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Headphones with deep, tight bass


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I own the Sennheiser HD 650 and 800. While the 650's are fantastic for TV and movies and the 800's are great for classical and jazz and any other kinds of purely instrumental music (in my own opinion) I find them a tad shy with bass on some of the other genre's of music I listen to (R&B, Urban Gospel, Contemporary Christian, Rock, Pop and some movie soundtracks). I'd like to purchase a 3rd pair of headphones to fill that gap. I am thinking of Grado GS1000i or Audeze LCD XC. I don't just want deep, tight bass, I also want sweet highs (nothing to make my ears bleed) and full, luscious mid-range. Clarity & separation of instruments and voices is also important. Which of these 2 headphones will meet my goals best?

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I hope no one takes my reference to the HD 650 being good for TV and movies as a slam against its musicality. It's a great musical HP, but after listening through the HD 800's, well... Although the 650's bass is more assertive than the 800's when I listen to them I miss the clarity of the 800's. I've read the LCD 3 is a dark headphone. How does their dark compare to the HD 650? And how does the clarity compare with the HD 800? Though I love my bass I want my lows, mids and highs well balanced and none overpowering the other.

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I hope no one takes my reference to the HD 650 being good for TV and movies as a slam against its musicality. It's a great musical HP, but after listening through the HD 800's, well... Although the 650's bass is more assertive than the 800's when I listen to them I miss the clarity of the 800's. I've read the LCD 3 is a dark headphone. How does their dark compare to the HD 650? And how does the clarity compare with the HD 800? Though I love my bass I want my lows, mids and highs well balanced and none overpowering the other.

 

Have you tried any of the HIFIMAN headphones....something like the HE560 would be comparable to the Audeze - great planar bass although not as 'dark' as LCD

ER / Geisman OXCO / Grimm MU1  / Dutch & Dutch 8C / Townshend Seismic Isolation

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As others are also suggesting, you may well like planar magnetic headphones such as the Audezes or HiFiMan. Their ability to do bass is very attractive. Also there is that new planar from Mr. Speakers: the Ether.

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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I own the Sennheiser HD 650 and 800. While the 650's are fantastic for TV and movies and the 800's are great for classical and jazz and any other kinds of purely instrumental music (in my own opinion) I find them a tad shy with bass on some of the other genre's of music I listen to (R&B, Urban Gospel, Contemporary Christian, Rock, Pop and some movie soundtracks). I'd like to purchase a 3rd pair of headphones to fill that gap. I am thinking of Grado GS1000i or Audeze LCD XC. I don't just want deep, tight bass, I also want sweet highs (nothing to make my ears bleed) and full, luscious mid-range. Clarity & separation of instruments and voices is also important. Which of these 2 headphones will meet my goals best?

 

Well, after owning 150 headphones, my top picks for your requirements would be 1) The Final Audio Pandora VI (might be reissued as the Sonorous VI); 2) Oops - the Pandora VI is the only match I have.

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Be sure to listen to Grados before purchasing. They have some very strong family characteristics. They sound VERY bright IMO and I do not like them at all. Other people love them. I like HD6xx lot for their smoothness, Grados are at the opposite end of the spectrum.

 

The Audeze LCD-XC is nice sounding headphone, probably the best sounding closed one I have heard (better than my Alpha Dogs by a good margin.) The Audeze X and XC are a bit coarse sounding next to the LCD-3F, however. The LCD-3F is my current headphone of choice and I really like it. The LCD-2F is also really, really good for half the money. The Audeze family traits of earth shattering bass has been subdued quite a bit with the recent fazor versions, but now the bass is tighter and more defined. When I compared the LCD-X to the LCD-3 for a few hours before purchasing, the LCD-X at first sounds more neutral and clear. But then comparing the LCD-3 afterward, the LCD-3 was actually just as high resolution (if not higher) it was just smoother and less in-your-face about its resolution. It has a very svelte feel to it. The bass is still very solid and accurate sounding to me with great texture. The soundstage will be disappointing after the HD800, but other than that it does pretty well in the soundstage arena as the HD800 is the king.

 

To me the LCD-3 is the natural complement to the HD800 at this level of high-end headphone, they excel in different areas. The LCD-2F is actually really good too though. I would not overlook it.

 

Another headphone that I have very limited experience with but that I liked is the Fostex TH900. It is perhaps the most dynamic sounding headphone I have heard. The bass is likely pretty exaggerated but it sounds just great from top to bottom.

Roon ->UltraRendu + CI Audio 7v LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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Be sure to listen to Grados before purchasing. They have some very strong family characteristics. They sound VERY bright IMO and I do not like them at all. Other people love them. I like HD6xx lot for their smoothness, Grados are at the opposite end of the spectrum.

 

The differences are subtle for some, prominent for others. The treble in these 2 brands of headphones is generally uneven (as you can see in test curves at the big test sites), but depending on the actual strength of the treble and where peaks occur, you may or may not appreciate the sound.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I took the plunge and bought the Grado GS1000e. After more than a week of burn-in the highs and mids are pretty nice but the lower mids (or upper bass) is boomy and boxy. The kick drum is prominent and for me, ruins the whole music listening experience. I'll probably be trading these in for some other brand. The bass is nowhere near the prominence I want (as close to subwoofer depth as a HP can get). Might look into Hifiman HE-6 or 560 (I read a thread about how often Audeze owner's send their phones in for repairs). That's a definite turn off.

