Best value headphones for classical music (specifically baroque)? HIFI 4XX, Sennheiser etc... what do you think?

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kia ora everyone, bit of a newbie around here. I'm from New Zealand, so not a lot of opportunity to try some of these headphones in the wild (ie retail store). I know people rave about the Senneheiser 598 for classical, but as yet DROP hasn't done a version of these (or has it, and I don't realise). I have HD music, via Qobuz, for favourites (Bach, solo cello, St John Passion etc, Vivaldi..., a little cool bebop). I use Vox and a small dac (Denon), and old entry level open back Sennheisers, or Sony MDRs. But I read reviews that talk about a soundstage, and get greedy for a better sound. So which headphones here would be best for my tastes? I have seen raves about the Hifi 4XX for value for money, but little on their performance for my type of music, and sennheiser seems good too, but... I'm pretty careful nowadays after encountering too many sound systems that made violins sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. Can someone help me out with some tips? thanks, Ngā mihi, Lindsey
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derbeder
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Oct 30, 2019
I listen to several hours of classical music every day on my headphone, everything from Claudio Monteverdi to Richard Wagner to Peteris Vasks. I have the following cans: Hifiman HE400i, Senn/Drop HD6XX, Beyerdynamic DT880, Meze/Drop 99 Noir, Focal Elegia. I also had Beyer DT770 and T70. These are in the $200 range, except for the Elegia, which I received today. I would say just forget about the Beyers. First off the closed cans (Meze Noir, Focal Elegia). I need these at work. Both of these are 32ohm and can be powered with your phone if that's what you need. They do benefit from a dedicated amp, Elegia more so than the 99 Noir, it seems. Even upon initial listening Elegia is much better suited to classical than the 99 Noir (or the closed Beyers). Mezes are very nice overall cans which have a v-shaped fun sound signature, but they have a rather small soundstage and box in the sound of an orchestra. Vocals aren't as detailed as one might like either. I just listened to Abbado's recording of Lohengrin on the Elegia, and the separation and quality of the voices are excellent. The orchestra has spread out and the brass in particular is strong without becoming sibilant in the high notes on the trumpets. I listened to the same recording last week on the 99 Noir and enjoyed it, but it was a better experience this time around. Elegia is rather expensive, however. I bought it open-box for $600 and I am not disappointed in my first impressions, but the difference between $200 and $600 is steep. If you will use the headphones at home, the open cans will be better choices for classical anyway. Before I bought a Schiit Jotunheim Multibit, I was using Chord Mojo, and easily preferred HE400i over HD6XX. HE400i can sound decent even without a dedicated amp, but it was great with the Mojo. HD6XX is no good without an amp. Mojo is a great dac and a decent amp and it can power the HD6XX, but the difference between listening to HD6XX with a powerful amp like Schiit Jotunheim was night and day for all kinds of music. Now Jotunheim without the dac module is $400 (so is the Drop THX AAA 789 or the upcoming Monolith 887), so adding up the price of a powerful amp to the HD6XX you reach the price of Focal Elegia. Still, I would probably prefer HD6XX+Jotunheim to Elegia connected straight to the computer's jack. I will need more time with the Elegia to say something more definitive, in any case. If you do not want to spend much on an amp, you might really like HE400i (or the Drop version HE4XX, I suppose). It is easy to drive, the soundstage is quite wide and the tonality of classical instruments is reproduced well. I wish I could use them at work, but I can't. At home, I almost always prefer HD6XX to HE400i because Jotunheim is sitting on the desk, but I think HE400i's really hold their own, especially in classical.
teataotu
7
Oct 30, 2019
Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. It is very helpful. Ngā mihi, Lindsey
teataotu
7
Oct 26, 2019
Thanks, I did a bit of digging, and the reviews do seem to suggest the treble is not so good for classical. I do wonder about the HIFI 4XX - people rave, but very few mention classical (though when they do, they rave, again).
rastus
1318
Oct 25, 2019
The drop hd6XX will be the best price/performance bargin, for the widest range and not have bass covering too much in classical play. Upgrade to a better cable(s), then focus next on dac/amp. Cables: https://www.etsy.com/listing/672481322/sennheiser-hd25-1-hd525-hd535-hd540?ga_ USB if you are using what came with the Denon: https://www.amazon.com/Pangea-Audio-Premier-Cable-Meter/dp/B06Y1VCRRC/ref=mp_

teataotu
7
Oct 26, 2019
thanks so much for taking the time, I really appreciate it. especially the tip toward the cable.
DenonFanboy
818
Oct 27, 2019
+1 for the 6XX, the cable is good enough, no need to worry about it ever.
gearhead117
24
Oct 25, 2019
The 58X is really popular - https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-x-sennheiser-hd-58x-jubilee-headphones Another alternative like you mentioned is the 4XX. I think someone else could clarify exactly which HE-400 they are built upon, but I have the first HE-400, and I would say the soundstage is good, but it's a bit too V shaped for classical. The treble can be a bit sharp. Read into the 58X a bit more! They're on my desk right now :)
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