The Closed-Back Headphone Thread (Plus Comparisons & Reviews)
Aug 15, 2020 at 3:15 PM Post #46 of 1,973

Malevolent

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Ah yea, I like the D9200 a lot, it sounds highly detailed, organic, dynamic, and the tuning they've done in the subbass is very satisfying. Fun and yet still very much "hi-fi". I highly agree that it deserves to be taken seriously among the "summit" of closed-backs. For me though, they don't differentiate themselves from other closed-backs in terms of how "closed" they sound, which turns out to be pretty important for me. When circumstance permit and I find myself needing an "on the go" headphone again, it'll be on my shortlist again.

The Stellia, by contrast, somehow never reminds me of the fact that they're a "closed-back" while I'm listening to them. Probably due to a combination of factors, all of them positive. Also, they continue to impress with how well they scale when thrown at different (full-size) amps and headphone cables. I probably also just like the Focal sound.

I was a Verite early adopter and as pretty impressed at how badly tuned they sounded to my ears (!). I'll probably need to give them (and/or the VC) another shot.
The Denon D7000 was highly-regarded, back in the day. I think its successor model, the D7100 greatly damaged the brand's reputation, with its less-than-ideal sound, and an aesthetic that was aping the Beats headphones that were all the rage at that juncture.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised that, despite its top-notch sound, the D9200 was rather small and light - you're right, it can be a portable solution.

I like the Stellia myself, and if the opportunity permits, I might purchase one, just not anytime in the near future, I suppose. I have spent quite a fair bit in recent months, and my wife is starting to give me the evil eye. :sweat_smile:
 
Aug 15, 2020 at 3:21 PM Post #47 of 1,973

GREQ

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I think the tonality of the D9200 is basically 'perfect' ... by that I mean, close to that 'middle-ground' that will satisfy the most ears, like HD650.
But the soundstage felt so narrow and small, not noticeablely bigger than regular portable closed-backs.
Am I nitpicking? :)
 
Aug 15, 2020 at 3:27 PM Post #48 of 1,973

Malevolent

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Indeed - I guess there are not many fans of those as this is not so well known brand like others already mentioned. If only build material would be better but is't not bad comparing other products at the same price range I suppose. I found out that those are cans that I constantly coming back, but after long break. To hear this v-shaped sound and hear something different from other cans :wink: Still I would say not the best option for main cans in long term unless you love their sound signature and dislike others.

Still nothing can beat AudiQuests in terms of comfort. Brilliant for longer sessions.
Yeah, the "v-shaped" sound is a genre-specific signature. To my ears, it is best suited for bass-heavy music that lacks vocal representation, such as EDM.

I agree about the AudioQuest headphones; they are very comfortable for extended listening sessions, indeed. In terms of comfort, and with closed-back headphones in mind, I also enjoy using the Sony MDR-Z1R and the MDR-Z7M2.
 
Aug 15, 2020 at 3:56 PM Post #49 of 1,973

arielext

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I ran up the hill chasing the best closed back and settled for a Stellia which indeed is very good.
One day I sat down enjoying the tunes pumping out headphones just 1/10th of the price and then realized that for me personally headphones like Stellia are just not worth it.
The Beyerdynamic MMX-300 was just to close for comfort (well giving comfort to the Beyerdynamics actually) for me to keep the Stellia.
The colour scheme of Stellia is beautiful but prone to discolouring due to sweat as well even when taken care of.

Another closed back that deserves some praise: Ollo audio S4R. Once the slight discomfort of the small earpads is fixed by getting either the S4X pads or oval Chinese pads, these headphones are terrific especially for the price you have to pay for them: less then €300.
 
Aug 15, 2020 at 4:18 PM Post #50 of 1,973

Xero the Banana

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Yeah, the "v-shaped" sound is a genre-specific signature. To my ears, it is best suited for bass-heavy music that lacks vocal representation, such as EDM.

I agree about the AudioQuest headphones; they are very comfortable for extended listening sessions, indeed. In terms of comfort, and with closed-back headphones in mind, I also enjoy using the Sony MDR-Z1R and the MDR-Z7M2.
I also agree about the AudioQuest for extended listening. Granted, I do extended listening (or gaming) with all of my headphones :). It is a shame for me, because ever since I’ve gotten the AP2000ti, the Nightowl Carbons’ sound signature feels too dark for me to use often. I’m very close to putting mine up for sale or passing it to a family member, but every time I put it back on... it’s so comfy. I also think the 2000ti is very comfortable, but I don’t think I’ll find any other headphone as comfortable as it in the near future.
 
