Stage + imaging, separation, hi-res, clarity, great overall quality, comfort, durability, not too hard to drive or equality, $200, maybe $300 budget — what to choose?

(Edit: scroll to the end of this post to find current contenders with relative pricing.)

Hi, guys. This is my first post to these forums, so nice to meet you, and I have to say I’ve probably never come across a community as friendly and inviting as this one. I first noticed its existence when looking for 1v1 comparisons of specific headphones I was considering, and then I noticed you good folks were having just the conversations I need — just the right 'phones, just the right kind of advice, just the right way of going about it. After scrolling through and reading the threads, I noticed the (very kind) invitation to join — and I was sold. I’m ehh… palpably happy to be here, which is a feeling I haven’t had in a looong time, let alone from an Internet community (15 years, I guess…).

My starting point was AD500X, as a recommendation from an experienced seller of all sorts of used audio equipment. A different guy, make it two guys, independently from each other, suggested HE400SE as a better fit for the same needs, although of course on the more expensive side. Recently, someone else has suggested HD560s might be an even better fit for both my needs and taste. And then there’s TYGR as an interestingly tweaked bro’ of the cans that drew me into this whole thing, being the DT990 pros. And some folks suggest Fidelios, the X2HR.

So when I saw a thread pretty much titled ‘Upgrade from my AD500X’, I knew I was in the right place — pretty much an eerie feeling, considering there was also a similar thread about the AD700X and also one for TYGR vs 560S vs 400SE — a perfect logical path of progression. And everybody was talking in a down-to-earth, common-sense way, though clearly knowing what one was talking about, plus without the kind of lingo that poses an imepenetrable barrier to a n00b like myself. So, let me just wipe the tear from my eye (no, literally), and let us go on.

I’ll do my best to try to help you help me, and after thinking long and hard, the following is what I feel (meaning ‘think but can’t prove’ ;)) is going to be the best way:

First: We need to stick with my existing amps, as a budget limitation. They are probably weak but better than nothing.

In my PC, I have an x-Fi Titanium PCI-E (not the higher-end ‘HD’ version). My audiophile best friend (a ‘take my salary and give me that Denon’ kind of guy) is in the process of offloading his old Soundblaster Z to me. Not sure which one has the better amp/DAC. And then there’s my voting and drinking stereo, the JVC MX-J500 (which I got for my 18th birthday in 2001), which is my daily driver. It reportedly has a good amp in that class of equipment (‘that class’ being key here, or ‘that WHAT?’ as my best friend put it, immediately proposing to donate his own old stereo in its stead ;)).

So, we need to write off any cans that these amps will not be enough to drive and drive well. Reportedly, the Z boasts to be able to drive 600ohms, which I’m taking with a grain of salt, but I guess 250 should be safe, though can’t be sure.

Next: The budget. I suppose this is roughly $200 as a preference and $300 as cutoff point, more like €300 — buying from Europe (overseas shipment plus customs plus VAT could easily double the price of any cans, thus pointless).

I could perhaps stretch my budget if I was really, really convinced I was making the right decision and able to justify the expense. In which case I would be looking at:

Cloud Orbit (because Mobius)
AudioTechnica R70x (because HD600 but better and because <3 AT)
Sennheiser 600 and up

Normally, however, I’m focusing on HD560s vs HE400SE vs TYGR vs something or other from Beyer vs Fidelio X2HR. And indeed we could think of this in terms of upgrading from AD500X. Kind of like getting the AD500X as the first step and upgrading it into something better, just skipping the first step and starting my hifi trip immediately from the second. But we could start from the third step, I’m not excluding this possibility and there could be advantages, because YOLO. :wink: And because e.g. starting from $300 is still cheaper than starting from $150 and upgrading to $200, so cutting a shortcut looks like a good idea. Except I don’t have the kind of experience and knowledge to make a good decision unassisted. Also because taking overtime at work and increasing the budget is more productive than spending the same time overthinking the comparisons between the various compromises made on lower-priced headphones.

You can probably already get a pretty narrow guess of my needs from the models I’ve mentioned, so right now let me say — and this is kinda important to me — that I would be inclined use ‘reference/neutral’ headphones as a starting point to take it from there and learn more about my taste and my needs and how to satisfy them as I go. For the same reasons I feel it would probably be better to start from something that’s good out of the box, without equalization, or can easily be equalized to Harman curve.

My two uses for these headphones — like two lungs of the same body — would be music at work and gaming after work.

For music, I usually prefer orchestral classical, movie, epic and game tracks, as well as historical and ethnic music (mediaeval, Byzantine, Armenian, Chinese, Scottish, etc.), including lots of those Eyna/LmcK-style female vocals, followed by jazz and related genres. No metal, no rap, no hip-hop, and I don’t even know what RNB is. Some stuff I listen to probably qualifies as electronic or close to techno but not sure really (not a type of person who would listen to JM Jarre all day, or Frank Klepacki’s game tracks). I like high resolution, accuracy, detail, clarity, separation (but also harmony) and as few distortions as possible, but at the end of the day I’m there to enjoy the tracks, not judge them. Most of the time I’m listening for motivational purposes, sometimes (the first time) curiosity and pretty much never critical or analytical purposes. As a matter of taste, I would probably prefer something closer to analytical tuning and neutrality than most other consumers, but I’m definitely a consumer and not even a prosumer at that.

