Ryan's Headphone Guide Ryans Guide to headphones Hello, My names Ryan before I got into audio I was a gamer since a young age. I started off by playing games like Super Mario then as I got older moved onto stuff like Zelda and the Pokemon games. I then started playing Games like Metal Gear Solid as I continued to try new things. I remember trying my first JRPG, Final Fantasy 9. I fell in love with the characters and soundtrack touch my heart and I never knew OST's and a good cast of characters could be this engaging and emotional. I would say this game sparked my audio enthusiasm to a higher level. Before, when it came to music, I would say I was a casual listener. I went through phases of listening to Rap, Hardcore, Happy Hardcore you name it, anything with a solid beat and I was there. I always was a big fan of vocals, I loved Elton John and anyone that had a warm, engaging voice. Obviously back in the day, you get the **** taken of you for music taste like that! but you know stuff it! Since I became a JRPG fan I started to appreciate live music and instrumental music a lot more. My first pair of headphone were the SRH440 which sounded excellent, I then went on a spree to try everything. Since then I've owned god knows how many headphones and tried probably nearly everything. I know how addictive this hobby gets and I know that many headphones specialize in certain things and it's mostly about flavours more than headphones being better than each other. I want this guide to help people understand sound better and how certain headphones can do things others can't. This hobby is fun, but don't let myths and miss information trick you, pick the right flavour for your preferences an you will be happy. Guide Index In this guide I will be covering How it sounds with different genres How well it preforms on each frequency All aspects of gaming Build Comfort I have a 1-10 rated system. Now my rating system will be for the Music aspect and also the competitive gaming aspect, lastly it will cover the fun and immersion aspect. The 10 point rating system 1-3 = Terrible-poor. Not recommend and cheaper alternatives may be better. 4-5= Not good- Below average. A headphone with this rating could have some good aspects but fail in others i.e not a complete headphone. 6-7= Average-Good headphone, will miss out on some aspects stopping it from being great. 8-9= Very good-Excellent. This headphone is excellent in all areas and gets a recommendation from me in a heart beat. Close to perfect but not quite there yet. 10= Perfect! This headphone is simply incredible! Only a select handful can become a perfect 10! In terms of comparing scores, different headphones are at different price brackets. A headphone at £300 may get the same score as a headphone that cost £100. It doesn't mean that they are on the same level! There could be some technical differences or it could be that a headphone is simply a different flavour. If you want to know one headphone vs another, just ask and I will tell you my thoughts and I will add it at the bottom of the review for others to see. Description of sounds Describing sounds can be difficult! so here I am going to link some common terms yo will hear in this guide. Mids - Mids are the mid range frequencies, Most of the music is found in the mids. Mids can be thin which is lack of body and weight which is often companioned by grain or dryness. Dryness is a sound that isn't smooth. opposite of liquid which is smooth and texture-less, it flows. Treble - The treble also known as the high frequencies or just highs. Highs can impact how much air a headphone has and it can also effect detail as well as energy. You may hear the term dark which often means that the other frequencies dominate the treble or the treble is simply rolled off. Brightness is also another term that involves the treble. A bright treble is extended and can be sharp to the ears or screechy. Bass - Also called lows, low end frequencies. A full bass can give more body to a headphone and the opposite effect for a lacking low end. Bass can be boomy, a lot of closed headphones have this type of bass if they have not been dampened properly or a headphone that that forced or housed incorrectly. Soundstage - Soundstage is simply how wide the virtual space sounds. How far are the instruments or sounds. Open headphones commonly have a larger more open soundstage where closed usually have smaller one due to the closed nature. Many things effect soundstage but it's most depth of the pads, angle of the pads and the housing of the headphone and the headphones signature. Air - Air is a sense of fineness in the virtual space. Usually air is affected by treble as well as the low end. Airy headphones are not congested and just open sounding with not feeling of restriction. Airy headphones give a more natural feeling if done correctly. Closed headphones often lack air but there's a few that render air really well. Imaging/Accuracy - Is the headphones ability to pin point where the sounds are in the virtual space. An example is, you are playing Call Of Duty and some plum has dead silence turned off and his footsteps can be heard. Is he where the headphones are telling you? Are the game world sounds accurately pointing out the sounds. HEADPHONES AKG K701 Spoiler The K701 is a classic headphone that's been around for a long time. It's noted to have the best soundstage south of the HD800. Build The build of the 701 is tried and tested. The plastic is of a high quality and the leather headband and plastic parts are built to last. The cable is really thick and is terminated in a quarter inch adapter but you get a snap on 3.5. I've owned this phone multiple times and never had one break or heart of one break. Rating 9/10 Tested, enough said! I never worry about an AKG. Sound Bass The bass of the K701 is below neutral. There's no thickness to it at all and to some, could be considered to be bass lacking. There's a sense of detail to the bass but it's just too rolled off to be considered balanced headphone. This shall we say, lack of bass gives them an extra sense of air and space since there's no fullness below to fill up he virtual space. Those looking for ow end energy should look elsewhere as these are not at all complete enough. Mids The mids on this headphone are on the lean side. They are very detailed through the mids that voices can sound a little to raw and exposed. While it's great for detail whoring, it's not good for people who want a bit of emotion to their music, the thing I do like though, is the space in-between the instruments and the definition. I noticed vocals can sound on the bright side, with a sharpness to them; mainly in the higher mids due to the upper mid peak. Treble The treble on this headphone is bright, it's extended giving them a good amount of air which helps things sound more spacious with a good sense of direction. I didn't find the treble that harsh, it was mainly the mid peak that bothered me. AKG's all tend to be treble and mid focused. The treble isn't natural for music by any means so those looking for purity will not like it. Soundstage & Imaging Treble extension and lack of bass or even lacking mid range will almost always give off a more open space. V shaped headphones will often be spacious but more full sounding, where as mid and treble with less bass will give off a more airy and open sound. AKG's are famous for their amazing imaging and sense of space. They can be a little odd sounding sometimes, like the soundstage is artificially enhanced and foggy sounding; like you are in a hanger. These headphones for it's sense of imaging, are really great at detail whoring and will no doubt pick out any detail in a track. Like most dynamics, the K701 suffers from a lack of depth. Planars for example have really good depth t their stage but dynamics seem to always have a wider than deep stage. For gaming you will need a surround sound device to get that depth. I can't give it a higher rating because of the artificial treble and lack of low end but it makes up for it by being a detail monster with a fairly good mid range if you like these types of mid ranges. The imaging is top notch and really helps people who are looking for a headphone for this. Gaming Fun As I mention in the index, there's two types of fun. Those who want energy and explosion, or those who want their games to sound wide open. I , myself like a wide open space that mimics air and gives me as much detail as possible! this means anything that is fuller at the button end will not give me that type of sound. The K701 are a very airy headphone that give a sense of atmosphere rather then a thick, full sound. These are great for open world games combined with the mixamp; sound very open with good depth. Those looking for a fuller, more bassy sound with good low end rumble should look at something like a planar or a bassy dynamic like the DT990 or X2. Rating 7.5/10 Hard to give it higher as it's going to depend on preferences but I think the spacious open sound adds a sense of immersion and realism to open spaces. I think most people, form experience will prefer a fuller sound with a bright top end like the DT990 or K712. Gaming competitive It's a no brainer these are godlike for C-gaming. The imaging makes people stick out like a cow on a field. It's almost heated, you are a godlike destroyer and will hear EVERYTHING. I would say these are on the same level as the AD700/AD700X. Rating 10/10 It really doesn't get any better! the rating is high but these really are image kings for gaming. Sadly the trade off for a high ranking here is that they will lack in other areas but purely competitive, these are perfect. Final Rating 7.4/10 This are specific headphones that should not be considered all-rounders. They do things excellent but sadly lack at others. Hifiman HE-400i Spoiler The HE-400i was released to combine the strengths of the HE-400 and HE-500. The HE-400 lacked in certain areas so Hifiman listened and created a product that hopefully would be a big success. Previous models also had a clunky, huge build which many didn't like. Let's see how they do! I've been waiting a long time to get this out there but finally feel I've learned this headphone. Build The build of this headphone is, IMO better than the HE-400. I found the HE-400 clunky and less cosmetically appealing but that was their charm.They are a similar colour to the HE-6 which along with the HE-500, is the flagship headphone before the HE-560 came about. The cups are a high quality shiny black plastic with metal extenders that go across the top of the headband. The rest is made of a plastic, pleather type material. The ear pads are pleather with velour on the part that surrounds your ears. I find them extremely comfortable for long sessions, but I would prefer straight up velour. They are also very light, much lighter than both the 400 and 500. the cable is sheathed and is very well built! it's terminated in a 3.5 with a quarter inch added in the leather box. I am very impressed with the build. Rating 8/10 Solid parts and few moving parts make this a solid headphone. Sound Bass Planars, ahh planars, they have amazing bass. Planars go lower than dynamics in general. The HE-400i doesn't go as low as the 400 though. The 400 was a bass specialised headphone. It went all the way down making them very deep and full sounding. The 400i rolls of in the sub bass but it still does deeper than a lot of phones. They sound very full and thick with great impact and detail. The bass makes you just want to put something impactful on so you can appreciate the planar detail here. I think this headphone is not quite E-400 or HE-500 here but it still deserves the Hifiman name. Mids The previous 400 didn't have the best mids. They sounded wonky and a bit in the background. The 500's had amazing mids, probably the best in the game along with the LCD-2 and PM-1. The 400i's mids are in-between the 400 and 500. They are very intimate, upfront and engaging! I find the mids class, think near HD650 level of mids. Voices sound stunning. They don't quite have the lushness of the HE-500's here but they are not that far behind. They sound very natural here. voices are literally next to you! spooky stuff. I think they can sound a little too intimate for some, for me I love it! they don't quite have the depth that the 500 has but these are very very good. I think anyone looking to taste good high end planar mids should give these a look. Treble The treble to me, is smooth. I don't seem to suffer mad from any peaks in the Hifimans. Some say they are peaky, I think they are very smooth but different peaks affect different people. I think the treble is neutral sounding. It does sound on the darker side though. The treble isn't really that airy but the imaging is quite good. For gaming I think they respond well to Dolby headphone but more on that later. They are never harsh but carry great detail. Warning**** Like the LCD-2 and some other planars the HE-400i suffers from inconsistencies on a large scale. My first air was smooth, almost dark sounding. After hearing some issues I decided to try a late 2015 pair and can confirm it sounded harsher, dry but still good mids. Bass sounded better on the newer pair. Impressions seem to stabilized so maybe this is the sound they wanted, does it affect their score? hmm that's tough because they technically sound more cleaned up in the treble but they also have a bit of unnaturalness about them. Maybe knock of a few points if you are after a smoother headphone, soundstage was improved and bass extension goes beyond the HE-500 to my ears. Soundstage & Imaging The staging here is intimate, planars are not soundstage monsters. They all have better depth than width. They are a bit more spacious than the HD650 but they are a thick headphone so it's not always obvious. You will casually here stuff in the background that goes further out the stage but don't expect AKG like level of soundstage. The imaging on this headphone is pretty decent! I found them to be quite accurate and sharp even though they sound more intimate and thick. This sets me up for how I thought about them for gaming.. Gaming Fun Great! a blast! if you like low end rumbles then you will find these incredibly fun and detailed. They don't sound as open as some, but come on! these are a planar with a thick sound. The stage is DH mode is medium sized. It's not huge and it's not tiny, it's around the HD650. Planars as i said already have decent depth relative to their width so the thing that changes most in DH is the depth. This, causes them to not give you the instant wow factor as hearing a bigger back and front in a good dynamic like the AD700x or K701. Rating 8.7/10 Great headphone, this is an immersive headphone that has a good low end to make explosions sound thrilling! Gaming Competitive If you are a serious gamer, you won't be using this as a competitive tool. They have too much bass, too forward mids and not enough treble to make these a sound whoring headphone. Yes they are detailed, yes they image decent but it's simply too thick. I found I could track people ok, I didn't feel that I was at too big of a disadvantage; but I need more airy and a cleaner sound field. Rating 7.5/10 They are decent, just not good enough for a serious gamer. Overall 9.1/10 I love this phone, it's fantastic and gives you that taste of high end. If the HE-500 and HE-560 is too expensive..go for these! If you love the HE-400 but don't mind a slightly rolled off sub bass for better mids, win! Kingston Hyper X Cloud Spoiler Overview Price £49.99-70 Hi-Fi capable 53mm drivers for supreme audio quality 15 - 25.000 Hz frequency response Detachable microphone (quick and easy to plug/unplug for music-only purposes) Solid aluminium construction for durability and stability Super-soft padded leatherette headband with memory foam on cups for maximum comfort Closed cup for enhanced bass reproduction and passive noise cancellation Compatible with desktops, notebooks, mobile phones, PlayStation 4 / PS4 and airplane adapters[/COLOR] What you get 1 x Headset 1x Airplane Plug 1x Extension Cable 1x Velour Ear Cushion 1x Volume Control Box Build The Build on the HXC is solid for it's price. The headband padding isn't the most luxurious material but it gets the job done and is fairly comfortable for me. The extenders are metal while the cups are rubberised with metal on the centre of the cups. The overall build is metal, pleather, plastic. I've had my set for a while and they have not really shown any signs of use yet. The cable is sheathed and is terminated in a twin cable; on for mic and other for audio. These