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OVER-PERFORMING, OVER-ACHIEVING Headphones/IEMs for their price range. Top cost effective cans/IEMS

post #1 of 242
Thread Starter 
NOTE: I have been keeping this updated periodically. I am hoping it is helpful to someone. IF SO please post something even if it is brief so I know people are using it. Thanks.

Useful links:
Tyll's wall of fame
Joker'ss 260+ IEM Review.
Joker's 100+ Portable Headphone reviews

The reason I am even posting this is I would like to hear peoples "diamonds in the rough" to try out. Sleepers if you will. Cans or iems that way out perform their "income bracket" so to speak. Because it is those headphones that many people will get freinds or family to purchase to gain interest in the world of better sound, not 3 or 4 hundred dollar headphones in most cases.

For some reason it seems that things that are inexpensive automatically are considered inferior by some. They could sound spectactular but the price tag seems to affect it no matter what. For instance, in my frustration, I have simply quit recommending the Triplefi 10s to people on here. Because every time I do, someone knocks them somehow. Why? Because they are offered at a price of 150 bucks on amazon.. If they are so bad why are there so many threads on TF10s vs SE535s? A 150 dollar iem vs a 450 dollar iem? Some people think 20 bucks.. they must be bad and if expensive they must be good. The Bose In Ear (version 1) is an example. 100+ dollars and sound like garbage.

If anyone knows of other real out-performers for the $$ post em.. What would be your top 3 recommendations in this category?

My personal list of overachievers based on my somewhat limited experience (most overachieving at the top.)

I have purchased or borrowed a bunch of different budget earphones or headphones in the process and lets face it, there are a lot out there that just sound plain bad. And with that, here is my personal list of my TOP OVER-PERFORMERS.

#1 -- Sony MH1/MH1C
#2 -- Philips SHE3580
#3 -- Philips Citiscape Uptown
#4 -- JVC HA-FX40
#5 -- Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 (using silicon tips -- NOT FOAM)


Overtaking number one on my personal list is now the Sony MH1. That headphone for 27 dollars including shipping from amazon at the time of this writing is an amazing deal. To my ears they sound at least AS GOOD AS the TF10. Actually I A/B'd them against my TF10's and I prefered the Sonys but at the time the TF10 had foam tips on them so I don't consider it a fair comparrison. I personally modded them by covering a vent on top with a small sliver of tape to lessen the bass and with that mod they sound amazing.
Sony MH1C: This is a headphone that is being compared with the likes of the Vsonic GR07 and goes for $20 dollars. For that price its worth checking out. That thread is here.
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she3580: At 9 dollars, this little baby is ranked up with many phones many times it's price. There is a huge thread on here on these as well. Great cheap replacement for the stock sport mp3 player "buds".
Dedicated thread.
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Philips Citiscape Uptown -- These replaced my JVC HA S500 on the list. At a slightly lower price point ($65 shipped) they have much more textured bass and more realistic overall presentation to my ears. More laid back highs but more natural. They are a supremely comfortable set of Over Ear headphones meant for portable use. With mic and ipod controls in the cord they are great for use with idevices. The build quality/comfort alone for 60 bucks puts them ahead of most of the competition at this price.
Dedicated thread.
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JVC HA-FX40: Finally got these in and without the well known "200 hours of burn in" that many on here say they require before they smooth out, they still are a FIRM number 2 on my list. I paid 19 dollars for them and they are better than my previous favorite budget IEM (Sennheisers below). Again a fun sounding phone but for the money outperformed others in like the UE200 and AT cks200.
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CX-200: I don't know why these sound so good to me. I have the comply tips on them which tame the bass a bit and take the "edge" off the highs. That combination to me is very pleasant to listen to and are perfect for the gym due to an unbelievable fit. Compared back to back with the Shure 210, I frankly will never listen to the low end Shure's again (although I hear the 215 is a signifigant upgrade to the 210). That's 20 bucks compared with almost 100 and that's why these make my list. They are not just as-good-as, to my ears they blow the 210 away.
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UE TripleFi 10: These are routinely mentioned in discussions with phones like the Westone 3, SE535 and other 350 to 450 dollar headphones. I think they sound muffled with the comply tips so I much prefer the sound of these with the silicon tips they come with. Due to the 150 dollar price tag on these and that they hold their ground against the big boys, these have to be on my personal list.
Dedicated thread here.
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JVC HA-S400 Considering got these for 25 bucks a pair and are basically a more laid back version of S500 they have to go on the list. These I have seen for as low as 18 dollars shipped. The price to performance ratio is very high.
Dedicated thread
HA-S400.jpg
JVC HA S500: These are one of the best sounding budget headphone I have been able to try out. They are a V shaped fun sounding phone but they are not bereft entirely of midrange like most economically priced V shaped phones. Changing the earpads on thes for 10 bucks is a way to tune them to your liking. 75 dollars imported from Japan.
dedicated thread
HA-S500-Z.jpg
Monoprice 8320 IEM: (These were knocked off my top 5 list by the SHE3580). I have gotten a couple guys at work to get these and ditch the aforementioned Bose in-ear models which they clearly surpass in SQ. Comparing the two, that's a 20X value ratio. Not bad. Cons are fit and really bad cable microphonics. $7 I got them on sale for $5.22
dedicated thread.
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Overperforming honorable mentions or great headphones I have not had the opportunity to try:
The only criteria to go on this list is not if they are "good" but if they SOLIDLY compete with headphones as good at a higher price point. Bang for the buck.

