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Good portable phones under $80

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

At my work I am often left sitting around with nothing to do while waiting for things to finish, so music is something that could help pass the time and is acceptable. I have headphones I like already, my Sennheiser HD595 have become my favorites, but I have Audio Technica ATH-M50's and Hifiman RE0 (The old ones). I would use my HD595's but they're not very portable and I like to use them at home. I'd use the ATH-M50's except they're completely noise isolating much like the RE0's and I do need to be able to hear if a co-worker tries to get my attention so I need something that is either open (Like my 595's - I can hear anything in the room with these on which is super cool) or supra-aurals. I don't want the headphones to be SO open that I have to crank the music up too loud to be able to hear it over talking in the same area, but if someone were to say my name a bit loudly I could hear it (And I can't get snuck up on biggrin.gif). I could buy something more expensive, but I want these to be cheap enough that if something ever happens to them I'm not heart-broken (I do ride the public bus sometimes so something that if stolen wouldn't leave me out a lot) - otherwise I'd spend more.

 

I don't expect the highest performance at this price consideration but something that's decent and fun. I'll probably drive it with my phone so something that doesn't need a portable amp would be nice. Koss Porta pros were a consideration and still are but not sure about the looks. I've worn my ATH-M50's around and despite their plain looks liked them just fine. Does anyone have any suggestions in this price range? My current "maybe" list has the following:

 

  • Grado SR-60i - They're at the top of this price range - so they'd have to be super good, and they don't seem THAT portable
  • Koss Porta pros - Not sure what I think about the looks, also I'm unfamiliar with what characteristic sound they have. I don't like things that are too bright or too boomy, but I could tolerate a bit of boomy at this price point if it's not excessive. Also not sure how durable these are for portable use, but reviews seem to really like these and I guess the lifetime warranty is supposed to cover the risk of bending the band?
  • Koss KSC75 - These are cheap, but I dunno if I'm a big fan of ear clip style. Price wise these are great though if they sound decent, but if $10-20 gets me better sound I'd rather spend it.
  • Superlux HD668B - They don't seem to be the best choice for portability but I'm intrigued in how they might sound for the price, they look nice enough but I dunno if I could wear something like this on the bus feel like it might get too much of the bad kind of attention.

 

Not sure what else to consider, but there are so many less well known brands and models so I'd just like some other ideas here. I'm somewhat leaning towards Porta pros based on their frequency response, looks impressive for their cost and I guess I could get used to the looks. I guess their dated looks would make would be crooks laugh at my "crappy" headphones and leave me alone. I love my HD595's, if there was a more portable cheap version or anything like it I'd love it. But something with a solid plastic headband seems too at risk of breaking in my backpack. Any other suggestions? I'm not opposed to maybe doing earbud style but unfamiliar with quality offerings here that don't do too much sound isolating.

 

In case my music tastes matter, I listen to a lot of stuff. Electronica a la Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, honestly just too much variety to list here. Also 70's Prog Rock, lots of 80's pop and electro-pop, 90's grunge and some hip-hop, different types of jazz (a good bit of fusion) the rare occasion for classical music. So yeah that probably doesn't help. I don't listen to country though, so there's that tongue_smile.gif

 

Thoughts please?

post #2 of 15

JVC HA-S500 folding portable headphones.

post #3 of 15

Open cans like the Grado and Koss leak too much for your use.

 

The Cal! seems like a good choice.  You might want to check the buying guides--looking for closed or semi-open cans with rating of "1":

 

http://www.head-fi.org/a/buying-guide-headphones-by-price-range

 

and

 

http://www.head-fi.org/a/headphone-buying-guide

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the thoughts about the sound leakage, not something I considered much. So is it more that they will themselves leak out all my music or that I will hear too much outside noise with them? Makes me kinda wonder why the Porta Pros are supposed to be portable if they have so much trouble with sound leakage. A co-worker has Beats Solos (Yes I know, yuck) and I hear them leaking all the time. But that could be because he's "deaf" and plays them extremely loud (And he says "They kinda hurt my ears after a little while" - great choice of headphone there...). I really don't know, I listened to a few Beats headphones before and couldn't stand any of them, very fatiguing to listen to and of course boomy. I actually quite like the JVC's you mentioned PurpleAngel, they look pretty sharp for that kind of money and the impressions seem pretty good at that price. Definitely a real consideration for me now.

 

I'm guessing Cal! is the Creative Aurvana Live! headphones? They look a bit big, maybe it's just the pics but they look like full-sizers. Just curious, are any of the Sony MDR or other studio headphones decent at this price range for my desired use, or no? 

post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Morden View Post

Thanks for the thoughts about the sound leakage, not something I considered much. So is it more that they will themselves leak out all my music or that I will hear too much outside noise with them?

