2,464 word post, approx. 7 min. read
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- 11/7/20. Article posted.
3 Gaming headphones. 9500. K702. DEVA. Which should you invest in? How much or little do these sound signatures vary? All of these answers and more, comin’ up!
Lol not really. I just thought that would be a really intense way to start out the article. 😂
Greetings comrade and Welcome aboard.. Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music .. all over again, so.. don’t want to read?!
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Now, let’s get into the build of these bad boys, and find out how they stack up.
Weight wise, the 9500 comes in at 9.9 Oz (289g), the K702 10.1 Oz, (297g), and the DEVA is the heaviest at 12.5 Oz. or 366g.
All 3 are built extremely well, and I haven’t had issues with any of them. While older HIFIMAN products suffered from poor build and/or QC problems, the newer generation DEVA rectifies the majority of these, resulting in a more rugged headphone that seems as though it can withstand the day to day rigors of audiophile abuse, more so than it did before.
None of the cups on these 3 headphones swivel, but the DEVA’s and 9500’s do rotate slightly in order to get a good fit on your dome piece. The DEVA’s cups do rotate about 45 degrees down as well. The K702’s technically rotate a bit in and out, but not in a way that’s purposeful if that makes sense. They’re just sort of flimsy, but not in a bad way. With each, it’s fairly easy to achieve a snug fit on your melon.
All 3 are fairly bulky, but both the 9500 and DEVA are DUMMY THICC, the latter being similar to Lafawnduh from Napoleon Dynamite. It’s a great brand of thick and something I really prefer when.. listening to music.
Both the DEVA and 9500 have ample headband padding, but the K702’s has none. I don’t find this to be an issue as the K702 is extremely lightweight and I pretty much never “feel” it on my head if that makes sense.
While the K702’s sport the famed Hammock style adjustment that I absolutely adore, both the DEVA and 9500 utilize your traditional click mechanism. The DEVA, unlike the 9500, is much more sure of itself. The 9500’s adjustment is a little loosey-goosey, but the newer iteration 9600 did remedy this by making it much more apt to stay in place once you achieve the desired number.
While both the DEVA and 9500 terminate in a detachable 3.5mm cable, the K702’s is a mini-XLR. All three have 3.5mm jacks at the business end and come with ¼” adapters. Both the K702 and 9500’s R and L indicators are on the outside and clearly visible, while the DEVA’s are engraved on the inside of the headband adjustment block.
While the DEVA and K702 have rounder cups, the 9500’s are a bit more oval-shaped. The DEVA’s are the deepest and widest of the bunch, and in fact, do not touch my ears at all. If you have ears the size of Texas, you may be in for a world of pain, but the majority of us regular folk will be just fine.
The K702’s are a bit more narrow and touch your ears a tad, but they are deeper than the 9500’s. The 9500’s, like the DEVA’s, don’t touch your ears but are the shallowest out of these 3.
Speaking Ross Perot, let’s get into comfort.
This is probably one of the most difficult side by side comparisons to make, as all 3 are incredibly comfortable in my estimation.
If someone held a gun to my head and told me to choose, I’d have to give the slight edge to the DEVA over the rest. It’s about as close to perfection as you’ll find with regards to comfort. I can wear them for hours and hours without so much as even a slight adjustment, as I’m mostly forgetting they’re even there.
The clamp of both the K702 and DEVA is roughly the same, but the 9500’s definitely sit looser than the others. The 9600 kind of did improve on this a bit (or so I thought at first), but it mostly rests in the same way that the 9500 does. I don’t find it a negative because like the DEVA, I mostly forget both are even on my head. The problem you’ll likely run into is that they may slide back and forth a bit more than you’d like. This is why I’d rate the 9500/9600 behind both the K702 and DEVA.
Out of these 3, I’d say the K702 may dig into your head a tad more than the others, but it’s a minor gripe.
But how do they sound in relation to one another?
I’d say that by and large, the K702 has the most neutral sound signature out of these, in terms of overall enjoyment and a lack of real issues across the frequency spectrum.
Both the mid-range and treble are slightly elevated, but not in a way that ever becomes fatiguing in the slightest. In fact, I’ve never once been irritated by the K702 in any way. It’s as close to perfection as it gets in audio. Yes, the bass is fairly lean, and could turn off some folks, but this headphone works for a wide variety of genres and applications because it’s very true to the source and incredibly revealing.
Because of its wide and deep Soundstage, you’ll not only be more immersed in the surrounding soundscape, but you’ll also hear even the subtlest of details going on that really give the songs, .. a big boost. What is Soundstage? [Detailed Explanation]
It’s the type of sound that will have you rewinding tracks like Claude Debussy’s “Reverie” to make sure the birds you’re hearing in the beginning (and the end as well) are coming from the track and not outside your window. The DEVA’s Soundstage is above average, but not quite what the 702’s is.
As good as the K702 is, the DEVA is ever so slightly more refined, with a bit better Instrument Timbre and resolution. What is Timbre? Planar headphones tend to outperform their dynamic counterparts, but even so, the K702 comes eerily close to being just as good as a planar when you consider everything it has to offer. What is a Planar Magnetic Driver?
