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Searching for the 'missing' piece in <$200 headphones line up to end 2020

tinytea

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Hello,

Nice to meet you and thanks for your time!


Introduction/ non-related info to the post subject.
Excuse me if I rant here and there.
This is basically my first post on ASR so it's somewhat of an introduction post as well...haha...nice to meet you!

I am a relative newcomer to the audio'phile' community but have been reading around quite a bit.

Of course, I love music and over the years have used random IEMS and headphones but not many that I've read about when looking through forums recently:
  • I own some IEMS and Headphones from JAYS a Swedish audio company
    • I enjoyed the Q-Jays reference IEMs
  • Recently got & enjoyed Massdrop Plus Universal IEMs

I really appreciate the knowledge being spread around in this, the ASR forum.

Shoutout to user @raistlin65 if he's around! He helped me with some Amp/ DAC/ Headphone questions on reddit and I know that he's a known poster around here, knowledgeable and a wonderful advocate for ASR :)

I hope it is not unbecoming of me to be asking for advice in this section of the forum!

Without further ado:


Bullet points about my situation:
  • HD6XX, HE4XX coming in.
  • Considering trying HE560 as alternative to HE4XX
    • I'll only consider 560 if I can get it at like <~$250 so probably Adorama version
  • What am I, for lack of a better term, 'missing' ?
    • I think I'm looking primarily for a closed-back with superb bass or any other quality that is unique from/ surpasses the above three.
      • NOT "a closed-back that I can use in public" as I don't mind using IEMs on the go and I want to focus the conversation on looking for something actually sonically different not just different because it's closed-backed.
      • BUT... I guess even if it's not the prime objective, it's not a bad quality to have per se - "something like the 6XX, 4XX/ 560 but closed-back."
    • Secondarily, I am not ruling out that I am missing something from an open-back hence why I have included those varieties in my considerations below.
  • For the rest of the post if I mention the 'three' or the 'trio' I am referring to the HD6XX, HE4XX and HE560


Other headphones that I have been looking at, and my thoughts:
  • DT770/990 250ohm
    • I know 990 is open and 770 is closed
      • Does the 770 provide bass/ anything else that is desirable over the trio above as it's closed?
      • I assume 990, being open, is just beaten out by the trio?
    • Will I be losing out on some clarity/ in the midrange and treble vs trio? For the benefit of what?
  • Fostex T20/T50 MKIII
    • I've heard that the T50's have amazing imaging especially for competitive FPS games, which, prioritize footfall imaging more importantly than others.
      • Not that fussed about that as my genre is mainly MOBAs
        • Sometimes multiplayer social/survival horror games - which footfall imaging may benefit...(IMO don't think it matters much/ at all)?
      • For someone not THAT fussed about footfall imaging, does that aspect of the T50 translate to any other redeeming quality over the trio when it comes to listening to music?
      • T20 is just more bass?
  • ATH M50x/ M40x
    • Just forget about these two options?
    • Am I right in thinking that neither provide any benefit/ difference over the HD6XX, HE4XX/ HE560 apart from being close-backed?

  • I'm looking at the wrong stuff, here's what you're suggesting:
    • Will update below with commenters' suggestions as they come:
      • AKG K371
      • HE-400i (2020 edition)


Other audio equipment/ mini-rants
  • Amp driving headphones will be Topping L30.
    • IEMS should also be fine with -9 gain of L30.
  • DAC is currently Tempotec Sonata HD Pro
    • [Desktop] Considering D30/ D10s for future
    • [Portable] Considering 9038d, Meizu Hifi Pro/ transition Tempotec Sonata for future.
    • [Bluetooth/ Wireless Portable] Considering Qudelix 5k> BTR5 > UP4
      • I thought UP4 = #1 but I've gotten wary about it's shortcoming as a USB DAC the more I've thought about it
        • though I know that frequency of that use case is probably really small.
          • Am I crazy?
      • But then the PEQ of Qudelix..... > all..
    • Side question: How does Qudelix fare as a desktop DAC compared to D30/ D10s.

Music taste/ genre
I always rant when I do it so I won't unless asked/ relevant :)


Final words
I know I'm not strictly MISSING anything. Just trying to see if there's anything else to experience around/ lower price than the stuff I've mentioned.


