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$1k headphones

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#1
Hi,
I'm new to this forum but have been lurking for a while. There's a lot of knowledgeable people here so I thought I would ask for your advice about headphones in the $1k class.

I listen almost exclusively to classical recordings. Maybe it goes without saying on this forum but I want a neutral, detailed sound that is true to the recording. I'm using a pair of Sennheiser HD650 at the moment but it feels like there is something missing in the sound of the cello, soprano and to some extent the violin.

What's your opinion on the usual recommendations like LCD2, hd800(s)?
 

watchnerd

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#2
Hi,
I'm new to this forum but have been lurking for a while. There's a lot of knowledgeable people here so I thought I would ask for your advice about headphones in the $1k class.

I listen almost exclusively to classical recordings. Maybe it goes without saying on this forum but I want a neutral, detailed sound that is true to the recording. I'm using a pair of Sennheiser HD650 at the moment but it feels like there is something missing in the sound of the cello, soprano and to some extent the violin.

What's your opinion on the usual recommendations like LCD2, hd800(s)?
The 650s are easy to listen to for an extended period of time, but they do have that "Sennheiser veil" that smoothes things out, seemily reducing detail a bit and dynamic impact. But all transducers are a compromise.

When you say something is missing from cello, soprano, violin -- can you be more specific?

It's hard to say of the LCD-2 or HD800 will give you what you're looking for without knowing what you think is missing.

Also, what is your amplification? Both of those sets of cans can be picky.

I do like the Roon convolution EQ and DAW plugins for the Audeze, though.
 
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#3
When you say something is missing from cello, soprano, violin -- can you be more specific?

It's hard to say of the LCD-2 or HD800 will give you what you're looking for without knowing what you think is missing.
Thanks for your reply.

What I think I'm missing is some of the "unpleasant" details in live music. Bow "biting" the strings, Lower tones of the cello chiiling your bones. I would wish for sounds like plucking a string on the violin to have more impact. I realize everything I just said is very vague. However, I find the reproduction of the piano to be almost perfect on my hd650s.

I will try to demo a number of headphones but I find it really hard to evaluate the sound based on a short listening session.
 

RayDunzl

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#4
I listened to my HD650 at a level equivalent to about 70dB slow SPL in-room a few days ago.

After a few minutes I realized I'd left the subs running at that low level (separate from the mains right now), but still providing a hint of "body effect".

I found it an interesting combination, worthy of further exploration.
 

oivavoi

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#5
IME/IMO headphones is a personal matter to a certain degree. As I've understood it, the perceived frequency response will actually be different from person to person, based on how the headphone interacts with the shape of the ear (someone please correct me if this is a myth!).

Also, people have different preferences for the shape and form of the headphone. I, for example, hate feeling closed-off from the world. Because of this, I don't like wearing most headphones, which give me a feeling of being boxed-in. What I prefer is headphones which let in a lot of sound from the outside, and feel light on my head/on my ears.

Point is: I recommend trying headphones out before buying!
(but a reasonably flat frequency response etc is still important, obviously)

The headphones I've liked the most so far are the Hifiman Edition X V2. You can sometimes find them used for less than 1 k. I perceived them to provide great detail and clarity, and they were also completely non-fatiguing - more so than the Senn 650s I have now. I didn't feel closed off at all. Currently looking for a used pair in my area (can't afford a new pair right now, after having spent way too much on hifi the last year). The measured frequency response is not perfect. But they felt so good on my ears, that I didn't think about that when listening.

Haven't heard any of the Audeze models though.
 
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#6
I don't think I ever heard of a classical music lover who didn't like STAX rig, even a NOS or lower level STAX. Get a STAX transformer on ebay with a compatible headset and hook it up to your main audio amplifier.
 
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watchnerd

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#8
The headphones I've liked the most so far are the Hifiman Edition X V2. You can sometimes find them used for less than 1 k. I perceived them to provide great detail and clarity, and they were also completely non-fatiguing - more so than the Senn 650s I have now. I didn't feel closed off at all. Currently looking for a used pair in my area (can't afford a new pair right now, after having spent way too much on hifi the last year). Yet, the frequency response is not perfect. But they felt so good on my ears, that I didn't think about that when listening.
I also have / like my HiFiman headphones.

Even the mid-tier value models provide a good increase in clarity vs my Senns.

But the planar sound is definitely different.
 

Blumlein 88

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#9
I listened to my HD650 at a level equivalent to about 70dB slow SPL in-room a few days ago.

After a few minutes I realized I'd left the subs running at that low level (separate from the mains right now), but still providing a hint of "body effect".

I found it an interesting combination, worthy of further exploration.
I've made this same mistake with positive results. Back when I had some Stax, I listened to them with subwoofer on. If you have open headphones, I've even found running your main stereo rig at slightly reduced level was good. Primitive form of delay and diffusion I suppose. Not very practical for headphones in most use cases if you need a good 2.1 rig to augment the earspeakers. Or maybe it was the listener end equivalent of close miking......in this case close speaking mixed in with a main stereo pair.
 

