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Best audiophile headphones under 500$


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Hi!

 

I'm shopping for new headphones now, I was wondering if you guys can recommend headphones around 300-500$ , thats my budget.


I have Sennheiser HD650 already, but honestly, i don't like it, it sounds boring , no life.


I'm listening to rock and metal music on vinyl only.
 

 

thanks!

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Maybe the Hifiman Sundara?  They are open not closed though not sure if that's an issue.

Roon Rock->Auralic Aria G2->Schiit Yggdrasil A2->McIntosh C47->McIntosh MC301 Monos->Wilson Audio Sabrinas

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

If you don’t have a good headphone amp, the Meze classic 99 is the best sounding headphone in my collection  at $300. Makes everything sound natural. If you do have a good headphone amp the Audeze LCD-1’s will resolve better at $400

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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I happen to like IEMs, and Etymotic's top line offerings are very accurate without breaking the budget.  But not many other folks are as into having those things stuck in their ears as I am, apparently. 😄

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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13 minutes ago, Jud said:

I happen to like IEMs, and Etymotic's top line offerings are very accurate without breaking the budget.  But not many other folks are as into having those things stuck in their ears as I am, apparently. 😄

 

We're all too nice to tell you where else we want you to stick them...  ;-)

No electron left behind...

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5 hours ago, davide256 said:

If you don’t have a good headphone amp, the Meze classic 99 is the best sounding headphone in my collection  at $300. Makes everything sound natural. If you do have a good headphone amp the Audeze LCD-1’s will resolve better at $400

I also like the 99s. I discovered a modification on Reddit that cleaned up the bass, making them, for me, much better. It was a bit fiddly to do but the cost (nothing for me!) was right.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had Sundara's, they were special, had an interesting depth. 

I sold those and got Focal Clear's hoping that it's an upgrade, but ultimately I was missing that special depth of Sundaras, so I returned the Focals 4 days later and got Arya's instead. I think it's pretty much my endgame, breathtaking headphones, pretty much Sundaras on steroids.

So at $350 Sundara is a great value IMO

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1 hour ago, Rafael G said:

I had Sundara's, they were special, had an interesting depth. 

I sold those and got Focal Clear's hoping that it's an upgrade, but ultimately I was missing that special depth of Sundaras, so I returned the Focals 4 days later and got Arya's instead. I think it's pretty much my endgame, breathtaking headphones, pretty much Sundaras on steroids.

So at $350 Sundara is a great value IMO


 

At Arya price range I’d just get HEDDPhone. But open backs are not for everyone. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

One more vote for the Meze 99 Classics. I bought them and the Sennheiser HD6xx from Drop and much prefer the 99's over the 6xx.  The 6xx seemed to analytical to me and I appreciate the nod to extra bass of the 99's.  I have ordered new ear pads to see if I can get the 99's a little closer to neutral, but have not tried them yet.  I power the 99's off an iFi Audio DAC / CAN  setup and the iFi Audio Hip Dac.  They don't need a lot of power but in my opinion get better presence and weight with a little bit of juice.  I too listen to a lot of metal music and very happy with them.

Main / Office: Home built computer -> Roon Core (Tidal & FLAC) -> Wireless -> Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 -> Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Noire (On order)

Portable / Travel: iPhone 12 Pro Max -> ALAC or Tidal -> iFi Hip Dac -> Meze 99 Classics or Meze Rai Solo

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On 4/19/2021 at 4:31 AM, morespin said:


 

At Arya price range I’d just get HEDDPhone. But open backs are not for everyone. 

I can only listen to closed back headphone for a limited time. I find open backs the only way to go but of course, if one is out and about they are not so handy.

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I agree about the Senn HD 650, they're boring; bloated mid-bass, muted treble. Unless paired with a tube amp, in which case the HD 650 becomes pretty good but still not great. I recommend the Grado Hemp. It will bring the life back to your music. There are lots of reviews, all I've seen rave about the sound quality.

 

Comparison Review: Grado HEMP and Audeze LCD1, Sennheiser HD6XX, and Hifiman Sundara headphones below. The HD 6XX is the Drop version of the HD 650, sounds the same. 

 

 

“To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity for reflection.” 
Bertrand Russell 

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On 4/8/2021 at 11:31 PM, Jud said:

I happen to like IEMs, and Etymotic's top line offerings are very accurate without breaking the budget.  But not many other folks are as into having those things stuck in their ears as I am, apparently. 😄

 

Which Etymotic in particular? I love in-ear IEMs. Onkyo E700M was the steal of the century at 99 bucks at that level of airy clarity with the bass, but it's discontinued. 

