Closed back headphone for mostly music and footsteps

Hey folks,

I am looking for a headphone since my old one got a broken cable and I think it is time that my ears can enjoy life aswell. My experience is kind of limited with mostly cheap headsets or ones related towards gaming. I had: A hyper cloud x 2, Senheizer ( don’t know which one) and those are the ones i can recall. I looked around in my area, but apperantly people in the European Union don’t like good music so i don’t have any shops to test or try headphones. After watching many videos i’m still unsure of what to buy. That’s why i want your help.

Flexible, but since it is my first ’ real’ headphone I kind of want a good one. I was thinking around the 500, but can go higher if that improves the quality significantly. With Dac and amp It could go higher, but it mostly depends on what it gets me. All together i was thinking of max 700.

Pysical Requirements

  • Detachable cable
  • Over ear
  • Closed back
  • Detachable earpads

Music taste and use
I game less and listen to music more and more, but i still hate getting shot in the back due to a lack of sound or placement of sound. So it is more music based, but able for fps gaming aswell. I have heard that planar magnetics preform high quality sound, but I have no idea if it is much better compard to other speakers.

I mostly play fps. In other genres i don’t really care about sound. So sound stage and precision are important if i am correct. For gaming I need a mic, but i don’t mind it being a stand alone or attachable.

I listen to a lot of different types of music, but I would, put it in 2 catagories:

  • Metal : Sabaton, Powerwolf and metalica
  • Idk how to formulate it, but it comes down to:
    Zager & Evans - In the Year 2525
    Alan Parsons Project - Old and Wise

I care the most about the vocals. I like to be immersed in the music and just listen to a person singing beautiful words in my ears.

Headphones options i have looked at
I am open for other suggestions. I looked at:

  • T60RP I don’t know how much the sound leakage is and they are hard to drive
  • dt 177x Go ( Not obtainable in EU)
  • Status Audio CB-1 I am concerned about the build quality
  • Oppo PM3 Isn’t sold anymore
  • Audeze mobius, I am not really sold on wireless headsets, but maybe that’s just a irrational fear of mine, but apart from that they look okay.
  • Focal eligia came out as the best option for me out of the Falenkor guide, It is 700 euro’s in the EU without dac and amp. So I fear it might be getting to expensive for me as beginner.

I have heard the dt 770 pro 32 ohm and i like the metal songs on it, but other than that I find it lacking in the vocal department and warmness and imerssiveness.

I don’t have one, I would like to try them and see if that improves the sound quality. I also heard about different profiles for gaming and music, but I don’t know much about it. I would prefer it if the dac/amp (solos or combo’s i don’t mind) can drive a wide range of headphones so i can use them for a long time.

I would love to get advice on what you recommend me to get. Why and what my options are. I would also appreciate advice in general about headphones, Dac and amps.

Any questions for more information are welcome aswell.

Thanks in Advance.

dt1990 with a warm amp like magni3+ or liquid spark. be around 600-700 total.

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If you want a cheap option the Creative Aurvana Live/SE has nice punchy bass and is well balanced and detailed for the price. Should be easy to drive but I’d suggest a decent $100+ amp as a baseline.

Man, this is a tough one. There’s not many that come to mind that can fit these preferences. Closed back already is restrictive to its soundstaging and to my knowledge there isn’t a lot that are mids and highs forward in sound.

I suppose my question would be does it really have to be closed back? Is there a reason for the needed isolation? You stand to gain better sound in this preference case from an open back since they are more capable of checking all the boxes here.

The problem I see is that you listen to hard hitting music so I assume you like your bass, you want vocals and therefore prefer mid centric, at the same time you want competitive gaming meaning the highs need raised. You would need a more bass neutral headphone with mids being raised or neutral and treble raised or rather more of a neutral bright headphone most likely or a W signature which are a tad uncommon

Mid centric closed backs cross off Beyerdynamics Hifiman and most of Sennheiser. Treble raised and less than $700 will cross off Audeze

The only two that come off the top of my head right away were the Sennheiser 280 Pro closed back or Sennheiser HD 598 C for its balanced sound traits and maybe the AKG k553 pro mk2 but may find not the best mids there. Howver, not detachable cable iirc.

