PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Headphone 50mm Drivers

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Price history for Philips Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Open-Air Headphone - Black
Latest updates:
  • $125.99 - April 13, 2024
  • $118.99 - February 27, 2024
  • $107.09 - February 21, 2024
Since: February 21, 2024
  • Highest Price: $125.99 - April 13, 2024
  • Lowest Price: $107.09 - February 21, 2024
Last Amazon price update was: June 22, 2024 22:35
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PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Headphone 50mm Drivers
PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Headphone 50mm Drivers

PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Headphone 50mm Drivers Price History

Price History for Philips Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Open-Air Headphone - Black


Current Price $125.99 June 22, 2024
Highest Price $125.99 April 13, 2024
Lowest Price $107.09 February 21, 2024
Since February 21, 2024

Last price changes

$125.99 April 13, 2024
$118.99 February 27, 2024
$107.09 February 21, 2024

PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Headphone 50mm Drivers Description

Experience High-Fidelity Sound Quality

The PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Open-Air Headphone is equipped with 50mm drivers to deliver an exceptionally clear and precise sound, so that you can hear every note as it was created. Plus, the acoustic open-back design maximizes sonic transparency for a natural and lifelike soundscape that ensures all music is reproduced with absolute fidelity. Whether you’re streaming from your favorite playlist or listening to your vinyl collection, expect to experience deep bass and crystal-clear treble for an immersive music experience.

Exceptional Comfort

Featuring ultra-soft velour headband cushion and over-ear pads, the PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR headphone delivers luxurious comfort for extended use. The breathable design won’t make your ears sweat, so you can enjoy wearing your headphones for hours on end without being bogged down by fatigue. Plus, the lightweight construction won’t put too much pressure on your head or earlobes, so you can stay focused on your work or music without the added weight.

Freestanding Design

The PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Open-Air Headphone offers easy storage and portability with its unique freestanding design. You can fold the headphones flat at the headband for easier storage and transport, so that you can take your headphones anywhere with you. Plus, thanks to its swiveling ear shells, you can switch effortlessly between solo and shared listening modes.

Stainless Steel Hinges

Boasting stainless steel hinges that are both durable and adjustable, the PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR ensures a secure fit and a perfect fit for your head. Combined with the ergonomic ear shells and plush padding, you can enjoy wearing your headphones for hours without feeling uncomfortable or fatigued.

• 50mm Neodymium drivers
• Acoustic open-back design
• Ultra-soft velour headband cushion
• Over-ear pads
• Breathable construction
• Lightweight design
• Freestanding design
• Swiveling ear shells
• Stainless steel hinges
• Ergonomic ear shells
• Plush padding

PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Headphone 50mm Drivers Specification

Specification: PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Headphone 50mm Drivers

Item Weight

13.4 ounces

Item model number



1 CR2 batteries required.

Is Discontinued By Manufacturer


Date First Available

October 1, 2018


Philips Audio


1.0 Count

Number Of Items


Cable Length

3 Meters

PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Headphone 50mm Drivers Videos

PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Headphone 50mm Drivers Reviews (7)

7 reviews for PHILIPS Fidelio X2HR Headphone 50mm Drivers

4.7 out of 5
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  1. Hilkias adachi Araújo

    To celebrate my 100 newly acquired Leonard Bernstein CDs (a la ‘The Remastered Leonard Bernstein’ box set) I decided to invest in new headphones.
    The old pair (the make of which I’m too embarrassed to publicly admit) must surely have had an inbuilt ear blanket!
    All of a sudden I can hear music as I now think it should be heard.
    And so, on with Bernstein, and I’ll report back in five years once I’ve resurfaced.

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  2. 1Dub79

    In the past year, I have gone through a long list of headphones and headsets. I finally, got down to two. The first, was the infamous, most talked-about, reviewed and beloved, Philips SHP9500. I bought them because I heard so much about them. However, they were discontinued for the longest time. Then, I got the Sennheiser HD58X Jubilee, which is very similar to the HD660 S. Those are definitely keepers. Then, I was hearing about the other superb, but more expensive headphones, made by Philips, which is the Fidelio X2HR. At its current price, I had to get them. I decided to add another set of headphones to my collection. Also, I was curious to see how they would compare to the SHP9500. Would the upgrade be worth it?

    DESIGN: Overall, the design of the Fidelio X2HR is basic, but kinda cool at the same time. The headband is made of dual-metal tubing, which is covered with a genuine leather strap with Philips Fidelio, etched on top. Underneath the headband is a self-adjusting hammock, made of breathable 3D mesh. The ear cups are made of plastic. In addition, the speakers are made of aluminum mesh, which resembles a microphone. The ear cushions are over-the-ear and made of a nice, thick and breathable velvet. While the velvet is nice and comfortable, they are magnets for lent.

    SOUND: The drivers of the Fidelio X2HR are 50mm, which is large. The frequency response is an outstanding, 5-40,000 Hz, which of course, is Hi-Res Audio. The impedance is 30 ohms. For PS4 gamers, 30 ohms is low enough for the controller to drive the headphones with the controller volume set to max. The maximum input power is 500mW, which is high enough to handle the power from a DAC or amp. Overall, the performance of the rivals my HD58X Jubilees, but is a bit better than the SHP9500. Give or take a few specs, between the two.

