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Offline zhianosatch

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #45 on: January 11, 2017, 07:40:53 AM »
If you want something for personal listening and around your price range, look at the NAD Viso HP50. They list for around $250, but you can find refurbished sets for around $200. They do not need an amplifier either and sound fantastic. More for listening rather than mastering, but can probably be pressed into service for either purpose.

Jamie, could you try describing (or comparing to other manufacturers) the sonic characteristics and fit of the NAD Viso HP50? Someone at the office finally broke the hot glue job on my old Sony MDR-7509HDs which had finally outgrown their plastic creaking stage of life, so it's time to move on.

Armen, great to hear from you. I used to own the Sony MDR-7506, so I can make some comparisons. The HP50 is tuned to sound like home stereo speakers and it does a good job of that. It has a very pleasant curve that is quite neutral and realistic. I found the 7506 to have a forward midrange that could sound harsh with some material. The HP50 has a very smooth midrange with great detail, but is not as punishing on your ears as the Sony cans. The NAD also has a slight midbass hump that adds a touch of warmth, but does not color the sound too much. The 7506 are true mastering headphones where that forward midrange is necessary to pick up as much detail as possible and their extended low end is needed to pick up low end rumble from the equipment. The HP50 are more relaxed and allow you to listen to more of the music than the recording, if that makes any sense.

The HP50 fit very nicely, but look really weird on your head. It's strange, because they are made to be taken out and about (low impedence, have an iPhone cord, etc.), but the sides stick out so much that I would not feel comfortable walking down the street with them. They are very comfortable, however. Some people complain about small earpads on them, but they cover my ears nicely so it's not a problem. I use mine in the home and in hotel rooms when I travel; I have the Westone W4 for airplanes and walking around.

I found the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x to have an exaggerated midbass hump that swallowed certain types of music, especially in relation to a slightly recessed midrange. As said above, the HP50 also has a midbass hump, but a very slight one that accentuates, rather than swallows the music. High-frequency extension is better in the HP50. It does not have the bottomless bass of the M50x, but that's OK with me. The HP50 is like sitting in my living room; the M50x is like being in the bottom of a well. Fit on the M50x is better than the HP50, but the headband started coming apart after a year and would shed black plastic material on my head and in my hair, which eventually drove me nuts and caused me to get different headphones.

Hope that this helps!


Yes, it helps a great deal. You've convinced me to try on a pair in town someplace if I can. Thank you.
-A again!

Offline raymonda

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #46 on: January 12, 2017, 10:01:43 AM »
Headphone choice is very much dependent on what purpose they will fill, e.g. pleasure listening or mastering. Grado's fit the bill for pleasure listening but are not very helpful for mastering as the extremes are difficult to discern leaving you with  momma or poppa bear, which we all want baby bear! Senn HD 280 are better for mixing, due to them being closed ear and assisting you with low end monitoring but they are muddy, not the best resolving headset available and do not cut it for pleasure. They are great for on location, though. ATM 50's are a budget scream and cut the middle well. A bit of pleasure and monitoring here but ultimately too many compromises to be real enjoyable pleasure cans but better than the HD280's. AKG 701 series hit it down the middle, but again, the low end is tough to monitor and are more for pleasure than mastering. They also don't have the dramatic impact I desire in cans. And, yes, I've driven them with all kinds of amps.

Good in ears can give you the best of the two, good mastering and pleasure, as long as they fit properly. If they don't they are terrible and will be extremely colored. Generally, they require a very good seal. Believe it of not, Thinksound MS1's are inexpensive and beat pretty much all of the above. IMO and I've been through all of the above. That being said, I'm sure other in ears have great potential and should be explored.

HD 600 and 650's are an excellent choice and cut the two well, however, I found that Hifiman 400's are the best of both worlds, pleasure and mastering. I would not buy the Hifiman 300 series due to some bad reviews and they are not planars.

Now for some other considerations, but ones I have not listen to, Audeze, Oppo, Mr. Speakers, Focal BE and AudioQuest. Stax might also be a option. All of theses are much more pricey but, I have extreme interest in them, too.

You might notice that many of these are planar type cans. My experience with cans have led me in this direction as they seem to do way more right across the board than other types.