Thanks in advance for your time and advice. Very nice to meet you!
 
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Helicopter

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I have HD6xx and ath m50x. Hd6xx is better sounding to me. The ATs are smaller, lighter easier to drive, and they have the advantages and disadvantages of being closed. I do not use them for listening at home; i might take them to listen in a public or noisy place.
 
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tinytea

tinytea

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I have HD6xx and ath m50x. Hd6xx is better sounding to me. The ATs are smaller, lighter easier to drive, and they have the advantages and disadvantages of being closed. I do not use them for listening at home; i might take them to listen in a public or noisy place.

Thanks for your thoughts. Simple and makes sense to me.
 
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tinytea

tinytea

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I have HE-400i (2020 edition) and I am _really_ happy with those. For only $170! :)
You're so happy that you underscored your comments!

Do you have any thoughts on how they sound vs any one of the trio?
 

Raindog123

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Do you have any thoughts on how they sound vs any one of the trio?

Not really, only through opinions of others, while doing my research a few months ago. But I also have Grado’s SR-325e - that probably can’t be more different from HifiMan planars - that I am also very happy with, thought in a very different way - for different music and/or mood of mine. Go figure. :)
 

Berwhale

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I was also looking for a pair of closed backs to augment the headphones in my signature. I found a pair of 'Like New' AKG K371's on Amazon Warehouse for £69 (they had an additional 20% off). So they are arriving on Friday. See Solderdude's detailed review here: K371 | DIY-Audio-Heaven (wordpress.com)
 
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tinytea

tinytea

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I was also looking for a pair of closed backs to augment the headphones in my signature. I found a pair of 'Like New' AKG K371's on Amazon Warehouse for £69 (they had an additional 20% off). So they are arriving on Friday. See Solderdude's detailed review here: K371 | DIY-Audio-Heaven (wordpress.com)

Awesome.

Just got done reading the review and understanding the graphs.

Love the freq' response graph comparison Solderdude did with the dt770 250 ohm.

I fancy the K371's bass, doesn't have the 2 drop offs that the DT770's do.
Both have that drop off in the midrange at 4k but K371 doesn't seem as peaky past 5k.

Looks like a fun headphone. I'm considering it, thanks!
 

raistlin65

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Shoutout to user @raistlin65 if he's around! He helped me with some Amp/ DAC/ Headphone questions on reddit and I know that he's a known poster around here, knowledgeable and a wonderful advocate for ASR :)

You are welcome. Glad to help, and glad you found your way here :)

Bullet points about my situation:
  • HD6XX, HE4XX coming in.
  • Considering trying HE560 as alternative to HE4XX
    • I'll only consider 560 if I can get it at like <~$250 so probably Adorama version

I used to own the HE400 and then HE400i, and I do think the HE560 (and the Sundara) are a step up. But the sound signature is a little different. That being said, the HE400i are a very good headphone for the money, and a great place to start. The audio hobby is a journey, not a destination. There will always be new headphones to try after you get used to either the HE400i or HD6XX, and get to the point where you are feeling like another upgrade.

What am I, for lack of a better term, 'missing' ?
I think I'm looking primarily for a closed-back with superb bass or any other quality that is unique from/ surpasses the above three.
NOT "a closed-back that I can use in public" as I don't mind using IEMs on the go and I want to focus the conversation on looking for something actually sonically different not just different because it's closed-backed.
BUT... I guess even if it's not the prime objective, it's not a bad quality to have per se - "something like the 6XX, 4XX/ 560 but closed-back."
Secondarily, I am not ruling out that I am missing something from an open-back hence why I have included those varieties in my considerations below.
For the rest of the post if I mention the 'three' or the 'trio' I am referring to the HD6XX, HE4XX and HE560

Other headphones that I have been looking at, and my thoughts:

