Full Size Headphone Recommendations - Headfonia Headphone Reviews

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Full Size Headphone Recommendations

Welcome to the world of full sized headphones. These are the cans to get when you are very serious about sound quality because with bigger drivers come bigger sound.

The list starts with relatively affordable headphones in the $100 price range, but as you scroll down, you will find some headphones that cost upwards of $1,000. The price may be impressive, but remember rule #2 and #3 from the Headphone Guide article. While it’s true that more expensive headphones are usually always better technically, what you need ultimately is a headphone that plays well with your music.

The most expensive headphones are usually designed to let you hear more things, to hear things clearer than ever before, to give you the pure unaltered reproduction of the recording. While those lines would make a pretty good marketing lines, remember that the majority of music out there have awful recording quality. Unless you are listening to strictly classical music or audiophile jazz, where they tend to come with above-average recording quality, you may want to rethink your decision to buy that $1,000 headphone. Again, rule #2 and #3 from the Headphone Guide article.

The list is sorted based on price, starting from the lowest to the most expensive. The categorizing is meant to be a rough guideline, for more detailed sound impressions please refer to the reviews.

  • HiFi: Warm sound signature with full midrange and bass.
  • Rockin’: Aggressive forward and lively sound with fast pace, good for Rock and similar music.
  • Monitoring: Precise sound lets you hear the recordings in an uncolored manner.
  • Basshead: Tuned for maximum bass quantity, punch and impact.
  • Open Sound: Very spacious and open presentation, almost speaker like. Tend to be weak in bass.

Sennheiser HD202 – HiFi

The entry level full size Sennheiser starts with a very low price of $19.91. Pretty amazing and probably is the best value you can get for your money. Dark and laid back sound with plenty of mid and bass body. The HD202 doesn’t wow people with treble details, but is actually very enjoyable with many different music genres. Moderate noise isolation and comfort, but the cable feels a little too long sometimes. Lower end variant: Sennheiser HD201.

$19.91 from Amazon.com | Sennheiser HD202 Review

Grado SR60i/SR80i – Rockin’

The Grado SR60i is an updated model of the SR60, a big headphone icon among headphone enthusiasts. The SR60i represents the entry level Grado sound with its uniquely forward, engaging, and open sound that makes Grado famous. It is one of the must-to-listen headphone and one that I’d recommend to everybody. It works very well for Rock, Indie, Acoustic, Blues, Country. Due to the fully open-back design, the Grado SR60 leaks sound big time, both in and out. But the same open-back design is also what’s responsible for creating such a special listening experience. The SR80i is a higher up model that offers better bass than the entry level SR60i, with the same magical Grado sound signature. Do give either one of these headphones a try.

$79.00 from Amazon.com (SR60i) | $99.00 from Amazon.com (SR80i)

Audio Technica M-50 – Monitoring

The M-50 is a relatively affordable, semi-premium studio monitoring headphone that happens to translate well to the music listening environment. This headphone is very popular among the enthusiasts. All rounder sound, medium pace, good comfort, decent noise isolation, good bass though not too punchy nor tight. Noise isolation is very good. Lower end variant: Audio Technica M-30.

$133.78 from Amazon.com | Closed Cans Shootout

Shure SRH-840 – Monitoring

The SRH-840 is another semi-premium studio monitoring headphone that also has a strong following among music listeners. At $144, it’s the M-50’s closest competitor, both with their own strengths and weaknesses. Please read the comparison article for the full details. Lower end variant: Shure SRH-440.

$144.40 from Amazon.com | Closed Cans Shootout



The headphones listed below this point require a headphone amplifier to sound best.

Audio Technica Pro700 Mk2 – Basshead

Seriously bass heavy headphone. Frequency balance heavily biased for bass and only bass. Great basshead headphone, awesome for dance and electronica.

