Studio Worthy Headphones ("Better" than the Sennheiser HD 595's) - Roughly $150 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 12-19-2010, 02:36 AM - Thread Starter
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So I recently made a purchase of the HD 595's and I was quite dissatisfied (review here). I was thinking of returning them but considering I got them on sale, I'm not 100% sure what exactly is better of similar type for the value.

Basically, I'm looking for over-ear headphones I can listen to through my receiver for music, but more importantly really, for my recordings (guitar, keyboard, alto saxophone, vocals) often mixed with other backing tracks. Obviously, for such a purpose, the sound must be very balanced (which the 595's actually had covered, just nothing else) so that when trying to balance your own material, it'd be accurate. The bass though must really have the capability of being significantly amplified (not just louder but punchier/more assertive) from its more balanced default sound. As a matter of fact, I might actually prefer more powerful bass by default. Also, very important is that it has good sound isolation so that when recording, no additional sound leaks into the microphone.

I really enjoy the warmth level of the Brainwavz M2's (ViSang R03's), for those familiar; I find it to be perfect!

Thank you guys, sincerely.

PS- I would actually be willing to push the budget to $200, as the very limit, in extreme cases that are maybe well worth over anything cheaper. I'd also just like to mention that current and previous sales should be kept in mind; I might wait and come across it once more. Thanks again

EDIT: The headphones don't need to be "Studio Headphones", just worthy enough/acceptable for the purpose. They can be, but I'd still like them to have some excitement, lol.
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post #2 of 31 Old 12-19-2010, 05:13 AM
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I suggest you go to head-fi.org and there are a lot of good opinions on headphones there.
http://www.head-fi.org/forum/

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post #3 of 31 Old 12-19-2010, 08:23 AM
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I second the head-fi.org recommendation. You may have to consider going used to get something decent in the $150-200. Not only are the head-fi forums great, lots of people sell their stuff on that board. People are always swapping out headphones over there.

BTW, if you know somewhere that I can get something better than a BMW 7-series for under $30k, let me know!
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post #4 of 31 Old 12-19-2010, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tdogroeder View Post

I suggest you go to head-fi.org and there are a lot of good opinions on headphones there.
http://www.head-fi.org/forum/

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Originally Posted by jkozlow3 View Post

I second the head-fi.org recommendation. You may have to consider going used to get something decent in the $150-200. Not only are the head-fi forums great, lots of people sell their stuff on that board. People are always swapping out headphones over there.

BTW, if you know somewhere that I can get something better than a BMW 7-series for under $30k, let me know!

I posted there too. Last time I just got some good recommendations here too.
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post #5 of 31 Old 12-19-2010, 12:59 PM
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It's hard to beat the Audio Technica ATH-M50 for that price.

It's got the right amount of bass punch to mix with....it sounds like a good full range speaker system. Once I did a mix on those headphones alone, and it sounded very balanced once I moved to my speaker system, I didn't have to readjust the mix at all.

Even if you said you were willing to spend more, I would still recommend the M50 over many other headphones.

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post #6 of 31 Old 12-19-2010, 01:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

It's hard to beat the Audio Technica ATH-M50 for that price.

It's got the right amount of bass punch to mix with....it sounds like a good full range speaker system. Once I did a mix on those headphones alone, and it sounded very balanced once I moved to my speaker system, I didn't have to readjust the mix at all.

Even if you said you were willing to spend more, I would still recommend the M50 over many other headphones.

From what I'm seeing so far, I agree. The Beyerdynamics really have my attention though. Thanks for your input
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post #7 of 31 Old 12-19-2010, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

It's hard to beat the Audio Technica ATH-M50 for that price.

It's got the right amount of bass punch to mix with....it sounds like a good full range speaker system. Once I did a mix on those headphones alone, and it sounded very balanced once I moved to my speaker system, I didn't have to readjust the mix at all.

Even if you said you were willing to spend more, I would still recommend the M50 over many other headphones.


