Ranked from least favorite to favorite.
Names are links btwSennheiser HD 438
- 32 ohms
- 112 db Sound:
In a word: horrible. That is the best way I can describe these. Where's the bass?! Rock music sounds completely flat. So many of the beats are completely missing when it comes to Trance/Electronica you wonder why you even like your favorite songs. I definitely hear the Sennheiser veil that audiophiles talk about with this headphone. I'm no audiophile but it is that apparant. It's like a photo that has had a photoshop filter to it where someone's face looks unnaturally smooth. It's the best I can describe it since I don't know the proper lingo.
I've tried it straight from an iPod, straight from a computer and with a Fiio E11 hooked up - both on PC and iPod. The Fiio brought some life to it but it completely just over powered the HD 438s. The E11 has a setting for both low and high impedance headphones. I am guessing the high sound pressure (112db) worked against it. It would make a breath drag on longer than it should have. It also made a breath over shadow everything else. Comfort:
Great, I can wear them for hours with no problems. By far my most comfortable pair of headphones. Overall: (2 / 10)
I honestly don't know how these headphones get favorable reviews. The comfort level is the only good thing about them.Harman Kardon SoundSticks II
- 2.1 Desktop Speakers Sound:
When I first got them I thought they sounded ok though I wasn't floored with them. Now I would say they are great for gaming but kinda lame for music. Games sound great and have good depth. You can easily tell which direction a noise came from and about how far away it is. So BF3, Skyrim, etc I love 'em. When it comes to music however, it is TOO bright. It misses quite a few of the beats especially in regards to trance/electronica making it sound fluffed over. Makes rock sound a bit too bright as well but at least it doesn't make it sound flat like Sennheisers do! Don't mess with my electric guitar dammit! Function and Style:
The speakers take very little room on the desktop which is a plus and the base makes them the most sturdy speaker I have ever seen ...in this category. I have jumped on my desk many times and it doesn't even make these things move. The clear plastic is kinda cheesy and so is the sub with blue LEDs. I could understand the LED if it had a setting to pulse to the beat or something or if you could turn it off but no such option. The touch controls for the volume is kind of a pain ...mostly if you want to mute the sound because you have to press both buttons (Up/Down) at the exact same time with the same pressure. Overall: (5 / 10)
I chose these due to high number of praising reviews with so many self-proclaimed 'Amazon' audiophiles saying they were the best speakers in the price range. Good and bad with these speakers. They serve a purpose. The speakers themselves look good on the desktop, take very little space and are sturdy. Sound great with games which is what I mostly use my PC for anyway. But I am not tempted to stream/pump music from my PC with these guys. I am sure they would benefit from a soundcard (which I don't have) but it would have to be one that darkens the tones.Sony MDR-V700
- 107db Sound:
Pretty good. Every type of music sounds good. The bass is good. I got these back when I lived in DC about 7yrs back with DJ suggesting them for my price range. While not the best nor something that I would necessarily brag about the sound quality is something I could be happy with. But it wasn't the sound quality that made me go searching for better cans. Comfort:
O-o-ooooooouch! << That's the reason Overall: (6 / 10)
I really loved these during the hayday. I remember the first time I heard NIN's Downward Spiral album a song on there starts off with someone whispering and it litterally sounded like it came from intercom. I took off the headsets because I thought someone was playing a mean joke on the intercom.
Despite liking them they hurt my ears ...a lot. It came to the point I stopped using them because I refused to wear them unless my hair was extremely short and even then. Altec Lansing
(no link available)
- 2.1 Desktop Speakers Sound:
I don't even know how old these are and honestly I am embarrased to say these came from a pre-built Dell, but I thought it would be interesting to include these as a comparison to the other stuff as I find it quite surprising once I started comparing the same songs on all my options.
While they don't sound as good as the MDRs and despite being a cheapy set that came from a Dell build these are my best desktop speakers. They are a little too dark and still miss some beats it is more of the subtle beats where as the Sennheisers and Harman Kardon's miss significant beats. So I prefer to listen to music on the PC I have these hooked up to. And yes, that is comparing the same songs on the same CD. Overall: (6 / 10)Logitech G35
- USB Gaming Headset (Simulated 7.1)
- Software engines drives sound - Onboard and Soundcard are bypassed Sound:
Games sound great. I have no problem detecting my enemies while talking with my friends on comms. It does a very good job separating the two no loss in quality. Friends sound great both with in-game comms (e.g. BF3) and with Ventrilo. It took zero adjusting on my part. Friends say they hear me just fine when I talk. Normally I have to adjust settings in Ventrilo in both regards but I changed nothing from the default Ventrilo settings on a brand new computer.
