• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Best headphones for Rock/Metal under $2K

OP
cany89

cany89

Active Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
248
Likes
123
I Just got the Newman NDH20 for 399 and so far are the best earphones i have ever tried, sonn Amir will measure it, but i recommend the neumann

Interesting choice. I guess they are compared to DT 1990?
 

LightninBoy

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
614
Likes
1,153
Location
St. Paul, MN
I Just got the Newman NDH20 for 399 and so far are the best earphones i have ever tried, sonn Amir will measure it, but i recommend the neumann

Look promising. Expensive, but not completely ridiculous price. Looking forward to Amir's review of these.
 

thewas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
4,141
Likes
9,061

heavyharmonies

New Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2021
Messages
1
Likes
1
I listen to a wide variety of musical genres, but "home base" is '80s hard rock and heavy metal. With respect to current metal, I lean towards Euro power metal (Blind Guardian, Sabaton, Primal Fear, Helloween, Stratovarius, etc.).

I've owned all of the following at some point in the past:

Audeze LCD-2 pre-Fazor
Audeze LCD-X
Audeze Mobius
Fostex TH-X00 Mahogany
Hifiman HE-400i
Vokyl Erupt
Oppo PM-3
Monoprice M1060 v1 and v2
Monoprice m750
Sennheiser HD58X
Takstar HF-580 planar
Koss ESP-950 powered by Stax SRM-1/MK-2
Harmonicdyne Helios

Other than the Koss, they were all powered by a Marantz HD-DAC1 when at home or an LG V30 with Quad DAC using the high-impedence trick when mobile.

Of all of the above, IMO the LCD-X and the Fostex are probably the best for metal. Planars tend not to have the necessary impact most metalheads want.

I've settled into what I believe are my "endgame" equipment configurations after buying and selling far too much equipment. I tend to be a bit of a cheapskate, so I won't ever be dropping $2K+ on a set of cans.

My current headphones:

1. Mobile/wireless: Drop Panda THX. Superb sound quality for a wireless set of headphones. No noise cancellation, but I've never been a fan of what ANC does to sound signatures. Passive isolation is IMO preferable, and these isolate very well. The noise floor is nonexistent. Bass is ok, but not high-impact, so may not be suitable for metalheads.

2. In-home portable: Harmonicdyne Zeus. For $300-350, there are a great set of dynamics IMO. Very easy to drive and a decent amount of bass impact.

3. Dedicated listening rig: This won't be for everyone, but it has become my endgame... Gold Planar GL1200. Think poor-man's Raal-requisite SR1a at roughly 25% of the cost. Currently available from Drop at $1,199. Not portable by ANY stretch of the imagination, as it requires a bulky interface box (included) not to mention a dedicated speaker amp to power it. Traditional speaker amp-rolling for headphones is now a thing. I initially was powering them using a Denon AVR-2807 (HT receiver ca. 2006) at 110wpc. After some experimentation, I've now added a dedicated amp via the preamp outs from the Denon: a vintage Phase Linear 400, aka "Flame Linear". Made a HUGE difference opening up the soundstage and the extending the subbass. Ribbon drivers aren't necessarily known for their bass, but properly powered I'm finding that these go lower than any planar I have tried. Impact is quite good. I still wouldn't call them a "basshead" can, but the detail, imaging, and holographic feeling is stuperb.

It now has me keeping an eye out for vintage 2-channel amps to experiment with. I may have to try a tube amp at some point.

As with any audio opinion, YMMV.
 
OP
cany89

cany89

Active Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
248
Likes
123
@heavyharmonies hi fellow guardian fan!

I take your word for LCDX, (and hoping the new LCD2 might be almost on par with proper eq - bc it’s much cheaper here).

