So I thought I should share what headphones I currently am listening to as well!
Here are some short reviews and impressions of the current headphones I am listening to as well as some that I didn’t keep around for one reason or another. This is all of course subjective from my point of view and you may not agree or feel the same way.
Just so everyone knows what my sources of music are, the devices they are playing from and what is driving/converting the digital signal.
Iphone 11, IpadPro 2018, IMac, MacBook Pro, Audio Technica 120 usb Turntable, SMSL THX 200 amp with SMSL 8U-A V2 DAC for desktop, iFi XDSD for on the go listening. All streaming is from Amazon Music HD, and well Vinyl is Vinyl but whenever possible I try to obtain master recordings and higher quality pressings.
- Sennheiser 6XX-
The headphones that started me down this path of being an audio purist, phile, lover, uhhhh person …
What I like: I love the warmth, mostly neutral sound, non fatiguing listening experience they provide. Intimate vocals that are just beautiful like being right next to the singer or I am the microphone. I am able to use tone control with the 6XX and the Schiit Loki to bring up the lower end some in some cases I bring up the first 3 dials on the Loki a touch and they sound even better to me. I really want to get a true tube amp to see what these are really capable of. The headphones are very lightweight and I can wear them for a very long time without issue. They are owned by thousands of music listeners and are great reference headphones for listening to when online reviewers compare other headphones to them. For less than $200 hard to beat. I use these for relaxed and critical listening. I also use them for really long photo editing sessions and I will even travel with them.
What I don’t like about them:
Clamp force is pretty strong and the headband comfort is not my favorite but still overall a very comfortable headphone to my medium sized head. They due tend to have a bit of an audible veil or rolled off treble that everyone refers to compared to my other headphones. This can be managed some with tone control.
- Sennheiser True Wireless Momentums IEM-
Purchased these when my bluetooth IEM beats of 8 years died and I didn’t love the sound from Apple AirPods.
What I like: Pretty great sound for bluetooth with a sound signature and easy listening experience Sennheiser is known for with some of their other models. Fairly comfortable for IEM. To be honest I don’t enjoy IEM from a comfort stand point so take my opinion on comfort with a grain of salt. They have a pretty fun app you can download to your phone or IPAD and play around with a little eq. which is interesting. I usually just leave them set to standard though. Transparency mode works pretty well to hear the outside world, at the gym, when wanting to talk to others or listen for the boogey man when on the go. USB charging case with additional charges is also nice. The case is small and clean looking. They go on sale quite often so you can usually get them well below their normal retail price. I have only heard a few true wireless IEM’s, but for me these sounded better than the rest with pretty good detail and imaging. I mostly use these for business calls on the go, gym, travel, hiking, and outdoor activities.
What I don’t like:
Battery life, Battery life, Battery life. They just seem to always need more and more charging even when I haven’t used them and they have been sitting in their case. The design of how you need to twist them into your ear canal is a bit weird coming from say beats IEM or Apple AirPods. They also can tend to fall out over time, but this could just be the luck of my ear canals and why maybe I don’t like IEM. Tapping to control track skipping, taking calls, volume up and down I found to not be the best probably due to the small size.
- Sennheiser 550XII NC Headphones
I picked these up recently for a trip to Moscow, Russia where I was photographing the first NPC/IFBB sanctioned Bodybuilding show in Russian history. I had a pretty long travel/flight schedule to get there from Nevada, USA. I thought about getting just closed backs for the trip but luckily some smart people urged me to definitely get some noise cancelling headphones for the flights.
What I like: Pretty comfortable, ear pads are some of the softest/squishiest on my list. Compact and can fold up nicely in their travel case. I actually carried them inside a Scotte Vest Jacket to give you reference for how portable they are. The Sennheiser app for these is even better than that of the True Wireless Momentum IEM’s as it offers fun listening modes for types of music and movies. I enjoyed that for plugging in on the long flights and watching some great movies. Noise cancelling is decent but don’t expect it to completely get rid of all the engine noise or background noise. Imaging and detail retrieval is pretty good on these as well. I found I could definitely listen to them for hours on end with no ear fatigue. Battery life is superb, I really didn’t need to charge them often if ever for my entire trip. Sound quality is super good through bluetooth almost hard to audibly hear a difference when plugged into my iFi XDSD…almost. They power on and off with a simple twist, pretty cool. Easy to connect to multiple devices such as my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro via bluetooth. You are able to control volume up and down, skip tracks forward or back, take calls with touching the outside of the headphones. It takes a bit to learn but once you get it down it works pretty well. It does take some practice and isn’t always perfect likely due to my error.