+1 on the ATH-M50. Great bang for the buck
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post #8 of 31 Old 12-19-2010, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mackiefan View Post

+1 on the ATH-M50. Great bang for the buck

Awesome, thanks!
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post #9 of 31 Old 12-19-2010, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Typhoon859 View Post

From what I'm seeing so far, I agree. The Beyerdynamics really have my attention though. Thanks for your input

The DT880 is a fantastic and very neutral phone (far more neutral than the DT990). I own a pair in the 32ohm version. Thinking of selling them though since I pretty much never use headphones in general. Just for reference, the DT880 is much, much better than the 595 in my experience. I bought both at the same time (along with the DT990) and kept the 880. It was no contest.
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post #10 of 31 Old 12-19-2010, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Typhoon859 View Post

From what I'm seeing so far, I agree. The Beyerdynamics really have my attention though. Thanks for your input

I'm not a fan of the Beyers. They are a bit too bright sounding to be considered neutral enough for mixes.

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post #11 of 31 Old 12-19-2010, 04:16 PM
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If you happen to go for the M50's, there is a licensed Audio Technica reseller on ebay called ProAudioMart who sells them. Use the "make an offer" option and offer around $90. I got mine for $90 from them about a year ago.
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post #12 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 01:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jkozlow3 View Post

The DT880 is a fantastic and very neutral phone (far more neutral than the DT990). I own a pair in the 32ohm version. Thinking of selling them though since I pretty much never use headphones in general. Just for reference, the DT880 is much, much better than the 595 in my experience. I bought both at the same time (along with the DT990) and kept the 880. It was no contest.

What would you say in regards to the DT 990's in comparison to the 880's? The 880's "neutral" sound can be applied to many phones but that's not always a good thing. For example, some can be even more neutral, like not as "bright" as suggested by Warpdrive, which in that case I have a feeling I wouldn't feel too positively towards the "neutral" definition.
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Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

I'm not a fan of the Beyers. They are a bit too bright sounding to be considered neutral enough for mixes.

Could you elaborate on that?

My concern with studio headphones is that they're too analytical. I'm afraid I'll hear everything but wouldn't ever say "wow". Even though it should be kept in mind, I'm saying I want more than just to bring out the flaws and I'm willing to sacrifice some accuracy for it because I also want to really enjoy my music with them as well.
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If you happen to go for the M50's, there is a licensed Audio Technica reseller on ebay called ProAudioMart who sells them. Use the "make an offer" option and offer around $90. I got mine for $90 from them about a year ago.

Thanks for the recommendation.
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post #13 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 01:56 AM
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From reading your review, it seems you don't like open-ear headphones. Open headphones will definitely sound "farther" than closed headphones, but will typically sound more realistic (they try to simulate listening to speakers).

I also heartily recommend the M50, and do think that it will satisfy your taste for bass and warmth. The Beyer, IMO, will be too bright for your tastes.

Another recommendation would be the Shure SHR-750 DJ, which is a bit more detailed than the M50 (more expensive too, though!) and more uncomfortable.
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post #14 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 02:17 AM - Thread Starter
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From reading your review, it seems you don't like open-ear headphones. Open headphones will definitely sound "farther" than closed headphones, but will typically sound more realistic (they try to simulate listening to speakers).

I also heartily recommend the M50, and do think that it will satisfy your taste for bass and warmth. The Beyer, IMO, will be too bright for your tastes.

Another recommendation would be the Shure SHR-750 DJ, which is a bit more detailed than the M50 (more expensive too, though!) and more uncomfortable.

That might be the reason I always preferred the headphones I used vs. speakers aside from added detail (in comparison with what I had/have) - the "closeness". Thanks a lot for reading my review. Also though, "simulating speakers" doesn't really mean much because, e.g., in my car (basic Toyota Corolla LE 2008 model) the sound is very direct - in general quite good. I love it.

In regards to the M50, I recently stumbled on a similar case (someone looking to replace their HD 595's) and they weren't recommended the M50's because they, apparently, had similar bass to the HD 595's, lacking in other words. I've only seen this mentioned there though; it's otherwise been recommended.

Regardless though, considering their price, if the sound is being recommended, isn't there something with similar sound just better for more? I'm surprised at the consistency contrary to what I'm wondering...
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post #15 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Typhoon859 View Post

Could you elaborate on that?

My concern with studio headphones is that they're too analytical. I'm afraid I'll hear everything but wouldn't ever say "wow". Even though it should be kept in mind, I'm saying I want more than just to bring out the flaws and I'm willing to sacrifice some accuracy for it because I also want to really enjoy my music with them as well.

