Planar Magnetic Headphone Recommendations Under $600 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 9 Old 12-31-2018, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Planar Magnetic Headphone Recommendations Under $600

After spending some time digging through headphone reviews and articles online, it’s likely you’ve run into a group of planar magnetic fanatics along the way. The encounter may leave you wondering “How does planar technology work? What have they heard that has send them spiraling into dizzying rants in online forums, trying to convince complete strangers to jump ship from their more typical headphones with dynamic drivers?”


Click this link to read more: https://www.avsforum.com/planar-magn...ons-under-600/

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post #2 of 9 Old 12-31-2018, 01:16 PM
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Planar-Magnetic Headphones are very similar to the even higher Cost (and Technology) Electrostatic Headphones....except the very lightweight Mylar Membrane[with serpentine Voice Coil] is suspended in between an Array of Permanent Magnets instead of High Voltage Plates. So the Membrane operates as a single large Diaphragm, reacting nearly instantaneously to the input voltages. Although Input Impedance is VERY Constant, the Sensitivity is fairly low, hence the need to use a Headphone Amp [esp. wimpy SMARTPhones], rather than connecting directly to Line Out port:
https://www.innerfidelity.com/conten...eadphones-work
https://www.audioreputation.com/what...tic-headphones

For just $179, HiFiMan 400i P-M Headphones are a GREAT BUY.....but I too suffered from the "build quality" issues. Phone Cord quickly frayed and they apparently didn't use enough glue when putting the Earmuffs together....both resolved via warranty return. But then the replacement Earmuffs had the SAME lack of glue problem. Solution is to order fol. parts, bring Total Cost up to about $232 to $242....STILL a Great Buy:

Replacement Cable with much higher build quality:
For $23: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N5O8S4M

And your choice:
For $30:https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071VD17TC [Soft]
For $40:https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00XHPR6PC [My FAV, softer, thicker]
Or try your luck with other less expensive alternatives:
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...man+earpads232


FYI: Fol. Headphone Amp is UNIQUE in providing BASS/MID/TREBLE controls in addition to usual Volume and Balance....personally I can't live without having immediate control over Excessive as well as Insufficient BASS:
https://www.amazon.com/Syba-Control-.../dp/B074W6V9SY
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Last edited by holl_ands; 12-31-2018 at 01:39 PM.
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-02-2019, 12:21 AM
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used he400 if you can find it for a decent price. i prefer it over the he400i. the 400i sounded narrower and less bassy to me.
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-02-2019, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post
Planar-Magnetic Headphones are very similar to the even higher Cost (and Technology) Electrostatic Headphones....except the very lightweight Mylar Membrane[with serpentine Voice Coil] is suspended in between an Array of Permanent Magnets instead of High Voltage Plates. So the Membrane operates as a single large Diaphragm, reacting nearly instantaneously to the input voltages. Although Input Impedance is VERY Constant, the Sensitivity is fairly low, hence the need to use a Headphone Amp [esp. wimpy SMARTPhones], rather than connecting directly to Line Out port:
https://www.innerfidelity.com/conten...eadphones-work
https://www.audioreputation.com/what...tic-headphones

For just $179, HiFiMan 400i P-M Headphones are a GREAT BUY.....but I too suffered from the "build quality" issues. Phone Cord quickly frayed and they apparently didn't use enough glue when putting the Earmuffs together....both resolved via warranty return. But then the replacement Earmuffs had the SAME lack of glue problem. Solution is to order fol. parts, bring Total Cost up to about $232 to $242....STILL a Great Buy:

Replacement Cable with much higher build quality:
For $23: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N5O8S4M

And your choice:
For $30:https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071VD17TC [Soft]
For $40:https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00XHPR6PC [My FAV, softer, thicker]
Or try your luck with other less expensive alternatives:
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...man+earpads232


FYI: Fol. Headphone Amp is UNIQUE in providing BASS/MID/TREBLE controls in addition to usual Volume and Balance....personally I can't live without having immediate control over Excessive as well as Insufficient BASS:
https://www.amazon.com/Syba-Control-.../dp/B074W6V9SY
just purchased Monoprice m1060c at great deal, really like the sound, just saying....
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-06-2019, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by stylesxd View Post
used he400 if you can find it for a decent price. i prefer it over the he400i. the 400i sounded narrower and less bassy to me.
I have to second your HE400. I've been listening to mine for a bit over 3 years and I still love them. They made me so enthused about planar magnetics that I have also bought Audeze Isine 10 and Isine 20 earbuds, for work. I work outside and they stay in place as well as sounding great. joe
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-08-2019, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SqeeksMcGee View Post
After spending some time digging through headphone reviews and articles online, it’s likely you’ve run into a group of planar magnetic fanatics along the way. The encounter may leave you wondering “How does planar technology work? What have they heard that has send them spiraling into dizzying rants in online forums, trying to convince complete strangers to jump ship from their more typical headphones with dynamic drivers?”


Click this link to read more: https://www.avsforum.com/planar-magn...ons-under-600/
I picked up a pair of Audeze LCD-2 Classic's on Black Friday B-Stock for $550. I believe this is (at least) the second year they've run such a deal. Bought direct from Audeze's website, with signature of test engineer for quality assurance.

I also put a periapt balanced XLR cable on it for not much more (maybe a dozen or so dollars) than the $50 worth of room I have betweem my $550 purchase and your $600 limit...

Thought it might be worth mentionining/noting.