    I tested the performance of the Fidelio X2HR while playing various shooters on PS4 Pro and one on PS3. The first sound test was done while playing Call Of Duty Black Ops 4. The best map, which showcases the performance of the best is Nuketown. The sound from the Fidelio X2HR, gave perhaps the clearest and most authentic sound I have heard, while gaming. I have never experienced anything like this when using a headset or headphones. The bass is powerful, tight, crisp and detailed. Good sub-bass, as well. I would say, the clarity of the bass is similar to listening to a soundbar with a subwoofer. The treble is loud but heard with crispness and ample, clarity from all angles with no overwhelming, harshness for my ears. The lows, mids, and highs, are very balanced and distinguishable if that makes sense. Out of curiosity, some may want to know how the Fidelio X2HR compares to the SHP9500. So, i a nutshell comparison, the SHP9500 has inconsistent bass. The sub-bass is non-existent. The treble is good but can be a bit harsh. The lows are good, but not great. The mids rival the Fidelio X2HR. The highs can be a bit grainy. The imaging is good, but not accurate, as the soundstage is a bit airy.

    Back to discussing the Fidelio X2HR. Superb, tight and open soundstage. Great imaging. These headphones handle directional sounds, extremely well. With that said, I could hear the dialogue of nearby teammates, enemies, and other random sounds, throughout the map to the left and right of me with precision and clarity. I knew, EXACTLY, what was going on and EXACTLY, where the action was taking place on the map. It seems the sound magnifies toward when hearing sounds in a different direction. For example, each time my character looks in one direction, the sound increasingly amplifies in the direction and less in the opposite direction, where lesser actions were taking place. If my character, looks straight ahead, all sounds can be heard, equally. Of course, the fact that these headphones are open-back is the reason for this experience. The most impressive experience was hearing how loud and clear the explosions were, whether far away or nearby. Explosions gave a surprising, loud, clean, and crisp, sound.

    I must say, the Fidelio X2HR picks up subtle sounds with no effort, thanks to the headphones lows. Hearing shells hit the floor, coming from a blasting shotgun is addictive to listen to, strangely. On the Morocco map, outside of hearing the common sounds, during game-play, I could hear the subtle, clinking and breakage of pottery being kicked around, while traversing the area. I could barely hear this with other headsets, but in more abundance with the Fidelio X2HR. The unbelievable sound of crunching, as my character was trampling through the deep snow, cracking of the ice or sounds of moving water, while swimming on the Icebreaker map. Once, my character, Battery, ran inside of an open-ended bay of the Summit map. Battery was communicating, while outside and finished talking, while going inside of the bay. There was an echo of Battery’s voice while speaking inside of that open-ended bay. The authenticity of the echo was unbelievable and nearly, scary. The voices of the characters, sound crystal clear. Of course, I am sure, some are wondering about footsteps. Well, the Fidelio X2HR picks up footsteps on Call Of Duty Black Ops 4, VERY well. I have been able to get the drop on enemies while ducking for cover and waiting on them to search for me.

    The second sound test was done, while playing Rainbow Six Siege, which is another outstanding game to test some headphones on, considering the nature of the game. Using the right headphones can be essential to survival. Anyhow, my character, Ash, sent the drone around the area. The White Masks could clearly be heard, shuffling back and forth, while crouched in cover positions, waiting to attack. Of course, this gave away their positions because of the sound, let her know exactly, where they were. Footsteps of roving patrols could be heard, very clearly. Plus, hearing how close and how distant he was from her position while taking his patrol routes. The White Masks could be heard, communicating with each other, while waiting in their cover positions. In addition, I could hear my character’s footsteps getting louder or softer, depending on movement speed. Knowing this, lets you know, when to move slowly, as your footsteps can also, be heard by the enemy. Breaching a wall was like, music to my ears. Not only was the sound of the explosion, impressive, but hearing the debris crash to the floor was impressive, as well.

    The final test was done, while playing Medal Of Honor Warfighter was a pleasant surprise, considering the game came out in 2012 for the last-gen, PS3. However, the game has DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Digital Surround, making for a good game to test. I was able to hear sounds, which I never heard, when I was last playing on a consistent basis, previously. The sounds were a bit louder than the other two games, which I tested, but clear. The directional sound is brought out the most when testing the while playing. For example, one of the AI teammates was firing an M249 SAW, during a gunfight. My character, Stump was getting fired upon. Therefore, he grabbed cover and happened to get next to his AI teammate. The gunfire was loud, which almost sounded like I was next to someone at a real firing range. Picture the sound of being next to someone, who is shooting a light machine gun. Anyhow, as I stepped further away, I did not hear the gunfire, as loudly. The attention to detail was unbelievable. The explosions from blasts of thrown grenades or breaching a door were loud, clear and very, realistic-sounding. Hearing dialogue from AI teammates was loud and clear. In fact, I heard the dialogue, which I had not heard, when I previously played a few years, ago. Small and subtle sounds were picked up, like a vacuum. I could hear them, clearly, whether stepping on some broken glass, a wood floor, a puddle of water or grass. Overall, I would say the sound test for Medal Of Honor Warfighter rivals the sound test for Rainbow Six Siege, which is impressive.

    MIC (OPTIONAL): An external mic, such as a V-Moda Boom Mic Pro will have to be purchased to utilize, while online gaming. The prices vary. I own a V-Moda Boom Mic Pro, but I have not tried this yet. I do know, with one attached, it should perform exceptionally well.

    VERDICT: Overall, the Philips X2HR is a great headset. For the past year, when constantly, hearing about these, I was wondering, if these were worth an upgrade over the beloved, SHP9500. Never in my wildest dreams, I would ever think Philips would make such outstanding headphones. Not to mention, the price was reduced to $148.99. With that being said, I would advise anyone looking for a headset to pick these up, just in case the price goes back up. Despite the praise, unfortunately, I reluctantly had to return these, as the headphones became heavy on my head after using. Not to mention, the sound, gave me headaches. Plus, the velvet caused the back of my head to itch. Still, they are superb headphones. They just are not for ME.

