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Downgrading my Headphone Collection

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Luke Lemke

Luke Lemke

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How did you find these and what bothered you about them?
Regarding the ATH M50, I bought them around 7 years ago and paid $50 bucks (used) for mixing. The AKG 240 was recommended by youtube reviewer metal571. I also paid very cheap for these.

When it comes to the Fidelio X2, I bought them a few years ago because of random youtube reviews and the 50 mm drivers which, in theory, should provide great bass response. I paid $250 for them at the time but you can find them for around $80 bucks used right now.

What bothered me about them? That's a great question. I didn't use much EQ at the time.

I guess my summary would be (without EQ):
-ATH M50 - bloated bass in some songs, annoying highs.
-AKG 240 - super boring
-Fidelio X2 - great cans but "grain" in the highs.

A few weeks ago I've listened to the Fidelio X2 EQed to Harman and they are really good headphones. The grain in the highs disappeared and the bass was super tight. I would highly recommend getting a used one.

Maybe I just don't give these cans the proper consideration since I've had them for a long time and I ended up getting superior headphones later on...
 

solderdude

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-ATH M50 - bloated bass in some songs, annoying highs.
-AKG 240 - super boring
-Fidelio X2 - great cans but "grain" in the highs.

Yes, agreed M50 is a bit bloated/fat a bit overly full/warm and treble not smooth. Overall not very bad but also not great.
K240 .. yes super boring for listening to music. Very good as a monitor for which they were designed.
X2(HR) a bit too mushy bass, a modification cures that. Treble peak needs to be removed after that very good headphone. No original spare pads/parts. The velour is a bit 'prickly'.
 
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Luke Lemke

Luke Lemke

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Yes, agreed M50 is a bit bloated/fat a bit overly full/warm and treble not smooth. Overall not very bad but also not great.
K240 .. yes super boring for listening to music. Very good as a monitor for which they were designed.
X2(HR) a bit too mushy bass, a modification cures that. Treble peak needs to be removed after that very good headphone. No original spare pads/parts. The velour is a bit 'prickly'
Regarding the X2, there are NO original replacement pads for them, and I looked everywhere. I ended up getting the Dekoni pads which are not the same. A few weeks ago I saw these pads from China which seem to be close enough (but are no the original ones).


There are some used X2's on amazon right now for $80. If you're on a budget, I think this is a great purchase.

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pk500

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After I found this Forum I realized that the money I've spent on my headphones was not necessarily money well spent considering price to performance ratio. I still like to keep many headphones as I'm a collector, but I don't want to have super expensive cans if I can get the same audio quality from headphones that cost a third of the price. I take into account comfort, brand, design, etc. Still, I can't help but think I could save money, "downgrade" and maintain a collection with virtually the same audio quality.

Here's my plan:

-From Focal Clear MG to Focal Elear (with elex pads) or Elex
-From Hifiman HE-6E V2 to Hifiman HE400SE
-From DT 1990 PRO to DT 880
-From Sennheiser HD800S to HD700???

I EQ all of my headphones, so Frequency response isn't really the main factor in the decision making.

Everyone hates the HD700, so there might be a better replacement here for the HD800s? Maybe the 660s?

Please let me hear what you guys think!
Spending money to downgrade isn't a wise move. You'll regret it.

You have a very nice collection. Why not downSIZE instead of downGRADE? Sell two, keep two that you love with differing sound signatures. Pocket the money, enjoy your two favorite cans and be happy.
 

Astrozombie

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HD800 many have not liked, some prefer the 600 or 650. I have the X2HR to compliment when I'm bored with the 58X. I've definitely got the Aeon RT on my wishlist, currently my closed cans are the SRH840 and AKG K36/371.
 

Chrise36

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Regarding the ATH M50, I bought them around 7 years ago and paid $50 bucks (used) for mixing. The AKG 240 was recommended by youtube reviewer metal571. I also paid very cheap for these.

When it comes to the Fidelio X2, I bought them a few years ago because of random youtube reviews and the 50 mm drivers which, in theory, should provide great bass response. I paid $250 for them at the time but you can find them for around $80 bucks used right now.

What bothered me about them? That's a great question. I didn't use much EQ at the time.

I guess my summary would be (without EQ):
-ATH M50 - bloated bass in some songs, annoying highs.
-AKG 240 - super boring
-Fidelio X2 - great cans but "grain" in the highs.

A few weeks ago I've listened to the Fidelio X2 EQed to Harman and they are really good headphones. The grain in the highs disappeared and the bass was super tight. I would highly recommend getting a used one.

