Grado vs AKG vs BeyerDynamics vs Sennheiser - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 71 Old 10-09-2007, 05:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I want new headphones, my budget is around $500 and I'ld rather spend less if possible. Getting a good value is important to me.

I currently use a pair of SR-80s and I love them...but after 5 years I'm wanting to upgrade. I started looking at closed ear headphones but none of them are as good as open ear headphones it seems. If anyone know of some awesome sounding closed ear headphones let me know

I listen mostly to metal but I do listen to a little progressive trance and rap as well. I won't be gaming much so these are primarily for music being played off of an Audigy 2 ZS Notebook PCMCIA sound card.

Not needing an amp is a big plus as is durability...my SR-80s aren't very sturdy

So, here's what I'm considering atm:
Grado SR-325i
AKG K701
BeyerDynamic DT880
Sennheiser HD650
Sennheiser HD595



Couple more questions:
1. Is it worth getting headphones at this price level recabled? Is there honestly a large audible difference?
2. I haven't looked at In Ear monitors too much...am I correct in my assumption that headphones are generally better and more comfortable?


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post #2 of 71 Old 10-09-2007, 07:00 PM
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I own these two cans and hook them up to Musical Fidelity X-CAN v3 Amps. I use one for work and one at home when the kids are asleep. I don't have much experience with the other makes except the Grados, which I remember thinking that they had terrific sound; a little bass heavy and had less space and imaging. Also, there were not nearly as comfortable for extended listening.

They are both great sets. Both have very natural, tight bass, the type where you can distinguish specific bass pitches with ease. Both are dynamic and bring out subtleties within each performance. Both are very neutral in character and very revealing, especially the AKG. I had the Senny first and wanted to do and A/B comparison with the AKG. I wound up keeping both of them as each has specific strengths depending on what type of music you like.

To me, the AKG is quite a bit more detailed and up front; it is great with rock, pop and soul. Folk vocals, male and female, are natural without undue high and low extension. These sound like the more sensitive cans so they are a good choice with little or no additional amplification. These were also very comfortable to wear and non-fatiguing for long listening sessions.

The Senny has a more relaxed character where the each instrument can be heard and placed. I find that the music has more layers with these cans yet the whole presentation remains cohesive and gripping. These were made for jazz, classical and orchestral music. These do though, sound best with a good amp.

All music sounds great on both these sets, I just noted where a type of genre plays to the strength of either can.

Either of these choices is a home run. Good luck.

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post #3 of 71 Old 10-09-2007, 07:01 PM
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The Senny to which I referred in my post is the HD650.

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post #4 of 71 Old 10-09-2007, 07:17 PM
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I had my Senny cable replaced with the cryo-treated silver cables and I noticed that the highs went marginally higher, not a distinguishable difference if you listen to metal. The bass, though, was another story. There was a big difference in the lower frequencies and it gave the whole presentation a lot more impact. There are after market AKG K701s available with after-market cables but I haven't tried them.

But then I could just be hearing things to justify the cost of the cable upgrade, 200.00.

If you are looking at IEM's, check out UE10 and Shure SE530EPT. They are both amazing, in your price range and portable. I like IEMs, personally, for the noise cancelling. I have owned numerous Shures and Westones. They took a little getting used to but, eventually, I sometimes forgot that I was wearing them. The open-ear sets, though, still cannot be approached in sound quality by the IEMs in my listening. These do not require additional amping, although good amps can only help.

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post #5 of 71 Old 10-09-2007, 07:26 PM
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I have owned the Grado SR225, Senn HD600 and 595, Beyer DT880, AKG K701, and the Audio Techinica ATH-W1000 and ATTH-A900,

I think the K701 was the most lively of them once you got some hours on them. The Grados were excellent for metal and rock.
The Beyers were great for female vocals IMO.

The Senn 600 were the last pair I sold. They were very balanced to my ears. The 650s were darker and more laid back to me. The 595s were good but surpassed by it's brother.

Tough call really. I would probably go back to the AKG but they definitely need an amp as do the Beyers.

Not really much help was I?
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post #6 of 71 Old 10-09-2007, 07:28 PM
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I am in the same boat. I have been looking for a closed can that sounds as good as my Grado's anything I have found closed that comes close will require an amp.

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post #7 of 71 Old 10-09-2007, 08:10 PM
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To answer your questions:

- In Ear Monitors are overpriced for the sound quality they give you. If you don't need portability AND noise isolation, you can get good sounding headphones for a lot less.