come with two sets of pads, one velour and the other pleather, Rating 7.8/10 Good The build is good especially for the price. I'm not really worried at all. Sound Because these come with two sets of pads;I will speak about both. Bass Leather pads The bass with these pads is more full compared to the pleather ear pads. It's a warmer bass meaning more mid bass. It can sound a bit bloated compared to more expensive offering from Beyerdynamic but at this price its nothing to complain about, I would describe the bass as dominant and rich. The bass doesn't extend all the way down for extends enough to not be completely rolled off. Velour The Velour pads seem to clean the sound up and lean it out here. It really tidy's the warmth but doesn't completely eradicate it. For competitive gaming this is best way to use them. The extension is the same. Mids Leather The mids with the leather get a bit mushed by the mid bass; but in return it gives them more of a lush, romantic sound. I enjoy this type of sound but sadly it seems a bit too much. Vocals don't have the greatest detail here and get be considered a bit veiled or swallowed in it's warmth. I still enjoy them though, it's just a style more than a complete negative. Velour The Velour pads thin the sound out so the mids loose that veil from the mid bass. It's a cleaner more open sound that competitive gamers will prefer. On the flip side it's not as inviting as with the pleather ear pads but it's more technically capable. Treble Leather The treble is dark. This adds to the veiled sound that I described. This is why sometimes I don't like separating the different frequencies because they work together! Here's an example. If you want an open airy sound you would be looking at a more neutral bass and a treble that heads towards the bright side. Soundstage in it's self is mainly to do with the upper extension but with a less bass the soundstage can appear larger. It's the same with a lush, thick sound. You basically squish both ends with a less extensive bass but a mid bass hump and a dark treble. You can never have an airy bright sound be lush and a lush phone will never sound airy and bright. It's impossible! Velour The treble is bright, piercing and thin with these pads. For gaming this is great! sadly or music it's too much for me personally. I do believe the base of the HXC is a more U shaped headphone meaning the treble and bass is accentuated but the pleather pads turns them into a more dark headphone. There's still tiny signs of peaks in the high mid range and lower treble but it's so minor due to the pads. The treble sounds really unnatural to me with these ear pads. Soundstage & Imaging Leather More intimate with these pads..Again, better for music. It doesn't breathe at all. The imaging is decent, does what it needs to do. Velour More open, I would say it's probably the best in it's price range and just above. The image improves due to the better clarity. Every feels more forced up top due to the unnatural treble the pads create. Leather pads Rating 7.4/10 Good Velour Rating 7/10 Good These sound good. I really enjoy them even with my more expensive phones. I like how the pads give you two different styles but still share the base. I felt the velours were too natural and sharp for my taste and leaner in body. Fun Gaming Leather More closed in for my taste. I like open sounding headphones for this use. The bass gives a sense of presence when the lows call which is great! these will make good movie and action headphones. Velour Better space, the headphone finally breathes. The soundstage is actually pretty good. The more U shaped presentation helps this headphone here. The artificial boost in the treble gives a sense of goo air. Competitive Gaming Leather The sound here is way to congested for serious competitive gamers. I do however think the image was still pretty good but due to the darker sound, makes cues less distinguishable. Velour Good competitive gaming headphone. Bright sharp treble, thin mids and leaned up bass make these a good contender in the £100 and below price range. Rating Leather 6.5/10 Fair While not terrible, the more congested sound really hurts these for serious use. Velour 7.4/10 Good This headphone did everything I needed for a closed set. I found if I wanted more air I had to reach for more expensive headphones. Overall 7.5/10 Good This headphone is a bargain. If anyone wants a headphone/headset under £100 then this is one to look into. AKG K702 Anniversary Edition Spoiler Love me some Annie! ohh I do. Build The Annie is essentially a Q701 with a bump-less, softer leather headband with smaller memory foam ear pads. They are also tuned slightly warmer, I'm talking tiny as the memory foam pads give them the rest of the warmth. More on this in the sound but they are basically the Q701 with a gun metal colour and a sexy blue ring. Rating 8/10 I think they are built well but the writing scratches off easier and the caps get loose. Sound Bass The Q701 had just below neutral bass, the Annie has fairly linear bass. It goes pretty deep for a dynamic and it's pretty impressive in terms of extension. I think the bass is one of the best in terms of linearity dynamic driver wise. It still doesn't quite have the body of the HE-400i or other planars but that's no shame. I think now with the better bass, these now can be considered all-rounders, not only that, they are warm. Mids The mids now have added warmth, they sound quite intimate and beautiful. The upper mids can get a little fuzzy at higher volumes as the 701 driver has some upper mid nasties but the added warmth does mask a lot of this to the point they are quite smooth sounding. I really think vocals sound great with these! They are among the best for mids in the price range and right up to hifi. They are not as intimate as the HE-400i but they are on par with the HD650 with less smoothness. If you want something that does mids great but with a better soundstage than the HD650 then these are a bloody good shout. Treble The treble here, is actually a tad darker than the other AKG's. It's smooth, detailed and not the most airy out of the bunch but it's good. They image really well but due to the thicker sound, don't have the obvious space and air the K701/702 has. Soundstage & Imaging Like I mentioned, the stage isn't as wide as the K701. It's a good soundstage though and certainly spanks other headphones but just not the airy soundstage kings. The image will do the job. Gaming Fun Just YES. These are just fantastic. They have it all, soundstage.. yes, bass..yes. These are the definition of all-rounder. The air does sound a bit congested but sounds will sound out there! bass will rumble and high pitch sounds will be slightly smoothed out but will still be realistic. These remind of of a movie theatre with the blacker background. Rating 8.7/10 What a headphone! just fantastic for fun. Competitive Gaming They are very good for competition. They are less geared towards it than say the K701 and Q701 but they can still be pretty formidable here. I like a more clear space than the blacker background hear but those looking for an all round headphone won't be disappointed. Rating 8/10 Enemies will be a piece of pizz to locate! You won't have problems here at all. Overall Rating 9/10 The best all-round headphone with the least trade offs, warm, inviting with good technical abilities! Just simply a fantastic headphone. Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro Spoiler The DT770 is a classic headphone that has been around for a long time. It has always been highly regarded as a studio headphone for it's crazy build quality and reliability. They originally had a smooth cup and a different look but since about 5-6 years ago, they changed the name to the Pro; changing the look slightly but kept the sound quite similar. Build The build is legendary it really is the perfect life partner here. It can take so much punishment! I've dropped mine from 7ft, sat on it, thrown it and just thrown it into my back pack and they hold up like a champ. A lot of the parts are replaceable which is good, the headband which is removable is false leather. The rods are metal which the cups and sides are hard plastic. The wire isn't detachable but it's a good cable that is very rugged. The pads are velour so are better for longer sessions with comfort. Rating 9/10 The build is just spot on. I do prefer detachable cables personally but I'm never worried about the DT770's cable. The rest of the headphone is solid and the replaceable parts are a plus. Sound Bass For a supposed studio headphone..these things pump! The bass here is explosive. It's not a tight bass it's a thunderous bass, it has this sense of rumble. I like this kind of bass, sometimes I prefer a controlled planar or high end closed like the SRH1540 but for pure fun I really enjoy the resonant bass here. Sadly those looking for clarity will not want the DT770 as it's quite sultry sounding. The midbass is elevated over the mids and the subass extends well. It has a dip somewhere in between then comes back, kind of like the M50. Looking at the graphs it looks a wonky headphone but it sounds better than the graphs IMO. This type of bass is good for EDM and those looking for a full low end. Mids The mids on this headphone are a mix bag for me. They seem to give vocals a nice warm tone but sadly they are in the background due to the mid bass dominating the lower mids. Vocals don't have ultra detail like some of the upper class closed backs but this headphone is more of a U shaped sound. Listening to vocals I still enjoy it..in this price range there's not really much else. Most of the phones that have better mids lack in other areas so I think its a fair trade off. The Skull Candy Aviator has a better balance but it doesn't resolve and image as good as the 770. I find with EDM and modern fast paced music the vocals are well integrated but its only when more dynamic tracks come on your pick out the flaws. I find the upper mids to behave quite well. There's some peaks but none that are really bothersome. Treble The treble is pretty decent. It is on the brighter side giving them a harder upper end. Detail here is top notch but sometimes the thicker lower end give this phone a masked up kind of sound, quite sultry so detail requires attention but it's there. I think the treble could be better refined but again for £100-£120 it's top notch. The treble can make this headphone a little wonky as the lower parts of this phone indicate a liquid presence but, the treble is on the harder side. I like to describe them as liquid with hints of dryness. Imaging and Soundstage This headphone due to it's extended upper ranges images great and has a expansive but again, still sultry soundstage. Sounds come out at a distance in some areas and they can sound quite movie theater like. It still doesn't have the ultra clean sound of some other headphones but, they are great for such a big sounding headphone[/SPOILER Rating 7.7/10 Good value and good sound!I prefer a little mid presence and a bit of treble softener but these are a bargain and I love them. Fun Gaming Jut a blast, FPS's sound like it has sounds coming at you from lot's of angles. The bass makes the space sound rumbly and kind of thick but I just think as an all-round gaming phone these are hard to miss. Sometimes you get a sense of great distance which is usual for a closed and fully sealing phone. Rating 8.9/10 Great! this is a no brainer for anyone who wants a sealed gaming phone. Competitive Gaming You'd think the DT770 would suck due to it's sound style but..no it doesn't. It actually images spot on, better than a lot of higher end phones I've tried. Sounds just pop out of the distance and it sounds pretty wide considering the nature of this phone. You will find enemies no problem! only slight draw back is the thick bass can take up some detail space but it's still good. Rating 7/10 Good phone for gaming even though they have limitations i.e thick bass. The thinner mids and extended treble help this headphone out in this area. Overall Rating 8/10 Good phones, I love this classic headphone and even today, it's the best in it's price class but young bucks are always emerging. Vs Other Headphones Vs M50X Both sound a bit U shaped, the DT770 has more refinement and detail. Both are bassy but the DT770 has more thump and extension to my ears. The mids on both are quite close but the DT770 sounds more even here with a warmer sound. The M50X is a brighter more leaner headphone. I think the M50X is more entry level while the DT770 is in the mid range area. Vs K550 I flat out prefer the DT770 to the K550. It's more musical, lively and more natural to my ears. The vocals sound more fluid and the bass is more energetic. The K550 has this horrible dry sound to it. AKG wanted a closed headphone to sound like an open one, so the only way to do it was to make a dry sound with very little body and sharp highs. Sadly in a closed headphone it doesn't work and it just makes the K550 sound odd, boring and not a great choice as an all-rounder. The DT770 ends up having a wider soundstage, better depth and a more natural experience than the K550. SHURE SRH1540 Spoiler Bit's and Bob's What's included: 2 x Alcantara pads, Zip case, 2 x 6ft Cables. Impedence: 46ohm Frequency Range 5 Hz – 25 kHz Weight 10.1 oz (286 g) Sensitivity 99 dB/mW Hard to drive? Medium Driver technology: Dynamic League: Hifi Closed back Shure have been popping out a lot of headphones in the last 4-5 years. Each one has been disappointing in some areas. Build has been a huge problem up until the 1840. The 840 and on a bigger scale the 940 suffered from cracking issues. Sadly Shure, instead of doing the right thing, did nothing about this. The 940 sound wise was a good sounding headphone but lacked in the bass. The mids and treble really dominated the sound making them ultra detailed but not very complete sounding. The 840 sounded better, a trade off of a bigger mid bass hump but not as detailed. They sadly dropped off rapidly in the sub bass. The 440 was basically a lower quality 940. They then bought out the 1840 and 1440 which was their first open sets. Both were ok sounding, they still had a rather thin and not very musical sound. The 840 was in my opinion the right step to go in for an all-round headphone but Shure are more for detail whores who need that type of sound for work. Shure then bought out the 1540 which is their latest flagship closed back. Build Build wise this headphone is absolutely fabulous. It has aircraft grade aluminium for the extenders. The split headband is solid metal as-well covered in a pleather material. The cups are a good quality plastic with carbon fiber on the cups and a metal Shure logo. The cables of high quality as-well with MMCX connectors. It also comes in a massive hard case that is built fantastically. These, along with the DT770 are the most rigid, most reassuringly built headphones I've ever held. Shure have finally stepped up and created what I'd call, world class build quality. These are also hands down the most comfortable headphone I've ever worn. It's light, and with the amazing Alcantara ears pads (you get another spare set by the way!) You can wear these for hours! These are hands down, the best pads ever created and it's not even close. Rating 9/10 Simply just fantastic, the feeling you get holding this headphone is one of great comfort. It's beautiful, solid and light! Ohh those delicious pads. Sound Bass Shure have never been known for bass and since the 840, have not really popped out any bass heavy headphones. The 1540, finally has goooood bass. It's fairly well controlled, a tad loose at high volumes. The mid bass is big, looking at graphs it would indicate some bleed but, listening to them you hear it as a really nice warmth(At low volumes) rather than swallowed mids ala XB500 or Ultrasone Pro 900 or on a lesser scale, DT770. I wouldn't say it's bass head level. The Sub bass drops off but, not like previous Shures. I hear it pretty low, not quite as low as the VISO HP50 but good enough. Mids Shure mids have always been detailed, slighty cold sounding but good mids. The 1540 is a warm headphone and the mids are integrated very well. Looking at graphs, you will see the mids as quite balanced while the mid bass is above it. Listening, you get some slightly thicker lower mids with an injection of warmth, giving vocals a warm but fairly natural tone. The tone of the 1540 is one of the best I've heard in a closed back. The response is also one of the most natural I've heard in a closed back. Mids are overall good, slightly behind but they kind