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Next level headphone above Sennheiser HD 650 and Beyerdynamics DT 1990

Garrincha

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Hi,

considering that there are sufficiently many relatively cheap, very well measuring headphone amps and dacs around, such that this might almost be considered as a solved problem, to improve my audiophile pleasure, I really would like to invest in a new headphone. I currently own (besides some older Staxs) the Sennheiser HD650 and the Beyerdynamics DT 1990. I like both of them, but am eager to get something better still. This should not simply be more expensive but really improve the listening experience, especially in imaging, soundstage, detail and also bass. For sure there is subjectivity involved, but what could be a solid recommendation ? From the measurements I have seen, the Hifiman Arya and HE6se or the Focal Clear do not appear to be a huge step beyond, but I may be wrong. The price should not exceed US$ 2000, thus the stellar Hifiman Susvara, Focal Utopia and Dan Clark Stealth are considered out of question. So is there a clear candidate (corroborated by measurements) ? Thanks in advance.
 

Keened

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There are some candidates like the Auroras Borialus around, but the issue as you've found is that it seems there isn't a lot of good $1K headphones that track the (harmon) reference curve AND have significant bass. Part of the issue with bass reproduction is you want a large driver, but the larger your (single) driver the harder it is to handle mid/high frequencies unless it is super stiff. Then you have other issues with moving so much air back and forth that the case interaction becomes an issue (as I understand it).

If you want more bass and better imaging/soundstage/detail then you'd probably be better off going to IEMs at the moment. The headphone market will probably catch up in the next year or two (assuming the logistical issues don't continue to get worse). I expect further 'trickle down' technologies to improve this market as well in that time frame (improved access to large beryllium parts, 'meta' materials to handle 1st reflections, etc).
 

threni

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Hi,

considering that there are sufficiently many relatively cheap, very well measuring headphone amps and dacs around, such that this might almost be considered as a solved problem, to improve my audiophile pleasure, I really would like to invest in a new headphone. I currently own (besides some older Staxs) the Sennheiser HD650 and the Beyerdynamics DT 1990. I like both of them, but am eager to get something better still. This should not simply be more expensive but really improve the listening experience, especially in imaging, soundstage, detail and also bass. For sure there is subjectivity involved, but what could be a solid recommendation ? From the measurements I have seen, the Hifiman Arya and HE6se or the Focal Clear do not appear to be a huge step beyond, but I may be wrong. The price should not exceed US$ 2000, thus the stellar Hifiman Susvara, Focal Utopia and Dan Clark Stealth are considered out of question. So is there a clear candidate (corroborated by measurements) ? Thanks in advance.
Detail and bass can be altered using EQ as they generally refer to specific frequency bands. You mentioned soundstage too, so people are going to suggest the HD 800S but maybe you could see how you get with your current HD650 and some parametric EQ.
 

Keened

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Focal Clear ($990) on sale on the web, great can for the price, detailed and dynamic.
Focal Clear MG/Pro ($1350) more mid range focus, likely a perfect replacement for HD-650
Aren't there a lot of QC issues with the Focal Clears? I know when I was looking at them I found far too many reports for my comfort.
 
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Garrincha

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Detail and bass can be altered using EQ as they generally refer to specific frequency bands. You mentioned soundstage too, so people are going to suggest the HD 800S but maybe you could see how you get with your current HD650 and some parametric EQ.
Maybe this thread could be turned in a more general discussion, since from the headphone measurements and evaluations here on ASR I mostly see the criteria of following the Harman curve and distortion. But many measured headphones either already follow up to a certain region reasonably well the Harman curve or can be done so by equalization and have low distorsion. But still they just by meeting these two criteria they do not sound all the same, so what is it besides that that makes a great headphone?
 
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Garrincha

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There are some candidates like the Auroras Borialus around, but the issue as you've found is that it seems there isn't a lot of good $1K headphones that track the (harmon) reference curve AND have significant bass. Part of the issue with bass reproduction is you want a large driver, but the larger your (single) driver the harder it is to handle mid/high frequencies unless it is super stiff. Then you have other issues with moving so much air back and forth that the case interaction becomes an issue (as I understand it).

If you want more bass and better imaging/soundstage/detail then you'd probably be better off going to IEMs at the moment. The headphone market will probably catch up in the next year or two (assuming the logistical issues don't continue to get worse). I expect further 'trickle down' technologies to improve this market as well in that time frame (improved access to large beryllium parts, 'meta' materials to handle 1st reflections, etc).
The Aurorus Borealis seems an interesting option, despite (or even because) of it´s brutalist design. But besides the fact that is not easily available in Europe, I am not sure if it is sundwise that much superior to th DH650 or Dt1990.
I asked specifically for headphones, I have also several IEM, but I am considering this separately.
 
