Looking for new closed headphones. Recommendations?

hysteria357

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Oct 24, 2013
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Hi Everyone. I was looking to upgrade my current headsets (Logitech G35, which I love BTW) to something a little more upmarket with a closed design and analog plugs (I run into too many problems with USB). I had originally bought the Sennheiser HD598s, but I live in an appartment with 3 other guys and poor sound insulation, and I didn't feel comfortable knowing everyone heard what I heard, especially because I like to crank my music/games.

I listen to music and watch movies/streams about 50% of the time, wherre the rest is spent gaming, so I was looking for something with a good soundstage (I dont mind dolby surround, I plan on getting a Xonar sound card). Most importantly, they need to be a closed design. I dont like noise leaking out or in, I live in the city, so noise isolation is a big deal.

My maximum budget is $200. Thanks
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
do you mean like this?
http://www.head-fi.org/t/693205/ath-m50-gaming-performance-question

which complains the m50 has a small soundstage.

however... from the EXACT same forum.. (on a "what is a soundstage" question)

http://www.head-fi.org/t/590377/what-is-soundstage/15

let me quote you a part:
I think we have a winner:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cer View Post

It's an unquantifiable subjective term, thats what it is.

Even though you can explain to someone what soundstage is, everyone has their own take. And lets face it, with headphones, you've usually got 2 drivers to work with. Sorry, but you aren't going to be able to give any up/down or in/out cues with just the properties of the headphones, you can do left/right because you have left & right drivers. Any other spatial cues are from the recording, and describing them (i.e., describing the recording) usually ends up being pretty subjective.
hmmm... not so consistant advice from the same place right? it all boils down to one thing: sound is a VERY subjective thing and just because one person is completely blown away by what they say is good sound from one device someone else might say it sounds worse than a $20 pair of earbuds. perhaps not quite that bad... but you get the point. often when dealing with sound a few generalizations can be made however those are still only what the majority of people seem to think about a given topic. remember, the majority isnt always right (hence why gamers buy $50 mousepads, $100 mice, and special gaming headsets).

for instance, i've actually played games... and while i wouldnt call myself an audiophile at all but i'm somewhat concerned about decent sound. considering that at home i have a pretty expensive surround sound set which sounds very good... when i say that i had no issue with the headphones i really meant that. perhaps they do sound like they have a small soundstage.. however this can be taken in a positive manner as well: they are very immersive. again, as i said sound is very subjective and thats my own opinion. when i played games it did not affect my playstyle in any way for others it may differ.

now i'm not saying that there isnt some shred of truth to what they are saying (there is) however the difference isnt as clear as black&white or good&bad and its also not purely statistical (it has lots of opinion in what they say as well). another reason i highly suggest trying out headphones at a local store first if possible.

honestly the best thing would be if you could test out the headphones to see what you personally thought about them. some places like guitar center may have a bunch of headphones in stock where you can make such tests to see what you personally thought. after all its your ears not ours that matter and its your opinion not ours or anyone elses which matters. you might hate both the m50s and the beyerdynamics, you might love them both, you might like one and hate the other. honestly its hard to say.

i only mentioned the m50s as a suggestion since i personally enjoy them and they are a great price. i only defend them since so many people hate on a product just because it doesnt conform to their one way of thinking about things. you are free to pick whatever headphones you like based on whoevers recommendations that you like (though i highly suggest trying them out if at all possible) and i even encourage you to look at other products and do quite a bit of research to find out what might work for you best. if you go for beyerdyamics? great. if you go for grado? great. pick something which fits your own needs.

---------

as far as a soundcard is concerned..

if you have pc speakers as well as headphones then a nice xonar 5.1 card which has virtual surround as an option would be a good choice.

