Deciding on first real quality headphones.

DevinC

Honorable
Sep 10, 2013
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As the title States, I've been looking into getting my first pair of higher end headphones. These will be used for pc gaming (mostly the background music / ambiance), music from pc and mobile music.
My price range is 150-400 for the headphones.
I've been looking more in the Beyerdynamic direction at the Custom One Pros and DT-990,but I'm open to suggestions.
I also believe I've decided on a fiio e17 headphone amp.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
there have been quite a rash of similar posts lately. i hope you dont mind if i quote from one of the other threads i responded to.

click the spoiler below to see the whole thing
as per your pm it seemed that you might have a slightly higher budget than $120 since you mentioned $50 for just the mic.

with that said a few of the options here might be out of your budget but it might be worth stretching for.

i've posted quite a few answers to headphone/mic questions lately so i hope you dont mind if i use some quotes in this first response to get some information out of the way.

this information posted below was for someone with a higher budget than yours however you might be able to look at a few of the items and see if you were interested in any of the products

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

some common and good mics:

blue snowball
blue yeti
at2020usbplus
at2020usb (version without headphone jack)
atr2500

what i said about them in another thread. you can ignore the behringer one (i just copied the text from the other thread and he had listed that as a possible)

a few notes about each:

behringer c1u
-usb
-decent quality however in general there is lots of talk about the volume levels just being way too low.
-lacks a headphone jack so you cant listen to your voice in headphones without lag
-only has cardioid pickup pattern

audiotechnica atr2500
-usb
-great quality (comparable to the more expensive 2020)
-has a headphone jack for lag free listening to your voice on headphones as you talk
-only has cardioid pickup pattern

samson c01u
-usb
-good quality which is comparable to the blue yeti (though i have to say i prefer the sound of the yeti over this one)
-lacks a headphone jack so you cant listen to your own voice without lag
-only has cardioid pickup pattern

blue snowball
-usb
-good quality. not as nice as the at2020, blue yeti and others but not bad
-lacks a headphone jack so you cant listen to your own voice in headphones without lag
-has 3 pickup patterns for multiple recording scenarios.

---

not included on your list:

audiotechnica at2020+ usb
-usb
-great quality similar to atr2500 and blue yeti
-has a headphone jack for lag free listening to your voice on headphones as you talk
-only has cardioid pickup pattern.

blue yeti
-usb
-great quality similar to atr2500 and at2020
-has a headphone jack for lag free listening to your voice on headphones as you talk
-has 3 pickup patterns for multiple recording scenarios

notes:
-cardioid pickup pattern is typically best for picking up voices for commentary as it is limited and helps block out background noise.
-in order to listen to a your voice as you talk in the headset with a usb mic you need it to have a 3.5mm headphone connector
-generally the most respected microphones for youtubers are the at2020 and blue yeti. the blue snowball is often used for upstarts however since it lacks a headphone jack may be outgrown quickly.

if you can manage to stretch your budget a bit the blue yeti is a great microphone and will last you a long time (you shouldnt outgrow it).

if that is out of reach then i would say the atr2500 is a good choice (though it has less options than the yeti). if you dont care about being able to listen to your voice in your headphones then you could likely make do with a blue snowball.

keep in mind you will want to get a pop filter (or make one by stretching pantyhose over a wire frame and putting it in front of the mic).
if you will only use it for voice.... then you only need cardioid mode.
if you want to listen to your voice on your headphones while you talk then you need the 3.5mm headphone plug on the mic
i would highly suggest a shock mount (its mounted in a frame with bungees)
a stand with a moveable arm is the best type to get since its isolated from the desk and can be placed/moved just about anywhere. not as cheap as desk stands though.

my personal favorite is the 2020 but the yeti is very nice too.
on a tight budget the snowball has lots of options but the 2500 is a strong competitor.