For gaming, that’s mostly RPGs and strategies. Think Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights, Elder Scrolls, Might & Magic, Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic and Fallout series, along with Kingdom Come: Deliverance. If you simply watched someone play, it would be much like watching an action move in a historical, fantasy or sci-fi (or rarely post-apocalyptic) setting. However, if you’re in there, playing, it has a lot of similarities with FPS/TPS (50/50 I’d say, or even more TPS) and in some cases RTS or games like Commandos or Desperados (tactically managing small teams in an isometric view).

Other than RPGs, I play strategies, usually RTS (Dune, Warcraft, Starcraft and similar series) and grand strategies (Europa Universalis and spinoffs such as Crusader Kings series). I would say strategies need the same things as RPGs, just not all at once and generally fewer of them. RTS benefits from positioning and clarity (like FPS but differently) and good music for campaign/casual play, grand strategies are essentially about listening to the soundtracks with the occasional symbolic sound effect or piece of ambient that serves to eeerr… acoustically visualize some sort of idea (e.g. selecting an army or finishing construction or getting a diplomatic offer). So as you can see we can easily just simplify all this to RPG and strategies will also be covered.

And then there’s rallies and car racers. Not much to say there, except to say I need the car sounds to sound natural, or rather immersive and fun and giving the impression of sounding natural or perhaps exaggerated in the epic direction. :wink: But the bottom line is that I need car and road sounds to not be distorted. This will also help with sci-fi RPGs and RTSs in which there are a lot of machines, especially vehicles and aircraft, all with engines. Natural, hi-resolution, rich and rewarding engine sounds go a long way toward making me happy while playing those games.

Back to RPG, spatial awareness, resolution and accuracy — stage and imaging, including vertical and including movement — is very important. Most of the time I can see the sound source, but visual-acoustic co-ordination helps my own co-ordination and improves my experience (in the way that congruity is conducive to immersion). If I can rely on acoustic feedback, I often catch myself having switched to relying primarily on it in preference to visual feedback. So I’m not a competitive CS player, but the combat use is there. And then there’s the atmosphere. Basically, when you’re exploring vast open worlds, walking through cities or space stations, or forests, or beaches, the sense of space is a great part of immersion and atmosphere. If streets and plazas sound different depending on how narrow or wide they are, if in a space station’s corridors you can get a sense of the walls, if you can feel the transitions from narrow or closed spaces to big halls, yards or totally open outdoor spaces, that’s a huge plus.

So in terms of stage, I need it broad. Ideally the phones would cover my character’s hearing range the same way the screen covers the sight range. The full extent of it. But I would also need it to convicingly cover all sorts of indoor spaces, many of them small, even claustrophobic. In terms of accuracy, I will perhaps sometimes indeed aim my weapon solely on the basis of what I hear (think a gunfight with fog and smoke or a blinding effect/debuff — the RPG classic), but the accuracy is mostly needed for immersion and atmosphere, not for cheating the system to get aiming aids by ridiculous equalization artificially highlighting stuff like footsteps. I am for a full reflection of natural human hearing capacity, not for a simulation of superhuman levels. No ‘Witcher sense’ unless my character is actually supposed to have it.

Oh, and there are weather effects. Weather effects are roughly as important to the atmosphere as the proper acoustic handling of weapons, armour and everything else combat-related or travel-related (think horseshoes, chainmail jingling, character panting, horse occasionally neighing, road surface changing, etc.).

So in terms of effects we have: all sorts of fighting, travelling and weather sounds. All sorts of weapons, all sorts of armour, all sorts of enemies (humans, fantasy creatures, constructs, droids), mounts, vehicles (motor or otherwise), all sorts of surfaces (various types of metals, woods and more), weather and water. I don’t need all these to sound completely perfect, but as close as we can get — and as distortion-free as possible. I suppose it’s inevitable that some will sometimes sound slightly mudded, slightly low-res, slightly insufficiently separated or unclear, slightly off-key, slightly not the right surface material, maybe just a little too metalic or plasticky, and I guess that’s okay within reason (read: budget limitations), but at least no crackling, no hissing, sizzling or anything else immersion-breaking.

I would like the effects to be accurate, but I need them to be fun more than I need them to be analytically informative. You know, more PowerPoint than Excel. I’m a gamer, not a producer. I may be saving the world, but I’m not at work. I’m trying to have fun. :wink:

One supremely important thing to note about effects, apart from their huge diversity, is that they’re often gonna stack. They’re gonna stack on top of each other — sometimes each coming from a different direction, often moving — and on top of the music. And sometimes the stacking is supposed to be more like blending, but not always. I guess this is called ‘separation’, and I guess I will need tons of it.

Another supremely important thing re: separation and clarity is the comprehensibility of human speech in all sorts of acoustically complicated situations. Think all sorts of strange accents, tiredness, bodily damage, illnesses and other conditions, as well as competing with a plethora of other, usually battlefield, sounds. And the soundtrack. Dialogue is of key importance in RPGs and, although there is less of it, it is even more important in RTS.