of have to be. Treble I hear the treble as good for my taste. It's there, slightly rolled off at the top, non fatiguing(At low levels) with hints of brightness. Overall it's balanced, like the X2's treble. You get very good detail but not overly so. This isn't a studio phone like it's advertised as IMO; more of an all-round but musical. Some say it's dark, some say bright and I hear both sides, I think it's in-between with a bit of an unrefined roughness, again; like the X2. Imaging & Sounstage Imaging is absolutely fantastic. I find it pinpoints sounds easily and accurately. The soundstage is very good for a closed phone. If it wasn't for the TH900 and the other Denon/Fostex models they would have the most spacious stage of the hifi closed backs. Rating 9/10 I love this headphone and always have. My friend is a little more critical of it than myself but I think it has the perfect balance in any close back period. Competitive Gaming Very good for a closed back. The good imaging let's you pick out sounds on the map without any trouble. Obviously not as good as open backs but for closed they are excellent. I would say these are better than the DT770 but not as good as the Denon/Fostex models past and present. I found them to have good depth and width with the Mixamp. Rating 7.9/10 Very Good I found these to be great! again, not confuse the score with these, and a good open back. For closed phones these do the job and do it well. Fun Gaming No brainer isn't? Of course these are good. I find the non harsh sound to be pleasant in all games. I enjoy these most for RPG's where you can hear a beautiful soundtrack and just relax. Open world are pretty good, I prefer open obviously but these are spacious enough for a sealed phone. What I like best here is the superior comfort over anything. The bass has a nice rumble so explosion lovers will appreciate these here. I find in games like GTA birds and other nature sounds all sound fairly realistic for a closed. Sadly all closed have restrictions. Rating 9/10 Excellent The comfort and sound make these excellent for all purpose gaming. Good clarity, good bass and nice treble with it's combination of good stage make these a win. Overall Rating 9/10 Excellent High rating but this balance is perfect for a closed. Look I love lush mids! but sadly it doesn't work in a closed phone. It makes them sound too closed in and not natural. The 1540 has a good mid bass hump, just enough to keep the mids nice and smooth. Mids are not forward but in line, treble is fairly well extended bIt rolled off on top. This tuning makes them sound spacious, natural and musical. If the mids were lush, then they would sound too thick which can't work on closed backs due to the nature of them IMO Open phones are perfect with this sound. It's like if open phones are too extended they sound too lean and lacking in balance and fun. Sennheiser HD650 Spoiler Bit's and bob's Impedance: 300ohm Driveability: Fairly easy What you get: Box, 6.3mm to 1.4 adaptor, 9ft cable. Driver Technology: Dynamic League: Upper end of midfi Build Plastic but build to last with removable parts. They are comfortable and really hug your head nicely. They will last you a lifetime if you treat them well! extremely tried and tested! They are mostly tough plastic with metal extenders and metal grills on the cups. Cable is thick and durable and won't let you down. 9/10 Excellent Just spot on. Sound Bass The bass on the HD650 is on the the thick side, it has this mid bass hump that added a good chunk to the lower mids. It rolls off in the sub bass so it has this slower relaxed sound compared to the more snappier planars. Bass sounds nice with most music. If you've heard the HD600's bass it is better extended but with a sense of less control. I love the bass as it has this delicate nature to it. Mids You know how I feel about good mids and the HD650 has the best mids out of any headphone I've heard. I like them better than the LCD-2 and HE-500. Open Planars have these magical mids, not so much the HE-560 and LCD-X; and they have this beautiful tonality that was almost unique to them. The HD650 did this before these headphones came out and is the godfather to warm, lush mids. The mids are so beautiful that I get goosebumps! I'll start laughing because they would be unbeatable and incomparable. Vocals were so deep, the slow decay made them so haunting, they would linger and slowly fade away. It made music not only beautiful but magical. You know when you play an RPG and you find a magical forest that is full of greenery and has butterflies everywhere, a crystal clear stream and a lovely soundtrack in the background? That's nearly as beautiful as the HD650's tonality. Vocals sound like they are not of this world, some say it's natural but I say they are magic. The LCD-2 has these amazing mids but they are more natural and clean sounding rather than the foggy, colourful smoke that lingers in the air of the HD650. Am I getting through to you yet? these are one of a kind mids that you wont get anywhere else. Treble The treble here is a soft but refined. It never sounds tizzy or grainy and is just smooth and glorious. I can't fault this headphone because it looks after my sensitive ears. Sadly for purist it's not the most extended so those looking for that last bit of information will not want this headphones. Soundstage and imaging Both are decent. The stage is quite intimate. In the Dolby headphone test the lack of space in comparison the the Q701 was evident. The imaging is pretty decent though considering it's warm tone. Competitive Gaming Good positional accuracy. Enemies are quite easy to find and everything sounds like they come form the correct place. They don't have with width of the AD700X or K701 but they are at least close to the HD600 and others in that class. It's warm so it's not going to be super air and open. Fun Gaming Due to the more intimate stage, everything sounds closer to you than the AKG's but it has a cohesive sound that feels compete and natural. Good bass presence, good bass extension for a wide open dynamic and beautiful tonal balance and world class mids. Ratings Music 9.7/10 Excellent Yes it's a big score for something that doesn't extend in the sub bass to the depths and the treble rolls off but you gotta understand. This sound is something special. It sucks you into this magical world full of sultry lush and seductive goodness. Voices want you! this hot chick is singing in her earth outfit sitting on a rock in a magical forest and she wants you! That's why it's a 9.7. Competitive Gaming 7.7/10 Good It's not the best or even up there but it's quite good. Needs more clairty and space though. Fun Gaming 8/10 Great Very upfront, personal and in your face it's hard not to have fun! Vs Other headphones Vs K7XX The K7XX is a warm headphone but not as warm as the HD650. It's slightly better extended up both ends but isn't as smooth and refined as the HD650. The K7XX is a better headphone in the sense it has better extension but for enjoyment..hell no IMO. Vs HD600 These are close, take the HD650, add a bit of extension and clarity but leave a little bit of warm goodess and you have the HD600. Both legends and both fantastic. Beats Solo(First Edition) Spoiler This is probably the most successful headphone in the world. This is the cheapest offering of the Beats line up that isn't IEM. Build The build quality is quite plastic and cheap feeling with matte finish. They look pretty slick and while I'm not a fan, looked more subtle than the other offerings. The long term durability is terrible. They last for about 3 months then will snap, Monster made the headband of a harder plastic with hardly and flexibility. Rating 2/10 Poor If a £150 headphone can't even last a year, it's not going to score high. Sound Bass The bass on these headphones is just too overwhelming. You know when you are a kid and you cruise around in your mates first car when he finally hits the legal driving age..Two 20inch subs in the back and some awful tune; that's the Solo's bass. Iit's fun if you don't care about anything else but these are £150.. Mids Hahaha Treble Gone where the mids went. Soundstage & Imaging Sound what and imagine what?! Rating 3/10 Poor I joke but in all seriousness for those that wan a true explanation the mids are far too swallowed to