Recommendations on new headphones

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by fatryan, May 14, 2019.

  1. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    A few years back i was introduced to what is probably entry-level audiophile computer audio. Being on a tight budget at the time, i ultimately decided to upgrade my workstation audio components with the following equipment:

    Monoprice Hi-Fi DJ Style Acoustic Pro Studio Headphones (108323)

    Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD USB Audio System with Phono Preamp (70SB124000001)

    I've since gotten a new computer at the office, not that it matters. It's still a slow piece of locked down crap. I don't even know why i mentioned it to be honest. The Sound Blaster has been great, but having to go through IT to update drivers is super annoying

    I was recommended to buy those monoprice headphones...i think on this forum actually. And bang for buck, they blow anything out of the water. It's unreal that these things only cost $30. No, they're not top of the line, and the bass can be a little muddy sometimes. But they're damn clear and thirty freaking dollars!

    Anyway, I'm wondering if i can perhaps make a step up from them now that i got more money to spend. One of my biggest complaints about these headphones is that they start to hurt your ears after like 30-45min of continuous wear. They feel comfortable at first, but they must clamp down too much or something.

    I'm looking for some decent intro-mid audiophile grade headphones that'll work with that sound blaster as i don't want to upgrade that. I also must stress that they need to be isolating headsets, not the open type where my coworkers will hear everything I'm playing. It's typically like dead quiet in my office, so any sound leaks would be very distracting to others. I also rock out hard ;) budget is probably like $200-300, but I'm flexible honestly.
     
  2. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Something like the DT770's in 32Ohm or 250Ohm would probably work. Clamping force is pretty low for those vs. most Sennheisers, and Sennheiser isn't big into closed cans. You can get different pads for them if the stock ones aren't to your liking, etc.
     
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  3. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    Thanks. Obviously higher impedance is generally better, but do you think there would be any issues with the sound blaster pushing those at 250? I also like my music pretty loud, so if it's going to be stuck at a whisper I'll opt for the 32ohm. Also curious why you didn't recommend the 80ohm?
     
  4. drutman

    drutman n00b

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    Headphones and speakers are "voiced differently" must listen to pick a pair that suit your preferences. I recommend Grado SR 60 cans are around 80 on Amazon. As a metal head myself as the price increases the more revealing the gear is, very dependent on quality of audio source.
     
  5. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    Yes, i understand that. But i don't really know where I'd even go around me to try out HiFi headsets. I live in Baltimore City. Probably just a bunch of Beats garbage around here. Unless someone knows of a place...

    I do like bass, but i don't want overwhelming bass. I probably like slightly more than your typical audiophile. I realize i don't know much about these products. I'm trying to apply my knowledge of car audio as best I can to this.

    Although I haven't actually installed any equipment in my newest vehicle, my old Honda Accord that i had for nearly a decade was fitted with what's referred to in the industry as an SQL system (SQ + SPL). I wasn't getting metered by any means, but i was pushing nearly 1800W continuous on my USAmps Merlin to (2) 12" Fi Qs. Front stage was active on a 4-ch Phoenix Gold with crappy Diamond S600 mids and Seas silk dome tweeters. Source unit was a Pioneer 80PRS, which also handled all processing. So as you can imagine, I like things pretty loud. But i still want it to sound clean. Hell, i bought an old oscilloscope just to make sure i wasn't clipping the signal when setting gains on my car audio amps ha ha. Hopefully that gives you an indication of my preferences in audio at least.

    When it comes to computer audio or just headsets in general, it seems to be a whole other beast, since you can't piece meal them in the same manner you do with car audio... Especially with this being a work computer and all. I'm limited on the software/processing end. So i really need a set that just delivers right out of the box.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  6. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    Looks like everything Grado makes is open can design. I need closed.
     
  7. tungt88

    tungt88 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Either those or the venerable Sony MDR-V6 or MDR-7506 headphones (those get used all the time for film/tv/music production). They're not superhuman, but are proven, reliable, and relatively cheap (under $100 in most cases).

