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Finding some new (budget) headphones...

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

The time has come that after a few years of use the cable is starting to go in my main headphones, so a new pair is in order. Rather than just going out and buying the same again I figured it might be worth finding what else is out there and what has come about since I was last shopping...

 

To say a bit about what I am after and use, I currently use a Sony A829 player paired up with a set of Sennheiser PX200's for larger headphones, or the (surprisingly decent) supplied Sonys or a set of Sennheiser CX300's (though I find the Sennheisers a pain to insert and adjust reliably thanks to the tiny size). I am normally listening to music on the move - travelling on the bus or walking various places where I want a balance of quality, price and a level of isolation that allows me to block out outside noise when I want to, but leaving me the option of keeping some awareness of my surroundings.

 

I know the Sennheisers are not the greatest headphones out there, but I will have to admit that for the level of listening I do they have worked well, with decent sound quality and good isolation, and when in university and similar I appreciated the fact they fold down to a nice compact size (though nowadays I tend to just use in ears if I am going to have them stored for any length).

 

So I guess the question is what else is out there for a similar price? The £50 for the Sennheisers is about the maximum I can spend, so what is worth looking at in that range? A replacement set of PX200's? HD201, 201, 205?, other brands or options?


Edited by Narcosynthesis - 3/20/11 at 3:05pm
post #2 of 20
Thread Starter 

Anyone?

post #3 of 20

All meelec headphones, brainwavz m2, monster turbines, lots of others.

Tell us your preferred sound signature or if you don't know that then what kind of music you listen to.

Check out Joker's super review of 9999999 headphones too

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 

My music is typically rock/indie based - modern stuff like Radiohead, Metric, Pavement, classic rock like The Who, Springsteen, etc... and a mix of a bit of everything else, from heavy metal to classical to electronic to punk -  www.last.fm/user/illaname for the full list.

 

As for the sound signature, something fairly balanced and full sounding at a guess, though I will admit to not having really spent enough time with different options to develop too large a taste, beyond wanting to listen to my music, rather than a bassy thump.

post #5 of 20

I had the px200 for a while. They are great sounding closed portables, but it seems like Sennheiser designed them to break.

 

If you have a soldering iron you can replace the minijack and cable end with a more durable one by basically following these instructions: http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12878 The px200 use thin painted wires rather than true insulation though, so the exact procedure will be a little bit different.

 

Here's a thread that talks about the px200 and suggestions for similar sounding portables: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=347118

 

Unfortunately, a lot of these lower end portables have poor build quality (i.e. senn 201s & 202s). If isolation is important you might want to try some iems (many good options to choose from). If isolation isn't that important go with some koss portapros.


Edited by FDS - 3/20/11 at 3:55pm
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 

I always planned on replacing the jack on the last set of px200's I had, but never got around to it and bought a replacement set instead as I needed them to travel, so that is on the cards as a fix (though the thought of the tiny wiring and delicate cable isn't a great thought).

 

iem's I am not averse to, in that I use a set of Sennheiser cx300's and a similar pair of Sonys, I was just under the impression that a decent set of 'over ear' phones will sound better for the same money (which comparing the px200s against the cx300 and sonys does seem to be the case).

 

Isolation is important to a certain degree, and the exact reason I chose the closed back px200's over the open backed px100's - they are for use travelling, so being able to listen to music without having to crank the volume and compete with external sources (and similarly annoy anyone travelling near me) is relevant. While I have no other comparison, the px200's did seem a good blend of isolation while allowing some noise through (so as to keep some awareness of the surroundings), if anything more isolation would be better than less though for the comfort of my ears.

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Any other thoughts?
post #8 of 20

Small portable over the ears are not going to have any advantage over similarly priced IEM's, especially at this price.  If you want something that isolates I would definitely have to recommend getting IEM's.

