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Question Wireless headphones with a wired option for $600 / €500 / £440 (if they exist)

Coauctor

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Jan 1, 2021
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Hey, guys and gals!

I got valuable help from the neighboring section on Hi-Fi, and the guys advised me to ask about headphones here (mentioning @anort3). :)

Would be great to hear your thoughts! I'm kinda new to all this. Thanks in advance!
So, I have the following set of parameters brewing in my head:
  1. $600 / €500 / £440
  2. Over-the-ear
  3. Wireless — could be connected to a streamer/smartphone, aptX Bluetooth
  4. Wired — with an option to bypass its guts and listen to a streamer/turntable through a headamp
  5. Open-back / Closed-back — not sure, gravitating toward a closed-back
  6. A microphone is not needed
  7. Thinking about using it with Schiit headamp
  8. Battery life is not critical
  9. Used gear is perfectly fine
  10. Sennheiser Momentum 3 looks like an option, but I'm not sure, maybe planar magnetic options are nice too
Started with buying a streamer, moving in the following order:

hifi test - System setup draft (1).jpg

Have a fulfilling musical Friday (or the weekend)!
 

anort3

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Dec 8, 2019
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If you want wireless you're mostly going to be limited to the Bose QC35 or 700, Sony WM1000X or Sennheiser Momentum / HD450BT / PCX550. This is the weakest area of my headphone knowledge as I just don't use noise cancellation or wireless headphones. The QC35 is generally considered superior to the 700 in sound quality if not noise cancellation and in general has more of a neutral sound to the Sony's which are warmish and bassy. I've never heard any of the wireless Sennheisers to comment.

The noise cancelling headphones will give you isolation if you need it as I see closed back might be preferred.
 

Coauctor

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Jan 1, 2021
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If you want wireless you're mostly going to be limited to the Bose QC35 or 700, Sony WM1000X or Sennheiser Momentum / HD450BT / PCX550. This is the weakest area of my headphone knowledge as I just don't use noise cancellation or wireless headphones. The QC35 is generally considered superior to the 700 in sound quality if not noise cancellation and in general has more of a neutral sound to the Sony's which are warmish and bassy. I've never heard any of the wireless Sennheisers to comment.

The noise cancelling headphones will give you isolation if you need it as I see closed back might be preferred.
Thanks! Need to check that QC35. What would you recommend if going for wired options? Looking at my request, I think it might be better to have separate headphones too.
 

3mbraced

Active member
Oct 29, 2020
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If you want wireless try 1more stylish. I think they are great for the money. I use mine a lot. Great punchy sound. You can pick them up for fifty quid. But beware there are two versions. You need the new version as that has eight hour playing time. The original had three.
 

ThisIsJimmy

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2020
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I have the Bose QC35 II which i got free with my google pixel 5 last november. Comparing them to my wired Beyers that i use day in day out, it handles the high end well. Whilst some base is present it's light weight in comparison, which follows through to the lower mids which depending on what you are listening to can feel like they are missing. They also lack sub-bass. The imaging is above average and the soundstage i'd rate at about 7.5/10 (10 being wide). Cabled up they work best on medium gain on my Topping D90 (they are about 55 ohms). The cable that they have also appears to be bespoke, (3.5mm jack for your laptop/phone/ipod etc) and 2.5mm into the headphones. As a consequence this is very thin, so wouldn't surprise me if this is a bespoke part if lost or damaged that will cost over the odds to replace. Updating the firmware is also a sinch, and can be done via the phone app, or the Bose updater on your Windows desktop machine.

The party piece, is the phone integration, voice commands, bluetooth and noise cancelling. I've not properly tested this yet and confess these are pretty new out of the box. I will let things settle, burn them in and feedback once i've road tested them further. The sound out of the box via the my DAC and AMP feels very neutral (not warm or cold) Will be interesting to see how this compares when using Bluetooth.

It's worth noting that their is a newer version than these, the Bose QC35 III.

Depending on your use case, the main competition they have is in the form of the excellent Sony WM-1000-XM3 and it's successor the Sony WM-1000-XM4

If you do a lot of travelling (which i doubt many people are under Covid) the Bose and Sony offerings typically rule the roost as on a ferry, plane or passenger on a long car journey they come into their own.

If you are planning to use them round the house, depending on what you are doing, you will get much more enjoyment out of a true wired pair. You pay much more for the wireless/bluetooth/noise cancelling feature set rather than pure sound from my experience so far.

My friend has a pair of the Sony WM-1000-XM3s but with Covid i've not had chance to listen to them to be able to do a direct comparison.
 

Coauctor

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Jan 1, 2021
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@ThisIsJimmy @jjbomber @3mbraced

Hey guys, thank you all for additional comments! For a wireless solution, I stopped at Sennheiser Wireless Momentum 3, but I feel like I want to get a solid wired pair too. :D

Sennheiser served me pretty great in the first two weeks of usage. I realized that I move a lot sometimes, so having a walk using a wireless pair or doing chores is an absolute joy. I take them to my work too. The joy of having a nice sound on the go is awww yiss.

But!

I have wired Sennheiser HD439s which I use for sound design from time to time, and they handle some frequencies better, even being kinda inferior (I guess) to Momentums. Wired Momentums sound good too, but they are just good (and I already destroyed their 3.5>2.5 cable haha).

It is convenient to enclose the sound inside the headphones in public spaces, but an open-back design just has something different to it. I also dig that open-back feeling of music just flowing outward and getting back to my ears.

So!

Now I'm looking for a wired option for home listening, $600 / €500 / £440, open-back, over-ear. Mostly listen to proggy stuff and hmmmm multilayered music. Would appreciate a wide soundstage.