---

what i said in another post

again, if you dont mind stereo sound i'd go with some nice studio headphones and a desktop mic. a budget of $500max certainly allows that. i'll list a few products to look into. these arent 7.1 units but with the right pc software you could get them to act just like those gaming headsets. the razer gaming software is supposed to do this but i never had it working right (then again my setup is a bit more complex than average).

a few microphones to look into:

blue snowball (somewhat cheap but with alot of features and decent audio quality)
blue yeti (great quality audio and lots of features.
audiotechnica atr2500 (great quality audio but not as many features as the yeti)
audiotechnica at2020 (the 2500 is based on this model. its a great mic but the 2500 is better for value)

a few headphones to look at. keep in mind that closed headphones will isolate you from the outside world as well as preventing people from hearing what is on your headphones and that open headphones will not isolate you from the outside world and people can hear sound leak from them. closed headphones generally have a smaller soundstage while open headphones have a wider one. basically they sound more airy or 3d. open designs will also be cooler to wear than closed ones which may make your ears sweat (the same holds true for headsets too).

open
sennheiser 598 (good soundstage, somewhat low bass, generally good reviews for non bassheads)
beyerdynamic dt880 (good soundstage, decent bass, gets high reviews for gaming)
audiotechnica ad700 (legendary soundstage, not well known for bass, generally good reviews)

closed
beyerdynamic dt770 pro (decent soundstage for closed cans, good bass, great reviews for closed cans)
audiotechnica ath-m50 (small soundstage, great sound for the price, good bass output, very well built)

you could use an external DAC+AMP or soundcard if you're a real audiophile.

even with a mic these options arent likely to top $300-350 total but are good quality equipment.

i didnt mention the dt990 ($350 headphones) but they are a completely open design so have excellent soundstage and great sound. you will be needing an amp though (since i'd go for the 250ohm version). a great set of cans... but not sure if you wanted to spend that much.

i personally own a pair of m50s which are great and i love them though probably not the most ideal choice across the board for gaming unless you wanted something budget friendly. they have great sound and i personally have no qualms with them howver some people say the soundstage is small and they arent good for 3d locating of sound. not a problem i've ever had... but thats what reviews say anways.

also of note is the modmic found here http://www.modmic.com/ which is inexpensive and attaches to studio headphones. generally audio is considered to be good however its not at the same level as some of the better desk mics ($30 compared with $80-150 so you cant really compare)

---


in general to pick a mic: do you need to listen to yourself in your headphones? if yes you need one with a mic jack. if no then any will work.

i would say the blue snowball, atr2500 or modmic are all good choices.

in general to pick headphones: how much does "soundstage" matter to you? if you want more 3d-ish sound then open types are best. how much does sound isolation and sound leakage matter? if you want zero leakage and lots of sound isolation then closed are best. what kind of sound profile do you like? some tend towards being bright while others tend to be warm and a bit more bassy.

i personally own ath-m50s and they sound very good for the price (available as low as $99 on ebay) but some say they have a bad soundstage. from the very little gaming i've done on them (they were bought for mostly music) i havent heard any real issues.

the hd598 is highly recommended for gaming because of its wide soundstage but some find the bass a bit weak however perfectly fine for gaming. its an open design though.

if you need closed headphones but want a somewhat wider soundstage then the dt770pro fills that need. its more cost than m50s but has a bit more depth to soundstage. it comes in 3 models (32,80,250ohm) the 250ohm needs an amp or good soundcard but hits the hardest with bass notes.

you can hear a bunch of different headphones here http://www.sonicsense.com/blog/category/open-back-headphones/ to compare how they sound in relation to eachother. scroll down to see the other list (they are divided into open and closed sections)
copy of the text sent via pm in case others find this post and are curious on what sets to buy...

i've heard from another user on here that they greatly enjoyed their g930. then i've read reviews about how people dislike it. honestly i'm not sure what to believe in terms of quality. it seems like one of those products which either fits your needs or it doesnt. still nowhere near what you can expect from good headphones though.

i'm not sure how they will work with all of the interference you mention (i'm guessing you are moving to a college dorm?). they could be fine or they could act up. i cant promise you anything in that regard.

--

first i would like to say... since you mentioned amazon.ca i take it you are from canada. be aware that you also have ebay.ca you can deal with. also you can probably have items shipped from the usa to canada correct?