Finally, a word about Grado. I have owned the 60's (2 pair), 225 and and RS 2's. The fit can be problematic for some and the RS2's were the best sound and fit for me. However, until they have a complete redesign I would probably never buy another pair of Grado's as their signature lays in the middle and do not cover a broad enough spectrum for either pleasure or mastering. If you are all about midrange, at the expense of bass and treble, well these are for you. However, I prefer a more balance set of cans. If used for mixing you will never really know what is happening at the extremes and can over or under do it in the mastering process.

In the end, for mastering, I have found that having several sets of cans is best, as well as a good two channel stereo set up. This way you can compare, compare and compare so that you get it right. But if you are limited and want cans for pleasure and mastering I would recommend Hifiman 400 or 500 series. But, please, do get out and try the others I mentioned but have no experience with and report back.

Offline powermonkey

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #47 on: January 13, 2017, 05:11:39 AM »
I've been looking into new headphones for a while now, with a view to really getting the hang of mastering my recordings. I've settled on a pair of Stax SL300's with a Stax SRM 252 energiser. Haven't even listened to one of my own recordings through them, yet, as I keep getting distracted by the small pile of SACDs I've collected over the years.

I tried a few different combinations of Sennheiser cans and AKG cans, but with the Stax I just forget I'm wearing headphones at all, they're so transparent. Expensive, but at £795 the bang for the buck is phenomenal.

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Offline fivedollarbill

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #48 on: January 13, 2017, 09:51:09 AM »
The two best things I've done in my headphone shopping and decision making...

1) Find a store that supplies and sells a good variety of high end headphones and budget two or three hours to do some comparative listening.  If IEMs are your thing, the InMotion Entertainment stores in airport terminals have a decent stock and they let you sample everything they sell.

2) Attend a head-fi meet and greet.

Offline zhianosatch

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #49 on: January 13, 2017, 12:39:11 PM »
... and I'm going to be out of town the weekend of NYC Canjam.

Edit: Check that, I'll be back in time. Anyone else going Sunday, Feb 5?
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 12:58:33 PM by zhianosatch »

Offline fivedollarbill

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #50 on: January 13, 2017, 01:16:04 PM »
 :guitarist:
... and I'm going to be out of town the weekend of NYC Canjam.

Edit: Check that, I'll be back in time. Anyone else going Sunday, Feb 5?

I'm not in the NYC area but would love to hear if you go and what you learn.

Edit to add that if you do go to the canjam, consider taking your own playback device so you don't have to wait in line for both headphones and a open listening station...and also to normalize your rig so that changes you hear are only due to change in headphones.  You might want to pick a few standard songs to listen to for doing a vs b testing.  Finally might want to take adequate cables/adapters for possibility of hookups to your playback just in case the gear you want to sample doesnt fit.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 01:26:08 PM by fivedollarbill »

Offline zhianosatch

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #51 on: January 13, 2017, 01:33:41 PM »
:guitarist:
... and I'm going to be out of town the weekend of NYC Canjam.

Edit: Check that, I'll be back in time. Anyone else going Sunday, Feb 5?

I'm not in the NYC area but would love to hear if you go and what you learn.

Edit to add that if you do go to the canjam, consider taking your own playback device so you don't have to wait in line for both headphones and a open listening station...and also to normalize your rig so that changes you hear are only due to change in headphones.  You might want to pick a few standard songs to listen to for doing a vs b testing.  Finally might want to take adequate cables/adapters for possibility of hookups to your playback just in case the gear you want to sample doesnt fit.

Excellent points, thank you.

My "rig" is modest at best with Etymotic ER-4PTs and an M10, but more often an iphone or dogshit computer to be honest. The Etys with the foam eartips are a lifesaver on the subway and airplanes. And if I replace the mini jack, I could bring my old MDR-7506s in addition for a baseline.

I was looking at trying the the FiiO E10K for fun, and getting one in hand before the convention might be worth the small $75 if it helps determine my headphone choices. What do you guys think?

