Open backed headphone recommendations needed.

idc

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Having enjoyed my present set up for over a decade without any issues, my AKG K702 headphones have broken. The elastic adjustment, which has been repaired before, has given up and I get cracking noises plugging it in and out the amp. I use AKG K271 Mkii for listening when others are at home, and the open backed headphones for when home alone. My Grado SR80s are a good stand in, but the thick cable is annoying where I sit, so I am thinking of something around ear like the K702, that stays comfortable for hours of listening. I also want fabric earpads and preferably one cable, or if there are two, thinner than the Grado wires.

I have a decent budget of up to £400, but would I get a definite upgrade from the K702 or SR80s (around £110) or the AKG K271 (around £80) for that budget? The Musical Fidelity XcanV8P is capable of driving anything and was designed more in mind of £500 plus headphones, according to Antony Michaelson, owner of MF.

Detail is my main listening requirement, I like to follow each instrument.
 
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Upgrade the K701 to a K712 Pro. If you liked the comfort and sound of the 701 then you'll love the 712.

Beyond that get a Sundara.
 
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idc

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There is far more information and reviews than a decade ago, the last time I bought headphones. I have decided to save my pennies and go for the Beyerdynamic DT990, as opposed to the DT1990, as so many reviews suggest the cheaper headphone performs almost as well as the more expensive and in some cases, better.

I think I would need a grand before an upgrade would produce a significant improvement. Many reviews speak about a difference, not an improvement in SQ. More bass as a difference, as opposed to an improvement, does not justify spending loads of money.

I also looked at various graphs and the DT990 produce more bass and a bit more treble than the K702, the "V" that some reviews mention for Beyerdynamic headphones, and I think it would be good to try a different sound.
 
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I generally recommend against 2 headphones. The DT990 is one of them ( ATH M50X is the other ). It's sharp, sibilant and fatiguing. I find it painful on some tracks. The only redeeming factor is the soundstage which makes it a pretty good gaming headphone. Not sure what reviews you've seen but the 1990 Pro is on another level. It's still sharp to some degree but it's a very good headphone with none of the 990's problems.

The K701/702 have no bass. The 712 fixes that and has a cleaner overall driver with better extension on both ends while keeping the amazing soundstage.

I'd still recommend the Sundara over almost anything else at $350 US. I've owned about 15 headphones now and it's the best value I've ever encountered. It performs as well as stuff that costs twice as much. The DT1990 Pro included.

 
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idc

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I am taking a risk with the DT990 Pro, but the reviews and frequency response graphs I have seen mean I think it worth a go at just over £100 delivered. It is great having the graphs to peruse. I can see if a headphone is going to be more bassy than the headphones I have. The extra bass of the DT990 will hopefully help to make them not as shrill as certain reviews suggest. With my amp and the K702s, I am used to a distinctive treble and no thumping bassline.

Interesting what you say about the K701/2 and the K712, since the frequency graph I have seen has the K701 and K712 as identical throughout the bass range, with the K702 slightly more bass. I knew my K702s lacked bass extension, but they had the detail I like, which is something that the X-Can V8P majors on. This is the first time in years I have looked at anything hifi and just out of interest, I looked for reviews of the X -Can amp and the first one I read, was from someone very happy with it and the DT990s. If it turns out the DT990s are not one for extended listening, it does not matter, since I switch between headphones anyway.

Not being able to audition anything, I would rather risk £116 than £300. The only high end headphones I have listened to were Hifiman HE-6, which I got a loan of. I remember thinking they were good, especially the treble, but not so good that I could imagine spending that amount of money.



The Sundara certainly gets good reviews, but so much so, is it flavour of the year? The DT990s gets some reviews where it is criticised, but the reviewer then states he is happy with them and they are keepers. After years of listening to a succession of AKGs, I wanted something that is really quite different. It may not be better, so long as it is different.
 
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The Sundara certainly gets good reviews, but so much so, is it flavour of the year?
Yes because it's the best value in the headphone market. It's not perfect but you have to spend twice as much to equal it.

It's your money. The 990s are painful to me and harsh. I can't listen to them for periods longer than about 30 minutes. They're also not resolving enough to scale. They won't sound better plugged into a headphone amp/DAC than they will plugged into a laptop or phone. Maybe paired with a very dark tube amp they'd be palatable. Again other than for gaming I'd recommend against them. To me they fall into the same category as the M50X and are a great many people's first headphone so those people think that's what a headphone is supposed to sound like and write good reviews. Hopefully you enjoy them.
 
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Gray

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Not being able to audition anything, I would rather risk £116 than £300.
That's understandable.
Why not split the difference, reduce the risk and go for the 712Pro, currently £191 (I'm tempted myself and anort here is doing nothing to put me off :whistle:)
I wouldn't take too much notice of those graphs, yes they're a guide but they never tell the whole story.
 
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That's understandable.
Why not split the difference, reduce the risk and go for the 712Pro, currently £191 (I'm tempted myself and anort here is doing nothing to put me off :whistle:)
I wouldn't take too much notice of those graphs, yes they're a guide but they never tell the whole story.
That translates to about $270 US which is almost exactly what I paid for mine. I wouldn't recommend them at the full $499 retail but that's more about build quality than sound. But at that price I 100% recommend them especially since you already have a dead neutral pair with the 560S.

Which by the way may be another consideration. They sit at $199 US.
 
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I don't blame you one bit for wanting a change. That's why I've owned as many headphones as I have!
 
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ja_kub_sz

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May 26, 2021
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If an AKG fan I'm in love with my Austrian Audio Hi-X55 (very detailed sound) and the open back Hi-X65 are out next month for $419USD.