--

for clarification the audiotechnica model numbers ATH-
M50X: new version which has removeable cables and comes with 3 styles.
M50S: old version with long straight cable (this is what i have and the cable is really long... but thats good too)
M50: old version with short coiled cable

as i said i personally own this pair of headphones and i definitely do like them however as i said before some people might not like that the soundstage is supposedly a bit narrow. i suppose this is the reason why it sounds like all the sound is coming from close around you however to me i always felt that it was more immersive that way. i'm not sure what your feeling are on that.

i do like the sound they produce. they are slightly warm sounding and dont have sharp ear piercing highs like some sets do. while not the bassiest headphones around they are more than capable in that regard. some say that they focus more on mids and highs and that mids are a bit weak however i've personally never thought they sounded bad in anything i've pushed through them.

they are easy to power with any device so you shouldnt need an amp of any sort.

they are built very sturdy and are foldable. this makes them nice for traveling back and forth to places. mines been through a knapsack for several years without breaking so far. i also love the cable. its thick! and it has a solid metal end with a metal spring strain relief (not a rubber molded one).

the only cons i can say about them are the soundstage (covered earlier) the fact that they get a bit hot if you wear them a long time (all closed headsets are like this) and that the pleather pads will eventually need replacing if you wear them alot (sweat hardens them... but this is quite common for most headphones)

a great set of headphones if they fit your need.

--

an alternative would be the dt770. its really not out of budget... please see this link http://www.ebay.ca/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_from=R40&LH_BIN...

they look to be shippable from the usa to canada for $185 free shipping (take your pick of the 250 or 80)

they are available in 32, 80 (both which compete with the m50) and 250 ohm models (the 250 may need an amp but it sound great).

they have a wider soundstage than the m50s do and are probably one of the wider soundstages you will find for closed headphones in your budget range.

they get as much praise and hype as the m50s do for quality of sound. the 250ohm version also can hit pretty hard. i've heard it highly recommended from someone who tried all 3 versions out.

they are not foldable like the m50s but i've heard they are very comfortable.

this would be a great set as well and might be better suited for gaming (although this all comes down to personal preferences... audio is a very personal thing).

--

as far as microphones are concerned... the 4 choices i would suggest are:

blue snowball, audiotechnica atr2500, samson co1u or modmic.

(what i didnt mention is the blue yeti or at-2020usb+ because of cost... but i'll come back to that in a moment).

--

a few factors to help narrow it down?

-did you need to be able to hear the input from the microphone in your headhones? if the answer is yes then you want one with a microphone jack.

-did you need to record things other than a single voice? for instance a duet commentary or perhaps music? if the answer is yes then you might want to get one with multiple recording modes. however, for most things standard cardioid mics work fine.

--

the blue snowball is a highly respected mic for amateur youtubers. it has good quality and is fairly inexpensive. it also has multiple pickup patterns. it doesnt have a headphone jack though. this is a very good mic to start out with for youtube however some may outgrow it quickly.

the atr2500 is comparable to a cheaper built at-2020. its not built as nice but i've heard audio quality is pretty good. it also has a microphone jack but only one pickup pattern. if possible i would splurge for the full at-2020 (see my note about that later) but this might work.

the samson co1u is comparable to the atr2500 in quality and that it only has a cardioid pickup pattern but it doesnt have a headphone jack. also not a bad mic for on a budget.

then there is the modmic. this is a boom mic which attaches directly to your headphones. they are shipped from the modmic website and are rather hard to find anywhere else. the cost is rather low at $40 but they get good reviews. if you really would like to spring for a high quality mic (below) but are worried about budget right now you could always get a modmic now to use for gaming and recording then trade up to a better mic when you can afford it. then you can always keep the modmic when you're playing causal or when you are traveling (like if you went home for the weekend) and keep your full setup at your dorm.

if you went for the idea above about trading up in the future then the two i would suggest are the at-2020 and the blue yeti. both are EXCELLENT microphones with great quality. they sound better than the others i listed. as far as which you want... that depends on your needs.

the blue yeti has multiple pickup patterns and a headphone jack. the at-2020usb has only cardioid and no headphone jack while the at-2020usb+ (note the plus symbol or plus text added after the usb part) has a headphone jack. they are what some of the professional youtubers are using.

i've seen the yeti on ebay.ca for $120 and the 2020 for $140.