The effects are probably more important than the music, though the quality (overall high sound quality more than anything else) of the soundtracks is extremely important as well. But at the end of the day game soundtracks, just like movie soundtracks, have a practical purpose, which is to provide an atmospheric presentation background. I don’t need to be able to judge or analyse.

Note that the soundtracks are played from in-game, so they’re often going to have the same spatial/3D effects applied on them as the ambients but perhaps to a lesser extent. Basically, the soundtrack is often made to feel like it’s coming from inside the game, so to speak, rather than merely accompanying the game. It will not normally be completely just the same as listening to the music for music’s sake.

In terms of lows, mids, highs, bass and treble, etc.: I’m not sure I’d be able to tell mids from highs or put trebles on the same scale, TBH. :wink: But I’m supposed to have a broader hearing range than most people, and I tend to favour trebles. In terms of bass, it’s not like I don’t need quantity, but I’d like to feel it, not just be ‘informed’ that bass is now supposed to be played. Within reason, but if I’m in the landing zone and a medivac or transport chopper is landing, I want to feel it. Dragons or catapults, I want to feel them too. By no means exaggerated, not augmented, but not gimped or reduced or merely symbolically sketched in, either. A life-like punch and some earth shaking may be preferable to analytical clarity and separation (you know, like when a cannonball hits the wall one foot from your head). In terms of potentially piercing or shrieking highs, I guess we have to take fatigue into account.

Speaking of fatigue — and comfort (and we’ll combine this with durability) — we’re talking about 12-hour work sessions and 12-hour gaming sessions, as well as a large head, glasses getting in the way and the armchair headrest getting in the way especially when shifting positions in the chair. I can be clumsy and forgetful (and not good at soldering), so some durability and resistance to less than careful handling would be welcome or even necessary. Another reason to be mindful of durability is the budget. I need them to last a couple of years. Something like one year of warranty and breaking just the day after is not an option, however good the phones might be.

When reading reviews, I tend to react positively to associations such as ‘bright’ (or even ‘sunny’, like the HE400SE) and ‘airy’, but then I react positively to ‘body’ (think thick coffee) and ‘warm’, so I guess I don’t even know what I’m talking about and am just a confused noob, which feels strangely accurate. :wink: There is a reason I appreciate layman’s terms so much.

Now as to what I can get close to where I live (i.e. no cross-continental shipment, customs or VAT to be added to the price, which generally defeats the point of buying from America or Asia). The prices are converted from local currency (PLN) and mostly just for relative reference to assist with comparisons:

Fidelio X2HR/00 — $78 used, $118 new
DT990pro 250ohm — $120 new
AKG K701 — $98 used, $147 new
AKG K702 — $87 used, $160 new
AKG K612 — $128 new
HD 599SE — $107 new
Arctis Pro + DAC — $140 exhibition piece, $148 respectable outlet/unpopular colour/visible scratches
AD500X — $109 used, $136 new
AD700X — $160 new
HE400SE — $167 new
HE400i — ~$140 used, no cable
Sony MDR-1AM2 — $172 used
other DT’s — most at $140–170 new, sometimes up to $200 (more advanced 770/880s), full ohm range is available (32, 60, 80, 250, 300, 600, etc.)
HD560s — between $109 used and no cable and $185 new

above-budget (reluctantly doable as a tie-breaker):
Orbit — used $210
Mobius — used $250
R70X, AD900X, K712, Orbit — roughly $270 each, new
Tygr 300R — close to $300 if even available, which it usually is not

really above-budget (reluctantly doable as skipping to the end game if it’ll last through 10 years of semi-rough treatment and spare me the selection headache):
HD600 — $313 new, not much less used, just for reference (no pun intended ;))
HD660s — hitting $400 and really beyond my budget
Sundara — roughly $300 used, $360 new

The TL;DR is that I (probably) need big stage and precise imaging (including vertical), separation and clarity for all sorts of various sound effects stacked in multiple layers and coming from everywhich direction, as good overall sound quality as possible and as few unpleasant distortions (crackling, hissing, sizzling, veil, blatantly off positioning, etc.). For singleplayer gaming — serious but not competitive (atmosphere, not advantage) — and for music (classical, movie, epic, ethnic, mediaeval/historical and jazz). Budget $200, $300 if you convince me, at $400 I’ll shy away unless skipping to end game and to last me a decade.

On a final note, since we can already see that even $300 is not completely off the table, I suppose, after all, we could also talk about e.g. those used K702s or some sort of 300/600ohm DT and a used amp to drive them, why the heck not, especially considering that’ll work with my laptop too. But only if that’s really going to be better results for less money than just buying phones.

Thank you for reading my novel. :slight_smile:


Welcome to the forum. That was… quite a read.

The Beyer DT 1990 Pro is highly regarded for all the things you’re looking for but I’m afraid it’s out of your budget.