Aug 15, 2020 at 5:19 PM Post #51 of 1,973

Mink

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I also agree about the AudioQuest for extended listening. Granted, I do extended listening (or gaming) with all of my headphones :). It is a shame for me, because ever since I’ve gotten the AP2000ti, the Nightowl Carbons’ sound signature feels too dark for me to use often. I’m very close to putting mine up for sale or passing it to a family member, but every time I put it back on... it’s so comfy. I also think the 2000ti is very comfortable, but I don’t think I’ll find any other headphone as comfortable as it in the near future.
Maybe I am alone in this, but when I use a pair of headphones for a longer time that sound becomes the new reference for me. The initial too dark or too bright vanishes after a while and it just sounds right to me. True, generally I favor a darker sound over bright but even my D5000s, which are too bright and edgy sounding for my liking, become natural sounding after a while, my ears adjust. What the NightHawks and Owls however have as an advantage over every other pair I own is that they don't get fatiguing, meanwhile without sounding boring, muddy or unresolved. (The HD650s have this same quality). The D5000s on the other hand, how much used I get to their sound and how magical they sound, are starting to become fatiguing after a couple of hours. Even though my ears no longer consciously register it as too bright, the huge level of treble energy and hard hitting low bass inevitably are taking their toll.
 
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Aug 15, 2020 at 5:29 PM Post #52 of 1,973

ubs28

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I think the tonality of the D9200 is basically 'perfect' ... by that I mean, close to that 'middle-ground' that will satisfy the most ears, like HD650.
But the soundstage felt so narrow and small, not noticeablely bigger than regular portable closed-backs.
Am I nitpicking? :)

I remember that I also liked the D9200 when I tried it. But I did not end up buying it however.
 
Aug 15, 2020 at 8:11 PM Post #53 of 1,973

Xero the Banana

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Maybe I am alone in this, but when I use a pair of headphones for a longer time that sound becomes the new reference for me. The initial too dark or too bright vanishes after a while and it just sounds right to me. True, generally I favor a darker sound over bright but even my D5000s, which are too bright and edgy sounding for my liking, become natural sounding after a while, my ears adjust. What the NightHawks and Owls however have as an advantage over every other pair I own is that they don't get fatiguing, meanwhile without sounding boring, muddy or unresolved. (The HD650s have this same quality). The D5000s on the other hand, how much used I get to their sound and how magical they sound, are starting to become fatiguing after a couple of hours. Even though my ears no longer consciously register it as too bright, the huge level of treble energy and hard hitting low bass inevitably are taking their toll.
I can kind of understand where you’re coming from. For me I cannot say that the Nightowl becomes a reference, because I am used to neutral-bright sound signatures, and no matter how I try I cannot think of the Nightowl sound as reference. Even when I first heard the LCD-2 (the first mid-high end headphone I had tried), I still felt that it was lacking treble and airiness. However, even if I cannot think of it as neutral, I can adjust to the Nightowl sound after extended use and still enjoy it. But I still feel at times that because of the way it is tuned, I do not enjoy most music as often as on my other cans.

as for fatigue after long listening, that is perfectly understandable. Maybe I just like to torture my ears, but out of my headphone collection I have no issues with fatigue in terms of sound, but I do get minor gripes with comfort over long listening sessions - 4-8 hour sessions, on top of listening loud (my favorite genre is electronic). Out of what I own, the shuoer tapes are the main ones that give me ear fatigue; nothing else really from my collection.
 
Aug 15, 2020 at 8:36 PM Post #54 of 1,973

easo91

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I just picked up the Audeze EL-8C for less than $350 new, so I’m pretty excited to get my hands on it. I won’t ever be shopping in the LCD-3 price range again, so I’m curious what the little brother sounds like.
So this is the first planar I have personally owned, and hoo boy is this a treat. Great bass response all the way down but neutral and man is the mid range nicely presented. Treble might be a little dark for some, but I prefer that to a brighter sound, I’m pretty sensitive to treble.

Edit: I haven’t taken these off in about 6 hours now. The detail retrieval is insane on these for a closed back. Not sure if I’d be this impressed if I paid the 700 msrp, but if you can get this in under $400, it’s not going to have many conpetito. They’re incredibly fast, the bass might be a bit reined in for some, but I find it’s just enough and what’s there goes really low. The midrange is really natural. It’s best vocal presentation I’ve heard on practically anything I’ve owned and it handles any genre and any instrumentation I throw at them with ease. It’s pulling the balancing act of being relatively neutral while still being enjoyable to listen to, and the soundstage is very wide *for a closed back.*

They also isolate quite well, you can’t hear the outside world and it can’t what you’re listening to. The build is really sturdy, metal on metal with actual wood accentsThe proprietary cables are kind of a bummer, especially since this headphone is out of production, so unless you find these still through an authorized dealer with warranty, getting replacement cables could be tricky.

