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Which headphones would be best for me in the $150 range?

post #1 of 21
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Hey everyone,

I currently have the Samson SR850 headphones and have been using them for around a year and a half now, and they are very clear compared to my old Razer Carcharias cans, but they still aren't satisfying my wants. I was really excited to jump from the Carcharias to these because I was getting tired of having no bass in my audio, and I heard for months that the SR850's had decent bass.

And they don't.

Bass is just as empty as on the Carcharias. It's hardly there, hardly audible. Very disappointing.

So anyways, I've been considering a few different headphones in the $150 price range, and I want to know which one you guys think will suit me best.

Looking for;

-Primary OBJ Pretty good bass. I used to have Plantronics Gamecom 377 headphones (or 777's maybe, I forget), and they were very bassy, made it extremely entertaining to get killed by nube tubes and frag grenades in battlefield 2 because the explosions sounded so dang good with the bass. I want an experience like that again. I don't want something like the beats have earned a reputation for though, I don't want muddy, overdone bass that's "in your face" as many describe the beats. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being no bass like the Razer carcharias, 10 being "in your face bass," I want around a 5 at the least. It's bass that is punchy, that is very audible, and you can really feel it in explosions in games/movies, and even in some guns. I really felt in those cheesy Gamecoms, I want to feel it in some audiophile equipment now.

- Secondary OBJ Decent sound stage. I do a lot of FPS gaming and enjoy hearing footsteps around walls. The SR850's have a decent sound stage, much better than the Carcharias. The first time I wore these SR850's was literally the first time I ever got to hear foot steps other than my own in shooters. With the SR850's, I can hear foot steps pretty thoroughly, usually through a few walls in BF3, good 10 "feet" or so away, that's what it sounds like. I'd be a happy camper with a pair of cans that meets my bass desires, and simply meets the SR850's in sound stage, because I know these SR850's don't have the best sound stage, so I'm thinking that perhaps in the $150 range, a pair of cans can meet my bass desires and exceed the SR850 sound stage.

- Tertiary OBJ Overall clarity. I had the "I'm hearing things I've never heard before" experience in my music with the SR850's, so I know what I'll be listening for in my songs to verify that the cans I grab have a clarity like my Samson's. My taste in music is the exact opposite of wide-spread. I listen to metal, and that's that. There's a very small spread in the types of metal I listen to. Some of my most favorite bands, in no particular order, are Iron Maiden, Disturbed, Steel Panther, Periphery, Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, KoRn, and Black Sabbath. As you can see, I really only listen to Heavy Metal, and Really Heavy Metal. Steel Panther is the lightest of the bands I listen to, Periphery is the heaviest band I listen to. These SR850's have given me a great musical experience, minus the lack of bass. They are very clear, instruments are pretty separated, at least compared to what I'm used to, but there's no bass.

Models I'm considering;

-A700/700x I heard some pretty good things about the A700's. I've heard they have audible bass that's pretty clear, but not the punchiest. However, I have also heard they don't have a whole lot of bass compared to some other models in their range. I've heard that they don't lose a whole lot of sound stage compared to their open-back brothers, the AD700's (which I am absolutely not interested in, at all), but the fact that they don't lose much in sound stage compared to the AD700's is quite admirable. So I've been considering these for a while, but now the A700x's are around. How do these compare to the A700's? Which one has better bass? Is the bass what I'm looking for (very audible, punchy, not muddy)? Or would I be better off trying to get the original A700's, or one of the other models I've listed below?

-Ultrasone Pro 550's/HFI-780's So I've heard the 550's are great in the $150 range for a gamer who wants some bass to their sound. I've heard they have a great sound stage, and that the instruments are separated, but not extremely well like a couple $200 or $300 cans. But, the HFi-780's are a mere $10 more on amazon. Are the HFi-780's significantly better than the 550's? If I were to consider one of these Ultrasone models, would it basically be pointless to get the 550's since the 780's are only $10 more? Or does the 550 perform better in the bass area (that's primarily what I want to improve on, and want the best bang for buck in, the bass area)?

Recap

I want a set of cans that's pretty clear, decent sound stage, but I really, really want some dang bass. I've now gone three or four years with out any decent bass in my audio experience, and it's beginning to be a little frustrating (note, Carcharias and Samson SR850's were both gifts, returning them to get bass in my sound would have been rude, I felt). I need a pair of cans that's closed back, definitely. Open Back cans are absolutely not an option. I want to be able to really feel a punch from some bass! I listen to metal music, and play a lot of shooters. Have the Asus XONAR DG Sound Card already (using my sig rig). I know I have put an emphasis on acquiring good bass through out my little article here, but I don't want to sacrifice too much in terms of clarity or sound stage.