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  3. 1Dub79

    Antes de adquirir estes fones, eu estava usando AKG e SHURE na mesma faixa de preço. Gostava deles, mas agora sinto que o PHILIPS X2hr está num patamar superior em termos de qualidade sonora. A pressão que ele exerce na cabeça torna-o um pouco menos confortável de usar que o AKG e o SHURE, mas isso é plenamente compensado pela qualidade sonora superior. Quem aprecia boa música, principalmente música clássica, não vai se arrepender de adquirir esse produto.

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  4. Amazon Customer

    Os dois

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  5. Amazon Customer

    Great set of headphones, especially at their current price. The only thing they lack is deep bass, for my ears, BUT that allows the listener to hear the rest of the curve better. Crystal clear listening for little coin!

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  6. Jessica

    Intro: So if your wondering if these are worth it… they are. If you want more details on why then keep reading. If you want my opinion on a certain aspect of the headphone then scroll down to the paragraph over what you want to know about. I’ve got them all labeled.

    Build: Overall these a built extremely well. There is a bit of plastic, but any part that’s going to be under stress is excessive built up with only metal parts. Unless your beating these with a bat I’d expect the electronics to give out long before something snaps or something. It feels very good in the hands. The only issue I have with the build is that they are extremely oversized. The top of the headband to the bottom of the ear cups is about 9”. It’ll look oversized on nearly everyone’s head. That said I don’t think it’s a big deal, because your not going to be wearing them out and about as they’re open back. So overall I’d give these about a 9 outta 10 for build as they’re built like a tank and look great off the head, but are oversized when your actually wearing them.

    Comfort: I gave these a 4 outta 5 for comfort, but that said, these things are stupid comfy. Most people will probably be able to wear these for around 6 hours straight without ear relief. I’m really happy with the pads. They’re ultra thick, lined with microfiber, and made outta memory foam (a material I love). It’s like having a pillow around your ears and will blow your mind if all you’ve ever felt are fake leather pads. They’re so big around and deep that a lot of people’s actual ears won’t actually touch any part of the headphone. They’re also very light weight which helps. Now they loose a star due to their mesh hammock suspension system on the headband. This means that the headphone is always ever so slightly pulling down on your head with extra pressure. It’s very slight and it’s distributed across the entire top of the head but it does feel nice when you go to take them off. Also the clamp force is a bit tighter than I woulda liked to compensate for the mesh system but it’s not that bad. They’re still very good in the comfort department, understand I’m being very nit picky, but I’m sticking to my 4 stars, which translates to an 8 outta 10 for my rating on comfort.

    Packaging: Good enough. 10 outta 10.

    Parts in the box: Pretty simple. You get the headphones, some papers, a clip thing for managing the cord, a 3mm to 1/4” adaptor, and the cord which has 3mm on both ends. The cord is the nicest I currently own. It’s very thick and it’s got that soft weave around it. It’s never got tangled and is also excessively long. I don’t know how it could get much better. Im going to give the stuff in the box a 9 outta 10 rating, because I really would have liked a case of some sort, even if it was just like a soft case it would be nice to have something to store, transport, and keep the dust off the headphones.

    Sound: The most important aspect to any headphone is the sound in my opinion. So I’m a noob audiophile and this is probably only the 4th product I’ve listened too that is actually hi-if quality. I ordered the 1 More Tripple Drivers to compare with these and sent them back as I preferred the X2s. The other headphones I own to compare these too are the Sennheiser 558s. I’ve also heard a great speaker system. If your curious I was powering these off an Oppo HA-2 from my IPhone using MP3 files (I know, I‘m scum to not use FLAC🤙).
    Highs- It was quite good. The detail was equal to my 558s but the X2s the weren’t as impactful and organic sounding as the Sennheisers were. The highs were definitely better than the 1 More Tripple Drivers (over ears) although those were definitely better for cymbals. Overall clarity for like upper guitar and female vocals definitely go to the X2s. That said I don’t care very much about highs as I mostly listen to alternative an rock with mostly male vocals. If highs are a priority of yours I’d advise you to check out something from Senheiser, maybe the 58X, as they’re known for having great dynamic top end resolution from what I’ve read and heard.
    Midds: The midds are actually better than I expected. They’re not as recessed I expected from reviews and have good detail and clarity. Again my 558s definitely win over the X2s here as vocals and guitar chords hit with a lot more impact and there is slightly better detail on those to my ear, but it’s close. The midds are miles ahead of the 1 More Tripples as those sound quite a bit muddy from being closed and balanced in a lot more of a V sound than the X2s. So overall the midds leave some to be desired but are better than I expected.
    Bass- So this is why I bought this headphone and is definitely what they do best. The bass and sub bass is most likely the best for the price period. It’s very clear
    and goes really low. What surprised me most about the base is how little of it there is. I’m not a bass head so this doesn’t bother me, that and my HA-2 has a bass boost setting which got the base to more of a level I expected. The 1 More Tripples had noticeably more bass than these, but the X2s was drastically cleaner and didn’t muddy the other frequencies thanks to it being open back. If your listening for the bass it’s there and you won’t be dissatisfied; but it doesn’t shove it up your neck like Beats do and ruin the music. Especially if you listen to songs where the base is well separated and distinct from the highs in the recording, the X2s will play it fantastic. Overall if you want the best bass currently under $150, look no further.
    As a whole I give the sound 10 outta 10. Although sound is something that can always be improved upon, its sound almost definitely hits above its price especially in the bass department.

