I am looking at acquiring a new set of in-ear phones. After doing a lot of reading on these forums, I've made a short list of possibilities and I'm coming to you now in hopes of getting more personally-tailored advice. These forums have been a terrific asset in my search and I'm very thankful for the abundance of information that is available!
Ideally, the phones that I get would have very strong lows that maintain a solid degree of definition. In addition, I'm seeking an appropriate midrange oomph and detailed, brilliant highs (without being harsh or fatiguing, of course). I'm not a seasoned audiophile so forgive my descriptions if they're rather vague and cliche.
I listen to a lot of different genres so something that responds well to everything would be preferred. If I had to put some labels on what I mainly listen to, I'd include any sub-genre of rock (post-rock, hard rock, metal, etc), a lot of acoustic material (pop, rock, singer/songwriter stuff, etc), and a small amount of country and hip hop.
A lot of the stuff I love most feature subtle nuances that I'd love to have brought to life. For those of you familiar with Sigur Ros, Mogwai, Pink Floyd, and other similar acts may get what I'm saying; the mix of those songs typically have a lot of beautiful detail that is easily lost in lower quality headphones. I want something that will make those songs sound awe-inspiring.
My current headphone is a set Sennheiser HD 280 Pros and I am underwhelmed by the sound quality and comfort. They put a lot of strain on my head (which I consider to be on the large side) and the detail is lacking. They get the job done but are not portable and don't astound in the field of sound quality. I'm set on in-ear phones because I have had several sets that I have thoroughly enjoy. I'd default back to the sets that I know well but this seems like a good opportunity for an upgrade.
My friend has a set of Klipsch S4s that sound good. The bass is strong (which I like) but it seems to come at the cost of clarity in the mids and highs. I know that I wouldn't be regretful of buying a set but I'd like to consider my options further.
I am also a fan of Sennheiser's CX300 phones. They feel comfortable and sound good. The bass presence is strong without neglecting to spotlight the highs. I would also be happy with a set of these again but, again, I'm certainly willing to pay more for a better set.
I have made a short list of headphones that I'm considering. I've spent the better part of this afternoon weighing the pros and cons of each model without reaching a conclusion on which would be appropriate for my needs. If you have any opinions on how these compare to one another, I'd love to hear! As always, I'm open to suggestions in the event that I've neglected to consider a certain headphone.
Ultimate Ears 700 - I have almost completely ruled these out as being an option because of some reviews that I've read regarding their bass quality. It sounds as though it is not their strong suit and that I could do much better in this price range, in that regard. I like what I've read about other aspects of the UE700s but I don't want to give up a solid low end thump since a lot of what I listen to relies on the thickness that it can offer.
Ultimate Ears 500 - From my understanding, these are better for bass response than the UE700s, but that may come at the cost of clarity in the upper frequency range. Would this be safe to conclude? They are much cheaper and still seem to get good feedback. I'd be hesitant because some comments I've read while comparing these to the Klipsch S4s lead me to believe that the Klipsch set outperforms these.
Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5 - I'm not sure how these compare to the UE500s so more research is in order. They are affordable and look comfortable. I don't have a well-formed opinion on these yet so I'll continue reading. I just wanted to add them to the list in case someone has opinions on how these compare to the other options.
Klipsch S4 - I can't ignore these as an option because I've had the chance to demo them and I am happy enough with the sound. There comes a point where spending more money might not necessarily result in a proportional increase in quality (for instance, a set costing $160 may not sound $100 better than the $60 Klipsch phones). I don't particularly believe that this will be the case in this price range since there is a lot of room for improvement, so it's not a huge concern of mine. Regardless, I'm still keeping these on my watch list because I know there won't be too many surprises.
Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 - It may not be fair to compare a $220 set to a some costing between $60 and $140 but I'm curious about these. They seem like they would be a good option to consider and, perhaps, it may be worth stretching my budget a bit further. My main concerns with the TripleFi 10s are the cable (a lot of users seem to comment on punctures forming from the memory cable bending) and the size. They look awkwardly large and heavy. I have read that they are not appropriate for people with small canals and that they easily pop out or need readjusted when moving. I don't think that I have small canals -- I normally wear the medium or large tips on my other phones -- and I don't plan on working out with an expensive set of phones. I do, however, want to be able to take casual strolls through campus without having to constantly fiddle with the position. Comfort is key.
Klipsch X5 - These are more costly than the TripleFi 10s but I'm still rather intrigued by them. They're not the set that I'm leaning toward strongest but I keep searching for more information on them regardless. At $250, they're the most expensive of the headphones that I'm looking at but I'm not sure if the performance lives up to that price tag.
Does it sound like I am on the right track with what I'm considering at this point? Are there are some contenders that I may have not given enough consideration? I have seen a wide range of brands being suggested but whenever I look up reviews, the comments on the bass never seem to impress me. I don't want to come off as being a bass-hungry college kid but I certainly don't want something that ends up sounding thin or anemic as a result of low bass output.
I will be mainly using these with my laptop and Zune HD. There won't be an external headphone amp in the equation; at least initially, if that makes any difference. The Zune HD sounds surprisingly good while my laptop's sound card leaves some to be desired. My desktop setup features a Focusrite Scarlett 18i6 sound card (for recording but the headphone out sounds terrific) so I will occasionally have higher end converters of which to make use -- they're not top-of-the-line but they sound better than the integrated solutions that I have access to presently.
One detail that I have to factor into my purchase is that the headphones I buy must be available on Amazon. Most of the money that I'm allocating toward this purchase comes in the form of Amazon gift credit that I got from selling my used textbooks back to them. I have about $150 left so I've got a strong obligation/desire to go through them. Their service is fast and reliable so I have no problem with that, to be honest. Their selection seems good enough but does take some options out of the equation.
I apologize for the long-winded post. I hope I have provided you with ample information to help guide me on my future headphone purchase! I appreciate that you took the time to read (and hopefully respond to) this! :)
All the best,
Edited by LarryKingsShoes - 9/20/11 at 3:49pm