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Author Topic: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?  (Read 2570 times)

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Offline jmz93

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Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« on: November 21, 2023, 03:10:09 AM »
Hi. I'm looking for your opinions on closed-backed headphones for home studio use.

I know that open-backed cans provide a wider, more natural sound stage (I'm thinking Grado here), and probably a flatter frequency response. But, I need to switch to something close-backed here for greater leakage control.

I'm interested in your thoughts on the following models. My criteria, in order of importance are:
1. Flattest possible frequency response,
2. Comfort
3. Leakage control/isolation.

Sound quality is my chief concern here, for tracking, but also some mixing/production duties if possible.

I'm considering:
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X
Adam Audio SP-5
Sony MDR-7509HD

I regularly use and love a pair of Adam Audio A7X powered monitors. I was curious about their headphone offering, the SP-5, until I read the Sound on Sound review, which described them having almost a smile curve... hyped bass and treble, with thinner mids. That gave me pause. I want accurate reproduction if I can find it in a close-backed headphone.

Are there any models not on my list that I should also investigate?

Whatever I buy will be driven by an RME Babyface Pro FS, so that gives me flexibility in terms of impedance.

Thank you in advance for your opinions.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2023, 03:18:04 AM by jmz93 »

Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2023, 10:10:08 AM »
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x      user here. I was gifted my first pair by my wife after she consulted with kindms. About 7 years later I bought a new pair. Advantage with detachable cable.
YEARS ago, I had a pair of Beyer headphones for my studio use. All of the engineers I worked with had a choice, but most used Beyers of differing models.
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Offline grawk

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2023, 10:21:44 AM »
my experience is generally iems will be better at accurate monitoring than most closed back headphones. The market went open back for headphones because closed were hard to do well. That said, the sonys and ath headphones are at least known commodities.
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Offline Ronmac

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2023, 12:01:28 PM »
Personally I split my main headphone time between 3 different products:

Grado SR225i open back: Flattest response and very comfortable on the head, although the cable is very thick and not flexible

Audio Technica MT50x: A bit bass heavy but comfortable to wear

Sony MDR7506: A bit bass light and the lightest to wear. I have been using my current pair for 20+ years and they are still ticking! They are part of my bag/mobile rig, so don't get the same amount of use as the other two. Although they don't sound as "nice" as the other two they reveal more in the field environment.

I also use Shure IEMs in the field and a few lower priced Sonys for "sanity checks" during editing/mixing.

When my Grado phones fail I will buy a set of closed back Beyer DT770 250ohm. Having demoed a dozen or so different open backs during the last year I didn't find any that excited me. To me, the closed back Beyers sound great and are not expensive. In fact during my last serious demo session they were the least expensive of all the models I tried (open and closed) and revealed all of the issues I knew were in my source material. Not everyone will have the same experience as me, and that only proves that you need to pick a pair that are comfortable, and get to know them well by listening to a lot of good, and not so good, material.

Offline jmz93

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2023, 01:21:15 PM »
Thanks for all your thoughts guys.

I've narrowed it down to AKG K371's and BeyerDynamic DT-770 pro's.
Anybody tried both?
I haven't been able to audition either yet.

The AKG's have a detachable cable. I generally take care of my things and don't plan on using these in the field though...

Any pros/cons on 80 versus 250 ohms for the DT-770's?
I'm thinking my RME interface will probably bet a better fit with lower impedance.
I honestly don't understand the difference that much. Higher impedance equals more resistance equals needs a bigger amp to drive them adequately?

Offline grawk

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2023, 01:26:53 PM »
I've owned a few different variants of the DT770s, and they're among my least favorite headphones of all time.  I really wanted to like them, and did everything I could to try and improve them, and at the end of the day, ended up selling them. 
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Offline jmz93

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2023, 05:53:14 PM »
And now I'm strongly considering the Rode NTH-100's. :)

Offline goodcooker

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2023, 10:22:44 AM »
Any pros/cons on 80 versus 250 ohms for the DT-770's?
I'm thinking my RME interface will probably bet a better fit with lower impedance.
Higher impedance equals more resistance equals needs a bigger amp to drive them adequately?

In general lower impedance headphones (let's say 50 ohms  or less) can be driven to an acceptable volume by a lower voltage device.
Higher impedance need more amplification. I have the 250 ohm version of the DT880 and they sound great but the headphone amp of most of my devices has to be cranked to get them to acceptable listening levels.

I used the Sennheiser HD280 for years before the Beyers. They are also great closed back cans.
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Offline jmz93

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2023, 06:33:38 PM »
I went for Rode NTH-100's.

