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How to choose the best headphones for myself

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by B1gbeard, 30 Jan 2017.

  1. B1gbeard

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 12 Mar 2008

    Posts: 1,787

    Hi folks,

    I've had a pair of AKG 702's for some time now but because of the headband, which I've found uncomfortable and causes headaches, I've stopped using them. I wasn't bowled over by the sound either although I'm not sure if my Asus Essence STX II is driving them adequately.

    So I'm moving on and looking at other options.

    I've tried something similar to the Sennheiser design and find these more comfortable.

    So I'm wondering how you guys go about choosing headphones that are right for you? Is it a case of ordering and returning until you get it right (If you are unable to visit somewhere for a demo)? Should I get something to drive them first if my soundcard is inadequate and then try the headphones?

    I'd want to spend about £400 on a setup that would be good for music but primarily for immersive gaming. Current options I've looked at would be some HD600/650's and something to drive them or the GSX1000 + HD599 which looked a good allrounder combo (although I have my heart set on trying some 650's for some reason).

    Please help! :)
     
  2. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2009

    Posts: 11,178

    Did you have the older version with the head band bumps?

    They've been removed on a more recent variation, although judging by your preferences, that isn't your only gripe with them.

    Xonar Essence cards will power them just fine, so it's just the sound signature your not overly keen on.

    You could buy a pair from a site that allows easy return, then just return them if they are not what you're after. Some people order a few and send back the ones they don't want. The most obvious place is the jungle site, but returning too many open box products will eventually go against you.

    Some places openly allow you to return any number open box product as long as its new condition, but I'm guessing they are probably few and far between. Thomann springs to mind, but they are based in Germany, so you'd have to fork out for postage for returns.

    Other than that, then just trawl as many headphone forums as you can looking at people's likes and dislikes with each headphone you are interested in.

    HD650 would be a great choice, but really their best suit is music. AFAIK they make decent headphones for gaming, but some people have enquired about them before as solely a gaming headphone, and in my opinion that's a waste of their potential.

    Essence STX II will drive them fine and as you have it already really is the best choice of something that can drive them well but also provide surround effects. However, Dolby Headphone (found on the Xonar cards), pales in comparison to what the GSX is capable of.

    It's a dilemma. HD650 are really best suited to music, but if you go for those, you'll need to use them with the STX II. The GSX really cannot power more demanding headphones well enough. If you go for the GSX because of the superior surround sound features, then you'll also have to go for easier to drive headphones. Maybe not as good as the HD650 for music, but there you go; can't have it all.

    Good option for music primarily, gaming second; HD650 + STXII
    Good option for gaming primarily, music second: HD599 (or similar easy to drive headphone) + GSX.
     
  3. B1gbeard

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 12 Mar 2008

    Posts: 1,787

    Thanks for the detailed response.

    I have the flat band on the K702's. To be honest the issue is more health related. The band just causes me problems.

    I don't like the idea of buying stuff to test it but I think I've narrowed it down enough maybe.

    The surround option on the GSX1000 sounds really appealing. Maybe seeing as my card can drive the 650's I might give them a go first. Just to get it out of my system. :)
     
  4. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2009

    Posts: 11,178

    I think that's the best idea really. If you go straight to a GSX and whatever easy to drive headphone, then you might miss out on headphones that might be exactly what you are looking for. While GSX might offer a better surround sound effect experience in games, for music the HD650 might be worth sacrificing the better surround sound in games.

    I know what you mean when you mention having your heart set on a certain headphone. Was the same for me and the Denon AH-D2000. :D
     
  5. B1gbeard

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 12 Mar 2008

    Posts: 1,787

    Might look at the X2's as well. They have that lower separate headband but it seems more padded.
     
  6. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: 25 Jul 2012

    Posts: 6,153

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    I think you've narrowed it down pretty well already, the HD650 really is a bit special. I use mine for both gaming and music and while they don't have a cavernous sound stage like the AKGs it is still plenty accurate enough for gaming and the extra bass sounds nice with explosions.

    The STX II is more than powerful enough to drive both the HD650s and the K702s, so you won't have a problem there.

    Your alternative, the GSX1000 + HD599 is also a very good choice and almost certainly the best pure gaming combo on the market. If you are also keeping your STX II then you could always plug the HD599s into that, which would be pretty decent for music too.
     
  7. C64

    Capodecina

    Joined: 16 Mar 2007

    Posts: 12,752

    Location: London

    fidelio x1/x2 the hd650 will disappoint too without a real tube amp

    I am sat here with x1's and hd 650's and a schiit magni and the x1's keep the 650's unused in the cupboard
    maybe i just prefer the fuller richer beefier sound from the x1
     
    Last edited: 2 Feb 2017
  8. db2431

    Gangster

    Joined: 14 Dec 2006

    Posts: 373

    just get the zxr and hd600, zxr is practically identical to stx 2 plus has awesome surround that rivals sennhesier gsx1000.I had the stx 2 and sent it back for the zxr, the sound is identical for music.However the zxr sbx surround blows away the stx 2's dolby headphone for gaming.
     
