1. HFM he-400
2. Denon D5000
3. Panasonic htf-600
1) DJ100/Tony Bennett (gets nearly everything right to my ears. Love it's addicting mids. Even it's bass is perfect to me)
2) AKG Q701 (like my DJ100, it's sound varies a lot with different sources)
3) AKG K601 (the missing piece for this under-appreciated gem is a good computer DAC ((HRT MSII)). Can't believe the difference that made)
4) HD-580/HD-598 (give me another few months to decide. Prefer the 580 to HD-600. Signature slightly different/better than HD-600)
5) KRK KNS-8400
6) AKG K240 Sextett (it's mids are addicting and I finally got this to sound amazing. Maybe it'll rank higher in a year)
All my other stuff is collecting dust.
All mine are Budget or Entry Level headphones. I may never jump into the higher range, and am not sure there is a need considering my sources.
1. Grado SR60i Without customization, these are overly bright and fatiguing, but with my pad modifications and sock mod, they really shine. The mods darken the sound slightly and take the edge off the highs without adversely affecting the clarity. This took some experimentation, but was worth the work. My favorite headphones for most rock, unless I just need some thumping bass. Which brings us to...
2. Creative Aurvana Live! If I had to make do with only one headphone, these are the ones I'd choose out of my current selection. They have more bass when I need it than the Grado, good soundstage for a closed can, so they do well for gaming and movies, and they are slightly more comfortable than the Grado's, even considering the improved comfort of my sock mod. Bass is a bit loose, but otherwise excellent quality sound.
3. AKG K240 MK II These are less colored than the others, with a more laid back presentation. It always takes me a while to get used to their sound again after not using them, but good mids, decent soundstage and excellent comfort levels with the velour pads makes them a good choice for relaxed listening and for watching movies. The least "fun" and exciting of my current headphones.
4. Koss Porta Pro Lightweight, extremely comfortable (for me anyway), and acceptable quality sound, though they drop off on the high end and the bass can be a bit muddy. They are a clear step down from the first three.
5. Sony PQ2 Funky looking headphones that are obviously aimed at the younger crowd, these have some serious limitations on sound. There is no bass impact from these at all, and the highs fall off quickly, so you are left with the midrange primarily. Fortunately, the mids are clean and clear. Light and comfortable for on-ear headphones, I rarely listen to them and they are on semi-permanent loan to my sister.
I'm just going to add the ones I've listened to extensively but do not own as well.
1) Stax Lambda normal bias - Sounds great. The only issue is the excessively metallic highs. I'm not sure if I can fix this by changing the source because I haven't tried. If anyone has any ideas I'd like to hear them. I use this with a Fiio A1/SRD-6SB, not exactly high end. Anyway, the mids and bass are excellent. I don't think dynamic headphones are technically capable of rivaling the Stax. Open dynamics always seem to lack sub bass. Closed dynamics are... closed.
2) Audio-technica M50 - Pretty balanced sound. Sounds a bit too thick and the highs are a little fatiguing.
3) Sennheiser HD280 - I put these here but if I didn't use an equalizer, I wouldn't like these very much. They're capable of good sub bass but they have an annoying dip in the midbass. Also the clarity or crispness is lacking a bit.
4) Audio-technica AD700 - I use these a lot since they're comfortable and not fatiguing (to me). Main problem is the lack of bass. Something else seems missing as well. There's that large sound stage though.
5) AKG K240S - Also fatigue free. There's a mid bass hump and lack of sub bass though. Not as comfortable as the AD700. An emphasis in the mids.
6) Meelectronics A151 - Seems to have poor extension. For portable use they're good enough though.
UPDATED: After achieving a proper seal I've been extremely satisfied with the K550.
There's been more, but the following are the headphones that I feel I've had in-house for long enough and spent enough head time with to draw a conclusive assessment of their overall performance:
1. Sennheiser HD600 w/Cardas cable -- There's simply nothing "wrong" that they do to my ears.
3. Stock Sennheiser HD600 -- Still great with the stock cable and even a touch more airy than the Cardas, but tonal weight across the board is noticeably lacking in comparison.
4. AKG K550 -- Addictive clarity combined with a great sense of space for a closed headphone. A bit thin sounding unamped, but when paired with complimentary components that sufficiently stimulate the drivers they're analytically-inclined goodness. Absolutely requires a good seal to perform to their potential.
