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Help me choose a pair of open-back mixing headphones
View Poll Results: Best open-back mixing headphones
Shure SRH1840
0 Votes - 0%
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
1 Votes - 12.50%
Sennheiser HD 650
3 Votes - 37.50%
AKG K-701
2 Votes - 25.00%
Other (post it ITT)
2 Votes - 25.00%
Voters: 8. You may not vote on this poll

Old 20th December 2018
Gear Head

Help me choose a pair of open-back mixing headphones

Hey guys,

Some GAS came along and I must deliver. I live with flatmates and I realized that I make a lot less music lately because I don't want to bother them. This really sucks because my room is treated and I have a nice pair of HS7s that sound great.

Anyway, my goal would be to buy a pair of open-back headphones that would let me keep on mixing whenever I want, and then double-checking with my monitors when my flatmates aren't home or sleeping.

I have a 200-500$ budget and I'm looking into the following models:
-Shure SRH1840
-Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
-Sennheiser HD 650
-AKG K-701 (not a big fan of the looks but that's secondary)

I already have a pair of Sennheiser HD-25 for monitoring that work very well, but there's no way I can mix with them, as most of you will know.

Thanks for your time and good vibes to all!

Edit: I forgot mentioning, these headphones will be driven by the headphone amp of my Focusrite Saffire Pro 40, so impedance might be an issue. Please let me know if you think that the Beyerdynamics won't run optimally because of this.
Old 20th December 2018
Gear Addict
Massdrop has a drop on their 6xx right now (exact same headphones as the hd650, same factory, specs, everything, a couple cosmetic differences) only $200! Get ‘em, you won’t regret it!
Old 20th December 2018
I have the Massdrop AKG 7XXX's and love them. Also $200.
Old 21st December 2018
Gear Head
Mister Natural's Avatar
huge fan of Audio Technica phones
I use the M50s for tracking and a pair of the AD1000x's for checking the mix
best of luck !
Old 21st December 2018
Lives for gear
s.d.finley's Avatar
I just recently bought a pair of DT 880s for a great price. They sound fantastic and are very light and comfortable. The 880s are supposed to be more linear than the 990s, or at least that is what I have read.
Old 21st December 2018
Lives for gear
dickiefunk's Avatar
I also have the DT880’s and am really impressed with them. I’ve tried the Audio Technica’s and AKG’s and personally preferred the Beyers. I’ve also used some cheaper Shures and was impressed with those as well.
Old 21st December 2018
Lives for gear

You should use the headphones only for "pre-mixing" and doing always reference with other tracks , but when you think that is done, turn on the monitors and spend there (at least) half hour to tune db levels and eq and reverb properly (always referencing), otherwise only with headphone you risk unbalanced mixes... Only a quick "checking" on monitors won't suffince imho. Those flatmates won't be at home 24/24 hrs per day, I think, as you said in the post.
The 701 are good, but is up to personal taste.
Old 21st December 2018
Lives for gear
HSi's Avatar

Beyer 880, semi open. I have about 8 pairs of headphones, those Beyers are great for the price, great build quality, easily user serviceable.
Old 21st December 2018
Lives for gear

I prefer the AKG's myself. I use a cheaper set and I can do a direct A/B comparison between wearing the headphones and then taking them off and hearing my studio monitors and the tone doesn't change at all, at least nothing this old experienced set of ears can detect. AKG's aren't overly loud. They produce quality sound butt you want loud you may want to try something else. You'll get a solid 85/90db from most headphone amps (83 is the mixing standard)
Old 21st December 2018
Gear Head

Hey! Thank you for your replies! It really helps me redirect my search.

I was really turned on lately by this review of the Shure SRH1840, but I'll guess I'll have to take a closer look at the 701 and the Beyer 880.

The search continues!

Old 23rd December 2018
Gear Maniac
I have the shire 1840s and can confirm everything in the video review. I love them and they have made a big difference in my mixes. I use headphone correction software with them. I think that any good pair of headphones with Sonarworks will work very well though.
Old 24th December 2018
Gear Head
All the Cans on your should be perfectly capable for your needs.
I personally like Beyerdynamic and some AKG Headphones. But why don´t you check them yourself? You have to work with them and they have to feel comfortable on your head.
Old 1st January 2019
Gear Head

Hey! I finally went for the AKG's K702. Now I'm waiting for them to break in a little. Will look deeper into Sonarworks for sure. Thanks!
Old 11th January 2019
Gear Nut

Grado's are fantastic for this, for me the flattest, most natural sounding headphones I've used. Totally open back, which took some getting used to coming from my previous favorite Beyers. Different tools for different jobs, but the Grados win out for pure sound quality IMO.
Old 13th January 2019
Lives for gear
Dr. Mordo's Avatar

I know this thread is pretty much closed, but I have the Grado SR60 and the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro.

The Grado's are ok. Their design is not terribly robust, and even with gentle handling they tend to fall apart, though they are still usable once you put them back together. Soundwise, they are peaky and the high mids and lack bass freqs. I don't mix them. but occasionally break them out to check a mix.

I found the the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros to be pretty disappointing. They are very sibilant. I can mix with them and use them more than the Grados because the bass response is better, but I have to push the highs until they are too loud, then I know the mix will translate. I have recently read that the 880s are more neutral, and that's what I would buy if shopping now.
Old 2nd May 2019
Gear Head

OK, just to give you a quick update about my impressions on the AKG K-702 after about 4 months of use, someone asked me today what I thought of them. Here's my reply:

Man, I love these headphones!!! I can't really compare to any of the others I mentioned in the thread, but I've been extremely happy with them so far. They pick every single detail, it's pretty crazy. I use them for ear training on Soundgym and they've given me great results.

Recently (about two weeks ago), I started using them while running Sonarworks, and it helped a lot in bringing up the bass. Still crisp and tight, but when you A/B with and without Sonarworks, bass seems to be lacking. I hadn't noticed this before. So without Sonarworks, I wouldn't have any complaints. But maybe my mixes had a little more bass because of this.

I couldn't tell you if my mixes have too little bass now because of Sonarworks, but I can definitely recommend you this pair of headphones. They're truly amazing. You might find them harsh at the beginning. Not because they cause ear fatigue or anything like that (far from it), but because they do tend to be a little shy on bass. Once you get used to it, you might fall in love.

Some say you have to wait until they "break in". Maybe this hasn't happened quite yet for me. I do send them some volume even if I'm working on monitors, just to speed up the process.

Stereo separation is pretty good too, very spacious, but not as good as having near-field monitors. No headphones could replace that (IMO).

That's about all I have to say.
I forgot mentioning that what others say about comfort is definitely true. You barely feel them and you can wear them for ours without getting any numb spots. In short, I'm pleased.
Old 2nd May 2019
Gear Head

By the way, here's the calibration that Sonarworks does in order to have a flatter response (blue line is the K-702 and the purple line is what we are trying to achieve).

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