The Closed-Back Headphone Thread (Plus Comparisons & Reviews)
Aug 13, 2020 at 6:54 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1,747

Malevolent

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Index of Reviews
Impressions
of the Fostex TH900 Mk2 (Pearl Limited Edition). [Link] [@bythebookiii]

Comparison between the Denon AH-D9200 and the Pioneer SE-Monitor 5. [Link] [@Chris Kaoss]

Comparison between the Audeze LCD-XC, the Kennerton Gjallarhorn GH50, the Klipsch Heritage HP-3, and the ZMF Vérité Closed. [Link] [@Malevolent]

Comparison between a whole bunch of headphones, including the Audeze LCD-XC, the Audio-Technica ATH-AWKT, the Beyerdynamic T5p (2nd Gen), the Denon AH-D7200, the Focal Elegia, and a whole lot more! [Link] [@TSelanne]

Comparison between the Audio-Technica ATH-WP900, the Denon AH-D9200, the Fostex TH900 Mk2, and the Kennerton Gjallarhorn GH50. [Link] [@Malevolent]

Impressions of the Sony MDR-Z1R. [Link] [@bythebookiii]

Comparison between the Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back, the Campfire Audio Cascade, and the Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Closed. [Link] [@Malevolent]

Impressions of the ZMF Vérité Closed with 4 different pads. [Link] [@Nostoi]

Comparison between the Sony MDR-Z1R and the MDR-Z7M2. [Link] [@Malevolent]

Comparison between the Audio-Technica ATH-AWKT and the ZMF Vérité Closed. [Link] [@Nostoi]

Impressions of the Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Closed. [Link] [@Xero the Banana]

Comparison between the Focal Stellia and the ZMF Vérité Closed. [Link] [@MakubexGB]

Comparison between the Denon AH-D9200, the Sony MDR-Z1R, and the ZMF Vérité Closed. [Link] [@Malevolent]

Comparison between the Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000, the ATH-AP2000Ti, the ATH-AWAS, the ATH-AWKT, and the ATH-WP900. [Link] [@frederikehertz]

Impressions of the Audio-Technica ATH-AP2000Ti. [Link] [@bythebookiii]

Comparison between the Audio-Technica ATH-WP900, the Beyerdynamic T5p (2nd Generation), and the Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Closed. [Link] [@Malevolent]

Comparison between the Audio-Technica AP2000Ti, the ATH-AWAS, the ATH-AWKT, and the ATH-WP900. [Link] [@Nostoi]

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Here's a thread for fans of closed-back headphones.

To start off, I love closed-back cans. Since I started my journey a little under 10 years ago, I have always preferred closed headphones to open ones. The sense of intimacy, the 'in your head' sound; these are some of the characteristics that I desire in my headphones, something that open-backs cannot satisfy.

Plus, I listen to a lot of EDM (~70% of my music collection). I simply cannot get the bass that I crave, the bass that dance music needs, with open-back headphones.

So here's a thread for those of us who prefer the closed side of things. :)

Plus, I am interested in doing a comparison of the top-end closed-back headphones available on the market today. At present, these are the major closed cans in my collection -
  • Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back
  • Audeze LCD-XC
  • Audio-Technica ATH-WP900
  • Campfire Audio Cascade
  • Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Closed
  • Denon AH-D9200
  • Focal Elegia
  • Fostex TH900 Mk2
  • Kennerton Gjallarhorn GH50
  • Klipsch Heritage HP-3 (semi-closed)
  • Sony MDR-Z1R
  • Sony MDR-Z7M2
  • ZMF Vérité Closed
So anyway, let's get started discussing our favorite closed-back headphones!
 