    Overall: I purchased this headphone as a fun headphone for the days I want a bit more bass than my 558s can offer. Not only do they fulfill that role in my growing collection perfectly, but they’re balanced well enough that I’d also recommend them as a stand alone daily driver for music, movies, games, and what not. These would be a great entry into Hi-Fi headphones if your new to the Audiophile world and would probably be the best headphones you’ve ever heard. I mean they destroy any wireless Beats, Sony, or Bose headphones, even the $300 ones in sound. They can be driven off anything, so you could use them with a phone, computer, game controller, etc. If you want them for gaming I know that Sennheiser has a pair of gaming at around the same price that’s going to be better if your really competitive and only want to use them for gaming. But these will make gunshots and explosions sound cooler due to deeper bass and are much more versatile resulting sound better for music and movies. The X2s will sound better than any skull candy or consumer grade gaming headset. You can add a mod mic for about $30 for multiplayer games, but these will beat out or match just about anything besides more expensive audiophile products for single player games. As I said earlier, they’re great for movies again due to that bass which really adds energy to explosions and makes a soundtrack with nice deep dark notes sound sick. As previously mentioned they’re overall great for music especially if you want good bass although other headphones in this price range will beat out the X2s in the highs and midds. But considering overall quality, sound, comfort, and price; Id rate the X2s at around a 9.7 outta 10. They are really a great value especially as they’re price seems to be slowly dropping (it’s currently about $120 new) and even the most critical Audiophile is probably going to be happy with these for the money. If you made it this far thanks so much for reading. I hope my input was helpful. It really blows my mind that anyone would read all this so I really appreciate it. If anyone who read it is really experienced in the Audiophile realm, I would love it if you left a reply critiquing how well I reviewed the sound.
    I will probably update this review a good couple months from now once they’ve been fully burnt in and I’ll cover soundstage and imagery in that. Thanks again for reading what I have to say, have a wonderful day and go enjoy some music. 🎶 🎧

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  7. Jonno

    I’m only going to briefly refer to these headphones half-way down this review, they just weren’t for me. If you want an in-depth review of the X2HR’s I can’t provide it, but I did own two pairs of the X2HR’s, both returned (so a 3 star rating is quite generous); maybe read through and see what I chose instead…

    Mainly from the point of view of studio work and on-the-road mixing/mastering/performing, though also with a nod to home listening pleasure, this is comparative review of the following closed-back headphones (that can be driven without an additional amp!)…

    Yamaha HPH-MT5
    Yamaha HPH-MT8
    Beyerdynamic DT770 80ohm
    Audio Technica ATH-A990Z

    & two sets that I wont refer to much, due not to any manufacturing fault but to inadequate sonic quality for my purposes…

    Philips Fidelio X2HR (the only open-back here)
    AKG K550 MkIII



    To quickly list my preferred headphones in terms of purpose :

    MONITORING : (here forward treble is useful to check hiss and sibilance, and forward bass for stage thumps, etc)
    1. MT8 (extra brilliance reveals hiss, mics rubbing on clothing, high-freq accurate syncing of instruments etc)
    2. DT770 (emphasises sibilance – which so can be avoided before recording, recessive mids an issue -vocals sound distant – though when recording asking your vocals to be closer to the mic is not usually a bad thing).

    MASTERING : (here a flat freq response or slightly hi-fi speaker colouration of EQ is useful)
    1. MT5 (most monitor-speaker like though a dip in the mid-highs, great for mastering and listening, lacks some microscope clarity, may result in a brighter mix)
    2. MT8 (critical and open, lacks some bass though overall v.useful flat freq response, highs a tad too forward for enjoyable listening, may result in a darker mix with over generous bass)
    3. DT770 (critical, high freq bump at sibilance freq may result in flatter mastering of voice details)

    LISTENING : (depends on the sound signature that gives you pleasure, generally non-fatiguing and full)
    1. MT5 (slightly darker than A990Z – yet more powerful and detailed, mids can shout, portable)
    2. A990Z (open soundstage perfect for classical music, mids can shout, somewhat confusing, not portable)
    3. X2HR (open soundstage, enjoyable, forgiving, not portable)
    4. DT770 (may need a headphone amp, sibilance issue will be fatiguing, can bridge the gap between the studio and listening pleasure, not portable)
    5. MT8 (detailed and bright, portable)

    Depending on which way you look at this :

    The MT8’s are a flatter freq response more analytical version of the DT770’s, the DT770’s are a more open soundscape version of the MT8’s but with a loss of mid presence and a sibilance freq bump. MT8 : “I dissect”, DT770 “I reveal”.

    The A990Z’a are a more distant, softer, open soundscape version of the MT5’s. The MT5’s are a more powerfully defined, faster, ‘aggressive’ and closer sounding version of the A990Z’s. A990Z : “I sit back”, MT5 : “I’m there”.



    In a subjective realm I’ve tried to be objective as possible – which does require lengthy descriptions, this may be more information than you require but in terms of describing these headphones I hope it helps. It does though depend on what you require and if you believe – unrealistically – there is an ideal headphone out there!

    Mainly in order of preference…

    MT5 : good for : Mastering, Monitoring and Listening. Overall frequency signature similar to the A990Z’s. The closest to the overall presentation of my Neumann K120 studio-monitor speakers, though with a couple of minor dips.

    HIGHS : detailed, calm, not elevated or gratingly ‘hi-fi’ / ‘club-fi’. Have a slightly woody quality, won’t cause you any pain – so you can turn them up, not fatiguing at all. Actually the closest to my studio-monitor speakers. In terms of final mastering as the highs are a touch dark – almost like you’ve connected them to a tube amp – but not soft in any way, just less clinically up-front (and less clashy) than others here. They may not reach far enough up to analyse recorded hiss, over 10kHz they start to fall away (while the MT8’s are reaching their peak) – but otherwise very even and clear. Mastered result are good though may contain hiss. If you value slightly over-present sizzling highs in a headphone, these may not be the ticket for you. Actually the A990Z highs are best placed of this whole group – though don’t have the detail of the MT8’s.