- Recabling is a waste of money. The cables that the headphones come with (HD650/DT880/K701/Grado) are already good cables. I'd rather spend that money on a better headphone than spending $100 on a new cable.

- If you like the Grado sound, then stick with Grado. They have lots of higher models to empty your wallet. The 325i is definitely a logical upgrade. I think the DT990 (and maybe the 880) is probably the most Grado like: crisp highs, tight bass lacking a bit of the deepest bass.

The HD650 will sound like having cotton in your ears after listening to a Grado. The AKG lacks a bit of the punch you get with Grado.

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post #8 of 71 Old 10-10-2007, 03:09 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm leaning towards the AKGs after reading all the responses.

Do I need an amp for them or not?

Also, warpdrive...when you say the AKGs lack a bit of a punch compared to the Grado...do you mean dynamics or bass?


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post #9 of 71 Old 10-10-2007, 05:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deathwish238 View Post

I'm leaning towards the AKGs after reading all the responses.

Do I need an amp for them or not?

Also, warpdrive...when you say the AKGs lack a bit of a punch compared to the Grado...do you mean dynamics or bass?

AKG 701's absolutely need a good headphone out or amp. Don't even try to plug them into a soundcard output

The dynamics is lacking in the bass.

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post #10 of 71 Old 10-10-2007, 05:20 AM
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Just want to add my 2 cents. I have the Senn 595's, and when powered properly they sound sublime. Hooked up to my receiver (BA AVR7100) or straight into my cd changer (HK something-or-other), they are dynamic, extremely well balanced, and sound more live than my main system (minus outright impact). In addition, they are extraordinarily comfortable. However, hooked up to my sound card output, the detail is all there, but the bass energy and dynamics are all gone. Without being 100% sure, I would venture to guess that all of the headphones you've listed would probably sound much fuller with an amp, assuming you have good output, and I would say the Sound Blaster would do.

Having said all that, I have a pair of Sennheiser HD 497 headphones that work perfectly for my computer and portable player (iPod). Given the choice between the two of those, I wouldn't even think twice about putting them on over the 595's. They aren't as comfortable of course, and they don't sound as live as the 595's hooked up to the home theater, but they sound much better than the 595's hooked up to a computer/iPod. Especially for rock, rap, and all bass-loving music. I'm not suggesting that they're equal to any of those headphones you listed, but for this particular application (sans an amp) they might fit the bill better if you're looking for something new.
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post #11 of 71 Old 10-10-2007, 05:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

AKG 701's absolutely need a good headphone out or amp. Don't even try to plug them into a soundcard output

The dynamics is lacking in the bass.

+1 Not just lacking in bass. (if not using an amp)The entire sound stage is "off" Not to say that AKG 701 hooked directly to your sound card wont sound better than the Grados they are replacing. they will..but to get the most out of the K701's you will need an amp.

Two things about the 701's if you listen around other people..be prepared to get yelled at, they are truely open back, and a LOT of sound escape them, and two, you will need 300-400 hours of burning before the wake up and sound like they should.
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post #12 of 71 Old 10-10-2007, 06:26 AM
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I'm going to second the note about sound leakage, the Senn 595's also leak a lot of sound, and people around you will hear it. For instance, my office is close to the bedroom, and my wife could hear the music I was listening to (when she was in the bedroom) clearly enough to sing along, and this was at just moderate levels.
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post #13 of 71 Old 10-10-2007, 04:09 PM - Thread Starter
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hmm so an amp is a must. I'm just found out about the BeyerDynamics 990 and pretty much everything I'm reading about it says they're a little better than the K701s for rock. I've found them both for around $250 which is much cheaper than I expected.


Do you all think a $100 headphone amp like the Headroom Total AirHead would suffice? By going to a 3-4x more expensive amp...how much of a difference should I expect? It'ld put me over budget so I'm not sure if I want to do that



Another question...what would a good pair of closed ear cans be that I could power from an mp3 player(I have an iAudio X5) or laptop? Swartzy mentioned the HD497...any others I should consider?


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post #14 of 71 Old 10-10-2007, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deathwish238 View Post

Swartzy mentioned the HD497...any others I should consider?

The HD497s were my first real set of cans. I would also take a look at the Audio Technica ATH-A900s as they are easy to drive and good for rock IMO. Grados are also a good way to go.

