UPDATE: best headphone amps?

Want to talk about music hardware or software that doesn't include Reason?
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Last Alternative
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Post 30 Aug 2020

UPDATE: I went with the Sennheiser HD 650s. But I have to just about max the volume on my interface just to hear them due to 300ohms. What headphone amps do you use/recommend?

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We all know this topic is like asking what's the best shoes? or.. what's the best gun?

It's all personal preference but quality is always a factor too. I've sworn by my Sennheiser HD 280 pros for years but the head band padding is worn out and falling apart now. So I was thinking about replacing them with a better pair and would love to have some opinions since I think every single person in here has a pair they swear by. New technology has certainly become available since I bought these Sennies so I'd be obliged for your input.

I was also wondering what type to get - regular or open back. Should I have both for recording and mixing? As far as I know the closed/sealed back type is for recording and open back is for mixing. Is that right? What types of each do you suggest?
Last edited by Last Alternative on 07 Sep 2020, edited 1 time in total.
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EdGrip
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Post 31 Aug 2020

I find open-backed more pleasing to listen to, but you'll record the headphones if you record vocals with open-backed (not a problem with louder instruments further from your head, guitar amps etc, but you'll also hear the live instrument AND the headphone mix, which is probably not ideal. Or might be perfect, if you don't mind tweaking a bit of latency timing afterwards.)

I have a pair of AKG K712 open backed - very detailed, very open, very stereo. Not the flattest, and they will bass but you have to EQ them to do it.* They ARE very, very comfortable and I value that a lot as my other headphones (Beyerdynamic DT-150) would get clampy after an hour or so and even give me headaches.

If you're tuned in to the Sennheiser sound you might want to stick with it, just upgrade. Something like the Drop HD5XX.

*I trialled the Sonarworks headphone software, and approximated the correction profile into the EQ in my music player before the trial expired. Great for general listening. If Sonarworks charged £20 rather than £100, every hobbyist with headphones (which is all of them) would buy their software.

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motuscott
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Post 31 Aug 2020

I came from the 280s. Shure makes some nice cans in the $300 range. I have the 840 closed back. Circumaural is important for comfort.
Caveat: My hearing is like the Wreck of the Hesperus.
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Marco Raaphorst
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Post 31 Aug 2020

I love my Sennheiser HD600
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Bes
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Post 31 Aug 2020

i have had a pair of Audio Technica AD700's (open back) for over a decade that i love the sound of and use for everything, but i also have a few pair of closed back headphones around too like the sennheiser hd280 pro. i think it's good to have different listening environments but that could be different speakers or rooms too

mtbh
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Post 31 Aug 2020

beyerdynamic DT-770 gets my vote. Closed. I don't think you need both open and closed to record/mix.

But as always, try before you buy-..

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Noplan
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Post 31 Aug 2020

I have the AKG K702. They're definitely not the best on the market, but I'm fine. Price performance is right.

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miyaru
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Post 04 Sep 2020

I use Beyer Dynamic DT 770 pro headphones in combination with Sonarworks for calibration of the sound to a much better flat response. I also have a pair of Samsons SR 850 that can sound amazingly after the correction of Sonarworks - they are not great, but bought them for € 49,= for a set of two, and so I can work with correction with a co worker.

But it is the Beyer Dynamic DT 770 pro I use for critical jobs. Altough I have moniors too, I find myself do a lot with headphones on.........
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Ermitage
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Post 04 Sep 2020

EdGrip wrote:
31 Aug 2020
I find open-backed more pleasing to listen to, but you'll record the headphones if you record vocals with open-backed (not a problem with louder instruments further from your head, guitar amps etc, but you'll also hear the live instrument AND the headphone mix, which is probably not ideal. Or might be perfect, if you don't mind tweaking a bit of latency timing afterwards.)

I have a pair of AKG K712 open backed - very detailed, very open, very stereo. Not the flattest, and they will bass but you have to EQ them to do it.* They ARE very, very comfortable and I value that a lot as my other headphones (Beyerdynamic DT-150) would get clampy after an hour or so and even give me headaches.

If you're tuned in to the Sennheiser sound you might want to stick with it, just upgrade. Something like the Drop HD5XX.

*I trialled the Sonarworks headphone software, and approximated the correction profile into the EQ in my music player before the trial expired. Great for general listening. If Sonarworks charged £20 rather than £100, every hobbyist with headphones (which is all of them) would buy their software.

That's also my experience with closed-back. My (now effectively defunct thanks to torn earpads) Senn HD6s are great for mixing, but like you I'd also get sweaty ears and headaches if I wore them for more than an hour. Not great when you're sat doing projects than can take up 4+ hours.

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Oquasec
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Post 04 Sep 2020

I personally like the sennheiser brand. If senn makes speakers they will be my next speakers.

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Last Alternative
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Post 04 Sep 2020

Awesome feedback you guys! So I decided to keep my Sennheiser HD 280s for recording since they’re closed back & still sound amazing (will probably just duct tape up the headband part), and last night I ordered the Sennheiser HD 650s for mixing!!! Can’t wait!!!!!

If I wasn’t poor I’d get the top Senn HD 8xx but $1,500 is too rich for my blood 🩸

During all my research of the Neumann, AKG, Beyerdynamics, etc. My heart just kept pulling me back to Sennheiser. Solid “cans” 🎧 .. I hate that word lol
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EdGrip
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Post 04 Sep 2020

Nice one! Let us know how you get on! :D

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Skimrok
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Post 05 Sep 2020

Last Alternative wrote:
04 Sep 2020
Awesome feedback you guys! So I decided to keep my Sennheiser HD 280s for recording since they’re closed back & still sound amazing (will probably just duct tape up the headband part), and last night I ordered the Sennheiser HD 650s for mixing!!! Can’t wait!!!!!

