Older gamer with older ears looking for headphones

Hello Everyone,

I’m 53 years old and still love to play games. I’ve done a ton of research and have not seen this question asked anywhere. I know i no longer have the hearing when i was in my teens, 20’s, probably not even my 30’s anymore.

(A little background you can skip this paragraph if you’d like to)
I started gaming in the 70’s my first system ever was a Atari 2600 my dad bought for 50.00 dollars. Headphones were never used back then, Just blast the TV speakers until mom yelled “lower the TV!” As i got older and had a family of my own, we always had game consoles in the house Nintendo, Playstation, and Xbox. I always gamed but never on-line just story mode games. It wasn’t until i bought Killzone for Playstation and tried on-line multiplayer instantly fell in love with it. I bought a Bluetooth ear piece so i could chat, I couldn’t hear anything else though lol. My son who was a teen at the time had an Xbox and introduced me to Call of Duty and other shooters as well. My first headset that i paired with the Xbox was a turttlebeach set that broke (cheap plastic). I then purchased the Astro A40’s 2013 editions but they went out in 2017. That’s when i found Mad Lust Envy’s headphone guide over at Head-fi and settled for the Audio Technica 700x with my Astro mixamp and Modmic, It’s a nice combo.

But i keep wondering for me, Is there something better? So what I’m i looking for in a headphone?
This pair is for Games only, Competitive. I’m retired now so budget can go a little bit higher if need be.

System: Xbox series S
Budget: 500.00
Open back, Bass light. Bass actually bothers me now.
Low impedance high impedance doesn’t matter i could always double amp with my Mixamp if a high impedance headphone is recommended because i need chat.

Headphones of interest:
DT 1990
DT 880 (600 ohm)
Audio Technica 1000x Because i have the 700x and fits comfortably. i just wonder if it would be that much better? I know I’m missing a lot of headphones here but these came to mind first. Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

Hey there, welcome to hifiguides.

Perhaps I can help provide some help here.

Well, yes there is something better than ad700x but better is a rather subjective term so it depends on what you mean by, “better”. If just a better variant of the ad700x that would be the 900x, 1000x, and finally 2000x.

I was going to ask, what are you looking for in particular when it comes to sound?

You definitely have the budget for a good entry level setup past the 700x. Bass light isn’t a problem and considering the signature of the 700x I would think that particular signature sounds rather nice to you… the bass is rather recessive on that one.

So, the 1990 is extremely good… however, it is very bright sounding. I would absolutely ask if you know whether or not you have issues with very high amounts of treble as 1990 is unforgivingly bright and analytical the cymbals sizzle the SS annunciations can become fatiguing or uncomfortable. Overall the sound is very nice… but only if you can be comfortable with it.

Absolutely demands a stronger amp, the 880 600 ohm is a very well rounded headphone… in 600 ohms it has its best signature but depending on the game the semi open back nature can lead to some restrictions due to limited soundstage. This headphone is also very bright but not as bright as the 1990 or 990, so treble tolerance would definitely be a key factor in whether or not you enjoy these headphones. AD700X may be somewhat bright but the Beyerdynamic headphones are quite a lot brighter in comparison.

Technically yes, the ad 700x has issues with separating sounds… the signature is more refined, theres actual separation, better detal, etc… essentially just a step up in many ways. Though not particularly what I would deem necessary for a gamer just nice to have.

I do have a write up of my own on here if you want to take a look, it is outdated but still quite relevant still. outside of bass, what would you say your looking for?

Hello Falenkor,

Thank you for replying and offering your help, i appreciate it. I will try and answer all your questions best i can. I don’t know all the correct terms in the headphone world but i’ll do my best.

I’m Thinking a studio style headphone neutral sound, recessed bass, nice imaging for sound cues like footsteps, Gun shots, the enemy reloading a weapon and better overall sound separation. I’d like the sound stage to be medium to large.

Yes, I’m not going to lie the 700x has been good to me over the years. The sound stage is nice along with it being bass light. the seperation of sound i wish was better, imaging is decent not pin point but was excellent to me when i first switched from gaming headsets.

