Sealed Headphones

Focal Spirit Classic, Spirit Professional 

Classic & Professional

I love  all the headphones from Focal especially the newer ones. The Spirit One is a very good portable, energetic headphone with excellent transients that have exploding attack and quick decays. However it lacks refinement and the upper midrange is a little recessed, but this is where it’s bigger brothers come in.

Classic and Professional are both better than their smaller brother. While Spirit Professional is a evolution from spirit one, the Classic  seems to be a ramification, being different than it’s brothers but managing to keep the house sound. While Professional has better imaging, transparency and details, Classic has a smooth presentation reminding me of HD650 with added energy, extended treble and a full sound with a wonderful bass that reminds me of Audeze LCD-2. All of these have very good isolation.

I have the classic on my head while writing this. The instruments have such nice tactility and presence that I have the impressions they are inside the cup, especially with drums and guitars. I absolutely love the drums on these!

Spirit Classic is my favorite sealed headphone at the moment. I love them so much I bought a pair for myself!

Focal Spirit One-S

Considering the price it has and the fun factor it brings to the music, I decided to move it up on my preference list. It might not be neutral, and some may consider it under Spirit Professional & Classic, but I love it for it’s deep, impact-full yet very controlled bass,  larger soundstage, more present voices and energy. I sometimes prefer it to the Spirit Classic and Professional.

Focal Spirit One S review (10)

Read the full review here.

The Extinct Denon D7000

P1290112

While this headphone is out of production, you can still buy it second hand from headfi, ebay, etc.  If you can get it at a reasonable price and in a decent condition, it may be a keeper. While sometimes it can sound congested with loose bass and lacking transparency, this is a very fun & energetic headphone with full bodied tonality, very good with vocals. It is also very comfortable and well built. I found it very good for  rock, electronic music, vocals, pop and even some jazz.

Beware that it doesn’t have a very good isolation. Sound bleeds out, but it is a little better than open headphones.

AKG K550

These headphones are very good for their price. It has a very airy and opened sound for a sealed headphone. It also has very good instrument separation & imaging with very good details, fast and punchy bass. The problem with these is that their treble presentation is a little unnatural and presents sibilance. Another issue is that some of us have problems getting a good seal. I had to use a elastic string to keep them in the right position. If you have a good seal and appreciate this type of sound, you may start loving this headphone.

If I wouldn’t have had the seal issue, It would have been higher on my recommendation list, as they are one of the best closed headphones I have heard.

 

Sennheiser Amperior

Very good for portable use. They present an energetic & colored sound with good mid-range and detail extraction. The treble is well extended but sometimes sibilant. It also tends to be congested, but overall it is a very fun headphone.

Even though they are over the ears, they have a very good isolation.

 

Creative Aurvana Live 2

Creative Aurvana Live

I found the new CAL 2 to be quite better than it’s little brother, the Aurvana Live 1, especially if you find a better aftermarket cable.

Even if Live 1 has a more linear sound with more present upper midrange and more linear treble, I must say I wouldn’t look back to CAL1 if I have the newer model. Every time I’ve put the Live 1 on my ears to test it on a song, I’ve started missing the sound from CAL2 that for me is simply better.

I think of it’s sound to be very pleasant with a warm, but more natural tonality than CAL1. All sounds seem more real from guitars to harpischord, piano, voices, etc.

At 130$ the CAL2 has an excellent price/performance ratio. So, I think Creative strikes again, offering excellent performance at a very accessible price.

Read my whole review here.

 

Martin Logan Mikros 90

Martin Logan Mikros 90

These headphones have an excellent treble, a very good transient response, good instrument separation and imaging. I think they are the most transparent sealed headphones I have heard until now.

They have a good isolation, but sometimes it is hard to get the right position on the ears and the seal is too tight. Some may also find them lacking in bass body. Overall I like these headphones very much.

I suggest listening to them before you decide to buy them as they have an unique signature that you may like or hate depending on your tastes.

Sennheiser Momentum

This headphone has a very smooth midrange. It doesn’t have the details from Amperior but it may be very well suited for bass heads. I feel that the bass is very present in this headphone giving a meaty sound and a good slam. It is a very good headphone for rock, pop and some house. However, I feel that it has too much bass for my tastes and it bleeds into other frequencies. They also have a good isolation. Overall, they offer a smooth, refined but engaging sound with lots of bass.

Creative Aurvana Live

CAL

I think the Creative Aurvana Live are the best headphones at that price. They are a re-branding of Denon D1000 which had a price near 200$ in Romania. The CAL is not a very detailed headphone but it is very engaging, musical and smooth. You can listen to music for hours and not get tired with them. They don’t have the best isolation but they are easy to drive and small making them good for portable use. I recommend them to everybody who wants to get into this hobby or just wants to have a good pair of headphones for an excellent price.