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Hi there! Seeking advice on commute-friendly over-ear intro phones.

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi there, Head-fi!

I've been trawling this site obsessively for a few weeks now trying to narrow down a set of headphones for a gift. I've kind of got a short list, but I thought I'd throw it out there as I'm a complete noob to the world of headphones (I've been using a pair of $10 Sony earbuds for ages...and now you know). I'm buying for my boyfriend who's not an audiophile per se, but who has a definite listening profile.

He commutes a lot for work, sometimes upwards of 5 hours a day in blocks of 1 - 1.5 hours on public transport, so there's definitely need for isolation both against intruding sound and against leakage although passive at most, really. I think active noise cancelling would be overkill especially as he does a lot of walking too, and I'd rather him not mowed down. He does listen to a lot of rock (not going to lie, there's a lot of hair metal on his playlist), but he's really big on audiobooks and lectures which is the thing that's thrown me for a loop. The gamut of quality for audiobooks is really insane and an unforgiving set of phones might not be the best match, but again, I'm not entirely sure of how that works. I'd imagine a bright sound would be good because you wouldn't want the narrator to sound like he's swimming in pudding, but I know that especially with poorer recordings, or ones ripped from cassettes, background hiss and sharp s, t, and z consonant sound can really be a huge issue. He uses a Creative Zen X-Fi2 for playback.

I know that technically an IEM would be a good match, but he's really not keen on having things in his ears at all. Right now he has a pair of Panasonic RP-HTX7s and he's never complained about the sound, and comfort-wise they seem to be fine, but the cable has been destroyed and is patched together right now with a bit of isolation tape. Which brings me to my next wish -- I'd love love love for there to be a detachable cable. We have a cat who we should have named Houdini who loves to teethe on cables and is notorious for finding and destroying cables even if they've been hidden away. I'd rather be able to swap out a cable if we have a little accident. I would like to stay in the price range of the Panasonics though, and from what I've seen on this site, it is possible to get a higher-quality sound while still staying in budget.

I've looked through several lists of over-ear rec lists here and I've been tempted by Superlux offerings, as they seem to hit the great sound/price/range of models with detachable cables, but many recs seem to label the sound as "unforgiving" which I'm worried about when it comes to audiobooks. Plus, a lot of the closed back models seem massive -- much bigger than the RP-HTX7 which seems like a strike against commuting-friendliness. The Superlux HD661s might be a possibility (or maybe even the HD631s, but its hard to find info on the size), but again, I'm worried about the compatibility with the audiobooks. Also, he has a massive head so something with a mega clamp might not be ideal. He had no comfort complaints about the RP-HTX7 as far as I heard (and I keep bringing up those phones, not because I've got some kind of fetish for them, but because they're the only ones I can compare his preferences to!confused_face.gif)

So, yeah, TL;DR... seeking advice for:
Good for rock and audiobooks of various ripping quality
Detachable cable
~€30-€60 (ish...flexible to a degree on this. I'm ordering to Italy.)
No vice-grip reputation
Somewhat portable (not necessarily foldable or anything, just not way massive or brick heavy)

Thank you!! smily_headphones1.gif
Edited by applescrumping - 7/13/13 at 5:03am
post #2 of 6

Are bass important to you? If it is not, the MDR-7506 is a very good choice for you! If it is, the HD439 are pretty good as well. Both are good with rocks but it just depends on what kind of sound signature are you looking for. HD 439 are warmer, more bassy and also darker in comparison. The MDR-7506 are thinner, brighter and much less bass in comparison

Hope this helps!
Billson biggrin.gif
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply!

Judging from his musical tastes (he's got a fair range of music besides the hair bands! Electronic, pop, some hip-hop) I reckon something with a warmer sound would be best.

The ones you recced look interesting -- the warmer sounding HD 439 have the detachable cable, but I've read that they look and feel really light and plasticky with a kind of dubious build quality. Because he picked the RP-HTX7 himself, I know he's not shy for having circumaural cups, but I don't think the huge, bulky look of the HD439 coupled with the light plastic feel would be right for him. The Sonys are more onto the smaller side for better portability, but there's of course the possible sibilance with audiobooks and the fixed cord that are the problem.

I was looking at the Koss prodj200s as kind of a perfect blend of size, durability and portability with the detachable cable (not to mention that they seem to be touted as having great sound) but it is pushing my budget a wee bit.
post #4 of 6
Opps! Totally forgotten about the audiobook.. Haha

The HD439 is not all that badly build. It's lightweight, not at all big, it fits nicely into my ears just right in. The plastic don't feel cheap either...

Billson smily_headphones1.gif
post #5 of 6

Well you said that he is not so into IEMs but I would still suggest you to check AKG K391NC. It is with active noise cancellation and sound profile matches the needs of your boyfriend. Also NC unit is pretty small and one charge lasts up to 40 hours. Check that.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

I actually just not a minute ago put in an order for the KOSS prodj200 as they fit the portable, affordable (amazon.de had them going for €63 including extra cable and carry case which seemed a great deal) and detachable cable profile so we'll see how it goes with them, but...


I *love* IEMs. I've got pretty small ear canals but generally I find they're insanely comfortable and often go to sleep with a pair if traffic is a bit too loud. They're a bit out of my price range right now, but I'll definitely look into your suggestion maybe to drop hints about Christmas presents or whatnot biggrin.gif



EDIT 24/7/2013


Just in case anyone stumbles on this via the search engine, I just received my proDJ200 in the mail and straight out of the box the seem to be just right. I even played a ****ty 64kbps audiobook file through my Creative Zen and the quality was well sound. Nothing hissy or sibilant about it. Again, just my first impression, but I'm really pleased with the sound of these and I think the BF will be, too. They seem comfortable and quite well built. Very happy, indeed.

Edited by applescrumping - 7/24/13 at 2:34am
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