Last edited:
Aug 13, 2020 at 7:03 AM Post #2 of 1,747

Nostoi

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Great thread. I'll be curious to hear how your incoming VC compare to the two Audio-Technica models you list. :thumbsup:
 
Aug 13, 2020 at 7:07 AM Post #3 of 1,747

Malevolent

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Great thread. I'll be curious to hear how your incoming VC compare to the two Audio-Technica models you list. :thumbsup:
I'm also looking forward to your comparison of the heavy hitters in your growing Audio-Technica stable! :)
 
Aug 13, 2020 at 7:19 AM Post #4 of 1,747

Kammerat Rebekka

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I’ve read a fair few of your posts on here and must admit to two things:
A) we are very different when it comes to preferences - I vastly prefer openbacks!
B) I still am somewhat surprised to learn that you went for the D9200 over the D7200 considering your affinity for bass.
:p
With that out of the way I feel this is a great idea for a thread. I know quite a few folks who either prefer closedbacks or indeed have no other real option outside of mixing their fave tunes with various high-pitched baby-squeals, fornicating kit-cats and that neighbour with the chainsaw-hobby.
I’ll add the K371 to the fold. I know..it’s nowhere the above mentioned cans in terms of price...but sound quality wise? Well that’s another matter altogether. I think of the K371 as a ‘fixed’ Elegia. Where the Focal is a little thin in the bass department the AKG is just right. It’s not a lot but those few dBs of extra bass quantity do wonders for the overall balance. Add to that, the K371 is also more linear in the uppermids and low treble ultimately beating out the Focal in natural timbre.
Anyhoo seeing as you own all these other closedbacks and additionally are waiting on two fairly expensive headphones, why not throw a 100$ coconut into the mix. Who knows, you may just be surprised by what you hear...and it’d be interesting to see the comparison.
Do pricier headphones give you better sound quality or merely better and more luxurious materials as well as a different tuning? That is an interesting question methinks:)
 
Aug 13, 2020 at 9:50 AM Post #6 of 1,747

Mink

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I prefer closed-backs over open headphones as well. My latest buy, the HD650s confirm this. I love the HD650s, tonally and timbre-wise they are the best pair I own. But I am constantly aware I listen to small confined soundscape in a open space, whereas with closed headphones this small confined space is everything. Music and sound exclusively
My favorite pairs are the Sony MDR-Z7, AudioQuest NightOwl and Audio Technica A900X. I want to add the NightHawks as well, although semi-open, they isolate better than the Sony's
 
Aug 13, 2020 at 10:29 AM Post #7 of 1,747

GREQ

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I prefer closed backs when the needs arise, which is more often that I like :D

That said, I have a 'thing' for vintage Japanese studio monitors (and I'm a JVC fanboy).

These are the more interesting ones that I own, sometimes regardless of sound quality.

  • Axent Wear Cat Ear Headphones
  • Bandridge Double Drive EH910DD
  • Beyerdynamic DT790
  • JVC HA-DX1000
  • Victor HP-D900
  • JVC HA-D990
  • JVC HA-D810
  • JVC HA-D700
  • JVC HA-M1000
  • JVC HA-MX100-Z
  • JVC ésnsy HA-SR85S
  • Panasonic HD-10
  • Panasonic RP-HX650
  • Pioneer SE-900D
  • Satolex Plum hdh0297
  • Sennheiser Momentum (original brown)
  • Sony MDR-V900
  • Technics RP-F1
  • Technics RP-F3
  • Techncis RP-F5
  • Ultrasone HFI-700DVD
  • Yamaha RH-40M
 