$149.00 from Amazon.com | Bass To The Power Of Two: Pro700 Mk2

AIAIAI TMA-1 – Basshead

The TMA-1 is a specialty headphone. It is voiced for electronic and dance music, where I find it to be one of the most amazing headphone for Trance and House. It’s also pretty good with Jpop, especially the energetic Jpop Dance/Techno stuff. Works extremely well for the recordings it’s voiced for, but not so good with other mainstream recordings. Due to the loose fit, the TMA-1 leaks sound in and out.

$199.99 from Amazon.com | AIAIAI TMA-1

Audio Technica AD900 – Open Sound

This mid entry level open headphone from Audio Technica will impress you with its big, spacious sound. We did a group comparison on the full AD-line up headphones and found that the AD900 to be the most balanced model among the others. You can also try the slightly lower end AD700 and AD300 models as they offer the same sound signature for less money.

$216.95 from Amazon.com | Audio Technica AD Series Comparison 

Sennheiser HD558/HD598 – HiFi

These new mid-level headphones from Sennheiser offer a step up in sound quality from the previous HD555/595 models. Very good refinement level with a generally laid back and smooth sound signature, a typical Sennheiser sound signature. Although their sound quality tend to e overshadowed by the higher end HD600/HD650 models, the HD558/HD598 are more popular for people who’s not willing to make heavy investment on a headphone amplifier and a high quality source.

$179.95 from Amazon.com (HD558) |  $249.95 from Amazon.com (HD598) | HD558 and HD598


From this point down you are looking at the reference-class headphones.

Beyerdynamic DT880 – Monitoring

The DT880 is the most popular full size headphone from Beyerdynamic. Originally designed for professional monitoring purposes, the DT880 is even more resolving than the Shure SRH-840 and Audio Technica M-50. In fact, there is nothing more resolving than these DT880s on the south side of $300. Keep in mind that with super-resolving monitoring headphones such as these DT880s, you have to pay close attention to the quality of the recording material, otherwise it will sound pretty nasty. They come in several variants, PRO and Premium and in 32 Ohm, 250 Ohm and 600 Ohm versions. The PRO is more affordable while the Premium has a better build quality. Between the different impedance versions, the higher impedance version offers a more linear and smoother sound, though more demanding in amplification.

$237.99 (DT880 250 Ohm PRO) |  Old School Trio

Ultrasone Pro900 – HiFi

The Pro900 is one of the best models among Ultrasone’s line up. Equipped with the S-Logic technology, the Pro900 offers a wide spacious sound with clean details and an impactful bass. Great for Classical music and audiophile Jazz.

$328.17 at Amazon.com

Sennheiser HD600/650 – HiFi

These are great all rounder headphone with reference qualities. The HD580/600 have forward mids, good treble and midrange detail, good bass impact. Pace is moderately fast. If you like a more laid back sound with fuller lows, and listens to slower paced songs, go for the HD650. Keep in mind that the HD580 is discontinued, so you can only get the HD600 and HD650 brand new. $314.95 (HD600) | $494.00 (HD650) | Old School Trio

Sony Z1000 – HiFi

New flagship closed headphone from Sony is a great all rounder headphone that will give you a near high-end resolution and refinement in a closed design, easy to drive package. Fairly linear frequency balance, good mids and vocals, unoffensive and smooth treble, good detail extraction and soundstage. The only weak point is the bass impact which is just okay. Medium pace and PRaT.

$499.00 from Amazon.com | First Impression: Sony Z1000

Audio Technica W1000X – HiFi

The W1000X is one of the most popular wood cup headphone from Audio Technica. Sublime build quality paired with a smooth HiFi sound, this headphone is excellent for mellow, slower paced jazz and female vocals.

$573.65 from Amazon.com | Audio Technica W1000X Grandioso

Koss ESP-950 – Open Sound

The ESP-950 is an electrostatic headphone and it requires a special amplifier designed to drive those type of a headphone. Good thing that Koss sells the ESP-950 bundled together with the E/90 electrostatic amplifier so you don’t have to worry about sourcing the amplifier separately. The Electrostatics tend to be weak in bass, but the way it reproduces music is very special, something that you don’t find with ordinary headphones.

