Open back headphones for 200$

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Backlawa, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. Backlawa

    Backlawa New Member Thread Starter

    hi , I'm new here and I want to get to upgrade to better headphones , currently I'm undecided between the hifiman he4xx , sennheiser hd6xx and the beyerdynamic dt990 pro , I'm currently not planning on purchasing an amp , I'm a heavy user , mainly watching very HQ media on my phone and laptop for long periods of time , I currently have closed back headphones , I have never listened to open back ones , I care mainly about the sound , and the like 10% about comfort , but I'll prefer headphones that sound the best rather than the most comfortable. thanks in advance.(btw , I'm from Israel).
  2. All those headphones kinda need an additional amp to get enough power to work well. Unless your laptop and phone have some heroic internal headphone amps (most laptops and phones don't).

    If you're going to be running without an amp then I'd suggest looking at the Massdrop made Sennheiser HD58x Jubilee instead. The HD58x is 150 ohms instead of the 300 ohm HD6xx. The HD58x will work better from phones and laptops than the HD6xx or the HiFiMan or the Beyer. Still not ideal to run it from a source like that without and amp, but it will do better than your other alternatives. The HD58x Jubilee is $150 on Massdrop.
    ti-triodes, JCM and TeflonScoundrel like this.
  3. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    Dallas, Texas
    I’m sort of interested in the AKG K245 for similar purposes.
  4. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA USA
    Headphones are very interactive with the physical shape of your ears, and the output impedance of the player. It is correct that high impedance headphones may not be driven very loud-phones and laptops generally have at most 2 volts output. Amplifiers may not necessarily have more than that; you have to read the specs carefully.
    --> You CANNOT buy just from recommendations, you MUST listen for yourself on your own devices
    --> Buy with an easy return policy.
  5. Owning both the Senn HD600 and Beyer DT-880 600 Ohm versions, I would be hard pressed to get rid of either! The Senns I got for $229 US, and the Beyers I literally stole at $169. Both were bought new.

    You mention some great phones there... IMHO you are in the "can't go wrong" territory with the Senn or Beyer in this budget range. Of course, as was already mentioned, listening will be your best test... like anything audio your ears are the final choice!
  6. Jim0830

    Jim0830 Well-Known Member

    I will throw out a suggestion that will break the budget a bit, but possibly get you a great set of headphones that originally went for $699.00.

    AudioQuest is getting out of the headphone business and "while supplies last" the AQ Nighthawk Carbons Have been reduced in price to $299.00. I own the closed back version of these, the NightOwl Carbons and I just bought a second pair last month at the reduced price.

    There are some definite plusses and minuses here for you to consider.

    + These are the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn. Period, bar none. I have worn mine for 5 or 6 hours. You hardly realize they are there.
    +/-Their sound is different. While I came to love it, it is not for everyone. When I first tried them I was amazed by the comfort. The sound, not so much. They didn't sound bad, but they sounded somewhat subdued. I kept trying other headphones in the $500-$800 price range and I kept coming back to the NightOwl Carbons. Over time I realized the sound was all there, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. The sound was just very neutral so nothing jumped out at you.
    +/-AQ says they do need a break in period of 150 hours, but for me they sounded good out of the box and I don't notice a huge improvement. YMMV. You won't get 150 hours in on these before any return period ends.
    +/-You should actually listen to any headphone with your music on your system. Or at least with your own two ears at a local dealer. Where these have been on clearance for several months now, you may be hard pressed to find a local AQ dealer who has them available to listen to. You may have to get them through Amazon or some other internet vendor which may give you only 7 days to try them.
    - Long term you may be running a risk in terms of getting them repaired should you have problems.

    The NightHawks are the open version of these phones. The NightOwls are the closed back. I tried the NightHawks and I did like the NightOwls better for my taste, but I would not have been disappointed with the NightHawks. There were differences, but both had excellent sound. In fact when I bought my second pair in January, I would have picked up the NightHawks if I could get the closed back model.