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I sold my Sennheiser HDVA 600 HP amp after buying the Marantz PM 11S3 integrated amp. I found the Marantz headphone jack sounded just as good as the Senn HDVA (using balanced cables). So at this time I have no dedicated HP amp. But I'm strongly considering the Violectric HPA V-281 amp after reading positive reviews.

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I sold my Sennheiser HDVA 600 HP amp after buying the Marantz PM 11S3 integrated amp. I found the Marantz headphone jack sounded just as good as the Senn HDVA (using balanced cables). So at this time I have no dedicated HP amp. But I'm strongly considering the Violectric HPA V-281 amp after reading positive reviews.

 

Apex is quite nice, especially if bass authority is what you need.

 

Apex Hi-Fi

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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If OP mainly uses JRiver to play music, why not just add a low-shelf filter to boost the bass in JRiver when listening through HD800? Most headphones sound so dramatically different, it's probably easier to DSP your HD800 rather than find a headphone that is better in every respect yet gives you the HD800 sound...

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If OP mainly uses JRiver to play music, why not just add a low-shelf filter to boost the bass in JRiver when listening through HD800? Most headphones sound so dramatically different, it's probably easier to DSP your HD800 rather than find a headphone that is better in every respect yet gives you the HD800 sound...

 

Excellent advice.

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I have JRiver but I use the Signalyst HQ Player the most because the sound is superior to JRiver (greater detail and brings the music alive). I love JRiver's interface, it's so easy to use and has many options including the graphic (& parametric) equalizer. But I find when I try to boost the bass thru the graphic EQ it sort of dulls the lower mids probably because it stops at 60Hz. I really don't know how to use the parametric EQ. I tried but the sound didn't change. If I could get some (very simple) pointers on how to use the parametric I'd be more than willing to try to equalize my HD 800's bass.

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I have JRiver but I use the Signalyst HQ Player the most because the sound is superior to JRiver (greater detail and brings the music alive). I love JRiver's interface, it's so easy to use and has many options including the graphic (& parametric) equalizer. But I find when I try to boost the bass thru the graphic EQ it sort of dulls the lower mids probably because it stops at 60Hz. I really don't know how to use the parametric EQ. I tried but the sound didn't change. If I could get some (very simple) pointers on how to use the parametric I'd be more than willing to try to equalize my HD 800's bass.

 

I would set the frequency to between 30-40-45 hz (experiment with all three), and set the 'Q', or the bandwidth, to between .4 (widest) and probably 1.5 at the most narrow. Then of course raise the volume at that frequency as needed.

 

The Q at a value of .4 would raise the bass most at the center frequency, but would also raise the bass a lot at nearby frequencies, making the overall sound much warmer. On the other hand, a narrow setting of 1.5 would boost mainly at the center frequency and drop off rapidly after that. But if neither of these ideas fixes the bass with one slider, use 2 or 3 sliders and adjust just what is necessary.

 

For me, when I make a setting that seems right, I find that I usually make more changes later when I play more music examples. Patience is the key to EQ.

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I have JRiver but I use the Signalyst HQ Player the most because the sound is superior to JRiver (greater detail and brings the music alive). I love JRiver's interface, it's so easy to use and has many options including the graphic (& parametric) equalizer. But I find when I try to boost the bass thru the graphic EQ it sort of dulls the lower mids probably because it stops at 60Hz. I really don't know how to use the parametric EQ. I tried but the sound didn't change. If I could get some (very simple) pointers on how to use the parametric I'd be more than willing to try to equalize my HD 800's bass.

 

Believed you just passed the serious audiophile test: can't tolerate what happens to harmonic structure when equalization is introduced.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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Believed you just passed the serious audiophile test: can't tolerate what happens to harmonic structure when equalization is introduced.

 

Don't believe it - when EQ is applied properly, it restores the proper tonality of instruments and voices, and perspective of soundstage. But that's not to say that most users know how to do that. It takes practice, but with a parametric equalizer it's very doable.

 

Edit: Be aware that headphone frequency response variances (peaks, recesses etc.) are on the order of 100 times worse than amplifiers, if there are no significant issues in impedance matching between amps and headphones. If your headphone has a big peak due to a resonance etc., and you adjust that down properly, the sound gets a lot better. One thing to remember for EQ success is to EQ for a natural sound where tones at a succession of frequencies are only a guide. Don't try for flat, and don't EQ to adjust for individual hearing anomalies, just EQ for the kind of sound you hear live.

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Sorry, to me EQ is just putting a band aid over the wound.

 

Incorrect. EQ saves a $600 loss from being a loss, if done properly. I don't EQ according to a theory such as you've stated - I EQ for real improvement. People spend real money on their headphones, and no headphone is perfect. EQ is a part of the audio process from microphone to final music playback, and those who know what it can do live much happier musical lives, without the colorations that others suffer from.

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BTW, here's something - a "constant current" DAC/amp that may just help eliminate some of those colorations before they occur. There are no real reviews I could find, but there's a discussion and one happy user on changstar....

 

Groove - USB DAC and headphone amp - Apogee Electronics

 

BTW again, which just goes to show how much you can spend to get better sound, and maybe not actually get it -- there is a 30th anniversary (of Apogee) edition of the Groove DAC that has "performance improvements" for $600, while the standard Groove is only $300 (which is twice as much as the $150 Dragonfly v1.2)

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Well, after owning 150 headphones,

I'm sure that's no record but it must be close. :)

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

no-mqa-sm.jpg

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