Maybe I just don't give these cans the proper consideration since I've had them for a long time and I ended up getting superior headphones later on...
I agree with you on the AKG and the Philips i was considering eq on the Philips but i feel it needs it on high volume so it has to be something switchable or changing to something like the M50 or the Pioneer HRM 7 cause i want clean and loud bass.
 

dasherzx

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id say an he6 for open and ether cx for closed have the best price-performance ratio. mind you, got it 500 on adorama and the ether cx for free
 

beej65

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This relative newbie, who does not travel in true audiophile headphone territory, would agree with the approach to narrow your headphone choices, rather than sell a superior set to replace it with an inferior set. My current default headphone is the planar/onboard Nx Audeze Mobius in USB/ 7.1/Music modes, yes for music listening and mixing (see Scan Pro Audio on YouTube for their review). My alternates are way less colored: an AKG K702 (with either Realphones or dearVR Monitor) and a Blue Lola (using a Mo-Fi curve sometimes). I Found the Senn 58xx and Beyer DT770 to be, as others have described some sets, fine if 'boring'. My open back choice for a long time was the Hifiman Deva (wired). Historically, my go to were Sony MDR-7506s but more in a broadcast context...
 

Malaj

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I dont see the logic in selling and buying cheaper alternatives. You wont sell your used headphone for the price you got them for and you dont save much buying the cheaper ones used.

So while new versus new they are better bang for buck used is another story. Eq is not a magic solution either to equalise every headphone.

Must be quite happy with what you got since you seem to look for cheaper alternative in the same family so why not just stick with it until it breaks.
 
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Luke Lemke

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This relative newbie, who does not travel in true audiophile headphone territory, would agree with the approach to narrow your headphone choices, rather than sell a superior set to replace it with an inferior set. My current default headphone is the planar/onboard Nx Audeze Mobius in USB/ 7.1/Music modes, yes for music listening and mixing (see Scan Pro Audio on YouTube for their review). My alternates are way less colored: an AKG K702 (with either Realphones or dearVR Monitor) and a Blue Lola (using a Mo-Fi curve sometimes). I Found the Senn 58xx and Beyer DT770 to be, as others have described some sets, fine if 'boring'. My open back choice for a long time was the Hifiman Deva (wired). Historically, my go to were Sony MDR-7506s but more in a broadcast context...
Amir reviews have proved time and time again that "superior sets" do not mean necessarily superior sound quality. There are super expensive cans that measure poorly and relatively cheap cans that measure extremely well. I guess the point of my post was to reflect on the price to performance ratio of the current headphones I have. For example: Check the the reviews of the Focal Clear and Focal Elex from Amir. Apparently the focal clear measurements don't justify its price.
 
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Luke Lemke

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I dont see the logic in selling and buying cheaper alternatives. You wont sell your used headphone for the price you got them for and you dont save much buying the cheaper ones used.

So while new versus new they are better bang for buck used is another story. Eq is not a magic solution either to equalise every headphone.

Must be quite happy with what you got since you seem to look for cheaper alternative in the same family so why not just stick with it until it breaks.
I've bought all of my headphones used and I'm pretty good at finding good deals on eBay. So the logic here would be to save money :).

I agree EQ is not the magic solution for every headphone. That being said, if you compare a HD58x and a HD660s, both EQed to the Harman curve, I doubt you would tell them apart. I couldn't.

Now, when it comes to the HD 800s, I don't think I can EQ any headphones to make it sound like them.

Anyway, I guess you're right and I should just enjoy my collection instead of worrying if my money was well spent...
 

MrBrainwash

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Hi

My situation is quite different. I never went for expensive headphones. I thought it's not worth it especially when I don't have a lot of money. I made many many purchase mistakes. But now I am in the sweet spot for me with headphones like DT1990 pro and Sundara as a main pairs. Beyers give me details and dynamics and Hifimans give me open planar sound with good tonality. Elex was tempting but not available in Europe and have design flaw and there was reports about quality control issues.

I think you have perfect dream like collection of a headphones. :) You can reduce the price but I doubt you can mantain sound quality with cheaper ones becouse models you have are exceptional. My strategy have different basis. I know there are some better headphones out there but what I have is good enough to enjoy music in high quality and I like what my pairs have to offer. My standards are satisfied.

I used a trick that DMS described in one video. The problem with end game headphones is that we get used to them and they lose their magic. That's why it's good idea to have some other headphones to reset brain. I have some other pairs for that purpose. HD650 for timbre, X2HR for warm open sound, HE-4XX for specific presentation and details, [email protected] for something special in sound and planar qualities.

I would like to have collection like you have but I can live without it becouse I find what I wanted and I have strategy to don't get bored with it. For perfect fit I play with EQ. I am learning in active way what is good for my ears.
 
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Luke Lemke

Luke Lemke

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Hi

My situation is quite different. I never went for expensive headphones. I thought it's not worth it especially when I don't have a lot of money. I made many many purchase mistakes. But now I am in the sweet spot for me with headphones like DT1990 pro and Sundara as a main pairs. Beyers give me details and dynamics and Hifimans give me open planar sound with good tonality. Elex was tempting but not available in Europe and have design flaw and there was reports about quality control issues.