    Last edited: 2 Feb 2017
  9. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: 25 Jul 2012

    Posts: 6,153

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    The ZxR will be ok with HD600 / HD650 but not the Philips X1 due to the ridiculously high output impedance of 38 ohms. Why Creative designed it this way is beyond stupid as it affects the sound quality from many headphones with impedances less than two to three hundred ohms.
     
  10. B1gbeard

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 12 Mar 2008

    Posts: 1,787

    A pair of HD650's turned up yesterday and so will be getting some testing over the weekend. Do you guys use anything especially for testing or is just a selection of CD's the best way to go?
     
  11. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2009

    Posts: 11,178

    Yeah, but go for something that you know has really good sound, something that has been mastered well, rather than something you like most. Of course if your favourite music albums have been mastered well, then.. :D

    Some of the music I like most is not mastered as well as I'd like. Using such music as the first to listen to new headphones, leaves a sense of feeling that the headphones could do better. Crap in, crap out. :p
     
    Last edited: 3 Feb 2017
  12. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: 25 Jul 2012

    Posts: 6,153

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    I tend to use albums by Dire Straits, Eagles, Steely Dan, Rush and Yes because I have copies (which I know very well) from very high quality masters in 24/96 FLAC, which takes the source material out of the equation, so any short comings will be due to the equipment I am testing.
     
  13. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 13 Oct 2006

    Posts: 74,039

    Personally not a fan of the 600 series for any serious gaming they are just too slow IMO - I don't find they work great with CMSS-3D or watching videos where people have recorded the output of the GSX especially when you compare them to fast headphones like the 500 series, etc.

    For music though totally different story - 600 series with a good amp is sublime.
     
  14. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: 25 Jul 2012

    Posts: 6,153

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    I find the HD650 to be fine for immersive gaming, the extra bass makes for some great explosions. For competitive gaming though they definitely aren't as good as the K702 but to be honest, very few other headphones are.
     
  15. Dwaindibbly

    Gangster

    Joined: 18 Sep 2014

    Posts: 214

    Location: Leicester

    As i new owner of some 598's i can say they are great for gaming and music sounds pretty ace too
     
  16. B1gbeard

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 12 Mar 2008

    Posts: 1,787

    I've been using the 650's now for a week and they are glorious for music. I'm not up on all the terms but each instrument just stands out on its own, is more noticeable and enjoyable. Vocals sound stunning.

    For gaming I've swapped between the 650's and my K702's playing Resident Evil 7 and tbh I'm not sure that one is better than the other. The 702's sound more open, a bit more expansive whereas the 650's sound a bit like your hearing is more limited, but not by much. The quality of the sounds are better on the 650's. A trade off I guess.
     
  17. PapaLazaru

    Capodecina

    Joined: 23 Dec 2009

    Posts: 17,870

    Location: RG8

    I use my 650's for both and have been happy to trade a little soundstage in gaming just for the fact that I only need one pair of headphone now.

    You may notice that in gaming, they really excel at lower volume, much more detail and with others I have tried.
     
  18. james.miller

    Capodecina

    Joined: 17 Aug 2003

    Posts: 19,395

    Location: Woburn Sand Dunes

    You've never liked them though. Ever. Even back when you were trying to convince everybody the goldring dr150's were better.

    Rroff.... Slow? What do you mean? Lack of treble or?
     
    Last edited: 19 Apr 2017
  19. Ayahuasca

    Capodecina

    Joined: 23 Apr 2014

    Posts: 22,798

    Location: Dream, Damage

    Old thread but the 700's really do it for me gaming wise over any 6 series headphone, musically most people will enjoy 650's more unless you listen to strictly classical or anything with a wide variety of instruments as the soundstage on the 700's is immense.

    I don't understand how anyone could rate the X1/X2 above 650's but each to their own, the bass is really bloated on them and they lack detail. It's very strange the hype they get on forums like this and reddit as outside of those I rarely ever see them recommended.
     
  20. Disco_P

    Soldato

    Joined: 30 Dec 2013

    Posts: 5,688

    Location: GPS signal not found. (11)

    I find it incredibly difficult to rate headphones on how 'good' they are for gaming. Maybe it's just me but i have had nearly the same experience using cloud 2, HD598 on a xonar dgx and HD650 with a schiit modi + vali. For music the 650 wins hands down but in games (to me) they were all a much of muchness.