    Sorry to spend more of your money than you wished, but this could be a great bargain if you can live with the higher price and the clearance aspect of buying these phones now.
    BD2665 likes this.
  7. JCM

    JCM Forum Resident

    Columbus, Ohio
    McGuy likes this.
  8. rp600m

    rp600m Active Member

    I just purchased the Grado 225 e and like them, but a listen more to my cell phone using the Bose Soundsport Bluetooth ear buds. Bluetooth ear muffs or ear buds are taking over this industry. Free YouTube music sounds awesome through Bluetooth ear buds or head phones.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019 at 7:36 PM
  9. timind

    timind Don't blame me

    Westfield, IN USA
    I've owned the Hifiman 400i, Senn HD650, Beyerdynamic DT990 pro, and DT990 premium. I kept the 990 premiums as I fell they have the most natural presentation. The least favorite were the DT990 pros. The pros were the most irritating of the 4.

    A bonus for me is I find the Beyers the most comfortable. I have a lot of hours on mine.
  10. Are the AudioQuest headphones efficient enough to be able to play them plugged directly in a laptop or phone? They do have a low impedance, but the efficiency looks too inefficient for good results plugging directly into a laptop or phone.

    I need to buy a NightHawk for myself before they're gone. I've always been curious about the price has been too high to get just to try. Now the price is lower.
  11. james

    james Forum Resident

    I like my old Grado 125s through “normal” headphone jacks.

    Edit: I suppose they’re not super comfortable for extended listening sessions
  12. BD2665

    BD2665 Forum Resident

    I'll agree with Jim by saying the AQ Nighthawks and Nightowls are really good headphones. Yes they do sound different by presenting a more speaker like sound and yes they are the most comfortable cans out there. In short they just make you want to listen and are never fatiguing .

    I also have the HD6xx and Grado SR. 80's and I like the AQ's much more and they work easily with your phone or iPad but also respond to external amplification very nicely.
  13. Mortsnets

    Mortsnets Forum Resident

    I'm using the AQ Nighthawk Carbon ($299) with Monoprice Cavalli Liquid Spark amp ($100) and the combo sounds really good. Massdrop/Sennheiser HD58X Jubilee are also very good but the Nighthawks are outstanding and different from other headphones I've heard. Like BD2665 said in some ways the remind me of speakers.
  14. Jim0830

    Jim0830 Well-Known Member

    It was never a question of volume (or lack of) with my particular gear. They played fine through my MacBook Pro 15 via a USB C to Stereo Mini Jack. But they had intermittent audio with clicking noises through my iPhone X and now Xs. This initially was not a problem for me because I had Etymotic noise cancelling earphones for mobile use. But the more I used the AQ's, the more I wanted to use them everywhere. At least around the house. So I picked up the AQ Dragonfly Red and they work fine through the iPhone X or Xs.
  15. action pact

    action pact Forum Resident

    I recently bought the Massdrop/Sennheiser HD-6xx ($199), and they are absolutely delightful: detailed, tonally accurate, non-fatiguing, good bass, and very comfortable. Highly recommended! I haven't yet tried them with my MacBook or iPhone, but they work very well with a modest $40 Nobsound hybrid tube/ss headphone amp.

    I also have a pair of older Grado SR80i's that I have done a few mods to, and they have always worked very well with my MacBook. They're not especially comfortable though.
    JCM likes this.
  16. I just ordered a NightHawk Carbon from MusicDirect. So I'll find out how they do soon.
    The measurements over at InnerFidelity for the original NightHawk say that it takes 1.04 mW to play 90 dB. That's a lot of mW for a 25 ohm headphone to reach 90 dB in that test. A good portable friendly 25 ohm headphone would be in the 0.2 mW range. That makes me suspect that they will do better with an amp than trying to play from a phone.

    I have plenty of other headphones. I don't need the NightHawk to be neutral. I have other headphones for when I want neutral. I also don't need it to be portable friendly (though I will try it with my PonoPlayer). I'm curious how well the NightHawk presentation works with various types of music and also how that presentation affects the sense of headphone soundstage.
    John Buchanan likes this.
  17. I'm glad to hear this. And very interested to hear your thoughts in detail. The square wave and bottom end responses look remarkable.

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