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Portable Isolating Cans under $200

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Now that I have spent over $900 on a couple decent full size cans that are mostly open back (thanks to you headfi guys), and around $400 on earbuds (buying headphones = drug usage), I'm lacking a portable can (not earbud) that will work when traveling, which is mostly work on an airplane and during bus transit. 


It must be isolating and comfortable, maybe even this "noise canceling" stuff. But ANC headphones tend to be expensive and the best ANC headphones have horrible sound (Bose QC15s, can't endure the muddy low range and strange high range texture). Passive isolating will probably be my best bet. My HD25-IIs fit the bill nicely, but they tend to be uncomfortable and on some songs in my iPod (you can't really fit good high bit rate stuff on a tiny iPod drive and expect a large library. And if you do, you do not expect it to work without an amp of some sort), it is impossible to endure piercing high-range. Note that this is for an iPod only setup, so I won't have an amp like I would at my home, thus requiring somewhat easy-to-drive low impedance headphones.


For this budget $200 can, I want a relaxing sound. Relaxing, as in warm or slightly "dark" sounding.


Non-fatiguing highs. Some of my favorite cans have good high extension but can tend to be a little harsh, especially when listening to long periods of time. I love a good high extension but I don't need that sort of extension or sparkle for this portable can. Just something good enough and I can listen to for 4 hrs+ on the airplane without fatigue.


Good middle range (nothing empty or hollow). I love full mids. I think the most important part of headphones are the middle range, which is responsible for a large part of the headphone's color and "smoothness". Maybe a little more pronounced? 


Above-average bass quantity with decent detail, does not need the extension of my HD600s. Basically, I'm looking for a darker or warming sounding can that will keep me comfortable for long airplane rides and commute and stuff. 


Comfort. Again, I will be using it for more than 4 hours for some trips. Somewhat lightweight with below-average clamping force.


I have been looking at the B&W P5 but they are a little too expensive. I have tried them in store and I enjoy the sound signature, but the high range is a little too "background" or behind everything. Not sure how to describe it. I cannot afford these $300 cans. If they are $300 excellent, I am willing to sacrifice my next plane trip and save up a little more spending money for the P5. 

I have also been looking at the Beats by Dr Dre Studio (GOD FORBID). Oh god, the sound!!! It took 3 exclamation marks to describe such the horrible crime in forcing teenage boys to spend $300 of their parents' money in buying a headphone only for style, as if the noise cancellation would ever be used on an airplane trip. They do look sexy but they are built like a cheap Sanyo speaker and sound like a broken Koss PortaPro (no offense to the amazing PortaPros for its quality and fun sound for such a low price). 


In summary, I'm looking for a under $200 can to hit the road with. A warm, dark sound, isolation for airplanes, and comfort. It can be consumer-styled sound, just not offensive sounding like the "Beats (your eardrums til they hurt)", or Bose QC stuff.

Edited by Bossatiger - 12/26/11 at 7:29pm
post #2 of 4


sub'd, welcome to the search


If you're down for a swap I have the Phiaton MS400 and I've always been curious about the HD25. I use the MS400 on my commute, the comfort is great, bass is definitely there and they isolate well enough for my train commute. Detail definitely bests anything by Bose in terms of detail/general quality of sound; not as dynamic of a sound as the QC15 but a much warmer  and yet more transparent sound with more subbass.  I like them a lot but I am addicted to trying different sound sigs and have read so much about the HD25 that, in my brokeness, I would take the risk :p

Edited by Gilly87 - 12/26/11 at 9:12pm
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

I appreciate your offer, but I love my HD25-IIs too much to give them up for a trade. I am not really looking for a trade but a purchase. 


I will consider your suggestion and may go as far to purchase the MS400s from you in your sales post. 


Does anybody have any more suggestions? 

post #4 of 4

Personally I'm torn between saving for the HD25 and waiting for the V-MODA M100s. Not sure how isolating they will be, given the vented design of the M80 and LP(2), and Val from V-MODA says they will carry a MSRP of $300ish, but they are my other consideration, and we seem to be looking for relatively the same thing, so they might be worth a look when they come out next year.


Have you given any thought to maybe modding or finding different pads for your HD25? I would look into that, especially given how much you seem to like their sound.

Edited by Gilly87 - 12/27/11 at 3:02pm
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