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Try to buy second hand or b stock (directly from Hifiman shop) Hifiman HE1000v2 (notice V2 not SE)
Very good tuning out of the box. Very close to Harman.
Soundstage and spatial effects are amazing. In my opinion much much better (in terms of tuning) than Arya or he1000se.

They are not harsh on top as Arya. Spatial effects are on the same level. Arya was unlistenable to me way too harsh with female vocals. He1000v2 only occasionally gets harsh but it's very minor.

I only changed from he1000v2 to Stealth as they were even better tuned and clear sounding.
 
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VMAT4

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There are some candidates like the Auroras Borialus around, but the issue as you've found is that it seems there isn't a lot of good $1K headphones that track the (harmon) reference curve AND have significant bass. Part of the issue with bass reproduction is you want a large driver, but the larger your (single) driver the harder it is to handle mid/high frequencies unless it is super stiff. Then you have other issues with moving so much air back and forth that the case interaction becomes an issue (as I understand it).

If you want more bass and better imaging/soundstage/detail then you'd probably be better off going to IEMs at the moment. The headphone market will probably catch up in the next year or two (assuming the logistical issues don't continue to get worse). I expect further 'trickle down' technologies to improve this market as well in that time frame (improved access to large beryllium parts, 'meta' materials to handle 1st reflections, etc).

How could a headphone track the Harmon reference curve and not have significant bass?
 
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Garrincha

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Hifiman Edition XS ($500) I think these are 95% Arya for 1/3rd the price.
Hifiman Ananda ($700) fun and agreeable out of the box tuning.
Audeze LCD-X ($1200) need EQ, slight midrange scoop, details and imaging for days!
Focal Clear ($990) on sale on the web, great can for the price, detailed and dynamic.
Focal Clear MG/Pro ($1350) more mid range focus, likely a perfect replacement for HD-650
Well, the Focal Clear and the Audeze LCD-X were straightout dismissed by Amir, so these recommendations sound dubious.
 

Keened

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How could a headphone track the Harmon reference curve and not have significant bass?
Sorry, there should have been a large asterik next to that of "mostly* tracks the curve" since there are quite a few that track the mid and most of the high but have insufficient bass.
 

MayaTlab

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many measured headphones either already follow up to a certain region reasonably well the Harman curve or can be done so by equalization and have low distorsion. But still they just by meeting these two criteria they do not sound all the same, so what is it besides that that makes a great headphone?

Sample variation, pads ageing / evolving over time, and coupling issues can result in headphones still measuring differently at someone's eardrum even though they tracked Harman well already or were EQed to Harman according to a third party preset based on measuring another sample on an ear simulator.

Ex : https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...-noise-cancelling-headphone.25609/post-995729

So, FR remains the one variable you should look into first, even in such situation.
 
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Garrincha

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Sample variation, pads ageing / evolving over time, and coupling issues can result in headphones still measuring differently at someone's eardrum even though they tracked Harman well already or were EQed to Harman according to a third party preset based on measuring another sample on an ear simulator.

Ex : https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...-noise-cancelling-headphone.25609/post-995729

So, FR remains the one variable you should look into first, even in such situation.
Well I think you did not get my point, let´s assume there are two headphones, let´s say from different brands, that follow equally well the Harman curve or were EQed to do so and have equally low distorsion. But still they may have different characterstics, not in tonality, but for examply in imaging, soundstage, separation, layering, decay of transients and still other things. Otherwise there really would be no point in truly expensive headphones (like it is already the case in amps and dacs and the like), since EQing to the Harman curve and relatively low distorion can be and is already achieved by relatively cheap headphones.
 
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Well I think you did not get my point, let´s assume there are two headphones, let´s say from different brands, that follow equally well the Harman curve or were EQed to do so and have equally low distorsion. But still they may have different characterstics, not in tonality, but for examply in imaging, soundstage, separation, layering, decay of transients and still other things. Otherwise there really would be no point in truly expensive headphones (like it is already the case in amps and dacs and the like), since EQing to the Harman curve and relatively low distorion can be and is already achieved by relatively cheap headphones.
As I said. If you like big open soundstage try Hifiman he1000v2. For classical music these are top notch contenders.
You can check frequency response on crinnacle page.
 

MayaTlab

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Well I think you did not get my point,

I absolutely did.

let´s assume there are two headphones, let´s say from different brands, that follow equally well the Harman curve or were EQed to do so and have equally low distorsion. But still they may have different characterstics,

One of which, and in all likelihood the most significant one, remains frequency response at your own eardrum, with your own samples.

not in tonality, but for examply in imaging, soundstage, separation, layering, decay of transients and still other things.

