4+ knuckle - closed - mid-range upgrade path?

Hey folks,
I have big ears, no, huge ears. They don’t stick out and create lift but they’re large. So large that my pair of Sennheiser HD 518s just fit.

I love the “Sennheiser sound ™” of the 5 series but obviously can’t take them on a plane due to their open backedness. (sic) The 518s are relegated to home use.

For outdoor and travel I currently use a pair of v1 Momentum on ear which sound pretty good for closed back but don’t offer the best sound isolation due to their size vs my ears.

So basically I want to know if there are any upgrade options for me that meet a few criteria.


  • 4+ knuckle (518,558,598 oval size)
  • closed back
  • decent isolation (and/or ANC for flying)
  • sound quality at least on par with my Sennheiser cans

(highly regarded)

  • an upgrade in audio quality over Sennheisers mid range
  • doesn’t need a dedicated amp
  • under US$200-250
  • understated design aesthetic (prefer black/silver)
  • removable (replaceable) pads
  • removable cable (especially if stock is too long)
  • 3.5mm short cable for portable


  • bluetooth (Wired optional)
  • single sided cable

I am content with what I have for now and I do NOT have a budget to include Neumann’s or STAX bro.

The pair I had seen that might suit are the HD 598cs the closed back version of the 5 series. Or perhaps the HD569, they seem more or less the same?

But then I saw the Z rantview.

Anything you buy is gonna have Brainwavz XL pads put on it. So start there. Now you won’t find much ANC in that size . I have these in for review and they are great … BUT

The pads are not HUUUGE and swapping on an active set tends to ruin them.

What aboutMonoprice retro? It is understated. I love the bass and soundstage (something those 518 wont do) and they fit the XL size pads which are a must. Just need to deal with the attached cable. Worst case you spent $30

You pretty much aren’t going to get anything with a better midrange than your Sennheisers around $200. Have you tried on any beyerdynamics?