Hello, I should start by saying I'm not an audiophile and really have no idea what I'm talking about, but I'll try nonetheless. The only 'prosumer' headphone I've ever owned was the Sennheiser HD 280, which (in spite of its apparant notoriety here) blew me away and was probably the best spent $110 (shipping was pricey) of my life, even taking in to account that it only lasted a year (of heavy use) before the right speaker passed away.
Since I bought them on eBay the warranty is meaningless, and I was looking to upgrade at some point anyhow. Now comes the age old question: Which cans should one buy? A friend of mine has a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50's, and is satisfied with them, so I borrowed them for a day to do a test run, giving me a much needed break from my backup $30 Sony's. It was immediately clear (to me) that the bass is much more pronounced and resonant than in the HD 280's, but not excessively, which impressed me. However, mids and vocals that had been crisp and defined with the Sennheiser's sometimes felt mellowed out with the Technicas. Every track I took into consideration was lossless, so I don't think it's a matter of their quality exposing bad source material. As I listen to a wide range of music including classical, I need those high and middle ground frequencies just as much as I like a bit of bass firepower, which is why I went with monitor phones in the first place. So while I recognize and appreciate the pros of the ATH-M50's (and I know it is very well regarded by most people here), I don't consider it an upgrade - or at least not an upgrade enough - from the HD 280's. That's more or less the only pointer I can give to the (blessed) answerer of my question, because I haven't had the chance to try other headphone models and probably will not be able to do so. I'm relying on consensus and conjecture alone.. and/or a return policy.
After much perusal of endless lists and reviews I'm no more decided than when I started, but I definitely need a closed pair, it needs to be musically versatile and not overtly tailored to a particular genre, even at the expense of some 'colour', and ideally I don't want to spend more than $200, but I can perhaps stretch a little if you convince me it's really worth it. That doesn't leave a lot of room to manoeveur but there are a couple of headphones that I believe fit this criteria which caught my eye.
One of these is the Beyerdynamic DT-770, but I have read it is also quite bassy and drowns out vocals. From there I found the DT-250 and stumbled on a thread here dedicated to it, with 30 odd pages mostly of praise. This model is apparantly underrated and I naturally root for the underdog *but* is it really the best in its price range, given that I haven't heard about it aside from in that thread? On the other hand if I were to stay loyal to Sennheiser the HD 25-1 II's are probably the logical step up. Now, I don't fully understand a lot of audiophilic terminology like soundstage, but I do want my music to sound as realistic and live as possible within the constraints of closed headphones, rather than having it aggressively forcefed into my ears - do the 25-1's sacrifice that 'realism' for portability (the latter isn't really a factor for me, since it's unlikely my headphones would ever leave my house). There is also the 'Grado' lineup which is very well priced, but not everybody sings their praises and I'm worried they might be a bit genre-specific. And a hell of a lot of others I have not even had time to look into.
As you can see, I need a little direction. I listen to classical/ambient/opera/soundtracks, all kinds of rock from folk to progressive, various 70s/80s (synth)rock/pop acts, a multitude of golden oldies, the occasional metal or 'heavier' track.. and lately I'm finding myself more attuned to grungey guitars and vocals, but my tastes have always varied wildly from time to time. So really, I need to cover all sonic bases, or at least as many as is feasible. Now, I'm going to stop rambling and hopefully a saint among us will give me a little direction. Really, just tell me what to buy, I'll take your word for it. Apologies for my verbosity and cheers in advance for any assistance you can deliver. :)
PS: I have a dedicated sound card and at the moment I use audio-in to an old hi-fi system as an amp, it actually works very well and sounds good but this is definitely up for replacement at some point.