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Electronic music: K371 or HE400SE or Sundara or HD560S or?

vurt

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Hi everyone, opening my first thread here for advice.

I listen to electronic (deep, bassy) music off my work M1 Pro MacBook Pro.
I have DACs like Questyle M15, Qudelix 5K, Cayin RU6.
I have a 9-yr-old Beyer DT-990 Pro 250 ohm, a B&W P7 Wireless, and an old Audio64 quad driver IEM.

I can only use the Q5K right now due to this infuriating stutter problem discussed here (that's actually how I came across this forum).

I want to explore options to replace the Beyer. The K371, HE400SE, Sundara, HD560S are the ones I see mentioned when I search the forum. I probably missed more options that'll add to the conundrum!

The K371 is closed, so I'm leaning away from it since the Beyer I'm replacing is open. I'm concerned about build quality with the 400SE and Sundara, are they that "bad"? I'm careful with my stuff and only use the headphones at my desk. I like the build of the DT990, I've only had to replace the earpads in 9 years. And just once. I'm also curious about planar.

Which do I get? I could spend more but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Should I also get a different desktop DAC/amp?
 

IAtaman

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Hello!

Open backs do not extend into the bass/sub-bass very well, so when someone says I am into "bassy" electronic music, the general tendency is to recommend them a closed back that extends well into the sub-bass. You seem to prefer open backs however and even your current DT990 Pro seems to be drooping at lower frequencies so sub-bass is not a big deal I presume. DT990 Pro seems to have a mid-bass hump though, and that might be what you might be enjoying and accustomed to in the form of bass maybe.

In any case If you have access to EQ in the form of Q5K, and do prefer open-backs, I'd say either open back headphone you mentioned would be fine as you can tune the lows to your liking. If I were you, I'd add HD6xx to that list too and shortlist Sundara or 6xx.

Measurements I looked at are from:
 

solderdude

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I want to explore options to replace the Beyer. The K371, HE400SE, Sundara, HD560S are the ones I see mentioned when I search the forum. I probably missed more options that'll add to the conundrum!

The K371 is closed, so I'm leaning away from it since the Beyer I'm replacing is open.
Closed and not great build quality.


I'm concerned about build quality with the 400SE and Sundara, are they that "bad"?
It is not about how careful they are handled. In some cases one of the drivers craps out. The majority of them works fine. I never have had one of them fail.
A question of bad luck.


I'm careful with my stuff and only use the headphones at my desk. I like the build of the DT990, I've only had to replace the earpads in 9 years. And just once. I'm also curious about planar.
Planar headphones usually have lower distortion but often require a bit more power and in that case can play louder.
Beyerdynamic also has the DT900ProX to consider as an alternative to HD560S.
 
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vurt

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the general tendency is to recommend them a closed back that extends well into the sub-bass. You seem to prefer open backs however and even your current DT990 Pro seems to be drooping at lower frequencies so sub-bass is not a big deal I presume. DT990 Pro seems to have a mid-bass hump though, and that might be what you might be enjoying and accustomed to in the form of bass maybe.

Would you have other closed back recommendations too? I'm quite curious to explore what might be a better sound than the DT990 Pro. I wonder if maybe I've gotten used to something that isn't ideal for the music I listen to. All this time I'd (mistakenly) thought I'd experiment with different DACs and that seems to be the wrong approach from what I'm discovering.
 

solderdude

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It would depend on what kind of 'sound' you are looking for and the bugdget.
 

IAtaman

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Would you have other closed back recommendations too? I'm quite curious to explore what might be a better sound than the DT990 Pro. I wonder if maybe I've gotten used to something that isn't ideal for the music I listen to. All this time I'd (mistakenly) thought I'd experiment with different DACs and that seems to be the wrong approach from what I'm discovering.
Indeed, once you got yourself a decent DAC, which you have, there is not much to experimentation to do other than features. Trying different headphones is the experimentation that can actually yield results.

For closed back over ears, I do not own one but I see Austrian Audio Hi-X60 gets recommended a lot. They are around $300- $350 range IIRC. If you have the chance to try one and return if you don't like it, that might be an option.

Does it need to be a over-ear headphone, did you consider in-ear headphones aka IEMs? You can get a lot for your money from IEMs, but they are a bit of an acquired taste and are not for everyone. If you are looking at experimentation, maybe a cheap IEM might be the way to move forward?
 
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vurt

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It would depend on what kind of 'sound' you are looking for and the bugdget.

I don't want boomy bass (I guess nobody wants that). Sub-bass is always nice, most of my music are progressive house and techno; I think the sound I look for is the usual—tight punchy bass with extension. I'm not sure if I'm sensitive to treble or it's the DT 990 Pro but they always "annoy" me, especially when it sounds like they're overshadowing the rest of the music.

