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Upgrade from SHP9500 under $200. Hifiman 400i? HD58X? Overchoice... (details in the post)

  1. Electrolite
    I'd like some input on a good headphone under 200 dollars (I don't care about buying used headphones) to upgrade my SHP9500. I will try to explain what I like.

    I want open back cans, I don't have a problem having to use an amp but to be sincere if I have to I would need to buy a very cheap amp to drive the cans

    I'm not sure how to explain what I like; I will use my SHP as example. I like how the SHP9500 feels crispy, lively, dynamic. Songs like Suda by Chon with those guitars playing different chords at the same time on different ears, Do You Realize by the Flaming Lips or Sandusky by Uncle Tupelo are other examples.
    Sometimes they can be a tad harsh, songs like Blue in Green by Miles Davis can be hard to listen on my usual audio levels.

    Bass: Would be great if the new headphone had a little more bass in the range where you can almost feel them (yeah my knowledge is terrible, I like this bass you can feel, kinda like the drums on Southern Skies by Yuck or the impact you feel just at the beginning of Radioactivity by Kraftwerk and that keeps playing throught the song or the impact in Andromedra (DRAM Special) by Gorillaz when the impact changes from one ear to the other at 0:41 seconds or in Need More Z's by Submerse).
    If more bass is not possible, I'd like something that didn't have much less bass than the SHP9500.

    Mids: I'm not sure how to describe how I like mids. I think I'm satisfied with what the SHP9500 does.

    I'm not very picky I just want an upgrade from the SHP9500 that would keep the lively, dynamic signature that it has alongside a good/decent bass extension and not too much recessed mids.
    I was going to get the Hifiman He-400i but build quality was always an issue for me. I live in Brazil if the headphones die there is no way to replace them, the HD58X appeared in the perfect time, people say they are more ''alive'' than other senns and have great bass extension but there's still no reviews from bigger youtubers on them.

    Feel free to put other suggestions if you have, I heard the AKG 702 and DT880 are good options.
  2. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Might want to skip all those you listed so far if you have to use a "very cheap" amp. Most don't have power at ~32ohms to drive low sensitivity cans like HE400i properly; HD6-- series have too high impedance and very cheap amps drop output too far by 300ohms (not that they're starting with a lot of power to begin with). Even the E10K.

    HD58X is kind of middle of the road as far as that's concerned. It's 150ohms but AFAIK didn't drop its sensitivity vs the HD600 by as much as the HD660S did vs the HD650.

    Your safest bet for $200 is the Grado SR225e as far as cheap amps go. You might not even need an amp if you're using a PC with a relatively modern gaming motherboard.

    There's also the Meze 99, although I haven't listened to that one, but being closed back that kind of contributes to sensitivity by lowering ambient noise a little bit, like your computer's fans if you're using one as a source.

    "Lively, dynamic" is a function of two things. First is the frequency response, like boosts to the upper bass to enhance the percussion and make them stick out.

    Second is how loud you're listening. Either you have Grados with a very high sensitivity and low impedance, ie you're getting the most power out of the amp, and even a not so fancy amp won't even sweat (and a really nice amp seems to not do anything different), or you have for example an HD600 being driven by a Meier Jazz FF or Classic FF, if not a WooAudio WA3 or WA6.

    That's a tall (or Venti by Starbucks terms) order for having good mids, high sensitivity to sound dynamic and lively without blowing a lot of money on the amp, and more bass.

    Grados will have less bass, even with the sock mod. Unless you save up and get an RS2e. Imaging won't improve with the SR225e either.

    You'd probably better off just upgrading the earpads on the SHP9500S into denser pads to get you a bit more bass, and just save up for an RS2e and a cheap but good amp, or a K712 with a really good amp.