Edit: Ticket for the NYC Canjam Sunday, February 5 purchased, as well as the Fiio E10K. Took a chance on some starter gear, what the hell.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 02:26:37 PM by zhianosatch »

Offline fivedollarbill

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #52 on: January 13, 2017, 02:32:34 PM »
:guitarist:
... and I'm going to be out of town the weekend of NYC Canjam.

Edit: Check that, I'll be back in time. Anyone else going Sunday, Feb 5?

I'm not in the NYC area but would love to hear if you go and what you learn.

Edit to add that if you do go to the canjam, consider taking your own playback device so you don't have to wait in line for both headphones and a open listening station...and also to normalize your rig so that changes you hear are only due to change in headphones.  You might want to pick a few standard songs to listen to for doing a vs b testing.  Finally might want to take adequate cables/adapters for possibility of hookups to your playback just in case the gear you want to sample doesnt fit.

Excellent points, thank you.

My "rig" is modest at best with Etymotic ER-4PTs and an M10, but more often an iphone or dogshit computer to be honest. The Etys with the foam eartips are a lifesaver on the subway and airplanes. And if I replace the mini jack, I could bring my old MDR-7506s in addition for a baseline.

I was looking at trying the the FiiO E10K for fun, and getting one in hand before the convention might be worth the small $75 if it helps determine my headphone choices. What do you guys think?

Imho for the money you'll spend, that would be a good move regardless of the canjam, but yeah if youre gonna buy one then go ahead  and do it before the meet. I think you'll enjoy what the amp adds to your sound, especially if you use the digital output of your iPhone and use the fiio as a dac.  You say your laptop sux...bet you'll be pleasantly surprised by the sound improvement using the dac out of your laptop...even with an inexpensive $75 Dac/amp. 

As far as taking it to the meet, yeah it'll probably be necessary to have the amp to drive some of the headphones you'll want to hear up to a decent volume.  When i sample audio gear, I like to listen at good volume.  Before buying I also like to know whether or not the gear I sampled has been burned in...it's kinda hard to make a final decision on something you pay lots of money for if you know it may change a little bit what you sampled hasn't been burned in.

Offline zhianosatch

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #53 on: January 17, 2017, 05:59:31 PM »
:guitarist:
... and I'm going to be out of town the weekend of NYC Canjam.

Edit: Check that, I'll be back in time. Anyone else going Sunday, Feb 5?

I'm not in the NYC area but would love to hear if you go and what you learn.

Edit to add that if you do go to the canjam, consider taking your own playback device so you don't have to wait in line for both headphones and a open listening station...and also to normalize your rig so that changes you hear are only due to change in headphones.  You might want to pick a few standard songs to listen to for doing a vs b testing.  Finally might want to take adequate cables/adapters for possibility of hookups to your playback just in case the gear you want to sample doesnt fit.

Excellent points, thank you.

My "rig" is modest at best with Etymotic ER-4PTs and an M10, but more often an iphone or dogshit computer to be honest. The Etys with the foam eartips are a lifesaver on the subway and airplanes. And if I replace the mini jack, I could bring my old MDR-7506s in addition for a baseline.

I was looking at trying the the FiiO E10K for fun, and getting one in hand before the convention might be worth the small $75 if it helps determine my headphone choices. What do you guys think?

Imho for the money you'll spend, that would be a good move regardless of the canjam, but yeah if youre gonna buy one then go ahead  and do it before the meet. I think you'll enjoy what the amp adds to your sound, especially if you use the digital output of your iPhone and use the fiio as a dac.  You say your laptop sux...bet you'll be pleasantly surprised by the sound improvement using the dac out of your laptop...even with an inexpensive $75 Dac/amp. 

As far as taking it to the meet, yeah it'll probably be necessary to have the amp to drive some of the headphones you'll want to hear up to a decent volume.  When i sample audio gear, I like to listen at good volume.  Before buying I also like to know whether or not the gear I sampled has been burned in...it's kinda hard to make a final decision on something you pay lots of money for if you know it may change a little bit what you sampled hasn't been burned in.

Thank you for the input. (Input? Get it? Get it?) I just received the Fiio. Looking forward to trying it out.

