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Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

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HD 600
10
71%
HD 650
1
7%
HD 660 S
0
No votes
SRH1840
3
21%
 
Total votes : 14

Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby BWC » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:04 am

Hello world,

It will be some time before my monitoring setup is workable, let alone anywhere near ideal. In the meantime, I'll need to get by with headphones for all of my post-production activities (along with checking on every consumer system I can get my hands / ears on). After much reading (here and elsewhere), and no ability to hear for myself before I buy, I've narrowed it down to the three Sennheisers (HD 600, HD 650, & HD 660 S) and the Shure SRH1840. I need a little help to make a final decision. My question is, which of these four will give me the most honesty? I am aware that there are other popular choices; it was hard enough to narrow it down this far, and I'm not interested in widening my choices.

Thank you for any insights you care to share,
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Apr 29, 2021 5:24 pm

Hi BWC, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

I've just placed my vote (the first one it seems), and I chose the HD600.

Personally I bought the slightly more expensive HD650 for its deeper bass end, and I'm still very happy with it, but over the years I've noticed lots of references to the earlier HD600 sounding even 'flatter' by comparison, and since that will save you some money as well that's the reason for my vote ;)


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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby James Perrett » Thu Apr 29, 2021 6:18 pm

I missed the vote at the top - just added mine now. Seems unanimous at the moment (though I've not tried all your choices).
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby Trevor Johnson » Thu Apr 29, 2021 6:46 pm

+ another for the HD 600
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby Mixedup » Fri Apr 30, 2021 6:36 am

I've not tried the HD600. I have the HD650, which I compared with the SRH1840 a few years ago. I suspect fewer people have tried the latter, which will skew the vote, but they really are very good -- better than the HD650 IMHO.
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby forumuser840717 » Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:56 am

I didn't vote as I haven't tried the HD660S and, in any case, headphones are very personal things. What suits one person may be hated by another and factors influencing the decision process will vary from person to person. (e.g. I have HD600 and HD650 but prefer to use others (also tried the Shures and found them very good but didn't buy them for various reasons (found them more comfortable than the Sennheisers though)).

All the headphones on your list are good but different from each other sonically (though not night and day) and particularly in terms of how they feel on the head; tightness/pressure on the head, feel around the ears, balance/'wobbliness' and weight. Even things like the stiffness of the cables, how much movement noise the cable transmits into the earpieces, and how the the cable hangs, can be a factor if one is wearing the headphones for long periods. Or if, in the case of the HD600, you get annoyed by the cable connection going intermittent where the little plugs go into the earpieces (try replacing them with the much tighter fitting HD650 cables - mine have been fine since I did that whereas I'd had to replace the normal cables frequently until the sockets got too worn for new cables to help! Hopefully they've improved that by now.)

I'd suggest that if you can't try them before you buy, it might be an idea to buy some secondhand pairs to try out. There's a pretty good turnover in used headphones as people buy and change their minds or upgrade. Many have had little use and are in perfect condition so, as long as you're careful to buy really good examples and don't over-pay, you should be able to try them properly to decide whether they're comfortable and seem to you to be delivering the sound quality you need.

If you then decide you don't like them, maybe you immediately find them uncomfortable or don't like the sound, and/or think that one of the others might suit you better then you should be able to re-sell them without losing anything - if you're lucky, maybe even making a profit - and do the same with another pair - repeat until you're happy. Or just buy a few secondhand pairs and compare them, re-selling the ones you don't want. That way, you get to spend some proper time getting used to them before deciding and don't take a depreciation hit when you sell them.

Or, if you're sure you want to buy without trying them, don't worry about it, they're all decend enough; just save your money, buy the HD600s, take some time to get used to them and see how you go from there. At least you'll have a reference point for furture comparisons.
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby BWC » Sat May 01, 2021 4:06 am

Martin Walker wrote:Hi BWC, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

Hi Martin, thanks, glad to be here! Actually, I've been here, quietly, for a number of years now, so while I'm a new acquaintance of yours, you're already an old friend of mine.

Martin Walker wrote:...I've noticed lots of references to the earlier HD600 sounding even 'flatter' by comparison, and since that will save you some money as well...

As have I, and was all set on them, but then noticed that many of those who said that, also said (as did you) that they chose the HD650, and have been very happy with them. While I appreciate your, and others', effort to save me money (I'm certainly not wealthy enough to ignore such considerations), given the amount of use I plan / hope to get out of them, the price difference between those four is not significant enough to base my decision on.

Mixedup wrote:I suspect fewer people have tried the [SRH1840], which will skew the vote...

I will factor that in. I have seen quite a lot of enthusiasm from those who have tried them, and I've yet to see any good reason to eliminate them from my list.

forumuser840717 wrote:I didn't vote as I haven't tried the HD660S and, in any case, headphones are very personal things...

I understand what you're saying, and I appreciate your taking the time, but you've only answered a bunch of questions that I didn't ask, and have not answered the question that I did ask. My personal preferences have been taken into account (as much as is possible without physically trying them out) in narrowing it down to these four. The tip about swapping the cables is possibly useful (if they still haven't resolved the issue), so thanks for that. Buying them secondhand does not appeal to me, but I always look for vendors with a reasonable return policy. Though, part of why I stress over these decisions is that I hope to avoid the hassle of returning / reselling.


