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Best Around-Ear Noise-Isolating Headphones for Rock

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi there,

I tried looking through the forums, but I couldn't find anything that addressed all the issues I have. I wouldn't call myself an audiophile; I don't really know any of the proper terms to describe what I'm looking for but I'll do my best. I currently have a pair of Bose headphones (an older model of these); the comfort and noise-isolation is superb, but the sound quality is not that great. I bought these Audio Technicas, which sound great, but they advertised them as "over-ear" and I interpreted that to be the same as "around-ear." They didn't cover my ears entirely, so lots of noise came through; I'm going to return them, but what should I get instead?


TL;DR, looking for:

  • noise-isolating (the more, the better)
  • around-ear (i.e. should rest on the sides of my head, not on my ears)
  • somewhat portable
  • comfortable for hours of use
  • must really flesh out tones of rock/alt-rock music (my test song is currently Arlandria by Foo Fighters)
  • max $200 


Can anyone help me out?

post #2 of 15

Are you near a Guitar Center? I think they might have a good selection for you try. If so, try the Sennheiser HD380 pro. Amazon has it for $145, and I am pretty sure Guitar Center will match Amazon's prices. The HD280 pro at $75 is also very popular for its isolation, however the sound quality on the HD380 pro is much better. Other choices that are a bit more portable(in terms of folding) are the Sony V6(AKA 7506) , the Audio Technica ATH-M50, and the Sony V900HD(aka 7509HD).


A closed headphone might be comfortable for hours in the cold weather, however many people have a problem with their ears overheating when wearing a closed headphone for long periods of time. An open headphone probably won't heat up your ears much, however it won't isolate. Because of this, many choose an iem when they want isolation and don't want their ears to overheat. An iem is also much easier to carry around than a large closed headphone. Some people can't stand using an iem though.

post #3 of 15

I would highly recommend the Ultrasone PRO 550's. They will cost you $140-160. I purchased them for use with metal and rock (I mainly listen melodic death metal) and they sound absolutely fantastic. They have a ton of bass which isn't really the best for metal but the bass doesn't interfere with the midrange or crisp, sharp treble at all.


The midrange on these headphones is absolutely amazing. I was hearing riffs from certain songs that I never even knew existed when I listened with my previous AD700's. The treble is very crisp and it sounds like something you would expect from a $300+ headphone. The cymbals and drums sound very sharp and clear.


The soundstage on the headphone is the best I have ever heard on a closed pair of headphones. Hell the soundstage width and depth are so good that I even use them for gaming. The added bass is perfect for large explosions in BF3.


The isolation is fantastic on the headphones. I have used the headphones on the plane (paired with my Fiio E6 and Samsung Galaxy S2) and the roar of the engine is not even heard when playing music.


At the end of the day when you are done with your headphones you can fold them up (yes, they fold!) or put them into the included case which is great for transportation.


The headphones also come with swappable ear pads and an extra set of pads incase your current ones get ruined.

Edited by ComradeNF - 12/24/11 at 5:10pm
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Does Guitar Center let people actually try on their headphones?! Everywhere I've been has had some stupid policy where they have to keep them in the box!  Also, I don't care about folding, I only said portable because I want something relatively light and not too bulky; these aren't priorities. Regarding closed and open headphones, I'm not sure, are the Bose headphones I linked to closed or open? I think they're closed, and I'm fine with that, my ears never overheated. Noise-isolation is a much higher priority for me than having cool ears. :)  I didn't know what an IEM was, but after looking it up, I can tell you I generally dislike in-ear headphones; I know they'd be custom-fitted and everything, but I feel much more in touch with my music when I have my ears covered.


post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 


Do they completely cover your ears? They're round, and I'm used to most circumaural headphones I've seen being ovoid. Otherwise they sound great.

post #6 of 15

I would also look into the Shure SRH840's. I'm currently using them for my mobile setup, listen to mainly industrial metal and hard/alt rock (Rammstein, Eisbrecher, Audioslave) and they are money. I guess I would describe the sound as very warm, very fun. They will completely surround your ear can be had on Amazon for 129US so they don't break the bank either. While not the smallest (not huge either) HP they're built like a tank, foldable, and have a removable coiled cord. However if you went this route I would highly suggest an amp like an FiiO e11 (65US) or something similar. Some will say the 840s are OK on their own but I think they sound really boring without any amplification. The best part of all is the isolation, even at low listening volumes its pretty hard to hear anything besides your music. I've missed too many phone calls because of these....

post #7 of 15

 Some have reported that some Guitar Center stores don't have a display model of a number of headphones to try. I guess it depends how busy your local Guitar Center store is. Some are much better than others as far as being able to listen to headphones.


