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Best headphones for Rock/Metal under $2K

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cany89
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Thread Starter #41
Clear MG and Clear MG Pro are going to sound the same. I just figured Black/Red was better for metal. The accessories are different too, if that matters more than color to you.
Just found a good deal on the original Clear. It’s just one unit and cheaper than lcd2 for few days xD. I might buy it and see how it sounds for 15 days - until return date. Things getting even more interesting!
 
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#42
I would love to hear your thoughts.
TL;DR. Auteur >= VC > VO. Overall, I prefer the Auteur for its neutrality and the EQ-flexibility that brings should I want it. Disregarding pressure-sensitivity and EQ, the VC were more enjoyable for rock/metal. The VO required a lot of EQ to sound decent, though not more enjoyable than the other two on any genre.

Had them all for a week now and listened mainly the open-backs as my ears are very sensitive to pressure and I can't handle most closed-backs for more than 20 minutes, including the Verite Closed (VC). My chain is PC > Topping E30 > Singxer SA-1, so about as transparent sound as you can get. Naturally, these are just my opinions based on my ears and brain. Your taste/experience might differ.

The Auteur are the most reference/neutral sounding headphones I've heard (with the perforated Auteur pads). By that I mean that they have exceptionally correct tonality/signature; instruments and vocals sound as they do in real life. Acoustic and live-recordings are amazing on these. The bass and sub-bass is there if the track has it. Bass drums, toms, snares, sound good and impactful. Some songs are of course lacking in energy, especially in the bass, and the Auteurs do not compensate for that. The treble is well-extended without sounding "harsh" or "piercing" to my ears. The soundstage is quite deep and wide, much more so than the HD650 and similar headphones. While the Auteur is definitely not lacking in detail, the Verites are slightly better at presenting subtle sounds in the track. I found the Auteur to work well with all genres I listen to, including metal/rock. Tried a bit of EQ and I found that the bass becomes quite pronounced with a bass-shelf of 2-3 dB, which I like on some tracks.
P.S. Get the solid (non-perforated) Auteur pads if you want them to become absolutely ridiculous bass-cannons, but don't say I didn't warn you.

The Verites were "coloured" in tonality regardless of which pads I used. I preferred the universe pads on both because they increase the soundstage and image the sound in an unusual but enjoyable way. Sort of like you are in a globe and sounds come from all directions, but not as dramatic as that reads. Rock and metal was very enjoyable on the VC as bass-lines and guitars were more forward and sounded a bit "grittier" than on the Auteur without EQ. The Verite Open (VO) are more neutral in the lower frequencies and bass-lines don't stand out the same way and guitars not as impactful, though slightly more so than on the Auteur. Drums sound great on the Verites as well. The vocals are not as correct-sounding as on the Auteur, but it are fine on the VC but not on the VO. Vocals on the VO are quite recessed in the presence area and need EQ to sound accurate on either stock pads (perforated Verite/Universe). The treble is slightly lowered on the VC but sounds pleasant, without peaks and harshness. The VO however is noticeably recessed in the overall treble and it has peaks which bring out certain notes over others in a way that sounds odd to my ears. Supposedly the BE2 pads fix most of the tonality issues I seem to have with the VO and makes it easier to EQ, but I cannot confirm this as I didn't have them.

These are some very capable headphones that cater to different preferences. Definitely try them on with different pads before you draw your conclusions, as the sound noticeably changes between pads. They also handle EQ rather well in my opinion, as they did not distort with the changes I tried, so look for measurements and give it a go if you want to improve the sound.
 
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cany89
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Thread Starter #43
P.S. Get the solid (non-perforated) Auteur pads if you want them to become absolutely ridiculous bass-cannons, but don't say I didn't warn you.
hahah hats off to this comment alone! Thanks for the feedback. I searched for the ZMF headphones since you wrote and indeed all the reviews of the auteur are very positive - especially for it’s natural sound. I guess you will keep it?
I don’t I will have a chance to test it, but it’s definitely on my radar from now on :)
 
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#44
I searched for the ZMF headphones since you wrote and indeed all the reviews of the auteur are very positive - especially for it’s natural sound. I guess you will keep it?
Yeah, I think it is really well deserving of the praise it gets. It exceeded my expectations for the sound signature and met my expectations on the other qualities. I think it is worth the price considering the great sound and craftsmanship.

It was a demo unit so I had to return it but I'm planning on buying one in the future. I'm not a big fan of the current wood they are using (Maple Ambrosia), so I will hold off until they have something that tickles my fancy. A darker wood with spalting or burls would be fantastic! :)

I don’t I will have a chance to test it, but it’s definitely on my radar from now on :)
I hope you get a chance to try them out! I don't know where you live but they have a few dealers outside the US that might be able to help you. If you live in the US try contacting ZMF, they are very good at responding to emails. Could be that they will demo their headphones at some convention or event once the lockdown is over.
 
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#49
If you’re keen on saving some cash I recently got these (Bose QC 35 II) again:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...5-ii-review-noise-cancelling-headphone.20584/

And they’re absolutely phenomenal with metal. I’m a huge metalhead and these headphones are an immense amount of fun with the genre. They handle everything from the deep rumble of black metal to the clarity of technical metal with effortless ease. Symphonic metal? No problem. Thrash? No problem. Sludge? No problem. And of course the comfort means you’re head-banging non-stop all day any day. And they stay on! Ohh and they’re wireless so you’re free to go wild as well. Man I love these so much.

Yeah highly recommended from a fellow metalhead. Give them a try if you can!
 

