Best Headphones for Metal Music?

Hey everyone,

Looking for everyone’s opinion on the best headphones for metal music. I’m currently using the Fostex TH-600 and I’m enjoying them overall. Love the bass impact/slam, clarity, detail, soundstage, and imaging. What I don’t like about them is the recessed midrange and the slightly sibilant highs.

So what I’m wondering is, is there a headphone out there, that maintains bass on the same level as the Fostex, but with better midrange and highs? Fellow metal-heads: what headphones/sound signature do you enjoy the most with metal music? Thanks in advance for your suggestions and opinions.

Yeah I generally don’t like anything with recessed mids either. I ended up selling my IE800’s because of that. Personally my favorite headphone for metal at the moment is the HD6XX (w/ Chord Mojo) because it has the right bass levels with a good vocal range. Although that probably won’t be an upgrade for you. I’m still trying to find something significantly better myself. I’ve got the DT177X on order and I hope to get the LCD2C on sale at some point. Hopefully one of those will be the answer.

Hey, thanks for the reply. Please let me know what you think of the DT177X and LCD2C when you get them. I’ve been looking at those headphones, along with the Focal Elex, DT1990, TH-900, Campfire Audio Cascade and more. The only thing I’m really concerned about is being disappointed in the bass response from every headphone I try going forward after listening to the Fostex TH-600 for so long. I feel like basically every headphone sounds bass-light in comparison.

HD 58X Jubilee over 6XX. I have two pairs of headphones on my desk at work: 58X and 650. I also have a library of metal. The 58X get all the play. They bring good low end and keep the mids and highs. They don’t thump like my TR-X00 Ebony, but the vocals are good so worth the trade-off.

Not really a Metal head but I have to put my .02 and recommend the HD 25. Fantastic for harder stuff. When it comes to metal I’m mostly like Prog Metal Jazz fusion like Chon, Animals as Leaders, Plini, etc. and some other harder stuff like Megadeth and Rage. I’ve NEVER been let down with an HD25 for any of these. It’s just so intense and lively, and perfectly fits in with those types of genres. Great mid-range emphasis, fantastic bass, and a nice bright crispy treble (a bit metallic at times sure, but for metal that’s negated and actually works to it’s advantage imo).

Attached a graph. I realize that bass response might be a bit rolled off, but I got a really good seal so IDK. I know one of Tyll’s earlier graphs matched this one pretty well but I think some of his other ones showed a less rolled off bass. Also keep in mind there are a ton of different HD25’s as well.

Measured around 80dB.

Yeah, the Senns’ are absolutely amazing for vocals and mids. The only problem being is that the 6XX is a downgrade in every other respect other than the mids compared to the TH-600.

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Hey, I agree 100%. I actually own a HD 25 1-II that I use for portable use, they are great and I actually think they have much better sound quality then the significantly more expensive Sony XM3’s which I also use for portable use. But they have a specific use case of course, being noise cancellation.

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I’m gonna second the HD6XX because it has such lush midrange. You’ll likely really like the LCD2C for metal.

I always end up back with my vmoda m-100’s when it’s metal time.

You can try place a layer of felt in the earpads to tone down the highs. It won’t affect the lows and mids which in effect brings out the mids more. This may solve your sibilance problem too. You can also experiment with different materials. I did this to my TH-X00 and it’s enjoyable enough for listening to metal all day. But note that I think the mids on the X00 are not too recessed to begin with.

Another pair that I use often for metal is a modded Bosshifi B8. Powerful, tight bass that extends low, warm mids, good imaging, decent soundstage, treble is too hot stock but that’s why I modded them.

Until the last few months I basically just had HD660 and they are great for just about everything. They leave me wanting in the bass department a bit sometimes, as far as the amount is concerned. But the quality is fantastic. And I have yet to hear anything that does mids like they do.

This week I got my Argon mk3’s from modhouse. Good luck beating the bass these things put out if you power them properly. They don’t do mids like my 660s, amd the treble isnt Sendy Aiva, but they still have good detail.

Most metal isnt mixed very well, lets all be honest here. So I haven’t been able to stand listening to a lot of my music lately as it doesnt compare to soundtracks and other properly recorded and mixed genres. A lot of metal is actually kind of painful to listen to with cans like my Sendy Aiva, because you can hear just how bad it is. The 660s aren’t so detail focused that thus is an issue as much. But now, with the Argons I can enjoy a lot of my music again. Mostly because of the insane quality bass they produce on my THX 789.

I definitely recommend both. HD660 all around fantastic for just about everything I can think of. Argons for the bass heads who have the power to fuel their rage

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So I took a visit to a high end audio store today. I was considering buying the Hifiman Ananda, but the open box unit they had which was largely discounted was defective. I also listened to the LCD-2 (Non C). My first impressions were the mids were a bit too recessed for me, so I probably won’t be buying the LCD2C. Though I should note I prefer more forward vocals and mids in general (like on the HD600/650).

I then had a listen to the Focal Elear and Clear. Overall I preferred the Clear. The Elear definitely has a warmer sound, so I’m thinking you would like that one more. There’s an Amazon seller (the default) selling them for $480 right now. Seeing that, I went for them even though the tonal balance wasn’t exactly what I wanted. Many reviewers considered these to be superb at a $1000, but some also said they sounded weird (including Zeos) for one reason or another. Once I’ve had enough time to listen to them, I will report back here with my thoughts.
If anyway else decides to get the Elear from that seller, Be warned I don’t imagine he’s an authorized dealer. So you won’t get a warranty.