If you can live with the risks of a discontinued and no longer supported product, it’s something to consider, especially if you’re really a mid focused listener.
 
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Aug 16, 2020 at 4:45 AM Post #55 of 1,973

alekc

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I also agree about the AudioQuest for extended listening. Granted, I do extended listening (or gaming) with all of my headphones :). It is a shame for me, because ever since I’ve gotten the AP2000ti, the Nightowl Carbons’ sound signature feels too dark for me to use often. I’m very close to putting mine up for sale or passing it to a family member, but every time I put it back on... it’s so comfy. I also think the 2000ti is very comfortable, but I don’t think I’ll find any other headphone as comfortable as it in the near future.

I would strongly advice to reconsider parting with AQ cans. While I went with NH, now I wonder if I made mistake when I had opportunity to buy both pairs with nice discount. I've checked the same shop yesterday and they are all gone :frowning2:

There is something in AQ cans signature that always makes want to come back to them and I can't imagine having a setup without at least one of them. But you are right: sometimes they may sound a bit too dark.
 
Aug 16, 2020 at 6:37 AM Post #56 of 1,973

Malevolent

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I also agree about the AudioQuest for extended listening. Granted, I do extended listening (or gaming) with all of my headphones :). It is a shame for me, because ever since I’ve gotten the AP2000ti, the Nightowl Carbons’ sound signature feels too dark for me to use often. I’m very close to putting mine up for sale or passing it to a family member, but every time I put it back on... it’s so comfy. I also think the 2000ti is very comfortable, but I don’t think I’ll find any other headphone as comfortable as it in the near future.
Yeah, to my ears, the NightOwl Carbon and the AP2000Ti are opposing headphones on the signature spectrum. One is a little dark, with an emphasis on its lows, and the other, a bright and brilliant headphone, with a stellar treble presentation. Switching to one of them after an extended listening session with the other will result in a jarring experience, IMO. It'll definitely take a little brain "burn-in" time to adjust to the wholly different sound.
 
Aug 16, 2020 at 7:31 AM Post #57 of 1,973

Kammerat Rebekka

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^That is basically the advantage of owning more than one headphone. I could never quite understand why anyone would want to collect coconuts that all sound the same.
Nice with a little spice once in a while. Who wants to eat bacon for the rest of their lives? There would surely come a day where even something as insignificant as a small nibble of pineapple would be the bee's knees.
 
Aug 16, 2020 at 3:51 PM Post #58 of 1,973

Malevolent

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I remember that I also liked the D9200 when I tried it. But I did not end up buying it however.
Out of curiosity, why did you pass on the D9200? :)

I think the tonality of the D9200 is basically 'perfect' ... by that I mean, close to that 'middle-ground' that will satisfy the most ears, like HD650.
But the soundstage felt so narrow and small, not noticeablely bigger than regular portable closed-backs.
Am I nitpicking? :)
I found the soundstage on the D9200 to be pretty good, though, in comparison with some of the other flagship closed-backs on the contemporary market. I'll have to delve a little deeper into this once I compare the headphones in my collection.
 
Aug 16, 2020 at 3:57 PM Post #59 of 1,973

Malevolent

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^That is basically the advantage of owning more than one headphone. I could never quite understand why anyone would want to collect coconuts that all sound the same.
Nice with a little spice once in a while. Who wants to eat bacon for the rest of their lives? There would surely come a day where even something as insignificant as a small nibble of pineapple would be the bee's knees.
I'll take a serving of bacon and eggs for 6 days a week, with a healthy plate of fruits and vegetables on the 7th day, thank you very much. :joy:

On a less goofy note, you're right. It's good to have a collection that spans a few signature types. I'm generally in favor of a bass-skewed headphone, but it's nice to listen to a balanced sound every now and again; it helps to cleanse the palate. :)
 
Aug 16, 2020 at 8:49 PM Post #60 of 1,973

Xero the Banana

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Yeah, to my ears, the NightOwl Carbon and the AP2000Ti are opposing headphones on the signature spectrum. One is a little dark, with an emphasis on its lows, and the other, a bright and brilliant headphone, with a stellar treble presentation. Switching to one of them after an extended listening session with the other will result in a jarring experience, IMO. It'll definitely take a little brain "burn-in" time to adjust to the wholly different sound.
I wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve said. I find going from one of those two directly to the other a very jarring experience. I tend to hop to the LCD-1 or even the Ananda first as a more neutral sound makes the switch easier to adjust. Or cleanse the palate as you worded it :wink:

I have a gut feeling that the Aeon 2 might be the contrasting headphone I am looking for, but I’d love to read your comparisons of the various closed backs first!
 

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