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Need help choosing portable budget headphones under $150 USD

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, I'm extremely new to all this stuff. I just joined head-fi.org today, although I have browsed its forums a lot. I think this is the most reliable place to ask for advice. Things I'm looking for in a headphone:


- Low price (hopefully under $100 USD, I guess $150 is really my max)

- Noise cancellation would be useful, but not mandatory

- Forward mids/clear highs (I will mainly be listening to music with a lot of mids/highs)

- I would not like an emphasis on the bass, but I would like a deep rolling bass if possible

- Comfort (I would like to listen to music for 45+ minutes at a time)

- Portability/not a lot of leakage (I will be carrying these around and listening in libraries)


If my post is confusing, please tell me how to improve. It is my first time posting here.


Also, the following information may be helpful:


- I will never listen to any heavy metal

- I listen to classical sometimes

- I usually listen to pop/rock

- I listen to Kpop, Jpop, and anime songs quite often

- I usually use mp3s (not from YouTube, mp3s converted from music ripped from CDs)

- I usually use a laptop or iPhone/iPod

- I do not own an amp

- I have been using Apple earbuds (the ones that come with the iPhone 5), so something better would definitely be preferred


Also, one thing I am confused about:

I was going to ask for neutral headphones, but I read somewhere that hi-fi sound better than neutral... but wouldn't neutral actually sound like what the song is supposed to sound like?


Thanks so much guys! I hope that I can find an answer here!

Edited by johnharthwick - 1/7/14 at 5:39pm
post #2 of 22

In order of how I like them I'd recommend these three headphones to look at:


Sennheiser HD280Pro (~$99)

Audiotechnia ATH-M50 (~$135)

Beyerdynamic DT660 (~$139)


All three have good isolation. The Beyerdynamics have better sound quality, staging, and comfort. There are some other decent low price models listed in the buying guide worth looking at, but the DT660s are likely to have the best sound and signature in that price range and for what you want.


If you really want to up your game get a decent DAC/Amp to go with them. FiiO E07k and friends and NuForce uDAC3 are good choices. The difference in sound quality from my laptop is HUGE with a decent DAC/Amp. (I use nuforce uDAC3 and am very happy with its output to my DT770s)

Edited by Sxooter - 1/7/14 at 7:30pm
post #3 of 22
When I sampled them at guitar center they seem to fit what you're looking for sound wise:

Sennheiser hd428 ($99)
Krk kns 6400 ($85) <- don't know if you would consider these to have rolling bass though.
post #4 of 22



You should consider Gemini HSR-1000 (Takstar Pro 80). You can read and ask about them here:



Best Luck!

post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thank you guys so much for your advice! So far, I know that I won't get the Audiotechnia ATH-M50.


These are the ones I'm deciding between:

Sennheiser hd428

Sennheiser HD280Pro

Beyerdynamic DT660

Krk kns 6400


Right now, I'm leaning towards the Krk kns 6400. It seems like the Beyerdynamics are slightly harsh on highs and recessed on the bass, and I'm worried that the HD280 Pros are a bit too neutral/revealing. 


Anyway, thank you so much guys! I really appreciate the advice that you guys have given. If there are any other headphones that are not listed here, or if someone has specific reasons for why headphones already listed may/may not be good, please tell me. Thanks!

post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 

Actually, I've just found out that the HD428s are on sale on Amazon...  $50!

I'm beginning to like this one more and more... 

Can anyone provide more information on the HD428s, the HD280 Pros, and the Krk kns 6400? I've read the head-fi reviews on all 3, and the only things I worry about for the HD428s and the HD280 Pros is that they may be too revealing (showing bad quality in music)/neutral. Can anyone offer their opinions on this?

post #7 of 22

Great price considering guitar center is selling them for $99. They were pretty accurate and the bass wasn't bad. Not too punchy, but definitely more on the accurate side. The highs were crisp, and the treble was pretty neutral. They would be really good for pop and classical music, but I decided to pass on them because I listen to a lot of acapella and I felt that falsettos were a little too emphasized. 

In terms of your concern about them being too revealing/neutral, I would say that the KRKs are the most accurate of the 2 I tried (vs the 428), I don't know how that translates to bad quality music though (vs. a bad recording)
post #8 of 22

The 428s sound really hollow to me. Like I'm listening to the music in a tunnel or something.

post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

Sorry, when I said bad quality music I meant bad recordings. Also, does anyone have any thoughts about the 428 vs 280 Pro, or the 428 vs the KRK?

Again, thank you guys so much for the help.

post #10 of 22

HD280Pro: Tough, foldable, coiled DJ style cable, high clamping force, hot in the summer, clean slightly bassy sound with decent treble. Think studio monitor

428: lightweight, very comfortable, thin cable like IEMs would have, good bass but too light on treble for my tastes. Think on the go.


Note that applying EQ on may laptop to either of these headphones makes a world of difference. I haven't heard the KRKs.

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

Alright, thanks Sxooter! I guess I'm down to between either the HD280 Pros or the KRKs.

post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 

Hmm... Actually, I've been looking around and found that the 449s are only around $80 on Amazon. Can anyone tell me the difference between the 428, 429, and the 449?


post #13 of 22

You might want to consider the Martin Logan Mikros 90 closed portables.

post #14 of 22
If you really like to listen to k-pop, j-pop, and watch anime quite a bit, look at the AT ath-a700x. The cups are plastic and will not weigh down the headphone like ath-a900x (metal cups). I heard they can dig deep into vocal extensions (big on long-standing lots of anime series) and go as low as $90 on amazon to boot.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the recommendation of AT ath-a700x. How do you think these will compare with the KRK KNS 8400?

@pataburd  I've read a lot about the Martin Logan Mikros 90s, and considered getting them for a while, but I honestly hate the design... Also, it seems that these headphones have way too much clamping force... but I guess they're still an option, just not a preferred one. 

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