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Plea for Advice - Work Headphones

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hey folks! I've been lurking for about 3 or 4 months now and would like to thank everyone for the great advice scattered about on this forum. They helped me pick out my UM1's for recent travel, and they've been great. I thank you all for your help, while my wallet and bank account are cursing.

Now I have to choose what to get to listen to while at work, and after searching the forums for a while and running myself in circles, I wanted to see if I could get some advice from folks. The UM1's are great, but since I work in a cubicle environment, it's not always the best thing to wear while I'm at work. I can't hear the phone ring very well (I usually have to notice the red flashing light for an incoming call), and pulling them out of my ears and putting them back in whenever someone wanders into my cube to answer a question is getting a little tiresome.

So here's my considerations:
- Some isolation, but not too much (enough to block out the sound of the coworker that sets my teeth on edge, but not not so much that I have no chance of hearing my phone at all)
- Comfort (since I'd be wearing them a good deal of the time during my work day...usually for 1-2 hours at a time for 4-6 hours a day)
- Mostly for listening to music at work, with occasional games out of PSP or notebook
- Decent SQ (doesn't have to be too mind-blowing, since it mostly is for background rather than analytical listening)
- Easily driven (will mostly be driven out of a Cowon X5L mp3 player)
- Portability not a huge factor (have IEM's, rarely go anywhere without my car, and I can leave the headphones in a locked cabinet at work most week nights)
- I wear glasses so excessive clamping action would be painfully bad
- Budget less than $150 USD shipped. Optimal probably around $100.

Music-wise, I listen to mostly soundtracks, some J-Pop, and alternative rock. Occasionally I'll throw in some folk, classical, or industrial...so my tastes are a little eclectic.

The top one I'm considering right now is the AT A500, but I've kinda also been considering the AT ES7 for a little more portability and because it's not quite as obtrusive as the A500.

Any help in this decision process (which has already spanned several months..heh) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
post #2 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Equus View Post
- Some isolation, but not too much (enough to block out the sound of the coworker that sets my teeth on edge, but not not so much that I have no chance of hearing my phone at all)
Sounds like closed full-size headphones instead of canalphones or IEMs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Equus View Post
- Comfort (since I'd be wearing them a good deal of the time during my work day...usually for 1-2 hours at a time for 4-6 hours a day)
Circumaural would be preferred but price point may force supraaural, which should be fine really.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Equus View Post
- Mostly for listening to music at work, with occasional games out of PSP or notebook
- Decent SQ (doesn't have to be too mind-blowing, since it mostly is for background rather than analytical listening)
- Easily driven (will mostly be driven out of a Cowon X5L mp3 player)
- Portability not a huge factor (have IEM's, rarely go anywhere without my car, and I can leave the headphones in a locked cabinet at work most week nights)
- I wear glasses so excessive clamping action would be painfully bad
- Budget less than $150 USD shipped. Optimal probably around $100.
Sounds like the AKG K81DJ (haven't heard them, but they're popular around here) to me. If you wanted to stretch to $200 the choice would likely be the AudioTechnica ATH-A900, which have better SQ (supposedly; I have heard them for a short session and they sounded pretty good to me), and are likely more comfortable since they are circumaural as opposed to the supraaural K81DJs. The K81DJs retail for about $55 (according to http://headphonereviews.org) -- I have heard some people claim that they are a bit stiff out of the box, but quickly loosen up. Try and speak with someone on these forums who has extensive listening experience with them, or browse the aforementioned website for something else.
post #3 of 25
I use a Beyerdynamic DT250-80 at work. At low/moderate volume I still have a sense for when people are talking but I don't have a clue what they're talking about. At true moderate I can't hear people at all. Under moderate levels I can still hear pages (which come over the phone system). Actually, I hear when a page begins, at which point I have to take the headphones off to hear what's being said.

Comfort is pretty darn good. I have somewhat big ears and the smallish cups manage to be truly circumaural. It's close quarters, but not uncomfortable at all.

Sound quality out of a crappy built-in sound card wasn't awful. Sound quality out of the headphone out of a stock 4G iPod stunk, but that was the iPod's fault, not the Beyer's (even putting an amp between the two didn't help).

I think they can be had for $150.
post #4 of 25
I had very similar requirements, I know exactly what you mean by isolation but not too much. The last thing you want is your boss standing behind you when you are rocking out cos you didnt hear him/her call you or walk in!!!!

Or miss that all important phone call. There have been so many occasions that I wished that these damn phones had some sort of vibrate mode which will make the table or chair vibrate! oh well...cant have it all

Coming back to the headphones. I first tried my senn HD465. They were comfortable, sounded decent, ran off my mp3 player. But they leaked sound like crazy.

Next I bought the K81DJ's. They sounded terrific right out the box, ran off my mp3 player, but were extremely uncomfortable. I tried everything I could, but I couldnt wear them for more than 1 hour max!!! After that, my ears would turn red and would ache for about 10 minutes. But they did isolate to the correct extent.

Then after tons and tons of research and trials, I ended up with the Audio Technica A700. These are just about the PERFECT set of headphones for office setting IMO. Sound is excellent, runs off mp3 player easily, they are extremely comfy, and isolation is just right. I have them on for most part of the day when I am at work. They are huge though, so once you take it to your office, it'll prolly just stay there, dont expect to be able to tag it along with you back home.

