Right now I have some Sony MDR-V700 DJ Studio headphones (I got these 4 years ago for christmas). I am looking to upgrade in sound quality, and i have a few questions
I like my Sony's just fine for everyday use, but I would like some thing better for music listening.
I'm a bit of a bass enthusiast, but I don't want to skip out on the highs, and I hate a fake sounding "boosted" bass, I like the real thing, just clear. In my Sony's the bass gets flat in the lower register. Fuller bass would be awesome. (quality, not quantity)
I am not sure on the sound difference of an open can compared to closed. How much sound bleeds out of the open cans? Would people hear what I was listening to if I were listening on the bus? Would I hear conversations in the hallways at college? I'd like something that I can bring with me around, but if it's going to bleed sound, than I'm ok with having them at home only and bringing my Sony's with me instead. (if it really makes a lot of difference in quality)
what does an Amplifier do for headphones? The only amplifiers I am familiar with are the ones you plug electric guitars/basses into. What do they really do for a nice pair of cans? IF I was looking for a decent but cheap portable amp for a first time rig, where would I look?
I was looking at Grados, and most reviews are glowing, but some reviews said that their sound is too bright, which I don't think i would like. I'm not sure what to trust.
My music preferences are: Rock, Jazz, Classical, Soundtracks, Metal, Electronic, Alternative, And the occasional Country if I'm feeling like listening to johnny cash.
my budget is about $200 on some headphones.
maybe $100 on a portable amp.
First question. Yes. People would hear your music clearly next to you on the bus. And you'd hear their conversations pretty well. The sound of the bus in general would also be there.
Question 2. Amplifiers amplify. That's all they do. The reason headphone amps make a big difference is pretty much any headphone will benefit from more power. More often than not the sound becomes cleaner and more defined. Even on a headphone that doesn't need one to get LOUDER (AIAIAI TMA-1 for example)...it benefits from having more power. The veil it has is lifted and it sounds very nice. For a cheap portable look to the FiiO E6 or E7. Great place to start.
You list Electronic music in your preferences and because of that I wouldn't suggest a Grado (other than not really liking them myself :D). Within your budget I'd recommend the HD 598 if you're okay with it being open. Genres you mentioned they excel at (IMO): Jazz, Classical, Sountracks, Electronic. Other than that they're a very good all rounder that works well with any genre you throw at them. I like them for rock but I won't say they excel at it because some people prefer something else. If you want a closed headphone check out the HD 25-1 II. Another very good all rounder, and it's very portable and rugged. The only problem there is I'd call the highs their weak spot (but not by any means bad).