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markm1111

Thinking about a change, what is the state of play in closed back headphones?

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Posted (edited)

I was right into head-fi quite a few years ago, and chopped and changed headphones and headphone amps a bit. I settled on a few that I liked, and they have been my staple for quite some time now. I have the AKG K702, Denon AH-D7000, Beyerdynamic T1, and a year or two ago added the Hifiman HE560. 

 

My main listening system has changed substantially over that time, and is very close to where I want it. My headphone listening isn't as regular, but can be for long periods. I am finding I mostly use the closed D7000s, as it is usually when I am sharing my office with my kids. I am using the Chord Hugo TT as both dac and headphone amp.

 

Now, in the past, I would have spent days trawling through Head-Fi to try to answer this question, but I am a bit reticent. It's not for the faint hearted, and sorting the fanbois from the genuine, and identifying when minor flaws, as well as positives, are blown out of all proportion, is difficult. So I am hoping to short cut the process a bit on SNA first.

 

I want to cull my headphones down to just the T1s and D7000s, and add another pair of higher end closed back headphones. I am not a bass head, so don't need ultimate bass. They must be very comfortable, not too heavy, not as warm as the D7000s, and work well single ended. Having said that, I could move to a balanced amp and run it from my Dave, but the performance of the headphones would have to justify it. I don't want full noise cancelling, closed is sufficient. I want to be able to hear a bit of what is going on around me, but not have too much sound leakage to disturb others. I also don't think any noise cancelling headphones are up to the quality of higher end closed back phones.

 

Note, I read Alsitair's thread from last year, and am still wondering. So, what suggestions do you have?

 

Thanks in advance

Edited by markm1111

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My favourite closed back headphones are Beyerdynamic T5p - lots of clarity, great dynamics and really easy to drive. The current Anstell&Kern version of these is supposed to be even better, but I've never heard them. 

If I was in the market, considering your criteria I'd be also looking at the following:

  • MrSpeakers Ether C Flow
  • Sennheiser HD820

 

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8 minutes ago, PleasantSounds said:

Sennheiser HD820

I second HD820. Beautiful sounding headphones, just auditioned at Sennheiser showroom in Pitt Street, Sydney. I got myself a HD800, wanted to upgrade but the path looked $teep :)

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Why not visit Minidisc in Chatswood, all the headphones you can think of and they have Chord Hugo tt available so bring a DAP or a memery stick with your favorite tunes. Considering you are after closed headphones it’s not going to be, trying all the headphones in the store. 

Also any opinions gathered would be just that opinions, best is to go and have a listen for yourself and formulate your own opinion. Perhaps bring the headphones that you going to keep as a comparison.

Neo

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I third the HD 820 - best closed back that I've heard, and a decent match for the brief time that I tried them with TT2 (not 1) and Dave, single-ended.

 

Also consider auditioning the Focal Stellia, just released, but I haven't heard them. Supposedly a closed back Utopia, but not as polarising. (Head-Fi TV has a short review, but you need to skip to 18min to miss all the propaganda)

I've heard the lower tier Elegia, which I didn't like (but I prefer open back anyway)

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15 hours ago, Neo said:

Why not visit Minidisc in Chatswood, all the headphones you can think of and they have Chord Hugo tt available so bring a DAP or a memery stick with your favorite tunes. Considering you are after closed headphones it’s not going to be, trying all the headphones in the store. 

Also any opinions gathered would be just that opinions, best is to go and have a listen for yourself and formulate your own opinion. Perhaps bring the headphones that you going to keep as a comparison.

Neo

Thanks Neo, a good idea. I forgot about Minidisc

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45 minutes ago, markm1111 said:

Thanks Neo, a good idea. I forgot about Minidisc

Speak to Wing, very knowledgeable and they have plenty of supporting gear to try with their extensive range of headphones 

Neo

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I have 32 and 250ohm Beyerdynamic 770 pros. Love them and take them on the train and plane when flying OS. You can get different ear muffs which just flip off (with a little effort). I found most sellers are happy to give really discounts on them.

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The Aeon Closed is a very good can too. Very neutral. SUPER comortable. They are very light, have a neat memory metal headband, and nice pads.

 

Definitely not bass heavy. And on the cheaper end @ $1150 or so. Might be worth a consideration.

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@markm1111

 

Mark

 

My main closed back headphone rig is currently sitting in a cupboard if you want to swing past and borrow it for a while.

 

Al 

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7 hours ago, alistairm said:

@markm1111

 

Mark

 

My main closed back headphone rig is currently sitting in a cupboard if you want to swing past and borrow it for a while.

 

Al 

Much appreciated Al, but I just picked up a pair of Aeon Flow closed headphones second hand. If they don't work out I might take you up on your offer.

 

I does remind me though that I still need to drop back that CD of ours I have had forever!

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I'm surprised no one has mentions the LCD 2 closed which sounded great when I demoed it. The mrspeakers ether cx was being sold on massdrop also looked interesting. There were also the modhouse argons which are great mid fi closed cans. Fostex th 900 if you wanted a V sound. Sony Z1R which was very smooth and huge sounding. ZMF Atticus and Eikon are very good if you can somehow get them shipped to Australia without the crazy import fee.

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Yeah, plenty of reasonable options.

 

LCD2 is like 650g though. **** is heavy.

 

Listening to the Z1R (thanks @rickus) now, build is good, pretty comfy, nice and light. Sound like a high-end can.

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I currently own the Pioneer SE-Monitor5. For ME, its better than any other closed backs from Z1R and below including the Sonorous VIII, LCD-2 Closed and XC, Elegia, DT1770 and Aeon closed. I think only the Stellia is clearly a step above, I think I might prefer the SEM5 to my Aeon open too. 

 

I haven't heard any Oppo PM series, CA Cascade, Beyer T5p and Denon stuff but most importantly dying to try those ZMF Eikon and Atticus. Almost forgot that I haven't heard the TH900 and TH610, not exactly looking for bass cannon but I tried the mahogany TH-X00 for 5 minutes which I found quite pleasant sounding. Audio Technica had also just released the AP2000TI.

 

Avoid HD820, simply terrible for that kind of price. Diminishing return and amount of choice are probably worst for closed around ears compared to open backs and IEMs

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