    Not for what you want or can spend right now. Besides with the AKG people use them and blow money on the amp because they're after the imaging primarily, and at least the K702 doesn't roll off as early as the K701. if you don't really care about imaging you might as well avoid it, even more if what you want is lively sound for cheap. Which you can get with a Grado since it can do without an amp, but since you also want the SHP9500's bass at least and content with its mids, and wantits lively sound, you might as well just mod the earpads and improve the bass than get a Grado and basically improve only on its serviceability (ie easier to replace earpads, easy to find pads and other spare parts including spare drivers, etc).
  3. Electrolite
    I was planning to use the FX-Audio DAC-X6 which has 450mW at 300 ohm (for HD6XX) and 1000mw at 32 ohm (Hifiman). And yes I know in measurements it's not the best with less distortion but in practice people really like it. Zeos (i know he is very polarized but he tested a lot of stuff in his life) likes the DAC-X6 even using the DAC to play the STAX and said he didn't hear anything terrible or distorted.
    Other review I read:
    "I listened to the line output of the DAC-X6 against the Topping D30 through my Stax SRM-007t headphone amp driving their "Pro" headphones. Going through my playlist, I could not detect any obvious differences. But if I squinted enough, I thought the Topping sounded better. See the frequency response measurements for possible reason.
    I then switched to headphone listening and comparing the DAC-X6 against Fiio E10K. Without level matching, the DAC-X6 easily pulls ahead. Even with level matching, the DAC-X6 sounded noticeably better with the Sennheiser HD-650. There was more bass, more clarity, etc."

    The thing is, yeah AMP is essential but I think headphone is the strongest link in the chain so I would like to get something that I would be happy for years and as time goes by I can upgrade my AMP.

    But thanks for the input and clarification I will check the Grados or even think about upgrading my pads for the SHP and saving more money, if everything goes well I will be able to buy a better AMP do I really need those 400 dollar amps? Is there a middle ground? I tought my cans should be more expensive than my amps
  4. Me x3
    DT880 is quite light in the bass and K702 is similar.
    Both are also relatively bright so these don't seem to be the right ones for you.

    Check these:
    AKG K712
    HIFIMAN HE400i
    Sennheiser HD650
    SoundMagic HP200
  5. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Or you can be closer to having the money for the better amp that will also serve you even through headphone upgrades by not buying an amp just yet and getting the good amp later.

    If it's just the amp and you already have a DAC or CDP or TT, then you can spend less and get only an amp. It only gets close to $400 if you have to buy a DAC too, whether it's separate or built into the same chassis as the amp, like the AudioGD NFB-11.

    Otherwise there's the Schiit Asgard2, plus a few others like the Aune X7S. Just note that these of course have limitations compared to, say, something like the Meier Jazz FF: the Asgard kind of makes the already small soundstage of the HD6xx series even smaller (granted, it makes the position of the instruments proportional; and running Crossfeed on the Jazz FF pretty much can have a similar side effect although it enhances the depth) while the X7S needs balanced cables to get 250mW to 300ohm headphones (although chances are it's got lower distortion than the FX).

    Yeah but you're not supposed to take that literally when good amp manufacturers are smaller than popular headphone manufacturers. That translates to amps getting bumped off the production line entirely with no old stock left over for long, while headphones either get retained in production like how the HD650 superceded the HD600 (and the HE60 was no longer in production), but then the HD800, HD700, and even the HD660S came along and the HD600 and HD650 are selling for far below their original MSRP of $399 and $499. On top of that they're reborn in Massdrop as the $150 HD58X and $200 HD6XX. Same thing with the HE400i and HE400S remaining stocks selling well below $200 when they used to be $399 (Sundara is now $499) and $299 respectively.

    If you followed that literally then barring how Schiit can sell a decent and very powerful amp like the Magni then you'd be stuck with using low power amps, or high output impedance amps; or at best, some OTL amp like the Little Dot MkII for the 300ohm headphones.
  6. Cruelhand Luke
    I have 9500s that I love....I did some simple mods (bass port, magnets on the drivers) swapped out the pads for HM5 hybrids and bought a Magni 3...it sounds really good for a lot less than $200
  7. serman005
    +1 for the HP200.
  8. Mhog55
    Get the HD 58X. It's just what you're looking for imo
  9. squee116
    ATH-m40x is pretty solid for the money, but may not have the bass you're looking for. If buying used is okay, maybe the T50rp or T20rp? They'll need an amp though... Can you get a hold of a used pair of Tx00 Mahogany? When it comes to lively with extended bass, these always pop into mind.

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