    HIGH-MIDS : as well as not quite reaching far enough up to analyse recorded hiss there is a dip in the ‘low-highs’ or ‘high-mids’ around 4kHz. That said the highs don’t seem odd in any way, they are just slightly dark as a result – but still and detailed.

    MIDS : forward and detailed. There is a downside to forward mids in a closed-back headphone,
    they can shout / project resonation at high volumes, if fact I almost enjoy it – it energises the cartilage in my nose – really does! Thus there is a slight W shape to the freq response, raised at the ends and the centre – and with corresponding dips between (but don’t let this worry you, it’s fairly healthy, far better than a V shape).

    LOWS : v.powerful, defined and tight, might even say these have the most satisfactory bass of this group. Aggressive thwacks hit v.powerfully and cleanly, impressive.

    V.LOW : present though under 50Hz they dip just below the strength of the mids, while the MT8’s keep sub-bass just above.

    SOUNDSTAGE : the least open of this group (not by much), though have immense detail and stereo width. NB large soundstage does not help in the studio, it weakens the presence and inspection of instruments (hence the large soundstage A990Z is not useful in the studio but makes enjoyable listening).

    They have the most ‘hit’ and power in all freqs of all the ‘phones here, they vibrate your bones more than any of the others – in all frequencies – I’m not a bass head but the ability to affect the vibrational mental space with these ‘phones is notable.

    They have a really enjoyable ‘pushy’ personality – which in a headphone is what I want and a real achievement – to be fast and super direct in all frequencies, visceral, nose vibrating. Very well judged Yamaha!

    A closer, faster and more mid-centric version of the A990Z’s. A real favourite of mine, and a bargain for an ‘in the bag’ monitor headphone, I can’t see how anyone could be disappointed unless you want a very open, or brash sound.

    DESIGN : 3m detachable cable, twist-lock. Neat, relatively compact, solid construction. Portable (the cans are connected to the headband with a free hanging wire – so need some care, like the DT770’s), light weight (MT8’s are on the heavy side).

    MT8 : good for : Monitoring, Mastering. Overall frequency signature similar to the DT770’s – but the MT8’s are flatter. The MT8 are close to my Neumann studio-monitor speakers, though with less lows and greater high-mids / highs.

    HIGHS : if you need super-clarity in the highs, there’s no sibilance here but they are analytical and gradually elevate towards 10.5kHz. I’m critical of harsh highs – these are not abrasive unless your mix is poor (many commercial recordings are BTW!). They have the fastest highs of this group – revealing, breathy, airy and open, not metallic or grainy. Compared to the MT5 it’s like a sonic door has opened (sometimes too far), highs can be overbearing and swamp a mix for some recordings, certainly more forward than the DT770 though actually rise more smoothly and predictably – no noticeable sudden peaks or troughs (unlike the big problem 8kHz spike of the DT770’s).

    HIGH-MIDS : the dip noticed in the MT5’s is reversed here, I’d say there’s even a slight peak here, which provides fantastic detail in this information rich region of the freq range. If the MT5’s are an autumn afternoon, these are a spring morning. They will test the quality of a mix like no other, if a mix is good and tight, these have the best highs of this group – otherwise they can seem high centric – which can be too forward and fatiguing for long periods of listening pleasure.

    MIDS : Presence and detail is amazing, superlative, similar to the MT5’s though with a flatter response (the MT5 mid resonance is not often felt here).

    LOWS : tight, accurate, has drive but not over-emphasised. On the whole the lows can sound recessive if you expect pounding bass (these ‘phones are not about that). The A990Z have more bass warmth but not more hit (‘thwack’). The MT5’s have more more power and more hit in the 70-200Hz range, possibly the DT770’s have slightly more power through not as much hit. The recessive nature of the bass, is in part relative to the forward highs, the ‘phones can’t be turned up too far to reveal the full bass glory – as the highs then become too loud.

    V.LOW : sub-bass if present in a recording is surprisingly powerful, more so than the DT770 and even the A990Z – reaching lower and with more detail (and also as previously mentioned, the powerful bass-ready MT5’s are not as present under 50Hz). This is a strong point of these headphones, the natural bass spread, which introduces powerful sub-bass without confusing it with middle bass frequencies – this is actually rare in a headphone, sub-bass seems to come from nowhere as an instrument in itself. If your like all bass to sound like sub-bass these headphones are not for you, sub-bass is powerful only when present in the recording, which including all genres, below 40Hz is actually quite rare.

    SOUNDSTAGE : slightly more open than the MT5’s, probably due to the general extra speed and clarity especially in the highs, though not as open as the DT770 and A990Z.

    Below 4kHz they are the fastest most flat headphone I’ve used, above 4kHz highs are elevated – revealing – which used as a tool in the studio is valuable, less so for listening. If you’re here just for listening pleasure, these headphones may come across as too harsh and not ideal for old recordings (esp analogue transferred to digital / CD), which generally are mid and high biased and may have issues in those areas.

    The MT8 emphasis on clarity in the highs is useful prior to and during recording; due to compensation, mastered results from the MT8’s can lack high/treble presence, whereas from the MT5 possibly mastered highs can be overdone slightly. The ideal headphone would be a mix of the best parts of the MT5 and the MT8. That said, the MT8’s are the best judged and most useful studio headphones I’ve ever used.

    DESIGN : v.soft pads, may result in pressure from the driver-grill on your ears – esp if you have satellite-dish ears (the MT5’s have firmer, deeper pads), both the MT8 and MT5 have a neat ear-cup size and shape though some may wish the aperture was slightly larger. 3m detachable cable + detachable coiled cable, twist-lock. Foldable, neat, relatively compact and solid. Portable though on the heavy side.