Music isn't the best. It is definitely passable I think for most people. Music sounds good ...most importantly it doesn't sound boring. You can tell it is being processed by software instead of hardware as it has a thin veil on it. The bass is there but it is disconnected and overrides some of the beats. It makes me want to say to someone I would rather have less bass as long as it is clear than this type of bass. It misses beats as well, more than the Altec Lansing speakers but less than all the previous mentioned items. Style and Function:
Well they are big and ugly. I guess that is why many like Razer products, logitech isn't exactly the brand you think of when it comes to style. Functionality is why I rate this as high as I do. In addition to proving great gaming sound and no effort comes it comes with a mic that automatically mutes itself when pushed up. An easy to find mute button just in case you want to be sure you muted the mic ...though the mic has a light that lets you know if it is muted or not. It has swappable headband pads, but despite the big size of these cans and the weight the comfort hasn't bothered me. It has 3 custom keys if you need them, though I haven't tried using them yet and a long cord. Overall: (8 / 10)
I highly recommend these if the primary focus is gaming. These go on sale for $80-$90 a lot and for that price range it is hard to find something comparable. For music they will work for most people, though at the same time I think many people will also notice their music isn't natural. I'm impressed by how well it works to be honest, but for anyone looking for higher quality sound I recommend looking elsewhere. I'm not a fan of gaming cans for music anyway, so for now I will highly recommend to people to buy a set of nice music headphones and an attachable mic. (Zalman has one)beyerdynamic DT 990 Premium
- 250 ohms
- 96db Sound:
Well by themselves hooked up to an iPod ...kinda boring, honestly just a shade above the HD 438s. Seeing as how I went with the 250ohm version I guess that is too be expected. Connected to a PC they come alive, even with onboard sound. Immediately you find the bass and hear the clarity that these Beyers have. Hooked up with the Fiio E11
and it really gains life! Suddenly the bass has more kick and its a clear bass. You know where it is coming from and most importantly it does not overshadow any of the beats. You miss nothing with these. You will hear the grittyness of the beat the DJ put in as the singer draws a breath with bass pumping in the background. If you have no outside noise and just focus on the song, on some songs you can hear the different layers of music as they come in from different directions and converge in the middle. It makes a song that may sound boring on the previous sound platforms sound boring sound so different that it gives you chills as the beats crawl up your back. Style / Function:
Style is ok I guess, not my thing. For a significantly higher price you can customize them on the manufacturer website. I haven't tried them with gaming as I have the G35s for that. Overall: (10 / 10)
I love 'em!
I am definitely glad I purchased the Fiio E11
to go with them as they definitely need to be driven. It's not just noticeable, it is needed. I am sure I can get even more of these with a desktop amp. I would like a Woo Audio 3 (WA3) or Schitt Valhalla but I just can't justify spending more than $400 for an amp, but the Beyers supposedly really take off with a tube amp more so than any other amp. I will probably just buy the E15/E17 when it releases to save me, but we will see.
One thing I dislike about getting into the higher quality phone scene is this need to drive them. Being an American really doesn't favor me here as most of the high quality amps ship from overseas. So outside from a couple that sell stateside, you are looking at eBay which I don't trust or some shady looking website where it ships from Europe/China. Once you step into the 600ohm game you absolutely need to buy a desktop amp like the WA3/Valhalla. I highly recommend to anyone thinking of 250 ohm and up headphones to do some research. A soundcard/amp combo may drive a 250ohm set even if not the best, but you certainly couldn't drive a 600ohm set with just a soundcard.
If you really love music and you love just sitting/laying there focusing on the beats it is SOO worth buying a really nice set of music phones. If it just something you have in the background as you do other things it may be a bit of a waste. We all multi-task but some of us can get enjoyment just listening to music and not doing anything else. A good set of music headphones is totally something worth saving for ...coming from a non-audiophile.
Edited by Fogel, 24 January 2012 - 05:34 PM.