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Downgrading my Headphone Collection

Gene LeClair

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Which ones do you use the most ?

I am quite a horder and have a lot of boxed and non-boxed headphones stashed away doing nothing. As an excuse I keep them so I can compare (for reviews or interested people stopping by for a listen) or because I got them for peanuts.
In the end I only use a few of them on a regular basis and the rest could go and would not miss them.

keepers HD800 (EQ'ed), HD650 (as reference for measurements)
DT1350 (modified + EQ'ed) because portable and good for me, would not recommend it to others.
HD560S (for when I can't use the HD800, as I can use it w/o EQ)
DT1990 (filtered) I got it cheap, likewise the DT1770 (modified + filter).
2nd hand Audeze Sine with alternative pads.
Maybe... just maybe HE400SE (was only € 150) with treble peak filter.
Koss KSC35 and KSC75 (can be handy when not wanting to stand out in public)
So would HD800 be better in your opinion, than HD800S?

What closed headphones would you consider the best? Would that be DT1770?

Do you have experience with Dan Clarks?
 

solderdude

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The HD800 is cheaper and requires different EQ for the treble. You also get a different color and a balanced cable.
EQ'ed they are on par.

I don't consider any headphone best,, simply because none are. All headphones have certain positive and negatives and I can't say which headphone is best suited for who at what price point.

I briefly heard some MrSpeakers headphones and liked the AEON closed. No experience with the newer models.
 
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Luke Lemke

Luke Lemke

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Yep, headphones are a very personal choice.

I had a Shure 1840 once but I never heard the 1540 though. I didn't like to 1840 a whole lot, it lacks bass and the quality of the highs didn't impress me. Super comfortable headphones though.

When it comes to Grado, I've been told almost all of the lower end models use the same drivers, but I'm not sure. Maybe with the proper EQ the SR60/SR80 would sound very similar to your 225e. I had a SR80 once, I liked it a lot.

When it comes to bluetooth options, I own the Bang & Olufssen H9i. I got them super cheap from ebay and it's one of the only options that comes with a replaceable battery.
 
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Luke Lemke

Luke Lemke

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The HD800 is cheaper and requires different EQ for the treble. You also get a different color and a balanced cable.
EQ'ed they are on par.

I don't consider any headphone best,, simply because none are. All headphones have certain positive and negatives and I can't say which headphone is best suited for who at what price point.

I briefly heard some MrSpeakers headphones and liked the AEON closed. No experience with the newer models.
Nowadays we also need to consider the Sennheiser 8XX, that almost all youtube reviewers seem to hate. As far as I know, same drivers as the HD800s.

With a little patience, you can get a used the HD 8XX on ebay (open box) for around $710. I was outbid by someone yesterday that got them for this price.
 

solderdude

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HD8XX drivers are tweaked versions and require different EQ.
 

sfdoddsy

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I've always been a little mystified by those who have multiple 'good' headphones and switch between them.

I come from the speaker world where you try and have one great model. Because it makes no sense to buy something that isn't as good as that one.

There is a well-accepted science theory that the closer you get to perfection the more similar things are.

Amplifiers are an excellent example.

Likewise, as Amir's reviews show, good speakers tend to measure and sound similar, with the main difference being bass extension and volume.

The fact that these TOTL headphones seem to sound so different you need multiples for different genres/moods indicates either that none of them are approaching perfection, or that no-one can agree what perfection is.

Hence, I guess, the attraction of the Harman Curve.

However, I'm dubious about these differences.

Due to changes in where I live I can't listen to my (very good IMHO) speakers as much as I'd like to so I've been investigating headphones recently. I've owned HD580s for a very long time.

I've been using EQ on my speakers for many years, and find it worthwhile but very tricky due to room effects.

EQing headphones, however, is trivial in comparison.

I've tried out HD560s, HD6xx, Hifiman Deva, Audio Technica R70x, Focal Clear. And a bunch of IEMs ranging from Shure SE215s to trendy Moondrops/Fiios to even trendier 7Hz Timeless.

All well-regarded.

But once EQed, they all sounded far more alike than similarly well-regarded speakers have. The one I chose to keep (ATH-R70x) sounds great on my usual classical and jazz, but also great on my occasional rock and reggae. Just as a good speaker would.

I'd expect something like the HD800 with EQ to be even better. And if it is I don't understand why you'd keep an inferior model. Unless you needed the isolation of closed headphones, or preferred the presentation of closed phones.

In which why would you need the open model?

A good headphone (or speaker) is an accurate one. And thus it should be good on everything.

