Here is my plan and budget:
I’m hoping to buy a portable and a non-portable at home high quality headphones plus amp (top consideration thus far is the Filo 18 that is portable enough to drive a headphone if needed and still provide high quality and a great DAC for at home listening from my computer and TV/movie watching). Originally had $125 saved for the amp, planed on spreading $125 for a portable headphone (but willing to boost it to $200 if the quality and value is there), and saved up $250 for the at home non-portable open headphones.
I’m looking for a portable headphone that will be used with my with my Ipod classic (and possible amp if needed). IEM is not possible for me due to having ear wax problems and I had to go to an ear doctor before to clean them out when my IEM stuffed them up making loss hearing in one ear for 2 weeks.
Areas that I’m looking for in my headphones: Clarity, Soundstage, Comfort (I wear glasses and MANY headphones are designed in a way that hurts or feels funny for my head and the clamping power is way too much for many as well causing sores thus this is a necessary area if I want to listen to music for 4 hours long if I want), and based on what people have wrote about the headphones I have already auditioned and found myself liking based on the music I put in a playlist to test them I’m looking for a neutral or mid centric. I’m not a basshead.
I listen to: Broadway, vocals, acoustical, movie and theater soundtracks and classical songs and scores.
I’m using this tread for mostly portable ideas and thoughts and info but I will write that for the non-portable open headphones my top picks based on testing and reviews are: AKG K701 and K702 (didn’t like the Q701 from my testing but loved the K701 out of all the open headphones I tested), Sennheiser HD 558 (very good and comfy and great sound and value for $135 at best buy currently), HD 598, have not heard yet the K702 65 anniversary addition (I’m curious if they sound different from the K702)
Portable considerations that I have tested thus far and loved/liked:
AKG K240: I know these are semi open headphones thus outside sounds will leak in but that doesn’t bother me (it might be for the best to hear my stop coming up on the subway or traffic on the streets of New York for safety reasons). I was afraid that being semi opened I might bother people with my music but in testing them I could not hear my music outside of the headphones unless I pressed my ears to the outside of the headphone open areas. Very comfortable and it fits my head without a clamping feel and is lightweight as well. The sound is fantastic with one of the best if not the best clarity for the price (seeing it sold for $80 on Amazon and it’s MKII version for $110 which I read is the same as the AKG K240 but with two cables and additional velour pads for even more comfort and enjoyment and I’m willing to pay for that), a very nice sound signature to my likening, and of course I didn’t know the true meaning of “Sound-stage” till I put these on (my first open type headphones ever and now it’s hard to go back to closed at all).
The bass doesn’t cover the mids and is not overpowering like many other headphones but just right for me. They hit majority of the marks I’m looking for and the MKII K240 are the top consideration portable headphone right not during my researching and testing phase. Some songs however I felt needed a amp (which I was already considering with the Filo 18) thus unlike many of the headphones below these are harder to “drive” I guess.
Sony MDR-1R: Fantastic comfort, the headphone presented a sound signature to my liking and I felt it had great clarity and decent soundstage. Con is that it sells for $299 but I have found it selling also for $179 brand new online. No amp needed.
Skullcandy Aviators: Would of not even considered them as I’m not a basshead and disliked all the skullcandy headphones I listened to but one day auditioning at shops I decided to go in with a open mind and I’m happy I did. One of the most if not the most comfortable and light headphones I have put on. The pads are small but my own ears and face are smaller than average and they just fit in with perfect comfort and fit my head very well. They don’t feel like putting on a vice grip and that is a big bonus for me. I don’t care about looks but they are stylish.