Take a look at Fischer Audio Eternas, Meelec's entire lineup, or Brainwavz headphones.  Those usually give the best value for your money.

post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 

Any other suggestions to look into?

post #10 of 20

what is your budget? and are you in the US or elsewhere on the planet?

post #11 of 20

As far as iems go, Klipsch Image S4s. Cheap, portable, great sound quality for that price range. They are light, and the fit is much more comfortable than other low priced universals. Cool to wear over the ear or normal. Great bass extension and does a good job on everything else.

 

Difficult to say whether headphones would be better than these earphones. But would be noticeably better than the CX300. You would definitely struggle to find any iem better in the £50 price mark.

 

£53 delivered from amazon.co.uk

post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lazuline View Post

what is your budget? and are you in the US or elsewhere on the planet?



UK based, with a budget of up to £50.

post #13 of 20

Sorry illquid, but I'm going to have to strongly disagree with you on the S4. I noticed these have gotten a bunch of attention on the interweb. Cnet.com even awarded them the best earphone's editor's choice nani nani blah blah award, but these simply don't deserve the attention. I might add the cnet tech editor, Jasmine France, who has done most of the headphone reviews might be pretty cute in the idealized "nerdy but still marginally girl next door hot" kind of way (O.K. she looks like one of my ex girlfriends, so I'm a fan), but her assessment of headphones is pretty suspect (and I know this because I've read/watched all her reviews... what?!? a pretty girl talking about headphones... That's grade-A entertainment!). edit: I just noticed on her profile it say "former" senior associate editor. Looks like the CBS media conglomerate (like so many others these days) replaced a staff editor with a cheaper freelancer. That would explain the Steve Guttenberg dude. Blah, sorry Steve, but despite your obvious extensive knowledge of headphones, you've completely lost my demographic.

 

Anyway, the s4 is not what you're looking for mostly because the frequency response is tuned with extremly bloated bass, shrill treble, and mids so recessed you'd think your ears were stuffed with cotton. Guitars are dull, vocals are hollow, snare drums and high hats are bland as British cuisine. These are not meant for rock. Pop music, hip-hop and rap are probably O.K. and I can see these being good as exercise buds because they're very in-your-face. But for casual listening, the signature is so annoying and fatiguing that it ruins the enjoyment of the music (did I mention they're terribly siblilant as well?). If you want a more detailed review search the forum for ClieOS's assement. Also, ljokerl reviewed these in his massive thread but I think he inflated the rating as not to be flamed to hell by the FOTM crowd.

 

These retail in the US for $79 USD(53 pound on Amazon UK).I purchased mine on sale for $50 USD shipped, and I still think I overpayed. If you can find them for around $30 USD (like the pro media version) then they might be worth buying, but I'd still rather put that money towards a better pair. Honestly, the $9 --$20 Meelec m6 is about 80% as good as the s4 for far less money.

 

--------

 

Anyway, Sorry for the rant ... on to the recommendation. I looked at your lastfm artists and it seems you listen to roughly the same music I do (btw, check out somafm.com, the indiepoprocks, poptron, and tag's trip stations are right up your alley). Thus, I think I can offer decent advice on a closed portable can or IEM that is around 50 pound.

 

Wow, searching on Amazon.uk, I see some of these American and Japanese brands are quite expensive in the U.K. I mean 90 pound for a grado sr60! Jesus! ath-fc700 is 100 pound? insane! And forget about shure/westone...

 

I'd say, if you want a sonic upgrade, you'll have to strech your budget a little, and/or settle for something that is a bit larger sized. A good example of a larger can would be the mdr v6 which is 57 pound (love these for indie rock, a tad bright, and vocals are intentionaly empahsized (a plus in my view for indie) -- as these are purpose built for tracking vocals., plus the bass is there and tight... enough, but not that boomy). The short coiled cable on the mdr-v6 might be a pain when walking, but when sitting on a bus/metro it's harmless (I've worn mine plenty of times on the NY subway ... as a circumaural, the isolation is better than the px200, but not to the point where you'll lose your bearings). No points for style though, unless you're a bit of a hipster and can pull off the retro look. These things are decidely aged in design -- like 30 year aged.

