Oct 18, 2018287 views

Suggestions for mid level at home listeners?

Hey Audiophiles! I checked other threads to make sure that I'm not repeating a previous post. If I missed a similar thread something I apologize for creating this new one.
I'm a college student so I don't have a lot of money but I am looking for a new pair of headphones. I've currently been using the HDT4.40 from Sennheiser for a year now and I absolutely love the experience. I use them day in and day out wearing them from class to class enjoying all kinds of music. I feel like its time I branch out get something a step up in the headphone market.
What I'm looking for is a pair of headphones that I can use at home(open back or closed) that delivers better sound quality and listening experience than my current headphones. Headphones that I can improve sound quality with a DAC or AMP possibly later down the line.
If you guys have any suggestions under the 400$ range I would love to hear them!
Thanks for the help,
Megazine, ltopper, and 2 others

Hey everyone! I appreciate all of the comments (did not expect this many responses to be honest with you) and advice given to help me decide on my next set of headphones. One thing I am kind of confused on is if there are benefits of having a DAP(which I believe has a DAC and AMP) over a DAC and AMP separated in terms of hardware housing . If I could get some opinions on the pros and cons of a DAP and DAC/AMP setup that would be awesome!
Thanks again for everyone's help! I really appreciate it!
A DAP is a Digital Audio Player and is more than just Digital to Analog Conversion and amplification. Many DAP's now utilize a customized version of Android so they can offer similar functionality to a phone. The amp and DAC sections typically outperform phones (LG V series being an exception). A DAP can be handy if you already have trouble with your phone lasting a full day. Otherwise I would vote for a battery powered portable... the Chord Mojo is pretty stellar example but much cheaper options exist.
In that price range, I have been recommending the Audeze Mobius. Built-in dac/amp (good and bad, since you can't upgrade), bluetooth, virtual surround for movies/games on the PC. Sound quality is pretty good in this price bracket. Bass is worlds better than any <$1000 Sennheiser. I like the mids better too, but maybe that's just me. Treble is about the same. That said, I think my HD600s sound bad enough that I sometimes wonder if they are broken. Based solely on measurements, I would go for the HD58X before the HD6XX.
I think it’s important to note that the older LG V20 and G6 are now priced similarly to entry level DAPs. As they offer call functionality, might not be a bad idea to carry two phones around.
There is no way I would carry two phones around, much less a DAP.
Don't let "cost" fool you. I recommend the Sennheiser HD-58X Jubilee over the 6XX. You'll get a much fuller sound and bass is superior in terms of quality: deep, more full, and bass-clarity. 6XX are great headphones as well, with some arguing the mids are slightly superior, so you won't go wrong with either. Keep note: the Jubilee are only 150ohm headphones, while the 6XX are 300ohms, so you can do a lot more with the 58X when paring them with any amp. Also, I wouldn't compare these two directly - 6XX to 58X. The 58X right now is having a battle with the latest Sennheiser HD-660S; no joke! The sound fromm the two are so similar that some people are having the trouble telling them apart, and also many listeners claiming the bass on the 58X are on par with the 660S'. Keep note, these two headsets are using the latest drivers from Senneiser: I believe they are the same, but someone can correct me if I'm wrong. The argument right now is this, is it worth spending $500 for the 660S, when you can get the jubilee for $150 - cost to performance. I own the 6XX, 58X, 7XX and 4XX.
There is some good advice in this thread. I second the recommendation of the 6xx. It’s a great baseline headphone at a great price. That said, the 6xx is very dependent on amplification. It’s a power hungry headphone. The 6xx and Aune X1S would be a nice setup for a dorm room and meet your $400 budget. You could even feed some powered speakers with it for no—headphone listening.
If you have not made a choice yet I will suggest a pairing I have and think you will be very happy with unless you are a bass head. The HD6XX with the SMSL Sanskrit Pro and amp. I use it for all of my headphones that do not require a ton of power to push.