I have had the DT880s and DT990s and I sold them. The DT880 are considered the most neutral but they were slightly weak in bass impact. I listen to a wide range of music, and when I used the DT880s, I was always think I should EQ the upper/mids and treble down a bit, because after a while I found them fatiguing. It's like somebody turned up the sharpness control on the treble. I think it's because there is a slight peak in the treble around the 6-9 Khz range. The bass on the DT880 goes very deep but because the upper mids are a bit exaggerated, they bass never hit as hard as I liked relative to the other parts of the sound. The high end T1s get the balance more right, they are like the 880s with more bass impact and the treble peak was tamed.

The DT990s pumped up the bass a bit over the DT880s but their treble is even sharper sounding. I really couldn't listen to those with any modern pop recording because it makes everything sound harsher than it should.

What I like about the M50 is that the bass is balanced relatve to the rest of the sound, and the treble is just sparkly enough to let me hear the leading edge of the strings and has the right metalicness of cymbals and high hats. I have to say for general music listening the M50 is just a more enjoyable music headphone. The 880 sounds more analytical to me, and I prefer a "fun" headphone than an analytical one. I also have the SRH840, and that is actually also very similar to the M50 but the upper mid/lower treble is a bit more laid back. They have a slightly more pronounced midbass hump which makes they also fun for bassy music. I think if you are looking for something warm and full sounding, that is a good choice as well.

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post #16 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Typhoon859 View Post

What would you say in regards to the DT 990's in comparison to the 880's? The 880's "neutral" sound can be applied to many phones but that's not always a good thing. For example, some can be even more neutral, like not as "bright" as suggested by Warpdrive, which in that case I have a feeling I wouldn't feel too positively towards the "neutral" definition.

The 990 are absolutely NOT what you are looking for. Exaggerated bass & treble (like warpdrive said below) and just don't sound right at all IMO. The 880 are much better, but not a true studio monitor as mentioned. You can probably do better in that respect.

The 880 were the best headphones I tried (out of like 6-7 comparable pairs) as far as synergy goes with Dolby Headphone (virtual surround) on my receiver for movie watching. The open design helps there. If I wanted a closed set of cans, the Denon AHD2000 were far and away my favorite set for music. Maybe take a look at those, but I don't think they qualify as a true studio monitor either.
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post #17 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

I have had the DT880s and DT990s and I sold them. The DT880 are considered the most neutral but they were slightly weak in bass impact. I listen to a wide range of music, and when I used the DT880s, I was always think I should EQ the upper/mids and treble down a bit, because after a while I found them fatiguing. It's like somebody turned up the sharpness control on the treble. I think it's because there is a slight peak in the treble around the 6-9 Khz range. The bass on the DT880 goes very deep but because the upper mids are a bit exaggerated, they bass never hit as hard as I liked relative to the other parts of the sound. The high end T1s get the balance more right, they are like the 880s with more bass impact and the treble peak was tamed.

The DT990s pumped up the bass a bit over the DT880s but their treble is even sharper sounding. I really couldn't listen to those with any modern pop recording because it makes everything sound harsher than it should.

What I like about the M50 is that the bass is balanced relatve to the rest of the sound, and the treble is just sparkly enough to let me hear the leading edge of the strings and has the right metalicness of cymbals and high hats. I have to say for general music listening the M50 is just a more enjoyable music headphone. The 880 sounds more analytical to me, and I prefer a "fun" headphone than an analytical one. I also have the SRH840, and that is actually also very similar to the M50 but the upper mid/lower treble is a bit more laid back. They have a slightly more pronounced midbass hump which makes they also fun for bassy music. I think if you are looking for something warm and full sounding, that is a good choice as well.

Very nice, thank you. You're telling me exactly what I'm looking for. If you can though, how would you further compare the M50's to the SRH840's?
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The 990 are absolutely NOT what you are looking for. Exaggerated bass & treble (like warpdrive said below) and just don't sound right at all IMO. The 880 are much better, but not a true studio monitor as mentioned. You can probably do better in that respect.

The 880 were the best headphones I tried (out of like 6-7 comparable pairs) as far as synergy goes with Dolby Headphone (virtual surround) on my receiver for movie watching. The open design helps there. If I wanted a closed set of cans, the Denon AHD2000 were far and away my favorite set for music. Maybe take a look at those, but I don't think they qualify as a true studio monitor either.

