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A Good Pair of Cans For Around $200 (USD)?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hello, I'm new to the audiophile scene.  For the longest time, I've been stuck with these cheap, $20 pair of Skull Candies, and at this point I'm utterly sick of 'em.  I need a real pair of cans!  There's a couple things I want from them:



- Preferably circumaural, closed-back - although I'm willing to make a compromise. Mainly because I don't want people within 10-foot radius listening to what I'm hearing.  Isolation at a mid range would be preferable.  If there's an open-back that still provides decent isolation, I'd gladly take those.


- Preferably no amp required. Again, I'm willing to make a compromise.  But I don't the first thing about amps, so if recommended a pair of cans that require an amp, I'd appreciate a recommendation on an affordable amp as well (portable or desktop, whichever one).


- Good, clean sound - a balanced sounding headphone; perhaps with a slight emphasis on bass.  I'll be using them mostly for gaming, music, and movies.  I listen to a lot of classic rock and house (which has lots of bass).  I do a lot of gaming, which bass tends to enhance the experience.  So I guess the emphasis on bass is justified, although I'm hoping it doesn't conflict with my tastes towards classic rock music (in which case, mid-ranges are important).  Nonetheless, I do appreciate nice mid-ranges.  I'm assuming all of this can be adjusted through trail-and-error with an EQ though.


- Around $200 (USD).  If an amp is needed, I'm willing to spend no more than $65.  Although I suppose I can dip in my budget for new cans to go towards an amp.  I'm guessing there's a sweet spot somewhere.



From what I've gathered, these headphones seem to be the most recommended that suit towards my needs (that don't require an amp):


- Audio Technica ATH-A900

- Audio Technica ATH-M50

- Sennheiser HD25-1 II

- Sennheiser HD 595/598 (although I believe these are open-back)



If there's any other recommendations, I'd be happy to hear them.  At this point, I'm a little confused on which one to get.  Certainly advice from the pros will help me out. Thank you in advance.

Edited by ExLegend - 7/17/11 at 4:59pm
post #2 of 8
I love my sennheiser hd598s and they are awesome for gaming because they have a HUGE soundstage. I also love them for all of the rock I listen to, but i have a nice dac and amp too. They are open backed but it sounds like you'll be using them at home a lot. I also love my grados for rock but I don't know how they do with games and movies, and they are 325is so they are more expensive. My recommendation would probably be the 598s or a cheaper grado, but more so the 598s which can be had for about $180.
Edited by Max598 - 7/17/11 at 5:10pm
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

How's the isolation on them?  Also, if someone was in the same room as me, would they hear what I'm hearing?  I only ask because things around my house tend to be a bit noisy, so I'd prefer to get rid of all the background noise.  I also don't exactly want them hearing word-for-word what I'm hearing as well.  Not to mention I live on a main street.

post #4 of 8

If you're willing to try a set of open cans, the Audio Technica ATH-AD700s get my vote.  You can get them for around $100-125 shipped currently.  




They are amazing for gaming, and the soundstage on them will absolutely blow you away after listening through Skullcandy's.  


Plus, you can grow your setup with the money you'll save in the budget you listed.  Get the ATH-AD700s, enjoy them unamped, and then dive into the dedicated DAC & Amp scene... and then if you're really adventurous, cables. 


Sorry about your wallet! bigsmile_face.gif

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Are the AD900s any better?


I'm leaning towards some closed-ear Audio Technicas (I guess some A700 or A900s), but I'm not too sure.  What's the difference between that and the M50s?  Or would the bass on the HD598s be more to my liking?


I'm so confused!

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

post #7 of 8

I feel that the ATH-M50 and ATH-A700 have similar sound signatures.  However, the M50 has stronger bass than the ATH-A700, and both of them have slightly recessed midranges.  I also feel the A700 has a better soundstage.  The design of the two headphones is obviously quite different - A700s seem to sit on your head more while the M50 will clamp down a little.  A700s are probably a little more comfortable if you have a big head.


If I had to choose, I prefer the M50 over the A700.  Hope this helps!

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 


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