Headphone upgrade - Metalcore/Hardcore rock listener/Occasional guitar recordings/Gamer

Stonygman

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Sep 22, 2014
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Hey everyone,

Back in 2014's Blackfriday, I was able to get a pretty good deal on a SoundBlaster Z card. Normally, the price was fluctuating between $100-$120 and I snagged one for $60, which was really hard to let it slide. This said, I also bought the ATH's M40x that were also on sale.

I'm not a hardcore audiophile yet, I'm still a bit picky with the sound I like. I despise booming bass with passion because for the music I listen it overshadows: Guitars, drumming, keyboards and singing. To shed some light, if you listen to Architects 'Doomsday' on say my brother's Beats, the sound of the instruments was muddy and atrocious in general. I found the bass way too pronounced for my liking, looking forward to have a perfect balance that is neither overwhelming nor absent in the background.

Over the years this setup has worked, even for my gaming needs. Although, I feel that with my current cans, I'm not getting the most/desirable performance out of my sound card and I decided I could use an upgrade.

In tandem with my sound needs/similar signature of ATH's m40x, what close-headphones could you guys recommend that does not exceed a budget of $200?

Thank you for your valuable opinions.
 

anort3

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I haven't heard any of them so I'm going on other's reviews. I do own the open back HD 598s though.

The 598C will be the most neutral of them with the forward mids that are Sennheiser's house sound. Vocals will shine on these. Other than isolation I'm not sure what making them closed does to the sound.

Sony MDR1A is a warm tilted headphone with very good bass that doesn't bleed into the mids. It's laid back and not very dynamic on the top end at least from what I understand.

The DT770 is more of a V shaped sound signature with the highs and lows boosted. Some people find the highs on Beyer headphones too bright but the DT770 is less known for this that the DT990. Good bass and comfort. These are used in studios quite a bit.

The Audio-Technica ATH-WS1100iS ( also called Ricardos now? No idea why ) is neutral leaning with good highs and good bass.

Now, are any of these an UPGRADE to your M40X? I don't know about that. The M40X is solid. There's not a lot to work with in that price range that are closed back and really good.

If you can deal with the Massdrop new item wait ( ships in April :lol: ) they just introduced a collaboration with Meze and the Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir. It's a 99 Classic with a different finish and cable for $199 instead of the retail $309 for the 99 Classic.

Also at the $300 level is the Monoprice 1060C. I tried the open back M1060 and liked them other than a slightly metallic thing in the mids that I couldn't unhear once I heard it. I returned them. The 1060C has a brand new, better driver than the open 1060s that's fixed the slight problems the 1060 had though.
 

jay.wooster

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Sep 27, 2018
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Went through this process not too long ago mate, my recommendations are:

Sennheiser RS175 (unless you can pay the extra to get RS185) - These go on sale a few times a year
AKG-Q701 - Well reviewed but i found the Sennhesier RS185's better
 

Stonygman

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Sep 22, 2014
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I wasn't expecting something like this, I still appreciate the suggestion. However, I apologize if I failed to be clear, the headphones are to be used in conjunction with my desktop PC and my Sound Blaster Z. Those Sennheisers are not bad for a living room or entertainment center setup or even guitar jamming. Unfortunately, not what I'm looking for.

The AKG-Q701 are open headphones. That'd be an issue with my roommate who is not very fond of my music preference lol, unless it's mainstream shitty errrr... talented Nickelback!
 

snipezor

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Jun 11, 2011
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https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018UB3HU0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I'm very pleased with them. I use them on my desktop and pair them with a Fiio e10-k. My music is pretty varied based on activity/mood, but I'm pleased with the headphones for basically everything I care about - gaming, classic/alt rock, movie/game soundtracks, electronica/chill-out, and metal (primarily Rammstein of late, just to compare against your Architects).

They've become my go-to headphones over my starter pair of SHP-9500s' (open-back) and then AKG 553s (closed-back, pretty neutral sounding (imo)). The AKGs now live at the office.

As a note, unless you're buying from a place with easy returns (Amazon) you'd probably be well served to visit a music store and sample some headphones. Taste in headphones is hugely subjective to the individual, and while I could say something is solid gold someone else might think it a solid turd.
 

anort3

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^ Solid choice. Not much to work with that are closed back at $200. The Sony MDR1A drops that low occasionally. The Beyer DT770 and Sennheiser HD598C are worth looking at as well.
 

Stonygman

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Sep 22, 2014
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Guys, those are excellent suggestions! I really wish I could test them out. Sadly, I can't. They have other models and mostly, open back. Hence why I'm willing to import them and shell out a bit extra.

Just a few questions if you don't mind:


  • How would you compare the DT's 770 Pro 250 ohm vs ATH-WS1100iS vs HD598 Cs? It seems my M40x are flatter in sound compared to those 3.

    I'm also reading up some reviews stating they have a V shaped sound signature? I'm not really sure what that means. For my music style, is the bass punchy or boomy? I can't stress this enough lol, I don't want the rest of the sound being overpowered by it.
I really appreciate your time and I'm sorry for being a pain in the ass.
 

anort3

Distinguished
Moderator
I haven't heard any of them so I'm going on other's reviews. I do own the open back HD 598s though.

The 598C will be the most neutral of them with the forward mids that are Sennheiser's house sound. Vocals will shine on these. Other than isolation I'm not sure what making them closed does to the sound.

Sony MDR1A is a warm tilted headphone with very good bass that doesn't bleed into the mids. It's laid back and not very dynamic on the top end at least from what I understand.

The DT770 is more of a V shaped sound signature with the highs and lows boosted. Some people find the highs on Beyer headphones too bright but the DT770 is less known for this that the DT990. Good bass and comfort. These are used in studios quite a bit.

The Audio-Technica ATH-WS1100iS ( also called Ricardos now? No idea why ) is neutral leaning with good highs and good bass.

Now, are any of these an UPGRADE to your M40X? I don't know about that. The M40X is solid. There's not a lot to work with in that price range that are closed back and really good.

If you can deal with the Massdrop new item wait ( ships in April :lol: ) they just introduced a collaboration with Meze and the Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir. It's a 99 Classic with a different finish and cable for $199 instead of the retail $309 for the 99 Classic.

Also at the $300 level is the Monoprice 1060C. I tried the open back M1060 and liked them other than a slightly metallic thing in the mids that I couldn't unhear once I heard it. I returned them. The 1060C has a brand new, better driver than the open 1060s that's fixed the slight problems the 1060 had though.
 

Stonygman

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Sep 22, 2014
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I did a lot of digging based on your suggestions, it's funny though because as I was looking up more reviews in detail about the Beyer's DT 770, I randomly found the DT 880 Premium Special Edition Chrome Version 250 ohm. These are 'Semi open back', which is not what I was looking for yet based on different sound tests I found on YouTube, I fell in love with them. They sound crystal clear, smooth with decent soundstage and mids. The bass was boomy but not overwhelming, exactly what I wanted for my metalcore/rock music in general.

Thanks a lot man, I let overlooked them and good thing your comment shed some light on what to focus on.

 

anort3

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Nice. The DT880 is always considered the most neutral of the DT770, DT880 and DT990 line. To my ears that would probably make it the best.

Edit: You will need a headphone amp to drive those well. And they're open enough anyone in the room with you is going to hear everything. But they're very good.
 

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