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What is the ***BEST*** pair of headphones available today?

post #1 of 174
Thread Starter 

So my boyfriend is celebrating his 28th birthday in a few weeks (three to be exact) and we're both in our 20's and we love music, especially him. So instead of getting him what people traditionally get music lovers (set of drums, guitar, etc), I've decided I wanted to go a different route and buy him a very good pair of headphones (over-the-ear kind of headphone, not the earbuds).

Now I've talked to a BUNCH of people I know and I've been getting a slew of different "suggestions" and I've pretty much narrowed it down to either the Sennheiser HD800 or the Grado PS-1000, so what better place to ask than the people who live & breathe this stuff?

Which would you recommend of the two? If you have another suggestion place tell me about it, this is obviously not my expertise and you guys have probably forgotten more about this stuff than I'll ever know, so I need your help.

Also, sort of a somewhat-related (perhaps stupid) question, but is it possible that some people may just NOT like the sound higher-end headphones will produce? Just curious...

Thank you so much for your help...

post #2 of 174
Knowing a couple key things would help both, me and other posters direct you in the right direction.

1) How into audiophilia is your boyfriend. (does he own headphone amps, etc.)
2) What kinds of music does he listen to.
3) Does he have a preference to which his music is presented (bass heavy, clarity, detail oriented, etc)
4) What your budget is?

Answering these will help all of us give you more accurate suggestions, rather than what is our favorite personal headphone.
post #3 of 174

Well...I can't really help much from experience, but here's a list of headphones other than the aformated I've been trying to avoid:

 

http://www.wooaudio.com/headphones/stax/sr009.html

http://www.wooaudio.com/headphones/stax/sr007mk2.html

http://www.wooaudio.com/headphones/stax/sr507.html

http://www.audeze.com/headphones-lcd-2-wooden-box

http://www.head-direct.com/product_detail.php?p=102

http://www.head-direct.com/product_detail.php?p=92

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/beyerdynamic-tesla-t1.php

 

Plus, you'll want (None of the headphones other than the Stax and likely the HE6 NEED an external amp, but it's like buying a Ferrari and using regular fuel instead of premium fuel for the rest.) a decent headphone amp to go along with it.

 

And all the above are open headphones, so taking them out and about (although taking $1000 headphones outside is pretty ballsy in my opinion) is pretty much out of the question, but there are people that use the HE500 portably, so it's possible. If you don't want to hear noise coming from his headphones, closed headphones are a viable option. Such as:

 

http://www.audiocubes2.com/brand/Stax/product/Stax_4070_Close-back_Type_Earspeaker.html

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/beyerdynamic-tesla-t5p.php

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/audio-technica-ath-w1000x.php

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/audio-technica-ath-w5000.php

^^^Read a ton about the W5000 if you, for some reason, want to buy it though. It's picky with fit and such.

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/denon-ah-d7000.php

http://www.audiocubes.com/product_info.php?products_id=1375

http://www.provantage.com/sony-mdrz1000~7SNYE0X2.htm

^^^Holy crap, they're only $300 now? Umm...yeah I'm super tempted now...

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/ultrasone-edition-8.php

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/ultrasone-pro-900.php

 

And yes, some people may not fully appreciate the extra thousand dollars compared to, heck, something like the AKG K501, which can be found for $200 used, compared to the Sennheiser HD800. It all depends on his ears. And heck, he may not even like something like the HD800 if he has a preconception that the headphones will have a warm, enveloping sound. All headphones have a distinct sound signature, and everyone has different tastes. I, for one, am saving up for an HE500, and abhor the Denon house sound (I've only tried up to the D5000, but my gut tells me the D7000 won't be a revelation). On the other hand, most of my friends would abhor something like the W5000 and would rather listen to a pair of Beats or something.

 

And before anyone else says it...why can't I have a girlfriend that'd buy me a nice headphone?


Edited by Ishcabible - 6/17/11 at 8:11pm
post #4 of 174

Just get him the Pro 900 and call it a day.

post #5 of 174
The top end headphones need amps to properly perform. Paying a couple $k on a reference headphone and plugging it into an ipod/computer would be like buying a Humvee to go grocery shopping. He could get into our forum for a while and let him choose his gear. A headphone meet would give him some reference of different manufacturers sound. It is a hobby of subjective satisfaction so let him put his passion into finding a quality rig. Supporting his hobby is present enough. cool.gif
post #6 of 174

Well there's a few high-end headphones that will perform really well out of an ipod.  They may sound better out of of better amp/source, but they would still beat lesser headphones out of an ipod. 