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I like my HD650’s. I like the Audio fidelity remaster of Dio Last in Line, and the Master of Puppets 3cd box. The Sennheisers will only put out whats there, but if it is there you WILL hear it.
Both these bands I saw live in the '90’s and actually remember the shows. I do really! Also any of the Japanese SHM rereleases have better clarity for older hard rock like Ozzy.

Hey, I’ll definitely check out the Elear’s, they sound pretty interesting. I also plan on visiting an audio store soon. I’ve got my shortlist ready, keen to try out the Audezes’ as well, I’ve heard so many differing opinions about them. Just need to hear them for myself I think…

I’m definitely keen to listen to the new Senn’s. I’ve only heard the 600 and it was awhile ago. I’m planning on visiting a high-end headphone store soon, so should be able to give them a listen.

So much of the decision depends on what you like in Metal. Metal can be anything from symphonic to death and anywhere in between, and that alone makes it difficult to quantify what audio equipment works well with it. Beyond that, people have different parts they like to focus on. I personally like my headphones to really bring out the crunch and edge in Metal guitar. I know there are better headphones out there, but the SHP9500 really excels with distorted guitar. It may be a function of the granularity in those headphones that helps in this respect. I also enjoy the HE-4 series (400i, 400s, 4XX) for more critical listening. When I want to put on Maiden or Blind Guardian and simply enjoy the complexity of the composition, and the skill of the musicians, that is what I grab.

Hi everyone, so I finally took a trip to a high-end headphone shop and listened to a bunch of headphones. I will write a quick summary below if anyone is interested:

Headphones I demoed:

Audeze LCD2C, X
Focal Elegia, Clear, Stellia
Hifiman Sundara, Ananda, Susvara
Fostex TH-610, 900
Campfire Audio Cascade
Final Audio Sonorous VI

Test Tracks:

Lamb of God - Blood of the Scribe, Broken Hands
Gojira - Toxic Garbage Island, Esoteric Surgery, Wolf Down the Earth
Death - Crystal Mountain, Spirit Crusher, Symbolic
Pig Destroyer - The Diplomat
Coheed and Cambria - Welcome Home
Between the Buried and Me - Mordecai
Nasum - Scoop
Sikth - Pussyfoot
The Black Dahlia Murder - What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse, I’m Charming
Trivium - Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Sugar Coated Sour
Pantera - 5 Minutes Alone
August Burns Red - Marianas Trench
Nails - You Will Never Be One Of Us
All That Remains - Whispers
Megadeth - Symphony of Destruction
At the Gates - Blinded By Fear
Amon Amarth - Twilight of the Thunder God

Listening was done through a Simaudio Moon 430HA

Preference based purely on sound quality:

Focal Stellia > Clear > Elegia > Susvara > Cascasde > TH-900 > TH-610 > Ananda > LCD-X > LCD2C > Sonorous VI > Sundara

The Focal Elegia and Campfire Audio Cascade stand out the most for their incredible value. The difference between the Elegia and the flagship Stellia was so subtle and minuscule that I can’t imagine ever being able to justify buying the Stellia, at four times the price of the Elegia.

I have to point out that the Audeze’s were very, very disappointing for me. Not that they were bad, I can definitely see why people love them so much. But going back and forth between the LCD-X and the Clear, it was just so apparent how much clearer (no pun intended) the Clear was in comparison. Yes, the Audeze had a bit more bass, and if you prefer a smoother, more “laid-back” sound, you will prefer the Audeze. But if you want your metal to sound “ballsy”, “aggressive” and “in-your-face”, then the Focal is where it is at!

The Focal Elegia is probably what I’m going to buy. It was dynamic, punchy, forward/aggressive, superb mids, nice, non-sibilant highs etc. All of the people claiming that these sound thin or bass-light are insane! This is coming from someone who currently has a Fostex TH-600!!

The bass is definitely slightly set-back and could definitely use some more quantity overall, but it’s still very good! Please check out the Focal line if you haven’t already. You might be pleasantly surprised like I was.

Yeah, I really like my elegia, very neutral and accurate, definitely a great purchase

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Lol, I guess you really didn’t like the Sundara. Like the HE4XX, they’re not great for metal. But I do enjoy them most other genres. Though I will probably start using them exclusively with EQ going forward due to the treble.

If you enjoyed Focal Clear, the Focal Elex ($700) will likely also be great for you. The Elex sounds similar to the Clear and is one of my favorites. But I have no idea if you’d enjoy them more or less than the Elegia. If I were you, I’d still get the Elegia just because it’s a safer purchase. You can’t return stuff bought on Drop.

I did try out the Elear, but I returned them because I figured I’d enjoy the Elex more. The issue they have is a dip in the upper mids. They are still a great buy for $500 though.

Owning both the elegia and the clear, and having heard the elex, I would say that the elegia is closer to the clear in both detail and sound signature. The clear had better soundstage, but their open, and the elegia has about equal Dynamics and detail tbh, they are just so close. The clear is slightly more neutral though, but the elegia is probably one of the only closed backs that comes close to a truly neutral sound. The elex is a more fun sounding headphone, almost w shaped to me. The elegia and clear have more detail, and are more neutral then the elex, but the elex almost sounds more dynamic then the other two, I’m guessing because of the sound signature. I also would say that the elex probably has the more energetic bass response

Edit: I would just skip the elear tbh, because it’s not as good as any of the headphones mentioned above. You might as well just save up and get an elex.

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