$599.45 from Amazon.com | Koss ESP-950

Grado RS1i – Rockin’

The RS1 is the classic Rock headphone. Grados have always been voiced to sound great with Rock, Blues, Country, among other things, and the RS1 model represents the best of the Grado sound. Grado have released more expensive headphones such as the GS1000 and the PS1000, but we still like the RS1 best. There is also a new model with a slightly different sound called the PS500, and though it’s also a good headphone, it’s still not quite like the RS1. You can also try the lower end SR325is, it’s a slightly downgraded sound from what you get with the RS1, but still a very good headphone and for half the cost of the RS1. (note: The RS1 has undergone several different versions, the latest version is called the RS1i).

$695.00 (RS1i) | $295.00 (SR325is) | Grado RS1 and Alessandro MS-Pro


From this point down you are looking at the flagships. The utmost best in sound quality.

Hifiman HE-500 – HiFi

Surprisingly the HE-500 takes over the HE-6 in the flagship spot. The HE-500 takes the HE-6 drivers and tweaks a few things to result in an easier to drive factor, very sweet and musical mids, and good clarity all around without being harsh. Midrange lovers will love this headphone. Recommended for Jazz, Blues, Vocals.

$699.00 from ALO Audio | HE-500 First Impression

Audez’e LCD-2 – HiFi

Perhaps most impressive for the bass section. The reigning bass champion among the flagship headphones. Dark sounding with a sweet planar tonality, this headphone has developed a very loyal following, though many owners feel the need to use silver cabling to bring out treble levels a little bit.

$945.00 from ALO Audio | Audez’e LCD-2 Impressions

Beyerdynamic T1 – Rockin’

The flagship Beyerdynamic is characterized by a brilliant, sparkly treble, fast and impactful bass passages, and relatively forward mids.

$1,295.00 from Amazon.com | German Flagship Battle: HD800 and T1

Beyerdynamic T5p – Rockin’

A closed-back variant of the flagship T1 model, the T5p is less demanding on the amplification while still offering a clear flagship-class reference sound, though slightly below the T1’s level.

$1,295.00 from ALO Audio

Sennheiser HD800 – HiFi

The flagship Sennheiser is the most resolving headphone out there today. In real life, that actually translates to something that’s not so easy to enjoy. Don’t expect to be playing Pop music tracks with these since it’s just going to show you how bad the average pop recordings are. With a good system and a good recordings, however, the HD800 is absolutely stunning. Budget an additional $2,000 to $3,000 for a good amplifier for the HD800.

$1,499.95 from Amazon.com | German Flagship Battle: HD800 and T1


Only list the most popular products are listed here. If you feel it to be too limited, feel free to browse the reviews on the Headphones Category:



  • Anonymous

    So much more convenient to read.  🙂

  • Not sure you’ve noticed yet, but in the picture above, shouldn’t the t5p be there in place of the k1000 ?

  • sorry take that back after looking over the pictures higher up on the page.. scrolled down too quickly.

  • Very very nice list mike 😀

    • Thanks, buddy.

  • FrznCdn

    Hi Mike, 

    Just FYI – the link to the W1000x actually takes you to the 325i page on Amazon.

    Great article, though!  I agree with a lot of your conclusions – makes me feel good about the decisions I’ve made with purchases!

    Will you be doing the same thing with amplification and sources?

    • Thanks for pointing that out, I will correct it.

      And yes with the Amplification and source, maybe in the next 1-2 weeks.

    • Thanks for letting me know about the broken link. It’s fixed now. 

  • Excelent article! Good job! In the grado section, you did not mention RS2i . 
    “You can also try the lower end SR325is, it’s a slightly downgraded sound from what you get with the RS1, but still a very good headphone and for half the cost of the RS1. ”
    Wouldn`t the rs2i be the next headphones down of rs1i?

    • Yes Dan, but the RS2’s sound is not the same as the RS1’s forward sound. For some reason it’s more neutral, more Alessandro like. 

      • Thaks for straightening that out for me Mike. So you would give the Rs2i the Hifi grade, istead of the Rockin`?

        • It’s not exactly warm and full bodied like the other Hifi grade, but not monitoring either. Perhaps still in the Rock category.

  • raz

    Hi Mike, great stuff.  Would love it if you also gave a mention to whether the phones are easy or hard to drive unamplified, or separate sections for easy and harder to drive cans. Other than that, great site:)

    • Thanks, Raz.
      I’ve added some pointers in. Shouldn’t that be enough for the list’s purpose?

  • Ramesses

    Hi Mike,

    Interesting how you’ve included the T5ps here. I’ve been pondering over buying the T1s for a while and now you’ve sparked my interest in the 5Ps again! The 5Ps never seem to have really caught on. I do like to buy cans that are portable or at least sound isolating to a degree so the 5Ps would be ideal. Are the 5Ps really that good?
    I do appreaciate your opinion as I do feel in tune with your perceptions from what I have read from your reviews and my own experiences.
    Also, don’t the D5000 or D7000 rate for inclusion in your recommendations list? I have both and really like them.
    Thanks Ramesses.

    • Hi Ramesses,
      I think the T5p is really good yes. Just a bit below the T1, but still clearly in flagship territory.
      The Denons are very popular but I haven’t had the chance to do a full review on them. Maybe when I do they can be included there.

  • Ramesses

    Hi Mike,

    Can you tell me how the T5ps compare against the Ultrasone Ed8s?
    The Ed 8s seem to have a bigger following and I suspect better isolation.
    Do you know how the sound signatures compare? Your opinions would be very welcome.
    Thanks Ramesses.

    • Yes the isolation is better on the ED8, but the overall sound is bigger on the T5p. Basically the Ed8 has the typical Ultrasone sound, and a lot of people complains about the lack of midrange in Ultrasones. The T5p, I think is the better headphone though bass impact is better on the Ed8. 

      • Ramesses

        Hi Mike,

        Thanks for your advice. The T5ps have arrived and sounding good! First impressions…
        The mid range and vocals have great texture and presence. Isolation is noticably better than my Denons although comfort and appearance the Denons are much better to me. The t5ps are quite vice like on the head, which I suppose helps the isolation, as I wear glasses, the T5ps are quite awkward espacially as I often read while listening to music. I was surprised how light the T5s are. The Denons to me are warmer and more dynamic the T5ps have a smaller soundstage but I fallen for the mids and the vocals! The sound is sweetening and becoming more silky as they run in a bit so I am hoping for more improvement in a few days. Thanks Ramesses.

        • Good impressions Ramesses.

          The mids and the vocals are really nice on the T5p. As for the grip, the one I listened to wasn’t that grippy. Perhaps they’ll loosen up.

  • Ricky Chan

    Hi Mike,
    I am trying to choose a new headphone between Sen. HD600, HD650, and Beyerdynamic DT990.  I am using Cmoybb as an amp and iphone as a source.  My music type is more like 10 classical, 30 Vocals, 30 Pop, 30 Jazz.  Which headphone will fit me the most?


  • Ricky Chan

    Hi Mike,

    I am thinking about buying the JDSlabs’ C421 headphone amp. Which type do you suggest?  AD8620, AD 8066 or OPA2227.  My gears are Westone 4, Shure Se-530, Iphone as the source, Fiio E3 LOD and CMOYBB ( I like it a lot).  And I am thinking of getting the headphone you suggested either Senneheiser HD600 or HD 650.  Thanks.


  • Tyler DeLisle

    Hi Mike, I’m lost in research-land, would love someone with experience to get me on track if you have the time!

    I’m still new to premium-headphone world, but I listen to music for 6-8 hours a day at work and I want to enjoy that time as much as possible.  I’ve had a pair of Denon 2000’s but I’ve recently come to the reality that the highs are too much for me.  They sound great at first, but after a few hours it’s just too much and I need to take them off.  I actually find myself wincing even at lower volumes.

    I listen to all kinds of music, but mostly I like fast-paced music with good, funky beats.  Examples being Red Hot Chili Peppers, RJD2, Franz Ferdinand, TV on the Radio, Devotchka, Jeff Beck, SMV, Ben Harper, Down to the bone.  I don’t think that qualifies me as a bass head, but I definitely enjoy the low end.  I care more for impact and depth to my bass than booming, I think.  Being able to hear every pluck, slap, pop from a bass guitar is exhilarating, and I want to be toe-tapping uncontrollably to the beats.  However, I don’t want to sacrifice my mids when I’m listening to Rock and Acoustic, I’m a hand percussionist myself.  After the Denons, I’m scared to get anything that is remotely described as sparkly or high treble, but maybe I’m over-reacting. (Would I classify as preferring “dark” sounds?)

    I believe what i’m looking for is something HiFi that focuses on the Low end? Comfort is a huge factor as well with my extended listening sessions.  I’m hoping to stay in the $300-$400 range.  $500 is my absolute ceiling, but the less I spend on Headphones the more I can look into Amps/DAC’s.  At the very least I was hoping to get an e17 to hold me off until next years budget.

    From what I’ve read on your site and other testimonies, I think the only headphones that meet those needs are the Pro-900’s, Z1000, HE-400, HD 600/650’s.  Do you have any suggestions between those based on the info I gave, or am I overlooking one?

    Thanks so much for all that you do, take care!

    • Hi Tyler,
      Good to hear that you’ve done your reading.

      I think you should look at either the HE-400 and the Senn HD600. Don’t go with the Pro900 and the Z1000.

      • Tyler DeLisle

        Thanks Mike, I really appreciate you taking the time, I know you have lots of people in every thread asking you similar questions.

        I re-read your review on the HE-400 and it does sound about exactly what I’m looking for.  I think I prefer it over the open-design on the HD600.

        One last question though.  If I could get a pair of HE-5LE’s used, for just a little more, do you think that would be worth it? I’ve read both your reviews and you say in the HE-400 review that it doesn’t even compare technically to the 5LE’s, but the 5LE’s are described as having more treble and better suited for rock and jazz.  Do you think the HE-400 is a better match for my sound tastes, or should I jump at the chance to step up to a higher level?

        Thanks again!

        • Well the HE5LE is more laid back and more spacious, where the HE-400 is more upfront, punchier and more aggressive.

          • Tyler DeLisle

            Sorry, I really didn’t want to harass you with questions as I know there are dozens of similar posts all over your site.  The HE-400 sound perfect for me, but I hadn’t realized initially that they were open-back.  I’ve actually never heard open-back phones, but I am mostly looking for cans while at work where there are generally people sitting 6 feet away from me.  I don’t know if the leakage is that much of an issue, but I’d generally prefer not to worry about it.

            Are there any closed-back headphones that you think are similarly aggressive with upfront, punchy sound, and a particularly detailed low end?

            You said not to go with the Pro900 previously, maybe the Senn 25-1’s? I’m not crazy about going back to supra-aurals with glasses, but I haven’t seen any complaints about comfort on the 25-1.  Can’t seem to find anything else that fits what I’m looking for in a closed-back.

            • Well if you want circumaural pads, you can give something like the Denon a try. It’s not quite as upfront as the HE-400 and HD25-1, but the bass is pretty good.

  • Ricky Chan

    Hi Mike,I am thinking about buying the JDSlabs’ C421 headphone amp. Which type do you suggest?  AD8620, AD 8066 or OPA2227.  My gears are Westone 4, Shure Se-530, Iphone as the source, Fiio E3 LOD and CMOYBB ( I like it a lot).  And I am thinking of getting the headphone you suggested either Senneheiser HD600 or HD 650.  Thanks.Ricky

    • I would suggest the OPA2227. I’ve never tried the AD8066 but the AD8620 version was not very nice.

  • Ricky Chan

    Hi Mike,

    are there any reference Closed Back headphones that they have the sound quality closer to Sen. HD600?  I want to get one to use in noisy environment such as coffee shop, on plane…etc.
    Budget will be $400 or less.  Thanks,


    • Not going to be the same, but I suggest you take a look at:

      Denon D2000/D5000, Beyer DT770-80 ohm, Sony Z1000 (perhaps closest to HD600 but ~$500).

    • Hep Dude

       Ricky – other sites would suggest the Denon AH-D2000 as the best Closed Back under $400.

  • John Hancock

    Gotta say there’s some AKG-hate on your site. Not liking the AKG K701 because compared to the others, it has less character of itself is fine – but to miss every AKG headphone from your recommendation list says a lot.

    • What AKG do you think I should post in there John?

      • I think people would like to know weather the Q701 and the K240 models fit in somewhere in there, as they are extremely popular.

  • arik100

    hey mike,
    I’m looking forward upgrading my gear as from last time.
    my first headphones were akg-k512 , then i jumped to audio technica ath-ad700 , i liked the last one but feels like a very small improvement.
    now I’m looking forward buying a headphone at about 200$
    i want a full size headphone which will be used for my computer , hearing mostly progressive rock – dream theater , porcupine tree etc.
    i thought about sennheiser hd555 or hd25-1 or m-50?
    what do you think? what is your recommendation? i open to all suggestions…

    btw i have no amp and the sound is coming from On board

    • You should try either the Vmoda M-80 or the HD25-1 for your music.

  • Double Six

    Hi Mike!

    Amp recommendations for z1000?
    Amp recommendations for Shure SRH 1840?

    Thin bass in a closed Sony ?????(humm) …You sure ????

    Considering HP1 or a Black Cube….thoughts????

    Will be listening to pretty much everything!

    Thoughts chaps ?

    • The Z1000 doesn’t really need serious amping, and honestly I didn’t try it with too many different amps. Only used it with the Grace m902, WooAudio6, and HeadAmp Pico Slim.

    • As for the SRH1840, I have yet to listen to it.

      Bass closed??

      The HP1 or Black cube? What are they? Can you be more specific?

  • Just like John said, it’s a great list (which I agree with 100%) but still think you should add the AKG Q701 for those who like “soundstage” even if exaggerated.

    • Thanks, Kenny. Let me think about it.

  • I wonder if you find Ultrasone Edition 8 recommendable. Those and T5P, which you did include, are somewhat special as they have the ambition to be one’s one and only set of headphones (by no means compact, still portable, generally not considered to have the ultimate sound quality, still so close that it is more a matter of preference, and they can be driven using a variety of portable setups).

  • Max von Hippel

    Beats/Dre? Seriously?  Please photoshop that picture 🙂

    • Well it was there when we did the comparison. 😉

  • SoundEskimoo

    for basshead category under $100 we shall mention the popular AKG K518DJ or LE.
    Haven’t tried Shure 550DJ looks promising as I knew.

    • Yes I missed the K518DJ/LE.

      • SoundEskimoo

        did you compare SRH550DJ with the popular K518? which one better (fun, musicality, technicality, and the else)?

        • The 550DJ is not as all-out bass head as the K518. Plus and minuses between the two, but the K518 has a better PRaT. 

          • SoundEskimoo

            Shure have tendency to have flat frequency response for their lineups?
            It is their famous Sound sig?

            • Actually the sound signatures are very different from the DJ headphones to the monitoring closed-back headphones, to the new open-back headphones, and finally the IEMs.

  • So what would be the better headphone for classical music?

    • Personally I use the HD650 for classical

      • Interesting. I thought classical music was more mids than bass, not to say the HD650 is a basshead can, but I was thinking something like the Shure SRH-840 or the HD598 would be better.

        • I think labeling the HD650 as a bass head can is inaccurate. This was the flagship reference class model from Sennheiser, do you really think a company such as Senn would make their flagship model a bass head headphone? 😉

          Anyway the thing with symphonies is that they do need bass, otherwise you get no impact on the loud passages.

          You can go with the 840 or the 598 if you listen to strings, chamber, winds, but once you go to pianos, concertos and symphonies, you’ll find the impact lacking.

          • LOL. I can see what you mean. And you are right that symphonies do need some really good bass impact. I don’t think I could listen to a Hans Zimmer or Akira Ifukube piece without there being some nice bass impact. 🙂

            I guess I should aim for an HD650 one day. Lol. Thanks, Mike! 🙂

            • Anytime, Chris. 🙂

  • Guys, can you give me a quick run down of k550 and m50? I have been using the m50s for awhile now and am very familar with them. I was hopeing the k550 would be a nice upgrade for a portable rig being powered by an ALO National. You know me, mid-vocals and in this case isolation for travel.

    • Overall the K550 is the superior headphone. Similar sound style, but the K550 comes with a much better technicalities and is more comfortable too.

      Vocals, I’d go with the K550.
      The M-50 is better with bass, though both headphones are not bass greats.

      • Trent_D

        I don’t know. The M-50 does have a little more bass, but the K550 is tighter and much more detailed, it is just missing a little kick, ehh… slam. If these are the two headphones you are talking about, I wouldn’t let bass be the deciding factor.

  • t1m_co

    Would you say the AKG K550 belongs on this list?

    • Yes I think so. Just have to update the list.

  • Hello Mike, what would be a good closed headphone for classical (all kind of classical), symphony, ambient(and nature sound) and also female vocal? I listen to most kind of music but no rap/hiphop/metal.

    • Closed, I would go with the K550 AKG. It’s also quite good with vocals, though not quite a vocal specialty.

      • I read somewhere in head fi that some poster say it has some problem with treble peak and resoanance. Do you find any of these thing?

        • Trent_D

          I have never found that to be true. Maybe some slight reverb with the housing, but that is par for the course with a closed headphone, and it doesn’t bother me at all. The weakest part of the K550 is the bass, while detailed and tight, doesn’t kick that hard. However, Mike says the National will help quite a bit with that, so you should be good to go.

          • I’m thinking of using it directly without an amp. Would it be a significant compromise?

            • If you don’t care about bass, then it should be fine.

        • stan zorin

          AKG did some tweaking on K550 because of shrill treble complaints and released a modified version, K551 with a more quiet treble.
          Other and better choices, if you can afford them : Beyerdynamic T5p – can be bought new for around 1200 US dollars and more and used for around 800 – 900 dollars and more. Audio Technica W3000ANV, with a fabulous sound, can be bought new for around 1400 US dollars and more and for around 1200 – 1300 US dollars and more for used ones. Audio Technica ESW11LTD can be bought new for around 600 US dollars and used for 500 US dollars and more.

          • dalethorn

            I had the ESW11Ltd and it had a really weird midrange coloration, plus the treble was very recessed. I paid $740 direct from Japan.

            • stan zorin

              You overpaid a bit. The “weird midrange coloration” is the result of the resonances within the wooden shell. The mids are thickened a bit in a good way for a fuller tone. The recessed treble can be brought up by a simple mod [modification]. Link – http://www.head-fi.org/t/631719/new-audio-technica-ath-esw11ltd/555 / see post 569
              ESW11LTD are one of the best choices for portable headphones.

              • dalethorn

                The wood is supposed to do the opposite of what you describe and lessen resonances. I have had many wooden headphones and the ESW11ltd has the least fidelity of any of them.

  • Franco Tortolini

    Hi Mike, so what would be the better headphone for electronic music (Autechre, Plaid, Alva Noto, Byetone, Kangding Ray, Board of Canada, ecc.)?

  • chriss92

    Hi Mike. I’m interesting to buy a new headphone but I don’t wish one to buy I guess I want an open headphone.
    I have HD 600 now with the, ASUS Xonar Essence One as DAC/AMP combo and I like that combo.
    But I want to upgrade even thought i dont need to do that^^, budget maybe 500-700$ or should I save up to an expensive headphones like HD 800, T1 or LCD-2? I listen most to classical music and Hans Zimmer, Ludovicho Einaudi and I think its called epic music or trailer music like Two Steps From Hell, and Tori Amos, Moby and othters who is similar and The Doors sometimes. I cant test listen to:(

    • L.

      I would forget about all of those headphones if you’re sticking with the Asus. Having said that, a second hand LCD2 can be found for $650 nowadays. why not keep the HD600 and save up for an external amp/dac so you can get a top tier headphone later?

      • Yes what L said.

      • dyonoctis

        Wow, I find it amazing that the asus is really too low end for these headphones …
        The model which he speaks is not a sound card, but a dac / amp externally(549 $) with an 8x oversampling symmetric (32 bit / 384 kHz), the usb asynchone, can drive headphones of 600 ohms, with a report signal noise of 120 dB, two xlr outputs, a dedicated power, and even the op-amp replaceable …(I know these headphone are really good,but I’m still very surprised)

        • Numbers.

          • dyonoctis

            hummm … I found some test … it all say it is a good dac / amp, which is already competitive in its price range (400 Euro in Europe) can become even better.even one who has found it makes a good combo with hd 800 (the knob is only at half) They speak of a dynamic sound (with fine bass) detailed, and with a soundstage large enough .
            The only complaint they made ​​to him, are rather from errors of youth, good technically, but a little behind on the musical side (but they will soon release a version with a selection of six opamp, for personalized signature sound on its taste)
            Currently I have not seen any negative opinion (even on head-fi) of the person who could listen it, just a priori because Asus is not a purely audio brand.

  • SoundEskimoo

    Mike, How is the closed Creative Aurvana Live compete in your Full Size headphone recommendation list?

    • It’s a good headphone, quite enjoyable, just a bit loose on the bass.

      I think it would be comparable to the M-50. The ATH having a cleaner sound, the CAL more musical.

      • SoundEskimoo

        I tried M50 before but not quite like it. The bass so slammy.
        Compared to HD202, what to expect?

        • SoundEskimoo,
          Just a friendly notice, we enjoy having you here, but it does take time and brainpower to answer each questions that are posted here. I would appreciate it if you can ask less questions, since many of these questions are seemingly asked just to satisfy your curiosity.
          I mean it would be a different case if you were looking at to buy heapdhone A and want to ask for an opinion. But you’ve been asking all these different random questions with no clear sense of where you’re going with it.

          • SoundEskimoo

            Thank you friend. I had very meaningful time with you. But really I meant no harm for you =P Curiosity good in audiophile business. Because of this curiosity & long chit chat this & that, now I have many cans. More pair than a pair of my ears.

            I had dt1350 on my side for now after all chit chat and long questions about this and that. Already bought many cans based our interactions on this web. To some degree, your judgement affected my perception & decision a lot. If you disturbed by my passion, then I will ask less. I don’t understand about “no clear sense where im going to”, but I’ll take positive friendly notice, Mike.

  • kuba zborowski

    Mike, have you heard Ultrasone Signature Pro? If yes then how can you describe sound and what popular models are similiar? Any comparisions to Hifiman He500/400 also?
    Are you going to review it?

    • The Signature Pro, I really wouldn’t recommend it.

      It was not any better than the Pro900 and it comes with a big and unnatural bass hump. I’d still take the Pro900 over it.
      Seriously a bunch of us listened to it on the local Jaben store, and even the Jaben guy didn’t like it either. I don’t know what Ultrasone is thinking. Almost like Pro900 + Beats by Dr. Dre.

  • kuba zborowski

    Ok what about HE500 to HE400 comparision? Is it very close in terms of sound? I got opinion that HE400 is something like Stax Omega 007 – darker with bigger but better controlled(?) bass? On the other hand I dont want V shaped sound of Denons which I found also somewhat wooly in bass region. I want very natural sound with great mids and smooth extended highs. Bass must be solid, well extended and with good texture. I prefer depth and good imaging, less width.
    My favourite sound would be something like AKG K1000 with a little bit more body and mids from HD650/600 with size of instruments and attack of Grado. hehe
    Which Hifimans do you prefer regarding such expectations?
    Thank you