Too many options and opinions (Over-ear headphone help/recommendations)

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  1. Aetheora
    My needs in this field aren't big, but even then, the options and opinions on what's good and what isn't is driving me nuts. I can't get a good handle on what's gonna be right for me, so I'd value some opinions. I need some recommendations for some over-ear headphones for both at home and on the go use. I'm fine with carrying my headphones in a bag, so they don't need to be super sleek or fold up. I'd also prefer to stay away from "gaming" headsets for now.

    What I have: A PC, consoles, and a Shanling M1 DAP with 32ohm in it, MP3's at 320kbp/s. I have over 15,000 music files, so I tend to avoid FLAC so I can actually fit it all on a 64GB card. I also wear glasses, if that affects much.
    I'd like to keep the budget below $200 Canadian, but I know that the Beyerdynamics don't tend to hit that. Lastly, they must be closed back. I don't wanna bother other people if I can help it!

    ------------------------------
    Most of my music (I calculated a good 98% of it) is from video game soundtracks, and not actual bands. The bands I listen to vary from Nightwish, Kamelot, Sonata Arctica, DragonForce, and a bit of Hammerfall in there as well. Power/Orchestral metal. I like other stuff too, like some rock, alternative, etc, but nothing I'd have full albums of, just a few songs.

    In terms of game soundtracks and what kind of music they have, it varies extremely widely. It could be something smoother like Transistor, something more guitar/string/violin heavy like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or stuff from the Ys series, something with more vocals/rap/hip hop/street with The World Ends With You, or more electronic and fast paced like the F-Zero GX soundtrack, and of course all of the big, sweeping orchestral pieces that tons of games have like stuff from Bravely Default, Final Fantasy (Especially Type-0), God Eater, Monster Hunter and more. There's a lot it all covers.
    -----------------------------

    Simply put, most of my audio comes from guitars, violins, vocals like opera or chorus and some normal vocals with the actual bands I listen to, and pretty much everything involved in an orchestra. Mids and treble are clearly the focus, but that doesn't mean bass needs to be anemic. I have sub-woofers for my desktop and car so that the guitar/orchestral tones can have that depth and boom that a simple bass boost can't handle or hope to match. I like my bass to emphasize and build up the rest, not be the dominant force in my audio.

    As for what I've looked into already, there's quite a few. Here's the list of headphones I've highly considered:

    Beyerdynamic 770 Pro:
    It's been the hallmark of recommendations here and everywhere. A bit above my price range, but I'd pay for the thing if these were it. But the dominant opinion is that the mids are recessed and the highs are a bit unpredictable, so that worries me for the type of music I'd want. Plus I'd need an amp for the 80ohm+ versions, which is not ideal. If I had to get one, I'd maybe consider the FiiO A1 since it's cheap and small enough.

    Sennheiser 598 CS: These almost seemed like the perfect choice. Public opinion is that they're generally just ok and most have returned them for something better. Yet I've heard great things with their treble, though apparently the mids are over-done and the bass is muddy. I'm not sure if their general sound signature (mids especially) can be fixed with an EQ or not, thus making them the perfect choice?

    ATH-M50X: Oh yes, these ones. I can hear the eyes rolling out of their sockets from here. Somehow these seem to be the most sworn by and most hated popular headphones. They can't be that bad, right?

    ATH-M40X:
    The apparently more neutral and overall better value version of the M50X. Might be more for what I'm looking for? They seem to get less hate than the M50x's do.

    HyperX Cloud Alpha: Now, I know I said no to gaming headphones. But apparently the sound on these is actually really good. A bit weak on the treble end apparently, but otherwise are well regarded.

    Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus: Apparently they're also fairly unpredictable with their upper sound signature like the 770's. The 16ohm has me concerned. Even my Sennheiser CX 1.00's take 28ohm compared to these things. Are they really worth the cost?

    -----------------------------

    Sooo, yeah, that's a bit of a wordy crap shoot. Here's hoping that something will come of this topic! Any help would be greatly appreciated, and note that the 5 headphones I listed are not the only options I'll accept. They're just the most highly considered, and as such, recommendations for other options are good. Thanks in advance~

    Edit: Update down below! Got to try some headphones on the list, and some I never considered.

    Edit 2: More impressions after a crazy day in the city on page 2. Might be getting close to my answer!

