best over ear headphones?

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by dp01, Dec 19, 2017.

  1. dp01

    dp01
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    Hi all,

    Been looking at over ear headphones to use with an iPhone 6s/X up to about £300. Initially looked at the b&w px and Sennheiser Mommentum2, but realised that I'll mostly be listening at home, so noise cancelling/wireless is not really required. I just want the best sounding headphones that will also have the best imaging/soundstage (guess I am just after a hifi experience, (but with headphones if that's possible). Used to Arcam/B&W speaker setups, and hoping a pair of headphones will provide a similar experience. Been reading about Audio-Technica and Sennheiser, but not sure which will be better, so if anyone can remommend any models, it will be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks

    DP01
     
  2. avvxx

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    Hello,

    I'm going to make a few assumptions based on your post; that you want closed back and that you don't want to have to use a headphone amp. What I don't know is what sort of sound signature you like; neutral, bassy, V-shaped etc. I also don't know what level of quality is required for you reach "your" hifi experience. It may be possible for you with £100 headphones, it may require £500 - £1000 before you find the subjective quality you are after.

    So given that, here are a couple of suggestions in the price range you specified:

    Sennheiser HD 598C - Sennheiser are as good a starting point in the headphone world as any. Fairly neutral. An easy recommendation would be to start with HD600/650 but these are open back and require an amp.

    B&W P7 - Also available in wireless (wireless version can be used wired too). No ANC. Probably gets my vote for you, although you may find them bassy depending on your preferences.

    Audio Technica MSR7 - a bit more towards a V-shape (recessed mids).

    Some others based on same assumptions: Meze 99 Neo/Classics, BeyerdnamicDT 770 (32 ohm version)

    Hope that helps. The best advise I can give is to go into a store if possible and listen for yourself.
     
  3. steven2907

    steven2907
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    Sony MDRZ7. Excellent
     
  4. dp01

    dp01
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    Thank you both for taking the time out to reply. Had a look on Amazon at the Sonys, but they've priced them at £455, which is a quite a bit more than I wanted to pay. Anything below £350 would be ideal.

    In response to avvxx, I tend to lean towards a warm sound and which is generally neutral and not too bassy. Not very concerned whether they are open or closed backed, as they'll mostly be used at home, but would you say closed backed are as good as open backed when it comes to imaging and sound staging. Having headphones that manage to do imaging/soundstaging well will be a major factor in what I intimately decide on.

    The 598's and 650's look good, but there seems to be quite a price difference in the two. Amazon have the 598's at £75 whereas the 650's are £320. Would you say the 650's are worth almost £250 pounds more.
     
  5. muljao

    muljao
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    AKG550 are worth a look/listen
     
  6. avvxx

    avvxx
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    Going open back will generally get you closer to what you're looking for, at least in the price range you're aiming at. I'm less familiar with AKGs (except k712) and Audio Techicas in this range but they are often treble focused and or V-shaped as I understand them.

    The HD650 is without question worth the extra money over the 598. It is one of the most well-regarded headphones and an excellent point of reference in the headphone world. It has a warm generally neutral signature without being too bassy. They are not known for having the widest soundstage but imaging is very good. However, you will require a headphone amp to make the most of it which means additional cost. They need some juice to sound their best and a phone is highly unlikely to cut it but they will scale well with the quality of your equipment. There are also plenty of 2nd hand HD650s on forums like this or eBay that are in perfectly good condition for as low as £200. There is also the 6XX from massdrop if you're that way inclined. It's the same headphone apart from colour and will work out to about £200 after import tax.

    You could also try the Sennheiser HD 599 which will at least get you a good chunk of the way there and will drive out of your phone.

    Another alternative would be Phillips Fidelio X2. These are much easier to drive, and I think you'd manage with your phone. They have a similar warm signature, a little more bass but a little less detail in the treble. They do have a wider soundstage but will plateau in terms of equipment scaling far quicker than the 650.

    So I'd recommend looking at some reviews for the 599 and X2 and picking whichever sounds best to you. Unless you want to get super serious about headphones then the 650 plus additional equipment.
     
  7. JayCee

    JayCee
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    What does this refer to in the headphone world?
     
  8. avvxx

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    V-shaped generally refers to emphasised bass and treble. It can also be used semi-interchangeably with recessed mids. To me there is a distinction but many people may not care about that distinction.
     
  9. dp01

    dp01
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    Thank you a vvxx for your detailed comments. Greatly appreciated. Would I be right in thinking then that because I'll be using a iPhone most of the time, purchasing a pricier headphone like the 650 won't be worth it, as a mobile device just won't be able to bring the best out of them (with or without an amp), and that I'd be better buying a slightly cheaper model. If that is the case perhaps it would be best to look at the 599 or the Philips.
     
  10. avvxx

    avvxx
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    Correct. It's just like trying to run power hungy speakers from an under powered amp. I haven't heard the 599 myself but I did own the X2. I think the X2 will be the warmer/bassier/smoother of the 2 but both should drive ok out of your phone... assuming you have an iphone with a headphone jack of course! Or one of those little adapters I suppose.
     
  11. dp01

    dp01
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    Thanks avvxx. Your replies have been very helpful.
     
  12. avvxx

    avvxx
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    Not a problem. I hope you find what you're looking for.
     
  13. gibbsy

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    Another vote for the AKG 550s. Good mids, treble is clean, especially with female vocals but bass is quite restrained. For £150 these are exceptional performers. Very well made and comfortable.
     
  14. dp01

    dp01
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    Thanks giibbsy. These look quite good too.
     