Thanks for the heads up. When you mention the 880's though, what do you mean by open design? Does that mean there's less sound isolation/more leakage? If so, I really can't use them. The most important thing is that the phones I'm looking for keep sound from coming in and out as much as possible; unfortunately a necessary compromise.

I also can't find any pair of 880's $200 or under which is unfortunate... Unfortunately the Denon AHD2000 neither so even if I wanted it I can't really consider it. Thanks again though.
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post #18 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 01:24 PM
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The SRH840 and M50 are more similar than they are different. Both are very natural sounding headphones. The 840 seems to have slightly more bass thump, but the M50 seems to sound like a more carefully tuned sub, deep and clean. The 840 is a slightly warmer, more laid back style. If I take a overprocessed pop song, it somehow sounds bearable on the 840, it seems to take the edge off and bathe you in sound. Tonally I prefer the M50 for well mastered music, it has the right balance of decent bass and clear highs, but the 840 is useful to me for less than ideal recordings. I only have the 840 right now, but I don't plan on ever replacing it, it's a good all-around closed monitoring headphone that is portable, cuts outside noise, relatively comfortable, and works better for my selection of music (not all of which is well mastered)

When I am at home, I use my Denon D7000. Tonally, it's very natural sounding. But it requires a good source, good recording otherwise it can sound uncontrolled.

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post #19 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 01:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

The SRH840 and M50 are more similar than they are different. Both are very natural sounding headphones. The 840 seems to have slightly more bass thump, but the M50 seems to sound like a more carefully tuned sub, deep and clean. The 840 is a slightly warmer, more laid back style. If I take a overprocessed pop song, it somehow sounds bearable on the 840, it seems to take the edge off and bathe you in sound. Tonally I prefer the M50 for well mastered music, it has the right balance of decent bass and clear highs, but the 840 is useful to me for less than ideal recordings. I only have the 840 right now, but I don't plan on ever replacing it, it's a good all-around closed monitoring headphone that is portable, cuts outside noise, relatively comfortable, and works better for my selection of music (not all of which is well mastered)

When I am at home, I use my Denon D7000. Tonally, it's very natural sounding. But it requires a good source, good recording otherwise it can sound uncontrolled.

Interesting... Which one of the two would you say is more appropriate for the studio (the M50 seems to be leaning towards that direction) and which would you say isolates more sound? Thanks again.
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post #20 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 03:35 PM
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I would say the M50 is better as a studio headphone. As they say in the pro-audio business, they seem to "translate" better. I would have to make less corrections to the mix if I used the M50 as a reference sound.

Both isolate comparably almost within a couple of decibels to each other.

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post #21 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
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I would say the M50 is better as a studio headphone. As they say in the pro-audio business, they seem to "transfer" better. I would have to make less corrections to the mix if I used the M50 as a reference sound.

Both isolate comparably almost within a couple of decibels to each other.
Well thanks once again. Now I think I'll try to find "an upgraded version of the M50's", if you will...

Something about their commonality and reference price point tells me I could find something better. From different people's descriptions, they sound perfect, so maybe I'm thinking there's something that equally fits the bill just "better".
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post #22 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 07:09 PM
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I've owned many decent headphones, from the M50 to D7000 and heard many more below and above those in price, and I can say the sweet spot in headphones is less than $300. Sometimes spending a lot more than that does not equate to equal amounts of enjoyment. I've heard $1000 Audio Technicas that I think are more flawed than their own pro-use M50. I think, sometimes, a made for studio product is much better value than their consumer use products because they emphasize predictable, full range sound quality over a specifically targetted sound that appeals to audiophiles or mass market only, and they don't spend a lot of energy marketing expensive material construction or pretty wood cups. As I said, M50 in the under $150 range is pretty unbeatable. I would say I recommend them even if you had $250 to spend.

It's up to you to figure out what's best for you. The only way to find out is to try them yourself. Only then can you properly judge if there is any real improvement over what you have now.

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post #23 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

I've owned many decent headphones, from the M50 to D7000 and heard many more below and above those in price, and I can say the sweet spot in headphones is less than $300. Sometimes spending a lot more than that does not equate to equal amounts of enjoyment. I've heard $1000 Audio Technicas that I think are more flawed than their own pro-use M50. I think, sometimes, a made for studio product is much better value than their consumer use products because they emphasize predictable, full range sound quality over a specifically targetted sound that appeals to audiophiles or mass market only, and they don't spend a lot of energy marketing expensive material construction or pretty wood cups. As I said, M50 in the under $150 range is pretty unbeatable. I would say I recommend them even if you had $250 to spend.