I even bought an LDM+ just to add some extra juice to the setup. So thats my office setup right now, works great. Hope this helps.

PS:If you can afford the extra cash, get the A900's...I havent tried them, prolly wont buy them either, but there is a small part of me that wants one... ...oh well...
post #5 of 25
I use Darth Beyers with an imod and microamp. Very nice. They isolate just enough so I can enjoy my music without picking up stray noise (and not bother other people), but I can hear if someone's calling my name a few feet from me.

EDIT: Just sold the microamp. Make that now with a Larocco.
post #6 of 25
The only closed headphones I've liked unamped were the A900 and the HD25. The A900 is, as you've noticed, kinda big, but it sounds very nice without an amp and is super comfortable. The HD25 also sounds very good, and is much less obtrusive, but it isolates pretty well - more isolation than it sounds like you want. And the HD25 does clamp somewhat tightly, though I had no problem wearing it for long periods.

As an alternative, let me suggest an HD201 plus an amp. The HD201 wants a little more power than most portable sources will provide, so you do need an amp, but you don't need a spectacular amp - something low-budget will do fine. Thus amped, an HD201 sounds remarkably good, much better than a $30 headphone has any right to. And it's comfortable, a little bit isolating but not very much so, and doesn't look too huge or too dorky.
post #7 of 25

K81DJ

I use AKG K81DJs at work. I am currently shopping for a replacement as they are physically too small. If you have a big head like I have, I do not recommend them. Don't get me wrong, I like the output from them, but they extremely uncomfortable after an hour or two. I have actually cracked the headband trying to stretch them. Proves one thing they are very tough as they still in one piece!

I am currently looking at DT250s, DT770's, A700s or A900s. They are all bloody expensive in Australia so I won't do price comparisons.
post #8 of 25
I'm gonna go ahead and second the recommendation of the Senn HD-201's. Very good closed headphone for the money.

Cheers!
post #9 of 25
K81DJ
post #10 of 25
Another vote for 201's.
post #11 of 25
K81DJ's have a powerful vice and will cause some unavoidable initial discomfort. I wouldn't even bother.

You could circumvent the trouble and go with V-Moda Vibes. They're semi-open canal phones that should fulfill your every requirement.
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
Yeah...I pretty much figured some good closed supra-aurals would fit the bill. I have about $170 that I could spend from xmas money, with a little more thrown in if I get really ambitious. The K81DJ sounds intriguing, but I do have a rather big noggin and too much clamp of ears against glasses will probably drive me up the wall, so I'm not sure how well that would fare.

Darth Beyers might be a wee bit beyond my price range at this time. Maybe if I get that new job.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Superpredator View Post
I use a Beyerdynamic DT250-80 at work. At low/moderate volume I still have a sense for when people are talking but I don't have a clue what they're talking about. At true moderate I can't hear people at all. Under moderate levels I can still hear pages (which come over the phone system). Actually, I hear when a page begins, at which point I have to take the headphones off to hear what's being said.
How easy is it to drive? I keep hearing different things. I'm not too worried about a battery drain when I'm at work, since I usually plug my mp3 player in when I'm there anyway. Too lazy to recharge it when I get home...heh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jilgiljongiljing View Post
I had very similar requirements, I know exactly what you mean by isolation but not too much. The last thing you want is your boss standing behind you when you are rocking out cos you didnt hear him/her call you or walk in!!!!

Or miss that all important phone call. There have been so many occasions that I wished that these damn phones had some sort of vibrate mode which will make the table or chair vibrate! oh well...cant have it all.
Yup...that pretty much sums it up, except I can see if my boss is standing outside my cubicle because of the way my workstation is angled. Main thing is the hassle of taking out/reinserting IEMs sometimes means I just go without music since I know I'll have to get up in 10 minutes or something. Did I mention I was lazy?

The HD201 and amp combo sounds intriguing as well. About how much would an adequate amp and the 201 run? I have zero experience with amps, so I don't even know where I'd begin. I guess I never really seriously considered them, even while I was lurking, because it would mean even more gadgets to travel around with me. ^_^

Not really familiar with the V-Moda Vibes either. I'll check them out.
post #13 of 25
Another Vote for the Vibes, they are perfect for the office.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
The Vibes look pretty good. Not too much isolation, but still a fun sound. That's what I'm getting from reading around, anyway.

The only hesitation I have is that while they seem semi-canal, are they easy to put in and take out? The main reason I had been considering supra-aural headphone is because they'd seem easier to take off my head. I'm also wondering if I buy, say a ATH-A500 for around the same price or so, wouldn't the sound be "better"? I know it's kinda like comparing apples and oranges, but since I have the option of going with full-size I wonder if I should go in that direction. Or are the Vibes just that good?
post #15 of 25
I'd opt for the A900's if you want to spend that much. They are quite comfy--they aren't as heavy as they look. The A500 could be a cheaper alternative, but I haven't heard those.

Since you have IEM's, why not go for some full-size cans? It seems you want to go in that direction anyway.
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