I think that’s why I’m attracted to this headphone, I’ve read many posts about it being bright with treble being forward. The descriptions I’ve read about this headphone makes my ears smile while others cringe about it lol. The only problem I’ve ever had with headphones is closed back and bass.

I didn’t know about the limited sound stage with these. I guess i will cross these off the list.

Agree the 700x is a nice headphone for its price point and a nice way to get into audiophile headphones, a nice step up from “gaming headsets.” The reason i brought up the 1000x is because the 700x fits me well, and if it can do what I’m looking for i’d just stay with Audio Technica. However I’m game to try something new too.

Yes, I have read your write up and all the posts that are in it as well. I don’t think its dated there is a lot of good advise in there along with helping other gamers find there next headphone, its excellent thank you! Bass light, Nice imaging for sound cues like footsteps, gun shots, enemy reloading a weapon, better sound seperation, medium to large sound stage, open back, pin point accuracy (is this the same as imaging?)

Thanks again Falenkor, I appreciate your help and look forward to your reply.

No worries, takes some time to learn a lot of the terminologies anyway.

So, normally when you get a more recessive bass the mids(vocals) and the highs(treble) are increased in some form much like the ad700x and it’s higher variations. If this is okay for you, then I can absolutely recommend a few. My Main concern is of course treble, as I know some people get some really bad headaches or heavy amounts of fatigue… I think it may be a good idea to try one of the brighter headphones and see what you think really, who knows you may really appreciate a brighter headphone

I will place some possible recommendations at the bottom here taking into account what your looking for so far.

It’s a great budget headphone for sure, I wasn’t a fan just because of the comfort but it sounded alright.

1990 is a bit of a gamble. I would highly encourage somehow trying the 880 or if possible the 990 since it’s brighter and seeing what you think of them… this way you don’t burn the wallet over the 1990. The 1990 is like a mix between the 880 and 990 where the bass and vocals are neutral but the highs are raised by a large margin. However, 1990 also responds to a very high degree to changing it’s pads to different fabrics adopting a wide variety of other sound traits even so much as being able to go very dark and bassy. It’s a fantastic headphone for sure, but only for those who can withstand that peak. As far as soundstage goes it’s very large yet aggressive so it won’t provide that very wide spacious sound some people look for but it can put sounds far out and place them extremely accurately. The headphone was designed to tear apart tracks and pick out errors as it’s a more analytical headphone… the imaging on the 1990 is extremely pin point shared by it’s other beyers the 990, tygr 300r, and T1 2nd generation.

It highly depends on which fps, if it’s just something like regular call of duty the 880s are just fine. They do still have a rather large stage it’s just not as large as a fully open back beyer is all. Let’s take… say battlefield for example… battlefield uses those very expansive and large maps… with a 990 or alternative like 1990 you could potentially hear a sniper shot off in the distance place his location and deal with it… but with the 880 if hes at a certain distance you can hear the shot but it will be like listening to a slight wall being in the way of the sound if that makes sense… theres just a limitation there… however, in smaller fps 880 doesn’t have these issues and performs perfectly fine.

If you really want the step up, that would either be 1000x or if you want the level of imaging audio technica can put out… you want 2000x(very expensive… highly recommend digging around the used market if you go this route)

it goes hand in hand with your soundstage but yes lol it would be teh same

So let me think…

Audio Technica: AD1000x & AD2000x

AKG: K702, K712, K7XX. Note: the k7 series has some slight imaging inaccuracies but overall these headphones perform better than ad700x… the company prices these headphones at really stupid pricepoints but you can find them dirt cheap off the used markets(use hifishark to scour the web). The k702 is the brighter more analytical approach while the other two have more low end and are a bit more of a relaxed listen… Would highly encourage looking into these and their frequency response if your interested

DT 880(medium soundstage very accurate imaging semi open),

DT 1990(large soundstage, the ideal signature, very versatile, built like a tank through metal framework but has noticeable heft due to this, extremely accurate imaging, treble issues, can rip apart your music and make things sound pretty awful due to bad mastering or just bad youtube videos)

T1 2nd generation this is what I use personally. Biggest soundstage of the beyers, bright but smooth and relaxed, bass is slightly bumped above neutral, mids are increased, imaging is extremely accurate, lighter than 1990 and less clamping force, discontinued for 3rd gen which is a completely different signature and not recommended due to heavy amounts of warmth and bass

Hifiman Sundara. Similar to that of your ad700x but the signature is now practically on steroids. Bass recessive, extremely large airy soundstage, very accurate imaging but not as accurate as the beyerdynamics, treble is raised smooth heavily textured and detail retrieval is top notch on the level of a beyer. Company has extreme quality control issues, best to buy these open box/refurbished after the company has repaired these due to just how many issues this company tends to have.

Koss ESP/95x Drop Model: I don’t like recommending this but it’s worth bringing up. This is an Electrostatic headphone, they are known for extreme amounts of clarity and speed and this particular headphone is no joke when it comes to competitive gaming as in some cases it has put my own beyers down. Estat headphones require a special amp called an energizer, which comes with this headphone in the purchase, due to this it creates some limitations in setups as energizers only work for estats. Estat headphones are extremely expensive it’s just this one in particular is essentially the cheapest. Soundstage medium, imaging and clarity absolute overkill(most games sound engines will show their own limitations on this one… hence overkill as games sound engines in a lot of cases can’t keep up), bass slightly recessive, rest of the signature is more neutral with the upper vocals and treble having some slight raise.

Sennheiser: I want to bring this one up… as they are typically the more neutral brand, but it varies on the person. 500 series from this company has the more average soundstage while 600 sounds better but is the more narrow. Pads are shallow as they are quite small so fit may be questionable. 58x Jubilee is well regarded amongst the gaming community as the jack of all trades gamer headphone now with 560s coming in being like a brighter alternative and 660s/6xx being the more narrow better sounding and more accurate variations

Note: a lot of these will require stronger amplification(probably just about all of these actually). Entry level amps will range from $120 - $200 maximum so may need to take that into account for your budget to choose which headphone to go after. I can recommend amps too if you prefer

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Hello Falenkor,

Wow, Thank for this well detailed reply. I would have responded earlier but you gave me some homework to do with the headphones you recommended lol.

These sound like they would be nice to get. Out of these i have narrowed it down to two the AKG K702 and the Technica 1000x.

Back on my list lol, I would just need an amp that would power these correctly.

These sound wonderful but i’d hate to spend that much money and then figure out they may be to bright even for me. Your right i should start with a cheaper Beyer to see if the sound signature is to my liking.

These sound like they would be amazing HIFIMAN is currently sold out of the open box ones. Brand new in the box with a 1 year warranty is 349.00.

Sold out on Drop but i did find a used set headphone and amp for 350.00. Owner said it has some cosmetic scuffs but everything works great.

I had the Sennheiser 598 SR for about a week and returned them. I cant remember exactly why i didn’t like them but nothing really stood out for me.

So Falenkor, I have narrowed my list down to the headphone i think i’d like and would be close to budget with an amp if needed. What do you think?

AKG K702
DT 880 (600) ohm with amp.
Beyer 990
Koss ESP/95x So tempting! lol…

Is there anything here you’d remove? Or replace?
Thanks again for taking the time to reply and share your thoughts, it is appreciated!

Tygr 300r may have too much in the bass for you as its more of a V signature as is the DT 990… these too are bassy with the mids recessed though 990 is extremely bright. While performing exceptionally well in competitive it may not suit you personally.

AD1000x is fine

AKG k702 has a bigger stage than ad1000x but still has those imaging issues… if you can tolerate the comfort id take the 1000x over this honestly…

880 this one… well to put it lightly is a reigning champ in a lot of areas due to its tuning and levels of comfort. I would absolutely recommend at least trying this before you swing a 1990 or T1 to see what you think… beyers may not be for you as they are quite aggressive.

