Dec 26, 2018121 views

Which headphone is the best for just general music listening?

I love listening to music, generally just pop/Jpop/Kpop/musical genre. I have been using the massdrop Fostex TR-X00, but I wanted to go something just for music listening (generally flat or more towards vocal). I want a nice pair of headphones that will last a long time, so i have set my budget high (around $1500). I have read really good reviews on most of the headphones in this price range such as Sennheiser hd800s and sony mdr-z1r. But because i am putting down so much money, I wanted to hear actual audiophile in massdrop's opinion on these headphones, or even tell me if these headphones are too expensive for my uses.
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I echo the recommendations for the Focal clear. A couple of "budget stretchers" that are on my radar as well are the Hifiman Arya and Hifiman HE6SE. I've always loved my HE-500 and by the time I decided I wanted that "little bit more" upgrade the HE-6 had been discontinued and was very difficult to find in stock form. The Arya seems to mate their high efficiency (X, Ananda, HE1000) with their traditional more difficult to drive line (400,500,6, Sundara). The HE-6SE is essentially the HE-6 with new clothes but be warned up front, is one of the hardest to drive headphones made. Own the Elex, the Clear is touted as a refined version with greater extension and smoother transitions between frequency ranges. This headphone should sound good with just about any quality source. Own the HE-500, honestly prefer its sound to the Elex (a close second) as I love the way planars handle bass. It takes a pretty beastly amp to sound it's best however. I use it mostly with a Cayin iHA-6 or a Gen 1 Schiit Lyr with NOS tubes. The HE-6/SE take even more power to sound good and are touted as the 500 with greater extension and clarity (assuming sufficient power). Happy hunting, let me know if you have questions, also own a Gen 1 late S/N T1 from Beyer if extreme clarity is your cup of tea.
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The X7 should be just fine with the Focal (Elex or Clear) as they dont need a lot of power. The X7 is also quite nice if you are in to gaming with headphones as it provides a lot of flexibility.
ElectronicVices
I went with the Focal Clear. Thank you all for the suggestions.
Easy, the Focal Clear. Arguably my favorite "reference" headphone. They are fast, dynamic, and like their namesake, clear. They're a joy to listen to, can be powered from just about anything and still sound amazing, and they also come with a nice suite of accessories (hard travel case, SE/XLR cables). If you wanted to pocket some change then the Elex is also a great contender. They have a lot in common with the Clear but do fall behind a bit in outright technicalities. They are also about half the price so its an easier pill to swallow.
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Personally, I did not enjoy the 800. While it is a VERY capable headphone, it's an analytical snooze fest that has some treble character I am not 100% keen on. If that's what you want, then the 800 is one of the best in that regard. Same with the Utopia, LCD4, HiFiMan super expensive edition, etc. For me, the Clear (and to a better degree the Elex) bring a welcome dose of musicality, dynamics, AND resolution in an easy to drive package. You don't need a fancy amp or anything like that to get a lot out of any Focal (sans the Utopia). And while they do not have the soundstage of the 800 family (no Focal does), they make up for it in speed, resolution, and dynamics. And in those regards, Focal is unique in this price bracket for really nailing those 3 attributes. For my ears, they sound akin to the woofers in my loudspeakers in texture and tone. That's something that gets missed in a lot of other "reference" headphones for the sake of "ultimate clarity and resolution." And this is super subjective but I just really enjoy the build and look of Focal's gear (typically all leather and metal) and the last 3 sets I purchased all came with hard cases and multiple cables, one of which was balanced.
jaydunndiddit
Agree with Clear being a great choice to consider... I almost wanted to get one after only listening to it for 30 minutes - and I really didn't like the Elear which I previously auditioned from a friend for ~100 hours of listening time (all I could take with it... it actually gave me headaches.) But my L300 Limited setup does what the Clear does and a little more. If I didn't have my STAX setup, the Focal Clears would probably be the next best thing, they are the closest headphone I've heard technical, balance, and tone wise to them (on my particular STAX setup. They both have very similar subbass (though my L300 Limited does have more impact with about same extension) and about the same midbass punch. Was running the Clear off my Gustard X20U DAC and custom modded Gustard H10 amp with settled in Burson V6 opamps (pair each of Vivid singles and Classic duals), same rig setup I demoed the Elear on. The Elear just left a not so good impression with me that I kind of dropped Focal off my immediate radar right then. Maybe I would have gotten a Clear instead of STAX beforehand, but comfort seems to be the other factor that Focal doesn't quite work for me. While I really like the sound of the Clear and it seemed just a tad bit more comfortable than the Elear from memory, it still doesn't wear as comfortably as my STAX L300 Limited (modded with L700 pads and headband) or any other headphone I have. I think the comfort is the only complaint I have for the Clear, thats why I really like suspension headbands, they are the most comfortable for me.
If you want a headphone that works great for all around general use you don't need to spend that much at all - because the Koss Porta Pro + Yaxi pads are a thing. That combo has more forward and intimate vocals than Sennheiser HD58X, while also being smoother sounding. Its one of the least fatiguing headphones to listen to I've heard and extremely comfortable with the Yaxi pads for an on-ear...about the only on-ear I find as or more comfortable to wear as comfortable over ears. While highs are a little rolled off, they are detailed enough. Low end is simply impressive, will be tighter than the TH-X00 yet same punch but less subbass impact /about same extension. And it's a small portable headphone that can be driven off anything and sound great. It's probably my favorite heaphone up until a Sennheiser HD58X/6XX level headphone. And even though the Sennheisers beat it on technical abilities, I usually prefer listening to the Koss over them. Mainly listen to electronic and Vocaloid but the Koss Porta Pro + Yaxi pads works for everything very well... impressive bass presentation with one of the most lovely vocal and mid tunings for a warm, full sound. And with how inexpensive the Porta Pro + Yaxi pads are (~$50USD), you can always just add them to your headphone inventory while you narrow down what $$$$ level headphone to get. The Porta Pro + Yaxi pads is truely one of the most impressive headphones that I've heard... you simply aren't expecting it to sound as good as it does. I'm more impressed by it than anything Audeze, Focal, or Sennheiser (except maybe HE1... which I have yet to experience.) Review of Porta Pro with Yaxi pads I completely agree with: https://theheadphonelist.com/yaxi-ear-pads-for-koss-porta-pro-review/ The HD800 are an acquired taste headphone and you really need to include a suitable amp in the cost of getting them because the amp will determine how much you will like them. Personally not fond of their sound and for that kind of money you can get a STAX Lambda setup... which I MUCH prefer and have (L300 Limiteds, with L700 pads and headband).
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Hey jupark123, There's a lot of options for sure. Some things I take into account when buying headphones: What kind of environment will you be listening in? Are you listening at home in a quiet environment? Are you walking around outside? Your sound has a lot to do with what environment it's in. I lean more towards an In Ear Monitor rather than an over ear situation. Do you have a preference?
billy.connolly
My intent for the headphones are only home use. I just wanted to get one nice pair for music listening only at home. My ultimate goal is to have decent speaker set up, but i live in a small apartment. I am leaning towards more of the over ear speaker than in-ear monitors.