DT770/990 250ohm
I know 990 is open and 770 is closed
Does the 770 provide bass/ anything else that is desirable over the trio above as it's closed?
I assume 990, being open, is just beaten out by the trio?
Will I be losing out on some clarity/ in the midrange and treble vs trio? For the benefit of what?
Fostex T20/T50 MKIII
I've heard that the T50's have amazing imaging especially for competitive FPS games, which, prioritize footfall imaging more importantly than others.
Not that fussed about that as my genre is mainly MOBAs
Sometimes multiplayer social/survival horror games - which footfall imaging may benefit...(IMO don't think it matters much/ at all)?
For someone not THAT fussed about footfall imaging, does that aspect of the T50 translate to any other redeeming quality over the trio when it comes to listening to music?
T20 is just more bass?
ATH M50x/ M40x
Just forget about these two options?
Am I right in thinking that neither provide any benefit/ difference over the HD6XX, HE4XX/ HE560 apart from being close-backed?

OK. Just going to throw this out there. I bought the Denon AH-D5200 when Denon had some kind of crazy flash sale on them for $209 + tax for BF. They weren't for me because their treble is a little demure and the upper mids are a little more forward than I like.

Called Denon today and they said it would take five days to process my RMA request. If you want to cover my cost, plus $50 fees etc., PM me (let's not talk about it here).

However, not yet. Think about it for a few days. It's not going anywhere this week, and you need to research it.
 
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tinytea

tinytea

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The audio hobby is a journey, not a destination. There will always be new headphones to try after you get used to
:facepalm::D The rabbit hole definitely looks deep. In the mechanical keyboard world, which I am privy to, we also refer to the keyboard journey. That hole is deep too :) I will and have been trying to approach this audio hobby with a science-based, logical, and enjoyment-not-money-centered lenses....

MAY I NOT BE LEAD ASTRAYY!!

As a serial upgrader, I try to avoid it as much as possible. My pattern seems to be that of a late adopter(?) I survey and lie in wait then max out on upgrades. Longer gaps in between upgrades the better...I get kind of consumed. Also hate paying MSRP, I never do and always look for deals that's why upgrading takes so long. Probably can't say I hate looking but I certainly spend too much time doing so.

Before very recently I felt funny about the term audiophile - it always carried some stigma to me.
But strangely on a scale with one end being 'audiophile' and the opposite end being 'not an audiophile' I most definitely was somewhere closer in territory to the former. Still don't really like the word; much prefer in my mind, the more meaningful and humbler sounding, 'journey > destination' idea :)

As a purveyor of what I now know to be mostly CHiFi gear that I once considered top of the line :rolleyes:, I seem to have caught upgrade-itis! :eek: well, there was no problem with things that had served me well previously but it's just time for something new.

OK. Just going to throw this out there. I bought the Denon AH-D5200

Hey, that's a swell offer.

I was going to reply sooner but I've been busy doing research - my apologies for the delay in response.
I ended up using the reply edit box as my 'collection-of-notes-notepad' haha so I couldn't really reply...

Anyway, I've since ended my lurking spree on Head-Fi and made an account there to post about the DH5200.
Secretly it was an excuse to off-load my notes so I didn't have to delete them or post them here to remember/ organize some of my thoughts.

My post was here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/denon-ah-d5200-little-brother-of-the-ah-d7200.875053/post-16042182

I'm definitely interested and I'll PM you, I appreciate the offer and these headphones seem to be something unique, dare I say also...with a unique and recurring enough use case in my mind to put it at the top of my list so far. At the very least these have been an interesting one to research for sure - they stand out from everything that was in my list/ most that I've come across in my research.


I've only watched one piece of media about them on YT so far, been mostly reading, so I'm interested to see what else the 'Tubers have said.


Cheers! ‍
 
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Robin L

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Hello,

Nice to meet you and thanks for your time!


Introduction/ non-related info to the post subject.
Excuse me if I rant here and there.
This is basically my first post on ASR so it's somewhat of an introduction post as well...haha...nice to meet you!

I am a relative newcomer to the audio'phile' community but have been reading around quite a bit.

Of course, I love music and over the years have used random IEMS and headphones but not many that I've read about when looking through forums recently:
  • I own some IEMS and Headphones from JAYS a Swedish audio company
    • I enjoyed the Q-Jays reference IEMs
  • Recently got & enjoyed Massdrop Plus Universal IEMs

I really appreciate the knowledge being spread around in this, the ASR forum.