Nice soundstage for closed headphones, decent clarity verses what I was expecting, a sound signature that I’m looking for with mid more pronounced, boosted and clear (looking for a mid-centric or neutral/natural headphones and these while not neutral still supported majority of the music I listened to) and very nice highs but possible sibilance (when female singers pronounce S sounds the s seems to linger for a mille second) and the low end is more to my preference not getting or covering up the mids which for many is lacking but for my personal preference and music is just right. I wear glasses and other headphones felt like I would feel sore after 30 minutes but the comfort and lightness of these headphones makes me feel I could wear them all day and even forget about them a bit due to how low weight and comfy they are. The black ones currently cost around $75 on amazon which is fantastic value to me based on what they give and if they even pop up at $60 I would defiantly get them to wear if not for my portable phones but to have something I enjoyed and can listen to while researching and testing candidates for primary portable headphones (aka a secondly back-up to have once my select portable headphones bust which I hope won’t happen for a long time as I hope for strong build quality and value in time/price ratio). I also like the removable cable as usually it’s the wire that causes death for majority of my headphones/iems). I understand due to how they are made they are more fragile than other headphones but I hope to be careful with all my headphones to help ensure long term life. Also I found based on research that all headphone purses are a gamble even when buying from more respectable brands in lifespan and possibilities of a defect. Something I buy at $75 and breaks after 2 years would sting less and feel I got my moneywise worth than something I but at $200 with the same lifespan. It is not the best in clarity and many instruments are recessed/roll off (still learning the lingo a bit) but for the price, comfort, and what they give and sound signature to my liking the value is very high for me. No amp needed.
The ones above based on reviews and personal testing stood out the most for me. Here are some others I tested and my quick feelings on them.
HD25-1 II: On ears vs Over the ears which I what I’m looking for plus costly but the sound and clarity was fantastic.
K267 TIËSTO: Felt great and had a great soundstage for closed headphones and fantastic clarity and nice sound signature. Pricy however and read disappointing reviews about its built quality/lifespan with many breaking in short time periods. Sad as I really did like it.
Sen HD380: Better than the 280 that I didn’t like and enjoyable and clear with ok soundstage but a bit tight for me and just remember liking the others a little better.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 (With a good and powerful DAC/Amp the 250 ohms seems to be the best pick for HQ music and sounds I think) first auditioning them they didn’t impress me for how much they cost but that might have been an lower ohm version but I can’t recall as the second one I tested at another store was better with clarity and good soundstage and comfy padding. However they are very expensive for my portable budget. Found them heavy and bulky to wear compared to above.
Skullcandy Master Mix (more neutral then sol x3 that I tested at best buy with ok soundstage and good clarity but plastic headband and compared to Aviators that sounds the same but more for the highs/bright for the Aviator which I found that I preferred while the Master Mix focus more on low end but both aim for neutral with some coloring and has good mid-range)
Audio-Technica M50 and its removable cable version: To bassy for me when I first listened to them but in another store I tested them at they sounded far better but still a tad more with the low end then I liked but I can hear why people do like these headphones. The removable cable version is a bit more comfortable to me but still expensive being new.
Sony V6 and 7506: Had high hopes and comfortable but when I put them on I found myself preferring the above headphones a lot more. The sound while being called “monitor headphones” still sounded colored and some songs sounded not that great (partially female singers) to almost painful sadly.
Shure 440 remember them being ok but didn’t stand out to my memory compared to the others plus they felt like I was wearing a vice grip on my head and thus low on comfort for me.
Other headphones I have to try as I have read decent/good things about and in some similar topics people recommended as well (the first three I have high hopes for):
AKG K 550
NVX Audio XPT100
SOL XC Master mix ? (I liked the X3 for decent soundstage and clarity and feeling of a decent built construction but prefer less bass and more midrange and second the highs. Read about them and how they compare to the X3 and they seem like they focus more on what I’m looking for but have not found them to auditioned them yet. Also hoping to find them for $100 or less for better value and I read target had them on sale for such price but not anymore.)
Denon AHD2000 (read great things about its quality however I don't know if I would be able to find it 200 dollars or under plus I believe its discontinued adding to the difficulty)
HFI-680 (netural with mids strong I read) ($130)
HFI-780 (highs with some bass I read) ($230)
K167: Read it was the same as K267 which sounded fantastic and lighter but sadly even less built quality (and based on reviews the built quality/lifespan of the K267 isn’t that great)
On the ear people have recommended to me recently: