Coaltergeist

Best Headphones for listening/composing music?

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Hey so I was looking for a great pair of heaphones for music in general. I've never really had an amazing pair of headphones before, and I would like to get some with a really great sound quality. I know a lot of people like to use a speaker setup for composition, but a full speaker system isn't really an option at my new place. I'd been looking at the Sennheiser Momentum 1.0 and the Sony MDR-1A. The mdr is pretty expensive, but apparently nicer than the momentum 1.0. I can get the momentum 1 for a decent price with amazon prime, but I've heard the momentum 2 is pretty nice as well. I'm really looking for something under $200, so if anyone knows of a great pair, absolutely let me know. Also if anyone has those 2 pairs and has a strong opinion on them, by all means let me know as well.

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Gonna refer you to my response here:

http://ocremix.org/community/topic/41012-need-headphone-recommendations/#entry787058

 

I often recommend the Grado SR-60i (32 ohm) for about $80 MSRP to people who want to spend less than $100 for good headphones. Yeah, they're discontinued, but some people are still selling them. They were actually my very previous pair, and while my most recent pair (Beyerdynamic DT-880, 250 ohm) is great for bass mixing, it was hard to hear the difference between the two when I first switched, and I think they're pretty comparable. (it was more evident after 6 months that the difference was about half an hour of bass mixing on the Beyers compared to about 8 hours, I think it was, on the Grados)

 

I actually used this ReMix (listen to the bass synth and the background percussion) when comparing headphones before switching to the Grados, and this song (listen to the kick drum and snare at 1:01) before switching to the Beyers, if that helps. What I heard from the Grados was clear bass (but not well-defined) and crisp treble, while what I heard from the Beyers was more well-defined ("rounded") bass and cleaner treble (easier to distinguish between, say, 14000 Hz and 16000 Hz).

 

Here is a comparison of the Grado SR-60i and Beyerdynamic DT-880:

http://graphs.headphone.com/graphCompare.php?graphType=0&graphID[]=393&graphID[]=963&scale=30

which I think shows they're pretty comparable at 36~15000 Hz and the major differences are outside that frequency range.

 

Even though it seems like you want to use them for things other than mixing, if you wanted to use them for mixing, that'll work too.

 

Ideally, for mixing, I think you should be looking for the headphones with the flattest frequency response. I would also recommend the lowest impedance if there are multiple impedance "versions" of the headphones you want (I've seen 32, 250, and 600 ohms); basically, the higher the impedance (600 ohms is higher than 250 ohms), the more the treble frequencies are attenuated (like a low pass), and the more powerful a headphone amp (in watts) you may need to hear through a pair of headphones at a suitable volume with an accurate frequency response.

 

If you want me to show why that is, feel free to look here for a simple mathematical runthrough (you might have to just download it if you want to see the square root symbol):

https://app.box.com/s/4rczycc5poqybjwpqtao4yr1sml2nvn0

or it's here too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_impedance#Resistance_vs_reactance

 

Sorry, the headphones website I showed you doesn't have the same AKG K240 version, so there's no frequency response graph on that website for it.

 

 

By the looks of the frequency response for the Sennheiser Momentum 1.0 though, I wouldn't recommend it for mixing above 2000 Hz at all. It just tapers off starting at 1000 Hz and has a huge dip at 4500 Hz. The attenuation starts getting significant above about 2000 Hz. 5 dB is quite a bit of an EQ cut.

 

I would also consider whether it's open-back, semi-open, or closed-back. I would go for a semi-open pair (such as the Beyers) for proper bass mixing (bass doesn't escape as easily, but is also not as muffled), and low impedance for proper treble mixing (less attenuation of upper treble frequencies than higher impedances).

 

 

 

By the way, just a side note, but if headphone specifications say "OMG FREQUENCY RESPONSE OF 3Hz~100kHz!!!", ignore that. You can really only hear at 20Hz~20kHz anyways, so it's not significantly noticeable.