Shoutout to user @raistlin65 if he's around! He helped me with some Amp/ DAC/ Headphone questions on reddit and I know that he's a known poster around here, knowledgeable and a wonderful advocate for ASR :)

I hope it is not unbecoming of me to be asking for advice in this section of the forum!

Without further ado:


Bullet points about my situation:
  • HD6XX, HE4XX coming in.
  • Considering trying HE560 as alternative to HE4XX
    • I'll only consider 560 if I can get it at like <~$250 so probably Adorama version
  • What am I, for lack of a better term, 'missing' ?
    • I think I'm looking primarily for a closed-back with superb bass or any other quality that is unique from/ surpasses the above three.
      • NOT "a closed-back that I can use in public" as I don't mind using IEMs on the go and I want to focus the conversation on looking for something actually sonically different not just different because it's closed-backed.
      • BUT... I guess even if it's not the prime objective, it's not a bad quality to have per se - "something like the 6XX, 4XX/ 560 but closed-back."
    • Secondarily, I am not ruling out that I am missing something from an open-back hence why I have included those varieties in my considerations below.
  • For the rest of the post if I mention the 'three' or the 'trio' I am referring to the HD6XX, HE4XX and HE560


Other headphones that I have been looking at, and my thoughts:
  • DT770/990 250ohm
    • I know 990 is open and 770 is closed
      • Does the 770 provide bass/ anything else that is desirable over the trio above as it's closed?
      • I assume 990, being open, is just beaten out by the trio?
    • Will I be losing out on some clarity/ in the midrange and treble vs trio? For the benefit of what?
  • Fostex T20/T50 MKIII
    • I've heard that the T50's have amazing imaging especially for competitive FPS games, which, prioritize footfall imaging more importantly than others.
      • Not that fussed about that as my genre is mainly MOBAs
        • Sometimes multiplayer social/survival horror games - which footfall imaging may benefit...(IMO don't think it matters much/ at all)?
      • For someone not THAT fussed about footfall imaging, does that aspect of the T50 translate to any other redeeming quality over the trio when it comes to listening to music?
      • T20 is just more bass?
  • ATH M50x/ M40x
    • Just forget about these two options?
    • Am I right in thinking that neither provide any benefit/ difference over the HD6XX, HE4XX/ HE560 apart from being close-backed?

  • I'm looking at the wrong stuff, here's what you're suggesting:
    • Will update below with commenters' suggestions as they come:
      • AKG K371
      • HE-400i (2020 edition)


Other audio equipment/ mini-rants
  • Amp driving headphones will be Topping L30.
    • IEMS should also be fine with -9 gain of L30.
  • DAC is currently Tempotec Sonata HD Pro
    • [Desktop] Considering D30/ D10s for future
    • [Portable] Considering 9038d, Meizu Hifi Pro/ transition Tempotec Sonata for future.
    • [Bluetooth/ Wireless Portable] Considering Qudelix 5k> BTR5 > UP4
      • I thought UP4 = #1 but I've gotten wary about it's shortcoming as a USB DAC the more I've thought about it
        • though I know that frequency of that use case is probably really small.
          • Am I crazy?
      • But then the PEQ of Qudelix..... > all..
    • Side question: How does Qudelix fare as a desktop DAC compared to D30/ D10s.

Music taste/ genre
I always rant when I do it so I won't unless asked/ relevant :)


Final words
I know I'm not strictly MISSING anything. Just trying to see if there's anything else to experience around/ lower price than the stuff I've mentioned.


Thanks in advance for your time and advice. Very nice to meet you!
The Philips Fidelio X2HR [now going for $150] is an open backed headphone that has bass more like a closed back 'phone, great stereo imaging, doesn't really require eq and sounds great with low power sources. It's the best sounding headphone with my low power DAP, the Fiio M3K.
 
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tinytea

tinytea

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The Philips Fidelio X2HR [now going for $150] is an open backed headphone that has bass more like a closed back 'phone, great stereo imaging, doesn't really require eq and sounds great with low power sources. It's the best sounding headphone with my low power DAP, the Fiio M3K.