--

TLDR? or just wanted a recap?

the m50s is a nice pair of headphones but i'd be tempted to suggest the dt770 instead (if you get an amp the 250ohm version might be great!)

if you were game to get a high quality mic in the future or if you managed to fit it in budget now i'd go with an at2020usbplus or blue yeti in a heartbeat. if it was to be in the future i'd get a modmic for temporary audio. its no slouch and i've heard is quite excellent for the low cost.

if you didnt want to upgrade in the future or wanted something cheaper i'd spring for the blue snowball or possibly the atr2500 (though some question its durability).

--

as for what works best for you? thats hard to say but i've given you a few choices in your thread and recapped here.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

on a more limited budget i would suggest:

for microphones either the modmic for $40 which attaches like a boom mic to any headphones or the blue snowball $50 which is a desktop microphone with respectable value for the money spent.

as for headphones do you like open or closed? open sounds more 3d and airy but leaks sound in and out. closed sounds more confined but isolates you from sounds getting in/out so is good for high noise areas.

the audiotechnica ad700x are only $140 and have a wide soundstage for gaming. however, they dont have a whole lot of bass response if that is your kind of thing. these are open style.

the sennheiser hd558 is only $130 and has a pretty decent soundstage and fair bass response. the hd598 is considered better however its a good $180 at minimum. another open style.

the audiotechnica ath-m50s offers very solid bass response and warm sounding acoustics which are excellent for the price. you can find open box models for $99 brand new on ebay or unopened boxes for $120. the only con is that the soundstage isnt very wide. i personally own a pair of these. they are closed headphones.

the beyerdynamic dt770 pro runs about $160-180 depending on model and has audio quality like the m50s however a slightly wider soundstage. another good choice if you want closed headphones for not too much cash.

---

i know this might be stretching your budget a bit... but the sound quality is likely worth it.

keep in mind though that studio headphones are 2.0 stereo only not virtual surround (although with software you can emulate it). honestly with how most games process sound... virtual surround isnt needed at all.
closed headphones
ath-m50s (or m50x) $99-150
not known for a large soundstage however they have excellent sound, are built sturdy, have decent bass output and are of foldable design. i personally own a pair.
dt770 pro $150-180
these have a wider soundstage than the m50s but are not foldable. they come in 32, 80 and 250ohm models. the first two dont need an amp but the 3rd does. the higher the ohm the better the sound for these models (the 32/80 are most compareable to the m50s).

semi-open
dt880 $290
wider soundstage than the others and also better sound quality. they do leak some sound (semi open design) though.

you might want to listen to some of the sample clips on this website to get a good idea of how headphones sound in relation to eachother:

http://www.sonicsense.com/blog/category/open-back-headphones/
copy of the text sent via pm in case others find this post and are curious on what sets to buy...

i've heard from another user on here that they greatly enjoyed their g930. then i've read reviews about how people dislike it. honestly i'm not sure what to believe in terms of quality. it seems like one of those products which either fits your needs or it doesnt. still nowhere near what you can expect from good headphones though.

i'm not sure how they will work with all of the interference you mention (i'm guessing you are moving to a college dorm?). they could be fine or they could act up. i cant promise you anything in that regard.

--

first i would like to say... since you mentioned amazon.ca i take it you are from canada. be aware that you also have ebay.ca you can deal with. also you can probably have items shipped from the usa to canada correct?

--

for clarification the audiotechnica model numbers ATH-
M50X: new version which has removeable cables and comes with 3 styles.
M50S: old version with long straight cable (this is what i have and the cable is really long... but thats good too)
M50: old version with short coiled cable

as i said i personally own this pair of headphones and i definitely do like them however as i said before some people might not like that the soundstage is supposedly a bit narrow. i suppose this is the reason why it sounds like all the sound is coming from close around you however to me i always felt that it was more immersive that way. i'm not sure what your feeling are on that.

i do like the sound they produce. they are slightly warm sounding and dont have sharp ear piercing highs like some sets do. while not the bassiest headphones around they are more than capable in that regard. some say that they focus more on mids and highs and that mids are a bit weak however i've personally never thought they sounded bad in anything i've pushed through them.