comment on. Vocals don't give me anything to work with to give you a proper review, the headphone is a mess! The SoloHD slightly fixed the issue but review will explain. If you like big boomy bass and nothing else then you will find them fun, they sadly; are way too overpriced by about £130. Fun Gaming Very muddy sounding so it's hard to have fun when you can't hear nothing but rumble and mud. I swear I heard a bullet fire once...If you've never heard a good pair of headphones then I guess you can have fun with these. Rating 3/10 Poor Competitive Gaming I'd rather go into war with a potato gun then rely on these for positional accuracy. The audio will be too smeared and lacking in space and accuracy. Rating 2/10 Poor Overall 3/10 Poor This headphone was a complete fail for anyone who know's anything about audio. I'm not gonna lie, some like these. It's a youthful headphone designed to be an accessory like a pair of Nike trainers..Is this bad? no of course not! We all pick clothes for a reason, too keep us warm and look good. I poke fun at these phones because they are pretty bad sonically but the target audience won't care about the technical aspects. This headphone also bought a lot of people into the hobby and helped them learn about better products at a cheaper price. Hifiman HE-500 Spoiler Hifiman HE-500 Review Overview Technology: Planar magnetic Impendence : 32ohm Driving Difficulty : Swallows power! Sounds good on my Fiio players but the more power the more impact. League : Hifi headphone Build quality The build on the HE-500 is pretty solid. It's a polarising headphone in this regard as many think they look like a DIY headphone. I feel they are pretty solid and attractive. I prefer the build on the Audeze's as they seem to be a bit more thought out. There's been issues with parts breaking but I don't think it's a wide spread problem. The ear pads are pleather but they come with velour which I believe is the better ear pad for comfort and sound. The cups are a glossy plastic while the rest is leather and metal. These things weigh a lot. I don't have issues with the weight at all and I find them comfy but it's a bit of an adjustment period. Now I don't even notice the weight at all and I believe people should just man up The cable that came with mine was a canare cable but I purchased a silver cable from Hifiman. Sound Bass The bass on these beast is fantastic. It's the best bass I've heard outside of the Audeze LCD-2. It's very full and authoritive and seems to extend almost forever. It hits you with different bass tones that you just get immersed and you can't help but appreciate what you are hearing. The LCD-2 had a more extended and slightly bloomy bass. I think the HE-500's have a better sense of detail in the bass, at least a better quicker more immediate perception. When speed calls these keep up without any effort at all, they just slam and force but without going crazy. The control is planar's forte and these are a great poster child for that. I seriously rate the LCD-2 pre fazor's bass a perfect 10. The HE-500 would be about a 9. Mids Oh my god these mids! They are creamy, effortless and seductive. Vocals have no grain or texture, they are just flowing with warmth and elegance. The LCD-2 had the best mids in the game along with the HD650. The problem with those is they didn't really breath. The HE-500 has similar qualities but they breath more allowing vocals to have more flow. Now I still think the LCD-2 has a more seductive sound but these from a technical standpoint have a better mid range. It's a perfect balance really so it's hard to not love these mids. They make everything sound just fantastic! I listened to my HD650(Newer model) after weeks of owning these and they sounded thin, bright and peaky. Dynamics can't seem to flow like planars so I prefer to compare them to other maggies. I like the depth of a voice here, they sound highlighted but the headphone is so wonderfully balanced you appreciate it as a whole. Female vocals sound like they have a bit of extra butterness but it never sounds unnatural or artificial. Treble The treble to my ears sounds like the perfect balance. Some mentioned it perfect on another forum."This headphone is dark with holes of light shining through" I agree with that a lot. I find the treble to have a good amount of air, it doesn't sound harsh to my ears but I do notice a slight tizz in areas but this is mostly at higher volumes. I sometimes listen to them plugged straight into my Fiio X3II as they seem to sound more relaxing while still having a lot of the impact. I don't ever feel they miss out on detail and they are polite enough to keep that thick sound. AKG's are headphones that have a lot of air but they have a harder, sharp upper end where as the HE-500 is softer and more delicate. In terms of brightness this is the most I'd go and you really are getting a high quality, smooth treble. Soundstage & Imaging Here's where things get interesting. As a gamer, soundstage is important to me but when it comes to music I prefer a medium to intimate soundstage. These headphones have the most natural depth of a soundstage I've ever heard. The LCD-2 also had a deep soundstage, very similar makes them sound less left and right or tunnel like. You constantly hear people describe a headphone as having a 3D soundstage and I can help but say WTF is that? These headphones sound layered in the soundstage. Every dynamic headphone on this guide has had a left and right with a lack of depth because I believe the drivers are simply not able produce this. Now these planar drivers are massive! They are able to do things that small drivers(50mm or under) whether planar, dynamic are not. Now I'm not saying this as fact, just what I have found in comparisons. The sound is spread out and it's just beaming with life. I found the HD800 to sound very airy and big left to right but it didn't have the depth of the HE-500. Don't get me wrong, the HD800 has a big soundstage, like the K701 but when it comes to the deep depths there's no comparison IMO. In one word it's holographic. The imaging on these is excellent. To test imaging I also go to games because as a competitive gamer I need to be able to work with headphones that can image well. I find them equally as good as other A grade image kings. These are flagship headphones so of course they are going to be great here. Gaming Competitive These are excellent. I don't need a gaming tool anymore, previously the AD700 and K701. These pull double duty and do it with better dynamics and I can also be more immersed at the same time. The soundstage with the mixamp is deep and holographic. Compared to the ad700 is has better depth and sounds position better but the AD700 has more of a tunnel like, left to right that extends further out. Fun Deep bass, great mids and good treble, yeah it's pretty fun! I like how my games sound even more alive with these on. You feel closer in the game. Playing GTA I just hear these random sounds pop out and you notice that stuff easily. Ratings Music 9.4/10 Exellent headphone, has hardly any trade offs and my only complaint is some treble tizz. Competitive Gaming 8.9/10 Pared with the mixamp it is a beast! it doesn't have the left to right of the AD700 or K701 but it has the depth, mixamp will sort that left and right out for you! Fun Gaming 9.5/10 Just yes! Deep bass, explosive goodness and beautiful tone for those JRPG's <3 Sennheiser HD598 Spoiler Overview Technology: Dynamic Impendence : 50ohm Driving Difficulty: Easy to drive, plays decent out of portable players. League : Low Mid-fi headphone Build The build on the HD598 is manly plastic but it's pretty well made. I the past these had an issue with cracking with was fixed pretty quickly. The grill is metal and the headphone is overall a unique colour. There's debates whether this headphone is good looking and I personally think they look pretty sweet. I don't really like the cable too much, I find it a little hard. It's terminated into a quarter inch but has an adaptor with it. The brown velour ear pads are comfortable and the phones overall are comfy, one of the best IMO. Sound Bass Tthe bass to me is on the low side. The bass it has is quite unrefined and wasn't enjoyable for bassy music such as R&B and faster music like David Guetta. The mid bass has a tad hump but