Piano World Home Page

Closed v Open Headphones

Posted By: Colin Miles

Closed v Open Headphones - 07/27/19 03:45 PM

When I got my LX7 almost a couple of years ago I also purchased the closed Sennheiser HD 280 pro headphones. They are very comfortable but I got tired of switching them between the piano and the computer. So I bought the open Roland RH-A7 headphones and they certainly seemed better with the piano. So I stuck the Sennheisers on the computer and have been using them there since.

But I have also been playing a LX705 at the local store, first with the Roland then the Sennheiser. And the first time I quite liked the sound, the second time not that much. At the time I thought it might be just me and my ears. So yesterday I experimented by comparing the two, first on my computer and then on the piano. On the computer they were both identical and all the piano samples were good and as I would expect. But with the piano the Sennheiser was just too 'electronic'. - not at all nice, particularly on the concert grand (I used to use the Ballad piano because of this coarseness). So this morning I tried them out on the LX705 with the same result.

Anyone any thoughts as to why these differences?
Posted By: Bruce In Philly

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/27/19 04:22 PM

Just a suggestion.... can you borrow a better headphone and try that on the LX705? Does the store sell more expensive units that you can try?

Full disclosure: I have not heard those headphones. But in my experience, 'phones in that price range are not all the best and what you may be hearing, is the complement/exaggeration of flaws (computer "sound" is a bit of an oxymoron to me). That piano is really nice and should express wonderful sounds. To appreciate those sounds, at a minimum, requires a more quality-oriented headphone to appreciate.

Sometimes a flawed headphone can sound good with a flawed source. For example, if the source produces bad digital sound... bright and hard... and the 'phone has a lazy high end... well they may work well together. This does not mean it is then great sound... for that, a great source, such as that LX705 requires a great 'phone to hear what the engineers really intended.

I am a keyboard hack and a lover of music with a great home audio system I built up over 30 years of tweaking and owning equipment. What happened to me over that journey is that my "ear" grew in understanding sound, and my equipment quality grew. I quickly found out at a young age, that equipment compatibility was very important. I would buy a piece of quality gear and then all of a sudden, something else didn't sound right... or the piece didn't sound as good as it did in the store. You may have hit this trip wire with the Roland LX705... it is exposing flaws in your 'phones. Welcome to the neurosis. But there is good news... if you put some effort into buying stuff that sounds good to you, you will never look back and your playing will connect like it never did before. It will.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Posted By: pwl

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/27/19 05:58 PM

I, too, own those Sennheisers. They're not bad headphones, but they're far from perfect. (It's a trade-off: Sometimes I need a closed back 'phone and so I accept the limitations.) The LX705 is simply exposing some of their flaws.
Posted By: pengi

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/28/19 08:53 AM

Yesterday I went to store, because I am considering buying LX705 or LX-7 and wanted to try the pianos out with my older Sennheiser HD555 open headphones and the LX705 sounded so much better with them. I was very pleased with the audio quality of the piano. When I order the piano, I will have some more time to test the sound for flaws on my headphones, but my ear isn't trained to such extent as Bruce mentioned.
Posted By: Craig Richards

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/28/19 10:01 AM

I own a pair of Sennheiser HD 280 Pros, but mainly use them for minimal-bleed monitoring when recording vocals or live instruments. They are well regarded in the commercial audio world and remote recording applications as having a flat frequency response and respond well with dynamic material, and are well constructed headphones. Like most closed designs, they will sound 'boxy' with a full range instrument such as the piano. Open back designs are definitely the way to go. Much better soundstage & depth, at the expense of audio bleed for anyone else near by. If I want to play my Yamaha CP4 digital piano or sampled pianos with headphones, I use my Yamaha HPH-200 cans. Light & comfortable, with great detail, dynamics & soundstage.
Posted By: Colin Miles

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/28/19 10:28 AM

Originally Posted by Craig Richards
I own a pair of Sennheiser HD 280 Pros, but mainly use them for minimal-bleed monitoring when recording vocals or live instruments. They are well regarded in the commercial audio world and remote recording applications as having a flat frequency response and respond well with dynamic material, and are well constructed headphones. Like most closed designs, they will sound 'boxy' with a full range instrument such as the piano. Open back designs are definitely the way to go. Much better soundstage & depth, at the expense of audio bleed for anyone else near by. If I want to play my Yamaha CP4 digital piano or sampled pianos with headphones, I use my Yamaha HPH-200 cans. Light & comfortable, with great detail, dynamics & soundstage.