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On 4/8/2021 at 8:10 PM, davide256 said:

If you don’t have a good headphone amp, the Meze classic 99 is the best sounding headphone in my collection  at $300. Makes everything sound natural. If you do have a good headphone amp the Audeze LCD-1’s will resolve better at $400

 

 

Disagree about LCD-1. Audeze is good at its overpriced higher end, but this was a dud. It's boring and flabby at 400 bucks. Way too many better options - Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro...NAD HP 50 or 70...Meze 99....Audio Technica ATH-R70x.... Hifiman Sundara....etc. 

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43 minutes ago, morespin said:

 

 

Disagree about LCD-1. Audeze is good at its overpriced higher end, but this was a dud. It's boring and flabby at 400 bucks. Way too many better options - Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro...NAD HP 50 or 70...Meze 99....Audio Technica ATH-R70x.... Hifiman Sundara....etc. 

The LCD-1 isn't as powerful as the Sine but it will be more nuanced if your source and amplification are good. Conversely you become more aware of what the Meze 99

isn't doing as you compare to the LCD-1 with better source/amplification.

 

Beyerdynamic and Hifiman get into sound signature discussions... some people like their signature, I don't.

 

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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10 hours ago, morespin said:

 

Which Etymotic in particular? I love in-ear IEMs. Onkyo E700M was the steal of the century at 99 bucks at that level of airy clarity with the bass, but it's discontinued. 


ER4-SR would be the equivalent these days.  ER4-XR if you want more bass. MSRP $299.95.  Or they’re coming out with a new fancy IEM with multiple drivers for $499.95, for which pre-orders are available.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I wonder if this question is better posed at Head-Fi website, rather than the Audiophile Style website. Mostly because I don’t know how many users here listen to headphones and of those who do, how many of them routinely listen to multiple headphones less than $500. By comparison, I suspect the Head-Fi website would have many more users who routinely listen to multiple headphones less than $500.

 

Sometimes at this price range, you’re essentially getting a different sound, rather than a better sound compared to your Sennheiser HD650. That said, headphones technologies have improved and diversified. And I agree with the many suggestions already made here (even though I haven’t listened to most of those headphones), as they are from reliable brands with high-performance products. 

Roon (convolution filter using Acourate) > ultraRendu > Peachtree X1 (Toslink) > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Chord DAVE > Chord Etude > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature

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The ER4's are under $200 on Amazon.  That is quite a good price.  I did have the ER4SR but after 18 months one of the drivers came apart.  I do wear them exercising so heavy wear.  I picked up a pair of the ER2XRs and they sound pretty good for $100. 

QNAP TS453Pro w/QLMS->Netgear Switch->Netgear R7800 Router->Ethernet (50 ft)->Netgear switch->SBT->iFi xDSD->Linn Majik-IL (preamp)->Linn 2250->Linn Keilidh; Control Points: Squeeze Commander (DroidX) & iPeng (iPad Air); Also: Rega P3-24 w/ DV 10x5; OPPO 103; PC Playback: Foobar2000 & JRiver; Portable: Sony NWZ_ZX1 & ZX2 w/ PHA-3; SMSL IQ, Fiio Q5, iFi Nano iDSD BL; Garage: Edifier S1000DB Active Speakers  Wish List: New DAC,  SBT replacement; Dream system: Linn EXACT or ATC Active or Big Tubes (KR or Nagra or Shindo or ...)

 

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1 hour ago, ecwl said:

I wonder if this question is better posed at Head-Fi website, rather than the Audiophile Style website. Mostly because I don’t know how many users here listen to headphones and of those who do, how many of them routinely listen to multiple headphones less than $500. By comparison, I suspect the Head-Fi website would have many more users who routinely listen to multiple headphones less than $500.

 

Sometimes at this price range, you’re essentially getting a different sound, rather than a better sound compared to your Sennheiser HD650. That said, headphones technologies have improved and diversified. And I agree with the many suggestions already made here (even though I haven’t listened to most of those headphones), as they are from reliable brands with high-performance products. 

The other possibility is that the OP is using a basic phono pre section and all will sound boring until its upgraded? Would definitely replace that Audio Technica

cartridge with a Grado

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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3 hours ago, jcbenten said:

The ER4's are under $200 on Amazon.  That is quite a good price.  I did have the ER4SR but after 18 months one of the drivers came apart.  I do wear them exercising so heavy wear.  I picked up a pair of the ER2XRs and they sound pretty good for $100. 


Once in a while Amazon has these at a steal, and I would absolutely consider under $200 a steal. Maybe getting ready for the new top of the line to hit the market.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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  • 4 weeks later...

There are headphones designed for mixing music in the studio and more fun headphones than make music more fun. The 650's are designed for mixing. My Beyerdynamic 1990 headphones have two ear foams to choose from; one more flat sounding and the other with enhanced bass for more fun when playing video games or watching a movie. They are really well made too.

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