    Another "venerable model" for production is the AKG K240 Studio ($70ish) or a retweaked version, the K240 MKII ($120ish). Those, too, are found in every other studio that doesn't already use the Beyerdynamic or Sony models mentioned above (they do suffer from being "semi-open", as per your closed requirement).

    Between those three "options", you should be covered pretty well.

    A side option would be to get the Sennheiser HD 630VB headphone -- that has a sound signature very close to that of the 600/650/6xx line, is around the same cost, and also includes a "variable bass" dial (for precise bass tuning).
    Note that the cable is "not really detachable", and supports both iphone and Android (with mic on cable).
    It's closed-back, and is on sale on Amazon for $219:

    https://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-H...heiser+hd+630,electronics,116&sr=1-3-fkmrnull

    The HD 600/650/6xx are what would be considered the "entry level" into "Mid-Fi" (since it's one of the big standards that almost all "audiophile" headphones are compared against).

    I own (and greatly enjoy) the HD 630 VB, so feel free to toss any questions my way here (should you go that route).
     
  8. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    The variable bass is an attractive feature on the Sennheisers, if it's actually functional and not just some crappy bass boost deal. Some of the other features of that headset aren't particularly useful in my case. Like the mic is probably useless with my Sound Blaster, as the SB has a separate line-in for mic. I wouldn't ever use the mic anyway. I also am never going to use this on a mobile device, since I'd need to also carry a 3.5mm-to-USB-c adapter on me, which is too annoying for me to ever do. I'm not really one to walk around with headphones on anyway. I like to be aware of my surroundings when on the move or in public.

    The prospect of "Mid-Fi" is also attractive though. Are you saying that all the other models mentioned would be considered "Low-Fi" then? As in, these Sennheisers should be superior to the other models mentioned so far?


    Let me attempt to consolidate this list. Let me know if I missed something here.

    On List:
    Beyerdynamic DT770
    Sennheiser HD 630 VB (a little worried about reviews on cord quality)
    Sony MDR-V6
    Sony MDR-7506 (would probably go for these over the MDR-V6 due to larger cups)

    Off List:
    Sennheiser HD 6xx (N.G. - Looks like all other 6xx models are open air, per their website)
    AKG K240 Studio (N.G., Semi-Open)
    AKG K240 MkII Studio (N.G., Semi-Open)

    Unless the Sennheisers are really THAT much better, I'm probably leaning more towards the DT770 & MDR-7506. I'm curious if anyone who's used both could tell me what the differences are in sound reproduction between the two.
     
  9. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Honestly Sennheiser closed-back headphones outside of the HD280/HD380 are a bit of an obscurity. Those specific phones compete with Beyer's DT770's for studio use, but as far as I can tell, they go no higher- the others including the HD630VB appear to be the same as their renowned open-back cans with factory closed-back mods.

    Even if that's what the DT770's are to the DT990's (and the DT880's are semi-open, but still far too open for someone desiring isolation), Beyerdynamic seems like a better bet, especially since most of the Sennheiser closed 'mid-fi' cans are discontinued.

    I also have to give a shout out to Sony. I own exactly one Sony product, and that is the MDR-Z7 headphone set. And they're nice. I'd recommend trying the Sony's on if you can vs. the Beyers.


    Last, you might also look at actual noise-cancelling headphones. You can still get ones that aren't wireless and when comfort and isolation trump sound signature and detail, they can be the better tool for the job. I have the AT ATH-ANC9 which are ancient but inexpensive and perform well. I've had them for seven years, worn out the stock earpads and replaced with more comfortable ones off Amazon, and they're still my go-to travel cans. They're also still nice with the noise cancelling off. The older Bose QuietComfort cans should also be considered in that category.
     
  10. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    Man, you aren't making it an easy choice between these Sony's and Beyerdynamics! Maybe I should just get both lol I could keep the best sounding one on the Sound Blaster, then use the other at home on my laptop or surveillance rig. I dunno if my laptop will drive those headsets, but my surveillance rig's card should I would hope. Should probably confirm that first though.

    Looks like a lot of people are saying those ANC9's leak, and many many people are recommending to go for ANC7's over ANC9's. I also don't like the tiny cans on those. Not sure that I can bring myself to pay money for Bose. I feel like that's sacrilege. Maybe if they're not stupid expensive.
     