 

Moving Along.... Sorry, but many of the usual suspects are simply way expensive in the UK.. I can't really think of a good ~50 pound portable closed can that is significantly better than the px200 ... Except for the px200-II which is likely to be your best bet. I think these are brilliant for indie rock (beautiful mids make guitars sing, vocals are sweet, snare drums have nice impact, bass is there but doesn't overpower everything), having owned the previous version I can tell you the new model is much improved. These sound about 87% as good as my top recommendation which would be ...

 

... A nice entry level IEM from Etymotic. Unfortunately, the UK prices seem pretty inflated. The only thing close to your budget is the 55 pound MC5, which is only O.K. Despite how Etymotic markets it as 85% acurate, I find it weaker than the older er6/6i (which is the same or cheaper than the mc5 on amazon.com, but costs more on amazon.uk). Listening to Indie rock on Etys is a dream. It's a very personal (aka small soundstage) experience and you really lose yourself in a sonic bubble lined with the layers of detail. You'd be mental/touched/daft not to at least consider these when choosing an IEM in the under 100 pound range. But unless you can find them for cheaper elsewhere, or strech your budget to 75 pound for the HF5, these are not an option.

 

Still, you'd be just fine getting the px200-II. Besides the sound, they've improved the construction and cable, so hopefully they'll last you a bit longer than your px200. If you want to spend a bit more, then I'd suggest the v6. Also around the same price as the v6 is the re0 (58 pound) which is an IEM that is often compared to the top etymotic iem, the er4. I've never tried it so I can't vouch for it. Hopefully someone else can chime in with some more IEM recommendations. I have to admit, I stopped looking for under $200 USD IEMs after I tried the etys.

 

And to bring everything full circle, Señor Steve would at least partially agree:

 

http://news.cnet.com/audiophiliac/

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by illquid View Post

As far as iems go, Klipsch Image S4s. Cheap, portable, great sound quality for that price range. They are light, and the fit is much more comfortable than other low priced universals. Cool to wear over the ear or normal. Great bass extension and does a good job on everything else.

 

Difficult to say whether headphones would be better than these earphones. But would be noticeably better than the CX300. You would definitely struggle to find any iem better in the £50 price mark.

 

£53 delivered from amazon.co.uk



 


Edited by lazuline - 3/25/11 at 12:43am
post #14 of 20

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/478568/multi-iem-review-156-iems-compared-maike-mk-el5031-sentry-ho642-added-03-24

 

In UK it seems the only good cheap headphones are the Brainwavz/Visang series.

 

Visang VS-R02/Brainwavz ProAlpha - £25 - Sound 6.8

https://www.bargainpile.net/visang-vsr02-inear-hifi-earphones-p-236.html

 

Brainwavz M1 - £30 - Sound 7.1 - Sound 7.1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/dp/B004IK2EAW?tag=invihand-21

 

Brainwavz M2/Visang VS-R03 - £40 - Sound - Sound 7.3

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/dp/B004I5FL1G?tag=invihand-21

 

Really tho, best is go for the Sunrise Sw-Xcape on ebay at £53.84 - Sound 8.6

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Sunrise-Sw-Xcape-Ver-2-Sunrise-Audio-/220747152520?pt=Other_MP3_Player_Accessories&hash=item33658e3c88#ht_632wt_1139

 

Tho if you get hit by custom you might have to pay an extra £10

 

 


Edited by tyoung8 - 3/25/11 at 1:28am
post #15 of 20

If you don't want iems, then the Superlux HD668B is getting a lot of love at £35. There aren't many great options for under £50 really.  Oh and someone mentioned that the Senn hd428 was alright at about £45.


Edited by tyoung8 - 3/25/11 at 1:26am
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