they are easy to power with any device so you shouldnt need an amp of any sort.

they are built very sturdy and are foldable. this makes them nice for traveling back and forth to places. mines been through a knapsack for several years without breaking so far. i also love the cable. its thick! and it has a solid metal end with a metal spring strain relief (not a rubber molded one).

the only cons i can say about them are the soundstage (covered earlier) the fact that they get a bit hot if you wear them a long time (all closed headsets are like this) and that the pleather pads will eventually need replacing if you wear them alot (sweat hardens them... but this is quite common for most headphones)

a great set of headphones if they fit your need.

--

an alternative would be the dt770. its really not out of budget... please see this link http://www.ebay.ca/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_from=R40&LH_BIN...

they look to be shippable from the usa to canada for $185 free shipping (take your pick of the 250 or 80)

they are available in 32, 80 (both which compete with the m50) and 250 ohm models (the 250 may need an amp but it sound great).

they have a wider soundstage than the m50s do and are probably one of the wider soundstages you will find for closed headphones in your budget range.

they get as much praise and hype as the m50s do for quality of sound. the 250ohm version also can hit pretty hard. i've heard it highly recommended from someone who tried all 3 versions out.

they are not foldable like the m50s but i've heard they are very comfortable.

this would be a great set as well and might be better suited for gaming (although this all comes down to personal preferences... audio is a very personal thing).

--

as far as microphones are concerned... the 4 choices i would suggest are:

blue snowball, audiotechnica atr2500, samson co1u or modmic.

(what i didnt mention is the blue yeti or at-2020usb+ because of cost... but i'll come back to that in a moment).

--

a few factors to help narrow it down?

-did you need to be able to hear the input from the microphone in your headhones? if the answer is yes then you want one with a microphone jack.

-did you need to record things other than a single voice? for instance a duet commentary or perhaps music? if the answer is yes then you might want to get one with multiple recording modes. however, for most things standard cardioid mics work fine.

--

the blue snowball is a highly respected mic for amateur youtubers. it has good quality and is fairly inexpensive. it also has multiple pickup patterns. it doesnt have a headphone jack though. this is a very good mic to start out with for youtube however some may outgrow it quickly.

the atr2500 is comparable to a cheaper built at-2020. its not built as nice but i've heard audio quality is pretty good. it also has a microphone jack but only one pickup pattern. if possible i would splurge for the full at-2020 (see my note about that later) but this might work.

the samson co1u is comparable to the atr2500 in quality and that it only has a cardioid pickup pattern but it doesnt have a headphone jack. also not a bad mic for on a budget.

then there is the modmic. this is a boom mic which attaches directly to your headphones. they are shipped from the modmic website and are rather hard to find anywhere else. the cost is rather low at $40 but they get good reviews. if you really would like to spring for a high quality mic (below) but are worried about budget right now you could always get a modmic now to use for gaming and recording then trade up to a better mic when you can afford it. then you can always keep the modmic when you're playing causal or when you are traveling (like if you went home for the weekend) and keep your full setup at your dorm.

if you went for the idea above about trading up in the future then the two i would suggest are the at-2020 and the blue yeti. both are EXCELLENT microphones with great quality. they sound better than the others i listed. as far as which you want... that depends on your needs.

the blue yeti has multiple pickup patterns and a headphone jack. the at-2020usb has only cardioid and no headphone jack while the at-2020usb+ (note the plus symbol or plus text added after the usb part) has a headphone jack. they are what some of the professional youtubers are using.

i've seen the yeti on ebay.ca for $120 and the 2020 for $140.

--

TLDR? or just wanted a recap?

the m50s is a nice pair of headphones but i'd be tempted to suggest the dt770 instead (if you get an amp the 250ohm version might be great!)

if you were game to get a high quality mic in the future or if you managed to fit it in budget now i'd go with an at2020usbplus or blue yeti in a heartbeat. if it was to be in the future i'd get a modmic for temporary audio. its no slouch and i've heard is quite excellent for the low cost.

if you didnt want to upgrade in the future or wanted something cheaper i'd spring for the blue snowball or possibly the atr2500 (though some question its durability).

