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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
2
0
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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
434
233
770
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
434
233
770
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
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,147
734
12,070
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?
I've tried the DT1990 as well as other Beyers and AKGs.
But I'm another Sennheiser fan (lost count of the models I've bought for myself and family starting way back with the HD40).
As such I'm very interested in the 560S which came out in September. Based on price they may not seem as worthy as some of your contenders but read / watch some of the reviews (as I've just been doing) and I reckon they might just make it onto your list.
(They've just made my list - and I wasn't making one :unsure:).
 
Last edited:

Roland-D

Member
Aug 5, 2020
1
0
20
Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC Headphones
The best headphones for music


Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC Headphones are among the highest quality headphones on the market. These headphones use Qualcomm® aptX ™, aptX ™ Low Latency and AAC technologies to produce excellent quality. You can use these headphones for 45 hours on a full charge. , These headphones also support the 3.5 jack.
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
512
16
18,895
I bought these after your post somewhere else, and they are great value, but they're not as good as my AKG550. I've just got a Marantz headphone dac amp, so will also be looking for a pair of even more capable phones, am thinking Grado, as I have a some prior experience of them, and like their slightly forward and pacy sound signature
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
457
198
11,070
Oh well i dont think that was any help to you what so ever OP, on the upside you now have a comprehensive list of every headphone at your
budget that's on the market!

Go to Z reviews on youtube and binge watch a few of his videos. He does very good review's of headphones at all prices
with numerous amps and gives you the pros and cons of each. I think at this point he's reviewed all currently on the market.
 

DougK

Well-known member
Dec 8, 2013
836
513
11,770
I bought these after your post somewhere else, and they are great value, but they're not as good as my AKG550. I've just got a Marantz headphone dac amp, so will also be looking for a pair of even more capable phones, am thinking Grado, as I have a some prior experience of them, and like their slightly forward and pacy sound signature
Grado are very quirky and different, personally I have a pair of 225's and wouldn't part with them. Unfortunately after listening for about an hour with them on my bonce it is so nice to head back to Senn. HD650 to appreciate what a comfortable set of headphones feels like :)
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
512
16
18,895
I've just acquired some 325e and they're everything I hoped they would be. They are very Grado, which is a bit marmite, so don't expect to have your guts churned by uber deep bass, but it's there, and it's fast and clean. For me though, nothing I've heard quite has the dynamics of Grado phones, the snap from a snare drum gets me every time, the dynamics on these phones is very impressive. You'll easily be able to hear the great drummers from the merely average, when a band is on fire, or just going through the motions.
 

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