  11. xgrifter

    xgrifter n00b

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    The beyerdynamics Dt-770 80 ohm is the sweet spot if you look at some of the reviews out there quite a few of them say the 80 ohm sounds better than the 250 ohm but that comes down to how they sound to you . surprised that no one has suggested the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x these Two headphones probably more reviews than other headphone in there class of price and performance.

    The dt-770 normal head size
    The dt-770 pro's are for larger heads

    The headphones you listed are all available amazon.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
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  12. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Really it should be the ones with the sound that you like- the Sound Blaster should be able to do 'neutral' pretty well, every one I've owned has, and they can EQ pretty well to for specific purposes.

    I'd recommend watching reviews on both the Beyers and the Sonys. Pay close attention to stuff on head size and comfort; sound quality is really secondary when you're worried more about comfort and isolation. This is why Bose does so well; people aren't trying to bring the symphony on the bus, they're trying to make the bus go away. They also don't want to be bad neighbors. I won't recommend Bose for much of anything- I still remember the audiophile refrain of 'no highs, no lows, must be Bose'- but their travel cans hit a lot of the right points.

    Another thing to note is weight. This is why I use my HD600's for gaming, when I have cans that are far better sitting right next to them (Focal Elex). But they're open and they're tight cans that take significant user adjustment to acclimate. But the impact of weight can't be overstated when it comes to all-day comfort. This is why I mentioned the smaller Audio-Technica cans- those have served me well, but really anything like that can be effective.
     
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  13. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    Damn, you just made it even harder for me to chose.
     
  14. xgrifter

    xgrifter n00b

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    Here's a simple comparison of the
    dt 770's & the m50x

     
  15. tungt88

    tungt88 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Here's my shot at answering your Sennheiser HD 630VB questions:

    • Variable Bass: It's the real deal, not some gimmicky crap, as per this very respected headphone authority's review: https://diyaudioheaven.wordpress.com/headphones/measurements/brands-s-se/hd630vb/ -- for that matter, another readily-available headphone (also closed-back) that also has variable bass settings (with a very different bass implementation system) is the Beyerdynamic Custom Pro (which I used to own): https://diyaudioheaven.wordpress.com/headphones/measurements/brands-a-i/custom-one-pro/
    • Mic is pretty good, but (unfortunately) you can't easily take out the mic, since it's directly attached to the cord (which is not really designed to be easily detachable)
    • Mobile Use: Depends on whether or not you want what looks to be a Gundam device on your head -- some may find it cool, but (imo) it's not really a fashion-forward statement. I personally have never used mine with most mobile devices, with the exception of my gaming laptop; for "mobile use", I use my Sony MDR-1A instead, which is closed-back (even if the bass on that is more bloated than I generally prefer).
    • Despite its bulk/size, the HD 630VB is actually quite a comfortable headphone (even for my big head) -- more comfortable than my Audeze LCD-2 Classic, that's for sure.
    As for "Mid-Fi":
    • The HD 600/650/6xx series is generally considered to be the foundation of "Mid-Fi" by nearly all serious headphone reviewers that I know of; compared to them, my understanding is that the DT770, as well as the MDR-V6 & MDR-7506, would be a pretty big drop down in the sound dept. (generally speaking). Not "gigantic drop" (those three ARE solid headphones for what they bring to the table, and what they are intended to be used for), but a full "level" down into the "upper end" of "Low-Fi" (if that makes any sense).
    • So, if the HD 600/650/6xx are a 5 on a 1-10 scale (1 is being right next to a artillery gun going off [and you pay for the gun, and every audio shell/note of hell that's being fired from it into your intensely unwilling ears], 5 is Mid-Fi, 10 is practically impossible to achieve in the 21st century), the DT770/MDR-V6/MDR-7506 would be like a 3.7-3.9 on that type of scale (which, of course would be pyramidal by nature, with 1 on the base, and 10 at the capstone). "4" would be that really, really nebulous area (like headphones that should be at 5, but some oddities hold it back, or Low-Fi stuff that is already pretty good bang/buck, and has a lot of potential, if modified).
    • To clarify my second point, here is a good audio/visual representation of what a "1" level headphone should sound like (from who was then the most respected reviewer of headphones out there):

    Your On/Off List is good.