Also, I'll have about 3-4 hours max at the Canjam so who knows how much I'll get to sample, but I'm compiling some sample tracks for reference. Any recommendations? So far, I'm planning to reflect the reality of what I usually listen to, focus on dynamics in the beginning of each track:

Cobalt - Witherer (2006)
Crescent - Fallen Kingdom of Men (2014)
Inquisition - (something from the latest album, 2016)
Anaal Nathrakh - (something from When Fire Rains Down from the Sky?)
(late 80s thrash album mastered well - ?)
(late 80s thrash album mastered poorly - Morbid Saint? Demolition Hammer?)
Mid 90s commercial-sounding radio-friendly (Alice In Chains - Rotten Apple)

Offline jlykos

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #54 on: January 18, 2017, 05:16:33 PM »
Some well-mastered metal / hard rock albums that I like are:

Metallica - Master of Puppets (try to find the gold CD version; it's fantastic) or Black Album (if you can stand to listen to it)
Ihsahn - Alter
Soundgarden - Superunknown
Rage Against the Machine - S/T
Horrendous - Ecclysis or Anareta
Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase. (not really metal, but it's a good album)
Morbid Angel - Covenant (original version, not the remaster)
Faith No More - Angel Dust
Colour Haze - To the Highest Gods We Know

I'm sure that I'm forgetting a bunch, but these were the first ones that came to my mind.

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Offline zhianosatch

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #55 on: January 18, 2017, 06:17:46 PM »
Some well-mastered metal / hard rock albums that I like are:

Metallica - Master of Puppets (try to find the gold CD version; it's fantastic) or Black Album (if you can stand to listen to it)
Ihsahn - Alter
Soundgarden - Superunknown
Rage Against the Machine - S/T
Horrendous - Ecclysis or Anareta
Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase. (not really metal, but it's a good album)
Morbid Angel - Covenant (original version, not the remaster)
Faith No More - Angel Dust
Colour Haze - To the Highest Gods We Know

I'm sure that I'm forgetting a bunch, but these were the first ones that came to my mind.



Horrendous, awesome, how could I have forgotten? The second half of Ecdysis especially, it gets me every time. And I always love tips for new blood, so thank you.

Man, which Master of Puppets do I have? How many years has it been? Sheesh

Offline fivedollarbill

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #56 on: January 18, 2017, 06:42:00 PM »
Three or four hours at a headphone meet and greet is plenty enough time for me to drop any amount of money id care to spend on great gear.  No problem at all.

Offline Fried Chicken Boy

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #57 on: January 23, 2017, 02:36:23 PM »
Headphone choice is very much dependent on what purpose they will fill, e.g. pleasure listening or mastering.
/snip/

A lot of good information in your post, raymonda, and I find I pretty much agree with it.  Singling out Grados, I've yet to hear a pair that I really liked but changing out the different available earpads can make a significant difference in comfort and sound.  That said, and echoing what's already been posted here, I wouldn't use anything in the Grado line to do any mixing or mastering. 

FWIW, anyone interested in discounted headphones should take a look at what's available on Massdrop.  Right now they are offering the Thinksound ON2, which appears to get good reviews, at a cost considerably lower than street price. 


Some well-mastered metal / hard rock albums that I like are:

Metallica - Master of Puppets (try to find the gold CD version; it's fantastic) or Black Album (if you can stand to listen to it)
Ihsahn - Alter
Soundgarden - Superunknown
Rage Against the Machine - S/T
Horrendous - Ecclysis or Anareta
Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase. (not really metal, but it's a good album)
Morbid Angel - Covenant (original version, not the remaster)
Faith No More - Angel Dust
Colour Haze - To the Highest Gods We Know

I'm sure that I'm forgetting a bunch, but these were the first ones that came to my mind.

I like that list, jlykos.  I would also add Dinosaur Jr.'s 'Farm', as well as The Giraffes' self-titled and their recent 'Usury' albums to it.  All well mixed and mastered, IMHO.

Offline zhianosatch

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #58 on: February 08, 2017, 02:26:14 PM »
In no particular order and lacking links, model # info, and Jamie's eloquence, here are my impressions from Canjam 2017 NYC this past Sunday before I start forgetting:

-Five major areas of interest in were represented: headphones, earphones, portable players, DAC/amp/playback rigs, cables, then gimmicks. I was interested in headphone research primarily. I've been told B&H is not a bad place to go A/B some cans, but I haven't gone yet. Canjam was my first foray into such an environment.

