'm looking for in headphones (approximately).
 
To answer your question, 1Time, the exact audio chain will be: Foobar2k (WASAPI) -> Nuforce uDAC -> (insert headphones here).

 I pretty much agree with revolink about the D2000s. Personally I find them to be quite natural sounding however, they are not neutral. They have a bit more bass than neutral (I'd say a 7-7.5/10 quantity if 5/10 is neutral). Mids are a little recessed though it's more of a minor annoyance for me than anything. Highs are also a little boosted though not too bad and I haven't noticed any sibilance with my pair though some people have. I also have a uDac and I've used it to drive the Denons and it does a decent job. Most noticeably the boomy bass tightens up considerably as opposed to unamped and soundstage increases a little. They are extremely comfortable. To me they just edge out the DT990 for comfort which is saying something.
 
I found the DT990/250 to be very harsh especially running unamped or through my uDac though the bass was tighter than the Denons and the soundstage, imaging, and detail were better on the DT990. However, the sibilance was nasty. They had one of the worst treble spikes I've heard. Again it's just my opinion so take it for what it's worth.
 
Ultrasones may also be worth a shot though FWIR they are quite different from the HD555 (haven't heard it sorry) so I'd buy from a place with a good return policy.
 
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 5:12 PM Post #7 of 22

tim3320070

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DT770/600 need a lot of power (i.e. not an ipod directly) but sound pretty neutral to me- slightly bright. I've said it before but I think my Klipsch X10 IEM provide full non-fatiguing sound with detail with near ultimate isolation. Also, the Shure SRH840 islolate well and provide an even sound mostly but not very exciting.
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 5:14 PM Post #8 of 22

TheWuss

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7 posts in and i'm the first to mention the Shure SRH840 ???
 
@ OP, that may be your headphone.
neutral, closed, tight accurate bass (not too boomy), not sibilant as far as i can tell, isolates nicely...
 
retails for 200, but can be had for considerably less.  i got mine for $149.
give a quick search on the forum for the 840, and read up on it.  i think it might be the one for you.
 
because, unfortunately, there is a dearth of closed headphones of the neutral variety.  most of them are colored one way or another.
The only other neutral closed cans i can think of are either too costly (edition 8), or too hard to drive (600 ohm DT770).
 
cheers!
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 5:22 PM Post #9 of 22

neochikara

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Whoa, a deluge of information!  Thanks for the information, assorted folk.
 
The Denon D2000's look fantastic, but a little outside of my budget--which I have to unfortunately be pretty firm on.  I know that audiophile gear is a vicious space where wallets get obliterated and credit cards maxed, but I've already got enough debt with student loans to keep me comfy for decades to come.  I just don't want buyer's remorse; I want good value gear at a reasonable price that gives me a satisfying listening experience (I listen to music for at least six hours each day).
 
These Shure SRH840's look very tantilizing.  I think I glimpsed them briefly while looking at Beyerdynamic cans on Amazon.  Any suggestions for reliable resellers that might sell them for less than Amazon's price ($199), TheWuss?  A link would be appreciated, or at least a link to a site that would be good to start looking at.
 
And bluntman, I replied to your PM.
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 6:19 PM Post #10 of 22

TheWuss

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hmmm..  i can no longer find them for less than $199.
 
guitar center had them discounted when i bought them.  now they are $199 again...
 
sorry...
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 6:26 PM Post #12 of 22

NapalmK

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The Shure 840 would be a good option. I don't know how it slipped my mind earlier. They generally go for around $130 or less in the FS forum. They are probably the most neutral cans I've heard sub $200. If you want you can try them out at Guitar Center before you decide as I and many others have had comfort problems with them.
 
Ah I just remembered. FWIR the Beyerdynamic DT150 or 250 may be what you want though I haven't heard them. Not to single him out but Joelpearce has some experience with them.
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 6:41 PM Post #13 of 22

neochikara

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Yeah, I'm liking the Shure SRH 840's, and I just discovered that Earphone Solutions has a promo code to use on them that saves 18%, making them $163.18 shipped to my address.  That's a pretty killer price, I think.  I'm also interested in the Fischer Audio cans, but the distributor's only seem to have the open-back model in stock at this point unfortunately.  I've had some fantastic offers made, but I think I may go with the Shure.  Still gonna think on it and examine more options for a bit longer, though.
 
Jul 29, 2010 at 7:19 PM Post #14 of 22

porch

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@neochikara,
 
I tried the shure 840 and didn't really like their flat sound production...they just got boring after a while...i just needed something with a spark, a little flare to push me up and out of my seat...to make me feel like dancing.
 
I decided to spend some cash and went with the ah-d5000 from denon and never looked back since...so if anything, i'd recommend a denon. i don't know much of good closed cans except for maybe the audio-technica a900 which has good reviews. however, i've tried many cans form many companies such as sennheiser, beyerdynamic, shure, akg, etc...none did it for me except for denon's sound signature...if i was to ever upgrade i'd definitely go for the ah-d7000 or the hd800 from sennheiser, but God knows when I'd ever have that kind of money lol.
 

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