I have no qualms recommending the TYGR 300R depending on the price you can get for them. They are comfortable, easily modifiable, provide a wide soundstage, excellent imaging and separation, and warm frequency response while still maintaining detail. At $179 they are the easiest headphones in the world for me to recommend to others for gaming as well as music and general listening, but it will depend how much you can get them for due to various import fees.

I’d also encourage you to check out @Falenkor’s write up here: (update in progress) Falenkor’s Competitive Headphone Write Up. Now with added Hardware explanations! - Gaming Audio / Competitive - HifiGuides Forums

1 Like

I recently bought the Sundara barely used from an acquaintance. He hardly used it because he just couldn’t get it to fit on his large head. Yet I had to add a pad to the head strap to get it to fit me even at its smallest setting because my head is too small. You write that you have a large head, chances are your head is not too large for most headphones, but that isn’t guaranteed.

Plus, each of our sound needs and preferences are at least as individual as our fit/comfort needs are. If you look at the different sizes and shapes human ears come in you might think we all hear as differently as black is from white. Fortunately, are brains are designed to compensate for much of these individual variations. But that seems to fall short when we get to the treble. I have a beyerdynamic DT 1990. If you watch five YouTube reviews of it, three or four will describe it as unlistenable due to its large treble spike at 8000 hertz. But I have yet to find anyone who notices that spike even slightly – and that includes young musician friends with excellent hearing. There is a certain shape of human ear that has its own resonance spike at 8000 hertz. So if you happen to be one of those people, the DT 1990 will indeed drive daggers into your ears.

The point of these two examples is that you can take into consideration 500 different people’s recommendations, finally opt for a certain headphone and when it arrives within five minutes you discover some aspect of it that simply makes it unusable for your hearing or head shape or for some other factor. If you are, like most of us, unable to try out a headphone before purchase, you’ll need to be prepared for the very real possibility that the first headphone you buy will either be unusable or fall short in one or more ways. If you are in a position to re-sell, fine. You do that and try again. The odds are that this will be the case, so experienced forum members tend to recommend either starting as inexpensively as possible or only buying headphones that are easy to re-sell.

With that out of the way, there are some objective factors that you can use to narrow your list just by doing the research. For example:

The following beyerdynamics are all well-built and have highly adjustable headbands but non-removable cables:

  • DT 990 Pro – causes a very large number of people to find it’s many treble spikes unlistenable.
  • DT 880 Pro – only has one treble spike but is bass shy,
  • DT 770 Pro – is bright but not spikey in the treble and has a very strong bass

All the AKG K headphones have very large ear cups that leak away the bass for a large percentage of people:

  • AKG K701 & 702 — our experienced forum members tend to find these to be mediocre at detail
  • AKG K612 — $128 new – amazing you can get it at such a low price. This will certainly be bright but will be unlikely to be spikey

Sennheiser HD 5 series:

  • HD 599SE — $107 new – a good all-rounder but its over-emphasis of the lower mid-range may be an irritant for orchestral music
  • HD 559 and 579 – have the same mid-range concern but are even less expensive, similar in built and fit and very close in sound quality

The Audio-Technica wing style head band is a showstopper for a large percentage of Europeans and North Americans. It’s very specifically designed for the Japanese market. Also, all three of these have such a huge drop in loudness in the upper mid-range and lower treble that I’d rule them right out:

  • AD500X — $109 used, $136 new
  • AD700X — $160 new
  • AD900X

The HE400 series have a large drop in loudness in the upper mid-range that isn’t necessarily immediately obvious but some people find it irritating once they notice it:

  • HE400SE — $167 new
  • HE400i — ~$140 used, no cable

Your higher priced options:

  • R70X — roughly $270, new – amazed you can get the R70X at that price, but this is hard to drive

  • K712 – many people on this forum think highly of this, but objectively its frequency response is about as far as one can get from accurate/neutral

  • Tygr 300R — close to $300 - has some treble spikes and its over-emphasis of the lower mid-range may be an irritant for orchestral music

  • HD600 — $313 new – small sound stage, so probably not good for gaming

  • Sundara — roughly $300 used, $360 new – this is the headphone that seems closest to matching your frequency response, detail and sound stage preferences. But there’s the question of head size, plus the reputation it acquired in its first two years of production of reliability issues.

1 Like

@alphamarshan: Thank you. Indeed, the DT1990pros are at once quite ideal and quite very much outside of my budget range. I could afford them, but then there are other things I should probably be buying instead. Their price is not much less than a discounted last-minute trip to some kind of warmer country, which I need for the sake of my sanity. Or a new chair or desk. Or about half the price of a professional examination/certification I could use. Or a quarter, third or half of a post-grad course in a relevant field. Or I could spend the money on marketing. To sum up: I could, but there’s no way I should. And that’s quite sad really. Incidentally, these are all the reasons why I’m looking long and hard at those used K702s at eighty bucks or new 770s, 990s and Fidelios, all of which seem to be discounted at a nearby retailer’s, including the 250ohm versions that could perhaps be better than the 32 ohms people are forced to use with integrated sound but not as demanding of a proper amp as the 600ohms… though I could challenge the Soundblaster Z with one of those. And the TYGR 300R at $179 would be a no-brainer, but alas, it costs double that within EUSSR.