To (hopefully) clarify my question: In the past, I've always been lucky enough to have had good quality loudspeakers, in halfway decent (at least) rooms, to work with, and cheap headphones for when needed. This is the first time I've found myself in a situation where I need to resort to working primarily with headphones. I plan to rectify this situation as soon as possible, but realistically, it could be a couple of years. So, I'm not looking for 'pleasure' headphones, necessarily. I'm looking for headphones that will be honest with me about the signals they're being fed, and help me to make good decisions about what to do with those signals.

Thanks all,
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun May 02, 2021 1:08 pm

BWC wrote:I'm not looking for 'pleasure' headphones, necessarily. I'm looking for headphones that will be honest with me about the signals they're being fed, and help me to make good decisions about what to do with those signals.
I recently found myself in the same exact position as you and although it looks like you are decided on open back headphones, might I suggest you try the headphones I ultimately went with: the Neumann NDH 20. They are closed back (a requirement for my use) but they are very neutral sounding to my ears.

I paired them with a Rupert Neve RNHP headphone amplifier and have been very happy with the results thus far!
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby TheLegit » Sun May 02, 2021 5:02 pm

Don't forget getting Sonarworks as well
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby forumuser840717 » Sun May 02, 2021 6:04 pm

BWC wrote:I understand what you're saying, and I appreciate your taking the time, but you've only answered a bunch of questions that I didn't ask, and have not answered the question that I did ask.

Don't take this the wrong way, it's not intended to get at you but could that be because there isn't an answer to the question you asked? At least not one which anyone else realistically can supply for you.

When you ask "...which of these four will give me the most honesty?", the only person who can answer that is you. As I said, there's a huge subjective element to all this which renders moot the concept of a quantifiable absolute ''honesty" in monitoring . One can arrive at a shortlist for purchasing decisions by reading tech specs, reviews, user comments, etc.. but, as you've found, none of these is going to answer your question. What you find 'honest' and what someone else finds 'honest' could be quite different things.

All four headphones on your list are very good. I have the HD600 and HD650 (though rarely use either), have used the SRH1840s several times, and all are describable as 'honest' (I'd guess that the HD660S are at least in the same quality bracket as the others). Unfortunately, reading, and asking others about them won't answer your question and, as you've guessed, neither will choosing on price.

Something like Sonarworks will even out a lot of the sonic differences between headphones but not how they feel. I don't use it myself as I work on different setup in different places, not always involving a computer, so relying on a specific (or any) plugin for monitoring isn't always an option and I don;t want to get used to relying on it.


BWC wrote:...My personal preferences have been taken into account (as much as is possible without physically trying them out) in narrowing it down to these four.

At which point, it's time to sit down and try them. Taking votes and/or reading more opinions won't answer your remaining question(s).


BWC wrote:Buying them secondhand does not appeal to me, but I always look for vendors with a reasonable return policy. Though, part of why I stress over these decisions is that I hope to avoid the hassle of returning / reselling

That's fine, not everyone is happy buying secondhand. I only suggested it as a cost effective method of comparing headphones without time limits but if you can find a tolerant vendor with an open ended returns policy, then go with that. When comparing, (and this is a contentious point for some people) it might be an idea to give them a little bit of 'burn in' time. Ime, Sennheisers don't need much time to settle compared to AKGs (don't know about Shures) but, after the inital excited-at-getting-new-headphones listen, giving them 24-48 hours with music playing through them at moderate levels before you do any serious evaluation won't do any harm.


BWC wrote:To (hopefully) clarify my question: In the past,...
...make good decisions about what to do with those signals.

I understand why you need 'honest' headphones. I'm lucky enough to have a choice of fairly decent speakers but often work in really random environments so have got used to and choose to do most of my work on headphones, whether or not I have speakers there. I need headphones that I find 'honest', or at least which present things in a way that, with familiarity, enables me to make decisions reasonably reliably but not everyone will agree with my choice of honest. Thinking over the last five or six jobs I did, on some, everyone involved was using different headphones as their preferred 'honest' reference but was happy enough picking up any pair for a quick listen and qualitative check, and often compared others just out of curiosity. Sometimes people commented on things they liked about other headphones but, so far as I know, nobody has changed their preference.

So, while it isn't the answer you're hoping for, any of the headphones on your list are nominally 'honest'. I get that you want to make the right decision first time but I'd suggest that putting it up for a vote by other people is pointless, even as part of an information gathering process; it's just more of other people's opinions. It may serve as a comforting confirmation of your own thoughts but doesn't tell you anything about which headphones will best work for you.