Aug 13, 2020 at 2:21 PM Post #8 of 1,747

Malevolent

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I’ve read a fair few of your posts on here and must admit to two things:
A) we are very different when it comes to preferences - I vastly prefer openbacks!
B) I still am somewhat surprised to learn that you went for the D9200 over the D7200 considering your affinity for bass.
:p
With that out of the way I feel this is a great idea for a thread. I know quite a few folks who either prefer closedbacks or indeed have no other real option outside of mixing their fave tunes with various high-pitched baby-squeals, fornicating kit-cats and that neighbour with the chainsaw-hobby.
I’ll add the K371 to the fold. I know..it’s nowhere the above mentioned cans in terms of price...but sound quality wise? Well that’s another matter altogether. I think of the K371 as a ‘fixed’ Elegia. Where the Focal is a little thin in the bass department the AKG is just right. It’s not a lot but those few dBs of extra bass quantity do wonders for the overall balance. Add to that, the K371 is also more linear in the uppermids and low treble ultimately beating out the Focal in natural timbre.
Anyhoo seeing as you own all these other closedbacks and additionally are waiting on two fairly expensive headphones, why not throw a 100$ coconut into the mix. Who knows, you may just be surprised by what you hear...and it’d be interesting to see the comparison.
Do pricier headphones give you better sound quality or merely better and more luxurious materials as well as a different tuning? That is an interesting question methinks:)
A) Yeah, it's no surprise, really. Most audiophiles I know tend to prefer open-backs to closed ones. It's easy to understand why - the sound is generally more natural, and you tend to get a wider, airier stage. Still, if there's one key takeaway in all of this, it's that no 2 audiophiles are alike.

In the early days of my audiophile journey, I used to wonder why I would always reach for the closed headphones, instead of the open-back ones. In all honesty, I thought that I was weird. After all, if I was an audiophile, why was I not going with the program? Why wasn't I enjoying the open-back headphones more? Or, should I say, why was I not enjoying them at all?

It only took me a couple more years (yeah, a long time, indeed) to finally come to the realization that I simply was not a fan of open-back headphones at all. I just didn't know better.

B) I like the D7200, too, and that's something that I might consider adding to my collection in the future. However, I already have some prominent bass champions in the stable, such as the TH900 Mk2, the Z1R, the Cascade. Moreover, the D9200 is too good to ignore - it's truly one of the best headphones in the contemporary market. IMO.

I've heard the K371 before, and I agree, it is a champ within the burgeoning budget sector. Along with some of the more established members of that price category, such as the M50x and the Creative Aurvana Live!, the K371 deserves its status as a first pick for any budding audiophile. I might just add it, along with some other lower-priced headphones, in the shootout. Nice suggestion. :)
 
Aug 13, 2020 at 2:24 PM Post #9 of 1,747

Malevolent

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well, you know my fav closed back. I sold my xcs and z7s as the Z1R just kills it.
Can't say that it's difficult to see why. The Z1R deserves its place at, or near, the summit of the closed-back world. It has a sound that's not immediately audiophile-friendly, in the traditional sense, but stick around a little bit more, and you'll come to appreciate its strengths. Plus, if you're a fan of textured, powerful lows, it's hard to beat the Z1R.
 
Aug 13, 2020 at 2:30 PM Post #10 of 1,747

Malevolent

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I prefer closed-backs over open headphones as well. My latest buy, the HD650s confirm this. I love the HD650s, tonally and timbre-wise they are the best pair I own. But I am constantly aware I listen to small confined soundscape in a open space, whereas with closed headphones this small confined space is everything. Music and sound exclusively
My favorite pairs are the Sony MDR-Z7, AudioQuest NightOwl and Audio Technica A900X. I want to add the NightHawks as well, although semi-open, they isolate better than the Sony's
Yes, that's one of the main reasons why I love closed-backs myself. That sense of enveloping intimacy is quite something else. Where others perceive it as a defect, or an area to be improved upon, I consider this aspect a key strength in a headphone. Of course, I can also appreciate a larger stage, but this is not something that I am immediately drawn toward, when I audition a new product.

I like the NightOwl myself, and I was considering purchasing one. Since AudioQuest has left the personal headphone space, the prices on the 3 AudioQuest cans have dropped considerably. I can get a new set for about $480. That's quite a steal, IMO.

