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Old 28th September 2015
  #15
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I gave the iSK HD-9999 headphones 14 or 15 hours of play time to break in. Not sure if that's enough, but right now is when I can do this post, so here goes.

What a pleasant surprise these headphones are. You can visit their web site - linked in the very first post of this thread - to see all the goodies they come with, etc. Lots of goodies.

But the sound is what eldon2975, who started the thread, asked about. He indicated he has a pair of Senn HD-280 Pros, and so do I, so I'll relate some of this to those, trying to give him a benchmark. He also asked if the sound could be called "clinical." I have a few pair of headphones, and I suppose the pair which would come closest to "clinical" is my Shure SHR940 phones (one of the "cons" in a review on Amazon says " poorly recorded or mastered tracks sound bad"... not so sure that's a con, if you're looking for clinical), so I'll use those, too. Please remember, all of what I'm going to say is subjective, and only my opinion. I'll do my best, but I'm not much of a review-writer kind of guy.

I'll also say that when I mix, I use monitors and headphones... mostly the monitors, but I find headphones helpful in instances, and try to consider a listener wearing headphones during the mix process. So I'm not the person you want to trust for "headphone only" mix tips. For that matter, you should not think of me as a mix-tip person at all.

But the headphones...

These rascals serve up a really nice sonic stage. For anyone considering these for listening purposes only, the iSK phones are a no-brainer, as far as I'm concerned. They have a very pleasant overall sound. The mids and highs are crisp, clean and distinctive (in that it's easy to distinguish one sound source from another). Compared to my Shure SRH940 phones, the HD-9999 lower end is a bit friendly/flattering, though. If you want them for listening to already recorded music, that's a good thing... if you want them as your only means of hearing your mix, you need to consider that, imho. And remember, I'm comparing the bass of these fine headphones to a pair costing almost 6 times as much.

As to how the iSK HD-9999 phones compare to the Senn HD-280 Pros: The iSK phones have a more pleasing sound stage, to my ears (would *you* interpret that as less clinical? I honestly cannot answer that), than the Senns. The upper mids and highs in the iSK phones have a more honest sound (which I do interpret as more clinical, and at the same time easier to listen to) than the Senns, to my ears. The bass in the iSK phones takes up more sonic space (I am NOT calling the bass muddy or muddled, or any such thing, just sayin it takes up a larger portion of the sound stage) than the bass in the Senns, which could potentially mask some subtleties in the lower mids, during mixing with the iSK phones. So, from my perspective, the iSK phones may be more what you're looking for in the mid/upper-mid to high for mixing, and the Senns may be more what your looking for in the bottom end. That's life, though: there are trade-offs in most things.

Now to the bang-per-buck quotient. In that regard, the iSK phones knock it out of the park, imho! If you're looking for an inexpensive set of closed-back headphones to wear for monitoring your recording, or for just listening to music, and this is your budget, then these are your phones, as far as I'm concerned. If you will be using them as your only source of listening to your mixes-in-progress, you make the call... I would not use these for that purpose because of the kindness of the bottom end and the potential of masking subtle parts in the lower mids. But, that's just me.

Having said all that, I love these headphones. They are pretty comfortable on my big head. They sound surprisingly good, and anyone - pretty much, I think - could swing a pair financially.