---------

sorry for the wall of text, i just wanted to make a point of saying that just because "everyone" believes a certain thing that doesnt make it true and also that sound is a very subjective thing. just because many people like something doesnt mean that others do.

a good example of this is how everyone raves about the m50s being great sounding (even some on that forum) however they are quick to judge it at other times.

i think most of the people on that site are audiophiles who are very picky, very narrow in what they consider good and tend to state opinion as if it was hard proven fact.

when dealing with opinion on sound you need to take it with a 10 pound grain of salt (treat it skeptically)

---------

hopefully this is at least being helpful.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
i would recommend taking a look at the audiotechnica ath-m50s. i've owned a pair for years and they are quite good for the price.

they arent noise-cancelling (which causes sound distortion anyways) but since they are a closed design they are sound isolating. not perfectly so but good enough.

great sounding. perhaps not a 100% flat even soundstage (they favor highs and lows a bit to the casual non-audiophile listener they sound very balanced and not muddy at all even when pumping heavy bass along with high female vocals at the same time.

they are durable (solid heavy plastic construction, very thick cord with metal connection ends with metal spring anti-kink) and foldable (they fit into a leather carry bag or hardcase)

they are low resistance (35ohm if i remember) so will work perfectly with ipods, cell phones, computer sound cards, etcetera without the need for a special amplifier like some studio headphones need.

comfortable.. at least for some. due to the nature of different head and ear shapes/sizes not all headphones fit all heads and ear shapes. since they are a closed design they do get a bit "hot" (closed designs dont breath) so its best to give your ears a breather every once in awhile.



available for as low as $100 on ebay (usa) as an open box item (but brand new) or a little bit more for a brand new unopened box. certainly a steal.

sometimes they are referred to as the best headphones under $300 and while that might be a bit of an overstatement its hard to say that they arent a great pair of headphones at least worth looking into.

---

just thought you might be interested in the idea since they get a thumbs up from me after owning them for years.
 

hysteria357

Honorable
Oct 24, 2013
37
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Thanks for the response. I heard that the ATH-M50s arent that good for gaming. Do you know anything about the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro (32 ohm)? Some of my audiophile friends say there are really good closed headphones. Also will using dolby simulated surround reduce the problems of a small soundstage? Thanks
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
who told you the m50s arent good for gaming?

while i havent spent alot of time with them in games i have played some and had no problems. sound quality was excellent.

i think what may have been meant was more of a blanket statement "stereo headphones are not good for gaming". that is a rather common (and 100% false) statement which has been floating around for awhile.

why do people say this?

mainly its because with stereo sound you cannot get true positional sound data to know what direction things are coming from in game. however this isnt 100% true. left and right are easy to tell its only front and back which are not. however, normally in games the sound is altered so that sounds in front are much louder than sounds in the back so even with stereo headphones you can still get positional sound data. honestly... its just gamer hype like how they say a $50 mousepad makes them game better. utter nonsense in many cases. in games where the game doesnt alter the sound levels however it would be true that surround sound headphone have a big edge.

sorry, i am not familiar with that model but i've heard through the grapevine that some beyerdynamic headphones are pretty decent. there are a few good brands out there and i'd be hard pressed to name them all.

ok now heres a kicker: ALL stereo headphones (yes ALL) are capable of "simulated" surround sound. basically software generates a sound signal to send to the stereo headphones (3.5 headphone jack) which mimics what actual surround sound would sound like to your ears. while not the same as actual surround its not bad. its going to be similar to what i described above in how some games modify the sound volumes and tones so that sounds appear to be behind you. since i havent really played with simulated surround at all i cannot tell you exactly how much better it sounds... but i've heard good things.

the beyerdynamics arent going to be any better than the audiotechnicas in this regard. both are stereo headphone sets not surround sound headphones. surround sound headphones tend to have less quality drivers and less quality sound in any case.

as far as a soundstage... there is only so much which can be done with 2 speakers. the term is also hard to quantify and is often up to personal opinion. basically the term is for how well speakers can replicate the effect of distance and direction of a sound (replicating real life) however some of this is also in the recording (in the case of games.. how the sounds are sent to the soundcard). while i wouldnt call normal stereo headphones "small soundstage" having them run with simulated surround sound could be an improvement in some cases.

if you want the best of both worlds... i would say get yourself a nice pair of headphones... and then try out virtual surround sound to see if you like it.

razer has a program which works with any headphones and is free http://www.razerzone.com/surround

of course you are limited to using headphones which your internal soundcard can power (so dont be going to crazy getting high resistance headphones). those beyerdynamics or the audiotechnicas are perfectly fine though as they arent hard to drive.

if you like it.. then you could go out and get a decent soundcard which has simulated surround. the big seller now is soundcards by asus and many of the decent models come with virtual surround software.
 