This would technically work as its moddable to be closed back and can bring in the mids more but would take some particular mod work to get your desired signature. T50rp would be the cheaper option here to help get you what you want. Alternative mod friendly headphones would probably be SHP9500 modded closed and maybe the ThieAudio Phantom modded closed

I would skip beyerdynamic in your sound preference. In general beyers aren’t the most vocal centric headphone brand

yeah, build quality leaves a bit to the desire but this is one of the others that came to mind. It may suit your preference quite well.

I would personally skip this since you have more love for music and its not just straight gaming and your willing to check into amp/dacs. It sounds decent enough but I feel you will find better enjoyment in actual headphones

Hey, I know that guy! He made that guide that took forever to write up lol. It’s unfortunate you cannot afford an elegia though it has linear soundstage this is one hell of a headphone.

Is there a reason for the needed isolation?

Well I think i have to get closed backs because:
1 When i game it is mostly with other people so the mic cannot pick up sound from the headphones.
2 I don’t really like people listening in on me.

I just need to hear footsteps clearly, but I am willing to reduce that to just being able to hear them. I believe that makes it so the highs can be more neuteral, right? Would that help with the options?

This would technically work as its moddable to be closed back and can bring in the mids more but would take some particular mod work to get your desired signature.

I have no experience with modding. I saw modhouse has a huge queue and I am uncertain if i can/want to wait that long since I am using a borrowed pair.

Can a Dac help push the signature to where I want it to be?

Understandable to want a closed back then alright.

As far as subtle sounds such as footsteps are concerned the main things that get in the way are overwhelming bass and its rumble and in rare cases the mids from my experience which is why you want the treble if anything just slightly raised above neutral. If the bass is raised at all it can cause issues. That isn’t to say we can’t equalize them however it just creates complications without the more ideal chosen headphone.

It’s not particularly complicated to mod them. T40Rp if i remember right is already closed but T50 is said to sound the best. If you are uneasy on modifications may be best to skip these. Argons are semi open as well they aren’t going to offer the full isolation your after.

A dac will offer small changes to the sound but nothing significant enough to get it to where you want. You generally would use the headphones tuning itself, pad swaps or modifications, equalizers, and in some cases particular amps to obtain the sound you are after.

Alright so lets get into some of the more neutral headphones… something with a more of a balanced signature or more neutral bright closed headphones.

Sennheiser HD 598 C: while not the best in its closed variation sennheisers are known for good vocality and balanced signatures. This is still a good headphone just not the best. Bit of a toss up I hear some people hate this headphone while others love it. Open is said to sound a lot better than the closed but this is subjective preference. Cable detachment of 2.5mm capable of using a 2.5mm boom mic attachment. Pads can be swapped but are a bit of a pain in the ass. Modhouse sells adapter 3d rings for this reason.

Sennheiser HD 280 pro: extremely neutral with some portions of the frequency just barily falling under neutral. Has a minor treble peak adding some sparkle. Unfortunately no detachable cable here but the cable is said to be able to easily be replaced.

Shure 840: has a bit of an increase in the upper bass but can be equalized if it causes trouble good mids still neutral with raised highs enough to add detail and place footsteps decently well.

Superlux HD688(not the B edition thats semi open back): Somewhat recessed lower bass with mids being slightly raised and treble being bright. mids and highs are more in the mix with this one though may not be good for someone with a large head.

Takstar Pro 82: This is a classic favorite. More of a relative W signature as all three are raised subtley with treble peaking just slightly above the rest of the mix. Has a bass slider allowing you to bring the bass to more neutral levels while keeping the brightness… Well rounded. This is the headphone that led to the creation of the MH751 and HyperX Cloud series.

Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus: the only beyer I will put in here and its only cause its like the takstar with the bass slider. when fully closed the bass becomes relatively more recessed. Treble has a harsh dip into dark region but comes back up still allowing decent placements overall. mids remain more neutral and slightly raised. This is the alternative to the dt 770 with options. cable comes with a microphone on it already

Audeze El-8 Titanium: if you can find this in a cheap open box copy it will cost around $400. sound is full on neutral bright with treble raised and a slight peak in the upper bass. .

Audio Technica M40x: this headphone is practically all over the place… stock on ears offer more of a W signature but it needs a pad swap. Pad swaps will alter the sound accordingly based on what fabric your using. Recommended a pad that will tone back the bass while keeping the brightness. Portable has access to bluetooth options and 2.5mm boom mic attachments

Audio Technica MSR7: bass stays out of the way and slighlty dialed back. Mids are raised and more present and clear with treble raised but not sibilant. can come in a noise cancelling variation if you like noise cancellation components. Like the m40x has a detached cable allowing for attachments.

Aeons: This is one of those weird particular headphones… Found at the max budget here but needs an amp. $500 for RT or Massdrop Open X. Bass and treble are slightly raised and mids are present and clear. Detail all around and progressively sounds better the better the equipment more so if it becomes balanced. Tuning pads are offered to allow you to tweak the sound at your leisure and yes some of the pads can bring out the mids more. Closed version offers quite a bit more bass response in comparison though a little equalization or certain pads can settle it down efficiently. Con: non detachable ear pads though not needed

Alot of times you can switch out the pads for a Velour or Suede. These can help dial back the bass response open up your soundstage and imaging and in some cases brighten up the headphone therefore allowing you to place footsteps better than you would with generally say a sheepskin or leather based material which tend to isolate the sound more bring in the soundstage closer make it bassier and in some cases will reduce treble. Buying the right pads for quite the amount of headphones even closed backs can allow you to drastically change their sound signature. To the point of for example the dt 1990s which is known to be amazing in competitive if you were to change it to say… sheepskin or just its alternative pads you goes from neutral bright straight into a V signature with a lot of bass

The headphones listed above will have mostly a respectable yet not large soundstage. Just reasonable enough to get away with regular gaming. Swapping out to potentially airier or thicker pads can help that soundstage come out more. The headphones supplied are made with your preferences in mind for midcentric maintaining bass but not over the top, or can be equalized in the terms of being dialed back, with raised highs that can bring in the sounds of footsteps. Is there other options? course there is always will be. In gaming just in general one can just pick up a headphone and roll with it and not have a care in the world. Most “big shots” of the competitive gaming world don’t have these set gaming headsets they so claim to swear by they just pick up whatever they find most comfortable and stick with it cause they are good regardless. Headphones will only take you so far.

Cough cough…

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Yea, put those aeons on the list I wrote up here for that very reason lol

That or on headfi now there is a Fostex T-0x going for 75 euros…few bucks more can make you some Argons…know you aren’t sure bout em but shit…they punch way above their price point.

The issue is that he wants a closed back headphone for competitive gaming. Argons are way to0 bassy for good use in competitive gaming and are known pretty well for their deep low end and are semi open back

That deal is not for me, I am not in the USA, but thanks for bringing it up.

I have looked at all the options you suggested, the most promising to me are:

Sennheiser HD 280 pro

I heard zeos say they are good for gaming and music, but i heard other reviewers say they should be used for montering only.

Shure 840

They seem the best so far and are also obtainable in the netherlands. I’m curious how i should drive them? and what pads i should use?

Audio Technica MSR7

A close second at the moment, for some reason people are more sold on the sure 840, but maybe that is because of the price/quality.

If i give up on it being for fps gaming aswell, would the sound quality improve? I am guessing it would increase the music quality since the signature is easier to create. Maybe I am just wishful thinking. I am just wondering if better music headphones come forth if i give up on the fps gaming side of things.

Old HD280 Pros? I agree. Although I used and loved these for 10 years, for music listening and for making music. But the new HD280 Pros apparently got great soundstage too. So yes, they’d be great for music, gaming, etc.

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New version is better in those regards and better for gaming. Only issue like I said is the cable isn’t one of the detachables.

Pads out of the box are fine. A lot of people like the shures pads. You can of course pick up the other shure headphones pads for it as well as something from dekoni or brainwavz if you feel you want a different pad its worth looking into. As far as driving them they are 44 ohms and should be able to be driven ampless so if anything a cheaper amp will work just fine on them.

Shure has more of a following in that regard comparing to audio technica and in technicas case most of the time they want to make portable headphones so you would need a pad swap. Both are good.

If you give up on things such as footsteps that opens to door to essentially any headphone in general and would completely be based upon your preferences. Of which in terms of mid centric headphones I would immediately just go point at something from Focal or something higher on the Sennheiser lineup like 58x Jubilees or higher such as 660 S or 6xx. Essentially my recommendations would flp pretty drastically in that regard

Disclaimer: I play exactly 0 video games so…take my advise here with a salt lick worth.

Have you tried Argons in games? I would imagine the soundstage would be exceedingly useful. I know they pack some punchy base but I didn’t realize it was so so much. So brighter cans work better for games? Also the open back of the Argons seem way quieter than my Helios or the SHP 9500 I had. They are more like bass vents than fully open rears of speaker…how sensitive are the mics you guys run?

Appologies if I am misleading anyone…again zero knowledge of this specific use case

Your quite alright. I wrote generally what is the more ideal sound in competitive games over on my guide so I will relay that explaination here.

Alright so, let me start by explaining the ideology of the competitive gamer and what to look for in the most ideal sense to get the most in your FPS games. So ideally, you want either a neutral or recessed bass with little to no rumble, mids to be present raised or not too recessed, treble raised, imaging to be as accurate as possible for sound placement, proper sound seperation so things don’t sound jumbled together for accurate placement while playing, and a particular soundstage depending on which type of FPS you are playing more linear games can make do just fine with smaller soundstages these are games like COD, CSGO, Valorant, Halo but the larger FPS games such as Battlefield, Arma, Planetside, etc will required a much larger soundstage to really have a lot of benefits ideally a large soundstage will take care of both linear and larger fps. The reason we recess the bass or just want no rumble in general as too much bass will get in the way of fps cue cards that are particularly very quiet and subtle in the sound such as footsteps, breathing, and other movements and the reason we want more treble is it brings out those subtle sounds as well as gunfire more in the sound allowing you to better place them and their locations.

I have indeed tried them in games and while a really great sounding headphone due to the low end it makes them rather unreliable in competitive as they offer quite a lot of bass and rumble which tends to drown the footsteps and other fps cue cards you want to hear. That isn’t to say its bad for gaming its phenomenal in a casual sense for the gamer or for someone who doesn’t care about the fps sounds as much.

Yes, brighter cans will work better for fps. Upper mids being raised as well as treble bring out footsteps, glass shattering, breathing, gunshots, etc in an fps allowing you to better place the sound and locate your target however an open back tends to have a better placement due to a wider 360 degree of sound placement since the sound is no longer locked to the center of your head and more around you since the sound can escape.

I run either a modmic, v-moda boom pro, or a dynamic XLR microphone. Not all that sensitive but it really depends on which your going with. You can always use push to talk. V moda tends to show some hot tendencies or sensitivity issues every now and then. modmic isn’t so great in uni but sounds good and performs well in usb and wireless. Condensor mics tend to pick up damn near everything less you have a soundproof room, maybe push to talk, and sensitivities greatly adjusted. Dynamic mics are the ones you see in live concerts and are good quality and cancel out alot of background noises.