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If by listening you just mean for pleasure, I personally prefer a nice pair of Marley Positive Vibrations. They're a bit colored though - they have a little more bass(not near as much as most "celebrity" type headphones though) while maintaining a nice mid to upper range. Great for listening, and you can usually get them for around $50. However, I wouldn't recommend them for mixing or composing.

 

For mixing/composing headphones, I prefer the AKG K 240 semi-open headphones. They're on the cheaper end at around $100 and overall pretty good, though I couldn't explain the technical details. Unfortunately I've heard the production quality has gone down quite a bit and they aren't too good anymore, though mine don't seem that bad. Still though, If your goal is to stay under $200 you can probably do better. I'm a bit limited on my opinions as I don't tend to buy the more expensive headphones.

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Great info, both of you. Diggin' the technical info Timaeus! I definitely will try to take that into consideration during the process. Do you perhaps have a recommendation for a similar pair to the DT-880? That's a bit out of my price range. Gonna take a closer look at headphone.com now, thanks!

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Great info, both of you. Diggin' the technical info Timaeus! I definitely will try to take that into consideration during the process. Do you perhaps have a recommendation for a similar pair to the DT-880? That's a bit out of my price range. Gonna take a closer look at headphone.com now, thanks!

Good question :lol:

 

I'm not sure what else compares, other than the Grado SR-60i, since I have both. Those two are the best headphones that I *happened* to buy. :razz: I would second the AKG K240 though; if I remember correctly, djpretzel had them prior to switching to the Beyers. They compare pretty decently (besides the boost near 120 Hz, which could make you think your kick drums are ~5 dB stronger than they actually are; EDM kick drum fundamental frequencies are at about 80~160 Hz). The tapering above about 15000 Hz is pretty drastic, but fortunately, the gap between 15000 Hz and 20000 Hz isn't quite as noticeable as the gap between, say, 2000 Hz and 7000 Hz, in terms of the types of sounds that occupy those ranges.

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The ATH-M50x is considered by many to be the standard in headphone mixing. I just got them recently, they're very nice. Very clear bass detail.

 

There's lots of other nice pairs, like the ones Timaeus said. The DT-880 has been used by EDM composer and legendary OC ReMixer zircon for many, many years.

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Good question :lol:

I'm not sure what else compares, other than the Grado SR-60i, since I have both. Those two are the best headphones that I *happened* to buy. :razz: I would second the AKG K240 though; if I remember correctly, djpretzel had them prior to switching to the Beyers. They =2611&graphID[]=963&scale=30]compare pretty decently (besides the boost near 120 Hz, which could make you think your kick drums are ~5 dB stronger than they actually are; EDM kick drum fundamental frequencies are at about 80~160 Hz). The tapering above about 15000 Hz is pretty drastic, but fortunately, the gap between 15000 Hz and 20000 Hz isn't quite as noticeable as the gap between, say, 2000 Hz and 7000 Hz, in terms of the types of sounds that occupy those ranges.

The ATH-M50x is considered by many to be the standard in headphone mixing. I just got them recently, they're very nice. Very clear bass detail.

There's lots of other nice pairs, like the ones Timaeus said. The DT-880 has been used by EDM composer and legendary OC ReMixer zircon for many, many years.

So I'm pretty split between the sr-60i the k240, and the m50x. I feel that the middle ground in this situation between cost versus quality is the k40's. How do you get that comparison chart Timaeus? I would like to get a comparison between the 3, but the k240's or the m50x's sound like the best option.

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You can build one here:

http://www.headphone.com/pages/build-a-graph

(there the Grados are called "Grado SR-60", though. I see AKG K240 MKII and Audio Technica ATH-M50x)

Here's what I got:

http://graphs.headphone.com/graphCompare.php?graphType=0&graphID

Basically it looks like the dt-880's are the clear winner (duh), but the price is much higher than the others. If I am reading this correctly, the k240's perform better in the low range than the m50x's, and the opposite is true for the high range. The sr60's are decent overall, but for the price I think one could do better. Personally I am quite liking the k240's, but I will give it a bit more consideration.

