My headphone plan for 2018 is to just give up this whole reviewing thing and listen to my M50X’s all year.
Nah, I’m just kidding.
Miraculously, I actually checked out about 85 percent of the models on last year’s headphone plan. This, in spite of repeatedly forgetting that document even existed.
Sennheiser HD 471/ HD 200 Pro
I wouldn’t even be interested in the HD 471 if not for Tyll over at Innerfidelity.
I walked past its little brother, the HD 461, at my local terrible Fry’s Electronics a few times in the past.
I picked it up, it felt like a box full of air, and I promptly put it back on the shelf.
But Tyll’s opinions mean a lot to me, and I generally agree with his view on what “neutral” is…even though he judges treble a little harsher than I do.
So when he said the 471’s were good, I finally ordered some. I’ll be reviewing them later this week.
Furthermore, Sennheiser must believe in these headphones…because they added a variant of them to their “Pro” monitoring line. That lineup includes the very famous 280 Pro and 380 Pro. It’s been a while since a whole new entry showed up in that lineup.
The 200 Pro is very clearly based on the 471…but is it the same headphone? I have no idea! If I like the 471, I’m considering picking up a 200 Pro to put through the “Studio” paces. At $70, it’s a no-brainer if these live up to their reputation.
Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro
Last year, I tried to review the DT990 Premium…but the model I got had a destroyed ear pad. Royalty free picture of pancakes.
So I returned them, and intended to buy the Pro model instead for its different packaging…only I never did.
This year, that will change!
I have a hard time convincing myself to buy open headphones, because I don’t totally love them. I admit that they often have a good sense of air and soundstage…but I pretty much always need isolation in my headphones, and I buy these to be things I will hopefully use and enjoy.
I think that some closed headphones have really nice soundstages.
Also, a lot of the listening perception involved in soundstage is subjective and based on numerous factors, so open headphones aren’t always a magical cure-all for soundstage woes. See the much-lauded Sennheiser HD 600 and 650. People almost always mention that they feel closed-in…yet they’re some of the most open headphones ever made.
I got way off track.
I love the DT770 a little more than is healthy, and the DT990 is basically an open version of that. So I’m curious to properly evaluate one some day soon.
Pioneer DJ HRM-6
I’ll tell anyone who will listen that the Pioneer DJ HRM-5 is a fantastic alternative to the other big studio monitoring headphones, thanks to its flat sound signature and extremely comfy stock padding.
But I’ve never checked out its bigger brother, the HRM-6.
It adds pads with a flat front for a better seal, and several metal parts to the build. It also has drivers that are supposedly made out of a higher quality material and tuned for a wider frequency response…but honestly, if they messed too much with the HRM-5 signature, I’d be bummed out.
I will take this opportunity to say that I’m impressed at how the HRM-5 and 6 have managed to hold their value. I’ve never seen them go on sale.
I’ll also mention that I wish that Audio-Technica just used the M50X pads as the stock M40X pads. The M50 pads are comfy enough that most people buying the M40’s would never be tempted to change the pads, but no, the M40X just had to use slightly inferior pads and create a whole weird pad dilemma.
I’m sure the cents they saved on each unit were worth it, right?
If you want to buy a $99 studio headphone with a decently flat response where you don’t have to change the pads and you don’t look stupid wearing them, the HRM-5 is still a great choice. Just saying.
I’m not really sure why, but there’s something strangely appealing about it. It hovers between $40-$50 online, and Audio-Technica sometimes sells a bundle that includes a pair of M50X’s and four M20X’s as a “Studio Production” kit.
The M20X has a 10-foot permanently attached cable and it doesn’t fold down…but outside those things, I could see myself really liking it.
Audio-Technica M50X Limited Edition
Remember my joke from the beginning?
I know there’s no reason for me to own one of the Limited Edition colors of the M50X’s…but I think about doing this about every two months for some reason. I think their limited colors look cool.
Well okay. I think all the non-standard colors except the white one have looked really cool.
And I might buy one just to have around because I’m ridiculous.
What about Gaming Headsets?
I’m curious about the Razer Thresher, and the reasoning behind the Thresher Ultimate costing $100 more in spite of not being that much more of a product…but outside of that, gaming products don’t usually start launching until the latter half of the year.
So we won’t know what new gaming stuff is coming in 2018 for a while!
What about the V-Moda M100’s and the Shure SRH840?
These two models are the two that I didn’t really get to from last year’s list.
I’m no longer interested in the M100’s, and it seems like V-Moda isn’t either. They updated the lineup last year…but only to add a new wireless model with bigger pads. While I like that they finally admitted the default Crossfade pads were too small, the push towards wireless iterations means that the original M-100 probably isn’t getting an upgrade any time soon.
I’m still curious about the SRH840’s, but I find Shure’s product lineup a little confusing. The 840’s have held their value to the point where they’re now overpriced compared to most of the competing studio headphones, and there’s also an SRH940 that only costs 20 bucks more.
I can’t tell if the 20 dollar difference is solely for the different color and the velour ear pads or if there’s some other difference. Looking at measurements of both pairs, it seems like they’re using the same driver and basic housing, and just have some differences due to those pads.
So that’s all kind of weird!
What about Air Pods?
In fairness, these are now slightly easier to get than their perennial minimum six-week wait they had for most of last year.
But I don’t care any more. I can’t do it. I was so stoked about these, and then I couldn’t buy them anywhere. So nevermind!
That’s the entirety of my headphone plan for the year so far. I know it’s less ambitious than last year’s…but I’m trying to keep it realistic.
Maybe I’ll come back and update this article as the year goes on! Or maybe I’ll forget about it! Headphones!