Closed back upgrade advice! I want warm sound, strong bass, under $300

I am contemplating my next upgrade. I will primarily use these in an office environment so they need to be closed back and not leak too much sound. They also need to not look outrageous so my pals at the office don’t think I’m obnoxious. I don’t have any dac / amp setup yet, but I’m looking at the BTR5 as my next audio purchase. The main contenders I’m considering right now are the MDR-Z7 (used), and the DT770. I currently have a set of Sony MDR1A that I like because they are SO COMFY. I also like the sound signature but I feel like I want more of it. (If that makes sense.) Right now I drive them straight off my Galaxy S9. Does anybody know how these respond to amping? Would the BTR5 make a noticeable difference? Maybe I could just upgrade my source and be satisfied while I save up my pennies for a serious set of cans.
Any other suggestions or advice is appreciated. Thanks!


Hmm, what about an audioquest nighthawk carbon? I personally prefer it to the z7 and mdr1a, it’s pretty unique in sound with great bass and midrange, and a slightly subdued treble, but also a pretty wide presentation too, and they isolate a bit and don’t really leak sound while still having good stage. Comfort is very good for me, I would say it would be something to look into for sure

The mdr1a do benefit from an amp, but it’s not a drastic upgrade, but the boost in quality is nice. If you really like the signature, the mdr z7 might make more sense for you than the dt770, as that’s an upgraded sony sound


night hawks are open backed, not sure how much sound they leak tho. I live alone so I cant ask anyone to tell me how loud they sound from the outside.

They are semi open, really don’t leak that much and isolate decently well from my experience

Interesting. I was curious about the Nighthawks. I was actually looking at the Nightowls because they were closed. Would the BTR5 give enough juice to drive them? I’ve never heard Beyers so I don’t know if I like their sound or not. The only other cans I have experience with are Sennheiser Momentum Wireless and ATH M40x.

Yeah the fiio would give plenty to them imo (I would say that’s the case with all the headphones mentioned so far)

Oh forgot to mention I also have the BLON BL03 in ears and I love those shiny babies!

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How would you describe Beyer sound against the Sony’s?

The 770 is more v shaped with more impactful low end and brighter treble, it is also wider sounding and might be a bit more aggressive.

The BLONS are amazing! i own a pair too and prefer them over the Tin t2 and Tin T4

As i said, i LOVE the blons, and my 58x because of their sound signature. THe guys were thinking that because of that i might enjoy the nighthawks. I wonder if you would too because of that

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to add on to that sony’s tend to have a more consumer sounding tuning. it’s not at all a bad thing actually but just means a little more toned down and less treble emphasized. another headphone that can be considered are the meze 99 noir which is like beats or sony tuning but more refined really fun bassy pleasant headphones. or the one more triple driver over ears strong bass with detailed treble.


Grab the Massdrop Fostex Mahogany ($420) before they sell out. They look nice and classy too. unless you want to spend a little more on TH 610 (or find them open box/used) which are some of the best looking cans out there.

Fostex makes nice closed back that I think look great for an office. I use them when I’m not using my iSine 10 which tho open barely bleed but I’m in a closed office.

The $100 FiiO will push them too.

I do like those headphones, but I think they are a bit of a hassle to use portable tbh

Well if he’s concerned about looks…

The new DCA Aeon 2 might be the new closed back to get for portability, waiting for more reviews.

Why Fostex hasn’t just added a hinge to fold in is beyond me especially after they made the wires detachable.

Can highly recommend, but it’s most likely out of the budget for now

The 177x go would be nice too

I need to find a set of Beyers to listen to so I can get a feel for their tuning. I might enjoy a more aggressive presentation. I don’t really know. I strongly considered the 99 Noirs also. I heard they were warm sounding and relaxed, but I hadn’t really heard much about their bass. I want something that really kicks. Would they fit that description?

They’re sold out. Also I find it crazy they made that version of those cans and didn’t include the travel case the 1770 and 1990 come with. Gotta love drop.

It’s nice the made them able to take a balance cable after going through the trouble of making them more efficient and oh practically no one makes a cable for them except, Hart?

Yeah those are nice. Though their looks will stand out.

Have you guys listened to both the MDR1A and the 99 Noir? How do the sound signatures compare? Would it be a significant step up? I love the way the Meze set looks, so that’s not a problem.