Count Arthur

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#50
So you listen to K371 even though you have HD800. That’s a promising comment :)
If this site has shown anything, its that price and performance are very losely correlated. There have been quite a lot of lower priced items significantly outperforming far more expensive items, some almost commically so.

Having seen reviews here, I find it difficult to take the reviews at many other sites seriously. It seems a good number of them seem to give, subjective, scores that are broadly in line with the price of the product; the higher the price, the higher the score, with few, if any, outliers.

One that stands out is Headphonics: https://headfonics.com/category/sources/pure-dacs/, I'm pretty sure that if I plumbed all the prices and the scores into a spreadsheet I could work out their price-score formula. :)

Recently I've been using a few different headphones and IEMs:

Focal Clear ~ £1,500.00
Senheisser HD560s ~ £160.00
AKG K371 ~ £85.00
Moondrop Blessing 2 Dusk ~ £250.00

Very different prices, but if I could only keep one, I could happily live with any of these. They do all sound different, but I'd be hard pressed to pick a favourite based on sound alone.

However, there are other factors that come into play. I find the closed back AKG K371, the least comfortable and my ears get quite hot after a short while. The Focals are comfortable, but the weight means you can never really forget that you're wearing them. The 560s and fantastically light and comfortable. The Moondrop are IEMs and obviously a different kettle o' fish, I personally find them really comfortable and if I could only keep one, it may well be these.
 
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cany89
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Thread Starter #51
@Count Arthur totally agree. That’s why even if I liked the HD 800 S, and I got good amount of cash to spend if I wanted to, something was off. Yes they were miles ahead on most fronts but not something I couldn’t live with. At least on the music that I listened to.
 

Helicopter

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#53
@Victoria I’ll definitely check those. Never heard off Bose’s name on mid/high cans. :thumbsup!
They are excellent for the category. i probably use them more than any other headphone because they are perfect in bed in the evening. You could also wait and see how the NC700 does when Amir reviews it. There is a new special version of that one for video/teleconferencing that has the same sound as the regular NC700.
 
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#54
@Helicopter thanks for the suggestion. I do have a good Focal dealer around that may have the Clear and Pro. I'll try my luck.
PS: I'm drooling for the Utopias for too long but it's out of my budget
The Utopias were way too clinical for metal in my opinion. They sounded great on high quality recordings of things but for general listening of a mix of source material I honestly didn't like them. Empyreans have been the best thing I've ever listened to that adapt to about anything you throw at them though slightly out of your preferred budget window. I've had them about a year and have never had the urge to replace them (and I went through probably 20 sets in the 2-3 years before).
 
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cany89
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Thread Starter #56
Do you prefer open or closed?
I prefer open backs but ofc it can be a closed one too. I was so close to buy the Focal Clear as I found it brand new with almost half the price in one dealer (still available, cheaper than LCD2) but I really want to hear a planar before buying yet another open back dynamic headphone. And there are a lot of mix reviews about driver clicks.
What do you think about yours?
 
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cany89
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Thread Starter #57
@boosting1bar thanks for the feedback! I can only read / watch reviews about those headphones as there are no test units around the dealers... I thought Meze’s were like 800S - more suitable for jazz / classical stuff. They are way out of my budget but I would rather risk my wallet and get a used pair of those than brand new mid lvl cans.

Right now the options are:
New:
LCD-2
LCD-X (almost too expensive but I can get one if it’s better than LCD2s)
Focal Clear

Used:
HE1000 v1
Meze Empyreans (still few hundred bucks more than my budget buuut)
Fostex TH900 (this one is cheaper than new hd600 atm, looks like a bargain if it’s working)

Unfortunately there are no hifiman and zmf here, I will have to order without listening if I want to buy one of them. (Auteur, Arya etc.)
 
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cany89
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Thread Starter #58
They are excellent for the category. i probably use them more than any other headphone because they are perfect in bed in the evening. You could also wait and see how the NC700 does when Amir reviews it. There is a new special version of that one for video/teleconferencing that has the same sound as the regular NC700.
I really don’t know about NC700 or QC35 but after reading about them here I found both used for very reasonable prices. Might thinking getting one if those expensive cans won’t offer much (I know it’s the diminishing returns)
 

Helicopter

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#59
I really don’t know about NC700 or QC35 but after reading about them here I found both used for very reasonable prices. Might thinking getting one if those expensive cans won’t offer much (I know it’s the diminishing returns)
They are different. I use the Bose a lot, but if I had to pick, I would keep something passive and open.
 
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#60
@boosting1bar thanks for the feedback! I can only read / watch reviews about those headphones as there are no test units around the dealers... I thought Meze’s were like 800S - more suitable for jazz / classical stuff. They are way out of my budget but I would rather risk my wallet and get a used pair of those than brand new mid lvl cans.

Right now the options are:
New:
LCD-2
LCD-X (almost too expensive but I can get one if it’s better than LCD2s)
Focal Clear

Used:
HE1000 v1
Meze Empyreans (still few hundred bucks more than my budget buuut)
Fostex TH900 (this one is cheaper than new hd600 atm, looks like a bargain if it’s working)

Unfortunately there are no hifiman and zmf here, I will have to order without listening if I want to buy one of them. (Auteur, Arya etc.)
Can you specify what sub-genres of Metal you are mostly listening to?
I listen mostly to Doom, Drone, Sludge, sometimes Black Metal and some classics like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc. and am using the Meze Empyrean. I absolutely love it, and can recommend it not only for jazz and classical music.
 
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