because of the treble, it's not really a warm headphone to my ears. Mids The headphone clearly has a focus on the mids. The mids are quite spacey and have a nice relaxed nature to them. Sadly there's this grain to the sound that stopped me enjoying them the way I enjoy the HD6** series. The vocals by themselves, have a realistic nature to them; they sound very engaging. Treble The treble has a few raises in it that gives it a grainy character that ruins the headphones for me. It wasn't as evident until I really gave them a lot of time. he treble is quite airy and dry so this will help those looking for more detail. The bass prevents it from being a neutral headphone. Soundstage & Imaging The soundstage is actually pretty good. It's not as wide as the Q701,K501,A700 and many in that league but it's a decent, medium sized soundstage. I would say it's like the Philips X2. It has decent clarity, the dry nature allows the stage to be this way and allowing the imaging to be pretty decent. This headphone images about the same as the AD700 but isn't as spacious. Competitive Gaming These are good headphone for this purpose. Comfortable, good positional accuracy and a decent soundstage. Again I'd put these in the mid category. Fun Gaming I would like these to be a bit linear in the bass. I feel the Q701 nails the response for a good open headphone for gaming. The HD598 was enjoyable especially for the comfort but for sound I need a little more. At the price range I'd prefer the K702. I think overall these are decent entry level, low mid-fi phones. Without an amp, they were at least as enjoyable as the HD600 but when you get into serious listening you will see the faults. Ratings Music 6.5/10 Fair If you listen to vocals mainly these are fantastic, as an all-rounder..No Competitive Gaming 7.9/10 Good Good headphone for this application. Good clarity, soundstage and imaging. Fun Gaming 6.9/10 Fair I think these are good. Just needs more extension and this would be a winner. Denon AH-D2000 Spoiler Basic info Basic Info Price: £150-£300 Impedence:25ohm Technology: Dynamic Type:Semi Open League:Midfi What you get: 6.3 adaptor The D2000 is a classic headphone that was part of a legendary discontinued closed back trio. They are all known to be bass masters with super extension and sparkly highs giving them a lively sound. The are sold as closed headphone but they are at least semi open by design. Music Bass - The bass is extended and potent. For the price, no headphone comes close in extension. The bass is on the lose side but that's part of the Denon/Fostex charm. There are mods to tighten it up but when you tighten you loose something else in the process. You can really appreciate those low end rumbles with this headphone, just simply phenomenal. It's linear and meets the lower mid range but like I mentioned it's a little loose. Mids - The mids are the weakest aspect of the sound. It's not completely recessed but the upper mids are a little withdrawn. They are dry sounding with good detail. Vocals have a edge to them, and just a bit. I would say it's a clean, well integrated mid range overall but a bit too lean for vocal lovers. Treble - One word, sparkly. It's very lively and clean sounding but can sound a little splashy compared to something like the NAD VISO HP50; which is more refined and natural sounding. Soundstage & Imaging - The staging here is brilliant. The Semi Open design and extended treble give this headphone some good breathing space. This easily competes with some open headphones such as the HD600. The imaging is also fantastic. On par with the DT770. Gaming Fun Gaming - Due to it's fun and energetic nature, this is a fantastic headphone. The deep bass is fantastic for those low end rumbles. This headphone sounded very clean and clear due to it's dry character and extension. COD, Battlefield and almost anything sounded great. The soundstage is large in DH mode, larger than the DT770. Competitive Gaming - Performance was excellent. My only complaint is of course it's not fully open so the closed cups have their limitations. It wasn't as good as a good open headphone; which tends to have better layering in the soundstage. I would say it's bang in the middle between open and closed with excellent imaging. The bass is a little loose but it didn't distract from positional cues at all for me. Ratings Music 8.9/10 A classic headphone that is very hard to beat for the price, even today it remains one of the best headphones despite is discontinuation. Competitive Gaming 9/10 Fantastic. Fun Gaming 9/10 Rarely will a headphone preform for both. The Denon's design allows it to achieve deep bass and a large soundstage. Compared to other Headphones Denon D5000 & D7000 - The D2000 is the cleanest sounding because it's drier, less lush sounding so you simply hear more. The other two are more resolving and refined with a more natural sound. The D5000 is the warmest with the D7000 being between the two with a tighter sound. The D5000 is one of my fav closed backs. NAD VISO HP50 - The HP50 is the first headphone to truly beat out the Denon in it's price point. It does everything better minus some slam. It's more natural, smoother, better for vocals with a more balanced sound. It's superior but the D2000 isn't far behind. AKG K712 Pro Spoiler AKG K712 Pro Review Technology : Dynamic Impendence : 62ohm Driving Difficulty : Mid range amp needed. Build quality Build is exactly the same as the 65th Annie apart from the slightly thicker ear pads but I think this is just a production variation as the later Annies shared the K712 pads. Sound Bass - Bass on the 712 is very similar to the Annie but It's bass is more elevated to try to balance out it's higher upper peaks. It's a nicely extended bass and offers decent impact compared to the previous Q701 and below. The rest is very similar to the Annie in terms of texture, quality and punch. It's a faster bass than some of the other dynamics like the HD650, X2. Mids - Because of the slightly more elevated bass I hear these as coming across as more U shaped compared to the Annie as the Annie is more linear. It isn't really a U shaped sound signature I'd still call it balanced but in direct comparison to the Annie this was my findings. Vacals sound a bit dry, maybe a little grainy because of the upper mid peak which was less apparent on the Annie/K7XX, this does give you extra detail in games for those looking for a soundwhoring headphone but for music it would depend on the sensitivity of your ears to this region but to me it comes across a bit out of place, less natural. Compared to the 650 it isn't as linear, nor as lush and inviting and it doesn't resolve as much as the 650. Treble - The treble is nicely extended, it isn't too harsh but like many in this price range, isn't free of the un-refinements the dynamic drivers have in this sort of price range, only the HD650 is free from this having a very smooth response from top to bottom. The 712 provides plenty of air and detail and really has a nice complete sound to it. I find the treble to be quite resolving and at the top of it's price range. Soundstage & Imaging - AKG's have always had good imaging when it comes to left and right but had a more fuzzy, indistinct centre image. This is common with a lot of open headphones with angled ear pads and a lot of energy up top and a lack of low bass. The Q701 improved upon this a little and finally the warmer, more fleshed out Annie made the staging more well rounded but more full, less open and airy. The K712 with it's boosted upper ranges actually bought the soundstage right in between the Annie and Q701 but with a better sense of depth. The K712's tuning is superior for imaging and is basically a cherry picked 701 driver with some different parts to change the response. No it doesn't have the 701's width and air but it has a more rounded feel to it. Gaming Competitive It's an AKG, it's damn good. Warmer, so not as distinct but it isn't really a massive trade off because if you put some 701 pads on the 712 it is slightly more airy, open than previous AKG's. Thing about picking between them all isn't about which is better for competitive gaming out of the AKG's but what will you be doing other than gaming? if it's music too then you need something that will do it all. The 712 does it all. Fun