Right now I plug anything I could find into Bluesound Node 2i and test different gear. So I would like to have a wired pair for that streamer and for my TT part of the setup in the future.

Thanks again! Hope your weekend contains some good listening experience.
 

anort3

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Dec 8, 2019
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Using the Node 2i as a source? I don't know how capable that headphone out is going to be. Assuming it has some amplification:

AKG K712 Pro. Comfort, soundstage and detail. Great layering and imaging. Not quite neutral but that's a plus. One of my overall favorites out of the 14 or 15 headphones I've owned or currently own.

HiFi Man Sundara. An excellent, well balanced headphone. Hits above the $350 US price. Only had it a few weeks so I'm still auditioning it and breaking it in but it's very good.

Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro. Comes with 2 sets of pads that change the sound from sharp and dynamic to wide and bassy.

No amp.

The Sennheiser HD560S.

AKG 361 or 371.

Beyerdynamic DT770 specifically the 80ohm version.
 

Coauctor

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Jan 1, 2021
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@anort3

Thanks for your advice! How do you find Sundara now? This model feels very attractive. Going for a headamp and headphones this month. Wish Schiit would restoke Lyr 3 soon...
 

anort3

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How do you find it? I bought mine from the official HiFiMan ebay store but I'm in the US and could have bought them from a bunch of places including Amazon.
 

Coauctor

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Jan 1, 2021
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How do you find it? I bought mine from the official HiFiMan ebay store but I'm in the US and could have bought them from a bunch of places including Amazon.
Oh, a misunderstanding here. I tried to ask you about your opinion on Sundara. You mentioned earlier that you're auditioning it. :)
 

anort3

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Oh I see. It's an amazing value. Very well balanced and it pairs well with any type of music. It's well built and more comfortable than I thought it would be. I very much recommend it.

It needs more power then the 37ohm impedance suggests. And the stock cable is....well terrible. But I had a nice balanced cable made for my Elear that fits perfectly so I haven't even used the cable that came with it.

It's also the most open headphone I've ever owned. You can hear everything outside with no isolation at all.
 

Coauctor

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Jan 1, 2021
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Oh I see. It's an amazing value. Very well balanced and it pairs well with any type of music. It's well built and more comfortable than I thought it would be. I very much recommend it.

It needs more power then the 37ohm impedance suggests. And the stock cable is....well terrible. But I had a nice balanced cable made for my Elear that fits perfectly so I haven't even used the cable that came with it.

It's also the most open headphone I've ever owned. You can hear everything outside with no isolation at all.
Wow wow! Thanks for replying so quickly and sharing all the details.
Good pairing for any type of music and comfort both hit my spot.

Guess it's settled then. :)
 
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ThisIsJimmy

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Nov 11, 2020
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Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro. Comes with 2 sets of pads that change the sound from sharp and dynamic to wide and bassy.
Speaking of the Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pros, i've just taken delivery of mine....but they seem to be missing the 3.5mm to mini XLR Cables and the quarter inch adapter :LOL: which makes using them impossible. Slightly bemused, and contacted the distributor.
 

Coauctor

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Jan 1, 2021
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Speaking of the Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pros, i've just taken delivery of mine....but they seem to be missing the 3.5mm to mini XLR Cables and the quarter inch adapter :LOL: which makes using them impossible. Slightly bemused, and contacted the distributor.
Oh, I would be very frustrated because of that. Hope the distributor will solve the issue quickly and you get the taste of DT 1990 soon!

I destroyed 2.5 to 3.5 cable for Momentum pretty quickly. It seems like a cable is a weak spot of any headphones. Just like chargers for smartphones.
 
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Friesiansam

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Feb 3, 2015
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It seems like a cable is a weak spot of any headphones. Just like chargers for smartphones.
Really? I've been using headphones for over 35 years, from high-end down to throw-away cheap and never had a cable fail. Among those were a pair of mid 80s Beyerdynamic DT880 Studios that I used for 25 years, before they eventually expired with the cable still intact. Maybe you have been unlucky.
 
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Coauctor

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Really? I've been using headphones for over 35 years, from high-end down to throw-away cheap and never had a cable fail. Among those were a pair of mid 80s Beyerdynamic DT880 Studios that I used for 25 years, before they eventually expired with the cable still intact. Maybe you have been unlucky.
Yep, maybe it's just me, destroying all the cables here and there! My chargers and other cables fade out fairly quickly.
 
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anort3

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Never had a cable failure either. Some cables are better than others though. The stock cable that comes with the Sundara is on the lower end of things. They use the very common 3.5mm connectors so aftermarket cables are easy to find.
 

ThisIsJimmy

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2020
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I destroyed 2.5 to 3.5 cable for Momentum pretty quickly. It seems like a cable is a weak spot of any headphones. Just like chargers for smartphones.
Really? I've been using headphones for over 35 years, from high-end down to throw-away cheap and never had a cable fail. Among those were a pair of mid 80s Beyerdynamic DT880 Studios that I used for 25 years, before they eventually expired with the cable still intact. Maybe you have been unlucky.
That's what worries me about the Boss Quietcomfort QC35 II. The Cable is a thin 3.5mm jack to thinner 2.5mm custom jack (thankfully it's detachable). It anything is going to break on the headphones i'm expecting it to be this. In addition I cannot believe cabling that thin can be good for sound quality.

As for the Beyerdynamic cables, they are generally larger in comparison. My DT880 250Ohms have survived all kinds of abuse and different environments (including construction sites). The only Beyers i've had so far with worryingly thin cables are the T50P Portable headphones.
 

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