I also have a pair of HiFiMan HE-4XX (which I believe is very similar to the 400i you've mentioned here, in both driver/build and pricepoint). I do find them fun for listening to "synthetic" (not real instruments) pop/hip-hop with a lot of low end. For anything else? I think they're grainy and unrefined for Rock, and the mids are pretty recessed for female jazz/accappella/singer-songwriter/easy-listening. I personally wouldn't recommend them for anything "serious," but they're "fun" and (relatively) affordable for high end cans.

As always, "JMO" and "YMMV".
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-08-2019, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by psuKinger View Post
I do find them fun for listening to "synthetic" (not real instruments) pop/hip-hop with a lot of low end. For anything else? I think they're grainy and unrefined for Rock, and the mids are pretty recessed for female jazz/accappella/singer-songwriter/easy-listening. I personally wouldn't recommend them for anything "serious," but they're "fun" and (relatively) affordable for high end cans.
.

It's not that the mids are recessed, the drivers play flat from 20hz to 2khz, its the big rise in the treble region from 2khz to 10khz. Eqing this area down 5db helps relax the piercing/grating quality of the transient response of the drivers. In addition using quality velour pads like from Dekoni and removing the back grills really smooths out the treble response. At that point they're very comparable to the LCDClassics, which are of course, sonic perfection. Not everyone wants to do all that tinkering though, but at $170 with some nondestructive modding it's worth noting, since after the mods acoustic instruments sound incredibly realistic.
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post #8 of 9 Old 01-08-2019, 06:48 PM
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.

It's not that the mids are recessed, the drivers play flat from 20hz to 2khz, its the big rise in the treble region from 2khz to 10khz. Eqing this area down 5db helps relax the piercing/grating quality of the transient response of the drivers. In addition using quality velour pads like from Dekoni and removing the back grills really smooths out the treble response. At that point they're very comparable to the LCDClassics, which are of course, sonic perfection. Not everyone wants to do all that tinkering though, but at $170 with some nondestructive modding it's worth noting, since after the mods acoustic instruments sound incredibly realistic.
1) Thanks for the EQ suggestion. I have tried several jazz/accappella songs tonight, and I do have to admit that the -5dB EQ from 2 kHz to 10 kHz is an improvement in balance and sound quality.

2) That said, and I am in no way saying "you're wrong," as I:

A) certainly don't have the Dekoni Pads you mentioned
B) probably don't have the same DAC or Amp you do
C) may not be judging by way of similar source material as you
D) Our ears and preferences may be quite different...

But the improvement, while real, wasn't enough to really make me want to reverse field much regarding the overall sentiment. I still think they sound "pretty great (for $170)" for synthetic bass-heavy computer-generated pop/hip-hop... and I still think don't think I'd recommend them for much of anything else. I checked out a few different jazz/female vocals tracks (Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot), one men's accappella track (straight no chaser), and one classic rock track (creedence clearwater revival), FWIW. I definitely prefer my (traditional driver) Sennheiser HD-6XX's by a fairly wide margin for this sort of listening.
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post #9 of 9 Old 01-08-2019, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by psuKinger View Post
1) Thanks for the EQ suggestion. I have tried several jazz/accappella songs tonight, and I do have to admit that the -5dB EQ from 2 kHz to 10 kHz is an improvement in balance and sound quality.

2) That said, and I am in no way saying "you're wrong," as I:

A) certainly don't have the Dekoni Pads you mentioned
B) probably don't have the same DAC or Amp you do
C) may not be judging by way of similar source material as you
D) Our ears and preferences may be quite different...

But the improvement, while real, wasn't enough to really make me want to reverse field much regarding the overall sentiment. I still think they sound "pretty great (for $170)" for synthetic bass-heavy computer-generated pop/hip-hop... and I still think don't think I'd recommend them for much of anything else. I checked out a few different jazz/female vocals tracks (Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot), one men's accappella track (straight no chaser), and one classic rock track (creedence clearwater revival), FWIW. I definitely prefer my (traditional driver) Sennheiser HD-6XX's by a fairly wide margin for this sort of listening.
;] I'm certainly in agreement with you on the grainy sound quality that they have out of the box. In addition to the EQ, it takes a pad change and the removal of the rear grills to smooth it out completely. The rear grill is easy enough to test the it's just a plastic tabbed ring holding the grill in place.

For the pads, my older pair of he400is had the all plastic yokes and they cracked in 6 places. Hifiman sent a replacement headband, but having taped up the yokes I decided to modify that band to accommodate the Dekoni LCD Velour pads, which are gigantic and due to the way the yokes slide over the pads while wearing I had to bend the headband in above the yoke and remove the headband and add a pad to the top.

These pads though are very thick and the velour material is more tightly knit and manages to form a kind of seal so there's no(or little) loss of bass performance. They have the added benefit of smoothing treble response, being deeper and angling the drivers more, improving imaging, and improving soundstage.

If you're interested, they're currently being used with an Audio-GD NFB-11 with an Uptone ISO Regen connected to a PC via USB, and conditioned by a Topaz 91092-12 Ultra Line Noise Isolator. I use Fongaudio's Out of Your Head to virtualize stereo loudspeaker systems. Normal stereo listening is intensely clean while not sounding etched or lifeless, and the systems ability to render the virtualization is very impressive for the price.

I have a pair of 6XXs as well and they are incredibly smooth and pleasing to listen to, light comfortable, breathable, really an excellent pair to own.
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