    Edit 3. Finally tried some headphones, found what I might like best, but it's still not perfect. More on the post on page 2.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  2. serman005
    I personally wouldn't put the M40x and the M50x in the same breath--they are completely different headphones IMHO. FWIW.

    One you did not mention that I feel bests all those you identify is the SoundMAGIC HP151. Maybe read about it and see what you think. It could work for you potentially and is in your price range. Def worth a look-see.
     
  3. Aetheora
    I'll put them into their own spots in that case. The M40X's seem to be a bit closer to what I want due to their more neutral sound and less forward treble/bass from what reviews tell me. Still dunno if they get the same crap the M50x's do though. I'll look up some reviews of the SoundMagic's, thanks!
     
  4. Mhog55
    Do you have somewhere you can audition some headphones? Honestly, if you're only listening to MP3s, it's not going to make a huge difference anyways imo. No need to seek out something detail oriented, just try to be sure whatever you choose has the sound signature you're after.
     
  5. ZMG885
    +1

    If you can get to a nearby head-fi meet, you'll hear a whole lot of gear in a wide price range. Best day I've every spent when considering gear. And a meet is especially good to try out closed backs with all the background noise going on....
     
  6. Aetheora
    I didn't think I did, but I just learned that the Long&Mcquade here in town sells headphones (I thought it was just instruments) and their website lists stuff like Beyerdynamic and Audio-Technica. I'm gonna investigate tomorrow and see if they have anything I can demo! If they do, I'll be sure to post my results here.

    As for the MP3 thing, I admit that because of the limited quality capabilities of the format, it's not gonna make a giant difference. But it has always been a big of enough difference between the in-ear and over-ear headphones I've tried over the years which has pushed me to seek out higher quality headphones than I used to. I used to be the Skullcandy and Monster type of person. Once I heard Sennheiser and some others, I can absolutely hear the difference and won't settle for anything too low end. At the same time, I have a very hard time hearing the differences between FLAC and 320kb/s MP3s, so that's why I settle for saving space in exchange for a quality difference I can't notice (Which could also partially be a fault of the equipment I use).

    I'm currently using some HyperX Cloud 2's for my desktop and general use over-ear headphones. I'm still trying to map out exactly where my research stands in comparison to these. For my desired sound signature, more of a focus on mids and highs/treble (Neutral, or at least not so emphasized they're shrill), with a bass that's good, but not overwhelming. Something that has bass that builds the body of everything else that needs it, but not so prominent it drowns anything out. So far, the M40X's sound the closest to what I want, but I'm still keeping options open
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
  7. Svenrolic
    "Beyerdynamic 770 Pro: It's been the hallmark of recommendations here and everywhere. A bit above my price range, but I'd pay for the thing if these were it. But the dominant opinion is that the mids are recessed and the highs are a bit unpredictable, so that worries me for the type of music I'd want. Plus I'd need an amp for the 80ohm+ versions, which is not ideal. If I had to get one, I'd maybe consider the FiiO A1 since it's cheap and small enough.

    Sennheiser 598 CS: These almost seemed like the perfect choice. Public opinion is that they're generally just ok and most have returned them for something better. Yet I've heard great things with their treble, though apparently the mids are over-done and the bass is muddy. I'm not sure if their general sound signature (mids especially) can be fixed with an EQ or not, thus making them the perfect choice?"

    I'd say the choice is probably between these two. The problem is that different people prefer different signatures. I prefer AKG over Sennheiser (for the entirety of the $200 - $1800 price range), ZMF (Eikon) over Mr. Speakers and Focal, and Etymotic ER4SR to the Etymotic ER4XR. I would recommend the Beyerdynamic 770 personally. I would more highly recommend comparing the two headphones mentioned above to nail down your preferred signature.
     
  8. PaganDL
    Hi Aetheora,

    If you're after some good closed backs which suit your needs, I suggest the following in no particular order (though I'm sure they will be above your budget, they are still worth looking into especially if you can find a good pro audio place which will give you a good deal) :

    Audio Technica MSR 7
    Shure SRH 940
    Sony 1AM2

    Hope you have a great day !
     
  9. Redcarmoose
    I’m simply curious as 15000 320kbps songs don’t fit on a 64GB card?
    Maybe it’s possible I just didn’t think so?

    Anyway best to listen to a bunch of headphones, because everyone has their own signature they found they like; so reviews will differ.