As for your dedicated rig, I would only use my precious RME dac, if not, it’s far too great lengths for headphone… But that’s the beauty of this hobby isn’t it :)
 

datle171095

Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2021
Messages
6
Likes
10
Just got mine. It's the international version.
The sound overall is good. But there are a few issues.
The sound has certain softness to it. It does not click when needed. It just sounds a bit mellow but doesn't lack highs. This is probably due to recessed 2-3khz. There's also some air around 1khz that shouldn't be there making the sound "blank" it kinda feels like a grey layer on the sound. This is due to the hump at 1khz in conjunction with the recessed 2khz. This issue is actually very common in planars.
Compared to he400se, the new Sundara sounds more punchy, more precise, more "resolving", more transparent. So to me Sundara gives a much more complete package in the sound. However this doesn't mean he400se is anyway bad. To my surprise its highs are very good, very well extended, yet smooth. It's very good for comfort listening.
Just got my international version too, had trouble with sub-bass even with EQ. I could not get to the level of EQ-ed 650, it is weird because large planar driver supposes to do a good job in this region.
 
OP
cany89

cany89

Active Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
248
Likes
123
Alrighty everyone!
Tomorrow I’ll listen the LCD2 (2020/21) and Fostex TH900. I’ll compare these to my HD 558. My intention is while having an open dynamic headphone, compare it to an open planar, and a close (let’s call TH900 semi closed) dynamic. Although I’ll try them both with / without EQ. I don’t intend to use neither without a proper EQ.

And if do like the planar sound, I’ll opt for LCDX (because why not :))
 
OP
cany89

cany89

Active Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
248
Likes
123
UPDATE!
As I said yesterday, I was going to listen LCD2 and TH900. I did.

TH900 was overall better than my HD558 / HD600. Bass was deep with incredible resolution. The V shape sound signature was fatiguing, especially the cymbals or high notes on vocals. Mids were recessed. I had Oratory’s EQ, when applied, these headphones were more than what I expected. I was thinking this might be it since it’s used and very affordable. I had budget left for headband, pads, and cable upgrade.

LCD2, boy! What a sound! The moment I pressed play, the wall of sound was overwhelmingly good. Sound stage is average but not narrow. All the other qualities are more than what I expected. Detail retrieval, bass extension, etc. incomparable to HD600. Yes it’s heavy. Coming from 260 gram cans, it’s really something.

Switching back to my HDs were huge disappointment. Very muffled sound with almost no bass. The HD800S’s sound stage is still the widest that I ever heard, also resolution is a bit better. But, especially on songs with a lot of distortion, it was punishing. To be honest it’s dull. And it’s coming from a guy that mostly used Senn/Shure while working at home, in studio, or on the stage. The overall performance of LCD2 is much better than HD800S (again for the music that I’m listening). I listened to 10-15 songs that I usually listen and they all sounded amazing.

Now I don’t know what experience you had with Audeze, there are couple of revisions and I can’t vouch for old ones. I also learned that the reviews in youtube etc. should be really taken with a grain of salt. I don’t think any other headphone can beat these - with eq - for rock / metal music, under $1000.

So, I bought LCD2 without hesitation. I can’t believe in my 15 years of - kinda mid-fi - experience with headphones, I never had a chance to listen any planar. Might not be end-game. But it’s a benchmark and definitely high-end. I was thinking of LCDX after liking planars so much. But as I’m happy with the overall experience, I didn’t felt the need to have something slightly better. Next headphone should be better than this with even more margin! Haha.

Thanks everyone, cheers!
 

Helicopter

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 13, 2020
Messages
2,648
Likes
3,764
Location
Michigan
UPDATE!
As I said yesterday, I was going to listen LCD2 and TH900. I did.

TH900 was overall better than my HD558 / HD600. Bass was deep with incredible resolution. The V shape sound signature was fatiguing, especially the cymbals or high notes on vocals. Mids were recessed. I had Oratory’s EQ, when applied, these headphones were more than what I expected. I was thinking this might be it since it’s used and very affordable. I had budget left for headband, pads, and cable upgrade.