Which is long-winded way of saying to the OP that if he has a budget he should buy the best one he can afford and hear the difference from.

If he doesn't have a budget, go wild.

I often feel that because (comparatively) good headphones and IEMs are much cheaper than good speakers (a $100 IEM like a Moondrop is vastly closer to the state of the art than a $100 speaker) people buy just for the heck of it.

Nothing wrong with that, of course.
 

pablolie

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I've always been a little mystified by those who have multiple 'good' headphones and switch between them.
It's fun :) In my case, I had a pair in the office, 2 at home, and the in-ear monitors for travel and commute (and also when I really want to drown out noise from the outside, like my cat or GF :-D). These days they all reside at home, and sometimes I am in the mood to try something different. :)
I come from the speaker world where you try and have one great model. Because it makes no sense to buy something that isn't as good as that one.
I also have 2 pairs of speakers. :) The occasional rotation is fun. :) It may be wasteful, but doesn't mean it's necessarily a compromise in any way. I don't think it's necessarily true that if I have 2 pairs of $6k speakers, a $12k pair will surely result in an enhancement every time.
Likewise, as Amir's reviews show, good speakers tend to measure and sound similar, with the main difference being bass extension and volume.
I think with speakers that's were preference comes in. I think complete linearity is declared the ideal somewhat artificially. First of all, there is no perfectly linear speaker out there. Nor is there a perfectly linear human ear. There may be a merit to be less linear to compensate for that. The human ear boosts the middles quite significantly.
PS: I *do* like to see good and neutral measurements in the electronics (DAC, amp) though, just to be clear.
The fact that these TOTL headphones seem to sound so different you need multiples for different genres/moods indicates either that none of them are approaching perfection, or that no-one can agree what perfection is.
Clearly that's a universal rule in everything audio. :-D

But once EQed, they all sounded far more alike than similarly well-regarded speakers have. The one I chose to keep (ATH-R70x) sounds great on my usual classical and jazz, but also great on my occasional rock and reggae. Just as a good speaker would.
I have never tried them, but AT always gets good reviews.

I have to admit I don't EQ -I believe in simplicity and the least possible equipment, but room correction with speakers is of course very nice- and I simply pick the combination of flawed equipment that sounds the best to me. :)
 
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Luke Lemke

Luke Lemke

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I've always been a little mystified by those who have multiple 'good' headphones and switch between them.

I come from the speaker world where you try and have one great model. Because it makes no sense to buy something that isn't as good as that one.

There is a well-accepted science theory that the closer you get to perfection the more similar things are.

Amplifiers are an excellent example.

Likewise, as Amir's reviews show, good speakers tend to measure and sound similar, with the main difference being bass extension and volume.

The fact that these TOTL headphones seem to sound so different you need multiples for different genres/moods indicates either that none of them are approaching perfection, or that no-one can agree what perfection is.

Hence, I guess, the attraction of the Harman Curve.

However, I'm dubious about these differences.

Due to changes in where I live I can't listen to my (very good IMHO) speakers as much as I'd like to so I've been investigating headphones recently. I've owned HD580s for a very long time.

I've been using EQ on my speakers for many years, and find it worthwhile but very tricky due to room effects.

EQing headphones, however, is trivial in comparison.

I've tried out HD560s, HD6xx, Hifiman Deva, Audio Technica R70x, Focal Clear. And a bunch of IEMs ranging from Shure SE215s to trendy Moondrops/Fiios to even trendier 7Hz Timeless.

All well-regarded.

But once EQed, they all sounded far more alike than similarly well-regarded speakers have. The one I chose to keep (ATH-R70x) sounds great on my usual classical and jazz, but also great on my occasional rock and reggae. Just as a good speaker would.

I'd expect something like the HD800 with EQ to be even better. And if it is I don't understand why you'd keep an inferior model. Unless you needed the isolation of closed headphones, or preferred the presentation of closed phones.

In which why would you need the open model?

A good headphone (or speaker) is an accurate one. And thus it should be good on everything.

Which is long-winded way of saying to the OP that if he has a budget he should buy the best one he can afford and hear the difference from.

If he doesn't have a budget, go wild.

I often feel that because (comparatively) good headphones and IEMs are much cheaper than good speakers (a $100 IEM like a Moondrop is vastly closer to the state of the art than a $100 speaker) people buy just for the heck of it.