Gabs

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#10
Hi,

Try the DT1990 from Beyer.
and
https://diyaudioheaven.wordpress.com/headphones/measurements/brands-a-i/dt-1990-pro/
https://diyaudioheaven.wordpress.com/headphones/measurements/brands-s-se/hd660s/

Or Maybe the MrSPeakers Aeon Flow (closed).

I do not know them but there are also : Campfire cascade and Audioquest Nighthawk carbon. But we need measurements for them.

But IMO, at 1k, the sound is less important that the headphones itself, comfort and build quality, etc.
There are plenty of headphones from 100$ to 800$ that have 1st class sound quality.
At 1k, it has to be flawlessly built.

If it was me I would be struggling between them : Aeon Flow, Nighthawk Carbon and PM2. But I have the PM3 and I prefer the (brighter) sound signature of my SR80e Grado.
 

RayDunzl

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#11
That guy could put little speakers in his earlobes...

And what's that wire for on the west side of his head?
 

BE718

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#13
@top443 Headphones are difficult territory. Your ear shape and resonant response will be slightly different to anyone elses. If you look at heaphone frequency response curves they are anything but flat to account for this, however each individual is different and each manufacturers interpretation of what is correct is different. You can find measurements of many headphones here.

https://www.innerfidelity.com/headphone-measurements

images.jpeg


Now I personally find many headphones have ghastly bright HF responses, BUT your mileage WILL vary.

The only headphones that I found to upgrade from my HD600 and HD650 were the Oppo PM1. For info I detest the bright HD800 however well regarded they are. The Oppo PM2s are a bit cheaper than PM1 and have a slightly less rich sound, I gather primarily due to different internal damping. The drivers are identical. Some consider the PM1 a little lacking in brightness. Both Oppos are uber comfortable.

My personal recommendation fwiw is to look a at planar magnetics, they IMO have a clarity normal dynamic drivers don't, so oppo, audeze, hifiman etc.

Auditioning is mandatory due to the physical variations.

HD650
upload_2018-4-28_19-9-6.png



PM1
upload_2018-4-28_19-8-3.png

PM2
upload_2018-4-28_19-12-51.png


HD800
upload_2018-4-28_19-10-30.png
 

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Joined
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#14
Hi,
I'm new to this forum but have been lurking for a while. There's a lot of knowledgeable people here so I thought I would ask for your advice about headphones in the $1k class.

I listen almost exclusively to classical recordings. Maybe it goes without saying on this forum but I want a neutral, detailed sound that is true to the recording. I'm using a pair of Sennheiser HD650 at the moment but it feels like there is something missing in the sound of the cello, soprano and to some extent the violin.

What's your opinion on the usual recommendations like LCD2, hd800(s)?
Stax are a good recommendation. I own several vintage ones and really enjoy them. As mentioned planers are a good choice also. If you get the opportunity, audition the Audeze iSines 20s. They are worn like IEMs but sound more like over the ear headphones. They sound excellent IMO and once you get them fitted properly you can wear them comfortably for hours. Good luck.
 

Frank Dernie

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#16
I mainly listen to classical music too. I did a comparison of all the over ear headphones at a local dealer a few years ago being sure not to know any of the prices.
The ones which I felt had the most natural instrumental timbre, particularly in the bass, were the AKG Q701, criticised for lacking bass by pop music enthusiasts but I felt they had good extension and clarity in the treble.
The other headphones I have which I feel are good at instrumental timbre are Kingsound H03 electrostatics.

I don't listen to headphones that often any more though since I retired I am home listening to speakers.
 
Joined
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#17
One thing to be aware of with Stax is you’ll likely be paying above $1k once you factor in the price of a driver/amplifier. I personally use an Audeze LCD2C which I’m able to drive with my portable audio player, you likely won’t need a new amplifier if you go that route. As others have said in this thread, headphones are really personal and you should take the chance to audition if that option is available to you
 
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#18
Akg k701 are excellent for classic, if you need more bass you can do the bassmod or go for Akg 712pro. Both have a lot of detail and definition.

Yeah, I know it's not worth 1k, but IMO, it does not take that much money to sound good.
 
Joined
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#19
I can also recommend trying out some planars. The Oppo PM-3s allowed me to hear the details you like, bow on the string, fingers moving, on my favorite cello piece. I couldn’t stand how they felt, so back they went, but I’ve been searching ever since.
 

FrantzM

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#20
Hi

My recommendation could well be biased...
Hifiman HE6 ( can be found used for around $800) , necessitate a real (speaker amp) power amplifier , not a headphone amp per se.. I mean, at least 5 wpc... perhaps more ...
Hifiman He 560 ( I find it extremely nice sounding) can be driven with almost anything. A good amp does provide better results however
Audeze LCD-2

I have no experience with circa $1000 Stax

FWIW, I find the HD-650 lightweight sounding. The Beyers DT-990 muffled
 
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