If it were a race, it would be a photo finish for sure. Quieter acoustic passages especially shine with both the K702 and DEVA, as you really get a sense of intimacy and naturality (is that even a word?) with both. Listening to artists like Sufjan Stevens evoke a feeling of closeness that’s hard to put into words. I almost felt at times like I was there with Stevens in the studio, looking on and observing his every intricate guitar pluck. Not just hearing him sing, but feeling his emotions pouring out into his work. Perhaps understanding in some capacity his longing. Who he is at his core.
These are elements and sentiments of music heard and felt in headphones costing thousands of dollars. I’m specifically referring to the raw, visceral nature of something like an Audeze LCD-3. It’s felt on an emotional level, rather than heard with your mind or thought about rationally. This is exactly how musical experiences SHOULD be.
The DEVA is perfect in almost every way but does have some treble bite, similar to the 4XX and original 400i that came before it. To me, it needs some EQ around 8-10kHz, but after that becomes a perfect headphone in my opinion. Elevation of the bass is optional. I do sometimes enjoy a bit of extra slam, but it’s not mandatory in achieving a perfect experience with the DEVA.
As good as the 9500 is (and especially for the price), it’s a bit outclassed here and does have a couple more issues, namely the treble. It’s a bit more essy than even a DEVA, but it’s still an incredibly neutral and revealing sound profile overall.
If the K702 and DEVA are a photo finish (i.e. milliseconds), the 9500 is a second behind and comes in third place, but admirably so. It’s no slouch, and still gets my highest endorsement. In relation to the others, it will sound a bit brighter and less refined but still holds its own against the DEVA and 702 quite well.
Like the 702, the 9500’s bass is rolled off considerably after about 100Hz, but it’s actually a pretty similar sound signature, truth be told. The difference is that the K702 never gets out of line in the treble, whereas the 9500 frequently does. The other difference is that the mids around 2-3kHz aren’t elevated on the 9500. It’s more of a flatter sound.
The other interesting thing about the K702 is how well it does with Jazz. This is to me in large part because of the mid-bass. It’s elevated ever so slightly from 100 – 200 Hz, which gives Jazz bass just the right amount of impact without getting too muddy. It’s precisely why whenever I listen to Jazz, I immediately reach for a K702, especially with regard to what we just talked about concerning Sufjan.
Those delicate brush hits on the jazz drums are rendered incredibly realistic, to the point where it kind of almost feels like you could reach out and touch them. This to me is what makes the 702 pretty much a perfect headphone.
For gaming, just close your eyes and pick one. I love all 3 and use them interchangeably quite often.
Some people might tell you that the 9500 has no Soundstage, but.. THEY’RE LYING!
Neither the 9500’s or DEVA’s Staging is quite as wide or deep as the K702’s, but both come pretty close. I’ve had countless out of my head moments with the 9500, to the point where I’m asking myself if those people who claimed otherwise had even listened to the headphones at all.
For genre, more of the same is applicable, although I think the DEVA does a bit better for harder genres like Hip-Hop, EDM, etc. It’s going to be a bit more exciting, but the differences aren’t that monumental coming from a K702. The 9500 is even lighter than the 702 and DEVA, and won’t have the impact that even a 702 has in the mid-bass.
Aside from the treble bite, the 9500 is as ruler flat of a sound as it gets. Though the bass is rolled off quite considerably, it’s incredibly articulate and revealing to the point where you begin to develop a newfound appreciation for what good bass actually is, what it’s supposed to sound like, and how it’s supposed to function in the context of a good musical composition.
What about amplification? Do these need any?
While the 9500 with it’s 32 Ohm impedance and 101dB Sensitivity, both the DEVA and K702 will need some sort of amp/dac combo to ensure the best listening experience. I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in what you decide on though, because amps and dacs are incredibly overrated and fairly inconsequential when considering the bigger picture.
If you need some help deciding, leave a comment down below! I’ll also have some great setups in my store, which can also be found in the description.
So what’s the Final Word?
Truth be told, this is a pretty difficult decision. So like a procrastinator, we’re not going to make one.
If I had to choose one, I’d probably go with either the DEVA or K702 out of these, as I tend to listen to them more so than the 9500 nowadays given I own all 3.
If it’s between the K702 and DEVA, I’m reaching for the K702 more often lately because it sounds almost perfect to my ears. I don’t have to EQ it, and I just crave it’s sound signature even more so than a DEVA. It is a close call though.
The 702 just sounds the most correct if that makes sense.
In terms of a value package, the BT DEVA is hard to beat because it comes with the Bluemini which functions as both a Bluetooth receiver and a separate Amp/DAC included in the package. You can use it wired with the supplied cable, or wireless with your phone. It’s also easier to set up with a Boom Pro for gaming and does perform ever so slightly better than a K702 overall because of the fact that it is a planar.
Still, if you’re after the most neutral sound with regard to an incredibly balanced frequency response, look no further than the K702.
For me, both have a place in my studio but..
It’s for you to decide. It’s up to you.
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this discussion on the best mics for gaming, and are better equipped to make a purchasing decision!
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Which of these options sounds best to YOU? What’s your favorite video game? I would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time..
All the best and God bless,
Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!