For portable use the Audio Technicas are too big and the Grados leak sound. I went to in ear monitors for my portable system.
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post #15 of 71 Old 10-10-2007, 04:46 PM
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You didn't notice that I already recommended the DT990's before? I said they are very much like Grados.

A Total Airhead is pretty good but certainly you get what you pay for. I'd suggest a Meier CORDA ARIETTA

A HD497 is not a closed can. I'd suggest an AKG K81DJ for a good sounding (folding) portable headphone good for rock, or Sennheiser PX100 if you want something open and folding

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post #16 of 71 Old 10-11-2007, 04:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Hmm the Corda Arietta does look nice a bit pricey though...any thoughts about the Meier Headsix? How do the two differ in terms of sound quality?

Not sure how I missed you recommending the DT990...I'm still stuck between them and the K701. More bass vs better soundstage and slightly better mids is what seems to be the major difference


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post #17 of 71 Old 10-11-2007, 05:11 AM
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The Headsix is newly announced so few people know how it sounds, but it should sound like the Move which is a good thing. The Arietta will sound better for the extra $80.

I do own the K701 and I definitely miss some of the impact that the DT990, and to a lesser extent, the DT880 gives me. The DT880 sounds very much like the SR225 but without the slight harshness in the highs that Grados are known for, and with better soundstage. The DT990 reminds me of the Grado GS1000 in terms of its punchiness. I think the K701 really needs a good strong amp to sound stable, you want a very good quality headphone output

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post #18 of 71 Old 10-11-2007, 06:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Do you think the Move or Headsix will be able to power the DT990 at loud volumes? I listen to a lot of metal and I like it loud. 250 ohms is quite high so I'm a bit worried about powering them properly.

Also, do you know if the DT-990PRO and DT-990 are the same 2005 model headphone? I know there's a difference in tension...but I'm not sure if that's where the differences end.


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post #19 of 71 Old 10-11-2007, 07:08 AM
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I don't know whether the Move can do it but I think it should be able to as he designed it to work with a wide range of headphones. He usually uses the Sennheiser HD600 series as his benchmark and the Beyers are similar in requirements.

Yes the Pro models are basically higher tension. The latest 2005 and up models have a more smooth appearance, and supposedly sound better than the 2004 "classic" style. I'd stick with the nonpro version as the pro versions really clamp harder

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post #20 of 71 Old 10-11-2007, 07:11 AM
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I use Senn HD280 Pro. They are closed, sound-isolatig headphones. They seem to get great marks across the board and I personally love them. Kills all sound on a crowded noisey city bus except the hum of the engine.

I could not be happier and they are in your price range. If you want excessive bass you might be disapointed though - they are what I might call reserved in the bass department. Bass is certainly there, but you shouldn't expect to hear a thump on every note either.
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post #21 of 71 Old 10-11-2007, 09:28 AM
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I have a pair of Beyer DT 911s and although they are older they still sound pretty good. Although lacking deep bass they are very non fatiguing, which is a quality that is a must with headphones. While speakers are a very personal choice headphones are even more so. I know $500 is the max you want to spend, however I would have no problem spending that much or more on a pair that sound great like the HD 650 or the higher end Grados. Tough choice considering that all four brands you mentioned make really good headphones. If you listen to phones a lot break the bank and buy a killer pair, it's very much like buying speakers.
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post #22 of 71 Old 10-11-2007, 09:33 AM
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I agree with Bob, I think headphones are terribly personal, which explains why I think it's such a shame it's nearly impossible to audition any, even in stores thanks to the always-infuriating plastic casing. Of course, not everybody loves the idea of putting something over their head and ears that has been on someone else's.
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post #23 of 71 Old 10-11-2007, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swartzy.baby View Post

I agree with Bob, I think headphones are terribly personal, which explains why I think it's such a shame it's nearly impossible to audition any, even in stores thanks to the always-infuriating plastic casing. Of course, not everybody loves the idea of putting something over their head and ears that has been on someone else's.