Nothing wrong with that, of course.
A little bit of my history with Headphones. When I started the hobby, I got some entry level "audiophile" headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT880 and Sennheiser 58x. I've always used a little bit of EQ on my headphones, but it was just a slight bass boost, or reduction in treble peaks. I mainly watched youtubers reviewing headphones and was impressed by the "audiophile lingo" they used, like transparent, fast, revealing, slam, punch, etc. I still don't know what half of these words really mean when it comes to audio...

Anyway, since I didn't use much EQ, when I compared one headphone against the other, there were very significant differences in terms of frequency response. Then I figured out that, after I started buying more and more expensive headphones, like the Focal Clear for example, I'd miss the bass of my old Audio Technica ATH-M50x, that costs a fraction of the price. In other words, If you don't use EQ, there's a big chance you'll end up owning more than one headphone and you'll be switching between them based on the music you're listening to. That's what happened to me at least.

Once I found this forum, I started testing all of my cans EQed to Harman and I was shocked to realize my cans sounded very similar with the proper EQ. So what I thought was "clear treble" was probably just a spike in the 8k region. Still, even after all my headphones are EQed to Harman, I can still hear some differences in quality and, of course, the soundstage changes from one headphone to another, which may be a justification to own at least 2 or 3 cans if you're in the hobby.

Also, at least in my case, there's a collector's thing going on. I like owning several headphones and play around with them, test one against the other, with EQ, without EQ, etc.

Objectively speaking, you're correct, I should stick to the best headphone I have and sell the rest. But what's the fun in that?
 
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Luke Lemke

Luke Lemke

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HD8XX drivers are tweaked versions and require different EQ.
True, but my point is, you can get the HD 8XX for around $700 open box. The 800s is around $1100 used.
The 8XX is definitely the best deal since you can adjust it with EQ to make it sound like the 800s.
 

Leiker535

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True, but my point is, you can get the HD 8XX for around $700 open box. The 800s is around $1100 used.
The 8XX is definitely the best deal since you can adjust it with EQ to make it sound like the 800s.

If you still have the 800s, I'd disregard the 8xx. Sure, you can use EQ profiles as given by Oratory, or look at measurements and tune by ear. However, I think they require more heavy EQing than the 800s to sound good, due to the upper-mid abyss dip, so you'll be relying harder on your ears to get a good result considering rig and unit variation.
 
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Luke Lemke

Luke Lemke

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If you still have the 800s, I'd disregard the 8xx. Sure, you can use EQ profiles as given by Oratory, or look at measurements and tune by ear. However, I think they require more heavy EQing than the 800s to sound good, due to the upper-mid abyss dip, so you'll be relying harder on your ears to get a good result considering rig and unit variation.
Everyone agrees the 800s is better than 8XX. My point is, considering price to performance ratio, the 8XX is the smarter choice.
You can save around $400 and EQ whatever you don't like in the frequency response. Drivers and build quality are pretty much the same.
 

Leiker535

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Everyone agrees the 800s is better than 8XX. My point is, considering price to performance ratio, the 8XX is the smarter choice.
You can save around $400 and EQ whatever you don't like in the frequency response. Drivers and build quality are pretty much the same.

There are subtle differences in construction which makes for the FR weirdness though. What I meant is that with the 8XX you'll be having to EQ harder, and with that there is always more space for problems, specially considering ear tuning.
 

phoenixdogfan

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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!
The proper downgrade on the HD800S is to the HD800. do the Dupont mod and buy an inexpensive bargain balanced cable. If anything that should be a better phone with lower bass distortion.
 

WickedInsignia

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Honestly keep 'em, take good care of 'em, and enjoy.
There will be aspects of those headphones that you paid good money for (build, comfort) beyond sound. Take stock of those advantages.
I would be more concerned if you had headphones with glaring faults, and at that point offloading them wouldn't be a terrible decision, but what you've got there is a great lineup.

Also this sounds like you might be indulging in a new buying journey at a lower price point?
Refrain from that temptation. If your mistake was to buy a lot of expensive headphones you don't need, please don't go selling them just to buy even more headphones at a lower price point.
Call it quits and enjoy your gear.

If you want something cheap to abuse grab a K371 or 6xx.
Beyond that, get off the buying train. It just loops around again.
 

vert

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Other than wireless in-ears which I use mostly for spoken content I have two headphones at this time, one open and one closed that couldn't be more different: the pedestrian Senn HD 280 Pro and the kinda unicorn Stax SR-Sigma, powered by a Topping L30 and a Loxjie A30. Both work equally well at different times. Both are much better once EQed though good amplification made a huge difference too and IMHO, should be the main consideration before even attempting EQ. I'm not tempted to get anything else, except maybe a classic like the HD 600.
 
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