With no reference point from which to start you might as well take your short list, put the names into a hat and pick one. Then (assuming you like the intital sound impression and comfort) take some time to get used to them before deciding whether or not to keep them. With headphones of similar quality, what one gains from familiarity is perhaps more important than the small differences between specific models, and only when you have some experience with one pair - so a known starting point about which you will have likes and dislikes - is there much point in looking elsewhere. Hence the answer I did give:

forumuser840717 wrote: ... if you're sure you want to buy without trying them, don't worry about it, they're all decen[t] enough; just save your money, buy the HD600s, take some time to get used to them and see how you go from there. At least you'll have a reference point for fu[r]ture comparisons.


Whatever happens, good luck with your decision.

(Sorry about any typos - they seem to happen more as I get older! :headbang: )
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby beej65 » Sun May 02, 2021 6:50 pm

(Newbie alert) I appreciate this thread, because the last post notwithstanding, I too might wish to 'crowdsource' an opinion about this or that model headphones, trying to help me decide, remove my bias and my (likely) less trained ears for all of yours.
My situation is similar to the OPs - working mostly if not exclusively on headphones. One strategy mentioned, to use correction software, basically for me is a means to check against different listening environments (I am likely to settle on a combination of Realphones +/- CanOpener; I haven't found Sonarworks/SoundID to be an improvement on either).
BTW, I did not vote, not having auditioned any of the included headphones, but my primary headphone is the wired Hifiman Deva, with alternates Sennheiser HD58xx and Blue Lola (closed back option). That also gives you an idea of my current budget constraint; I also recently upgraded my headphone amp to the Schitt Magni (alternate: native amp in UA's Arrow/Apollo Solo).
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby The Elf » Sun May 02, 2021 8:13 pm

I would say forget Sonarworks. Learn the sound of your headphones and you won't need it.
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby Smellthevalve » Sun May 02, 2021 8:18 pm

My vote might not count as much as I have only tried the hd600s out of that list, didn't want to spend any more money though
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby BWC » Tue May 04, 2021 4:10 pm

forumuser840717 wrote:...but could that be because there isn't an answer to the question you asked?

I think it's more that you're overthinking the question. I disagree that honesty is "hugely subjective." I think its subjectivity is more subtle. As you said, all four of these could be (and have been) described as honest. Of course, not everyone will have the same opinion about this, that's the point of polling, which I do find useful, even if you don't. So, if you walked in to a room, and these four, and only these four, headphones were available to use, and you wanted the most honest listen you could get, which pair would you pick up? Don't think about it. Just see the scenario in your mind, and tell me which pair you picked up.

I'm with you and The Elf on Sonarworks and the like. On paper, it certainly seems like just the thing, but I remain skeptical about its practical application. I would likely only use such things as, like beej65 said, just another way to check, and only if I picked them up as part of a bundle with something more worthy of my dollars. I do enjoy reading about the latest developments in this area though. If nothing else, the research they're doing, and the data they're collecting, is valuable.

forumuser840717 wrote:...not everyone is happy buying secondhand...

Nothing against it in general, just in this case, to be clear.

Burn-in time is a very contentious subject. Personally, I think it's because, as with many contentious subjects, there's no simple, universal 'yes or no' answer, it depends. I have some experience in the world of electronics manufacturing, and have performed, and participated in the design of, burn-in testing (as a part of the manufacturing process) many times. It's not just about stress testing (the tests that precede burn-in are far more stressful), some circuits (and certainly electromechanical devices) do behave differently after a good burn-in, even when the reason why is not apparent, even to folks who are far smarter than I am. I seem to remember a good one from the Q & A archives answered by Hugh Robjohns. ...let me see...ah, here it is: https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/q-what-gear-should-be-burnt-use

forumuser840717 wrote:...At which point, it's time to sit down and try them...

...would if I could...

I do appreciate your thoughts and your time, and I'm not judging anyone for the occasional tupo, er, typo.

Thanks,
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Re: Which of these headphones? Decision paralysis looms.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 04, 2021 4:29 pm

To be honest, the sound produced by all four of your shortlist is absolutely fine and all make the grade as professional quality, accurate headphones. They will each have their own small characteristics but they are largely negligible in the grand scheme of assessing music and can be quickly learned and accepted/appreciated anyway.

Probably of greater significance are the physical attributes -- weight, pressure on or over the ears, stability when moving the head, cable type and noise conduction -- and that type of thing. The three Sennheisers are broadly similar in their design, although there are some variations as have been mentioned above.

As you're certain you can't try before you buy, I think your only option is to go with your gut instinct and pick the ones that appeal the most. They are all capable of a decent sound.

In answer to your question as to which I'd pick up, it would be the 600 or the 650. I have a slightly preference for the 600, but they are so similar as to not matter as an analytical tool. I've not used the other Senny, and while I liked the sound of the Shure's I found them less comfortable on my planet-sized head than the Sennheisers.

But my personal 'phones brand of choice is the AKG range, and I routinely use K702s (although I also have and use Sennheiser HD600 and HD650 pairs, and for location use I work with Senny HD25s and Sony MDR7509s.

The AKG range is probably considered less neutral than the Sennys and the Shure, but I prefer what they do and am very familiar with their foibles. (And they definitely do benefit a short burn-in whereas the Senny's don't). The other brand well worth considering is the Beyer, of course, which I've always found extremely comfortable, too.
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