    I didn't suggest the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x because (quite frankly, having tested one) while the sound is ok, the build is really quite flimsy (to the point of being inexcusable at its normal price point of $150) -- when I was trying it out, I was actually afraid of breaking it (and that's something I don't say about many headphones). Apart from that, there is a good amount of "clamp" on it (too much for my big head), and I found it very uncomfortable.

    As for DT770/MDR-7506 comparisons? They are, literally, all over the place (with votes both for and against the ATH-M50x as well, to boot); if you can find a local music store that sells even a halfway decent variety of headphones (like Sam Ash), you can try 'em out personally:
    https://arxmusica.com/sony-mdr7506-vs-beyerdynamic-dt770-pro/
    https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/1183675-moving-mdr-7506-dt770s.html
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/dt770-80-versus-mdr-7506.113549/





    Edit: If all this still doesn't really help ya, I strongly suggest making a post on this Reddit page here:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/HeadphoneAdvice/
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
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  16. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    My fiance and I are getting her engagement ring appraised in Towson town center tomorrow, which has a bunch of high end stores like Burberry, Coach, Tiffany, etc. I could see if they have a hi-fi audio store in the mall while we're there. Nothing's coming up in Google maps though. Only thing i see is a guitar center a few miles away and a few best buys. Then there's a couple local shops - one DJ shop and one home audio shop. But honestly you don't know WTF you're getting in this city. Im not driving into the hood to checkout some headphones. Baltimore isn't a big city, so there's not a lot of options on things in general. Ironically, Polk audio and Sound Solutions Audio are both headquartered here. SSA doesn't have a store front (I've already checked). And if Polk does, it's all Polk no doubt.

    Worst comes to worst I'll buy 2. But maybe I'll buy 2 and return 1, via Amazon prime free returns.

    I'll check that Reddit page.

    Been dealing with ongoing internet connection issues at home all night (and for weeks on end, actually). Just updated firmware on my ac68u and now the routers GUI is saying "isp's dhcp does not function properly", so that explains a lot. All this BS began when Comcast was doing work outside. Those assholes probably f*cked my shit up. Now i got yet another issue to fix.
     
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  17. Nenu

    Nenu [H]ardened

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    Sennheiser HD650 or the Massdrop version HD6xx.
    These are right in your price range and are probably the lowest price reference quality headphone.
    Parts can be swapped out easily if there is a problem.
    I got mine for £170 second hand, as good as new, great phones.
     
  18. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    He's looking for closed, isolating headphones- the HD6xx line are the exact opposite of that ;).
     
  19. Nenu

    Nenu [H]ardened

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    Oops, I must have skim read that bit, taa.
     
  20. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    HD6xx is my go-to gaming + everything else recommendation, you're good. Just enough of everything without being overwhelming.
     
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  21. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    Well there was nothing up right around where we were today that i saw. I did find a place on Google maps called Gramophone about 10 min away that seems to be a high end installer of home audio and has a store front. I put in a call and the guy said they aren't a retailer for Beyer, Senn, or Audio Technica. They do sell Sony, and he asked about the model on the MDR-7506, but then the conversation sidetracked and i never really got a clear answer on whether or not he has those in stock. I'm guessing no though, or else he'd be all over it. He did say he might be able to get the Senns and possibly even the Beyers in his store though. He took my number and said he'd call me back.
     
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  22. xgrifter

    xgrifter n00b

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  23. tungt88

    tungt88 [H]ard|Gawd

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  24. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    Thanks, but I'm gonna stick with a tride n true set that's been out a bit. That's kind of my rule of thumb for all things in life, except most foods lol. I just don't trust 1 person's review of a product they received in advance, no matter how respected they may be in their industry. The truth is in the masses. Not to mention, durability can only be ascertained at later stages. I take those types of initial reviews with as much salt as a JD Power "dependability" award, which is to say I might read it for specs but that's about it lol.