    DT770 80ohm : good for : Monitoring and maybe Mastering. Listening – very good, if your music has no hint of sibilant type sounds. Overall frequency signature most similar to the MT8’s, in many ways I’d place them both joint 2nd place.

    The DT770 80ohm version, has deeper bass and less sibilant treble than the 32ohm or 250ohm versions (which personally I’d avoid). The 80ohm has thicker winding wires and a long-throw driver – capable of higher volumes though a tad slower), the 250ohm has a short throw-driver (faster though more bright). BTW there is also the semi-open DT880 (bass light) and the open DT990 (bass ok, sub-bass light, v.sibilant & highs emphasised).

    HIGHS : in presence and control between the MT5’s and MT8, so very forward. Well balanced though there’s a big big but – unfortunately there’s an isolated problem spike at the sibilance freq, around 8kHz, it’s harsh, you can accept it and use it when monitoring & recording to avoid it in your tracks – but it probably does rule these ‘phones out for listening – unless you like a lot of sssss and zzzzz in your highs, female vocals sound clashy and fatiguing. As it’s a large spike, the ear and the mind cannot adapt it’s disparity to the surrounding high frequencies, and so it sounds unnatural, sizzling and annoying – it never ‘goes away’. For mastering, this can lead to too dull a result, especially in vocal clarity. Though the MT5’s are ‘darker’ they have more edge and they have no sudden freq peaks.

    HIGH-MIDS : similar to the MT8’s, fantastic detail and presence, I say it’s the strongest point of these headphones and of this whole group – the immersive realism in this freq. realm. It’s basically the sweet spot between the elevated peak in the highs and the recessed mids…

    MIDS : detailed yet noticeably recessed. A positive of this V shape [recessed mids] is that it does prevent mid-freq ‘closed-back resonance’ (the MT5’s have a W shape, more so than the MT8’s). Vocals and acoustic instruments can sound rather thin and distant.

    LOWS : wide, powerful and enjoyable, not as detailed as it could be – more fruity and less thwack than the MT5.

    V.LOW : sub-bass present but slightly soggy. (Sub-bass frequencies can reveal a rattle, the diaphragms are slightly sticky and hair can get trapped, it’s a common problem, search for ‘DT770 buzz rattle’. Only noticeable with loud very particular frequencies around 148Hz. The cans can be dismantled but it’s a delicate procedure. One of my drivers have this issue now).

    SOUNDSTAGE : very open, helped by the small bass-port (which does leak sound).

    DESIGN : on the limit of needing an amp to drive them, on a MacBook Pro I’m often at 100% – while on my music interface there is power to spare. There is the DT770 32ohm version, though while more efficient it doesn’t doesn’t mean better (too efficient and the power isn’t delivered to tightly control the speaker coil, also the diaphragm is designed to be more flexible / floppy). Cable hard-wired. The cans are connected to the headband with a free hanging wire – so need some care. If you are generally not using an external amp, I’d probably pass on these, for less than loud mixes they simply may not be loud enough. Construction, very good. Hard-wired 3m cable. Not portable (unless your bag has generous room to spare).

    A990Z : good for : 2nd check Mastering and Listening. Overall frequency signature most similar to the MT5’s.

    Overall v.similar to the MT5 but with a more open soundscape, a tad more highs, less present mids. Soundscape while on a par with the DT770 in its openness, but can sound distant. You could not rely on this headphone for critical mastering – though I do use them as a ‘speaker check’ when I’m away from my studio.

    HIGHS : similar to the MT5 though with a tad more highs and better defined. Forgiving of poor recordings. While good for all genres the A990Z would be my pick for listening to classical music – due to the soundstage and the highs not as emphasised at the DT770 or MT8’s, though with the MT5’s darker highs I can listen to them for longer with more varied material.

    HIGH-MIDS : have a slightly aggressive brittle grate, nothing to be too concerned about, it’s not sibilance, more of a metallic electronic squeal, which seems to confuse the highs and slightly divorce them from reality. The large 53mm driver of the A990Z seems at times to struggle to achieve fast definition.

    MIDS : mids very slightly recessive which widens the soundscape though you may notice a slight lack of body and presence to the mids – especially compared to the MT5, MT8’s and monitor speakers; that said the DT770’s have the most V shape freq response. There is some shouting resonance to the mids, not dissimilar to the MT5’s.

    LOWS : v.large, open, bouncy, fruity, warm. A tad too emphasised, slow & loose – lacking some detail & drive, overall some muddiness, can get a bit heavy going and bloated, I prefer the more defined MT5 and spacious DT770 bass.

    V.LOW : present, enjoyable, soft. Sub-bass though is confused with the emphasised general bass, the result is the MT8 has greater sub power, detail and more overall bass separation (though less general bass) …whereas the A990Z can sound bloated and lack separation.

    SOUNDSTAGE : undeniably good, but wrapped up in other issues. The moment you put them on they sound great, very open, then that impression wears off – they begin to seem too friendly and lack involvement, confused highs and boomy lows. For classical, the fruity openness of the A990Z’s is welcome, though slightly flat in their lack of high separation – similar to the MT5’s in darkness, though the A990Z have a squeal to the highs which can become annoying like a saw – I’m being super critical, the highs are actually well tamed and never painful yet do lack some separation and realism. Soundstage is like large, but like a large ball of wool – you may not notice this – I’m being critical. Stereo width not that impressive.

    In all frequencies dynamic hit and power is not great, so less aggressive, less interesting, just a bit too distant and knotted – can get confused with complex layer music – often an issue with large diaphragms. Good for checking what a track will sound like on a ‘normal’ hi-fi system, but they fall short of keeping me engaged.

    The A990Z’s have slightly massaged all the frequencies to the extent there’s not enough clarity or speed to be used as a studio headphone (even though they are labeled ‘Art Monitors’). They are forgiving of harsh or poorly mastered recordings, basically they are good at being polite, warm loudspeakers in a room – yet on your head.

    DESIGN : comfort – lightweight, no on-ear compression though pressure on upper jaw-bone caused by v.large pads. I’m not an advocate of the overall design. The metal backs of the cans is very thin (and leaks a lot of sound), I dented them the day they arrived by accidentally dropping the heavy metal-body (sharp) headphone-jack on them from maybe 12inch above. Hard-wired 3m cable. Too large and delicate to be portable.


    X2HR : I respect all of the above headphones for their position in the studio (maybe not the A990Z), the X2HR have zero place in the studio. Having said that I include them here as a listening pleasure headphone – in your comfy chair. The soundstage is wide and open, instrument separation is good. Bass is large and saggy / flabby, loose and lacking detail, highs come and go in an odd way. Wavy frequency EQ – some parts boosted others missing – lots of peaks and troughs throughout. They are not relevant in the studio due to this wavy EQ and sounding like a wet sock – there’s no analysis to be done with these. I didn’t like the ridiculously huge ‘winter earmuff’ pads either. I’d say if you have any inclination to get the Philips X2HR’s and you appreciate a ‘truer’ headphone (yet with generous bass) get the A990Z’s (though personally I’d go another step and get the more immediate MT5’s), on the other hand, if you like a full, open, fruity, forgiving sound, the X2HR’s are a good choice. Their positives are partly due to their open-back design – which is fine but be aware they leak sound like a sieve.

    K550 MkIII : I could not like these, I tried, but my hated grew and grew. As many people seem to like these headphones, I’ll detail my observations in full…

    HIGHS : prominent, harsh, lack detail, sibilant across a wide range – none of this helped by the large [i.e slow] 50mm drivers – which may have been EQ pushed over the whole high pitch area. There is sizzle and a lot of clashy high freq prominence. Mid-highs are dragged into this region sapping music and voices of depth. I prefer the DT770 highs – even with their elevated 8kHz EQ peak.

    HIGH-MIDS : lack detail and separation, they scream and seem to resonant in the small enclosure of the closed-back cans, instruments in this mid to high range grate together and can sound a bit of a mess. Like the highs, crashing and confused.

    MIDS : all of the mid range is strangely pushed into upper mids such that overall pitch is raised and generally thin, voices become drained of full-bodied depth and leave only a high-pitch veneer.

    LOWS : on the weak side, recessed and very slow – least definition and depth of this group, surprisingly one-dimensional for a 50mm driver – distance between instruments lost. The weak headband clamping force doesn’t help, but the problem is deeper than that.

    SOUNDSTAGE : lack of instrument separation, confused, muddles musicality; possibly the small driver chamber doesn’t help. So much of recordings is lost, including much enjoyment. If your musical taste is for simple short-lived tiss-bang-tiss-bang bold instruments these headphones can sound ok, but if your music has complexity and layered instruments it’s like listening to your recordings at 1/2 quality.

    Overall Sound : clashy, confused, compressed ‘grey’ sounding, bass weak, vocal mids thin, raised the pitch of all tracks. I wish I didn’t have to mention these here, the most ill thought-out and ill-sounding headphone I’ve tried in a long time, the billing that they offer a flat frequency response is mostly a lie and covers a multitude of sins in these cans, flat with clarity ok, but flat and clashy and terribly confused no that’s not fine. Some may hear clashy and think that’s the sound of detail, it isn’t. If they work for you fine, but to me they were a travesty, dressed up to look nice.

    If you do think these sound good – and so therefore like a ‘lighter-weight’ sound, you should try the fast, clear, detailed, MT8’s – they are leagues better in every respect (they have more bass as well) yet share some analytical flat sonic signatures of the K550’s.

    DESIGN : not only no sonic substance but the very flimsy headband is a joke – a weak thin piece of metal with no spring and little padding (the crown of your head will hurt even with a good head of hair). The clamping force is near zero. The adjusting swivels of the ‘cans’ are very stiff, so the cans need to be manually pressed into your head every-time you wear them to achieve a decent seal and correct angle of the ear-cups; this is kind of ok, but clamping force also maintains the ‘cans’ in a solid stationary position while the drive unit oscillates back and forth. The clamping force is so weak that a noticeable amount of bass is lost due to the cans not being held absolutely stationary – in fact vibrating inversely to the driver movements (applying light pressure to fix the cans in place helps enormously); the designer of the headband should be sacked – and this is after many years of complaints and now a MkIII version with no headband upgrade! Without doubt the weakest and most uncomfortable headband in the history of headphones, if AKG can do this – design it, test it, put it into production, MkI, MkII, MkIII, just wonder how bad the rest of the design is – it really is – and I’m including the sound, the tiny enclosures, arh I could go on for eternity, these headphones make me furious, never AKG for me again, never. The ear-cups are very large – totally over-ear though a downside is sound-focus is variable as they don’t centre in the same place on the ear every time. The pleather coating is very thin and delicate and I doubt would last long in a studio. The cans can swivel 90 degrees on their normal axis so they lay flat – which reduces some bulk when inserting in a bag, but the headband doesn’t fold inwards at an elbow like the Yamaha’s.



    I’ve spent a lot of time & thought weighing-up these scores… days of back and forth fast A/B comparisons, etc, so compare the values carefully – they are not just plucked from the air (though are subjective – to my peculiar critical nature).

    1- 10, higher the number the better; though NB I’ve gone higher, 11 indicates where there’s too much, an overdose, so 11 is actually a negative!