I am open to suggestions other than the 4 models I listed that I am considering, so long as you can provide some kind of primary evidence to support your claim that the cans will meet my desires. Be it the fact that you've owned the cans first hand, or you find a YouTube Review you feel is trust worthy, I would like to hear something from some one who has owned and used the headphones. I don't want any speculations coming in to play based on the hard ware behind the cans.

No open back cans are acceptable.

Sorry for the long read, guys, but if you've made it this far, you're a hell of a person using up all that time to help a stranger, and for that, I owe you many thanks! I hope to hear from some of you soon. I hope to hear my desires are capable of being attained in this range tongue.gif

Sincerely,
Rivaldog

EDIT:

Been doing a lot of reading on Amazon, would you guys recommend using a headphone amp for any of the cans I mentioned? A couple of reviewers mentioned using one for the Ultrasones, but would it have any noticeable effect that's worth the cost of getting an amp?
Edited by rivaldog - 5/27/13 at 1:20am
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post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by rivaldog View Post

Hey everyone,

I currently have the Samson SR850 headphones and have been using them for around a year and a half now, and they are very clear compared to my old Razer Carcharias cans, but they still aren't satisfying my wants. I was really excited to jump from the Carcharias to these because I was getting tired of having no bass in my audio, and I heard for months that the SR850's had decent bass.

And they don't.

Bass is just as empty as on the Carcharias. It's hardly there, hardly audible. Very disappointing.

So anyways, I've been considering a few different headphones in the $150 price range, and I want to know which one you guys think will suit me best.

Looking for;

-Primary OBJ Pretty good bass. I used to have Plantronics Gamecom 377 headphones (or 777's maybe, I forget), and they were very bassy, made it extremely entertaining to get killed by nube tubes and frag grenades in battlefield 2 because the explosions sounded so dang good with the bass. I want an experience like that again. I don't want something like the beats have earned a reputation for though, I don't want muddy, overdone bass that's "in your face" as many describe the beats. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being no bass like the Razer carcharias, 10 being "in your face bass," I want around a 5 at the least. It's bass that is punchy, that is very audible, and you can really feel it in explosions in games/movies, and even in some guns. I really felt in those cheesy Gamecoms, I want to feel it in some audiophile equipment now.

- Secondary OBJ Decent sound stage. I do a lot of FPS gaming and enjoy hearing footsteps around walls. The SR850's have a decent sound stage, much better than the Carcharias. The first time I wore these SR850's was literally the first time I ever got to hear foot steps other than my own in shooters. With the SR850's, I can hear foot steps pretty thoroughly, usually through a few walls in BF3, good 10 "feet" or so away, that's what it sounds like. I'd be a happy camper with a pair of cans that meets my bass desires, and simply meets the SR850's in sound stage, because I know these SR850's don't have the best sound stage, so I'm thinking that perhaps in the $150 range, a pair of cans can meet my bass desires and exceed the SR850 sound stage.

- Tertiary OBJ Overall clarity. I had the "I'm hearing things I've never heard before" experience in my music with the SR850's, so I know what I'll be listening for in my songs to verify that the cans I grab have a clarity like my Samson's. My taste in music is the exact opposite of wide-spread. I listen to metal, and that's that. There's a very small spread in the types of metal I listen to. Some of my most favorite bands, in no particular order, are Iron Maiden, Disturbed, Steel Panther, Periphery, Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, KoRn, and Black Sabbath. As you can see, I really only listen to Heavy Metal, and Really Heavy Metal. Steel Panther is the lightest of the bands I listen to, Periphery is the heaviest band I listen to. These SR850's have given me a great musical experience, minus the lack of bass. They are very clear, instruments are pretty separated, at least compared to what I'm used to, but there's no bass.

Models I'm considering;

-A700/700x I heard some pretty good things about the A700's. I've heard they have audible bass that's pretty clear, but not the punchiest. However, I have also heard they don't have a whole lot of bass compared to some other models in their range. I've heard that they don't lose a whole lot of sound stage compared to their open-back brothers, the AD700's (which I am absolutely not interested in, at all), but the fact that they don't lose much in sound stage compared to the AD700's is quite admirable. So I've been considering these for a while, but now the A700x's are around. How do these compare to the A700's? Which one has better bass? Is the bass what I'm looking for (very audible, punchy, not muddy)? Or would I be better off trying to get the original A700's, or one of the other models I've listed below?

