Warmest and Bassiest Open-back Headphone
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nilfire77

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I currently own a CA Cascade and really like the extremely V-shaped sound signature. However, it being a closed-back headphone, one thing I dislike was that the sound felt boxed-in and claustrophobic.

Which open-back headphone has the closest sound signature to something like a Cascade/TH900?

I'm thinking Audezes (LCD-2?) and maybe a ZMF Aeolus will fit the bill?
 
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Roderick

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I've had cascade/th900/lcd-2c and I think you would be disappointed with audeze. It has tremendous subbass but it does not have boosted midbass like cascade/th900. It's very different. Have you tried removing the white filter on cascades? It will open up the sound quite a bit. Upper midrange and highs will be more in line with the bass. You do sacrifice some of the low bass in process. Here is a measurement about the differences between stock and no filter.
Cascade recommendation.jpg
Cascade and Audeze LCD-2c. I think bass on Audeze rolls of too much in my measurement but you get the idea. It's linear bass not boosted.

Cascade-lcd2 rec.jpg
To me Cascades are not claustrophobic among other closed back headphones, quite the contrary actually. That sets bar quite high for a open back alternative. There is Sivga Phoenix, it doesn't have the bass tactility of the cascade/th900. Bass is boosted without going overboard and it is very well extended. Very rare on a open back headphone. Still not as bassy as Cascade though. Unfortunaly it is not as open as the design would make it seem. Soundstage is smaller than on Cascade but might sound more open, that is something only you can decide with your own ears. You propably could audition it in Singapore somewhere.

cascade-sivga.jpg

Have you tried TH900/other fostex headphones/old denons? They're quite open for a closed headphone. More so than cascades. They're worth a audition.

I can't comment on Aeolus as I have not heard them. It might be too balanced (not bassboosted enough) after cascades, but I could be wrong.

Other options:
- Klipsch HP3: I have not heard these either but they are very much like fostex headphones but semi-open
- Fostex TH909: Open TH900
- Philips X2 & Beyerdynamic DT990: Overall soundquality is a step back from Cascades and lack of subbass might be a problem. Theyre cheap so thats a plus.
- Sash Tres Closed: This is not a open headphone (it can though as it's originally open and closed cups are an accessory). I'm mentioning this because as a open version it sounds very spacious, airy and open and it has very similar frequency response to Cascades without white filter.
Tres vs Cascade.jpg
- Buy some Fostex/Denon headphones and take the cups off. Some people have experimented with this. There is some info available if you look for it. I have no experience with this but supposedly it maintains the bass or even increases it. You could grab used d2000 for cheap and try it yourself. If you like it maybe do it with some more expensive model later.
 
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nilfire77

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Thanks for your inputs and suggestions, Roderick!
1. I haven't tried removing the white filter and don't plan on doing so as I don't want to lose any of the low end. Very interesting FRs though!
2. I've tried the TH900 but found that it has less punch and slam compared to the Cascade. Perhaps I will go try them again as the last time I did, it was a rather short session.
3. The TH909 sounds like an interesting alternative. Any idea how it compares to its closed-back sibling?
 
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Roderick

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Unfortunately I have not heard th909. I would love to but so far I've been unable to find it used for a good price. Sucks living in the middle of nowhere with no change to audition gear and I would feel bad for retailers if I just bought stuff with no intent to keep them.
 
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The Klipsch HP-3 should definitely be on your radar.

In my headphone travels the two characteristics I've found to be completely at odds with each other are bass quanitity and soundstage. Usually if you get one you don't get the other. At best, you get neutral bass with "good" soundstage, but never really get the best of both worlds. The HP-3 is unique in that both of these characteristics are very prominent. The bass is well-extended, with gobs of power, and no real dips or spikes. But you also get a wide, deep soundstage with great imaging. These two qualities, to me, make for a really unique listening experience that only a couple other headphones have given me (namely the MDR-Z1R and AB-1266).

They're not a perfect headphone; the bass is a little on the sloppy side. It's not a mess, but would be ill-suited for reference use. The mids, while I love them, some people have had issue with because they lean more toward emphasizing the lower mids, rather than the upper mids that people are used to. It gives them a fuller sound, but some might find them to sound a little lazy.
 
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Thanks guys! I'll probably go audition both TH909 and HP-3!!
 
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I second the Klipsch Heritage HP-3. It's a semi-closed can; but for all intents and purposes, functions similarly to an open-back. They have a warm, lush tone, with decent gobs of mid-bass. It's an unabashedly "fun" headphone.
 
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In my headphone travels the two characteristics I've found to be completely at odds with each other are bass quanitity and soundstage. Usually if you get one you don't get the other. At best, you get neutral bass with "good" soundstage, but never really get the best of both worlds. The HP-3 is unique in that both of these characteristics are very prominent. The bass is well-extended, with gobs of power, and no real dips or spikes. But you also get a wide, deep soundstage with great imaging. These two qualities, to me, make for a really unique listening experience that only a couple other headphones have given me (namely the MDR-Z1R and AB-1266).
Thanks for the recommendations. I've gone ahead to purchase a brand new pair of Ebony HP-3 at what I believe is a rather attractive price (SGD 789, which is about USD 580).

On a side note, regarding bass quantity + soundstage, I've heard people saying that the AB-1266 reminds them of the LCD-4. Have you tried the LCD-4 and how does it compare to the AB-1266?
 
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Beyerdynamic Amiron Home
 
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Kukuk

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Thanks for the recommendations. I've gone ahead to purchase a brand new pair of Ebony HP-3 at what I believe is a rather attractive price (SGD 789, which is about USD 580).

On a side note, regarding bass quantity + soundstage, I've heard people saying that the AB-1266 reminds them of the LCD-4. Have you tried the LCD-4 and how does it compare to the AB-1266?
Sorry, haven't heard the LCD-4. I've been meaning to hear more Audezes, but the LCD-2C had me so disappointed I didn't want to take a gamble on anything higher end.

Grats on the purchase though, and that's a good price! I think you'll really dig them. A lot of headphones I love I recommend with some reservations, but the HP-3 is so inoffensive that I think nearly anyone could really like them.
 
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Malevolent

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Thanks for the recommendations. I've gone ahead to purchase a brand new pair of Ebony HP-3 at what I believe is a rather attractive price (SGD 789, which is about USD 580).

On a side note, regarding bass quantity + soundstage, I've heard people saying that the AB-1266 reminds them of the LCD-4. Have you tried the LCD-4 and how does it compare to the AB-1266?
Congrats! Did you get them directly from the distributor (via Carousell)?
 
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nilfire77

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Congrats! Did you get them directly from the distributor (via Carousell)?
I got them directly from the distributor via the official website.
 
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