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Money no object best headphones for watching movies with emphases on clear vocals

pilotg2

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A slightly hard of hearing relative has tasked me with finding the best WIRED headphones to watch movies. He finds it hard to hear voices clearly. Would be useful if he could also use the headphones for Zoom, Skype and phone calls.

He is currently using a very early model of Bowers & Wilkins P3 i think and rates them but would like a newer pair as they are falling apart a little.
He recently bought the Sony WH-1000XM3 but says the voices are not as clear as his P3's.

To add: he is a technophobe to any adjustments that would may be needed (unfortunatly)! So best out the box only would suit.

What would you recommend?
 

threni

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A slightly hard of hearing relative has tasked me with finding the best WIRED headphones to watch movies. He finds it hard to hear voices clearly. Would be useful if he could also use the headphones for Zoom, Skype and phone calls.

He is currently using a very early model of Bowers & Wilkins P3 i think and rates them but would like a newer pair as they are falling apart a little.
He recently bought the Sony WH-1000XM3 but says the voices are not as clear as his P3's.

What would you recommend?
He's already got a decent pair of headphones so perhaps alter the EQ on whatever's handling the audio.
 

Sean Olive

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A slightly hard of hearing relative has tasked me with finding the best WIRED headphones to watch movies. He finds it hard to hear voices clearly. Would be useful if he could also use the headphones for Zoom, Skype and phone calls.

He is currently using a very early model of Bowers & Wilkins P3 i think and rates them but would like a newer pair as they are falling apart a little.
He recently bought the Sony WH-1000XM3 but says the voices are not as clear as his P3's.

To add: he is a technophobe to any adjustments that would may be needed (unfortunatly)! So best out the box only would suit.

What would you recommend?
There's a reason why the Sony's are not as clear: they are missing a considerable amount of upper/mid treble above 1 kHz making them sound dull and muffled. This combined with the bass bump below produces a spectral balance is not ideal for good intelligibility. You could try equalizing them as many people do, or purchase a pair that is tuned to a more neutral target curve. I don't have data on the P3 to compare.
 

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haris525

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Money no object? convince your relative to buy some Rabai blesses speaker cables, 20K USD/ft. Some people claim the bring the highs and the mids out!





/j
/s
 

radix

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A slightly hard of hearing relative has tasked me with finding the best WIRED headphones to watch movies. He finds it hard to hear voices clearly. Would be useful if he could also use the headphones for Zoom, Skype and phone calls.

He is currently using a very early model of Bowers & Wilkins P3 i think and rates them but would like a newer pair as they are falling apart a little.
He recently bought the Sony WH-1000XM3 but says the voices are not as clear as his P3's.

To add: he is a technophobe to any adjustments that would may be needed (unfortunatly)! So best out the box only would suit.

What would you recommend?

The Sennheiser HD650 (reviewed here) has very good conformance to the Harman curve in the range of speech, out of the box. It also has detachable (and thus replaceable) headphone cords; if you will have a long cord for moving listening, it will get damaged and need to be replaced eventually.

Many AVRs have options to boost vocals or speech, or fairly straightforward ways to set an EQ to boost speech.
 

Earfonia

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A slightly hard of hearing relative has tasked me with finding the best WIRED headphones to watch movies. He finds it hard to hear voices clearly. Would be useful if he could also use the headphones for Zoom, Skype and phone calls.

He is currently using a very early model of Bowers & Wilkins P3 i think and rates them but would like a newer pair as they are falling apart a little.
He recently bought the Sony WH-1000XM3 but says the voices are not as clear as his P3's.

To add: he is a technophobe to any adjustments that would may be needed (unfortunatly)! So best out the box only would suit.

What would you recommend?

If you don't mind In-Ear Monitor, I recently found a budget IEM that exceptionally clear on vocal, both for movie and online calls. It has high primary peak at around 2.8kHz that emphasize speech clarity. This is my measurement of the IEM:

Ugreen EP103 - EITC-2021.png

The red graph. The blue graph is my personal target curve just for comparison. It has V-shape tuning with clarity emphasized.

Best thing is, it cost less than $15.- and it has a very good Knowles microphone for clear speech. After I tried it, I bought more for my wife and kid for online calls and meetings.

The IEM is UGREEN Aux Earbuds model EP103. It comes with either 3.5mm, USB-C, or Lightning connector.
I bought it from local shop, but you can find it in AliExpress as well:
 

Spocko

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A slightly hard of hearing relative has tasked me with finding the best WIRED headphones to watch movies. He finds it hard to hear voices clearly. Would be useful if he could also use the headphones for Zoom, Skype and phone calls.

He is currently using a very early model of Bowers & Wilkins P3 i think and rates them but would like a newer pair as they are falling apart a little.
He recently bought the Sony WH-1000XM3 but says the voices are not as clear as his P3's.

To add: he is a technophobe to any adjustments that would may be needed (unfortunatly)! So best out the box only would suit.

What would you recommend?
Beyerdynamic DT1770 Pro (or Drop DT177x Go) closed back were designed to have slightly elevated midrange/vocals - this is what I use currently for editing. No EQ needed because out of the box there's already that slight forward midrange that I believe will greatly benefit your relative. Equally important, these are very comfortable and built to last.