Thanks Craig. Makes sense. So always use open headphones on digitals.

Think this is something that should be far more widely known. Neither of my two dealers really knew anything much about headphones, and neither did the prof at the local college who teaches music technology.
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/28/19 04:46 PM

Originally Posted by Craig Richards
If I want to play my Yamaha CP4 digital piano or sampled pianos with headphones, I use my Yamaha HPH-200 cans. Light & comfortable, with great detail, dynamics & soundstage.

You got me interested and I researched a little. Many people praise the 200s but it seems there are also HPH-150 that are specifically made for digital pianos and the customer feedback is also great, especially from digital piano users. Taking in mind I will use them on my N1X, and since it’s pretty much possible that Yamaha also used them while developing their binaural patch, at just €73 I decided to order them from Amazon.
Posted By: Craig Richards

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/29/19 01:59 AM

Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by Craig Richards
I own a pair of Sennheiser HD 280 Pros, but mainly use them for minimal-bleed monitoring when recording vocals or live instruments. They are well regarded in the commercial audio world and remote recording applications as having a flat frequency response and respond well with dynamic material, and are well constructed headphones. Like most closed designs, they will sound 'boxy' with a full range instrument such as the piano. Open back designs are definitely the way to go. Much better soundstage & depth, at the expense of audio bleed for anyone else near by. If I want to play my Yamaha CP4 digital piano or sampled pianos with headphones, I use my Yamaha HPH-200 cans. Light & comfortable, with great detail, dynamics & soundstage.


Thanks Craig. Makes sense. So always use open headphones on digitals.

Think this is something that should be far more widely known. Neither of my two dealers really knew anything much about headphones, and neither did the prof at the local college who teaches music technology.

Glad it helped!
Posted By: Craig Richards

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/29/19 02:00 AM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
Originally Posted by Craig Richards
If I want to play my Yamaha CP4 digital piano or sampled pianos with headphones, I use my Yamaha HPH-200 cans. Light & comfortable, with great detail, dynamics & soundstage.

You got me interested and I researched a little. Many people praise the 200s but it seems there are also HPH-150 that are specifically made for digital pianos and the customer feedback is also great, especially from digital piano users. Taking in mind I will use them on my N1X, and since it’s pretty much possible that Yamaha also used them while developing their binaural patch, at just €73 I decided to order them from Amazon.


Good move Gene. These Yamaha headphones are great value.
Posted By: jamiecw

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/29/19 08:03 AM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
... HPH-150.... and since it’s pretty much possible that Yamaha also used them while developing their binaural patch, at just €73 I decided to order them from Amazon.


CC, I'd be keen to hear your review/thoughts on these as I am in search for some decently priced openback headphones. As I already have the HPH-MT5s which I think sound awesome on the P515 CFX (albeit tight on the head and cannot wear them for too long) the 150s might be the answer.
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/29/19 08:52 AM

Originally Posted by jamiecw
Originally Posted by CyberGene
... HPH-150.... and since it’s pretty much possible that Yamaha also used them while developing their binaural patch, at just €73 I decided to order them from Amazon.


CC, I'd be keen to hear your review/thoughts on these as I am in search for some decently priced openback headphones. As I already have the HPH-MT5s which I think sound awesome on the P515 CFX (albeit tight on the head and cannot wear them for too long) the 150s might be the answer.

I'll let you know, I'm also interested in those since they are marketed as "Open-air headphones with a neutral tone that is ideal for listening to digital musical instruments... Optimally tuned for listening to electronic musical instruments"

What I'm a bit worried is they are on-ear rather than around-the-ear but I've previously used on-ear (I grew up with a Philips walkman and its stock headphones) and can't remember having any discomfort. I also remember I had a pair of no-brand €5 on-ear headphones I bought from a supermarket long ago and they were great with my Yamaha P90 and then Roland RD-700SX, however I broke them by accident and I couldn't find them anymore and started testing so many other headphones (closed and open, cheap and expensive) with no luck until I finally bought a €150 Sennheiser HD-595-s. But it's still amusing to me that it was possible to have excellent sound with a digital piano from the cheapest possible on-ear headphones shocked
Posted By: jamiecw

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/29/19 09:43 AM

Originally Posted by CyberGene

What I'm a bit worried is they are on-ear rather than around-the-ear but I've previously used on-ear (I grew up with a Philips walkman and its stock headphones) and can't remember having any discomfort. I also remember I had a pair of no-brand €5 on-ear headphones I bought from a supermarket long ago and they were great with my Yamaha P90 and then Roland RD-700SX, however I broke them by accident and I couldn't find them anymore and started testing so many other headphones (closed and open, cheap and expensive) with no luck until I finally bought a €150 Sennheiser HD-595-s. But it's still amusing to me that it was possible to have excellent sound with a digital piano from the cheapest possible on-ear headphones shocked


Well I am not surprised at all either - only last week I bought a cheap pair of Philips SHP1900 to use because I needed something that I can wear for longer than 45 mins when practicing and these are so light I hardly feel them around my head and lo and behold they don't sound half bad either considering they were £18.

Yes they feel like £18 worth and they just manage to sit around the ear although if they were a few cm bigger they'd fit totally around the ear but due to the light weight and they don't clamp the head they score high on my list. They are also neutral with a small bias towards making the sound warmer but not bass-ey at all. Hard to believe but I am rocking this all day long than the expensive MT5s now.
Posted By: dire tonic

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/31/19 01:27 PM

Feeling some discomfort using over-ear cans during this recent heatwave I decided to try out the Yamaha HPH150. As chance would have it, amazon.uk were selling the white a couple of days ago for £41 although there was something very weird about their pricing; while allegedly "only 2 left", as soon as I hit "buy" the remaining pair went up to match the price of the black, now £75 – of course I’m not complaining. But having tried them, I’d pay the higher price - these sound fantastic, both for piano and general music listening too. I'm comparing these with AKG K702, Sennheiser 580 and 595. I'd say the Yamaha have a cleaner less veiled top-end similar to the AKGs. Bass is nice and free of boom. Listening to percussion, I'm hearing detail in the Yamaha's that's lacking in the 595's.

They look cheap and have a fairly thin cable so won't stand up to rough treatment but they're VERY comfortable at 140grms/155 with cable. They're easy to drive going beyond the pain threshold on my UR22 but still clean.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/31/19 01:56 PM

I honestly don't know what a perfect headphone is, or the prefect sound.

Anyway, I used to use the HD 280 pro with the piano, but then changed to the 598Cs. I then changed to the HD 650 (Open), and use the 598Cs with my computer and on the airplane. The HD 280 pros just sit in a draw, and they are banged up. Muffs need to be replaced. I like the 650 over the 280. The 280s sound nasally to me, if that is even a word. This topic is interesting as i think most people (including myself), hear stuff that doesn't exist ...
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/31/19 02:16 PM

This was exactly my impression of the 280.
Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I used to use the HD 280 pro. ... The 280s sound nasally to me, if that is even a word.
Sound was bad. But also ... head-clamping was bad. Nasty.

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I think most people (including myself), hear stuff that doesn't exist ...
Well, some people see things that don't exist.
"I see dead people."
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/31/19 02:19 PM

Originally Posted by dire tonic
Feeling some discomfort using over-ear cans during this recent heatwave I decided to try out the Yamaha HPH150. As chance would have it, amazon.uk were selling the white a couple of days ago for £41 although there was something very weird about their pricing; while allegedly "only 2 left", as soon as I hit "buy" the remaining pair went up to match the price of the black, now £75 – of course I’m not complaining. But having tried them, I’d pay the higher price - these sound fantastic, both for piano and general music listening too. I'm comparing these with AKG K702, Sennheiser 580 and 595. I'd say the Yamaha have a cleaner less veiled top-end similar to the AKGs. Bass is nice and free of boom. Listening to percussion, I'm hearing detail in the Yamaha's that's lacking in the 595's.

They look cheap and have a fairly thin cable so won't stand up to rough treatment but they're VERY comfortable at 140grms/155 with cable. They're easy to drive going beyond the pain threshold on my UR22 but still clean.