Beyerdynamic DT235 -- in two colors I have heard nothing but good about these. They are 40 bucks and keep getting described as "sleepers" or "under the radar" for how good they sound. Apparently practically circumaural for those with small ears this lightweight on-ear is a steal. See amazon.
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Monoprice 8323 DJ Headphones: Great build, referred to as the "poor mans ATH-M50". Run you about 25 bucks.
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Creative Aurvana Live (The "CAL"): Around 50 dollars. Another headphone with a lengthy thread on Head-fi full of praises.
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Grado SR80i: For 100 bucks these sound like they are worth the investment compared to other 100 dollar cans based on comments on this thread and on head-fi. Open headphone with reported comfort issues by some.
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Koss Portapro: Brought up again and again and they are only 40 bucks. Kinda retro looking but sound good. Been around forever and still going strong.
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Koss KSC75: Just search em. If you like playing around with mods, for 15 bucks these supposedly can knock your socks off for the price. One guys says all you need is a headband and the "quarter mod" (cutting a quarter sized hole in the foam pad).
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GR99: These are regarded pretty high for their low 20+ dollar price range by several posters on this thread.
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FXD 80: JVC's premium version of the FXD carbon nanotube line. Posters on that thread claim it is better than the TF10 and other higher priced phones.
Dedicated thread.
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Philips Citiscape Downtown -- Wow what a strange looking can in purple, but also comes in white and brown. These puppies make Tyll's well known "Wall of Fame" plus they can be had for 30 bucks(See Innerfidelity.com). Need I say more.
Tyll video review
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Sony MH1C: This is a headphone that is being compared with the likes of the Vsonic GR07 and goes for $20 dollars. For that price its worth checking out. That thread is here.
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**** MORE RECOMENDATIONS FROM THREAD POSTERS ****

DN-HP700
See post by Twinser. Alledgedly competes with the old discontinued D2000, D5000 etc on a budget. For $99 dollars that is an impressive statement.
827f992e_bf2cb9d8_DENON1.jpeg

Rockit R50
Given a 10/10 value rating on Joker's famed IEM Shootout and a sound rating of 9.2 these surely rank high for their $130 dollar price tag.
(Many thanks to Joker for the review, please click the link above to see his full review)
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-- Doc
Edited by Doc-holliday - 12/4/12 at 10:08am
post #2 of 242
Surely you've heard the Koss KSC75 mentioned. Good treble (excellent for the price). Poor durability.
post #3 of 242

as for me the IEM that I've been using everyday is UE700, the isolation is very great top of the range with the Comply foam, once I put that into my ears, i sometimes forgot that I'm wearing them.

 

The only cons for this IEM is the weak L shape cable connector which can deteriorates easily during everyday commute.

post #4 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc-holliday View Post

If anyone knows of other real out-performers for the $$ post em.. What would be your top 3 recommendations in this category?

 

What category?

 

About the TF10: they might be listed as $150 now, but it helps to give context: they used to be Ultimate Ears' flagship IEM, which was sold at comparable prices with Westone's W3 and UM3X, Sennheiser's IE8, and Shure's 530/535. So of course it's reasonable to assume the TF10 can compete.

post #5 of 242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric_C View Post

What category?

About the TF10: they might be listed as $150 now, but it helps to give context: they used to be Ultimate Ears' flagship IEM, which was sold at comparable prices with Westone's W3 and UM3X, Sennheiser's IE8, and Shure's 530/535. So of course it's reasonable to assume the TF10 can compete.

Context has nothing to do with it and you are proving my point. Flagship quality sound for entry level price NOW. Thus why i say they are "top headphones/iems for their price range". If senn decided to offer the ie8 for 150 bucks then the ie8 would be featured in this post now wouldnt it?