As I haven't heard the NightOwl in quite some time, how would you compare it to the MDR-Z7? :)
 
Aug 13, 2020 at 2:35 PM Post #11 of 1,747

Malevolent

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I prefer closed backs when the needs arise, which is more often that I like :D

That said, I have a 'thing' for vintage Japanese studio monitors (and I'm a JVC fanboy).

These are the more interesting ones that I own, sometimes regardless of sound quality.

  • Axent Wear Cat Ear Headphones
  • Bandridge Double Drive EH910DD
  • Beyerdynamic DT790
  • JVC HA-DX1000
  • Victor HP-D900
  • JVC HA-D990
  • JVC HA-D810
  • JVC HA-D700
  • JVC HA-M1000
  • JVC HA-MX100-Z
  • JVC ésnsy HA-SR85S
  • Panasonic HD-10
  • Panasonic RP-HX650
  • Pioneer SE-900D
  • Satolex Plum hdh0297
  • Sennheiser Momentum (original brown)
  • Sony MDR-V900
  • Technics RP-F1
  • Technics RP-F3
  • Techncis RP-F5
  • Ultrasone HFI-700DVD
  • Yamaha RH-40M
Nice collection of closed-back headphones! Sadly, I've only tried a handful of the headphones in your list; the vintage ones are beyond my reach.

Since you like JVC headphones, have you considered the HA-SW01 and the HA-SW02?
 
Aug 13, 2020 at 2:42 PM Post #12 of 1,747

Huntersknoll

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In the early days of my audiophile journey, I used to wonder why I would always reach for the closed headphones, instead of the open-back ones. In all honesty, I thought that I was weird. After all, if I was an audiophile, why was I not going with the program? Why wasn't I enjoying the open-back headphones more? Or, should I say, why was I not enjoying them at all?


Exactly what happened to me. I'm currently rocking the Aeon 2 closed and I love them.
 
Aug 13, 2020 at 2:43 PM Post #13 of 1,747

Mink

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Yes, that's one of the main reasons why I love closed-backs myself. That sense of enveloping intimacy is quite something else. Where others perceive it as a defect, or an area to be improved upon, I consider this aspect a key strength in a headphone. Of course, I can also appreciate a larger stage, but this is not something that I am immediately drawn toward, when I audition a new product.

I like the NightOwl myself, and I was considering purchasing one. Since AudioQuest has left the personal headphone space, the prices on the 3 AudioQuest cans have dropped considerably. I can get a new set for about $480. That's quite a steal, IMO.

As I haven't heard the NightOwl in quite some time, how would you compare it to the MDR-Z7? :)
I would say the NightOwl is a good analoque turntable, the MDR-Z7 is a good analogue tape deck.
Overall the Owls resolve better and their soundstage is more coherent and consistent. The Z7s at times sound like a 'spatial' button is pressed. In the 80s and 90s this was a common sound enhance button on portable radio/cassette players. And at times the instrument seperation on the Z7s sound like a multi-miked recording, as if not all the instruments/instrument groups are recorded in the same space at the same time, but later put together. Hard to describe, but the Owls sound more natural in 'soundstaging; .
I love both, the Owls are superior for natural recordings, like classical, jazz etc. The Z7s are superior for 60s and 70s pop/rock recordings.
 
Aug 13, 2020 at 3:27 PM Post #15 of 1,747

GREQ

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Nice collection of closed-back headphones! Sadly, I've only tried a handful of the headphones in your list; the vintage ones are beyond my reach.

Since you like JVC headphones, have you considered the HA-SW01 and the HA-SW02?
I would love to audition them first... I don't think I would dislike them considering I like the sound of most of the really good stuff they made in the past, but it's a lot of money to throw at yet another headphone I don't need :D
There's far too few impressions and way too much import tax to consider this toy seriously at the moment.
And not even a single FR graph.

The wooden drivers are highly alluring, I was very tempted to buy the SW02 a few times.
I do keep my eyes peeled for 2nd hand copies in Europe, however unlikely it would be for one to turn up.
 

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