There's also an opened back version DT1990 Pro if your relative wants a bit more air and ambiance but as it lets in outside noise, this is not as good for isolating the dialogue if people are speaking loudly around him. Having owned both, I prefer the DT1990 Pro in a quiet room for listening pleasure because I do enjoy the wider soundstage.

You could spend more than $600, but it's not for "better" sound or build quality, rather a different sound (target curve) with more exotic components and brand cache. Beyerdynamic (like Shure and Nuemann) is a no-nonsense solidly engineered pro brand that prices their headphones fairly - you get what you pay for in the bill of parts without fancy buzzword technologies.
 
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DVDdoug

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Maybe a pair of Grados. I think all Grados have a "similar" sound characteristic (and the SR60 that Amir reviewed is affordable). There is a boost in the upper-mid range and the bass is a little weak. Those characteristics should help with intelligibility. All Grados open-back if that's a consideration.

I have a pair of SR225's. I replaced the stock ear cushions with some larger aftermarket "L-Cush" style cushions and they fit (me) better and are more comfortable than the originals. (They are supposed to be for the higher-end Grados.)
 

dylanmitchell

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A slightly hard of hearing relative has tasked me with finding the best WIRED headphones to watch movies. He finds it hard to hear voices clearly. Would be useful if he could also use the headphones for Zoom, Skype and phone calls.

He is currently using a very early model of Bowers & Wilkins P3 i think and rates them but would like a newer pair as they are falling apart a little.
He recently bought the Sony WH-1000XM3 but says the voices are not as clear as his P3's.

To add: he is a technophobe to any adjustments that would may be needed (unfortunatly)! So best out the box only would suit.

What would you recommend?
My favorites are my DT 70 80 ohm and E4SR but E4XR would be better for movies and tv. My Nvidia shield streamer has bluetooth I'd try Aonic 215 Gen 2 or Amiron Wireless for movies and tv.

Grado GS2000e/ 3000e, Grado SR325x, Etymotic ER4XR, Philips SHP9500, Shure SRH1540/ 1840, BD DT 1770/ 1990, HD25 Plus. Wireless Bose 700, Sennheiser RS 175 RF.
 

tknx

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I mean, if you truly mean cost is no object
  • RME ADI-2 DAC - $1300 or you can even go crazier.
  • Sennheiser HE-1 - $60,000
  • Custom audio tuning by sound engineer - Maybe $300 per hour x 4-5 hours to get the right sound profile?
But I suspect that is not really in the cards - it would be better to provide an actual budget.
  • Qudelix 5K bluetooth player - $120 or so - but very hard to find in stock right now
  • Any decent headphone - Sennheiser HD6xx or HD800s or some of the Beyerdynamics or whatever - $250ish +
  • Do the parametric EQ yourself - go to oratory's EQ and download. Then watch this tutorial by Curtis Judd and overshoot the recommendation for upping dialog.
 

ExEnemy

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I can highly recommend the Sennheiser HD800 (and s) based on some reasons below:

- Comfort: I own a couple of headphones range from $500-2000 and HD800 is the only one i use for longer listening sessions. A couple of hours long movies, no sweat, you almost forget about it as soon as you put it on.
- Sound: HD800 have great details, imaging and unmatched soundstage (and some boosted high in stock form), very suitable for movies or games. And it is even better with EQ, pretty much up there in sound quality.
If your relative own a Windows device, EqualizerAPO is a free universal EQ so it's an one time setup.
With Apple device you could just pair it with Qudelix 5K, This cheap portable dac/amp got it own EQ. Honestly no reason to go overboard in dac/amp department cause your relative is no "audiophile".
- Build quality: Sennheiser HD lineup are super reliable, never got one failed on me. And parts like pads and headbands replacements are readily available.
 

TurtlePaul

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If the Sony XM3 are anything like the XM4, then there is an equializer in the Headphones app. Move 'Clear Bass' to -2. Move the 1 khz slider to +1, the 2 khz slider to +4 and the 4 Khz slider to +6. Vocals will be much more clear (and should be closer to the Harman target).
 

aravaioli

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Unless you are in a quiet environment all the time, for movies I would stay away from all open backs. Money no object I'd say Denon D9200, if money matters Austrian Audio X60.
 

ROOSKIE

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A slightly hard of hearing relative has tasked me with finding the best WIRED headphones to watch movies. He finds it hard to hear voices clearly. Would be useful if he could also use the headphones for Zoom, Skype and phone calls.

He is currently using a very early model of Bowers & Wilkins P3 i think and rates them but would like a newer pair as they are falling apart a little.
He recently bought the Sony WH-1000XM3 but says the voices are not as clear as his P3's.

To add: he is a technophobe to any adjustments that would may be needed (unfortunatly)! So best out the box only would suit.

What would you recommend?
There are headphones designed for hearing impaired listeners.
Various types.
I believe even prescription based options exist. Like hearings aids in way.
I would start there.
I have never used any of them but they deff exist and there is a way to research them.
 
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