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I have $500 to spend and want to enjoy the best music. What headphone should I buy?

dream_cc

Member
Aug 12, 2020
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Music to listen: mostly classical music and instrumental music; some vocal songs.
Player: Fiio M11.
What I care: sound quality, comfort and price (must be under $500)
What I don't care: portability, appearance, durability, price, and everything else.

Firstly, in-ear or over-ear? Do over-ear headphones *undisputedly* sound better than in-ear ones? For example I'm looking into hd650/660 vs Shure SE535.

I have the following in my shortlist as (open-back) over-hear headphones: HD6** (new 600, 650, 660S), Hifiman Sundara, DT1990. As for in-ear headphones, I haven't looked into anything other than Shure SE series. I'm open to all kinds of options.

Any recommendations? Ideas?
 
Last edited:

anort3

Moderator
Dec 8, 2019
385
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570
DT1990 Pro. I've tried every audiophile headphone in the mid-fi and upper mid-fi category and it's the best in that price range. It comes with 2 sets of pads that change the signature and there are also some very good aftermarket pads from Dekoni that split the difference. You may need an amp though.

Sundara is a close second. Hits above the price. Also very good is the AKG K712 Pro.

I take it back, I haven't heard the 660S. It seems very hit/miss for some people. It's a good headphone but it lacks that 'magic mids' thing the HD600 and 650 have going on. The 650/6XX is a very good headphone especially at the $200 of the 6XX. But it's also kind of boring for some types of music.
 
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dream_cc

Member
Aug 12, 2020
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DT1990 Pro. I've tried every audiophile headphone in the mid-fi and upper mid-fi category and it's the best in that price range. It comes with 2 sets of pads that change the signature and there are also some very good aftermarket pads from Dekoni that split the difference. You may need an amp though.

Sundara is a close second. Hits above the price. Also very good is the AKG K712 Pro.

I take it back, I haven't heard the 660S. It seems very hit/miss for some people. It's a good headphone but it lacks that 'magic mids' thing the HD600 and 650 have going on. The 650/6XX is a very good headphone especially at the $200 of the 6XX. But it's also kind of boring for some types of music.
Thanks a lot! Have you ever tried any mid to high-end in-ear headphones? Can you say anything about them comparing to over-ear headphones?
 

anort3

Moderator
Dec 8, 2019
385
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570
I have not other than a few pair that I own. I don't like they way IEMs fit unless they're in ear like my Klipsch X11i which are quite good. I use them when I work out and cut grass etc. I also have 1More Quad drivers which are also very good but I have to adjust them every 30 seconds to keep the seal right. If I was going to get some IEMs to replace my X11i I'd look at the Etymotic line.


Some people prefer IEM's and there are some very good ones. For portable use they're probably better than over ear headphones. I spend a lot of time at my desk with various amps and DACs connected to my PC and for that I much prefer traditional headphones.
 

Al ears

Moderator
I would ask where exactly you plan to use these headphones, at home, whilst travelling etc?
The use of iem in my opinion is better if you're listening to music on the move, as you are using a DAP I understand that this is the most likely usage scenario. If so I would discount any open-backed headphone suggestions.
At the very top of your budget I would recommend the Oriveti OH500 earphones
Likewise if you want headphones look at the Andover PM-50
Although I am assuming you are in the States
 

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