LCD2, boy! What a sound! The moment I pressed play, the wall of sound was overwhelmingly good. Sound stage is average but not narrow. All the other qualities are more than what I expected. Detail retrieval, bass extension, etc. incomparable to HD600. Yes it’s heavy. Coming from 260 gram cans, it’s really something.

Switching back to my HDs were huge disappointment. Very muffled sound with almost no bass. The HD800S’s sound stage is still the widest that I ever heard, also resolution is a bit better. But, especially on songs with a lot of distortion, it was punishing. To be honest it’s dull. And it’s coming from a guy that mostly used Senn/Shure while working at home, in studio, or on the stage. The overall performance of LCD2 is much better than HD800S (again for the music that I’m listening). I listened to 10-15 songs that I usually listen and they all sounded amazing.

Now I don’t know what experience you had with Audeze, there are couple of revisions and I can’t vouch for old ones. I also learned that the reviews in youtube etc. should be really taken with a grain of salt. I don’t think any other headphone can beat these - with eq - for rock / metal music, under $1000.

So, I bought LCD2 without hesitation. I can’t believe in my 15 years of - kinda mid-fi - experience with headphones, I never had a chance to listen any planar. Might not be end-game. But it’s a benchmark and definitely high-end. I was thinking of LCDX after liking planars so much. But as I’m happy with the overall experience, I didn’t felt the need to have something slightly better. Next headphone should be better than this with even more margin! Haha.

Thanks everyone, cheers!

Congrats. As an LCD-X owner, I am not totally sure LCD-X is better than LCD-2. I am sure the '2' will be fine. I chose X because I don't like wood as a headphone material.
 
OP
cany89

cany89

Active Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
248
Likes
123
Thanks! I’m ok with wood but have to admit X looks better with all black. But man what a sound :D
 

Helicopter

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 13, 2020
Messages
2,648
Likes
3,764
Location
Michigan
Thanks! I’m ok with wood but have to admit X looks better with all black. But man what a sound :D
I'd probably get LCD-GX if I could do it over. There you get the magnesium housing, no Fazors, and a much lower price. Seems like the loss of Fazors would be a worthwhile compromise.
 
OP
cany89

cany89

Active Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
248
Likes
123
Hi everyone! I would make another post but maybe someone here has the answer already :)

So I've been listening to LCD2 with my RME Adi 2 FS. Quite happy so far. Do you think a headphone amplifier would make a difference in sound quality? I'm happy with the listening volume and really don't know what an extra power amp can bring?
 

Sycraft

Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
7
Hi everyone! I would make another post but maybe someone here has the answer already :)

So I've been listening to LCD2 with my RME Adi 2 FS. Quite happy so far. Do you think a headphone amplifier would make a difference in sound quality? I'm happy with the listening volume and really don't know what an extra power amp can bring?

The RME is a headphone amp. It has a pretty serious amplification stage in it, low noise, high voltage, low impedance, etc. Unless it can't push enough power for your phones (which it can) or you can hear noise or something there really isn't anything to improve upon.
 

Diable

Member
Joined
May 23, 2021
Messages
28
Likes
13
Get a pair of Focal Elex's if you want the best sounding headphone for rock or metal. A used pair goes for about $500 and they sound absolutely amazing powered by a THX amp. I tested them using a 789 and a SP200 and the results were the same, audio bless, lol. Right behind the Elex's would be the Drop HD 6xx's which also sounded great but only cost $200. The price to performance ratio of the 6xx's is off the charts and if combine them with a SP200 amp and a Sanskrit Mk II dac and you have a endgame setup for less that $600.
 
OP
cany89

cany89

Active Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
248
Likes
123
@Diable If you were replying to the main topic, I got an LCD2 last week and pretty happy with it. (EQ + OpenCans). I think I'll continue to use my HD558 for late night listening too. It's good to have a good sounding pair of 200gr headphones lol!
 
Top Bottom