Say it ain't so!
- An open back with bass?
great stereo imaging
o_O

The amazon link on my google search results list for the X2HR is purple. I've clicked it before but have no recollection of my opinions about them.

Did I overlook a gem?

Thanks I'll have a look!
 
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RickSanchez

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tinytea

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avoid the HE400i's.

noted, I've been thinking the same, and must have seen that info around somewhere. Thanks for cementing that.

I think, though I'm not certain now... that my original thoughts about these were to try the 560's since they're similar(?) to 4xx and 400i then maybe sell the one I didn't fancy and keep the one I did.
 

Robin L

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Say it ain't so!
- An open back with bass? o_O

The amazon link on my google search results list for the X2HR is purple. I've clicked it before

Did I overlook a gem?

Thanks I'll have a look!
Tyll Hertsen's review is of the X2, essentially the same headphone as the X2HR:
Like a Boss: The Philips Fidelio X2 | Stereophile.com
Solderdude agrees, this is an important and generally overlooked headphone, comparable in some ways to the Sennheiser 600:
Fidelio X2HR | DIY-Audio-Heaven (wordpress.com)
 

frogmeat69

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If you don't want to spend a lot, the Creative Aurvana Live! SE model are good sounding closed back headphones,with bio cellulose drivers designed by Foster, and they are around $50 on Amazon right now. https://www.amazon.com/Aurvana-SE-Over-Ear-High-Definition-Headphones/dp/B07MF7J3JK/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=creative+aurvana+Live!&qid=1608173895&s=electronics&sr=1-1

Just treat them gently, the headband is not the sturdiest, and the non removable cables are very thin.

And I agree with @Robin L , the Philips X2 cans are excellent headphones, especially for the current price, and even better when on sale!
 

frogmeat69

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noted, I've been thinking the same, and must have seen that info around somewhere. Thanks for cementing that.

I think, though I'm not certain now... that my original thoughts about these were to try the 560's since they're similar(?) to 4xx and 400i then maybe sell the one I didn't fancy and keep the one I did.
The HE 560, at least the older model I have with the wood veneer and 2.5mm plugs, seems to have a smoother, not as sharp treble than the 400i or 4XX, and I also agree those two 4 series pretty much sound very similar, just different head band and cups.
 

Jose Hidalgo

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I think I'm looking primarily for a closed-back with superb bass or any other quality that is unique from/ surpasses the above three.
  • NOT "a closed-back that I can use in public" as I don't mind using IEMs on the go and I want to focus the conversation on looking for something actually sonically different not just different because it's closed-backed.

Given your specific research, maybe you should consider the Audioquest Nighthawk Carbon.
Its bass is simply SPECTACULAR (mark my words), down to 20 Hz and beyond. One of the best that you can find, regardless of the price.
It's not a closed-back but a semi-closed.
It's dark-sounding, and you have a "pressure wave" impression that reminds of a closed.
It's definitely not neutral : it's very warm, with slightly recessed highs. That's intended, since it's made for long listening sessions.
It's extremely comfortable due to its suspension system. You barely feel it on your head.
It definitely has some unique qualities : sonically, technically, ergonomically (look & feel).
Last but not least, @frogmeat69 has one, I have another one, and we're both very happy with them. :D

It started at 699, but it can currently be found at 249 (Europe) or even below 200 (US). Either @ some resellers or @ eBay.
 
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tinytea

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o_O I was watching a listing for the regular nighthawks on eBay but those went for like 210 or 220 USD IIRC.

I heard difference with Carbon is better build, different tolerances for better airflow: less distortion, better cable and materials - basically that's it?

If it makes sense, J'ai la patate mate, thanks for writing in :)


Last but not least, @frogmeat69 has one, I have another one, and we're both very happy with them.

Surely this is the biggest draw?


Side note: Just realized I can't edit my OP any more so I can't append the other stuff I've come across in my research to my OP :(( it's fine :)

ALSO, 6XX was scheduled to come tomorrow but they came today a day early on my birthday :) :cool:
 
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Jose Hidalgo

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Here's the deal :

The NHC is a polarizing headphone. Some people love it, and some people hate it. You can see that easily all across the Internet, and yet Head-Fi has a NH/NHC thread of more than 600 pages, so I guess it's quite a popular can nonetheless.