  15. dp01

    dp01
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    Had a quick listen to the B&W P7's couple of days ago in JL. To be honest, can't say I was overly impressed. They do sound good, but can't they they sound any better than my 4 year old on ear Sennheisers. Wonder if this goes back to avvxx's comment about "good" headphones and the fact that they won't sound their best on mobile devices. I have to say that the choice is quite vast, but finding stores to demo seems quite limited. Does anyone know a retailer that has a good selection in Birmingham or Leicester. Amazon have a good selection, but don't want to buy and then return if they're not suitable.

    Thanks

    DP01
     
  16. gibbsy

    gibbsy
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    Richer Sounds have a fairly good selection. I bought the AKG 550s and Shure SRH 1540s from them. Most are available for in store demo.
     
  17. Steven

    Steven
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    The HD600 / HD650 can be paired with budget systems but will also scale up with four figure systems and therefore can be the last headphone purchase you make. Listening out of the iPhone output will be limiting but the reality is home and portable listening are different purposes.

    It's a bit of a drive but can get in touch with these guys

    Visit Us

    If you go to London then phone ahead to these guys

    The Headphone and Portable Audio Specialists - Audio Sanctuary

    Finally have a look out for where the 2018 national audio show will be. For the 2017 show it was moved from Milton Keynes to Birmingham. I never went to the 2017 show but in previous years in Milton Keynes there was always a headphone area

    Chester Group | Leaders in High Performance Home Audio & Future Technology Shows
     
  18. dannnielll

    dannnielll
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    Headphones are a very personal device, there are two totally different facts ...comfort and sound. And each of us experience these differently. I have always been a fan of the sennheisser series sound and the momentum over ears sounds very good to me. If I had not already purchased Sony's I would have gone with the sennheisser. But I actually I use Sony MDR 1R phones which are very comfortable.and have a sound I like. I find the " on ear " types like the b&w to be uncomfortable as they clamp
    The trouble with phones is that they are not easy to audition. You need to keep them on your head for an hour for testing comfort, and the noise levels in shops is usually too high.
     
  19. karlsushi

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    I spent a lengthy amount of time on a similar themed headphone search last year and although I settled on some pretty expensive cans in the end (Audeze LCD-2), after listening to headphones from Sennheiser, Grado, Audio Technica, Focal and Shure, I decided that the second placed spot to the LCD2s went to the Shure SRH940, which retail at around £200 and to my ears sounded better than many sets of cans 2 or 3 times their price.

    I would describe my sound preference to be exactly like you describe, natural, detailed, warm and not too bassy. The Shure SRH940's do a damn fine job in this regard (and were preferable to Shure's twice the price top of the range SRH1540's, which had a far too inflated bass for my ears).

    The only possible criticism of the 940's is that at very loud levels the top end can start to sound a bit sharp, but at lower levels these are unbelievably accurate and open sounding headphones for the price.

    They are also really comfy (incidentally, far more comfortable than my LCD2's!!) and helpfully come with two different sets of detachable cables.

    If I had the same budget as you, I would go for these without question. But that's just me!

    I would second the suggestion of Richer Sounds who have an excellent range, including the Shures (but for some reason they don't usually have the 940's in, but I'm sure will happily get a pair in for demo).

    I thoroughly recommend an audition.
     
  20. GRC50

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    Just been through the same process looking for some closed-back cans that don't annoy SWMBO while she's watching Emmerdale and I'm giving it some Panic Room. First, if open-back is not a problem then Grado is a good starting point - I've had some SR125s for some time which I still love and only cost me around £100 from a PFM member, but they irritate madam 'cos of sound leakage. They have other models and the SR325e might do it for you. IMHO open-back is always the first choice if circumstances permit.

    If you need closed-back but not noise cancelling then the next decision (well mine was) is wired or wireless. I wasn't bothered about ANC, wireless, Bluetooth codecs, recharging, etc. so opted to spend my money on wired and how they sounded. My principle source is an iMac through Audioengine D1 DAC / Headphone Amp (I'm a long-time fan and have their powered speakers here and there).

    I read all the reviews, listened where/when I could etc. using my humble iPhone 6S as source and my final short list was Sennheiser Momentum M2, Oppo PM3 and B&W P7. In the end, the P7 nailed it. The Momentums were great but I thought the bass was over-egged compared to the P7. The Oppos were "accurate" but just a bit "lifeless" IMHO - a great product and I really wanted to like them. Build quality / looks etc. also favoured the P7 - a classier act. Finally, I believe the P7 has just been discontinued so there are deals to be had; I paid £239 sterling which is more than the Sennheisers but less than the Oppos.

    All of this is, of course, purely subjective and YMMV as our American cousins would say.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  21. dannnielll

    dannnielll
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    The truth is there is no right or wrong between good quality phones , there is style, comfort and sonic preference and these are all personal.
    At present we have one vote for the B& W P7 and two against. One Shure, one for Sony maybe two for Sennheisser Momentum, one for Audeze.. and if we get 50 more responses , maybe 60 recommendations...

    .
     
  22. GRC50

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    It was ever thus . . . :D
     
  23. pwood

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    Don’t discount Bluetooth just yet. For sure HIFI wired ones will ultimately sound better driven by a decent amp or something like an Audioquest Dragonfly DAC out from your iPhone but you will use wireless ones more and they don’t have DRIVE issues like a lot of wired ones will using the IPhone alone. Just figured it was worth mentioning.
     
  24. JayCee

    JayCee
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    +1 on Bluetooth.
    My Sony MDR-1000X's are great on Bluetooth but even better when used wired and powered on.
     

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