If I wasn’t poor I’d get the top Senn HD 8xx but $1,500 is too rich for my blood 🩸

During all my research of the Neumann, AKG, Beyerdynamics, etc. My heart just kept pulling me back to Sennheiser. Solid “cans” 🎧 .. I hate that word lol
nice choice I be interested how you get on also , I was looking at these cans not long back, but I prefer one cord to one cup instead of 2 cups , :thumbs_up:
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EdGrip
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Post 05 Sep 2020

I also cannot bring myself to say cans.

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bxbrkrz
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Post 05 Sep 2020


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Skimrok
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Post 05 Sep 2020

EdGrip wrote:
05 Sep 2020
I also cannot bring myself to say cans.
why say it then :lol: he!he!
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MrFigg
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Post 05 Sep 2020

EdGrip wrote:
05 Sep 2020
I also cannot bring myself to say cans.
Can’ts
丰2ॐ

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Skimrok
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Post 05 Sep 2020

EdGrip wrote:
05 Sep 2020
I also cannot bring myself to say cans.
Reason 11 Suite :reason: Akai White Mini Mk3 / Nektar LX25+ / MPD218 /Focal Alpha 80 Monitors / Mrs10 Sub

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tronam
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Post 05 Sep 2020

For mixing or in-the-box producing I greatly prefer open-back headphones for the wider sense of soundstage and cleaner bass. I have a harder time mixing with closed-back because it sounds like it’s inside my skull and they often suffer from overly boomy bass. The Beyerdynamic DT-990 250ohm are my current under-$300 favorite. For live recording or noisy environments obviously closed is the way to go, but I haven’t found a pair yet I truly love. Still searching...

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Last Alternative
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Post 06 Sep 2020

My new Senn 650s just arrived! Rn I'm listening to all my favorite songs and comparing to my Senn 280s and what a MAJOR UPGRADE!

- Yes I also wish the 650s had 1 cable instead of both ears but the split isn't high enough to choke me out or anything so I can get used to that (it's not adjustable btw). I do need to do something with the cord bc it's laying on my arm as I type.
- Holy shiz it comes with a l o o o o o n g cord.. way too long seeing how I don't plan on walking acrossed the house while mixing so it's all wound up by the plug which I could do without but it's whatev. I'll just route it to where it's not in the way.
- I'm running thru my UA Apollo Twin and still have to crank the volume WAY up since these headphones are 300ohms. Either I'll need to get a headphone amp or just deal with cranking it to hear normal volume. Whereas the 280s you don't need the volume knob so high like at. all.
- open back is incredible for the sound stage & clarity. Like OMG I never knew. This opens new doors in mixing!
- 280 vs 650:

* 280 very nice but sounds closed in & blurry bass slightly overpowering the sound. Highs are nice and present but with such big bass and clear highs the mids sound slightly small. It's like a round world of sound contained in my head. I now appreciate closed headphones for recording only. Quality design until the headband fell apart which sux since I took good care of them. Not too clampy unless you're mixing all day/night. I never really liked the thin vinyl ear pads really. The 280s have served me well but it's a world of difference from 650. I rate them 8/10.

* 650 sounds like I'm in a sea of music all around me. Close your eyes and you can drift away. It's just like the reviews say - warm tight bass, mids, and highs. Wide open, crystal clear & don't sound hyped at all. Listening to different songs sounds so much more alive & insightful since you can hear all the detail in everything. I can't explain it better than that. The velvet ear pads are super comfy and big enough to cover around my ears so there's no discomfort after ~30 minutes now. When the music is off I hear everything - the AC, my girlfriend talking, etc. So you definitely wanna use these in a quiet place lest some outside noise ruin your mix & focus. Quality design, nice color, and looks pro. They came in a really nice box too. I rate them 10/10.

I literally just started jammin on these so it'll take time to break them in but I have zero regrets for spending $350 on these. I can only imagine how phenomenal the 820s are. Maybe my next upgrade someday. Sennheiser is a name you can trust. I'm so glad to have another way to reference my mixes. I used to have the Sony MDR 7506s too - they were nice but felt cheap like for beginners, even tho major studios use them for recording. Just not my taste. If Bose made legit flat studio headphones I'd get those too 4 sure in a heartbeat. I'm sure if I could afford it I'd have an arsenal of AKG and Beyerdynamics and all the rest you guys recommended but damn I'm a happy camper rn as it is :D

These headphones are so good I don't even care about the surprise hospital bill I got today too haha.
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Marco Raaphorst
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Post 06 Sep 2020

Cool! I am using Sennheiser HD600 for many years and love them too. 650 have a little more bass if I am correct.

The HD600 are the only headphones I ever used on which electric guitars sounds fine. Monitors are very forgiven, but headphones are super revealing.
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BananaSkins
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Post 06 Sep 2020

MrFigg wrote:
05 Sep 2020
EdGrip wrote:
05 Sep 2020
I also cannot bring myself to say cans.
Can’ts

:lol: :lol: :lol:

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rabidonthetrack
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Post 07 Sep 2020

I got the 650 this year too and I’m happy. No amp but I feel like max volume is good.

EdGrip
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Post 07 Sep 2020

See what Drop.com are selling at the moment. The O2 amp is relatively cheap and good and powerful - I have one, although I don't use it any more because the excellent amp in the Motu interface means I don't need it.

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Fotu
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Post 08 Sep 2020

Last Alternative wrote:
06 Sep 2020
My new Senn 650s just arrived! Rn I'm listening to all my favorite songs and comparing to my Senn 280s and what a MAJOR UPGRADE!....
Thanks for the update / review... your experience and description with the 280s vs open backs (though a different model) match mine. I only use the 280s for vocal recordings to avoid bleed, but open back for everything else.

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