My impressions of the Yamaha HPH-200:
The earpads were a bit uneven, with thick padding in some places, and thinner in others. It bothered me at first, but over the last few weeks I've found that rotating the pads carefully around allows more a customized fit for my head and ears (they're on-hear phones). I don't think it's a deliberate design, because the unevenness was itself uneven. There wasn't really a pattern to it, but I found that basically sliding the thinnest part up to the top is most comfortable. So I'm over that aspect, but I wonder why a company can't get these little things right sometimes (like the cord on the Klipsch s4 Reference, what a nightmare!).
I find the HPH-200's very comfortable, though there is a little pressure on the ears. Sometimes I forget I'm wearing them, sometimes I don't. But I got these for laying back relaxed in a quiet environment, doing nothing but listening to music with my eyes closed. And when I do that, I forget I'm wearing them. I have the Klipsch IEMs for walking around. So that works out. Plus, I need to get up every once and a while, there's always little things to attend to, so like many people I'm not looking for any marathon listening sessions anyway. I don't mind to have to adjust a pair of headphones every once in a while, within reason.
The HPH-200's aren't headphones for gooey hi-fi immersion. I wanted a relatively even-responding headphone, and it did take a while to adjust to this. I was used to listening at higher volumes with cheaper headphones or IEMs, and sometimes felt I had to in order to get the details I wanted. With the HPH-200's, I feel that lower is better. I've put my iPod EQ back on flat, and it sounds better. At medium-high levels and up, they feel the headphones lack bass. But at low to medium-low, the bass seems mysteriously present. For example, in metal (I noticed this in Metallica's Ride the Lighting and Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger) there's often guitars doing more up front riffs with harsher textures, and then when they stop just for a very brief rest of an eighth-note within the riff, the bass will have its own muted note right there. The effect's a sort of counterpoint, I guess, but often hard to hear since the two elements (up-front guitar and subdued, muted bass) are so apart in terms of their sonic qualities. I don't hear those little things so easily when the HPH-200's are turned up loud. When I turn them down, they're there again, and even jump out. Getting adjusted to the new way that bass sounds can be half the problem. You get used to how bass (or any other aspect for that matter) sounds on a particular headphone that you find pleasurable, and judge all others by that. But it's enjoyable to be forced to find a new way to enjoy bass that you might have missed earlier. Back to the levels thing, maybe there's a scientific amplitude or frequency-related explanation, but I think it's at least partly due the to ear/brain configuration somehow tensing up with louder volumes that it interprets as potentially harmful. I'm not talking about levels loud enough where you'd wince, or fatigue easily, but even lower than that, where you might miss on certain details because the ear is instinctively bracing for louder sounds. At lower levels, the ear's totally relaxed, with no threat of sudden piercing snare hits or whatever, and so is able to 'open' more. At least it seems true in my listening experience.
On a related note, there's a really strong inclination that many have, myself especially, to turn something up to improve it. And often, it works initially, but I think that's just due to the difference, or the A/B between lower and now higher volume. Similar to gooey types of headphones, the ones that are meant to impress you at first listen so that you buy them. It's a sort of instant-gratification, "wow-factor" thinking that's pushed on us from all sides in our consumerist cultures. When I was 5 my parents forced me to eat a vegetable that was on my plate, something I didn't want to eat, and which I warned them was going to make me throw up. And sure enough, two minutes later there was crimson-red vomit all over my plate, the table, and me. Dr. Dre had nothing to do with it, but you know what I'm talking about. As a musician, it always gets me how loud both guitar players and drummers tend to play, even in situations where they're miked-up. Playing everything at a default loud level (banging on drums, or really hitting the guitar strings hard) just immediately erases any potential a musician's playing has for dynamics. But so many do it. There's a common virtue that would apply in both cases--headphone levels and playing techniques--where restraint pays dividends. The old question of "Do you want a quick thrill or a lasting pleasure?" applies to the HPH-200, and it takes not getting pulled into your own private loudness war. But that's not so easy to do.
The HPH-200's are open-back, but at low levels there's not much leak, and I can listen in bed "with my gal by my side," and there's no angry tugs on the blanket or elbows or anything like that. Also, I can relax when the baby's around, and hear her if anything needs attending to. Of course, that takes me briefly out of the listening experience, but I'm finding ways to incorporate all these things into my daily situation (music, baby, etc.). Also, the sound feels like it's coming from outside the headphones, farther away than just an inch or two from my eardrum, which is nice.
I'll post more later maybe.