That's promising, thanks for your mini-review. Mine will arrive in the next days and I'm eager to compare them to my HD-595-s which are now the headphones I use with the N1X.
Posted By: bSharp(C)yclist

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 07/31/19 02:42 PM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
This was exactly my impression of the 280.
Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I used to use the HD 280 pro. ... The 280s sound nasally to me, if that is even a word.
Sound was bad. But also ... head-clamping was bad. Nasty.


I'm glad it's just not me then. Perhaps I don't hear dead people after all ;0
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 11:44 AM

My Yamaha HPH-150 arrived. As I said, they are marketed as made for electronic instruments and in particular digital pianos. They are on-the-ear. I compared them side by side to my Sennheiser HD-595 on the N1X. My very first impression is they are slightly V-shaped, the middle bass is a bit pronounced and there is sibilance to the high notes. I don't quite like that frown In a matter of few minutes I get used to it, but when i switch to the HD595 it's a relief, the Sennheiser makes it so even, balanced and smooth. All at all, they are not bad and would work, maybe depending on the actual digital piano or software that's used but I prefer the HD595-s much more. Makes me re-appreciate them.

P.S. The HPH-150 are comfortable and make my ears less sweaty than the over-the-ear headphones.

P.P.S. Tried the HPH-150 on the reface CP and they work great for the electric pianos, the thick bass and bright highs are perfect.
Posted By: jamiecw

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 12:15 PM

Cheers CG - a bit surprised to hear this v-shaped sound - according to the source link below - v-shaped sound excels in:

What type of music does a “V-shaped” headphone excel in?

Basically, music genres that tend to have more lows and highs such as Hip hop, pop, modern rock and EDM. The boost that V-shaped headphones give to these types of music is significantly stronger than others.

On the flip side, genres like classical, indie rock and bluegrass which have a more balanced low, mids and highs will sound lackluster. The audio sounds slightly hollower on a V-shaped headphones and tends to get lost in the mix.

source: https://www.headphonesty.com/2017/01/v-shaped-sound-signature-mean/

Which means for playing classical music on a DP (which Yamaha state the HPH-150s are for digital keyboards) will fall short...shame, they looked promising..
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 12:25 PM

It's not the typical V-shaped sound that's indeed best for hip-hop, etc. It's a very slight V-shaped sound but I can still notice it in comparison to HD-595. I'm not saying they are bad. I could adapt in a matter of minutes and they were OK afterwards. However I prefer HD-595. And it would be just a matter of taste. I've heard people loving ATH-M50x on their digital pianos and those are much more V-shaped. I'm not sure who recommended to me the HD-595-s in this forum many years ago but I thank him again smile
Posted By: Craig Richards

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 12:37 PM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
It's not the typical V-shaped sound that's indeed best for hip-hop, etc. It's a very slight V-shaped sound but I can still notice it in comparison to HD-595. I'm not saying they are bad. I could adapt in a matter of minutes and they were OK afterwards. However I prefer HD-595. And it would be just a matter of taste. I've heard people loving ATH-M50x on their digital pianos and those are much more V-shaped. I'm not sure who recommended to me the HD-595-s in this forum many years ago but I thank him again smile

My suggestion is give them some 'burn in' time. When I first used my Yamaha HPH-200 headphones I didn't like them. They sounded veiled and 'woolly' sounding with a pretty brittle top end. But after using them more and more they are becoming favourites. Maybe it's my ears adjusting to them, but I've experienced the 'burn in' improvements (more balanced, smoother and better depth) on numerous speakers and headphones in the past.
Posted By: U3piano

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 12:59 PM

Even when open back is probably better, I think I prefer closed back headphones simply because i don't want to be distracted by sound around me.

I use a pair of $35 superlux closed back headphones and i think they are great. Sound is "flat" to me, i can't play piano with bass/trebly heavy headphones. If they ever break i might try the same but open back model to see if that's even better.
Posted By: Bruce In Philly

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 02:37 PM

Just an observation here..... regarding open vs closed. OK, I am going to get flamed here... but here goes...

1 - At "low prices" say sub-$100, the design aspects, construction, marketing copy etc. are pretty meaningless. The tonality quality of a particular design aspect will be drowned in cheapness.
2 - If isolation is important, then of course an over-the-ear, closed back unit becomes important
3 - If sound quality is important, you really should disregard these design aspects as some sort of way of eliminating phones from concideration. You really must listen to them.. there are so many design aspects that when it comes to tonality and presentation, closed vs open is just not that important... even in more expensive equipment. Don't limit yourself or over-emphasis some of these single aspects.