    1st score : BODY (Power & Presence) / 2nd score : DETAIL (Speed & Accuracy)

    Efficiency is how easy they are to drive. ‘5’ is on the limit of laptops and may require an extra headphone amp. Higher efficiency isn’t always a good thing, ‘lower’ efficiency or/and higher ohm resistance will result in a tighter faster response – but require more output sound-card/amp power.

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MT5. . . . . . MT8 . . . . . . DT770 . . . . A990Z

    High. . . . . . . . . . . . 7 / 9. . . . . .11 / 10 . . . .11 / 8 . . . . . 8 / 7 . . . . . (11 = can be too strong & fatiguing)

    High-Mid. . . . . . . . 7 / 8. . . . . . 9 / 9. . . . . . 9 / 10. . . . . 8 / 6

    Mid. . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 / 8 . . . . . 11 / 9. . . . . 6 / 7 . . . . . . 5 / 7

    Low . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 / 8 . . . . 7 / 9. . . . . . 9 / 7. . . . . . 11 / 5 . . . . . (indicative of the bass you will hear)

    V.Low. . . . . . . . . . . 8 / 7 . . . . . 9 / 7 . . . . . . 9 / 6. . . . . . 9 / 5 . . . . . . (you wont often hear this frequency <45Hz)

    Soundscape . . . . . 6 . . . . . . . . . 6. . . . . . . . . 9 . . . . . . . . . 8

    Stereo width. . . . . 9 . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . 9 . . . . . . . . . 5

    Efficiency. . . . . . . . 8 . . . . . . . . . 9. . . . . . . . . 5 . . . . . . . . . 8

    Isolation. . . . . . . . . 9 . . . . . . . . . 9. . . . . . . . . 7 . . . . . . . . . 5

    Portability. . . . . . . .8 . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . 4 . . . . . . . . . 3

    Comfort. . . . . . . . . .8 . . . . . . . . . 7 . . . . . . . . .9 . . . . . . . . . 7



    I’m torn between the Yamaha MT5 and the MT8, they have similarities though are significantly different. For no fatigue ‘listening-mastering’ the MT5 (and being lighter are more portable ideal if you need to mix/master on the road), for ‘critical inspectional mastering’ the MT8. I can work with either, but if you are studio pro I suggest you get the MT8’s for their greater clarity (studio pro’s need, accept and adapt to emphasised clarity, whereas ‘semi-pro-enthusiasts’ might not – in which case MT5). The MT5 could be the same price as the MT8’s, there’s nothing cheap about them – including the detail, power and speed of the sound, they just offer a different (and less fatiguing) view.

    If you are searching for the best overall headphones, …they don’t exist. There are excellent ‘phones that vary in their sound and are optimised / useful for different purposes. You can pay around £/$1000 for a set of headphones, but they will still have a slant to their sound, and you might even find they don’t do the job you hoped. In the end, for professional studio use, you’ll need two or three difference headphones to balance your sound between, though if you use monitor speakers you will appreciate the Yamaha HPH-MT5 and the brighter MT8 – they are from my experience as close as I can reasonably get to a full and exact rendition in a simple, no frills, portable and strong headphone.


    Never choose headphones based on manufacturers’ quoted frequency ranges, as this doesn’t tell you the amplitude at those frequency extremes (i.e. they may reproduce 20Hz – but at a low volume and bass dependant on how close to your ear the driver is). There’s much more to rating headphones than frequency graphs – which do show amplitude at various frequencies but don’t reveal response speed, detail, timbre, depth, soundstage, instrument separation, etc. Most good headphones can reproduce a wide range of frequencies, sometimes those frequencies will be +6db above the 0db centre-line or even +10db, sometimes -6db below but even then you will still hear them and if presented with clarity may sound more present than 0db in another headphone. Just be careful of stated responses. If I say ‘over 10kHz starts to fall away’, don’t be too alarmed, 15-20kHz will still be present and maybe super detailed; the spectrum doesn’t just end. I know you’ll still read manufacturer frequency response ranges, they may give a rough indication or they may be measurement manipulation for tactical sales.

    For when your new headphones arrive…

    Audio processor sampling frequency : v.important – set to the Hz of your computer’s output to the same as the source (or double for less high-freq filtration – more treble), so if the source is CD/YouTube use 44.1kHz (or 88.2kHZ for greater clarity), if film use 48kHz (or 96kHz for greater clarity). Bit depth, I recommend 24bit or if you have it, 32 bit float.

    RUNNING-IN : I just purchased a second set of MT5’s, so I had the luxury to directly compare brand-new for ‘burnt-in’. The burnt-in MT5’s are noticeably more open, fast and reveal more high freq detail, brand new MT5’s may sound recessive in the highs, when burnt in for sure the highs while still slightly dark, brighten up and are near perfect.

    I know this is debatable but these physically moving components need to work in, and I know this is even more debatable but even electrons need to temper the copper cables (even if it’s oxygen-free and directional). Sound is physical even at the microscopic level. Yep I listen at 32bit 96+kHz – that’s music I generate at those rates not just elevated DAC rates of inferior source rates.

    AudioQuest recommends 150 hours burn-in for their headphones (they probably know what they are talking about!), in any case for most headphones I’d give them around 50hrs (yes that really is 12hrs per day for 4 days – or 6hrs per day for a week, at highish volume).

    Place the cans either side of a pillow or turn outward so pressure waves are not fighting against each other, play at high-ish volume, long YouTube ‘psybient mixes’ will do the trick!

    I would not critically evaluate any headphone until 50hrs of burn in, changes are not dramatic, but are noticeable and in the direction of improvement. If you hate a brand-new headphone – perhaps you will still hate it after burn in, though detail, space and freq response will improve, anyone who says this is untrue I personally would not trust their evaluations. Sonically they will change even though you might not want to believe it – actually even after 20hrs.

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