@MaynardGK: Thanks. Yeah, a large head, glasses getting in the way, somewhat large ears, not a fan of pressure on the temples, I tend to hate most headphones now that you made me think. Something like the Audio-Technica open line would probably be ideal, or perhaps the soft-cushioned Beyers.

Re: hearing, I have some issues with labyrinths and hypersensitivity, so for example I’m one of those guys who tune their PCs to avoid vibrations. I really dislike my housing community always doing some sort of drilling works outside throughout the year. And I can become… slightly unreasonable from simply listening to repetitions in the lyrics of a song. You could call me a… complicated person. So I’m relieved to have the 14-day grace period for free returns we have here in commie land, I mean, Europe. Gives you a whole new incentive to buy from shops rather than previous owners, as you get warranty, a new piece to begin with, and on top of all that you can return them within 14 days of you dislike the mount, the signature or whatever. So, buying from shops or even refurbishers, I’m not worried. B2C gets me covered. Buying used, in C2C, is more of a risk, which is why I only really consider it if it’s like half the price.

However, I’m not enough of a spoiled commie princess to cycle through a succession of headphones, returning each and every one of them within 14 days to eventually choose my favourite one (or to buy 5 and return 4).

And yes, the K612 are another promo piece at this time in this country, alongside the Beyers.

Thank you for warning me about the detail in K701 and K702. I was on the verge of pulling the trigger on them on the basis of their good opinions, especially with some EQ, and much of those because of the wide stage. Mediocre at detail is definitely not something I want.

The 770pro, on the other hand, sounds like my type of thing by your description, and, surprise, it’s another one of those discounted deals at $123 from a very reputable seller.

Re: Senns: Aight, the 599SE is not for me then. Most of the music I listen to is orchestral. More like, almost all. The other one sound a bit like a bargain, but I’m leaning towards escaping the bargain conundrum by buying something a bit more expensive if only to avoid wasting time splitting hairs over avoidable compromises.

Thanks for the warning about the AT headband’s unique problem and the loudness drop. Bye to them then.

For the same reason I’d be inclined to avoid the HE400 series, at least if something better could be found in the same price range or slightly higher.

How would you rate the R70X’s hardness to drive versus my x-Fi Titanium or Z or old stereo amp? They were recommended to me by the same experienced trader in all sorts of used 'phones who recommended the AD500X as a more affordable suggestion.

So, to recap, safer options would be:

  • DT770pro — a Beyer without the treble problem. Not ideal stage with the stronger bass or did they manage to avoid the rock and hard place?
  • AKG K612 — an AKG without similar problems. But perhaps less than ideal stage and missing bass quantity, or am I being overly pessimistic?
  • R70X — if I manage to drive it?

From a neutrality point of few i wouldn’t recommend most Beyer HP cause most of them have different variations of a v curve imo
From hear say i would say the r70x could be your choice cause they have a mostly neutral signature without the bass dropoff of the hd 600, what also interests me personally but like I say can’t give you a personal experience of them. The biggest problem except the price would be the driveability cause I’m not Shure the older creative PCI cards can properly drive these whereas old amps with high output impedance have a realistic chance to do it
The 560s could be a choice that also sound cards can drive and would be a save choice as an alrounder that’s also in the budget
Sundaras would also be a nice choice cause they are really detailed pair of cans with an airy sound but their out of budget and I would say you don’t have anything to drive them good
Hope my two cents did help

1 Like

@DuerumBen: Thank you. Well, I’ve been able to find the manual for my stereo (JVC MX-j500 Instructions Manual (Page 13 of 33) | ManualsLib), but all I can find about output impedance is that it supports 6 to 16 ohms on the speakers. No information re: headphones. Can any guess be made on the basis of this?

turtle beach recon 500, one best soundstage and imaging and detail i’ve heard in a closed back no cap

Dumb question but did I miss the HP jack on the pictures or doesn’t it have one ? O_o

I just realized I should not have included detail as a category in my critiques, since it is not a measurable property. I didn’t bother to mention that these two headphones both have frequency response issues you might not like. Frequency response is now an objective thing thanks to high quality FR measurements of a large number of headphones becoming available in the past couple years.

Very wise. We have something similar here in North America in that Amazon Prime often lets people return a purchase. But Amazon keeps careful track. If someone is clearly abusing this privilege, Amazon will start deliberately sending that person a defective product each time that person orders something.

Yes: beyerdynamic has just released replacement versions of both the 770 and the 990 models, so dealers will undoubtedly be clearing out the old models as quickly as they can.

I wouldn’t. I’ve never owned the R70X, so all I have to go on is hear say. It’s an urban myth that a headphone’s impedance number says a lot about how hard it is to drive. In fact, sensitivity is much more relevant. But neither one can tell the story without the other. The R70X’s 470 ohms impedance sounds high, but the 99 dB/V says you can actually get it up to a dangerous loudness level with a typical smart phone. In fact, the 470 ohms can actually be a good thing in that it means this headphone will likely play well with a tube amplifier.

With any headphone you end up getting close to pulling the trigger on you need to ask forum members what experience they have with powering that headphone. It’s often not so much a question of whether a given amp can drive it loud enough, but whether that headphone+amp pairing will sound any good.