For home audio, I swore I would never buy a ported speaker ever as they have design challenges to overcome. Today, I own ported Focal speakers... just beautiful. It is less the "design" and more the detailed engineering that makes good sound.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 02:47 PM

Open vs. closed is a non-issue for me. I hate closed phones. They're intolerable, both for sound and for comfort.
Posted By: LarryK

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 03:01 PM

The headphone war rages on.

I think the best thing about an acoustic piano is playing it without headphones. What a relief to not have to wear any headphones. So, I say a pox on both houses, closed and open.

I know, this is the digital piano forum, carry on. Sorry for the interruption.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 03:12 PM

Originally Posted by LarryK
I think the best thing about an acoustic piano is playing it without headphones. What a relief to not have to wear any headphones. So, I say a pox on both houses, closed and open.

I’ll only trade my HD800’s in for a working Cone of Silence

Posted By: LarryK

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 03:18 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by LarryK
I think the best thing about an acoustic piano is playing it without headphones. What a relief to not have to wear any headphones. So, I say a pox on both houses, closed and open.

I’ll only trade my HD800’s in for a working Cone of Silence



Haha, you know, I think you could install a cone of silence in your apartment. Haven’t you been in court where the judge used a cone of silence?

I’m just amazed the cops aren’t pounding on my door. Arrest the piano player, I can hear people shouting.

I mentioned that my teacher’s downstairs neighbors call her to check on her if they don’t hear her piano. I think they offer to bring up food. There are a lot of Russians in her building. If things get bad here, I’ll move into the Russian apartment house. They’ve had worse than piano practice.
Posted By: newer player

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 04:30 PM

Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
1 - At "low prices" say sub-$100, the design aspects, construction, marketing copy etc. are pretty meaningless. The tonality quality of a particular design aspect will be drowned in cheapness.

Disagree. I think there are some fine headphones for under $100. For example, the Sennheiser 559 which is essentially similar to most other 5** models. Audio Technica 700x. The famous Sony closed backed 7506. Etc.

Originally Posted by newer player
The Sennheiser folks, using a tactic popular with other consumer goods makers, recycle the 5-series headphones in a baffling number of iterations to confuse the consumer. I know these 5-series headphones are well liked and very popular here for digitial piano use. For listening to classical music or Jazz these are not my favourites. YMMV.

Basically the 5-series are the same around-ear headphone with some minor tweaks (e.g. color, metal grille, additional short cables & adapters, inline mic, added "foam tape","exclusive" Amazon model, etc.). The two closed end models have modified drivers.

I think this table gives a reasonable idea of what Senn is selling although it is not complete (USD list prices)

559_______$99__Open__50Ω_108dB_1cable
569_______$179_Closed_23Ω_115dB_2cables&Mic
579_______$199_Open__50Ω_106dB_1cable&3.5mm adapter
599_______$249_Open__50Ω_106dB_2cables&3.5mm adapter

_"Amazon edition or factory website only"
598CS_____$249_Closed_23Ω_115dB_2cables
598SR_____$249_Open__50Ω_112dB_2cables&3.5mm adapter

Some of the lower-priced models have a small strip of foam tape to "boost bass" and "mess up higher fq". That foam tape was included in the 559 and 579 but excluded from the 599. Just remove the 3cm tape for a free "upgrade":

https://www.headfonia.com/sennheisers-new-hd558-and-hd598/3/

https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the-foam-mod-lives-on-the-sennheiser-hd-5x9-lineup.853644/
Posted By: Bruce In Philly

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/13/19 05:18 PM

I didn't imply anything about being "fine" or good or bad. My point is that at that price point, there are so many compromises being made by engineering to hit such a low cost that worrying about one aspect of design is a useless exercise. A useless exercise in helping you find a "fine" headphone.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Posted By: robinlb

Re: Closed v Open Headphones - 08/14/19 12:56 AM

I like open headphone, and HPH200 too. It's comfortable, lightweight and acceptable sound quality with reasonable price.
It's not a real HIFI headphone but very suitable for DP. I can play with it for long time without fatigue.
Im satisfied this choice 4years ago after comparing, and looking forward an upgrade model coming out.
© 2019 Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums