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good headphones for listening + production under $600? Studio Headphones
Old 26th May 2013
Gear Head

Thread Starter
good headphones for listening + production under $600?

i'm looking for a quality set of cans to use for both listening as well as production under $600. hoping all you edumacated folks on here can help me make a decision.

i listen to mainly deep house and ambient idm stuff (think boards of canada, aphex twin, tycho, etc.).

from a production standpoint, would also be for the above types of music- mainly deep house.

since i'm a noob at this, i'm wondering if i can get away with plugging them straight into my dac (in my case, an audiolab m-dac) or if it's an absolute necessity i get a dedicated preamp of some sort? what about when using them for production?

ot: i've read that headphones, regardless of calibre, have a relatively short life compared to speakers. is this true or is it just some bs?
Old 26th May 2013
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ForWerd's Avatar

My Sennheiser HD 600 ran about $600. I have no complaints, but there are open back. So not ideal for tracking vocals, but a great option for mixing headphones.
Old 26th May 2013
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StephenWiley's Avatar

That's a pretty large budget. Honestly, I wouldn't drop $600 until you have a better understanding of production and headphones.

First, I would get two pairs. You need two different designs. (closed for listening, open/partial for production) You mentioned listening as well as production. Get a pair of Sony MDR-7510's for listening. (it's a closed headphone, you will want an open/partial set of cans for production)

For production you are going to get a lot of opinions BUT I'm going to focus on the fact you like deep house and things like Boards of Canada. I think you would do very well with Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro. They're a semi-open headphone which is what you want for production and they're very easy to service when the wires wear down.

The 880's are like $280 and the Sony's are about $120. That's $400 total and you'll get two very nice quality cans.

And regarding the life of cans, yes, they die much faster than a pair of speakers usually. Most high quality headphones can be serviced fairly easily.
Old 26th May 2013
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lowkey's Avatar

Closed : Sennheiser HD25s are basically industry standard issue for DJing.
Open: Sennheiser HD650/600s
Old 26th May 2013
Gear Addict
FabGear's Avatar
The sound of headphones is so subjective you will rarely find two people who can agree on one model being the best. Here is some of what I think I learned from research for my last headphone purchase.

Ultra expensive ($1500+) audiophile listening headphones are almost always open-back. They will have sound leakage so are best used in private where no one will be bothered.

Headphones used for recording/tracking purposes are usually closed-back to eliminate possible leakage into a nearby microphone. If you record direct this won't be a factor.

There are also semi-open headphones which may have somewhat less leakage than a fully open design. Still probably best for private listening.

Headphone impedance typically ranges from about 16 Ohms up to 600 Ohms. Lower impedance phones work well with consumer equipment like portable music players, computers, electronic keyboard instruments, etc. For use with professional gear high impedance is more common. High-end gear will often work best with a dedicated headphone which can be a large expense in itself.

So ideally you may want both closed and open-back headphones. You don't necessarily need to spend $600 for a set. There are many good-sounding headphone choices for a fraction of that price. A lot depends on your level of professionalism and how discerning your ear is.

Personally, I have the Sennheiser HD 598 which is an open-back that sells about $250. These are rated at 50 Ohms and I mostly use them with lower impedance consumer equipment.
Old 26th May 2013
maybe you can find a pair of Audeze LCD-2 used for around that much

regarding life span, I don't think any pair of cans I've ever owned has lasted me more than a year without needing repair, thanks goodness for the usual 2-year warranty
Old 26th May 2013
I have been very happy with the akg k701 and q701 for years now. And they do last forever, my K701 are over 8 years old now. Between the k701, q701, and k702, the sound is the same, go for whichever has the best deal at the time. That's how I ended up with Q for a second pair. They sound the same.
They might need an amp, but for recording I run the K directly off of my mixing board. The q are amped for music listening.
Old 26th May 2013
the Ks will definitely need some juice to be driven well, my K702s have gone through a repair once already though and they need another one, I think it's just that the dumbass that repaired them last didn't bother to read the letter I sent with the headphones explaining that the problem didn't seem to be the drivers but the plastic enclosure but all he did was replace the driver
Old 26th May 2013
It good to get great quality phones but don't forget what amp you are using is equally important. Make sure you are using a good quality headphone amp or check out some designs that will make sure you are you are listening to just the source and not the amplified crap from the amp
Old 26th May 2013
Gear Head

Thread Starter
thanks for these suggestions- i'll be sure to check 'em all out. looks like i'll also have to decide which is more important to me at the moment- a set for listening or production- in order to make the final decision.

fwiw, the audiolab m-dac i use has a very decent headphone amp built in.
Old 10th June 2013
I also own a pair of K702's and they are perfect for me.