 

Both

 

Makes me kinda wonder why the Porta Pros are supposed to be portable if they have so much trouble with sound leakage. A co-worker has Beats Solos (Yes I know, yuck) and I hear them leaking all the time. But that could be because he's "deaf" and plays them extremely loud (And he says "They kinda hurt my ears after a little while" - great choice of headphone there...). I really don't know, I listened to a few Beats headphones before and couldn't stand any of them, very fatiguing to listen to and of course boomy. I actually quite like the JVC's you mentioned PurpleAngel, they look pretty sharp for that kind of money and the impressions seem pretty good at that price. Definitely a real consideration for me now.

 

I'm guessing Cal! is the Creative Aurvana Live! headphones?

 

Yes

 

They look a bit big, maybe it's just the pics but they look like full-sizers.

 

The CAL! is not much bigger than the Grados and is lighter.

 

Just curious, are any of the Sony MDR or other studio headphones decent at this price range for my desired use, or no? 

 

The MDR 7506 is an excellent value for $80 something.  It is a full sized studio can.  The more expensive KRK KNS 8400 is very good and considered by most to be very comfortable.

post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

JVC HA-S500 folding portable headphones.

+1 on the S500 an amazing portable for sure.

Sent from my HTC Desire HD A9191 using Tapatalk 2
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

I was a bit more sold on the JVC for the lower cost and still favorable opinions but I'm seeing a lot of complaints about comfort. How is it uncomfortable? How are the JVC HA-S400's? Much worse or only a little bit?

 

It's starting to look like there's hardly anything available with closed cup design that's on-ear for less than $80 that's well regarded enough. But I'm seeing lots of just plain ol' full-sized headphones now, like MDR-V6 which seem portable-ish but that's a circumaural. Seems like something like that will isolate sound too much - can anyone say yay or nay as to the truth of this with the MDR-V6's? I'm torn by my desire for a cheap headphone that if stolen wouldn't be a big deal but also my desire for quality sounding music while I'm at work. If something is portable enough I guess I can just take it to and from work all the time (I'd rather just leave it in one of my desk drawers if it's cheap enough so I don't have to pack it with me every day). If I'm going to take it with me every day and it's a circumaural I could just take my ATH-M50's that I already own and enjoy. But I need less sound isolation, the ATH-M50's to me isolate sound very well so I won't hear much of anything with them on but the music. I'm ok with a full-sized circumaural as long as I can hear through it when I want to. If I'm spending $80 I'm liking the Sony MDR-V6's, seem a bit better built than the CALs and given the number of them around I trust their long term reliability.

 

Any other suggestions? I feel like there's something just right for me that I'm just totally overlooking. The JVC HA-S500's almost sound like the ones, just a bit concerned about the comfort. And be honest with me, if I'm paying $55 for the S500's how much quality are we talking different from those and the MDR-V6's at $80? Because I'd rather spend a little extra and get a lot more if that's what the difference is. I've honestly never listened to either, but I do like my ATH-M50 headphones and absolutely love my HD595's.

 

EDIT: Ok, silly me for looking at Amazon. I see the MDR-V6's at B&H for $68 brand new, shipped. That's looking really hard to beat now, but my concern still lies with the sound isolation. Also found the CAL on Tiger Direct for $72 after shipping. I think I might like the sound of the CAL better than the MDR but is the build quality shoddy? That's a concern I'd have more than anything with the CAL.


Edited by Mr. Morden - 7/7/13 at 5:53pm
post #8 of 15

The CAL! build is fine, but it is not designed for heavy duty use.

 

At this price point, there is no magic bullet.  You'll have to look at the +'s and -"s of each of these quality cans (in the context of the price range) and decide which best meets your needs.

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

A good point, I'm trying to decide if I had the CAL headphones if I'd be able to hear if anyone else directly tried to say something. I've seen people wearing the CAL and they look like they just about completely cover the ear. I have no desire to use such headphones, but something that is like the Beats Solo or the Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones is what I want (In so much as how they are when you wear them). I've looked a bit more and I think the MDR V6 is out, too much V shaped EQ. I really prefer something more neutral, I don't want the headphones to fatigue me from listening too long. So I'm back to the CAL, the JVC S500's, and maybe some other full-sized in this price range. I still don't want these headphones to isolate too much, as I cross big intersections and I don't want to not hear someone honking at me or anything.

 

Guys, what about the Sennheiser PX-100 II's or PX-200 II's?