Budget-wise I'm thinking <$400 inc. tax? It's not related to the music stuttering problem but it's giving me a hi-fi midlife crisis making me rethink my setup. :facepalm:
 

solderdude

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vurt

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Indeed, once you got yourself a decent DAC, which you have, there is not much to experimentation to do other than features. Trying different headphones is the experimentation that can actually yield results.

For closed back over ears, I do not own one but I see Austrian Audio Hi-X60 gets recommended a lot. They are around $300- $350 range IIRC. If you have the chance to try one and return if you don't like it, that might be an option.

Does it need to be a over-ear headphone, did you consider in-ear headphones aka IEMs? You can get a lot for your money from IEMs, but they are a bit of an acquired taste and are not for everyone. If you are looking at experimentation, maybe a cheap IEM might be the way to move forward?
Thank you so much for your insight and recommendations, I'll look into those for sure.

I used IEMs when I was commuting. Ironically good sound isolation was needed for commute and office. But I've been working from home and I need to hear my wife if she needs me! :facepalm: So even closed backs (and open backs naturally) are better options than IEMs for my current use.
 
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vurt

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I went further down the rabbit hole. I'm curious if the Drop x DCA Aeon Closed X is suitable, what I read sounds like it has the bass and the sound stage.
 

markanini

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I went further down the rabbit hole. I'm curious if the Drop x DCA Aeon Closed X is suitable, what I read sounds like it has the bass and the sound stage.
I think many would consider it a top closed back in it's price range, if nothing else based on it being similar to the Noire.
 

IAtaman

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I went further down the rabbit hole. I'm curious if the Drop x DCA Aeon Closed X is suitable, what I read sounds like it has the bass and the sound stage.
Good luck getting out :)

I agree with what markanini, it is a good option but I'd only consider it if I were living in North America as servicing might be a bit of pain if you are not.
 
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vurt

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I'm in NA :) But I'm thinking of getting one off ebay, a new open box for $335 with 30 day return ...

From what I read on the forum, it looks like the Q5K will drive it fine.

@IAtaman Curious for your advice or insight—like I mentioned before, I always experimented with different DACs, but it looks like it's pretty pointless if we EQ? Any capable DAC will do?
 

IAtaman

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I'm in NA :) But I'm thinking of getting one off ebay, a new open box for $335 with 30 day return ...

From what I read on the forum, it looks like the Q5K will drive it fine.

@IAtaman Curious for your advice or insight—like I mentioned before, I always experimented with different DACs, but it looks like it's pretty pointless if we EQ? Any capable DAC will do?
That sounds like a good deal.

Yes, seems like Q5K can drive Aeon Closed X. You can also check yourself here just to be sure. In the off chance it does not get loud enough for you, you can get a balanced cable for Aeon closed X and you will be golden again. Speaking of cables, I think by default comes with a cable that terminates with a 1/4 inch connector. Id If were you I'd check what cable it is going to come with and see if you might need an adapter to be able to plug it into Q5K.

Q5K is a 3-in-one device, it is a DSP, a DAC and a headphone amplifier (HPA). Its DSP is quite capable so I don't think you'll ever need another DSP. Its DAC is going to sound exactly the same as every other good DAC you can find on the market today. The only part of it that can come short in some occasions is its headphone amplifier. If someday you decide to get a low sensitivity / high impedance headphone, or one that requires a lot of EQing and a big negative pre-amp, than you might want to get a more powerful HPA to drive them. Until that day, you are good to go.
 
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vurt

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Oh I meant to ask your opinion on using different DACs, is there a purpose? Because often people would use different DACs and talk about the difference in sound. But around here it seems DACs don't seem to play a big part if the practice is to EQ the headphones?
 

solderdude

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vurt

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5900 posts on this subject... enjoy

Thank you! An eye opening read. I'm definitely having a hi-fi midlife crisis now :oops: I've always been using DACs with my Macs, thinking they're better than the onboard DAC. That's how I got into experimenting with different ones like a lot of people.
 

solderdude

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Don't beat yourself up over it. 99% of the people believe DACs all sound different because they heard it, read it in advertisements, watched/read reviews, were told by sellers or friends.
A lot of ASR members belong to the small 1% of people that think/know otherwise.

Not all DACs do sound the same though so there is 'some merit' to it in some cases.
 
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Sgt. Ear Ache

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I have the HE400i headphones which I think are somewhat similar to the SE. I listen to a fair bit of electronic stuff and the 400i's (EQ'd of course) have great bass extension. Build quality was an issue when I first got them because they had a well-known (indeed almost legendary lol) QC issue with the yokes. That issue was resolved and since then (about 5 years now I think) they've been just fine. I'm a big planar fan...there's some sort of magic there that I just don't hear with regular headphones.

As far as dacs go, you'd have to work pretty hard to find a dac that was actually audibly different from most other dacs. And once found, you'd probably want to chuck it in the bin because it's doing something that a dac shouldn't oughtta be doing lol.
 
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