--

as for what works best for you? thats hard to say but i've given you a few choices in your thread and recapped here.

respond with your thoughts/budget/preferences.

sorry about the wall of text... but you're like the 7th person in 2 days to need this info.

i would suggest open headphones for gaming however if you prefer sound isolation you can get by with closed headphones just fine.

sennheiser hd598 are perhaps the best soundstage you will find (without getting into crazy prices) and are good for gaming and have sufficient but not strong bass. the audiotechnica ad700x can be used as well however they have almost no bass response

for the price beyerdynamic dt770-pro 250ohm are great and have great sound and bass response.

notable sets:
dt770pro
dt880pro
dt990pro
ath-m50s
ad700x
hd598
k701

do yourself a favor and listen to different sets on the sonicsense link i provided in the quote above.
 

DevinC

Honorable
Sep 10, 2013
7
0
10,510
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Ugh, text got deleted. But I read a bunch of those earlier, I guess I'm just nit picking at the moment. Sound stage is not a major concern for me, as I have a 5.1 surround sound. These headphones would be more for like ambiance in mmo games and mainly for music.
I'm down to the DT990, HD 650 and I just was informed of the Shure Srh1840. But the last isn't as high on the list.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
if you were curious about the beyerdynamic dt770 vs dt880 vs dt990
http://www.head-fi.org/t/513393/guide-sonic-differences-between-dt770-dt990-models-more

--

the hd650 is a nice pair of headphones but it only truly shines when combined with a good dac and amp. if you want "great right out of the box" then other headphones like the beyers or even ones like the k701 show it up a bit. however, once you throw in a good dac+amp the hd650 really shines.

however, as is the case with all audio.. its a personal thing. some people like the k701 more. some people like the hd650 more. just because certain products are supposed to be better doesnt mean that its what we will prefer in the end. this is why i suggest listening to them if you can (if you have a guitarcenter store near you then go there and listen to the headphones).

what type of sound profile you like (balanced, bass heavy, treble heavy, etc) has alot to do with how much you will like the headphones.

--

i dont think you could go wrong with either the senn or the beyer.

 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
generally fiio products arent known for being "the best" however for the price they are unbeatable and do their job well. if you're on a tight budget but still want solid performance then something from fiio is definitely worth considering. if you want much better you'll be shelling out double or triple what you would spend on a fiio easy.

the e17 should work fine for travel although for home use if you were already planning on a different amplifier then you might want something different than a product from fiio

perhaps a http://www.amazon.com/Aune-T1-Upgrade-Version-Amplifier/dp/B00A2QJMRY or http://www.amazon.com/Audioengine-D1-24-bit-Digital-to-Analog-Converter/dp/B006IPH5H2 or perhaps this combo http://www.headfonia.com/schitty-magni-and-modi/

another option would be combining budgets and going for one higher end portable amp and using it at home or travel. you would lose out on perhaps getting optical inputs for a home dac+amp combo perhaps but there might be some merit to it. just an idea for you to think about.

a comparision of some portable amps http://www.headfonia.com/the-usual-suspects-12-portable-amps-compared/
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
well.. if you are talking about the seperate box version of the o2+odac then it has no batteries and isnt portable. however if you were talking about the combination box version listed here http://www.head-fi.org/products/jds-labs-o2-odac then it is portable.

also this one http://www.jdslabs.com/products/35/objective2-headphone-amplifier/ which is just the amp is portable and gets really high marks by many people.



they are however a bit large (just the amp version above). not sure if that will affect travel ability for you or not. it should be fine for when you're sitting or at a desk but certainly not for biking, running or perhaps walking.

--

something like the fiio is a bit smaller (thinner and lighter) which makes it easier if you want to use it while moving around.



--

as far as quality is concerned... if you can manage the size then there the o2 is fine.

you can even use it as a desktop amplifier at home instead of buying something else if you wanted.
 

DevinC

Honorable
Sep 10, 2013
7
0
10,510
0
Actually right after I posted that, I kind of fell in love with the looks of the Schiit set up. I think I might be going with those for my desktop and worry about the portable amp after I get the dac and amp.
 
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