-Ultrasone Pro 550's/HFI-780's So I've heard the 550's are great in the $150 range for a gamer who wants some bass to their sound. I've heard they have a great sound stage, and that the instruments are separated, but not extremely well like a couple $200 or $300 cans. But, the HFi-780's are a mere $10 more on amazon. Are the HFi-780's significantly better than the 550's? If I were to consider one of these Ultrasone models, would it basically be pointless to get the 550's since the 780's are only $10 more? Or does the 550 perform better in the bass area (that's primarily what I want to improve on, and want the best bang for buck in, the bass area)?

Recap

I want a set of cans that's pretty clear, decent sound stage, but I really, really want some dang bass. I've now gone three or four years with out any decent bass in my audio experience, and it's beginning to be a little frustrating (note, Carcharias and Samson SR850's were both gifts, returning them to get bass in my sound would have been rude, I felt). I need a pair of cans that's closed back, definitely. Open Back cans are absolutely not an option. I want to be able to really feel a punch from some bass! I listen to metal music, and play a lot of shooters. Have the Asus XONAR DG Sound Card already (using my sig rig). I know I have put an emphasis on acquiring good bass through out my little article here, but I don't want to sacrifice too much in terms of clarity or sound stage.

I am open to suggestions other than the 4 models I listed that I am considering, so long as you can provide some kind of primary evidence to support your claim that the cans will meet my desires. Be it the fact that you've owned the cans first hand, or you find a YouTube Review you feel is trust worthy, I would like to hear something from some one who has owned and used the headphones. I don't want any speculations coming in to play based on the hard ware behind the cans.

No open back cans are acceptable.

Sorry for the long read, guys, but if you've made it this far, you're a hell of a person using up all that time to help a stranger, and for that, I owe you many thanks! I hope to hear from some of you soon. I hope to hear my desires are capable of being attained in this range tongue.gif

Sincerely,
Rivaldog

EDIT:

Been doing a lot of reading on Amazon, would you guys recommend using a headphone amp for any of the cans I mentioned? A couple of reviewers mentioned using one for the Ultrasones, but would it have any noticeable effect that's worth the cost of getting an amp?
are you currently using a soundcard? if your using on board you will find it hard to obtain that bass that you truly want.Im currently using an ROG Phoebus great card but only using it because I got it at the right price otherwise probably would have bought a Xonar essence STX, which is widely regarded as one of the best soundcards on the market both for precision and power. Or if your like me and want to go down the more extreme end use an external DAC like this one http://www.amazon.com/Asus-XONAR_EONE-ASUS-Digital-to-Analog-Converter/dp/B00612ZZSS/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1369658888&sr=8-6&keywords=Xonar+DAC

I don't know about you but i planning on quad titans in the near future and will have no room left for a pcie soundcard.
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post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Have the Asus XONAR DG Sound Card already (using my sig rig)

Yes, I do already have a sound card ^_^

I most definitely would not be able to afford any DAC on the market right now, nor could I afford a quad GPU set up, so I'm not worried about PCIe slots lol
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post #4 of 21
You may want to look at some Beyerdynamic offerings, namely DT770 Pro (80 ohm version) and Custom One Pro at your price range (they're both around 170-180 on amazon right at this moment, generally they go for 200). I have not heard the COP but had the 770 for a year and I think it will suit your needs perfectly: good isolation both in and out, great impactful bass and very nice clarity. Sound stage is also good for a closed headphone. If you play something like BF3 the 770 with a good amp will easily blow your mind with every explosion. It did blow mine. The COP FWIR is also pretty bassy as well, and should be easier to drive than the 770.

Out of the ones you mentioned: The ATH-A700/700X have good sound stage but very little bass impact, this is just a trait of the A-series (they're Audio Technica's monitoring line). You may want to look into the M50 or their Solid Bass line instead. The Ultrasones should be good, most Ultrasone Pro's are known to have decent to good bass. S-Logic is a mixed bag but most people seem to be okay with it.