At this point, I suggest you watch YouTube reviews of the three headphones on your short list. The reviewers whose opinions I personally would place some weight in are The Headphone Show, Wheezy Tech and Max Settings. I’d add WaveTheory, but I don’t think he’s reviewed any of these headphones yet.


This is also something I too would suggest researching if you can get it at a good price. This is a new generation of the HD 5 series and it has a near-textbook frequency response.

1 Like

lol no kidding gonna need a hard TLDR on this

This will rule out your sennheisers except maybe 560s… they are roughly average in size

if you need laser accuracy this can rule out the akg while notably marginal in terms of inaccuracies its worth noting they do have some issues here

will rule out the AD series your looking at, ad has a bit of an issue with congested sounds and separation… wasn’t resolved till later with the ad1000x - 2000x

depends on if you have an amp and dac to go alongside this, keep in mind alot of these need power

if your looking to swing every which way in terms of full spectrum fps and single player its gonna be between the hifiman 400SE and the Beyerdynamics here… If your wanting bass though? your looking more at the beyers… though the trade off is that the hifiman is going to be better in vertical placements.

second time i have seen this thing recommended, no just no.

Welcome to hifiguides, hell of a read… if I can help in some way though, feel free to reach out.


I will toss the HE560 out as an option. I’m absolutely loving them for gaming and I’m running them out of my Denon receiver.

Not quite as engaging for music as they are for gaming IMO, but very clean.

I did a comparison against the Zeus recently if you want to check that out.


I’ll second the TYGR 300R ($260-$300 with the mic bundle $180-$200 without) and the Sennheiser 560s ($180 right now), sound wise the AKG 700 series can be good but the build is not lol (headband system breaking within the first month is fairly common)

1 Like

Thank you. :slight_smile: Please keep’em comin’!

Any thoughts about ATH-ADG1X, ATH-G1WL and ATH-PDG1a? Turns out Audio-Technica makes dedicated gaming sets, both open and closed. The ADG1X looks like 500X/700X but has a wider frequency response, more bass and a mike (non-detachable, alas). Still has the 53mm drivers.

Edit1: Another option, Arctis Pro + DAC for $138, exhbition piece. These are probably not the best phones in the world, but I’ve seen them compared to the Orbits and not always losing. Is there anything particularly bad about them?

Despite having originally wanted open 'phones, I’m also getting more and more attracted to the Orbits… 100mm planars…

Edit2: @Falenkor I had the funniest moment ever with your guide (which I had mistaken initially for something I’d read before, so I only ended up giving it a proper read today). I scrolled to the links in the bottom and saw something that started from, ‘New Dumb Arse newbie trying to get started.’ So I thought, ‘Yeah, that would be me. I’m sold.’ So I click, and the first words I see are, ‘Well, this would be up to you entirely,’ except I read them as, ‘Well, this would be you entirely.’ Hilarious. :smile:

I went through your recommendations and came to the inevitable nagging conclusion that I just might be a cheapskate princess who wants it all for $200. I realized I couldn’t have it all and in the headphone land compromises had to be made even in the highest price brackets, especially if you want one pair fits all. Which probably doesn’t exist especially in those leagues. You guys probably keep at least 15 pairs around the house if not 30, and have precise tasks defined for each or just choose them depending on what your current moods is because you know enough of them you can actually match them like that… sigh. So I went through the list and would have some questions if you (and the other good foolks too, of course) don’t mind:

  • The AKG K702s, since they are the cheapest I can get and simultaneously seem to enjoy a good reputation. Am I correct in thinking they probably have about the largest soundstage there is? I’m kinda getting anxious to experience that, especially considering the open-world RPGs where you just plough through fields challenging princesses to single combat and saving dragons. They are also reputably quite PEACE-able, whereafter they allegedly become some of the best wares the world has to offer, unless maybe the faithful fans are exaggerating just a bit. But I could see myself buying them now for $86, using them like they are, then using one of the two Oratory profiles, later maybe buying an amp/DAC at a bargain some other month… I’m sure you understand this cycle better than I do. :wink:

  • I had a similar but different feeling — of wanting to experience that lovely stage and imaging — about the (lower) AD series from AT, but that was probably a misguided feeling given their problems with separation, which would not be ideal for my singleplayer RPG purposes (although it could be interesting in something like Starcraft). So with a heavy heart I’m deciding to put my itch for these particular budget kings to rest. Except there is the less known ATH-ADG1X, which I conveniently see discounted at a very respectable store in my city. Any chance you may have listened to them?

  • Another pair of cans I’m getting the itch for are the Fidelios, which cost like a quarter of what they used to, and having started off as a high-end unit gives them the sort of appeal a top-of-the-line GeForce or Radeon from one or two generations ago tends to have. Though if I’m hoping for a more expensive build, I’m probably going to be disappointed. I hear a lot of people praising them, even going as far as putting them on par with units that still cost $300 and more, especially with an amp, while stressing they don’t need one. But some say they like 9500s more, and those are even cheaper.