I'm starting to believe that "haters" hate the Nighthawk for two main reasons :
  1. Because their manufacturer is known for selling snake oil in the form of expensive audiophile cables (that part is absolutely true, but it has nothing to do with designing headphones),
  2. Because they never managed to understand what the Nighthawk is really for :
    • If you want an over-analytical headphone with over-emphasized treble, this ain't it. he NHC will never hurt your ears with piercing highs a la Beyerdynamic.
    • If you want a neutral headphone like the HD600 (that I own too) and you get a NHC, you are gonna say : "what is this s**t ?", because you will be focusing on neutrality, to the point that you won't notice the NHC's real qualities.
    • But if you know in advance what the NHC is supposed to deliver, then you can't be surprised, and you can fully appreciate it for what it is.
The NHC is designed for long listening sessions, and you can't achieve that with piercing highs.
Instead, the NHC provides great, astounding, "all you can eat" bass, not only in quantity but in quality. Why is that ?

Well, the NHC has excellent 50mm drivers (even people who don't like the NHC recognize that its drivers are great). It has a lot of embedded technology (which you can see in one of my previous links) that could theoretically justify its 699 starting price. That technology makes for very low distortion, particularly in the low region. So the bass isn't only as deep as you can possibly want : it's also distortion-free and not muddy at all. When you listen to it, you can never think that the NHC is "close to its limits". Instead, you feel that you could push the volume as much as you'd reasonably like, and the sound would still be just as crystal-clear : only louder (on a personal side, that may be one of the reasons why the user manual is called a flight manual : the first time I pushed the vol knob, it weirdly felt like a plane taking off : louder and louder but always clear and without hiccups).

Sooo, the NHC doesn't have highs, right ? Wrong ! The NHC does have pretty detailed highs, and is capable of reproducing all the information just like any over-analytical headphone. The information is really there : it's just 2 to 3 dB under the usual level, so you may need to focus if you want to look for it. But once your brain adapts after a few minutes, you'll notice that nothing is missing - on the contrary, everything's there, just slightly recessed after 700 Hz or so. Honestly I like it that way : I never find that something is missing, it just allows for more relaxed listening sessions. :)

On the minus side, one big thing : the cable. IT SUCKS BEYOND HOPE. I don't believe in cable snake-oil gibberish and supposed silver qualities. The cable itself is thick, rubbery, not nice to the touch, doesn't bend easily, and needs to be cleaned regularly to avoid audio artifacts due to silver oxydation. So it really deserves to be replaced. Which you can do easily with cables like this one.

To give you an idea, I love my HD600 on vocals and acoustic stuff. The intimate soundstage is perfect for that, and the midrange texture is amazing. They really are the best in their class for that stuff. Your 6xx will be close to that, no doubt.

The NHC is complementary, and it starts to shine where the HD600 gives up a little : on music that requires bass and/or a bigger soundstage. Try it on electronic music, on Hip-Hop, on big bands, on big live performances... (even on orchestra music). It will sound much better than the HD600. Two songs that I've listened to recently come to mind : Marian Hill's "Lovit" (or ANY Marian Hill), and Ed Sheeran's "Eraser". Listen to them on your 6XX. They will sound nice, no doubt. Then listen to them on a NHC and you will jump out of your seat, wondering WHY/HOW there was so much more on these songs that you just couldn't hear fully with the Sennheiser cans :eek: More bass extension, more soundstage... (try the three drum notes at 3:20 on "Eraser" - if you're not blown away by that on the NHC, then nothing can o_O)

The NHC is pretty different and unique. You want different ? You want Bass ? Go for it. If for some reason you don't like it, rest assured that you'll be able to sell it for the same price, or higher. IMHO it's bound to become a collection item for amateurs. ;)

PS : if you want brand new cans with warranty and such, go for the NHC, not the regular NH. The regular NH can only be found used, not new.

PS2 : forgot to say that the NHC have the best 3D imaging you can imagine (maybe some over-expensive cans have even better imaging but I can't think of any), which makes it maybe the best gaming headphone for somebody who could afford its price. Check the video review I linked in my first post.
 
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