On your question for amps, speaking from my experience, a good amp does help with improving sound quality. By GOOD, I mean things like solid construction/build quality (no cheap parts, messy solderings or dumb design flaws) and some flexibility (a good integrated DAC or a high/low gain switch for example). I personally prefer an amp to be as neutral as possible, but some people like colorations. Since your DG doesn't have RCA output which means getting an amp right now is not very ideal, I'd say you can just use its headphone out with whatever headphones you decide to go with for now, then later upgrade to either a true audiophile card (Ti HD or STX) or an external amp/DAC set (Fiio E17/E09K or Modi/Magni for example), that way you can verify the difference for yourself.
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post #5 of 21
Out of those, the PRO550 definitely.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LinkPro View Post

You may want to look at some Beyerdynamic offerings, namely DT770 Pro (80 ohm version) and Custom One Pro at your price range (they're both around 170-180 on amazon right at this moment, generally they go for 200). I have not heard the COP but had the 770 for a year and I think it will suit your needs perfectly: good isolation both in and out, great impactful bass and very nice clarity. Sound stage is also good for a closed headphone. If you play something like BF3 the 770 with a good amp will easily blow your mind with every explosion. It did blow mine. The COP FWIR is also pretty bassy as well, and should be easier to drive than the 770.

Out of the ones you mentioned: The ATH-A700/700X have good sound stage but very little bass impact, this is just a trait of the A-series (they're Audio Technica's monitoring line). You may want to look into the M50 or their Solid Bass line instead. The Ultrasones should be good, most Ultrasone Pro's are known to have decent to good bass. S-Logic is a mixed bag but most people seem to be okay with it.

On your question for amps, speaking from my experience, a good amp does help with improving sound quality. By GOOD, I mean things like solid construction/build quality (no cheap parts, messy solderings or dumb design flaws) and some flexibility (a good integrated DAC or a high/low gain switch for example). I personally prefer an amp to be as neutral as possible, but some people like colorations. Since your DG doesn't have RCA output which means getting an amp right now is not very ideal, I'd say you can just use its headphone out with whatever headphones you decide to go with for now, then later upgrade to either a true audiophile card (Ti HD or STX) or an external amp/DAC set (Fiio E17/E09K or Modi/Magni for example), that way you can verify the difference for yourself.

Do I need an amp with the DT770 Pro 80 ohm version to get the bass I'm looking for out of those? Or could I get a solid bass with out an amp? I don't have the money for an amp, and won't have it any time soon, so perhaps I should rephrase my question to, Which headphones are the best for me that don't require an amp? tongue.gif Lol Unless a decent amp, that would get the job done, could be obtained at a small cost. XP

If the A series from Audio Technica can't deliver the bass I desire, I don't feel comfortable going with really anything else of theirs. I've heard the M50's, and really, the rest of their products, aren't great for gaming and are really only great at music. I don't exactly know how true that is though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesekiwi View Post

Out of those, the PRO550 definitely.

What makes you say that the Pro 550's would be a better choice than the HFI-780's? It seems, based on the other post I quoted in this post, that either of the Audio Technica's listed wouldn't be the best.
Edited by rivaldog - 5/28/13 at 1:56pm
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post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by rivaldog View Post

Do I need an amp with the DT770 Pro 80 ohm version to get the bass I'm looking for out of those? Or could I get a solid bass with out an amp? I don't have the money for an amp, and won't have it any time soon, so perhaps I should rephrase my question to, Which headphones are the best for me that don't require an amp? tongue.gif Lol Unless a decent amp, that would get the job done, could be obtained at a small cost. XP

If the A series from Audio Technica can't deliver the bass I desire, I don't feel comfortable going with really anything else of theirs. I've heard the M50's, and really, the rest of their products, aren't great for gaming and are really only great at music. I don't exactly know how true that is though.

The 80 ohm version isn't all that power hungry, back then I had it plugged into a Fiio E9 (X-Fi Ti HD -> E9 -> DT770) and it did a great job. Got hundreds of joyous hours out of this budget system until I decided to spend more money. If you're running the 770 unamped you may need to turn the volume higher than normal due to the 80 ohm impedance. Or you can wait a bit, Beyer is releasing a 32 ohm version of the DT770 thanks to popular demand (used to be a limited edition product). Don't know when they will start shipping it though, and the price will likely be more than you want to pay.