Edited by Mr. Morden - 7/7/13 at 9:10pm
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Morden View Post

I was a bit more sold on the JVC for the lower cost and still favorable opinions but I'm seeing a lot of complaints about comfort. How is it uncomfortable? How are the JVC HA-S400's? Much worse or only a little bit?

 

It's starting to look like there's hardly anything available with closed cup design that's on-ear for less than $80 that's well regarded enough. But I'm seeing lots of just plain ol' full-sized headphones now, like MDR-V6 which seem portable-ish but that's a circumaural. Seems like something like that will isolate sound too much - can anyone say yay or nay as to the truth of this with the MDR-V6's? I'm torn by my desire for a cheap headphone that if stolen wouldn't be a big deal but also my desire for quality sounding music while I'm at work. If something is portable enough I guess I can just take it to and from work all the time (I'd rather just leave it in one of my desk drawers if it's cheap enough so I don't have to pack it with me every day). If I'm going to take it with me every day and it's a circumaural I could just take my ATH-M50's that I already own and enjoy. But I need less sound isolation, the ATH-M50's to me isolate sound very well so I won't hear much of anything with them on but the music. I'm ok with a full-sized circumaural as long as I can hear through it when I want to. If I'm spending $80 I'm liking the Sony MDR-V6's, seem a bit better built than the CALs and given the number of them around I trust their long term reliability.

 

Any other suggestions? I feel like there's something just right for me that I'm just totally overlooking. The JVC HA-S500's almost sound like the ones, just a bit concerned about the comfort. And be honest with me, if I'm paying $55 for the S500's how much quality are we talking different from those and the MDR-V6's at $80? Because I'd rather spend a little extra and get a lot more if that's what the difference is. I've honestly never listened to either, but I do like my ATH-M50 headphones and absolutely love my HD595's.

 

EDIT: Ok, silly me for looking at Amazon. I see the MDR-V6's at B&H for $68 brand new, shipped. That's looking really hard to beat now, but my concern still lies with the sound isolation. Also found the CAL on Tiger Direct for $72 after shipping. I think I might like the sound of the CAL better than the MDR but is the build quality shoddy? That's a concern I'd have more than anything with the CAL.

The V6 will make your ears overheat if you don't change the earpads to velour ones. Changing the earpads will also reduce the isolation. I have the Beyerdynamic DT250 velour earpads on my Sony V6. I have the JVC HAS400. It sounds great with great detail, however its earpads also make my ears overheat, but not as bad as the V6 did before I changed the earpads. The Sennheiser HD25 velour earpads are said to fit the HAS400. I haven't tried those yet. The bad part about changing earpads is that these replacement earpads are around $20-25 a pair. For the JVC HAS400 that is almost the cost of the headphone. Another option for even less isolation is traditional earbuds, although these are typically bass deficient. I  like the Sennheiser MX580. I guess others will suggest the Yuin PK3. Another option is the Sennheiser PX100II. I guess this might be the best option if you want very open headphones with good sound.

post #11 of 15

Jays v Jays sound great and cost like $60-70 bucks.

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

Ok, so my finalized list consists of:

 

JVC HA-S400 ($25)

JVC HA-S500 ($45-55)

Sennheiser PX100-II ($50)

Sennheiser PX200-II ($85)

Creative Aurvana Live! ($70)

 

So on the JVC and Sennheisers are there big jumps in quality between the cheaper model and the nicer one? I like the looks of all of these headphones, I'd now just like to get an idea with the JVC and Sennheisers if getting the cheaper ones are more "value-centric" than the more pricey options.

 

EDIT: Ok, so I was just so curious about the JVCs that I have now pretty much sold myself on the HA-S400's. Cannot beat $25 and given some of the feedback over on their dedicated thread I can't see them being a bad choice for the money. Now I'm just trying to decide if I want the white ones or the all black (The black and red trim are stupidly $45 - not worth it).

 

EDIT 2: Alright, so I went ahead and bought the white S400's (Not like I imagine I'll be able to own many other white headphones since it's not a common color option, save for some AKG and Beyer's). Thanks everyone for your suggestions and help, greatly appreciated. I definitely would not have even known about these if not for the suggestion of the S500's. If I don't care for the S400's I ordered through amazon so I can always return and go with the S500's - but hopefully these will if not exceed my needs, at least meet them and be a fun cheap set to modify (Too afraid to modify my more expensive headphones).


Edited by Mr. Morden - 7/7/13 at 11:56pm
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

Wow guys, I can't believe how nice these JVC S400's are. I've only just unboxed them, but am amazed at their overall sonic performance. I kind of thought it a stretch to say these were better than Beats Solos considering the price gap (even if they are boomy headphones) but no this looks so much like Beats Solos but better in so many ways (And personally I'd much rather have JVC adorn my head than that big "b"). I'm going to have a fun little thing tomorrow, I'm going to have a co-worker try them out who listens to music a lot and then ask them how much they think they cost based on sound quality and build quality.

