Want: Comfortable soundstage with precise imaging
May 4, 2023 at 12:51 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

mildmannered

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Been a few months since I got the Sony-Z1R for a 2nd time and I've been enjoying them but I don't find them suitable for competitive gaming if I'm honest so I was interested in looking at lower-cost open-back alternatives primarily for gaming but I am open to being surprised and using it for music too.

I'm debating picking up an ATH-R70x, ATH-AD1000X, ATH-AD2000x if I can find one, perhaps an AKG 712, or Meze 109 Pro.

Comfort is big for me but I also will go for aftermarket pads to reach that, so if a padswap is necessary that's OK.

Price: I'm aiming to stay below $800, I have very few experiences with open backs so I think I should stay in the low-mid range though I do have to note I really like the way the Sennheiser 800s sounds in the Bert headphone review video where he demos it so I am curious if that would actually be a good match for me. I know it's odd because it's listening to the 800s through either my EMu-Teaks or Sony MDR-Z1R so it's hard to say how accurate it is but since it's May the 4th the Sennheiser sale is at least pinching me but not forcing me yet... I do wonder if I would actually put the MDR-Z1R away in favor of the 800s though...

I am using an RME ADI-2 DAC FS for both DAC and Amp requirements, I will not be using tubes or adding more peripheral such as a dedicated amp.

What are folks immediate thoughts?
 
Aug 21, 2023 at 3:10 PM Post #5 of 9
I simply couldn't resist the prices on the 800S during the sale and picked one up which I've been using as my primary headphone since about mid-May. I have some thoughts on it that are both good and bad, I may be offloading it in the future - I have some ideas of what I'd rather go to but I love hearing what other folks have to say too so here goes:

Good -
The soundstage and layering is very good and the reason I kept these instead of returning. I do not listen to a lot of live music so what I look for here is a sound that fills the headphone and can extend a bit beyond. Also air. Listening to Brand New's Science Fiction album with the 800S is a treat. When they're good they're very good, otherwise sonically they just don't quite match what I wanted.

Bad -
They just don't work with my headshape. I tried to fix this with a pair of Dekoni's pads but I think they just destroy the air despite allowing for a better clamp. I have cats so it's pretty often that I'm looking down or whatever from my desk and the headphones just start slipping off my head which as time goes on I am more frustrated with. Additionally I don't particularly think the imaging lends itself to competitive gaming honestly. I think what these do is give you a vague idea of where the sound is coming from but I certainly would not call them precise. If I cranked the volume way up I would likely have an easier time locating the source of footsteps etc but I feel that way about pretty much any headphone that isn't a bass cannon. Honestly though the comfort just isn't there for me so I'm thinking of other options again. There's a strain in my neck that I notice and it's not weight-related it's that I feel I'm unconsciously tensed all the time I'm wearing them because they just slip around and feel like they'll fall off my head.

If I ignore price then the ADX5000 and Meze Empyrean or Elite seem like the choices given my preferences and I think they'd work fine with my RME ADI-2 DAC FS internal amp though I'm not 100% certain. Audeze's MM-100 and MM-500 sound very interesting on paper but I am very concerned about their weight/clamp. I got rid of my ZMFs for that reason and anything >400g just doesn't inspire confidence in me for all day desk use which to be fair the high-end Meze offerings share the same weight skepticism from me.

So idk, putting a price on it the ATH-R70X seems like something I should really give a shot despite my hesitancy with their headband design. The Neumann NDH 30 is a super interesting recommendation as well that I've been looking into, based on everything I've read they seem like maybe 85-90% of the 800S but comfortable. The Sony MDR-MV1 are an interesting recommendation too but I think I'm leaning more toward the Beyerdynamic T1.3, I have the Sony MDR-Z1R and the consensus on the MDR-MV1 seems to be that it's not quite as good as that and I already gave up on that. On a side note, I am quite surprised that I have been using the 800S so much for music as I wasn't really expecting to do so, and the desire to listen to music with an open headphone is influencing my decision heavily.

TLDR - I'll probably try out a Beyerdynamic T1.3 and maybe an ATH-R70X or NDH30 idk thanks for reading my blog I guess
 
Aug 21, 2023 at 3:56 PM Post #6 of 9
AFAIK the discontinued Sennheiser HD558 share the same exact driver model as the Neumann NDH30, so see if you can find a used one on eBay or whatever for cheap, and Dekoni or AE should have headband pad and real leather ear pad replacements.

Also, check your RME ADI-2 FS owner’s manual for other settings that you can adjust to change the HD800S sound. For medium-to-large-ensemble genres that require a dynamic sound, the HD800 series is still almost irreplaceable, especially for their price.
 
Aug 21, 2023 at 8:03 PM Post #7 of 9
Don't know why you are hesitating on ATH-R70X for "headband design." That slotted headband doesn't touch your head -- the "wings" below it do, and you will not believe the comfort. The headband is flexible metal, not plastic, and it's not gonna break unless you put it in a vise and twist it the wrong way -- and even then you'd have to work at it.

The ATH-R70X deliberately don't have a huge clamping force -- adds to the comfort. If you are looking down a lot, you'd angle the ATH-R70X so the wings are at the top of the back of your head rather than the middle of your head. But do that, and they're fine unless you're frantically bobbing your head like a woodpecker.

Really, worth a try since there are so many 30-day return offers.
 
Aug 22, 2023 at 10:55 AM Post #8 of 9
AFAIK the discontinued Sennheiser HD558 share the same exact driver model as the Neumann NDH30, so see if you can find a used one on eBay or whatever for cheap, and Dekoni or AE should have headband pad and real leather ear pad replacements.

Also, check your RME ADI-2 FS owner’s manual for other settings that you can adjust to change the HD800S sound. For medium-to-large-ensemble genres that require a dynamic sound, the HD800 series is still almost irreplaceable, especially for their price.
Cheers for the HD558 recommendation! For me the comfort is really the key for headphones, I have my RME outputting to both headphones and speakers and there have been many times I've just switched to speakers due to comfort despite having really quite cheap speakers on my desk setup. I think the HD800S sound great but I don't keep headphones that I have comfort issues with out of principle. My own character flaw :)

Don't know why you are hesitating on ATH-R70X for "headband design." That slotted headband doesn't touch your head -- the "wings" below it do, and you will not believe the comfort. The headband is flexible metal, not plastic, and it's not gonna break unless you put it in a vise and twist it the wrong way -- and even then you'd have to work at it.

The ATH-R70X deliberately don't have a huge clamping force -- adds to the comfort. If you are looking down a lot, you'd angle the ATH-R70X so the wings are at the top of the back of your head rather than the middle of your head. But do that, and they're fine unless you're frantically bobbing your head like a woodpecker.

Really, worth a try since there are so many 30-day return offers.
That's totally fair having not used the wing design I'm skeptical but I'll give it a shot, I do need it to have some level of clamp so it stays put and it just needs to work for my head shape. I actually just ordered one thru Amazon, I know it's more expensive than Thomann but I'm not clear on how Thomann's return policy works for US.
Plus if I like them I can just return to Amazon and buy from Thomann for the lower price anyway :beerchug:
 

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