hysteria357

Honorable
Oct 24, 2013
37
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A majority of threads on head-fi state the m50s arent the best in class when it comes to gaming
I was thinking about picking up one of the asus xonar 5.1 soundcards with the built in headphone amp.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
do you mean like this?
http://www.head-fi.org/t/693205/ath-m50-gaming-performance-question

which complains the m50 has a small soundstage.

however... from the EXACT same forum.. (on a "what is a soundstage" question)

http://www.head-fi.org/t/590377/what-is-soundstage/15

let me quote you a part:
I think we have a winner:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cer View Post

It's an unquantifiable subjective term, thats what it is.

Even though you can explain to someone what soundstage is, everyone has their own take. And lets face it, with headphones, you've usually got 2 drivers to work with. Sorry, but you aren't going to be able to give any up/down or in/out cues with just the properties of the headphones, you can do left/right because you have left & right drivers. Any other spatial cues are from the recording, and describing them (i.e., describing the recording) usually ends up being pretty subjective.
hmmm... not so consistant advice from the same place right? it all boils down to one thing: sound is a VERY subjective thing and just because one person is completely blown away by what they say is good sound from one device someone else might say it sounds worse than a $20 pair of earbuds. perhaps not quite that bad... but you get the point. often when dealing with sound a few generalizations can be made however those are still only what the majority of people seem to think about a given topic. remember, the majority isnt always right (hence why gamers buy $50 mousepads, $100 mice, and special gaming headsets).

for instance, i've actually played games... and while i wouldnt call myself an audiophile at all but i'm somewhat concerned about decent sound. considering that at home i have a pretty expensive surround sound set which sounds very good... when i say that i had no issue with the headphones i really meant that. perhaps they do sound like they have a small soundstage.. however this can be taken in a positive manner as well: they are very immersive. again, as i said sound is very subjective and thats my own opinion. when i played games it did not affect my playstyle in any way for others it may differ.

now i'm not saying that there isnt some shred of truth to what they are saying (there is) however the difference isnt as clear as black&white or good&bad and its also not purely statistical (it has lots of opinion in what they say as well). another reason i highly suggest trying out headphones at a local store first if possible.

honestly the best thing would be if you could test out the headphones to see what you personally thought about them. some places like guitar center may have a bunch of headphones in stock where you can make such tests to see what you personally thought. after all its your ears not ours that matter and its your opinion not ours or anyone elses which matters. you might hate both the m50s and the beyerdynamics, you might love them both, you might like one and hate the other. honestly its hard to say.

i only mentioned the m50s as a suggestion since i personally enjoy them and they are a great price. i only defend them since so many people hate on a product just because it doesnt conform to their one way of thinking about things. you are free to pick whatever headphones you like based on whoevers recommendations that you like (though i highly suggest trying them out if at all possible) and i even encourage you to look at other products and do quite a bit of research to find out what might work for you best. if you go for beyerdyamics? great. if you go for grado? great. pick something which fits your own needs.

---------

as far as a soundcard is concerned..

if you have pc speakers as well as headphones then a nice xonar 5.1 card which has virtual surround as an option would be a good choice.

---------

sorry for the wall of text, i just wanted to make a point of saying that just because "everyone" believes a certain thing that doesnt make it true and also that sound is a very subjective thing. just because many people like something doesnt mean that others do.

a good example of this is how everyone raves about the m50s being great sounding (even some on that forum) however they are quick to judge it at other times.

i think most of the people on that site are audiophiles who are very picky, very narrow in what they consider good and tend to state opinion as if it was hard proven fact.

when dealing with opinion on sound you need to take it with a 10 pound grain of salt (treat it skeptically)

---------

hopefully this is at least being helpful.
 

hysteria357

Honorable
Oct 24, 2013
37
0
10,610
11
no, walls of text are very helpful. Im sure anything I buy will be better than my current setup. Shopping for headphones can be so confusing due to all the different specs and how polarizing opinions can be. I'll give the M50s a try because they're less expensive. If I dont like them then I'll pick up the DT770s. Thanks
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
if you can easily return them then thats also an option.

just to let you know that studio headphones often have a break in period. you might want to give them a few days of use until you make a judgement call on them.
 
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