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Headphones for Harbeth lovers


Need I say I prefer listening through my loudspeakers? But for those moments when you cannot use speakers, what headphones do Harbeth users prefer? I'm thinking specifically of headphones that might have the "lack of colouration" that we've learned to love.

I have a pair of Sennheiser HD650s. In all honesty, they sound veiled to me, not transparent.

Anyone found something?


I'm very happy with the AKG K701. To me they sound very clear and not messing with any part of the spectrum.

S Magus

I'm using AKG K702 and am often struck by the apparent similarity of tone compared to my Harbeths. In fact, to my ears they sond near identical. Now, if you wonder what the difference is between 702 and 701, the answer is none except that the cable on the 702 is detachable, I think. I've listened to some headphones costing three times more than mine and they weren't as natural sounding though they might look and feel flashier.
For the occasion I’m back with my Grado sr225.
tried the Meze99 but I prefer the more honest Grado sound.
besides that i like the -open air- concept in stead of these closed sweaty earcups. The retro look must be a coincidence.


Active member
I’m not a big fan of listening through the headphones, but I like my Sennheiser HD600. They are not as bass heavy and veiled as the HD650’s. In fact they are quite transparent but pleasantly sounding at the same time. They are also very comfortable to wear (same as HD650). Try them if you haven’t.


Active member
S Magus said:
I'm using AKG K702 and am often struck by the apparent similarity of tone compared to my Harbeths. In fact, to my ears they sound near identical. .... I've listened to some headphones costing three times more than mine and they weren't as natural sounding though they might look and feel flashier.
Thanks for the suggestion. So many headphones that I've tried are way, way from natural sounding, so it's good to have a recommendation for ones that are. I've taken a look at the information for the AKG K702 headphones on AKG's website, and they certainly look like a nice and comfortable pair of headphones. They're an open back design, which seems to be a feature used by the more upmarket headphones that aim for "reference quality". In some ways, the AKG K702 seems to be a bit of competitor to the Sennheiser HD650, albeit one that is about 35% less costly.

S Magus

witwald said:
Thanks for the suggestion...
Pleasure witwald. And a further couple of details of potential value to anyone considering getting a pair of AKG K701/2:

- They used to make them in Austria before moving the manufacturing to China, some 5 or more years ago. The official (website) price is still pegged to the original Austrian costing and is definitely not representative of the current market value for these cans. A boxed pair, on Ebay UK, is currently on offer for £80 and there are many more selling for about £110, new unboxed. This is an absolute steal and I wish I paid that little for my pair. Expect no difference between the Chinese and Austrian version, the latter by this time being unavailable anyway. The two iterations are identical except that ‘Made in Austria’ no longer features on the bottom cup rim of the Chinese version where there is now blank space. (when will this uppity Western prejudice stop?)

- The K712 model (2 x the price of 702 on Ebay) is the one model ‘up’ but only if you consider the boost in the bass region a necessary improvement. Even this difference is merely due softer ear pads (not available to by on their own, although if they were you could put them on your 702s which let you do that - 701s don't). The driver voicing is otherwise the same, the measurement graphs on the web are there to prove it. At one point, a couple of years ago, I was itching for a new pair of headphones and I researched quite a bit on the subject including the Q models (Quincy Jones), now discontinued. In the end I realised that what I had was unlikely to be bettered by another similarly priced, (or any other for that matter?), pair; so for once I was smart enough and kept my money in my pocket and I’m glad I did. The K8XX series, on the other hand, are in a different price bracket completely, and they are aimed at the audiophile, rather than studio mixing, market. I've no experience with them.



I use headphones and IEMs a lot for work (editing), as I'm in many different environments and need to carry my sound with me. For headphones I have a pair of Sony MDR 7506, Audio Technica MX 50x, Grado RS2e, Sennheiser HD 600s - for IEMs a pair of etymotic ER4 SRs and Campfire Audio Andromedas... I'd rather have a pair of Harbeths in front of me, but I only get that luxury when I'm home...
I've found I can match the transparent and neutral nature of Harbeth speakers (SHL5+ & P3ESR) in my second system by using Sennheiser HD800s - I had a pair for 8 years and they have been a very good investment.


I use a pair of Sony WH 1000 XM3, it’s great when I’m on the go. The noise cancellation is good when I fly or take slightly long train trips. Sound quality is acceptable for casual listening.

I’ve been thinking of getting a pair of proper headphones for home use. I did try the Sony MDR-Z7M2 along with the Z1R. What I found was the headphones do give a sense of a quiet listening room but I still find that the sound stage is not like from speakers at home. Headphones are still very ‘left right’ and not ‘up front and center’.

My question is ... is that how headphones sound like or perhaps those I tried are not able to give the sort of soundstage I was hoping for.



New member
I use Sennhiser HD800 and HD540 (Ref II's). I think headphone amp and heaphone cabling makes a big difference. Swapping between the factory and Silver Helix cables makes for a different experience. The 800's are my favourite cans connected to my GSP Solo ULDE and Silver Helix cable. Sound is very detailed, wide soundstage, very clear and natural sound, a little bit bright but i like that, and no colouration. Some people say they are a bit clinical but for me the devil is definitely in the detail.

I do have a wish though when it comes to cans. Harbeth, please make some headphones.