Mar 9, 2018184 views

Planar over Normal

So, let me get to the point. I want to buy a new set of headphones, as a way to upgrade from my Audio-Technica MX-40s. And i am on the fence between buying planar or "normal" headphones. I have a budget of around 350$. I was thinking of Massdrop x AKG K7XX or some planar ones. I am really not sure even after reaserch. Could anyone suggest something?

Thanks
-Grava
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I've got both the MD HE4xx's and MD HD6xx's. After a lot of reading I think I would go with a Schiit Fulla 2 for $99. At least that's what I'm going to get for home use. I currently user an AudioQuest Dragonfly Black. It can drive the HE4xx's decently but not the HD6xx's. The HE4xx's are Planars and have a very different character compared to the HD6xx's. The base is tighter, hits harder, and the mids and highs sound more precise to my ears. However, I'm sure some of the differences are due to the HD6xx's being under driven. Don't get me wrong. I really like the HD6xx's probably just as much. I just know, however, that they are not getting enough juice from the Dragonfly.
I owned a set of planars (LCD-2 Classic) and they are not as special as most people think.
You will not notice a difference if you compare a dynamic and a planar that are tuned similarry.
I have listened to Planars but didn't buy them. Heres why

1. I prefer a laid back/ relaxed sound tilt. I find Planars typically tilt towards the bright or shrill side.

2. Yes resolution on Planars is awesome. But my current set sony mdrs ma 900s had even better soundstage and dynamics.

3. you will probably need an amp. Is thaf in budget?

Note all observations are listening based. Sound can be subjective.
Going from regular driver to planar is a revelation if you value clarity. You'll notice breaths, coughs and small sounds you never noticed before. With your budget, I'd go with Hifiman He400i or the Monoprice 1060. You will love either.
I own an HE-500 and Sine (original) on the planar front as well decent number of dynamic can's (T1, HD650, X00, 325e get the most use). With my cans and experience here are MY generalizations, this won't apply to all but you might be helpful:
1) Bass - Dynamic can have more quantity but planars generally have less rolloff in the lowest frequencies.
2) Mids - This varies greatly for me on dynamic cans, generally pretty linear in planar technologies.
3) Treble - the HE500/Sine don't have the most linear treble and my dynamic mainstays are also all over the board so I can't offer much here as far as generalizations go. Seem's to be more dependent on manufacturer than driver technology.
Soundstage Size: Better/wider on my dynamics but both of my planars have good depth, just a little intimate/narrow.
Imaging: Varies a bit with dynamic... both my planars image quite well.

$350 is a good budget for a solid set of cans... my thoughts on a couple of MD options in that range:

1) The K7XX is reputed to have a great soundstage with a fairly linear sound if not somewhat unnatural. This (well it's predecessor the K701/2) is the only one of the original "Big Three" from Senn/Beyer/AKG that I've not owned so I can't speak to details. Should be a solid choice if you like a big soundstage and will be doing a lot of gaming. Moderately hard to drive due to it's relatively low efficiency. Some sort of amp would be recommended but is not necessarily "required".

2) HD6xx - this is basically an HD650 with new colors, cables, and a much lower price. The HD650 still holds the record for longest continuous listening session in my collection. This was my first +$300 headphone purchase and it still gets head time over a decade later. Really good choice if you like acoustic music and vocals as it sounds more natural than what little I've heard the AKG K series. The soundstage is deep and fairly tall but the instruments/singers tend to be packed a little closer to each other than some of my other 'phones (aka 3 blobs/groupings). I generally don't recommend this with a basic motherboard or low end HP output. Needs some sort of amping or higher voltage swing output.

3) HE4xx - seems to be a good deal based on other 4 series headphones. When I picked up the 500 it was a choice between the original 400 and the 6. While I wanted the HE6, I did not yet have an amp that could handle that beast nor did I want to part with the funds. The 400 was more bass oriented and a bit mid recessed IMO. The 500 is still as close to perfect as I've yet found as far as my preferred sound signature (not perfect, hence the stupid number of HP purchases I've made since).

If you've got no current amp/dac and only 350 to spend then I would go with the above options and spend the rest on some amping you may not appreciate the difference a DAC makes yet depending on your source.

Budget Stretchers:

If you like a bit of bass (the 40/40x are pretty neutral) then the Fostex X00's are truly wonderful but definitely not neutral. If you like things a tad more neutral then the new Hifiman Sundara looks like a solid choice and addresses some of the prior build concerns. My HE500's are several years old and I've had no issues but I'm also super protective of my gear.
ElectronicVices
Wow! thanks for the reply!

I am currently on the fence between the HE4xxs and the K7xxs. What type of amp would you suggest me to use for the K7xxs? and would it be needed for me to get an amp for the He4xxs? is so what do you recommend for around 100$

I can't thank you enough for the previous response!
Lord_Grava
Sorry that I missed your reply... a little late in the game but a few options around $100:

Objective 2 - Amp only $99
FiioE10k - Amp/Dac - $75
Fulla 2 $Amp/Dac $99

All of the above options should give you enough improvement to see if you want to dive deeper into electronics and should provide sufficient volume with the options I listed. I have an O2 for the office and it drives all but my 600 ohm T1 and my HE500 to good levels. I get enough volume with those two but the bass impact is lacking (not enough juice for dynamic bass peaks). I tend to use those headphones with a Gustard H10 and a Schiit Lyr.
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