Regarding the M50, it's limited in sound stage and sounds too closed-in, thus not very good for FPS gaming where positional cues are key. I don't like it for immersive gaming either - people rave about its bass, but the DT770's bass goes way deeper and packs significantly more punch. The only obvious flaw in the 770's sound is that its midrange is a tad too recessed, and that's just how most Beyer headphones sound like, even the flagship T1 which I currently have.
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post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LinkPro View Post

The 80 ohm version isn't all that power hungry, back then I had it plugged into a Fiio E9 (X-Fi Ti HD -> E9 -> DT770) and it did a great job. Got hundreds of joyous hours out of this budget system until I decided to spend more money. If you're running the 770 unamped you may need to turn the volume higher than normal due to the 80 ohm impedance. Or you can wait a bit, Beyer is releasing a 32 ohm version of the DT770 thanks to popular demand (used to be a limited edition product). Don't know when they will start shipping it though, and the price will likely be more than you want to pay.

Would any of these amps do the trick?

FiiO e11
FiiO e6
FiiO e5

The e6 and e5 are pretty cheap, I could definitely throw one of those in with the DT770's if those will do the job!
Quote:
Originally Posted by LinkPro View Post

Regarding the M50, it's limited in sound stage and sounds too closed-in, thus not very good for FPS gaming where positional cues are key. I don't like it for immersive gaming either - people rave about its bass, but the DT770's bass goes way deeper and packs significantly more punch. The only obvious flaw in the 770's sound is that its midrange is a tad too recessed, and that's just how most Beyer headphones sound like, even the flagship T1 which I currently have.

Yeah, that's what I remember hearing about the M50 that deterred me away from considering that as an option.

EDIT:

I did some reading and watching of reviews for the DT770's, and I've heard them referred to as a bass head's pair of cans... I don't want too much bass, and when I hear "bass head," I think too much bass... Do you think the person who referred to these as a "bass head's pair of cans" is incorrect? Do you think the bass is well balanced and punchy, or is it more for bass heads who listen to rap and techno and what not?
Edited by rivaldog - 5/28/13 at 9:01pm
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post #9 of 21
Out of the ones you list the E11 would probably be the best choice, the E5 and E6 are only good for boosting bass which the DT770 absolutely doesn't need.

Whether the 770 is "basshead" level or not depends quite a lot on the amp it's paired with IMO. It can indeed sound bassy but the bass blends in very nicely with the rest of the spectrum, unlike say Beats' bass which is very one note-ish and irritating to listen to for extended periods of time. For an analogy, the 770's bass feels like your head is being massaged gently, while with Beats you'll feel like your head is being hit with a hammer everytime a bass note kicks in. So I think it will still suit you fine - if you do get the E11 as an amp then just use the amp as is and don't turn on bass boost at all if you feel like the bass is enough.

Just in case you have not read this , http://www.head-fi.org/t/633349/beyerdynamic-dt-770-80-vs-custom-one-pros-quick-comparison . This guy shares pretty much the same thoughts about the 770 as I do, and he also does a comparison against the Custom One.
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post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LinkPro View Post

Out of the ones you list the E11 would probably be the best choice, the E5 and E6 are only good for boosting bass which the DT770 absolutely doesn't need.

Whether the 770 is "basshead" level or not depends quite a lot on the amp it's paired with IMO. It can indeed sound bassy but the bass blends in very nicely with the rest of the spectrum, unlike say Beats' bass which is very one note-ish and irritating to listen to for extended periods of time. For an analogy, the 770's bass feels like your head is being massaged gently, while with Beats you'll feel like your head is being hit with a hammer everytime a bass note kicks in. So I think it will still suit you fine - if you do get the E11 as an amp then just use the amp as is and don't turn on bass boost at all if you feel like the bass is enough.

Just in case you have not read this , http://www.head-fi.org/t/633349/beyerdynamic-dt-770-80-vs-custom-one-pros-quick-comparison . This guy shares pretty much the same thoughts about the 770 as I do, and he also does a comparison against the Custom One.

So based on what you've said, and the link you posted (which was a good read, I appreciate that, man!), the DT770's won't have what I define as "too much bass," nor will they be what I think is defined as a "bass head's pair of cans." It sounds like they have the ability to please bass heads with out destroying their clarity and sound stage, which is basically what I'm looking for... But I keep reading reviews on the HFI 780's, and those sound great too... Do you have any thoughts or experience with the 780's? Do you feel the DT770's would meet me desires significantly more so than the 780's? The price difference is pretty big... About $40... But I'm getting some graduation money soon, and plan on purchasing a pair of cans in this range... If you feel the DT770's are well worth the cost difference between the 780's and themselves, then I will go with those.

Thanks for all the help!
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