Sundara, probably one of the best mid and bright headphones I have used in that price range… absolutely worth considering if you can get a working copy

I don’t like 95x… I really don’t. It performs insanely well to such a ridiculous degree but to me, it’s cheap plastic with lesser comfort… I will take my beyers over them as I am afraid to break these. They are absolutely worth -trying- but I wouldn’t recommend a full buyer commitment towards them less you knew you liked them… estats sound quite different and perform differently just like planar (sundara) and dynamic(the others) sound different

the list is fine, but I would recommend trying to figure out if you have treble intolerance in some manner followed by wagering whether or not tygr and 990 are too bassy for your tastes in sound.

Would recommend either a typical entry level amp dac setup ($200 maximum around $140 minimum) or combo unit(around $120 ish) for the headphone… definitely put that within the budget as the headphones listed are going to need the amping power. good thing about amps and dacs though is they are more of an investment… you really don’t technically need to go purchase anything more than something more entry grade less you jump down the rabbit hole… or you want a bit more sound qualities… of which then I would say $200 per unit(so $400 in total) for the amp and dac is just fine… any more and the gains for gaming are a lot more marginal and not really that worth while

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Hello Falenkor,

So after reading your post and sitting back and thinking about this for a bit i think I’ve made my choice.

I have removed these for consideration, The V signature is not something I’m after in gaming.

The AKG K702 was removed as well. I’d hate to buy it and then learn the hard way about its imaging issues. Thank you for pointing this out.

I really wrestled with myself on this one. For me the sound description sounded perfect and something I’d probably like. I just cant pull the trigger on something that has quality control issues. Maybe in the future there will be a Sundara II that’ll address these issues.

AND…This is my choice. I had the 1000x vs 880 (600 ohm) as my final 2. I think id probably like the 1000x but part of me wants to try something new and if i love the sound of the 880 i can always move up later.

What would be your recommendations for the 880 (600 ohm) amp wise? Some say you need a lot of power for it, Like sitting on the sun type power. lol…

Thanks again!

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Honestly, if you can really find a good return policy or something on these I would recommend auditioning them at some point. There really won’t be a Sundara II or anything as the next step up of Sundara is Ananda followed by Arya. The company itself is the one that has these issues and it’s quite unfortunate…

the Step above the 880 is my own T1 2nd generation, you can absolutely step it up if you wish… just remember that 1000x will have a bit more in terms of air and soundstage but the 880 will win over in imaging. In terms of signature 880 at 600 ohms has an ever so slight bump above neutral in the bass, raised in the mids as its a mid centric headphone, and raised treble to being quite a bit bright yet still manageable.

these people, I say they need to go get their facts straight… misinformation is quite common in this hobby and around this headphone theres plenty to go around…

no, you do not need a nuclear power plant to drive them… something as simple as the Liquid Spark, Magni 3+, or atom will drive them just fine and those are all entry level amplifiers. However, the 600 ohm beyers all scale and synergize to a crazy degree… meaning it can grow with ones setup… it boils down to budget and what your looking for…

If you just want an entry level this will depend… if you want an extremely clean presence with a slight bright edge go with a jds setup, if you want a more neutral tone with some warmth and colorations go with a magni, if you want warm with treble roll off go with a liquid spark.

Step ups can be in the same brand but you can also include geshelli as a potential alternative to jds, Asgard 3 over there is absolutely the step above the magni and performs extremely well, and while there is other warm alternatives… Personally at that point I would just say go after the liquid platinum(can actually be found at $400 but normally is $600+ new).

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Hi Falenkor,

I will not forget these and will continue to shop for them.

Thank you for giving me many options to look at. I have the Magni 2 i paired it with my Astro mixamp and 700x. I know what your thinking, Why? Honestly for only one game PUBG its game audio was extremely low to me. Would the Magni 2 be good enough to start out with? Or should i look at the ones you recommended right away? I plan to order the 880 today.

Thank you for helping me, i really cant express enough how much i appreciate you and all the work you put in.

Makes sense, I would say atleast test the magni 2 with the 880 see if it supplies enough. No point in upgrading if its not necessary right now.

no problem, I enjoy helping others out if I can.


Do you like your AD1000x for fps?