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Help: Looking for the best pair of headphones for all purposes ($100 budget)

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hello Head-Fi Community,

 

I am looking for the best pair of headphones available within a $100 budget.

 

I recently lost a pair of headphones that served me well for several years, and I'm looking for a pair of cans for all purposes. I have looked here for a long time and am still conflicted on what to get. These will be my first audiophile headphones, so I can't critique anything. I am hoping you guys can help.

 

I want to be able to take these headphones to school, work, and to trips. I'll take care of them but they shouldn't break any time soon. I want to be able to use them for several years.

 

In terms of music, I listen to a mix of "orchestral" sounds and hip-hop. Here is a few samples (off the top of my head) to give a better idea:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOJ6bzveAlE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkWjsT_SJNI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jmF_o6BlOo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5xZbJDZZo4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ll9c1S3d_v4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEClCAFjYHg

http://blazo.bandcamp.com/track/to-the-moon

 

And here are some headphones that I've looked at:

 

JVC HA-S680 - costs about $75 (shipping included) from Japan -- looks good and seems relatively cheap. I'm just afraid about the lack of reviews and it might just be too bass-friendly. The few reviews that this has are pretty positive, though.

 

Audio-Technica ATH-M50s - probably the best pair of headphones with a reasonable budget. It might be a bit too big and it's a bit over budget. I might bite if I see a good deal.

 

NVX Audio XPT100 - seems balanced, but a bit too flimsy if I were to carry it around everywhere.

 

I've tried the CAL! and the sound quality is excellent. We already have one at home, though, so I don't think that's an option here.

 

I would prefer over-ear cans, but this is not necessary.

 

Thanks for the help! I'm open to any questions if you guys think that would help.

post #2 of 13
I just started here so take my opinions with a grain of salt. I listened to the 3 you mentioned (among many others) when I went on a trip to a local guitar center and am in a similar situation as you. The m50s are $120 on amazon for the straight cord if you live in the US. I'm personally debating between the nvx and the m50. My biggest "concerns" regarding getting the m50 over the nvx is that the cord isn't detachable, and the clamp pressure made it very uncomfortable after only 5 minutes of use. Users have mentioned that replacing the pads and stretching the headband remedy the clamping issue though. As for the nvx, my concern lies within the fact that the cables plug into both ear peices vs just one. One reviewer said he dropped his a couple times without any damage (just some scratches) so I want to say the build is okay. I also haven't listened to them personally so I don't know if I'll like how they sound compared to the m50.

Also, have you listened to the Shure 440? I was pleasantly surprised by how they sounded. Very smooth and easy to drive.

Anyway, hope that helps you with your decision somewhat!
Edited by Dubear - 1/6/14 at 10:33pm
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Bump. Would really like appreciate some more input.

post #4 of 13

Martin Logan Mikros 90.

Closed, supra-aural, portable, very detailed, extended bass and treble, balanced presentation, lovely tone & timbre and very musical.

Only about $80 right now.


Edited by pataburd - 1/7/14 at 8:39pm
post #5 of 13

NVX XPT100s or Shure SRH440s. Both sound great for your genre of music, and sound better than M50s (in my opinion). As an NVX owner, I can vouch that it is not too flimsy, and they are just fine as far as portability goes. Do take a look at the Shure headphones too. They do orchestral really well.

post #6 of 13

In my experience the ATH-M50s and the Sennheiser HD280Pros sound a lot alike, have similarly strong build and decent isolation. They are moderately comfortable but I can't wear either more than an hour or so. The HD280Pros usually go for $20 to $40 less than the ATH-M50s so you might want to give them a listen if you're considering the ATH-M50s. Both are collapsing / foldable for travel.

 

But I agree with Ludesco, the closed off sound of either hte ATH-M50 or HD280Pro is likely not the best fit for your music preferences. 

 

Anywhere you can go to try these different headphones out near you?

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sxooter View Post
 

In my experience the ATH-M50s and the Sennheiser HD280Pros sound a lot alike, have similarly strong build and decent isolation. They are moderately comfortable but I can't wear either more than an hour or so. The HD280Pros usually go for $20 to $40 less than the ATH-M50s so you might want to give them a listen if you're considering the ATH-M50s. Both are collapsing / foldable for travel.

 

But I agree with Ludesco, the closed off sound of either hte ATH-M50 or HD280Pro is likely not the best fit for your music preferences. 

 

Anywhere you can go to try these different headphones out near you?

No, sadly, there aren't really any places here to try out headphones. That's why I'm really confused on the matter.

 

Bump for more suggestions please.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Alright, how about the HD 419/429/518 Sennheiser headphones? All are at a good discount on Amazon.


How do those fare for portability and sound quality (especially in comparison to the XPT100) for the genres I listed?

post #9 of 13

I have a hard time recommending closed Sennheisers. For your genre, you'd probably want as big a soundstage as possible. The HD518s will provide that best of the three you mentioned, but they won't perform as well as the XPT100s. As far as ~$100 headphones go, there isn't too big a difference between what you get. Whatever you end up getting will be the right choice.

post #10 of 13

Just wanted to post my experience with the xpt100s in case you're still debating. I just got mine in the mail yesterday and plugged them into my ipod. Sound was pretty awesome out of the box. I don't think many people mentioned needing to burn in the drivers on this set. It is definitely not that portable, as the bag it comes in is pretty big, and the headphones don't fold. They are SUPER comfy, and the ear pads are very easy to switch out. I think the angled pads were a little comfier than the normal ones. They feel pretty sturdy to me, but I can understand why some people are worried: the headband is a lot more flexible than what most people expect, so I assume that's why they think the build quality is "cheaper." Isolation is great: my wife and son were talking right next to me and I couldn't hear a thing at 50% volume. However, sound leakage is an issue if you want to listen to music at higher volumes. I suspect it is due to the low[er] clamping force vs the m50s (so much clamping force out of the box that I couldn't wear them for more than 5 minutes!). I love the sound signature on these, but the portability is the biggest issue for me. 

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

Alright everyone, thanks for the input! I decided to go with the XPT100s and I ordered one over the weekend.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dubear View Post
 

Just wanted to post my experience with the xpt100s in case you're still debating. I just got mine in the mail yesterday and plugged them into my ipod. Sound was pretty awesome out of the box. I don't think many people mentioned needing to burn in the drivers on this set. It is definitely not that portable, as the bag it comes in is pretty big, and the headphones don't fold. They are SUPER comfy, and the ear pads are very easy to switch out. I think the angled pads were a little comfier than the normal ones. They feel pretty sturdy to me, but I can understand why some people are worried: the headband is a lot more flexible than what most people expect, so I assume that's why they think the build quality is "cheaper." Isolation is great: my wife and son were talking right next to me and I couldn't hear a thing at 50% volume. However, sound leakage is an issue if you want to listen to music at higher volumes. I suspect it is due to the low[er] clamping force vs the m50s (so much clamping force out of the box that I couldn't wear them for more than 5 minutes!). I love the sound signature on these, but the portability is the biggest issue for me. 

 

The size seems to be a problem, yes. However, I think it being as comfortable as it is lends itself well to being good portable headphones. I'll just be sure to leave ample space for the headphones whenever in a backpack or something when I'm travelling.

post #12 of 13
Takstar Pro 80's.

$79.
post #13 of 13

HD 238/239

They are inner fidelity top 1 cans in the wall of fame. you can't go wrong with them.

They are portable as well.

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/innerfidelitys-wall-fame-ear-pad-open

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