 

I've only listened to these for a brief time, so comfort is still unknown but I expanded the headband to fit a bit more loosely on me and it felt decent. Not as comfortable as my ATH-M50s or HD595s, but hey I'm not complaining for the price and it can be modded if need be. Ear pieces are pleather but feel nice, build quality reminds me of a mini-ATH-M50 though not quite as robust. I'm slightly concerned over how easily the sides scratch or the chrome rings, but time will tell there. Cord has a nice heft to it and isn't one of those terrible thin ones that tangles so easily. For $26, I can heartily recommend this to just about anyone. The headband is a bit uncomfortable on the very top if you like to wear your phones tight on your head, but I've learned to just let it kind of be loose with my M50s and HD595s. I'm seriously considering these as gift ideas for my not-so-audiophile-minded friends and relatives, they'll probably think I spent a lot more than I did!

 

Initial thoughts as far as sound goes, surprised at the bass and there's quite a bit of it. Some material it gets a bit boomy with, but most things I've played are handled pretty well. One track I listened to managed to peak with lots of "spikey" highs repetitively and I had to turn the volume way down, don't recall this issue as much with the HD595s but it could have been that song particularly as I didn't notice the issue with any other material. Vocals are pleasant and smoothed if a tad rounded off for my taste. The cord is a decent length, but you can tell it was made for use with mobile devices on the go as the comparative spool of wire my M50s and HD595s come with. I have a Marantz 2215b I use for headphones and it's to the side of my desk, the M50s and HD595s easily reach but these don't quite reach and required me to hump over to listen while they were on (Would need an extension cable if one were to use in home). Not sure what my thoughts are on burn in, I did it with my RE0's which I bought new and didn't really notice a difference. Bought the M50s new and also never noticed a huge difference, but I never did a dedicated burn in on them. Bought the HD595s used and have always enjoyed their sound, but I'd equate that more to their natural tone than being broken in. Thinking I may go with a natural burn in on these as I can easily live with their sound as they are. Cutting the bass back a bit would maybe even be desirable, sometimes it seems to give a good quantity of mid-bass but it's quite capable of some pretty low bass for a small driver (As has been said by many others it's not a bass-head phone but it will definitely surprise your average listener with its level of bass).

 

These are my first on-the-ear headphones and I'm very impressed. It's these kinds of insanely cheap things that are built well and sound good that make me love the audio world. I'm being a bit excessive I'm sure here, but this seems like a headphone equivalent of the T-amp (but on a smaller scale). Thanks kind sirs for your suggestions, definitely no way I would've even looked at JVC headphones instinctively when I was looking. If only we could get those people with their earbuds to ditch those for a pair of these they might see what they've been missing!

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Morden View Post

Thanks for the thoughts about the sound leakage, not something I considered much. So is it more that they will themselves leak out all my music or that I will hear too much outside noise with them? Makes me kinda wonder why the Porta Pros are supposed to be portable if they have so much trouble with sound leakage. A co-worker has Beats Solos (Yes I know, yuck) and I hear them leaking all the time. But that could be because he's "deaf" and plays them extremely loud (And he says "They kinda hurt my ears after a little while" - great choice of headphone there...). I really don't know, I listened to a few Beats headphones before and couldn't stand any of them, very fatiguing to listen to and of course boomy. I actually quite like the JVC's you mentioned PurpleAngel, they look pretty sharp for that kind of money and the impressions seem pretty good at that price. Definitely a real consideration for me now.

 

I'm guessing Cal! is the Creative Aurvana Live! headphones? They look a bit big, maybe it's just the pics but they look like full-sizers. Just curious, are any of the Sony MDR or other studio headphones decent at this price range for my desired use, or no? 

I own the CALs (now in 2 pieces) and the MDR-V6.

To me the CAL cups are too small, barely fits around my ears.

So I would rather use my V6s (with the Beyer EDT200/250 Velour ear pads).

But would rather use the S500s over the V6, the S500 is a little easier to carry around.

post #15 of 15

The JVC HAS400 headphones is like a Rockboxed Sandisk Clip Zip mp3 player. These items outperform products that are more than 5x as expensive! The HAS400 also works so nicely with the Clip Zip. For around $80 one can get a 4GB Clip Zip, a 32GB class 4 microSDHC card to put in it, and HAS400 headphones. The total cost of this is around half the cost of just a 16GB ipod Nano.

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