5. Grado HF-2 -- Beautifully done bass perfomance. Not the most "accurate" sound, but thoroughly engaging and enjoyable.
7. Darth Beyer V3 -- Possibly the most "fun" headphone on this list, it's the undisputed king of bass. Beautiful tonal enhancement with some records and a horrible match with others.
8. Ultrasone HFI-580 -- Vastly underrated and often mis-labeled as a purely "basshead can" in my opinion, it has a very clean, detail-oriented sound that's a touch bright of neutral. Prone to over-amplification but opens up nicely with the right amount.
9. AIAIAI TMA-1 -- A functional fashion statement, they're definitely tuned for DJs with their forward mids and treble. Add some EQ to the high frequencies and they come to life nicely. A smooth sound from top to bottom that's still nicely detailed.
10. Koss KSC75 -- Possibly the best "bang for the buck" on this list, they can be found for around $15! Lacking in extension on both ends, but overall a nice tonal balance and acceptable clarity. I've always liked clip-on headphones for the gym and these are by far the best I've owned. (although, I refuse to invest in something that'll definitely be getting banged around) A perfect headphone for those of us who want good portable sound but see portable hi-fi as having a poor return on investment.
11. AKG K271s -- The can that brought me to Head-Fi, they do well on the details and never sound like they "enhance" a particular frequency. Bass presence is lacking and they can sound sterile, however.
12. Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 -- These could possibly be a few spots higher on my list, but I'm simply not a fan of IEMs due to comfort/fit. Nice clarity overall but soundstaging was the smallest on this list and treble was too emphasized to my ears.
13. Audio Technica ATH-M50 -- A bit of excitement in the bass, (NOT basshead material though, in my opinion) slightly recessed mids, and some grain in the high end. Otherwise a great value.
14. Grado RS-1 -- No disrespect to these much-lauded headphones, but they certainly weren't for me. A small, congested sound with biting highs. I went in optimistically expecting a more refined HF-2, but I just couldn't find much of anything to like beyond the aesthetics in all honesty.
15. ALO-Modded Ultrasone HFI-780 (ALO-780J) -- Waaaaaay too forward and metallic treble for my liking, reaching a sufficient listening level was a chore. I've never heard these stock, but if they're half as aggressive as these they'd likely end up in the same position.
16. Ultrasone PRO-900 -- More comfortable than the HFI series offerings, but with serrated treble akin to the ALO-780J and some of the most problematic bass I've heard on a headphone. Simplistic, non-trebly electronic music sounds fine, but deviating from that niche caused these to transform into an amalgamation of highly unnatural/painful treble, uncontrolled bass, thin mids and excess grain.
This newbie's list:
1. Koss Porta Pro
2. Brainwavz M2
3. Soundmagic E30
4. Klipsch Image S4
5. Skullcandy Ink'd
6. Sony V-150
7. Sennheiser HD201
Numbers 1 to 4 get regularly rotated on my Sansa Fuze and Clip at home, the V150 and HD201 alternate on my PC, and the Skullcandy Ink'd, although the cheapest, is what I use for my daily one-hour exercise walks because of its poor isolation which allows me to be aware of my surroundings and approaching vehicles. Obvious from my under-$60 (each) equipment that I am just starting out appreciating music via headphones and I hope you will forgive me for going off-thread by asking upgrade advice. I listen mostly to choral groups, choirs, Celtic Woman, Enya and groups like the Brothers Four, Peter Paul & Mary, and the Carpenters. Which would you recommend from among the Brainwavz HM5 and Soundmagic HP100 (both new designs and described as neutral) and the popular, well-rated ATH-M50 which is a relatively old design and may be upgraded soon. I've read a lot of reviews on the HM5 and M50 (there are only 2 reviews on the HP100), and if you have better recommendations, my budget is around $120. Thanks loads.
I have more time with my DT 880 600ohm so I will currently place them above my new HD 650s which I can tell are very special. Once I finally get my Auditor here I will really be able to listen to these headphones, but for now anyway:
1) DT 880
2) HD 650
3) DT 770 Pro (80ohm)
4) Koss PortaPro (still really good value for the money I think)