EDIT: Fixed errors. Had the wrong ATH headphones in the last pic. The m50x look like it has a great low range and a decent high range, but the k240 looks like it is better overall.

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Some personal experience; I used k240s before I got the M50x. It's no comparison; M50x quality wins by a landslide. Remember Fletcher Munson curves; having a flat frequency graph yields mid-high frequencies that are way higher in perceived loudness than the lower end. Having a slight dip in the mid highs makes for a better listening experience and a more "humanized equality" rather than "technical equality". 

 

Either one is okay depending on your mixing philosophy, it doesn't really actually matter. If you mix with references, you can mix on anything. The ATH-M50x has extreme clarity even if it is a little imbalanced; the clarity to me is the most important thing, and references of my favorite tracks tell me how to get an overall balance. The graph runs counter to my opinion here, but I hold firmly that I get a much more A) informative and B ) enjoyable listening experience out of the M50x.

 

Also, frequency response curves don't really tell you everything; it's just dB response. It doesn't really tell you about clarity, especially in the bass region. The shape of the headphones matters, semi-open or closed back, the quality of the sound reproduction itself, etc. That graph says AKG-k240s have better bass than the M50x, but in my opinion, the k240s bass is nothing impressive, and the M50x destroys it in that sector.

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Some personal experience; I used k240s before I got the M50x. It's no comparison; M50x quality wins by a landslide. Remember Fletcher Munson curves; having a flat frequency graph yields mid-high frequencies that are way higher in perceived loudness than the lower end. Having a slight dip in the mid highs makes for a better listening experience and a more "humanized equality" rather than "technical equality". 

 

Either one is okay depending on your mixing philosophy, it doesn't really actually matter. If you mix with references, you can mix on anything. The ATH-M50x has extreme clarity even if it is a little imbalanced; the clarity to me is the most important thing, and references of my favorite tracks tell me how to get an overall balance. The graph runs counter to my opinion here, but I hold firmly that I get a much more A) informative and B ) enjoyable listening experience out of the M50x.

 

Also, frequency response curves don't really tell you everything; it's just dB response. It doesn't really tell you about clarity, especially in the bass region. The shape of the headphones matters, semi-open or closed back, the quality of the sound reproduction itself, etc. That graph says AKG-k240s have better bass than the M50x, but in my opinion, the k240s bass is nothing impressive, and the M50x destroys it in that sector.

I like your way of thinking, and I understand theat dB response isn't the only factor. However I am trying to get a pair of heaphones for mixing AND casual listening. I'm not going to take them to the gym or something like that, but I would like to use them for things other than just mixing/mastering. I believe that all 4 in question have semi-open backs and the price point is also a pretty big deal breaker. However I like that you give the m50x such a glowing review, so that will go into consideration as well.

Thanks for all the help everyone! I'm really glad that you all know a lot about all of this topic; without your advice I might have just gone out and bought some beats ;)

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I like your way of thinking, and I understand theat dB response isn't the only factor. However I am trying to get a pair of heaphones for mixing AND casual listening. I'm not going to take them to the gym or something like that, but I would like to use them for things other than just mixing/mastering. I believe that all 4 in question have semi-open backs and the price point is also a pretty big deal breaker. However I like that you give the m50x such a glowing review, so that will go into consideration as well.

Thanks for all the help everyone! I'm really glad that you all know a lot about all of this topic; without your advice I might have just gone out and bought some beats ;)

 

If you want something good for casual listening, the M50x beats the k240s. Same goes for critical listening (because of clarity).

 

The M50x are close-backed, so even though the bass dB response is technically lower than the k240s according to the graph, the bass is very big and clear because it's contained. They're not "flat" headphones because of this, no, but they are clear as well as enjoyable.

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Something else that I almost forgot to mention is the reverb response of the headphones.

 

I proceeded through the following headphones:

 

Sony MDR-7502 (~$40) -> ??? (forgot)(~$60) -> Shure SRH240A (~$60) -> Grado SR-60i (~$80) -> Beyerdynamic DT-880 (250 ohm) (~$400, but 51% off, so ~$200)

 

How I would describe them is the following:

Sony MDR-7502 - Hugely lacking in bass and treble (honestly, above 1000 Hz was terrible); didn't pay attention to the reverb response here

Shure SRH240A - Rather washy (with reverb), lacking in bass and upper treble

Grado SR-60i - Less washy, clean bass, crisp treble (somewhat hard for bass mixing, though)

Beyerdynamic DT-880 - Just dry enough for some excellent clarity, well-defined bass (loving it for bass mixing), distinct treble (so I can tell the difference between 14000 Hz and 18000 Hz, for example)

 

So if you can, I think you should test the headphones you want to get on a song with a lot of reverb to see how much clarity you get. This aspect of headphones could change the amount of reverb you want to put in your music. If you can't test it... I wish you luck on that! :)

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I'll give the same answer every time... before you start throwing money at the screen for brand names or specs.. consider that the most important thing is using a set of headphones that you're familiar with. The most important thing is to be intimately familiar with the sound you are hearing, know where the weaknesses are in your headphones, and be able to compensate for that.. like for example I know 2500KHz has a fall-off in the right speaker of my wireless sennheiser monitoring headphones.

 

Whether you pay $5 or $500 makes little difference, most of the work will be training yourself to listen with whatever headphones you get. Becoming familiar with how those headphones color the sound and how to compensate for that. Buying a super expensive pair is less important than many people will have you believe. 

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Yeah, I agree with Brandon. Over time, I've found myself able to make mixing decisions on headphones other than my primary ones (the Beyers), and even my semi-crappy speakers. :-P

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The M50x came in the mail today; I am quite impressed with how they sound. After a lot of internal deliberation, I decided to go with the M50x for the great price I got on Amazon Prime. One thing I forgot to mention earlier: I have a massive head (relatively ofc) and pretty big ears, so the fact that the M50x fits over my head and completely over my ears is a big plus. The strong bass is really nice for casual listening too; I haven't tried any mixing/mastering with them yet, but I'm sure they're fine with that too. Thank you so much to everyone who replied! I appreciate it a quite a bit.

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I think you found out from the thread that there is no "BEST" headphone.. however, I'd like to aim you at the Sentey ThorX. I've never seen a product rated this highly on Amazon. They're $40 and they can easily go toe to toe with my AKG Q701s. Very high quality headphones, durable, stainless steel frame and includes a semi-soft shell case. Listening to them now. Very good headphones. 

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The nature of my job allows me to be somewhat liberal with spending on certain pieces of equipment.  When it comes to headphones, this is what I've used and a quick summary of my thoughts:

 

MDR7506 - Surprisingly good for the cost and a balanced spectrum.  Be prepared to replace the ear pads quickly or you'll end up with little specks of black material on your ears, neck and clothes.

 

M50x - Listening to music in these is quite an experience, but that's the problem.  If you exclusively use these for a final mix confirmation, be prepared for others to tell you that your music lacks low end because these headphones give it a boost.

 

DT770/880 - My personal favorites.  I favor the DT880 a little more for the semi-open design.  However, I can't wear these for too long, at least not as long as the AKG's.

 

DT990 - This is another "fun" headphone.  Steer clear for mixing.

 

K702/K712 - These have great sound quality/staging and they're very comfortable, but something is off about the bass.  I tried mixing something on these last night while my wife was sleeping and when listening to it this morning on the monitors, the bass was way too high and some instruments in the mid to high range needed to come up.

 

 

TLDR - I would always recommend good monitors before splurging on a high dollar headphone, but the DT880's are my pick of the litter so far.

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I just picked up some DT880's. $180 on Amazon atm, not far off from ATH M50x at reg price.

 

It's less bassy, but I notice in a good way. It's semi-open, so the bass is no longer contained. I get the same (honestly, better) clarity without the fatigue.

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I just picked up some DT880's. $180 on Amazon atm, not far off from ATH M50x at reg price.

 

It's less bassy, but I notice in a good way. It's semi-open, so the bass is no longer contained. I get the same clarity without the fatigue.

 

Welcome to the club! B)

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