It's up to you to figure out what's best for you. The only way to find out is to try them yourself. Only then can you properly judge if there is any real improvement over what you have now.

Wise words I must think on it. I'll do a little more digging and if nothing comes up, I'll leave it at the M50's - they seem right for me. What I'll likely do is a list of what I have to consider at this point and see what people have to say comparing the specific phones. That worked very well last time when I was looking for IEM's.
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post #24 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 07:53 PM
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You have one decent headphone in the 595, and to plot a trajectory you need a second reference point to define the two points that make up a straight line. Only then will you have a reference of where to go next

I suggest just getting out there and trying a few. Headphones are great in that, they don't cost a lot to buy, and they are still resaleable easily, and easily returnable if you buy from a place that allows returns. There is no substitute for getting them onto your own ears. Did you know that the acoustical impedance of a person's ear canals can vary 10dB from person to person? That helps explain why one person can describe one earphone as bright can sound warm and veiled, one person's flat sounding is another person's bloated sounding

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post #25 of 31 Old 12-20-2010, 08:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post
You have one decent headphone in the 595, and to plot a trajectory you need a second reference point to define the two points that make up a straight line. Only then will you have a reference of where to go next

I suggest just getting out there and trying a few. Headphones are great in that, they don't cost a lot to buy, and they are still resaleable easily, and easily returnable if you buy from a place that allows returns. There is no substitute for getting them onto your own ears. Did you know that the acoustical impedance of a person's ear canals can vary 10dB from person to person? That helps explain why one person can describe one earphone as bright can sound warm and veiled, one person's flat sounding is another person's bloated sounding
Yup, I know. But there is the correct standard of hearing though. I mean, of course it varies from person to person.

It does cost at least $6 for each pair of headphones you try which is okay of course. Just, I don't think I want to go through this trying and returning process. Maybe someday when I'm less retarded, lol.

I would still come here for facts and opinions though and go from there.
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post #26 of 31 Old 12-21-2010, 05:51 AM
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Have you considered Stax? http://www.stax.co.jp/Export/ExportProducts.html

I've been using Stax headphones exclusively for 25 years. No dynamic headphone comes close.

Sennheiser makes a great dynamic headphone but Stax are just so clean in the mids and highs that I can't tolerate anything else. And they're built like tanks. They last forever.
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post #27 of 31 Old 12-21-2010, 06:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Magnefied View Post

Have you considered Stax? http://www.stax.co.jp/Export/ExportProducts.html

I've been using Stax headphones exclusively for 25 years. No dynamic headphone comes close.

Sennheiser makes a great dynamic headphone but Stax are just so clean in the mids and highs that I can't tolerate anything else. And they're built like tanks. They last forever.

I dunno... Doesn't look like my thing. Looks like it could be someone else's though. Thanks for the suggestion.
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post #28 of 31 Old 12-21-2010, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Typhoon859 View Post

Yup, I know. But there is the correct standard of hearing though. I mean, of course it varies from person to person.

There is no "standard". There are standards for measuring hearing loss, but I'm talking about how the sound quality can vary from person to person. The headphone manufacturers can design for the average person, but your ears may be very different which will cause the headphone to sound quite different than what the manufacturer intended. That's why some headphones sound good to some but bad to others.

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post #29 of 31 Old 12-21-2010, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

There is no "standard". There are standards for measuring hearing loss, but I'm talking about how the sound quality can vary from person to person. The headphone manufacturers can design for the average person, but your ears may be very different which will cause the headphone to sound quite different than what the manufacturer intended. That's why some headphones sound good to some but bad to others.

Yeah, I get it. But I still think there is such a thing as better or worse hearing and I have to say that mine is for the better and therefore correct. I know, very arrogant but after so much time, I've noticed it on too many occasions to be true. I'm hearing what's supposed to be; let's just put it that way; I know it's subjective.
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post #30 of 31 Old 12-21-2010, 11:32 AM
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Yeah, I get it. But I still think there is such a thing as better or worse hearing and I have to say that mine is for the better and therefore correct. I know, very arrogant but after so much time, I've noticed it on too many occasions to be true. I'm hearing what's supposed to be; let's just put it that way; I know it's subjective.

modesty is a great trait to have

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