I've had the same pair of HD600s on my head daily for a decade, and I use them for everything. first and foremost, listening to music, 1/3 at home, 1/3 on my bike or walking about, and 1/3 reading in public like a weirdo. I have them on my head for about five hours a day. I'm the sort of person that likes to buy something that serves my needs unto death. these babies are in many ways closer to me than my friends, my family, my guitars. I dumped what was at the time two months of rent on these babies knowing I'd never have to shell out a fortune for headphones ever again. over the years, I've eaten through innumerable cords, a set of drivers, and three sets of pads/band padding. the sennheiser label rubbed off years ago, the grills are dented, and much of the paint has chipped off. this concerns me only in as much as it makes them look even more unassuming, which I dig.
I've few complaints with these headphones. the biggest was the split cable, which I remedied a few years back when my *th cable kicked the bucket, so I bypassed the modular connections, ran the cable to the right earphone and strung the left through the casing along the headband down to the left driver. this particular cable has survived three years and counting, though it's shrunk as I've constantly replaced the 3.5 jack. other than the "catch my chin every time I take my headphones off" issue, which is currently resolved, my only other complains are:
-pads are thick enough new, but after a year or so my ears touch the inner grille, which makes my ears sore after a few hours. by ears, I mean the external, not the internal.
-in public, classical and ambient gets lost in the noise of the crowd. It is not so much the hearing of things other than my music that is the bother, but when that noise is at least as loud as the music, it ruins it.
now, for what I love, ie. qualities that are necessary to me:
-first and foremost, the reference sound. I'm not a numbers geek, but the response of these is what I know, what I love, and what I want.
-close second, the fit. my ears cant hold a set of earbuds for five minutes without pain. I can enjoy grados for half an hour before my ears hurt. I want a donut suspending the headphones over my ears, like the hd600s do
-third, weight, but only inasmuch as they are light and "clampy" enough to stick to my head while I ride my bike. I've bucked my girls while mountain biking a few times, but goodness, that is to be expected!
alright, so these days, my headphones spend the majority of their life plugged into a 7th gen ipod classic, and the rest of their time plugged into an maudio firewire 1814. the ipod's DAC is not the greatest, and its amp is rubbish. *my* idea of a good upgrade plan is to strap her to a dac/amp, replace my weathered cable with one of your suggestion and terminate it with a cute 3.5 pailiccs jack, or with the jack optimal to the dac/amp you folk think would best suit me.
-internal battery that lasts at least five hours, though I'd rather one that lasts as long as the ipod. I do not object to sandwiching a cell between the ipod and a dac/amp that isn't battery powered, but only if someone can describe the schematics; I am excellent at SMD rework, but BGA is beyond my grasp, and my abilities are entirely mechanical.
-not much bigger than an ipod. the size of a 3.5" HDD is the absolute limit of the dac/amp/battery (minus ipod).
Notice the absence of a budget for each component? I leave that to you. my budget is only for the project as a whole. I would like to spend between $400-$600, but I can stretch that to about $1500, but only if it makes sense. I am a bang-for-your-buck guy. when I dumped $500 on my headphones, people thought I was an idiot. a decade later, they've all spent twice that on disposable headphones, and that fact alone is why I will justify spending up to $1500 if it makes sense to do so.
So that is my situation, and I will leave it to you guys to spend my money for me. to save time, I will answer the "what music are you listening to" question:
everything, but not equally. the majority of what I listen to could be (ill)classified as electronic, indie, folk, and classical. if interests as they relate to fidelity are concerned, in order:
1) deconstructing synths (ie. reconstructing the production of noise in my mind),
2) appreciating the genius in production, and
3) obsessing over the nuances in solo classical recordings (pascal roge's take on satie's gymnopedies [and a few of the gnossienns]is one I've been studying for three years now with the obsession of a stalker).
P.S. Howdy, pleased to meet you, etc.! help computer!