    Edit:
    Actually I looked it up and 15,000 songs is 60GB. 5000 songs is 20GB average. Who knew?
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
  10. PaganDL
  11. Aetheora
    It kinda surprised me too, honestly. Looking at my old music library folder, it has 13,627 files. Now, a chunk of those are below 30 seconds in length since they're fanfares from games and stuff. And most of the music is also sub 320KB/s, ranging between 128-256VBR (Which I learned way later than I needed to, I built this library up since my early teens). A decent portion of it is 320KB/s though, especially the new stuff. Takes up 54.5GB of space. Now, nearly 95% of that re-downloaded at 320KB/s with some new music to boot... 15,364 songs. 78.2GB in size. Had to get a bigger card!
     
  12. Sonic Defender Contributor
    The Philips Fidelio M1 MKII is simply brilliant, on-ear, closed, super comfortable and in my opinion is one of the very best values I have ever experienced when it comes to cost and performance. They deserve the 5 star and headphone of the year in their category that WhatHiFi awarded them, 2016 I believe. Order from Amazon, under $200 bones. Try them, they don't work return them shipping included.
     
  13. Aetheora
    So, managed to get to try a few headphones, including the infamous M50X's. I tried the Shure 440's, the Sennheiser HD 200 Pro's, and the ATH-M50X's. They also had the Shure 840's, but I didn't try them, as I had already spent enough of the people's time trying stuff and they were $250, a bit above my price range in general. Here's my thoughts on all of them!

    ATH-M50X: Welp. I can see exactly why these are so polarizing. The soundstage was indeed a bit weak, and they were a lot more boomy than I'd like. The mids were too muddled. They did sound good though, for sure. For folk who'd benefit from the bass, I absolutely see why these are so beloved. The comfort wasn't there though, I'd have to buy some better pads. Now, I know that the M40X's have less bass, but I wonder just how much the 5mm driver difference really makes. If it's not much, I might have to pass on the M40X's too.

    Shure 440: I was surprised by these. They didn't isolate much, which was disappointing. And I'm not sure how much they leaked, but I can't imagine it's a lot. However, the sound was pretty great. The mids and highs were pretty damn excellent, and it held together on all of the high notes I threw at it. The bass and low end was a bit weak though, it didn't give my music enough punch. Drums felt a bit barren, and big orchestral music didn't have the deep rumble I like. Granted, if these EQ well, I wonder just how much that'd improve things by tightening up the lower frequencies. The other part is their soundstage. It was impressive, I didn't expect them to sound as wide as they did. Hell, this was the widest soundstage I've heard in a pair of headphones, which is probably why it seemed so unnatural to me. I dunno if the soundstage was artificially wide or not, it sounded surreal. It's either that, or this is what I've been missing out on all this time. Hard to tell...

    Sennheiser HD 200 Pro: Not bad, but not great. The bass had a lot more impact than the Shure 440's and less than the M50X's, but the mids kinda suffered as a result. Probably could EQ those down a little. The biggest problem with these was the treble and higher notes. It really struggled in some spots. Most of the music was fine, but some of the really hard to hit stuff like higher violin notes, piano, and higher pitched opera vocals had no chance. I tried the Shure's again right after to make sure, and those stayed firm no matter what it was. Though, this makes me wonder if the 598 CS headphones would suffer the same results. Reviews say maybe.

    I also got to see the Beyerdynamic 240 Pro's. "Over-ear" my ass. Didn't even give them a listen. They probably sound decent, but at that size... what are these, over-ears for ants?

    So that's the lot so far. Now I'm in even more of a struggle than before, cause the ATH-M40X's I was more prepared to try are now up int he air due to comfort and sound concerns. Back to the drawing board it seems!
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
    Redcarmoose likes this.
  14. Mhog55
    You should go back and listen to the 840. You get what you pay for. It's a good can imo, but slightly power hungry from my experience. Otherwise, a fairly balanced sound with a decent stage and good imaging for a closed back. They are popular among folks who enjoy rock music, myself included
     
  15. Aetheora
    I'm sure they're fantastic, I really wanted to give them a shot. But after taxes are said and done they'll be nearly $300. I'm not sure if that's how much I need to spend on this kind of thing, and if I fell in love with them, then I'd be worried I'd spend that much cause I wouldn't wanna settle for less. Maybe next time, but I would wanna stick around the $150-200 range if possible
     
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