What over-ear, wired headphones do you recommend?

Apollo83

Active Member
Hi folks,

Looking for some help here please - I know very little about the current state of headphones and have started ploughing through reviews but could do with some recommendations to help me focus.

I currently have Audio Technica ATH-M50 which my son has started stealing, so I'm looking for a replacement / upgrade. I think they're ok but feel better should be achievable.

I listen indoors at home so don't mind open back if it improves sound.
Its a quiet environment so I don't need noise cancelling.
I sit within range of my amp so don't mind wired.
I prefer over-ear for comfort.
I like neutral sound with good dynamics (attack/decay) not typical v-shape with reduced mids to fake a thumping bass and shiny treble - maybe something used for studio monitoring might work?

Ideally I'm looking for something around the 200 to 300 quid mark but I would probably go as high as 400 if the sound justified it.

OK, there are the criteria - any help appreciated!
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Easy. Sennheiser HD600 or HD650. Smooth and balanced. Lacks a smidge of bass and treble extension. But otherwise there is a reason both have been on the market for decades. There are years worth of reviews to read online. If you come across reading on the HD6XX that is just the HD650 with a paint job and different accessories for the USA based Drop website. Buy either and avoid sinking money on mid-fi headphones in the £400 to £1000 range. Any headphone upgrade on the HD600 or HD650 is at the top end four figures.

Note the HD600 and HD650 are 300 ohm so require power to drive. Forget the smartphone.

On the off chance you do not like balanced and require a "wow" factor on the first listen then buy something with more V shaped signature with bass and treble emphasis at the expense of the midrange like the Beyerdynamic range (I've never liked their treble, your mileage may vary), Fostex Dynamics or Denon dynamics. Beyerdynamic will be cheaper and depending on the model can be had in a lower ohm version to be easier to drive. Lots of people like Beyerdynamic and they are reasonably popular for studio work actually (for example artists who perform live for BBC radio shows invariably wear a Beyerdynamic in the studio)

Not sure what the situation is with demoing these days. Even if the local headphone store is open, and even if demo is permitted, I imagine they would have to quarantine any models tested by a member of the public until it is safe for re-display...

*Beyerdynamic will be less V shaped than Fostex and Denon

I have not heard everything on the market so others may offer alternatives
 

Apollo83

Active Member
Thanks Steven!

Sennheiser HD600 were on my list.
I had read that HD650 had slightly more bass than the HD600 so had excluded them for that reason, but I'm guessing with Sennheiser the difference isn't much and reviews seem to be good for both...

Also at he more value end of my list were Beyerdynamic 880 and 990, so I was interested in your general comments on those - especially as I had read somewhere that the 880's were flatter than the 990 and even the HD600s. Can anyone speak specifically to 880 tonal colouration?

Another one on my list someone might comment on is the AKG K701. Some good reviews on them and I certainly like the look of them, but how do they compare to the Sennheiser HD600 and Beyerdynamic 880?

Any others that should be on a short list?

For those of you who have auditioned across HD600/880/K701 how do they compare?
Also for those who also have tried ATH-M50 (which I'm familiar with) how do they compare?
The big question is whether the HD600 are worth the extra?

As you say Steven - auditioning is tough at the moment (especially as I don't like ordering multiple online and returning what I don't like :) ) so appreciate the guidance.

Thanks for helping to focus my shortlist.
I'm off to read some more reviews :)
 

monkeyboy69

Active Member
I'm a hd600 user and made 2 additions to them to get a better sound.
I swapped out the stock cable it came with, research at the time pointed me towards Zu mobious cable, which produced a better bass but is quite heavy and makes an annoying rubbing noise on your clothes.
and ...
Instead of taking the output from my receiver, invested in a tube amp and missed the receiver completely
transport -> tube amp -> headphones
I picked up a woo audio, i think WA3. Base response much better but still not bone jarring. I guess it dependant on what music you like but now you get a completely different experience

This does make the outlay a bit dearer and looking at more modern and cheaper digital headphone amps may be another option with the hd600.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
I have no evidential basis for this as I do my have access to Sennheiser's sales figures but I believe they sell more HD650 or HD6XX than the HD600 model

I would also read the two links posted here. No substitute for a personal demo but may or may not help verbalise the differences for when you do

 

Apollo83

Active Member
Thanks Monkeyboy.
Pretty much the only negative I can found written on the HD600s is that the lower bass rolls off a little.

Here's some old frequency comparisons from headroom:
1594206515158.png

1594206643575.png


Now I know frequency graphs need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but these are three sets of headphones that seem to be described as neutral/flat.
The Beyerdyanmic and AKG seem to have a little more character (read variance) in the treble, with the Sennheiser maybe having a 3K bump that might give some character for the upper notes in piano or piccolo maybe?

Of course the frequency graph is not everything - dynamic response is important and maybe even more important is human perception! :)
 

Apollo83

Active Member
Excellent reads there Steven - thanks.
HD600 seems to be taking the lead for me.

Any other suggestions or input from anyone else?
 

Apollo83

Active Member
OK, after some extensive reading of reviews I think I'm narrowing down to Sennheiser HD600 v Beyerdynamic DT880.
My summary of what I've read:

Bass and Treble: DT880 extends a little further than the HD600 which rolls off a little quicker at both ends.
Mids: This is often quoted as the HD600s strongest point, DT880 fine but lacking the detail of the HD600
Dynamics: The DT880 is described as tighter/responsive almost reaching analytical whereas the HD600 seems to have cracked the impossible task of being smoother whilst also retaining detail! (that description alone makes me want to try them)
Soundstage: HD600 often described as intimate (in your head) and DT880 described as a little wider but still contained.
Build: DT880 makes use of steel including head band, HD600 more high-quality plastics. HD600 has detachable cable, DT880 not.
Comfort: DT880 and Beyerdynamic in general are often quoted as some of the most comfortable headphones. HD600 seems to be fine.
Price: DT 880 ~£150, HD600 ~ £300

Both sound like they'll meet my needs.
Ideally I would audition both and then make a decision, but thats tricky currently.
I may try one and if I don't like it return to try the other.

And I think based on price I may go for the Beyerdynamic DT880.

For anyone who has owned/auditioned both, any last words on whether I'm making the right or wrong choice? :)
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
I've just bought a pair of Meze 99 Classics.
They look fantastic (my "listening room" is also my lounge, so aesthetics is a big factor), and sound wonderful. Deep sigh bass, and lovely clear mids and vocals, with crisp highs.

They're also very easy to drive - sound terrific direct into my iPhone & iPad as well as the Phones-out on my CXA61 amp.

There's a few bargains too be had if you look round.

882B8322-549B-4256-BBA6-3F22AF47F921.jpeg
 

Apollo83

Active Member
I've just bought a pair of Meze 99 Classics.

They look great Bob - definitely need a stand to show them off when not in use :)
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member

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