Just remember that mixing soley on headphones isnt a good idea, your mixes will be pretty narrow, as the panning of sounds will be difficult: when you listen over monitors you still hear audio from the left monitor with your right ear, this wont happen with headphones.
Old 10th June 2013
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anigbrowl's Avatar

Having tried many others, I still find my Sony MDR 7506's deliver the best sound. My day job is as a production sound mixer for film, and I typically use Schoeps microphones for recording the dialog. The 7506s give the same sound that I hear with my own ears, only louder. Of course subconscious psychological familiarity is a factor, but when I put on other headphones I am astonished at how different (and worse) everything sounds.
Old 10th June 2013
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Synth Buddha's Avatar
I love listening to Boards of Canada on my HD650s (with a custom amp - you MUST use a good amp with these!), but the AKG 702 and Q701 are my favorite cans. Even the 601s are quite good, although they really shine with acoustic music. I'd recommend you give the Q701 a try, I'm very happy with those.
Old 11th June 2013
Gear Nut
delaware dave's Avatar

Koss Pro4AA. Had mine for over 30 years and they still sound great. One con, they're a little heavy.

Koss PRO4AA Reviews
Old 11th June 2013
Lives for gear
HD650 are good for production and home listening. I love mine and I've had them since 2007. There not the best choice if you want to listen on the London Underground (open back let's the noise in and you're a nuisance because everyone can hear your music). I don't know if that's what you mean be listening headphones?

I've got 3 pairs of headphones;
Open back/Producing (composing and mixing) and home listening - Sennheiser HD650
Closed back/DJ and recording - Sony MDR-V700
In ear/on the move iPhone/iPod - cheap Sennheiser.
Old 11th June 2013
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by lowkey View Post
Closed : Sennheiser HD25s are basically industry standard issue for DJing.
Open: Sennheiser HD650/600s
+1 these. Love the HD 600s
Old 11th June 2013
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by AJ Reynolds View Post
There not the best choice if you want to listen on the London Underground
"let me try dem headphones on blud, dont be shy"
Old 27th June 2013
I've been looking for a DAC to replace my ONE but can't find any info on many regarding working with audio producing regarding latency and drivers

I tried posting a thread on the music computers forum but I didn't get any replies
Old 27th June 2013
Lives for gear

I have 650's, but let me tell you these Sennheiser 555's that I bought just for videogaming have opened up into incredible sounding headphones. I was not expecting that. Amazing sound and relatively cheap.
Old 27th June 2013
Gear interested

There are many good-sounding headphone choices for a fraction of that price.
Old 27th June 2013
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Schwarzwald's Avatar
Q701 user here. Paired with an ODAC.

These things are LOUD but they sound great. Lovely soundstage.
The bass representation is deceiving, and I often run into a problem with adding too much high end/not enough mid, but NOTHING a quick double check on my monitors wouldn't fix.

It's 3:31AM here, so I JUST got done mixing a song on them. Quite lovely cans, although I already know what I'll have to compensate for this afternoon when I run it through the monitors.

They feel nice to wear, and I can go 3-5 hours without getting fatigued. The soundstage is second to none IMO.

I did go through the ridiculous 900+hr pink noise burn in. Took me about a month and a half. So I can't vouch for how they sound straight out the box, or without said burn in, but they definitely are satisfying if you do it.

I use AKG K44's for tracking, they're cool. They definitely remind me of the bigger 701s, minus the quality everything, haha. They work well for tracking though.
Old 28th June 2013
Originally Posted by Schwarzwald View Post
Q701 user here. Paired with an ODAC.
I've heard good things about the ODAC, how's the latency?
Old 28th June 2013
Gear Maniac

Very linear for mixing is the Sennheiser HD600. Approx $ 400 USD

If you're looking for closed headphones, I can recoment the Beyerdynamic DT770. Approx $ 230 USD
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