The HiFiMan 4XX at $169 is a fantastic deal. I use them at work and though maybe not as good as my Focal Elear or HiFiMan HE-500 they are very balanced and have no glaring weakness. If you can stretch a bit the Focal Elex (sp?) Massdrop offers is a great under $1000 headphone. Not sure about the Snn 6XX but my 650s fall short of the other 2 above.
Great news! Buy either the HD6XX or HD58X headphones, then buy a Schiit magni 3 and modi 3 for amp/dac. Within your budget and it’s a very hard combo to beat at its price.
Hey thanks for the comment! What makes these combinations of products difficult to beat in comparison to other options?
All of them have very high price/performance ratios.
Safe a lot of money get the Senn 58x Jubilee headphones.
I like saving money, but why do you suggest that pair over other options in the sennheiser line up or even other brands?
Hey Shane so I just read all of the great reference comments and I just would like to add this. I think when you are a college student and you have that money it's important how you spend it. Let your goal determine the how, why, etc. What is your goal.. (like super specifically) in regards to sound? Some audiophi..I mean audio enthusiasts would like to seriously analyze what the hell is going on in the music they're listening to. In that case I would highly recommend hd600 from Senn. Those headphones are made for people who enjoys analyzing what they listen to. But if you want to just relax and focus more towards the vibe go for let's say the akg's. I would not recommend the hd58x.. when you can pay 50 bucks more to get a better package overall (hd6xx)(simply best bang for your buck hp imo). It's up to you and I highly advise you to have a goal and the more specific the better. (Side note if you are listening in your dorm or if your headphones are meant to be a stationary element go for open.. they're just better in so many aspects. Hope this helps.
Hey cjpianist, thanks for the advice! I am looking for something open back because I do a lot of work in my dorm room and it tends to be just me in there. You bring up a good point about what my goal for the headphones are and I would say I lean toward the relax and focus side of things. I'm not anywhere near educated enough to begin to analyze the music I'm listening to but looking to enjoy it in a way I haven't heard before in comparison to my current Head Phones. I've been lucky enough to have a house decked with Sonos gear and have had many enjoyable listening experiences with their products but need something more dedicated to the experience than anything I have.
Oh crap $400?! You are in excellent territory. I think that something in Sennheiser's HD6-- series is probably your best bet. I don't think you can do all that much better as far as accurate reproduction of sound regardless of how much you spend, and they also have decent sound stage and all that.
I recommend these as a starting point because they are very simple, and very good. They also give you a really good baseline to compare against should you later decide to try out some of the more exotic heaphone options out there (stuff like planar magnetic, or just more colorful or sound stagey stuff).
The only caveat I can think of is that the HD650s aren't terribly bassy even with pretty heavy adjustment, and the HD600s are even bassy. I haven't tried the HD660s and but I suspect they have a thicker low end than the 650s if past trends are continuing.
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Also( I forgot to ask this ), is there a key difference in using planar magnetic tech instead of the normal tech used for headphones. What would be the pros/cons of such tech?
Tbh, I think it is a gimmick. But people seem to be really excited about them right now.
"Sorry for your wallet!" :D
There are a heap of headphones you could buy for your price target, how far down the rabbit are you willing to go!? You're hinting of upgrading your signal chain later, are you wanting some permanent on your desk or would you still want a portable Dac/amp?
Open or closed but which would you prefer in your current home environment? Will an open-back headphone be fine or would you rather isolate you and your music away from others around?
Head over to the drop section, those headphones that you see on there (active) are very good choices for people starting out! Read through the comments/review section of each headphone and you'll get the gist of which headphone may appeal to you!
If you're familiar with the Sennheiser experience, then I'd gently nudge you down that line. ;)
Hahaha, my wallet is happy with what ever I want to spend it on! I don't have much of a desk right in the dorm so I'm looking for something thats technically portable but will only be staying in my dorm area. Looking at the open options not just to diversify my collection but also for the better sound quality. Theres not to much noise in my dorm so I don't think I would need the isolation of a closed back. Thanks for the help volly, I'll be sure to check out the comments and review!
Any insight into what you listen to? Does portability matter? With $400, you have some good options but it depends on your listening taste. There are tons of Beyers, Sennheisers, AKG, etc. in that range that are mid-fi or entry level HiFi.
Portability is not a concern, I’ll be keeping them at my dorms for the most part. I’ll list the music I don’t really listen to: classical-modern jazz(I’ll listen to lo-fi hip hop but that’s hardly jazz), country, trap rap/mumble rap. I listen to a lot of rock and blues(Hendrix, zepplin, beatles, Metallica, FFDP, RHCP, and other similar artists) as well as pop music and alt rock(LANY, 1975, Alt J, Arctic Monkeys, RKS). I just saw the Acoustic Research drop come out, what do you think of those?
Those genres of music aren’t in the wheelhouse of the stock HD 6xx in my experience. An easy mod makes them very good for rock. HD 58x might be a better option for you (price, no modding)
TH-X 00, HD 6xx (KISS mod), AT M50 MD O2, MCTH
My Micca OriGen G2 really stepped up my audio quality. It was $100ish from Amazon (currently out of stock). And I purchased a nice power cable for it, around $12.
I would recommend the Phillips SHP9500 but they got discontinued. They're a great bang for your buck over ear closed back. People say great things about the HD58X but their impedance is pretty high. The AKG K7XX is low impedance but the soundstage is a too wide.
Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll definetley take a look into those headphones and hey maybe someone is selling them on eBay!