What I don’t like:
Older usb charging connection. I would have liked to see Usb C so I had to bring one less cable when traveling. Noise canceling could be better but honestly this is my first noise cancelling headphone so I have no frame of reference. What I have read is the Bose NC are the best for Noise cancelling but don’t necessarily sound the best. I guess it is a trade off. Ear pads could have been a bit bigger allowing more room for my ears. This would have made them more comfortable. Listening for long periods on a flight my ears did feel a bit warmer than I am used to.
- Focal Elear w/ Clear Pads purchased from @taronlissimore on headphones.com .
I was actually originally looking to Purchase the ELEX’s from Drop as I had read they were a beefed up 6XX when I discovered the drop sale price recently ended and another Drop member posted a link to headphones.com where I found the current sale bundle price. They were less expensive than what Drop was offering with two sets of pads and a carrying case plus a 5 year warranty! Taron sealed the deal with exceptional service, tons of patience, fast response time, and fast shipping.
What I like: Pretty much everything. Sexy looking, amazing build quality, 2 listening experiences with two sets of pads, nice clean thump in the low end compared to my other headphones, great detail retrieval, wider sound stage then all my other headphones, the speed of the drivers is pretty incredible, just really fun and exciting to listen to for all genres of music so far for me. Cable is really, really, long! At first I didn’t think I was going to like that, but actually I do, as it allows me to roll around my office in my chair or walk around and not have to unplug! The headphones are heavier than all my other headphones but they are super comfortable and just feel incredible to hold and admire when not being used to listen. I honestly love almost everything about them. Coming from the 6XX these just felt like I just leveled up my listening experience and removed that veil. Also they take well to some tone control via the Loki and I can make them thump a bit more in the low end and bring up the mids a bit without any issues so far.
What I don’t like:
Treble on certain tracks can be a little bright and I find this can make the headphones a little fatiguing for longer listening sessions. However a little tone control via the Loki helps with this. Some tracks I do feel like I also want to bring up the mids and lower end a touch to really make these sound perfect to my ears. So really none of these are dislikes just small things that I choose to tackle with tone control.
- Hifiman Ananda
Last but definitely not least! I received these literally today when the mail man woke me up around 6:30 am, lol. I have been listening to them ever since. So this is my initial impression of these headphones. Once again @taronlissimore guided me with this purchase and his service and guidance were spot on as usual.
What I like:
Improved soundstage over all the headphones so far. Wider, larger, deeper… get your minds out of the gutter! No but seriously, Soundstage is the best of all the headphones I own, as is detail retrieval, tone, and overall comfort (so far only had them for one day). I haven’t even touched the Loki with these headphones their tone has been right on for me for everything I have listened to so far which spans almost every genre of music. They are lightweight and fit well on my medium sized head. They seem to pair beautifully with the SMSL THX amp. The large planars sound great across the board including the low end, not as much punch as the ELEAR’s but clean, accurate, and a pleasure to listen to. Mid’s are beautiful, and the Treble isn’t really ever too bright for my ears with detail for days! Honestly so far these are my favorite headphones I have ever listened to. The sale price right now is amazing from headphones.com and I believe they have one pair open box up for grabs that are deeply discounted. If you haven’t heard these headphones, you might be missing out. I highly recommend these headphones, even though I may be new to the game.
What I don’t like:
The cables from the manufacture they come with don’t seem that great from a build quality perspective. No noticeable audible issue with the cables however, just kind of weird clear cheap looking cables. The headphones overall don’t have the same level of build quality as the Focal Elear’s do but what they don’t have in build quality they make up for in sound quality.
Ok so what did I have that I parted with?
Sennheiser 58X from drop- they were to close to the 6XX and I preferred the 6XX sound signature. They are both awesome but I wasn’t going to keep both and one had to go.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones. It was a long time ago, but if my memory serves me correctly the mids felt very recessed on them and overall I didn’t like the fit. Compared to the 6XX they just didn’t do it for me.
Bose old wired IEM’s that I don’t even know what model they are. I actually still have these but will likely keep as emergency use only and or gift to someone in my family.
Beats IEM wireless bluetooth. They actually stopped working after like 8 years.
So there you go! Some short reviews and impressions of what I currently am listening to! I hope this helps someone, as I know it can be tough living in a small town or city and not having hifi audio shops around to audition the headphones in person.