Sony MDR-1A upgrade
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MichielS

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Recently I had to replace my earcussions on the 1A and upgraded to some bigger ones than the original. It distorted the sound quite a bit so I have to order some new ones.
I the meantime I am listening with my IEMs and 1000Xm2 for on the road. I was thinking about an upgrade for the 1A.
What I like about the 1A is the instrumental side of the sound, bass can be to loud from time to time but not too disturbing.

I saw some options like;
Sony MDR-1Am2
Sennheiser HD600, 650, 660...
Philips Fidelio X2, X2HR, X3,...

I like it to be over-ear phones and I will only listen to it from home on my Fiio M11 Pro.

I listen to edm , rap, pop, classic rock (80s, 90s, 00s) and classical music (piano mainly).


Budget is max 400€ and I am based out of Europe.
 
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pjones5

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Recently I had to replace my earcussions on the 1A and upgraded to some bigger ones than the original. It distorted the sound quite a bit so I have to order some new ones.
I the meantime I am listening with my IEMs and 1000Xm2 for on the road. I was thinking about an upgrade for the 1A.
What I like about the 1A is the instrumental side of the sound, bass can be to loud from time to time but not too disturbing.

I saw some options like;
Sony MDR-1Am2
Sennheiser HD600, 650, 660...
Philips Fidelio X2, X2HR, X3,...

I like it to be over-ear phones and I will only listen to it from home on my Fiio M11 Pro.

I listen to edm , rap, pop, classic rock (80s, 90s, 00s) and classical music (piano mainly).


Budget is max 400€ and I am based out of Europe.
Great options here. I haven't personally tried anything by Philips, though I've heard great things. I do own and regularly use the 1AM2s and HD6XXs (Drop's version of the HD650s that have a much lower price-tag).

The 1AM2s are the only closed back headphone in the list you've got so they're in a class of their own. If you're primarily listening while commuting, in a public space, or somewhere where it's just generally loud, I would go with the 1AM2s. Even in my own house, its just too loud for open-backs. I've found them to be less bassy and more smooth/buttery - gives music a detailed presentation with some warmth. They have enough detail to handle classical well, but also enough bass to enjoy rap and pop. The resonance makes stringed instruments sound quite nice as well. All in all, I don't think you'd be disappointed.

I'll break out the HD6XXs if I'm alone in the house and can get some quite. I like the open back design with the wide sound stage and great instrument placement. Love these cans for acoustic and classical music. They make symphonies and jazz sound wonderful. Being open-back, however, I don't like using these rap because there isn't much sub-bass (which means no thump).

Drop x HifiMan's HE4XX handle classic rock genres super well with their wide sound-stage and mid/high detail. I love listening to live concerts with these.

Another potential option because of what you've listed as far as genres is the Meze 99 Noirs. The 99's are the most comfortable headphones (especially if you upgrade the earpads). They've got some flexibility depending on the track, but usually are on the side of warmth/bass. Sometimes there is a bit too much bass for me, but this can be mitigated somewhat by running these with a 2.5mm balanced cable. I love listening to piano and acoustic music on these. Depending on the track, the bass can come in pretty heavy for rap/pop so you still get some thump to your music. Of all the headphones I've listed though, these are probably the least neutral - possibly very similar in sound signature to the MDR-1As, though with better detail. The

Like you, I listen to a few different genres of music. Fortunately, I've got a few choices of headphones. However, if I'm going to go on a trip and can only bring one headphone, I always bring the 1AM2s because they are by far the most versatile. Between their portability, low impedance, and sound, they make for a great safe choice (in my opinion at least).
 
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MichielS

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I already tested the Sennheiser HD660S. It seems I'm not a real big fan of the open back plus they cost the same as a Sony MDR-1Am2 and the Philips X2HR together. I will see if I can get my hands on both for some testing. Thank for the replies to you both!
 
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silent-circuit

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The X2HR is also an open back design, though it doesn't leak as much sound as the HD6XX series.
 
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bonyjam

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Hi MichielS,

The MDR-1A and 1AM2 sound almost similar and IMHO does not see the upgrade to be worth it.
You can try running the 1A in a balanced mode. I bought the "Earmax" branded 4.4mm balanced cable for around SGD70 (plus shipping) and it improved the dynamic and tighten up the bass.
They do come in 2.5mm connector as well.

I too listen to EDM and found the Meze 99 Neo to be quite suitable for this genre of music.
 
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pjones5

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What about the Sony MDR-Z7 or Beyerdynamic 1770 Pro?
I've heard mixed things about the MDR-Z7. I've had my eyes on the Z7M2's, but they are far too expensive for my tastes currently. If I had a choice between the 1AM2s and Z7s, I'd go Z7s though.

Haven't tried the 1770 Pro's personally, but I have heard that they are super aggressive in their presentation of detail. The Z7 are your kickback and relax type of cans whereas the 1770 Pro's are your go-to's when you want to hear every little detail which can often cause quick ear fatigue. Might be worth checking out the 177X Go model at Drop.com - similar build, cheaper, easier to drive (doesn't need as much power), and slightly less aggressive.
 
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silent-circuit

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X2HR is currently $130 new via Woot (a subsidiary of Amazon).
 
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MichielS

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Yeah, problem is that I am living in Belgium, Europe...
I got my hands on a 2nd hand DT770 Pro 250Ohm with a a year warranty and like it so far (70€). I tested the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro and liked it but not so much to justify a 412€ price tag. The MDR-Z7 is hard to come by for a decent price, I'll search a little bit longer.
 
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