Question Looking for headphones with lower distortion ?

Stonyjim

Active member
Sep 13, 2020
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Hi All,

I have a couple of pairs of headphones that I run with an Arcam rHead Amp. The ones I mostly use are a set of Sennheiser HD 650s which are great for acoustic music and less aggressive music. My problem is that they sound very distorted especially at the low end listening to Led Zep or some louder and heavier rock. I read that Audeze and some other planer headphones avoid distortion better. Is this true ? These seem quite expensive and I am wondering if anyone has had similar experiences and could offer advice ?
 
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Stonyjim

Active member
Sep 13, 2020
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If I thought it was worth 700 pounds or higher to get a set that did the job - I would pay that sort of money. I paid 350 or thereabouts for the HD 650 and am disappointed that they are only good for certain types of music. This is never a problem with speakers even at the price point.
 
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anort3

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Dec 8, 2019
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I like the HD650s least out of everything I own. However low end distortion is not a thing. They have a mid bass hump making them warmish and they have that Sennheiser "veil". They don't have any sparkle up top. The HD600 is a better rock headphone.

Upgrades / different flavors, AKG K712 Pro, Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro, Focal X Massdrop Elex or Focal Clear ( goes on sale for $900 ) , HiFiMan Sundara or Ananda, Audeze LCD 2 Fazor if you can find one. The LCD 2 Classic is a planar HD650. Massdrop x MrSpeakers Ether CX. Even the HD600. The LCD 1 might be pretty good but I haven't heard it.
 

Stonyjim

Active member
Sep 13, 2020
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Appreciate the responce. Maybe low end Distortion is not the correct term. Just distortion then.
And you talk there about sound profiles etc. But to me Dynamic driver headphones distort very easily playing rock or loud complex music pieces.. Do Planer Headphones really distort less and are they better for listening to rock music than dynamic driver headphones ? I have not ever heard any on practice ?
 

anort3

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Dec 8, 2019
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I don't know what you mean by distortion. It's not something I've experienced. The driver type matters much less than the individual headphone, the quality of the drivers and the tuning.

I think the only way to answer your question is to try different headphones. Some people find planar drivers to be metallic sounding. In fact I tried and returned the Monoprice M1060 due to a metallic tone in the mids that I just couldn't unhear.

If you're having real distortion I'd look to your amp/DAC for problems. There's noting about an HD650 that lends itself towards distortion. It's a smooth headphone all around. Too smooth for my tastes in most cases.
 

Stonyjim

Active member
Sep 13, 2020
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My issue is not the the the individual sound signature of a particular headphone. I have the same issue with closed Beyerdynamic (which sound very different) as the HD650s and that is distorting of the sound once music is anyway complex loud or heavier. It's the same detoriation in sound as experienced when running speakers very loud. The sound lacks clarity and separation and is just well -distorted. But detoriation in sound quality with headphones it seems it occurs in headphones much easier and relatively much lower volumes than speakers. Maybe by their size and nature headphones are just never going to be match in the sound experience when compared to even modest speakers ? I can loads of different types of music on my B&W and Monitor Audio speakers and they sound great with most types of music even when played loud or low. I have tried different amps and headphones and it's the same story headphones at this price point and with an headphone amp don't offer much value for what you pay as far as I can hear. I though planer headphones by the way they marketed might be a better option and distort less but going by what you say it would appear not. Thanks for all your help.
 

anort3

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Dec 8, 2019
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Which other headphones have you heard? Have you heard the Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro? Anything from Focal? I have an Elear with the Elex pads making it both an Elear and an Elex and it does everything the HD650 doesn't. The Sundara from HiFi Man ( planar )? The K712 Pro is also surprisingly good.
 

Stonyjim

Active member
Sep 13, 2020
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The Sundara seem interesting and they are not crazy money. Would be tempted to give them a go especially if could complement what I have if that does not sound stupid.
 

anort3

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Dec 8, 2019
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I think maybe what you're calling distortion is the infamous Sennheiser Veil. The 650s are absolutely what I'd call veiled and dark. That's why I like the HD600 better. The Sundara has the exact opposite sound signature from the 650. The Sundara is bright and sparkly vs dark and veiled. The K712 Pro and 1990 Pro are also very good alternatives to the 650.
 

anort3

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Dec 8, 2019
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One other thing about HD600/650s is that they're very pad sensitive. New pads sound different from worn pads so if they're old try new pads.

Oh and older pre 2016 revision HD650s were more veiled than the newest 650/6XX version. I have the newest version and they're still veiled.
 

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