  • Then there’s the Orbit S. At $245 new with warranty, from a proper shop. It probably can’t go much lower even on Black Friday. But I recall reading in your guide that the sound is not as good as some other phones. What draws me to them is their stellar reviews (SoundGuys gave them 9.5, which I don’t think I’ve seen them give to any phones except maybe once or twice), the funky 3D goodness, the huge-ass 100mm planar drivers and, of course, Audeze.

  • Another option I’m itching for is 560s at $108 from a legit shop (invoice and everything) but without the cable. I could buy a balanced cable for them. I’m a bit gun-shy because in my experience modding projects tend to get more expensive and less effective than they were supposed to be (like my TC14PE heatsink with a SilentWings3 HS 140mm in the middle and 2xP14 on the sides which can’t even keep a 9600KF safe at 5.1 GHZ / 1.4V running at full rpms).

  • And there’s the Arctis Pro + DAC, which I recall you referring to as among the best of the best in the gaming world, though not as great sound as some other 'phones. Does that mean it’s good for competitive purposes, such as putting your ear to the ground and picking out basecamping snipers who got too cocky to look for a muffler, but not great for soundtracks or effects quality and other things casuals tend to drool over?

  • That ‘Game DAC’ can be purchased separately in sixty-bucks range, but I have a nagging suspicion there are probably buys in that range, just without the word ‘game’ on them. :wink:

And finally, I found TYGR. Where? Das factory! For the princely sum of 139 eurorubles / $158 with free same-day shipping across the Oder. For the record, BD currently has wired Aventhos on sale for €245/$280 (wide stage, not sure about imaging), essentially the same price as a DT 900 X a dozen bucks more than an MMX 300 second gen. The 770pros are also discounted from factory ($147), same as 990pros. The DT 900 X is a new thing, it’s listed under ‘gaming’ and it’s supposed to be great, but I don’t understand **** of what it says below ‘professional audio quality’, the whole two paragraphs. The DT1990s are also discounted, from €599 to €429 ($489). Customized MMX300’s (2nd gen) — with custom engraving and a picture — are also discounted roughly from $360 to 290. Custom Game is also discounted by a quarter of the price. They also have outlet deals like $125 for 990/770/880pro with full warranty, just some scratches.

I wrote to BD and they actually replied almost instantly (though it was almost 7 p.m. in the time zone) telling me to get MMX 300 rather than TYGR. I must say I’m pretty surprised. Any thoughts about Tygr vs MMX300? Sigh. I could have my clan handle engraved on them for me, or the nickname I used as a newsman.

Edit3: @CTOXmas How would you view Tygr vs 560s? Or Tygr vs MMX300?

@MrAyrit And you, as you obviously love them, would you rate the 560s above or below the Beyer offering?

have you tried the turtle beach recon 500? curious your detailed analysis

haven’t tried the mmx300 but TYGR vs 560s

TYGR is better built at the cost of maybe being a bit sharp on the treble (ymmv some people are bothered some aren’t) (signature Beyer V shaped sound)

560s is a more balanced sound which can be better for gaming (lot of gaming youtubers use these) and has a detachable (stupidly long) cable

soundstage, imaging and comfort between the two is pretty similar (if headphone clamp is a issue for you the TYGR is better out of the box)

TLDR TYGR is more fun I prefer it for music 560s is more balanced I prefer for gaming

1 Like

I think I have to push back against this. I am one of those people who is especially sensitive to sibilant treble and the TYGR is nothing like the DT 770; I’m not sure who thinks they have treble spikes or that it’s sharp - I’ve been listening to mine off a Modi 3+/Bifrost 2 and a handful of different amps and have never experienced sharp treble at all.

I understand everyone is different and YMMV but I just wanted to be upfront before someone is scared off because they think it sounds like the 770 or 880. It’s way warmer.

1 Like

I totally appreciate your feelings about this. But as I said in my first post in this thread, whether a spike is there and whether you hear it are two different things. I’ve yet to find anyone who hears the treble spike in my DT 1990’s, but it’s very definitely there. While I hate to see the DT 1990 being dissed, reviewers like Resolve who rant about the DT 1990 spike are not making their experience up. Their ears react to the DT 1990 spike by making it inescapable for those recordings that have significant content there. Yet forum member M0N, who pretty clearly has excellent hearing, does not have this particular sensitivity, so all he reports is that the 1990 is “a bit harsh”.

The ear canal is a tube. Like all tubes it potentially has resonant frequencies. Individual ear canals vary by nearly a factor of two in length, not to mention diameter, so different folks will have different resonance frequencies and with different levels of sensitivity.

So when I write that the TYGR has spikes, here they are:

Like you, I’m not seeing a lot of user reports of being bothered by them. But that doesn’t mean no one will be. There’s always a chance NewbieOne will be one of those unfortunate few. The first spike at 5 1/2 k is very nearly where the the infamous HD 800 spike is that so many people have spilled so much ink moaning about. The next spike is at 8 k but only half as tall as the DT 1990’s, so Resolve might give this particular unit of TYGR a pass.

I’d really like to see more people come to understand that we literally have different hearing experiences, but I realize it’s one of those Don Quixote dreams, grin.