If you want to isolate these things independently of FR, you'll need to be certain that two headphones effectively measure the same at your own eardrum.
So far the most reliable way to control FR as a variable between two headphones is to record them, equalised to the same target, on a dummy head, and play back these recordings.
Reliably measuring two different headphones in situ, on a real human, and then equalising them to the same target, is quite a lot harder to achieve (and leaves you subjected to psychoacoustic phenomena).

Otherwise there really would be no point in truly expensive headphones (like it is already the case in amps and dacs and the like),

What is going to work best for you as "next level" from what you already own may not need to be more expensive indeed.

since EQing to the Harman curve and relatively low distorion can be and is already achieved by relatively cheap headphones.

The question is : are your own samples, equalised to harman per a third party preset, actually getting sufficiently close the target below minimum threshold of audible difference, at your own eardrum ?
The answer is : probably not.
 
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Garrincha

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As I said. If you like big open soundstage try Hifiman he1000v2. For classical music these are top notch contenders.
You can check frequency response on crinnacle page.
Ok, I might consider them, altough they fail on my US$ 2000 limit. I have actually never listened to the HD800, but since everybody talks about their huge soundstage, is the HE1000V2 on this level?
 
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Ok, I might consider them, altough they fail on my US$ 2000 limit. I have actually never listened to the HD800, but since everybody talks about their huge soundstage, is the HE1000V2 on this level?
Yes it is. And it's better because of better tuning, bass is more extended and just properly pronounced. Also highs are smoother less spicy. (I mean bass and highs are better on he1000)
Sometime ago I saw b stock (open box) on Hifiman shop for like 2k$.
I bought mine second hand (2 moths old) for like 1,8k euro.
So I think you could found them in your limit. Just remember V2, not SE or V1.
 
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Garrincha

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I absolutely did.



One of which, and in all likelihood the most significant one, remains frequency response at your own eardrum, with your own samples.



If you want to isolate these things independently of FR, you'll need to be certain that two headphones effectively measure the same at your own eardrum.
So far the most reliable way to control FR as a variable between two headphones is to record them, equalised to the same target, on a dummy head, and play back these recordings.
Reliably measuring two different headphones in situ, on a real human, and then equalising them to the same target, is quite a lot harder to achieve (and leaves you subjected to psychoacoustic phenomena).



What is going to work best for you as "next level" from what you already own may not need to be more expensive indeed.



The question is : are your own samples, equalised to harman per a third party preset, actually getting sufficiently close the target below minimum threshold of audible difference, at your own eardrum ?
The answer is : probably not.
Frankly, I am not sure if you got the point, what you are basically saying is, there is FR and that´s it. Even as I am scientifically minded and as far objectivist as possible, in speakers or headphones it does not seem to be that simple.
 

garbulky

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I have used the HD600 for a decade, the HD6XX (HD650), the HD700 for years, and now the HD800S. There's a clear choice for me. The HD800S is undoubtedly superior in everyway to the HD650. But and yes there is a big but! You have to eq it properly. If you don't, you'll have a headphone that is low on bass volume and extension, and a treble spike that may cause you to send it back. No it won't sound bad, but I don't think you'll consider it worth your money. But if you do eq it, it sounds full range on the bass with a level of perceived clarity that is superior to the HD650 and good tone. Best headphones I have tried. There's certain types of gear that pulls you into the music and keeps you listening and this is one of them. I rarely listen to my speakers anymore - which are no slouches!

What I use is the Garage 1217 project Kameleon analog custom made equalizer to get the tone right (re - treble spike). Approx - $250. I also use a Schiit Loki mini+ equalizer to provide a bass boost on the lowest knob which allows me to get the kind of low end response I like. But that's what I like. Your experience may be quite different. I power it with an Emotiva Bas-X A-100. But basically, I really do reccomend an eq.
 

MayaTlab

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Frankly, I am not sure if you got the point, What you are basically saying is, there is FR and that´s it. Even as I am scientifically minded and as far objectivist as possible, in speakers or headphones it does not seem to be that simple.

No, what I am saying (and to certain degree measuring as well, cf. link above), is that FR remains an uncontrolled variable in such situation, and that therefore you can't attribute to a variable other than FR the cause of what you're hearing.
Think of me as an "FR first" kind of guy, not necessarily "FR only" :D.

To make it simple : you have never heard two headphones which FR measures the same at you own eardrums, even if you think you have.
 

VMAT4

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Two week lead time but, there is the Dan Clark ÆON Noire for about $900. I got pair on the way. Word on the street is these are worth it!
 
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