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New member looking for advice on first good headphones (~<$150)

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 


For a very long time I was content with whatever speakers/headphones/ear-buds were available for listening to music.  However, recently an acquaintance of mine let me listen to a song I like using their headphones (Klipsch Image One).  When I listened to that song again at home on my crappy pc speakers... lets just say that I now realize that I should get something of higher quality.


Anyways, I've read a few articles here and there on this site and need some help deciding on what to buy.


For the most part, I'm looking for on-ear headphones that I will be using at home and possibly at the office. 

I like listening to a lot of music from a fairly diverse set of genres, mostly indie-rock, punk-rock, electronic (including dubstep and some trance), and pop, but I also listen to other music like hip-hop, metal, or indie-folk.


I'm looking for decent headphones, without breaking the bank (price wise I'm looking to hopefully spend less than $150).

Headphones that are a little more bassy couldn't hurt, but not if it comes with too much of a sacrifice.


So far, the headphones that I've been considering are:

  • Klipsch Image ONE (I don't know how these compare, but they sounded good to me)
  • Grado SR80i (From what I can tell they may not be great for the office, but I suppose I can use a lower quality set over there)
  • Sony MDR-XB500 
  • JVC HA-S500
  • Sennheiser HD 239


Additonally, if I get one of the less expensive ones and can still afford an amp/dac, would it be worth it to purchase the Fiio E11?  Or would my phone be good enough (it's the HTC One, and from: http://www.head-fi.org/t/655952/htc-one it sounds like it may suffice)


Any other suggestions would also be appreciated.


Thanks in advance

Edited by someone456 - 6/20/13 at 11:57pm
post #2 of 16

I do like my JVC HA-S500s, fairly easy to drive, so plugged directly into the HTC one should work.

When I first used my HA-S500, it was with a Fiio E6 amp, but ended up just plugging the HA-S500 directly into my portable audio players (Sansa Clip Zip & Sony E465).

post #3 of 16
Don't get the sr80i (sounds good for some genres, not so good for hip hop, etc). The xb500 is pretty good, but I have an even better recommendation: the citiscape uptown by Philips. It's very good at all genres.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Sweet, thanks for the suggestions, how do those compare comfort-wise? I'd probably keep the headphones on for several hours of listening.


Also, would it be worth it to get both the HA-S500 and the Citiscape Uptown's since it'd still be within what I was looking to spend? (While the cost is important, it isn't the biggest deal. I just don't want to splurge)

post #5 of 16
Look into the Grado SR60i to pair with the JVC S500. The Grados will be great for all kinds of rock and metal, but open and not good for in the office. Then you'll have the more bass heavy signature of the S500 for EDM and hip hop and as more portable headphones with isolation that can be used in your office.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Okay cool, thanks.  I've decided on getting both the Grados and the JVCs, and just use them in different situations.

post #7 of 16
Great! Be sure to come back and share your impressions of the differences between the two in case someone else is looking for something similar smily_headphones1.gif
post #8 of 16
Smart choice, never thought of that.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Alright I'll be sure to do that once they arrive

Edited by someone456 - 6/22/13 at 10:45am
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

Here are my impressions in case anyone is curious:


Grados: These headphones sound amazing!  I normally listen to music while I work on stuff, but while using these, I literally stopped working and just listened to my music because of how different it sounded and how much detail I missed in the cacophony of sound produced by my old speakers compared to these.  The only problem I can see (that I knew before I bought them) is that they leak like Julian Assange, which limits where and when I can use them.  Also, certain genres (eg. rap, dubstep, house music, etc), seem not to lend themselves well to the open platform and just sound better on the JVCs.


JVCs: Reading conversations online about burn-in, I didn't think it would really have a profound effect on headphones; these headphones changed that.  Initially, they sounded decent, but shortly after that, they got worse.  For a while, the harshness of the sibilant sounds in some songs (e.g. the live version of Glory Box by Portishead) was unbearable.  After a lot more listening, they got MUCH better, with the harshness disappearing, and everything sounding better.  IMO, the bass on these is, in general, much more effective than on the Grados.


Since I don't really want to put too much effort into comparing the two, I'll just list some random songs that sound better (in my opinion - feel free to disagree) on one vs the other:



  • Smile by Portugal. the Man
  • Girl by Beck
  • Revenge by Danger Mouse feat. The Flaming Lips
  • Everything Louder Than Everything Else by Quiet Company
  • Knife by Grizzly Bear
  • Blue Ridge Mountains by Fleet Foxes



  • Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
  • Nightcall by Kavinsky
  • American Trash by Innerpartysystem
  • Loud Pipes by Ratatat
  • The Island - Pt. II (Dusk)
  • Whirring by The Joy Formidable
post #11 of 16
Sounds like this headphone pairing worked well for you. Many of us have two or three sets of headphones we listen to most of the time for the same reasons smily_headphones1.gif
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Yep, now I just need to find some iems and I'll be golden.

by the way, thanks for all your help everyone.
post #13 of 16
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
I had not checked that out yet; it looks like I have some major reading to do. Thanks again.
Edited by someone456 - 7/25/13 at 8:47am
post #15 of 16
If you liked the Klipsch Image ONE then you probably like a lot of bass, which means forget about the Grados. They are good headphones, but definitely not one for the bassheads. Of the remaining ones on your list, the JVC are by far the best sounding headphone overall. If you only want bass, however, the Sony XB series pounds like nothing else.
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