I think you have perfect dream like collection of a headphones. :) You can reduce the price but I doubt you can mantain sound quality with cheaper ones becouse models you have are exceptional. My strategy have different basis. I know there are some better headphones out there but what I have is good enough to enjoy music in high quality and I like what my pairs have to offer. My standards are satisfied.

I used a trick that DMS described in one video. The problem with end game headphones is that we get used to them and they lose their magic. That's why it's good idea to have some other headphones to reset brain. I have some other pairs for that purpose. HD650 for timbre, X2HR for warm open sound, HE-4XX for specific presentation and details, [email protected] for something special in sound and planar qualities.

I would like to have collection like you have but I can live without it becouse I find what I wanted and I have strategy to don't get bored with it. For perfect fit I play with EQ. I am learning in active way what is good for my ears.
Thanks, I also think I have reached my "endgame" collection. Not planning to spend 4k in the the Utopia or Susvara, for example.

Once you listen to headphones like the Sundara, the law of diminishing returns really kicks in, so you can spend 4 times the price and get a very similar performance after EQ...

Since I'm a stubborn M**** F****, I ended up buying the cans mentioned in my original post to compare with what I currently have. I'll post the comparisons here once they arrive. The Dan Clark I've bought from Drop will only ship in one month from now, so it will take a while.

The Elear (with Elex pads) has arrived though.

I would highly recommend that you try the Elex or Elear with Elex pads (they are pretty much the same headphones), I love these cans. Since drop won't ship to Europe, you can try a forwarding service, like the company below:


Maybe buy something cheap to test it out before you buy something more expensive like the Elex.

Take care!
 

A Surfer

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No wireless here. The wireless transmission is always lossy and a compromise. A cable is technically far superior and they do not bother me much (when not microphonic)
It is amazing that some of them still sound good despite the arguable substantial loss of info.
I have to say that I don't find wireless to be audibly inferior, and I've owned quite a few nice wired headphones including the HD800S.
 

solderdude

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It shows lossy codecs aren't as bad as people think. BT connections are just that... lossy connections.
 

odyo

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Sell the Focal's, keep the rest. No need to downgrade, it would be even more expensive.
 

faheem

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It shows lossy codecs aren't as bad as people think. BT connections are just that... lossy connections.
Yup, I almost never use wired anymore after, not noticing any difference in quality between the 2. Use a Topping BC3 connected to a Diablo for movies, gaming and music or , if I’m using iem, just a Fiio BTR5.
 

pablolie

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Headphones are a very personal choice. From fit on your head to their very intimate sound signature (and they all have one) to the fact that -let's be honest- a totally linear response is not always the most fun one in a headphone.

It is also a very irrational market - I had very early Grado RS-1 that now are a collectionist item... when I found out they went off to the market, they were not my preferred choice anymore anyhow.

I used to have a ton of headphones myself, including a $4k pair that was hell to try to get a refund for - it seems to me many of these $2k+ headphones suffer from being sent back after people establish they don't really remarkably improve upon their prior experience, but that's just a guess. I had to sell them "as new" for a 40% loss, but they were really inferior.

These days I have 2 favorite cabled headphones for at home or in the office:

1. Shure SRH1540. They are awesomely revealing. Paired with a semi-decent DAC, they allow you to play the silly game of MP3 vs FLAC for deserving recordings. They are closed, which I like for isolation, but my cat does not because he thinksI don't pay him enough attention.

2. Grado 225e. I have had them all -the RS1, the PS500, the 325... ultimately the 225 is the only remaining Grado I have. I probably got an out-of-spec good one. I am keeping this one forever. Total deal. Open as heck of course. My cat likes these because he gets my immediate attention :-D.

3. Shure SE535. Used to be my portable references back when I still traveled for biz, paired with the inevitable Dragonfly USB DAC. Awesome sound and I'll keep them forever. They are on the super-neutral side, so unless you like that, they're not your kind. Perfect for sublimely recorded music.

I am now spending more time exploring bluetooth options with noise cancelling, but they have a way to go until I mention them in this forum. Not yet other than for corner cases and emergencies, and on those, voice pickup is more important to me than ultimate audio purity...
 
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Peterinvan

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I don't want to part with anything! I have different use cases for each of my phones...

LCD-XC (2019): Reference phones. Relaxed listening to top quality tracks out of my Fiio M11 Pro.
Focal Elegias (Dekoni Fenestrated Sheepskin + Meze 4.4mm cable): These are attached to my new Cayin RU6 out of my iPad Pro. Tidal streaming and watching movies
Oppo PM-3 (with long cable): plugged into my AV receiver to listen to TV by myself. Also the most comfortable for listening in bed.
Fostex T50RP (blue monkey mods): plugged into my old Centrance M8, attached to my desktop computer
Rai Solo (with silver 4.4mm cable): Driven by my M11 Pro. Walking or exercising.

I am still reluctant to trade the sound quality of wired phones, for the convenience of wireless
 
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