Bass, soundstage, detail, yes. Ratings Music 8.9/10 Excellent headphone, has hardly any trade offs and my only complaint is the lack of refined treble and upper mid peaks other wise it's close to a perfect headphone. Competitive Gaming 9.8/10 Most detailed K7 model, bit warmer so not as airy and open as the K701 but you get better everything else. Fun Gaming 9.5/10 More bass, more detail what more can you ask for in £250 dynamic headphone. Sennhesier HD600 Spoiler Technology: Dynamic Type: Open Impedance: 300ohm Driving Difficulty: Needs a good amp but sounds good out of entry to mid level gear but may lack in areas. League: Hifi Build quality Pros +Replaceable parts +Reliable +Light +Comfortable -Cheap feeling compared to the X2 -Design is not the best looking Timeless design that will last many years! some cracking headband reports but after many years, we are talking over 4-5 years. Sound Pros +Nice tonal balance +Good treble extension and articulation - Nice air, sense of cohesion. +Mids - Lovely vocals, good depth. +Imaging - Great at accuracy in the soundstage +Quite natural sounding +Microdetail, resolution and dynamics Cons -Bass extension is poor -Has a mid peak that gives vocals a shouty tone I will state the HD600 is smoother than just about any other headphone in it's price range. -A little grainy sounding and isn't as refined as the similarly priced HD650. It's a great headphone, better mids than the Philips X2(£200-300)[/B and better at everything else than isn't bass. The 600 is slightly warm sounding with a rolled off bass. It has a lovely character that some people prefer to the HD650 but it isn't as refined as the HD650. I find the HD600 slightly less revolving the 650. Key points -HD600 is a HD650 that isn't as refined and complete but also has a slightly different signature. -With a good amp the HD600 really shines and beats out most headphones on the market today regardless of price. - Gaming The HD600 has excellent imaging and a good sense of space. Compared to soundstage monsters it's not going to wow anybody but that's because everyone think's that's the norm when in reality the HD600 has a well rounded sounding with equal width to depth radio or at least very close as opposed to the k701 which has a huge soundstage but lacks in depth. It's tone for gaming is fantastic especially in those emotional scenes. For Competitive gaming they are very good. Ratings Music 9.3/10 Competitive Gaming 8.9/10 Fun Gaming 9.1/10 Sennheiser HD800 Spoiler Build quality Pros +Lightweight +Everything on this headphone has a purpose to aid it's performance +Deep ear pads + comfortable headband +Removable cables Cons -Seriously? this much plastic on a £1000+ headphone? -Paint chips easily -Replaceable parts are expensive Sound Quality Pros +Low distortion and great response throughout. +Deep bass for an open dynamic +Great mids +Soundstage + Imaging is spot on, so cohesive. Cons -Lean -Treble bumps -Bass is a little one note(maybe I'm used to the planar bass) -Needs modding to fix issues, once fixed, headphone is hard to beat. -Vocals can sound a bit dry, lacking emotion, strained? forced? The HD800 is a very good headphone when it comes to it's resolving power, driver quality. It's issues are simply it's upper ranges which ruin the whole headphone for some. Bass is actually among the best I've heard for an open dynamic, some say it's bass light? WUT! no it's really not. I think the mids are overall very good. It quite dry though, it sounds like it decays too quick with voices, unusually so like it's trying to extract every bit of information and the effects are showing on the singer, dramatic much? mids are very clean, good distinction between singers, background singers and instruments. Treble is nicely extended, airy, spacious but some peaks really ruin the headphone. A peak free HD800 would be incredible. Treble information is just thrown at you, I don't think there's anything out there that extracts information better than the 800. Soundstage and imaging are the best, period. It's as wide as the Q701 but actually has equal depth. Many on headphone rave about the soundstage saying it's unmatched but in reality the AKG's do match it for width but the AKG's struggle with centre depth where as the HD800's are very cohesive which would make the soundstage which makes it more spacious as a whole. Competitive Gaming +Amazing soundstage and imaging +Amazing detail extraction +Fairly flat response so you can hear everything is well separated +Cohesive sound Cons None....Price? Fun Gaming +Bass extension for those low end rumbles +Soundstage +Good mids for dialogue +Airy sound adds to the openness of environments +Amazing all-rouder Cons -Sometimes high pitch sounds can be a little too bothersome. That HD800 are among the best I've heard as an all-rounder. I do think the much cheaper K612 Pro is a better buy for those wanting an all-in-one but if you have the money, you will be rewarded with something special here. Ratings Music 9.1/10 - Excellent headphone, it does have it's issues but it has so much going for it that it's wrong to give it anything lower than a 9. If the peaks didn't exist I feel it would get about a 9.4 easily. Competitive Gaming - I'm always reluctant to give out 10's but seriously this is the best. 10/10 Fun Gaming - Some harshness when called for but it's a small price to pay for something as good as this 9.5/10 Fostex TH900 Spoiler Technology: Dynamic Type: Closed/Semi Open? Impedance: 25ohm Driving Difficulty: Runs from entry level gear no problem. Build Pros +So beautiful, like a Japanese dress. +Lightweight +Solid construction +Nice cable Cons -Non detachable cable + The TH900 MKII has. -Cups scratch easily More points taken off because, well.....£1000 headphone with beautiful cups and no display box!!!!!!!!!!! Sound Pros +Fun, exciting sound +Spacious soundstage Cons - Where's the mids?! -Wtf is up with the treble? -No seriously where's the mids? -£1000...Where's the Fxxxxxxx MIDS!!! I held back last time but this headphone for £1000 sucks. It sounds like the Denon D7000 slept with the Beats Studio and had an unplanned baby... Ok well, I love the bass, but it's bass, everyone loves bass right? WELL YES FOSTEX BUT SOME MIDS WOULDN'T HURT?! why is £1000 headphone lacking in a key area so bad? it's not even funny. Ok so let's look at some positives, it has good bass! very nice full bass, but NO MIDSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS ok let's move on. Gaming Competitive I can't do this any more, I feel it's fair to write something for you guys but this headphone is a waste of time. Do not buy this headphone, no matter how many weirdos on Hypefi try to justify it, just don't ok. Ratings Music 6.5/10 - It's bass has good texture, good energy but it's ****e everywhere else minus soundstage and some decent imaging in there somewhere, well maybe not. Gaming Competitive 6.5/10 - Too much bass! good soundstage depth and width. I love the Biocell drivers usually but I can't recommend it at all. Fun Gaming 6.9/10 - Again good bass no mids, decent stage, meh. AMPS Schiit Vali Spoiler The Vali is one of my all time favourite amps. If You've never heard Schiit hear, the sound is always resolving, clean, but missing magic. Listen to a Magni, Valhalla or Raggy and you will get what I mean. For those that want to pull every detail out I can't recommend them enough. The Vali breaks away from this trend, offering a spacious, liquid presentation with gorgeous vocals and a thick bass section. It's still resolving but less obviously so due to the thicker body of sound. Voices bring you into the music and flow naturally without harshness. The Low bass on the Vali isn't as tight as it's Magni brothers or even the Vali 2 but you can't deny how musical and lush this amp is. The Vali for me is better than all of the their other mid range products for enjoyment. It's not the best for low impedance due to the noise floor but I found it to do fine with the Planars like the HE400i, HE-500 and LCD-2. HD650 is a great match and actually found this as musical as the Bottlehead Paring making me give it the nick name, Mini Crack...The treble section of the Vali is similar to the Magni in that it's a little rough around the edges but the more liquid bloom mask this a lot making it a non issue for most. Own a HD650? grab a Vali!