True..very true. Contarary to Logic_BomB I personally find my HD 280pros..so Bass heavy that I dont like to listen to them much anymore. (And I used to be a Basshead!) So one can see why you'll need to try them out for yourself.
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post #24 of 71 Old 10-11-2007, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the help guys. I've found the 2005 model of the DT990 for $265...anyone seen a better price?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobGoshen View Post

I have a pair of Beyer DT 911s and although they are older they still sound pretty good. Although lacking deep bass they are very non fatiguing, which is a quality that is a must with headphones. While speakers are a very personal choice headphones are even more so. I know $500 is the max you want to spend, however I would have no problem spending that much or more on a pair that sound great like the HD 650 or the higher end Grados. Tough choice considering that all four brands you mentioned make really good headphones. If you listen to phones a lot break the bank and buy a killer pair, it's very much like buying speakers.

haha yeah...I was originally going to upgrade my home theater setup. But I live in an apartment and realized one day that I don't get to listen to music as loud as I want to unless I'm using headphones.

What would you say is a step up from the DT990s/K701s? I know AKG has the K1000s...

Quote:
Originally Posted by swartzy.baby View Post

I agree with Bob, I think headphones are terribly personal, which explains why I think it's such a shame it's nearly impossible to audition any, even in stores thanks to the always-infuriating plastic casing. Of course, not everybody loves the idea of putting something over their head and ears that has been on someone else's.

I really wish there was a good audio store nearby that offered headphones...that'ld make things quite simple


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post #25 of 71 Old 10-12-2007, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
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I ended up getting a Rockhopper Mini^3 amp.

I'm stuck between the DT-990s and the Ultrasone PROline 2500. Anyone have any insight between the two?


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post #26 of 71 Old 10-15-2007, 11:03 PM
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Is it a question of price that's stopping you from buying an amp? There are a couple of DIY amp designs in the $20-$80 range that can offer pretty major increases in sound quality with high-draw cans like the Senns and AKGs. Google "pimeta" in particular.

Edit:
Nevermind, you seem to have already bought one. Post left for posterity.
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post #27 of 71 Old 10-16-2007, 01:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah I ended up going with the Mini^3 for power and the BeyerDynamic DT-990 for headphones...I think I'll be quite happy


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post #28 of 71 Old 10-31-2007, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Well...the Mini^3 and DT990s sound even better than I expected. I believe I've broken them in enough and wow...they're simply amazing. Awesome bass, beautiful highs, rich delicate powerful audio...

Now to upgrade my DAC to a Silverstone EB01 and I think I'll be quite happy for a while


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post #29 of 71 Old 11-06-2007, 05:07 PM
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I'm kind of in a similar situation, I'm looking for some new cans for work. I've currently got a set of SR-60s that I love, I've also got a set of ER-6's that I use when I'm out testing in the lab (lots of fans, quite noisy).

Sound quality wise I have no complaints about either, and if it were sound quality alone, I wouldn't even bother looking for new cans. However, what I'm finding as time goes on is that I long, more and more for some sonic isolation. I sit in one of the more active areas of the building and I'd like some cans that can seal out that unwanted noise.

I'd just use the Etys, but one they're somewhat of a pain to take in/out when people stop by, and second, and more importantly, they end up bothering me after an hour or so, making my ears itch.

The Grados are great, but they block absolutely nothing. So what I'm looking for are some nice sealed cans, preferably with Grado-ish sound. The cans that stand out thus far are the Beyerdynamic DT770 2006s (the HiFi ones). They're supposed to be quite comfortable, and from what it sounds they have a similar sound to the Grados. Headroom also rates them very highly.

I guess my questions are:

Am I way off the mark in my assessment?

I see people saying the Beyers need an amp, I guess I just don't understand that, from a logical perspective. My Grados are 32 Ohm, and I'm completely happy with them "unamplified". The Beyers are 250 Ohm, which should require less current to drive, but much higher voltage for the same power (same SPL), so, unless my source can't drive them loud enough, why would an amp make any difference?

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post #30 of 71 Old 11-06-2007, 05:54 PM
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You usually buy a headphone amp for the same reason you upgrade your home amp. Some portable devices just can't handle the power requirements of a high impedance headphone and start to sound "constricted" in dynamics. It's not a night and day difference but many feel that a headphone amp is needed for low sensitivity/high impedance headphones to sound their best. Personally, I don't find a big difference at all using a headphone amp, just like I don't hear a huge difference between different brands or types of home amps. I do use a headphone amp with my iPod just because I'm running it at the top part of the volume knob with my home use AKG, and I feel the bass is a bit stronger. iPods are known for rolling off the bass depending on difficulty of the impedance load.

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