    Still no word from this local shop BTW. Maybe he couldn't get the headphones and just decided not to return my call :-/
     
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  25. extide

    extide 2[H]4U

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    Lots of great suggestions in here. I have had a pair of the original Audio Technica ATH-M50's for 10+ years now and they have done me well. I use them at work and have thousands of hours on them. They don't sell that model anymore but there is the M50x now to replace it. I would suggest definitely considering them -- in the $100-150 range they are a great choice. Plenty of bass, closed, good isolation, etc.
     
  26. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    Ugh so many recommendations for all these headphones. Really wish i could find a place that carried them all.
     
  27. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

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    lol Tyll...according to him M50X gets you 99% of the way to an audiophile closed back.
     
  28. tungt88

    tungt88 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Tyll's review here: https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/legend-continues-audio-technica-ath-m50x

    While I really like Tyll (all the more so, now that he's stopped being an active reviewer; his spot taken by a guy who really, really "does his job"), this is one of the few times I disagree w/him: the sound was too uneven for me, and the fit really, really hurt on my head. Build quality was fragile, very fragile (like a cheap plastic toy).

    Edit: put up inaccurate link, fixed
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  29. tungt88

    tungt88 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I checked Gramophone's (Maryland) online website, and it looks like the vast majority of their models below $1000 are completely sold out -- they only have a few expensive options available.

    https://skybygramophone.com/collections/headphones/closed-back-headphones
     
  30. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    No kidding. Looks like they're going out of business! Their car audio section is comical, literally all Polk audio garbage. Ugh. My Reddit post isn't gaining any traction either. I'm about to just buy all these damn headsets on Amazon and do my own testing, then return the ones I don't like.
     
  31. xgrifter

    xgrifter n00b

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    That's probably will be your best bet to find the best sound that you will enjoy.
     
  32. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    Couldn't get the Senns or ATs Shipped/Sold from Amazon, so no guarantee on free return shipping. So I just bought the Beyers and Sonys. I'll see how these do. After doing a little research, I found a number of people saying my SB can drive the Beyers at 250 no problem, so that's what I went with.
     
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  33. rezerekted

    rezerekted 2[H]4U

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    Senn makes some closed back headphones now. Here is one model but I think thye have another too, 556 maybe.

    https://www.amazon.ca/Sennheiser-HD-598-Cs-Headphone/dp/B01JP436TS
     
  34. rezerekted

    rezerekted 2[H]4U

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    I had a pair of those and didn't find them comfortable for long listening sessions.
     
  35. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I'm aware that they do- I've been taking brief looks at them over the years. I'm mostly just recognizing their lack of pedigree when it comes to non-studio (i.e. HD280) consumer closed cans.
     
  36. rezerekted

    rezerekted 2[H]4U

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    The other closed headphones are 569 and are on Inner Fidelities wall of fame.

    Sennheiser HD 569 ($179)
    image: https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/WoF_Photo_Sennheiser_HD569.jpg

    WoF_Photo_Sennheiser_HD569.jpg
    The Sennheiser HD569, while relatively new, delivers a mature and high-value experience due to its roots going back a decade and more in the Sennheiser HD5xx line. Build quality, comfort, and styling are simply superb. Synthetic suede ear pads over plush memory foam and "just right" ergonomics makes this a great headphone for long listening sessions at work without being disturbed by, or disturbing neighbors.
    Read more at https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/innerfidelitys-wall-fame-over-ear-sealed#YOLWfGFgOeRG03ha.99
     
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  37. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Like I said, I'm aware of them (and others). The 5xx line is one of the most comfortable headphone designs available. I have the HD555 (open) cans. What I can't vouch for is sound with their closed cans versus alternatives :).
     
  38. Sulphademus

    Sulphademus Limp Gawd

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    There's a Microcenter in Parkville. Maybe they'd have some sets you could try?
     
  39. fatryan

    fatryan [H]ard|Gawd

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    :nailbiting::hungry::arghh::meh:

    upload_2019-5-17_16-33-14.png
     

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  40. tungt88

    tungt88 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Tell us how what you thought of both of 'em, after you're done testing! I've never tried out the MDR-7506 before ...