Did those Bose headphones you had sit on your ears, or did they completely surround your ears. In the photo, it looks like they might sit on the ears, which is called supraaural. Headphones that surround the ears are circumaural. larger headphones with larger drivers  will tend to give better bass, especially if the headphones are closed.


You don't have to spend around $200 to get pleasant sound. Some headphones under $100 or even under $50 can provide nice sound, while other $200+ headphones sound horrible. Are you looking for a natural sounding headphone, or an extra bass one?


Perhaps you should try some neutral headphones first to see if you like any of these.


Some neutral headphones I suggest you try are the Sony V6($77 or sold as the Sony 7506 for around $100), the Sony V900HD($155 also sold as the Sony 7509HD for around $190). the Sennheiser HD280 pro ($75) and HD380 pro ($145). The V6, HD280 pro, and V900HD are classics. These are used extensively by musicians and recording engineers. The V6 was the first serious headphone I bought. My V6 is 23 years old and still works well(I did need to replace the earpads though). The HD280 pro and HD380 pro will probably give you much more isolation than the V6 though. The V6 is said to be much more comfortable than the HD280 pro though.  You should listen to decide if the step up from the HD280 pro to the HD380 pro is worth it for you.


If you want to try some less expensive headphones that are interesting, try these  JVC headphones- HAM750($40),  and HAS600($30), . My guess is that you might even like the sound of these under $50 headphons better than the Bose headphones you had. If you want to try an extra bass headphone, the Sony XB500($50) and XB700($80) are very popular here.


Edited by JK1 - 12/24/11 at 11:14pm
post #8 of 15
Originally Posted by randomocity27 View Post


Do they completely cover your ears? They're round, and I'm used to most circumaural headphones I've seen being ovoid. Otherwise they sound great.


Yeah, they completely cover your ears. The isolation on them is fantastic. I wouldn't go as far as saying they are the best noise-canceling headphones that I have heard but they are better than your average closed headphones in terms of noise cancelation.


post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 



Yes, the Bose headphones were circumaural, which is why they had such good noise-isolation (I may not be an audiophile, but I know my Latin roots! ;D) I'm not sure what the difference is between "natural" sounding or neutral headphones and ones with extra bass. However, I do like bass, and a loud, steady stream of bass can increase the sense of noise-isolation... I'm not entirely sure. I'll check with my local Guitar Center to see if they let people try their headphones out, and what they have in stock.

post #10 of 15

The ATH-SQ5 are a great choice too. They have a very controlled bass and neutral sound.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

Update: I went to Guitar Center; the guy was really nice and opened up a bunch of boxes for me to try :) I'm down to the Sennheiser HD-25 and the Shure 840. Both are about equal in sound quality to my ears (maybe the Sennheisers have a slight edge, but they both have good qualities). The Shures are more comfortable than the Sennheisers since the latter achieve noise isolation by exerting a bit of pressure on my ears, and they're supraaural so my ears get sore after a bit. However, the Sennheisers are more compact; I hate the coiled cable of the 840, and I don't want to pay for the straight one if I can avoid it or unless I can find a straight one that's a more manageable length. Thoughts? Does anyone agree with my preferences and have any suggestions that I can try for a similar price range?

post #12 of 15

Which HD 25? There is the HD25-1 mk2 and the HD25 SP2. The HD25-1 mk2 is a favorite, while the HD-25 SP2 is the lower priced, lower rated headphone. I haven't heard these, just read reviews of them.

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

@JK1, the HD25-1 mk2. They sound really good to me, especially for $130 on Amazon

post #14 of 15

There are so many people who like the HD25-1 mk2. I haven't heard any negative comments about it. I think the HD25 SP2 is $130, and the HD25-1 mk2 is around $185.Where did you see the HD25-1 mk2 for $130?????  I guess i should try to hear it sometime, however I am afraid that if I hear it I might buy it(only if it is $130. At $185 I wouldn't even consider it)  I have had a number of Sennheiser headphones over the years and liked them, although they were all open. I guess the only question about this I might have is how I like the fit. Since you tried it on already, and like it, maybe you should go for it. 

post #15 of 15
Phillips Citiscape Uptown
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