Wow!!

Very impressed with the sound, and the fit and comfort too.

The overall frequency response seems nice and flat, with bass that extends below 20 Hz.
I am a lot more confident now switching between cans and my nearfields.


Offline Chilly Brioschi

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2024, 12:25:53 PM »
Don't dismiss the Samson's for sound quality and low fatigue.
They could be more durable.

So for me a near miss, as I keep the "good stuff" at work in the studio and need durable travel 'phones.
Sennheisers are my go-to, I grew up on HD-414, HD-424
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Offline robgronotte

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2024, 05:52:43 AM »
I'm looking for some new headphones after my previous ones crapped out.  Would like over the ear headphones with bluetooth wireless capability but also with the option of using a cable.  (My last pair would start playing a fraction of a second after playing something on my computer when using bluetooth - no big deal for regular listening, but a problem for fine editing of music files).

Does anyone have any recommendations for me?  I would like as good sound as possible, but I don't really need any extra features like EQ or noise cancelling.  Those things are fine but I wouldn't want to pay more for them as I'm unlikely to use them.

I hadn't even heard of the difference between open back and closed back headphones before this thread.  I guess I want closed back since I don't want others to hear things coming from my headset.

Offline mccordo

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2024, 01:27:49 PM »
I'm looking for some new headphones after my previous ones crapped out.  Would like over the ear headphones with bluetooth wireless capability but also with the option of using a cable.  (My last pair would start playing a fraction of a second after playing something on my computer when using bluetooth - no big deal for regular listening, but a problem for fine editing of music files).

Does anyone have any recommendations for me?  I would like as good sound as possible, but I don't really need any extra features like EQ or noise cancelling.  Those things are fine but I wouldn't want to pay more for them as I'm unlikely to use them.

I hadn't even heard of the difference between open back and closed back headphones before this thread.  I guess I want closed back since I don't want others to hear things coming from my headset.

About 7 years ago I got a set of Audio-Technica ATH M50x on Amazon that came as a package with the BAL M50x Bluetooth Adapter. They can be used with the included cables for 3.5mm and standard headphone jack or plug the BT adapter into the plug for the cable and you’re good to go there too. Unfortunately that package is listed as currently unavailable on Amazon, but you may be able to find the BT adapter separately and you’ll have a great set of headphones that you can use wired or wireless.
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Offline robgronotte

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2024, 01:04:58 AM »
I'm looking for some new headphones after my previous ones crapped out.  Would like over the ear headphones with bluetooth wireless capability but also with the option of using a cable.  (My last pair would start playing a fraction of a second after playing something on my computer when using bluetooth - no big deal for regular listening, but a problem for fine editing of music files).

Does anyone have any recommendations for me?  I would like as good sound as possible, but I don't really need any extra features like EQ or noise cancelling.  Those things are fine but I wouldn't want to pay more for them as I'm unlikely to use them.

I hadn't even heard of the difference between open back and closed back headphones before this thread.  I guess I want closed back since I don't want others to hear things coming from my headset.

About 7 years ago I got a set of Audio-Technica ATH M50x on Amazon that came as a package with the BAL M50x Bluetooth Adapter. They can be used with the included cables for 3.5mm and standard headphone jack or plug the BT adapter into the plug for the cable and you’re good to go there too. Unfortunately that package is listed as currently unavailable on Amazon, but you may be able to find the BT adapter separately and you’ll have a great set of headphones that you can use wired or wireless.

I just found the "Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones", which appears to be the same thing in wireless, but I can't tell if it also has a wired connection or not.

https://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-ATH-M50xBT2-Wireless-Over-Ear-Headphones/dp/B09BYFHL25/?asc_source=verso&asc_campaign=5b8ff23f828b792d4e4b50f0%7C2AhsktH8969mRUtJrTtmSS&asc_refurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wired.com%2Fgallery%2Fbest-wireless-headphones%2F&ascsubtag=5b8ff23f828b792d4e4b50f0&tag=w050b-20

Offline robgronotte

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2024, 04:00:12 AM »
Well, the Amazon listing didn't say anything about a wired option, but I've now read several reviews that say it does have that, and comes with the cable as well.  One review even said that the Bluetooth version sounds a little better than the original set.

Looks like I will probably try this one.

Offline mccordo

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Re: Best All-purpose Closed-back Headphones?
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2024, 11:12:26 AM »
You can still buy the ATH M50X with the standard cables, but no Bluetooth. An Amazon search shows they sell the Bluetooth adapter separately now. There’s an official AT version that only comes in white; black is available from another brand that is made to fit.

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