TL;DR - Headphones needed for casual gaming/music listening, looking for low end, sound stage, imaging - don’t know preferred sound signature. Current (11/03) sale prices on several headphones listed toward bottom. Need help choosing.
Hoping someone here might be willing to sit down and help out a new guy with this decision. I’ve been shopping for a single, all around fun pair of headphones that best fit my needs. I have been using a HyperX Cloud II headset now for a few years and am ready to upgrade to something better. I have been doing my best to read reviews, watch videos detailing the different sound signatures and characteristics of each brand/model, and read through posts/threads others have posted with similar questions trying to apply responses to my needs. Ultimately, it sounds like virtually no single pair of headphones can truly be everything (unless I spend thousands of dollars) as each has its own sound signature and area it excels in and/or lacks. So what I am looking for is something that best checks the below boxes.
I’ve tried going by some different audio stores in my area, however, I have been unable to listen to any of the following headphones with my own two ears. Going into this, I do not have a known preference in sound signature as I cannot listen to any of the brands I am interested in. In advance, I have never listened to an open back pair of headphones, only closed back gaming headsets. I am interested in open back in particular as being able to hear the doorbell ring or an important phone call does seem to have some extra value. However, I am not ruling out closed back; they’ve been fine for years. These will not be worn anywhere but at my desk.
Funds are set aside in the bank, and I have been watching prices now for about 4 months (waiting on black Friday /cyber sales). However, these recent sales on Drop/Amazon, have me really feeling the pressure to buy. So, with that in mind, the following is how I will use the headphones and my current music preference:
Gaming – I spend on average 2-5 hours or more at the computer gaming. I am a filthy casual and only occasionally play FPS with 98% of the time spent in MMO’s and single player games; so, my world does not revolve around footsteps. I would really like to get a sound that feels like fields are expansive and caves are cavernous, but also have good directional positioning/imaging. Gaming is primarily what I do with this computer. Most forum threads and reviews I have read that mention gaming frame their responses/suggestions around competitive FPS and suggest headphones that have sucked out base/low end to concentrate on footsteps with a very forward mid range. However, those responses are not exactly what I am looking for and why I am posting, I want to feel those big explosions and often listen to my own music while playing MMO’s. Most of the headphones I have been looking at do not have mic’s (except PC37x), so I understand I will probably have to look into a vmoda or mod mic.
Music – I mainly listen to Hip-hop, rock, alternative rock, electronic, etc – punchy music with a lot of low end. However, I have listened to Beats headphones which were so overly boomy it ruined the sound. On the other end, I’ve owned some no-name cheap headphones which had virtually no base/low end and felt anemic by comparison and I disliked equally to the boomy set.
Budget - ~$300 for headphones
Headphones on my watchlist and their current pricing (11-03-2019) – arranged by price USD:
- Philips SHP9500 - $66
- Sennheiser PC37X - $100 (mic would be convenient)
- Hifiman HE4xx - $130
- Philips Fidelio X2HR - $133
- Sennheiser HD 58x - $135
- Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro - $175
- AKG K7xx - $200
- Argons - $295
Budget: ~ ~$250 for DAC/AMP
Amp/Dac watchlist – these seemed to be able to feed most of the above headphones (save maybe the T50 mods which sounds like I will need the heart of a dying star to power):
- Liquid spark or Atom + D10
- Mayflower Arc
Curious to hear if getting a dac/amp combo (with mic input) would be the best way to go since I currently have nothing. I know getting them a la carte would allow for swapping out different dac’s in the future, but I have no plans of doing that right now.
Thank you for all who made it this far and I appreciate any suggestions.