As to ur question of what category.... I said post ur top 3 best in price bracket. I would say iem, portable headphones or non portable for that matter. For instance based on my OP, i would have to list:

1. Ue Triplefi 10 -- $150
2. Senn cx200 -- $20
3. Ath-m50 -- $110 (they barely make my list)
post #6 of 242

I disagree, context has everything to do with it, because I was suggesting that providing the context for the TF10 would help you persuade people that it's an IEM worth considering, despite the current price of USD 100-150. 

 

I would agree, the TF10 definitely sits in my top 3 recommends for price-beaters. That's mainly due to Black Friday sales, though.

 

Don't have 3 per category, but some others that I would say are good for the money:

  • Audio Technica M30 ($48) --neutral, comfy, isolating, long cable
  • Ultrasone HFI-580 (~$120) -- strong bass but not muddy, very isolating, stylish
  • Sennheiser PX-100 (~$50) -- lightweight, portable, comfy, comes in mic'd version, good amount of bass despite being open
  • Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (~$190) -- same sound as + tougher build than Premium version for less, very comfortable, strong bass but quite flat otherwise, good isolation, excellent use for gaming/studio work

 

I hear Beyer's got some new dynamic IEMs for $58. Keen to check them out, they might be winners too.

post #7 of 242

For me theres quite a few recently,

 

Fx101 is on a par with the Atrios

Yamaha Eph-100 hits right up there and has a unique sound

Samson SR-850 ridiculously good for the price

Fostex t50rp when modded can compete at a very high level.

post #8 of 242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric_C View Post

because I was suggesting that providing the context for the TF10 would help you persuade people that it's an IEM worth considering, despite the current price of USD 100-150. 

I would agree, the TF10 definitely sits in my top 3 recommends for price-beaters.

Actually I see what you were trying to say now. I misunderstood your point. You r right context when suggesting them to others would be helpful. My bad.
post #9 of 242

Etymotic HF5 - Considering you can get them for ~$130 ($100, Amazon's cheapest), It's the best value I've come across. I've yet to listen to an IEM that's more accurate and precise anywhere near it's price range.

post #10 of 242

Beyerdynamic DT231. For some people it might be ugly but if you consider the price per performance ratio, its truly one of the most over-performing cans

post #11 of 242
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the suggestions. Those ETYs I have been meaning to get my hands on BTW.

I think this thread could be useful to those coming to headfi on a budget. I ask that you add one bit of info to the formatting of your posts to make it clear on WHY you think a headphone or iem is such an overperformer.

List out AT LEAST one other higher priced, "higher teir" headphone that you feel the one you are suggesting solidly competes with (or blows out of the water as the case may be).

For example in my list the TF10 ($100 to 150) I feel (and many others agree) is in the same class as the se535s and ie8 (~$450). The Senn cx200 ($20) on my list IMO solidly competes with the se215 ($100)

Thanx.
post #12 of 242

*agreed. Im a fan of the ety HF5's. Mine were lost and i have been missing them ever since.

 

Currently using Sony MDR-EX310 ($75) which have grown to love after the break-in period. Much more fuller bass but not the same clarity offered in the HF5s. Perfectly fine for commuting and came with 5 ear bud seal sizes.

 

Before the ETY HF5s, were the Shure E4c's which really were nice 4 years ago but really became outdated with today's earbuds. They dont produce nearly the same rich sound as today's earbuds.

 

Before those, were the Shure E5s, so you see the progression from high end to something more practical for daily use. I still reach for the E5s but they are heavier and annoying to wear with ear wrap cabling.

 

Currently eyeing the Sony XBA1's as the next hidden gem under $100. There was no discernable difference between these and the dual driver models on reviews but i cant justify the triple and quad driver prices for the XBA line unless they really are outrageously great... verdict's still out.

 

Sorry for not keeping this inline with the format.

 

Sony MDR-EX310 ($75)

etymotic hf5 ($175 what i paid in 2010)

Shure E5 ($499) 5 years old but still sounds awesome

 

post #13 of 242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by acitydweller View Post

Sorry for not keeping this inline with the format.

 


Okay "format" was too strict of a word to use so no worries. I just mean posters please give a point of reference. Like:

"I think these 50 dollar iems/cans are overperformers because they are way better than these ________ (1000 dollar iems/cans)." Or something like that smily_headphones1.gif
Edited by Doc-holliday - 8/30/12 at 10:16am
post #14 of 242
Got myself the TF10 from Amazon but I can't find the $150 pricing. Got mine for $170 shipped. Wish I saved that $20 and get myself some complys...
post #15 of 242

$170 is still a good price for the TF10. You'll get your money's worth, trust me.

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