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Seeking headphones and amp: neutral, comfortable (big head) ~$500

  1. Phonophonic
    Hello, this is my first post on the forum. I’m happy to have found such an amazing group of thoughtful people all interested in audio and headphones! I am new to the mid to high-end headphone arena; previously I have owned Sennheiser HD 280s, and I currently have a pair of Sony MDR-1RBTs (the Bluetooth version of the MDR-1Rs).

    I have liked the way both sound, but my main problem with both sets is that I have a big head (7 3/4 hat size) and they feel like squeezing after 60-90 minutes no matter how I adjust them. I also don’t know what I am missing, as I’ve never owned better headphones than these, and I’m interested to find out what is possible. I am looking for a headphone and amp setup for preferably under $500 total. I’m willing to try used.

    Type: circumaural, open or closed, leaning toward open for more comfort.

    Sound: I listen to all types of music from classical, metal, and country, to hip hop and EDM. The music where I really get that frisson sensation is mostly cello and violin, or female vocals. I do enjoy good sub-bass response but would prefer a neutral response. I would also use them for watching movies and Netflix.

    Source: Currently Spotify on an iPhone, iPad, or laptop. I may try Qobuz soon. However, I also need the capability for an analog connection at work, so any DAC/amp combo must also have an analog in. I don’t need higher than 16 bit with 44.1/48khz, and I’m more than willing to use Apple lightning and USB-C to 3.5mm DACs, as I’ve heard good things about them. It would be good if the headphones could sound at least decent without an amp, but I’m flexible.

    Comfort is my #1 priority. Unfortunately, due to my location it’s unlikely that I’d be able to try on any but the most mass-market headphones prior to buying. That being said, the Sony MDR-1RBTs felt great for the first hour, so trying on in a store might not help. I’ve looked at the Hifiman HE4XX and several Sennheiser models, including the HD 6XX, HD 58X, and HD 650s. I’m willing to entertain any ideas.

    Thank you guys for any suggestions you can provide!
  2. serman005
    If comfort is the over-arching priority above all else, in this sort of general price range I personally find the HD598 very hard to beat. It also has the potential advantage of not requiring a dedicated amp in order to sound good, so it adds a bit of flexibility there as well.
  3. Phonophonic
    Thanks! How do you find the sound in comparison to the Sennheisers more commonly recommended for sound alone like the HD 600 or 650?
  4. serman005
    I own all of them. My personal preference in order generally speaking would be HD650>HD600>HD598 purely in terms of sound. That said, for me, there is no question that the HD598 is definitely more comfortable than either of the other two. I can barely tell it's on my head. Love that. Also, I do not have the HE4XX but do own the very similar HE400S, which I also find very comfy overall (super-light and clamp force is not an issue). Again, though, for me, the HD598 is still more comfortable for longer sessions.
  5. Phonophonic
    Thanks again, I will definitely look in to them!
  6. Phonophonic
    I was also reading about the Sennheiser Momentum and Fostex TH-X00/TR-X00 being very comfortable too. Does anyone have experience with those or other models, especially if you have a large head?
  7. tansand
    I have a big head too, I have AKG k240s with the 'tape mod' and shure 940 velour pads and they're very comfortable. The stock pads are sweaty. 2c, in case you're looking into AKGs at some point..
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
  8. DarkFlames
    I have a brand new pair of hifiman sundara unopened in box which i'm gonna put up for sale soon check them out, they are super comfy and sound better than the senns listed here and anything else in the price range really.
  9. Phonophonic
    I’ll definitely have to check these out, as well as the tape mod. I don’t really have a preference for one brand over another, as I don’t really know why I’m looking for. Hence this thread!
  10. Phonophonic
    Have you compared them to the Hifiman 400 or 4xx? I’ll definitely research them more.
  11. DarkFlames
    I haven't listened to them, but I've done thorough research and these are much more detailed and responsive than the he-400i, which I've previously owned, and they are way ahead of the he4xx as well, these on release were originally sold at $500 now the price has been lowered to 350 which beats anything in the price range.
  12. tansand
  13. Phonophonic
    Ah I think I understand what you mean, most AKGs have a similar design and the tape mod makes them even better? I will definitely check them out!
  14. Phonophonic
    I’ve also been reading about the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Edition; the DT 880 always seems to be mentioned in “most comfortable” lists. Anyone with a giant head want to chime in?

    I’m also interested in the best way to drive these. Most seem to say that the 600 ohm sounds best, but needs a good amp. I had been considering the FiiO A5 for portable and/or the Massdrop version O2 for desktop/home. Any thoughts?
  15. starence
    I used to have the DT 990 premium, didn’t fit my big melon very well. It’s been a while, but I remember they didn’t extend quite far enough, so the ear pads sat a little too high. There was another comfort issue too, but I’ve forgotten what it was, in any case they were not a good fit for me.

    HD 650 fit me pretty well, after bending the metal parts of the headband out. TH-X00 fit pretty well, except for the small ear openings in the pads.

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