If you were to compare all headphones across the spectrum from the lowest cost (like free apple earbuds) to the Sennheiser Orpheus my opinion is that the best value (for sound quality) is probably around $100-$200 dollars (like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50). In terms of the sweet-spot for "high end" headphones I would say around $500-$1000 is where diminishing returns start to really set in (or maybe even before that, it depends on, among many other things, how much you have to spend to drive the headphones well).. It is of course a subjective experience and there's no correct answer.
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Head-Fi Buying Guide (Over-Ear Headphones) 3
Last edited: 11/28/14
- Head-Fi Buying Guide (Ultra-High-End Headphones (Summit-Fi))Last edited: 12/8/14
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Margin of diminishing returns?? Do $200 headphones sound "the same" as >$500, or $1000 headphones? (assuming proper amplification) - Page 2
Poll Results: What's the ideal price range for headphones, value wise, with proper amplification?
10% (4)Anything short of the Sennheiser Orpheus is complete garbage.
Gear mentioned in this thread:
I've always been wondering this -- at what price point does the margin of diminishing returns hit the peak, for headphones?
For example, I'm listening to my Beyer DT880-600 right now and they hold a solid ground against my much more expensive D7000's. Though given I am listening off a pretty decent DAC/AMP setup (Headroom Ultra Desktop DAC + Headroom Ultra Desktop Amp). Even still, I'd say the DT880-600 is 90% of the much more expensive T1.
In your opinion, can a $300 pair of headphones hold its ground against a $1k pair? (assuming proper amplification).
Just wondering of others' opinions...
According to the hype around the Focal Spirit Pro, yes. A $300 headphone holds it ground against high end headphones :P
edit: I still need to hear them before I can make a judgement myself. Still haven't found a store yet that has a demo unit.
Edited by ubs28 - 5/2/14 at 1:14pm
OP wasn't being literal. It's a pretty simple question once you read the post.
But you're obviously just looking for a fight, and I don't care enough to argue.
Everyone wants giant killers, but in truly critical listening an HD 800 will pull away from a KSC-75 in a matter of seconds.
Different headphones don't just suit different budgets, but different applications. The highest-end headphones are best suited for critical listening. By critical listening I mean it as an exclusive activity -- no simultaneous web browsing, no reading, nothing but just queueing an album and listening.
I'm more than comfortable with a pair of $200 headphones for casual applications like video games and listening while doing work or browsing the web.
I think $200 is the sweet spot. You can get yesteryear's flagships for around this price, and they hold up excellently even today.
Edited by 3X0 - 5/2/14 at 5:54pm
IMO the HD800 isn't better than a HD650 or HD600, just different. The HD800 has better imaging and soundstage of course, but in terms of sound signature it's really what you're looking for. Sometimes I even prefer the dark sound sig of the HD650 to the much brighter (and sometimes sibilant) HD800...
Wish that were true of the HD650s... though i got mine before Senn got really strict on the pricing, so mine were way way under MSRP. I always have a hard time thinking of them as $500+ headphones as they were $350 when I got them.
Ok so so far most people agree that 200-500 is the ideal price range, "value-wise" --
List some models too! (Note open box HE500's are going for only $499 on ebay)
The aesthetic, build quality, tech in some of the headphones out there is cool, but for me at like $250 the hd600 would be the point of diminishing returns.
I find the planars around $400-$700 (HE-4/HE-5/HE-400/HE-500) are at the point of dimishing returns for planars.
I don't know enough about electrostats to say anything about them (I've never heard one), but excluding the amp probably around $700-$1000 in my opinion.
I don't think I could personally justify over $800 for any headphone. Speakers, perhaps around a thousand excluding subwoofer. I think it really depends how much money it takes to get good sound quality in different situations. I would probably want to spend a bit more on closed back headphones.
For my tastes (includes FS pricing from this forum)
Street pricing 200-350 : HD600, DT880, K702
Street pricing 350-500 : SRH1840, HD700, HE500 (HD700 is probably more in the $500-600 range - but have seen it as low as $500 a couple of times)
- Margin of diminishing returns?? Do $200 headphones sound "the same" as >$500, or $1000 headphones? (assuming proper amplification)
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