Nothing but great things to say about them at that price point.

I'm gonna grab a pair.
 

idc

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The Austrian Audio were tempting. I just need my AKG K271 Mkiis to pack in and I can start to look for another pair.

I think the secret to AKGs lasting, is store them on their sides, not hanging up, to stop the elastic stretching.
 

insider9

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If I had gone for the K712 Pro, they would be my 6th AKGs. I fancy a change!
I regret selling mine. But K371 I now use are the bomb and a significant upgrade to the K550 I also enjoyed in the past. One thing I'll say is I will never fancy a change from AKG headphones, but I get were all different. K712 Pro are really are excellent.
 

idc

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So far so good with the DT990 Pros. They are not as bright as many suggest and the supposed "V" of prominent bass and treble, with recessed mids, is also not noticeable to me. I hear something linear, with bass, mids and treble all given the same level of prominence, which for studio work, make sense.

They are also heavier than expected and they clamp more on my head than any other headphones I have ever used. I suspect that explains why I am not hearing what others hear. My other headphones have tended to the brighter side of SQ, major on detail and were designed with studio work in mind.
 

Friesiansam

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So far so good with the DT990 Pros. They are not as bright as many suggest and the supposed "V" of prominent bass and treble, with recessed mids, is also not noticeable to me.
I remember a very long time ago when I was looking for new headphones, mid 80s, a mag reviewer saying German headphones tended to be "all boom and tizz". I ended up buying a pair of Beyerdynamic DT880 Studios. Boom and tizz was not my experience.
 

idc

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I do find that with the volume control at its normal level, the DT990s sound a bit flat, with recessed mids. I presume, due to the 250 ohms, compared to the K271's 55 ohms, they need more driving. I can literally move the volume control a few millimetres and the headphones come alive and the mids become more apparent.
 

camcroft

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@anort3 Could you perhaps recommend some headphones a step up from the DT770 Pro 80 ohm closed back natural sounding I like all kinds of music and for desktop use with a iFi Zen Dac v2. I am asking as you seem to have a good selection of quality headphones price wise around the £200 mark. Thanks in advance.
 
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I wish I could. The closed back part makes it quite difficult. At the $200 dollar/pound level the DT770 is pretty much my go to recommendation. The AKG 371 is an alternative. The Meze 99 Neo maybe. The Sennheiser 569 but most people think it's lacking compared to the open back Sennheisers of the same price range.

If I think of anything else I'll post it.
 

camcroft

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I wish I could. The closed back part makes it quite difficult. At the $200 dollar/pound level the DT770 is pretty much my go to recommendation. The AKG 371 is an alternative. The Meze 99 Neo maybe. The Sennheiser 569 but most people think it's lacking compared to the open back Sennheisers of the same price range.

If I think of anything else I'll post it.
Thanks for that. If anyone else has any suggestions they will appreciated thanks.
 
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idc

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IMO, camcroft, there is no step up from a headphone on sale for about £100, to one for about £200. There is just a different sound, but even that is not guaranteed, if you buy another set of headphones with a similar sound signature to the DT770s.

Since there is no auditioning, I ended up spending a lot of time reading the reviews here and then looking at the frequency graphs on a site called Rtings. Look in the headphone section and then Tools and the Graph Tool. You get frequency response from low bass to mid treble and you will see whether another headphone is likely to be audibly different and in what way (there are other sites where you can see frequency graphs, I just found that site easy to use).

I wanted more bass than my K702s, so compared to the DT990s, the latter produces about 5 dB SPL more than the former throughout the lower and mid bass range, which should be audibly different. My own hearing confirms that, the DT990 Pros are more bassy than the K702s. The mids are the same and cymbals stand out more on the DT990 Pros, which again conforms with the frequency graph.

The DT990 Pros do not sound better to the K702s. They just sound different. Some of my favourite tracks sounded better on the K702s, and some now sound better on the DT990 Pros.

Now, beware! I have a very analytical approach, not shared by many. It is fair to say I was an active member here, but then it went a bit pear shaped and eventually I left, after I researched and posted a lot of about the science behind the sound, which did not go down well, especially with those whom I was contradicting. My analytical approach may not suit you.
 

camcroft

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Jan 12, 2012
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IMO, camcroft, there is no step up from a headphone on sale for about £100, to one for about £200. There is just a different sound, but even that is not guaranteed, if you buy another set of headphones with a similar sound signature to the DT770s.

Since there is no auditioning, I ended up spending a lot of time reading the reviews here and then looking at the frequency graphs on a site called Rtings. Look in the headphone section and then Tools and the Graph Tool. You get frequency response from low bass to mid treble and you will see whether another headphone is likely to be audibly different and in what way (there are other sites where you can see frequency graphs, I just found that site easy to use).

I wanted more bass than my K702s, so compared to the DT990s, the latter produces about 5 dB SPL more than the former throughout the lower and mid bass range, which should be audibly different. My own hearing confirms that, the DT990 Pros are more bassy than the K702s. The mids are the same and cymbals stand out more on the DT990 Pros, which again conforms with the frequency graph.

The DT990 Pros do not sound better to the K702s. They just sound different. Some of my favourite tracks sounded better on the K702s, and some now sound better on the DT990 Pros.

Now, beware! I have a very analytical approach, not shared by many. It is fair to say I was an active member here, but then it went a bit pear shaped and eventually I left, after I researched and posted a lot of about the science behind the sound, which did not go down well, especially with those whom I was contradicting. My analytical approach may not suit you.
Thank you for taking the time to reply. Cheers.:)
 

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