My video is actually for the Hifiman HE560, not the Senn 560s (although I like that one too).

1 Like

Okay, after some more digging through all the enthusiastic opinions (seriously, like no other pair of cans I’ve read about — dozens of extremely enthusiastic comments and like exactly just one, single critical view and one or two ‘good but not great’, otherwise everybody seems to love them) I’ve found some lone guy’s critical opinion raising a very serious concern about the mids. According to him, the mids are so downplayed and even muted that you won’t even hear — and this is the example he used — the howling wind in The Witcher 3. Can anybody confirm or deny this? I may like my trebles and I may be a bit jealous and clingy with my bass, but I would really hate to lose my mids. Open-world RPGs tend to lose a lot of the atmosphere if they lose the weather effects.

On a different note, in this forgotten corner of Europe I have found something that might surprise some of you guys from the States — several AudioQuest Nighthawks in good condition starting from $240. Reportedly they used to cost $600 back when the dollar I’m tempted to buy them if only for the historical value, but also the in-your-face defiant statement in favour of euphony over modern analytical study sounds, while actually having good stage — from what I read on the Internet. Much in those descriptions sounds like I would like them, except maybe I would miss the huge stage, perfect imaging and separation of some of the analytical studio phones hijacked, I mean, adapted to their needs by competitive gamers. :wink: One Polish reviewer refers to the Nighthawks as not actually that far from neutrality while of course already a little idiosyncratic, and he says the tuning is close to Sennheiser in a way, but more ‘royal’ in the presentation, while the polar opposite of Grado PS500e. He claims messy, chaotic recordings acquire a romantic, sentimental sort of mood. Less dynamics, less detail, more cohesion and more harmony. Good legibility without garishness, even with a little discreet shading. No nervous jumpiness, no stinging, no metalicity. Elegant spatial ordering, good blending (as an alternative to the modern focus on separation, I guess), everything complements each other. And just 25 ohms. And unmatches luxurious feel according to some other reviewer who claims to know a thing or two about luxurious cars most people can’t afford. I’m not a collector, but my wallet is already itching. Anybody want to give me the final push?

Next thing, I realized you could get a relatively decent amp/DAC (as in much improvement over none, not necessarily compared to high-end) and briefly considered actually getting one (and perhaps cheaper phones), but then I thought Orbit/Mobius is supposed to have its own amp/DAC built in. Same price as the Nighthawks. Of course one could buy the Nighthawks and drive them from the Titanium first and an amp/DAC later. They shouldn’t lose much value over time, might even gain some due to no longer being manufactured.

So at this point my shortlist looks like:

  • Tygr — for the fun value and larger stage and more bass than 560s. And decent price and generous grace period for returns.
  • 560s — for more neutrality than Tygr (no losing mins?).

And a bunch of mostly more exotic runner-ups:

  • Fidelios (2, looking at 3) — fun value while having good params
  • DT880 — somewhere in the back of my head due to liking the discriptions of how they sound.
  • Mobius/Orbit — for 100mm planars, good 3D, no losing nothing (or so hoping), some selectable factory EQ to toggle between neutrality and task-specific enhancements.
  • ATH-ADG1X — maybe just hoping it just might be an improvement on the AD line; those open ATs have a certain lure to them, though I doubt they truly might be the best phones in this contest.
  • The Nightawks — might as well try them out and maybe sell them for like thirty bucks less if I don’t like them.
  • Cheap used K702 that looks like the allegedly superior Anniversary Edition but isn’t labelled as such. And not really itching so much any more.

Re: sensitivity, thank you gents for taking care of a newbie so he that he neither hurts his ears nor unnecessarily skips out on a good set of cans. Given a 60-day return policy, I’d be happy to give the Tygr a chance and just return it if I can’t stand some of its trebles. I do have some some issues with hypersensitivity, but it’s hard to tell which exactly frequencies or what else to do with sound they’re triggered by. Something to do with the labirynth and neurological causes, I suppose. Runs in the family. I probably also top out on a bit higher frequency than most people, but that test was long ago and not very reliable. I wonder if there could be a way to find out by playing sound demos on my speakers. But in any case, I can always return the Tygr. Just like I would definitely return it if I failed to hear the wind in The Witcher 3. :wink:

Is there a way to escape the 560s vs Tygr conundrum by picking a third option that would be a clear upgrade rather than sidegrade from both?

@MrAyrit : Ooops! My bad, so sorry.

I’ve never heard the Tygr, but I own the Sennheiser HD-560s and the HiFiMan HE-400se, and I think the HE-400se are better than the 560s except for maybe imaging and mids. The 560s, like most Senns, are very mids forward.

You’ll struggle to find a better headphone than the HE-400se for music at the sub-$200 price point. It’s an exceptional planar-magnetic can for the price. It needs an amp to reach its full potential, but the same can be said for the HD-560s, too.

My HD-560s, Moondrop Starfield and Meze 99 Classics soon will be for sale. My HE-400se have become my blissful daily drivers, with little interest in hearing those other cans these days. That’s the highest tribute I can pay to perhaps one of the best values in audiophilia.

1 Like