 

Audeze LCD-2

Hifiman HE-500

 

Both easily driven compared to others, and they both have balanced sound signatures that are the least likely to offend or bother someone, which is the way to go in this situation since the buyer doesn't really know the users taste.  The HD800 and PS1000 I would only recommend to someone who knows they want that sound signature, and also has a powerful amp and good source. 

post #7 of 174

^ those.  They are a bargain under $1000, will be difficult to top at any price and don't need boutique amplifiers to sound great.

post #8 of 174


+1

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmdevils View Post

Well there's a few high-end headphones that will perform really well out of an ipod.  They may sound better out of of better amp/source, but they would still beat lesser headphones out of an ipod. 

 

Audeze LCD-2

Hifiman HE-500

 

Both easily driven compared to others, and they both have balanced sound signatures that are the least likely to offend or bother someone, which is the way to go in this situation since the buyer doesn't really know the users taste.  The HD800 and PS1000 I would only recommend to someone who knows they want that sound signature, and also has a powerful amp and good source. 



 

post #9 of 174

id say a d5000 or d7000, since they might work best without an amp?

post #10 of 174
There definitely isn't a single objective answer here, but relating to what other people have said, consider how he might view the gift and your objective in giving the gift.

If you're attempting to make a statement and get him the best headphones out there and he isn't already into headphones, then I guess I'd err towards a fancier looking set than one that is easy to confuse with a common pair. This advice goes AGAINST what I'd recommend for someone looking for themselves, but don't worry about the amp yet if you think an amp/DAC could come later. True, you won't get the best sound right away, even for the dollar you spend, BUT you gain a piece of a high-end puzzle for future expansion and you are able to make a wowing statement. I do think an amp is key, but for a pretty low price you can (or he can) get a DAC/amp combo that will make a big improvement or get a much better setup. Just send him here and we can help! Of course you want the best sound, but what truly is the goal of the gift? In a parallel line of thought, do you want to wow him with an 100" LCD TV or a 46" LCD TV with a Blu-ray player, receiver and speakers? The latter might truly be a better system, but it sure isn't as amazing and rare as the former.
post #11 of 174

Driven with no amp I've heard great things about the LCD-2 and the Hifiman  HE-500. If he owns any of the lower level Grado's and really likes them then the PS-1000 is also an option although from what I've heard it supposedly will only really begin to shine when it's amped. If he doesn't have a rig I would write off the Senn HD-800's those need a good amp and DAC to sound their best. Right now I'm really liking what I've been reading about the LCD-2 and the Hifiman HE-500 plus they offer high end audio at half the price compared to the HD 800 and PS-1000's. Truthfully there's no better headphone it all comes down to what the listener personally likes. All the headphones mentioned above are great headphones to listen to.

 

So tell me you have a single sister looking for a boyfriend who would buy her boyfriend headphones on his birthday? biggrin.gif

post #12 of 174

Buying someone a PS1000 because they like music would be like buying someone really smelly stinky gooey cheese because they like food.  It's a risky purchase. 

 

It's worth mentioning to the original poster that once you reach the level of all the headphones being mentioned, price is not a sign of quality.  The LCD-2 is much cheaper than the PS1000 but it is a much more technically evolved and developed headphone with much more expensive parts and manufacturing. 

post #13 of 174

There is no such thing, once you get to the high end cans it is purely preference. There are people who enjoy the HE500, LCD2, T1, HD800 etc more than some of the best electrostat rigs, and there are those who swear by the 02, the Orpheus, the R10, etc.

post #14 of 174
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmdevils View Post

Buying someone a PS1000 because they like music would be like buying someone really smelly stinky gooey cheese because they like food.  It's a risky purchase. 

 

It's worth mentioning to the original poster that once you reach the level of all the headphones being mentioned, price is not a sign of quality.  The LCD-2 is much cheaper than the PS1000 but it is a much more technically evolved and developed headphone with much more expensive parts and manufacturing. 


X2

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Alghazanth View Post

There is no such thing, once you get to the high end cans it is purely preference. There are people who enjoy the HE500, LCD2, T1, HD800 etc more than some of the best electrostat rigs, and there are those who swear by the 02, the Orpheus, the R10, etc.


X2

 

post #15 of 174

I know the concept of buying someone something as a surprise is much more romantic than involving them in the purchase, but that is when romance can be an excellent misuse of money.  No matter how experienced the audience (Head-Fi) no one can advise you on what will sound best to your boyfriend's ear.  Apart from the fact that most top end headphones require decent source and amp to perform any where near their potential, and there is no information provided here to help with that quest, the sound signature variations of many of the top tier headphones mean that you could buy a great headphone that your boyfriend simply doesn't like.

 

My advice is to involve your boyfriend in the purchase.  Would you purchase the next 100 CDs for your boyfriend?  I bet you wouldn't, because even though you probably know him very well, music taste is individual and personal.

 

Would you prefer your boyfriend to purchase you a $1500 (insert what you are into here- out fit, camera, drum kit, guitar) that you have no input into, or would it be better to go and select it together?

 

Good luck with your decision, but you cannot get the answer you seek here.


Edited by Kernmac - 6/17/11 at 11:45pm
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