-I did not have the time to make a playlist and I couldn't bring my M10, so I boldly busted out my iphone to test headphones and earphones after I'd used the rigs and sample songs provided by each vendor. Two primary reference tracks worked out perfectly for me: Crescent - Fallen Kingdom of Men and Cobalt - Witherer. Alice In Chains' SAP EP would have been good too, but I got exactly what I was looking for with metal in addition to the defaults provided.

-Everyone seems to make IEM foam eartips now, and Comply's are standing out. Better comfort and bass response with my Etymotic ER-4PTs than the Etymotic gray foam, slightly less isolation but a small price to pay for long-term usage comfort. The memory foam is holding up well so far. $20 for 3 pair? Might just be worth it.

-All the giant Grados used by the cable and player manufacturers as reference headphones would be a lovely experience if you had no noise in your life, as expected.

-The Sony reps seemed to be engineers and were pretty cool, acknowledging the poor build quality of the MDR-7509s when I described the creaky plastic bracket that holds the earpiece in place and breaks easily. They recommended trying the 7510 or 7520 instead. I have not.

-Audioquest headphones, all the Nighthawks were trying too hard. The fit was outstanding, light and natural. Sound was clear but I perceived them as distant and unbalanced, and distance was not due to the semi-open design - it was something else I can't put words to. Surprised they're in the $600 range - I assumed they'd be half that and I still wouldn't buy them.

-Cleer's new flagship prototype cans look atrocious and were too big for my head. The rep said he wants his guys to refine it for this reason before they release them. Closed but leaky. High end & cymbals were thick and crusty and were immediately and consistently distracting. That high end clarity was apparently the strong point of the design.

-Audeeze - maybe I have something against open diaphragms, or maybe I'm just oversensitive to cymbal attacks that hang around too long, but I just wasn't convinced by the LCD line. (Sidenote, for some reason, no one at the show seemed to mind me committing the sin of plugging their $4000 cans directly into my iphone streaming spotify albums at 320 kbps or bandcamp after I'd given their sample rigs a try. That attitude kind of undermines the whole pitch - I'd have told me to go f*** myself and get some new white apple earbuds.)

-Studio Pravda/Misha Kurchenko earphones. I can't find any official info or a company name through google, but listening to his earphones was a hilarious, convincing experience. Unbelievable soundstage and low end response I assumed wasn't possible with IEMs, even funny-shaped ones like his. The detail I expected but it didn't come at the cost of a sense of balance and refinement. Just an outstanding experience but of course you Isolation was not extreme with what appeared to be silicone tips. The rep said the whole rig w/ custom amp and something else runs $8000 rrr'tail. I didn't meet Misha but he appeared to be an intimidating nerd genius from afar - my kind of guy.

-Meze 99 classic in walnut and the as-yet unreleased black ABS both blew me away. For the $300 price point they felt perfect and sounded utterly flat with just the right punch in the guitar mids. Clearly outperformed the rest of the pack at half the price of Mr. Speakers' intro level. I couldn't walk out with a pair because the guy had run out, so I immediately placed an order for the slightly warmer and currently available walnut. Caveat: if you're into aesthetics you'll either love or hate the headband. I happen to dislike the appearance but screw it, listening was the perfect experience of enhancing my music without revealing the flaws in my playback system or environment. Tremendous for $300. Should be here tomorrow.

-Mr. Speakers, both their flagship and the junior intro model were another level of enjoyment entirely. The intro model at $699 sounds tantalizingly close to its bigger brother at $1800. They appear to be the first level of clearly exposing flaws in your playback, super revealing, natural, flat, big soundstage etc whatever. A pleasure altogether and impressive. I'd love to own a pair.
 
-A

Offline zhianosatch

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Re: Headphones disillusions
« Reply #59 on: February 09, 2017, 11:50:07 AM »
Meze 99s delivered. I can already tell the Fiio E10K is not good enough. Damn it, am I getting sucked down the rabbit hole already?

 

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