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Why are high end portables generally poorly made?

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 

I've been searching for my "end game" pair of portable headphones and have come across story after story about build quality problems among the top models. In particular I'm talking about the NAD HP 50s and the Focal Spirit Professionals, which generally seem to be regarded as the two best sounding portables.

 

I've tried a number of headphones lately myself - the Thinksound on1s, the Onkyo EF300s, the Soundmagic HP100s, the AKG545s and the Mikros 90s. The only pair that comes close to my $50 Koss DJ100s in build quality are the Soundmagics. 

 

Why? Do manufactures know that us audiophiles will pay for sound above all else and therefore skimp on construction quality? 

 

Personally, I'd be much more likely to part with $300+ on headphones if I know they had a good chance of lasting me 5 years under regular use.

 

Which elite sounding portable headphone does have the best construction?

post #2 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuff Jones View Post
 

I've been searching for my "end game" pair of portable headphones and have come across story after story about build quality problems among the top models. In particular I'm talking about the NAD HP 50s and the Focal Spirit Professionals, which generally seem to be regarded as the two best sounding portables.

 

I've tried a number of headphones lately myself - the Thinksound on1s, the Onkyo EF300s, the Soundmagic HP100s, the AKG545s and the Mikros 90s. The only pair that comes close to my $50 Koss DJ100s in build quality are the Soundmagics. 

 

Why? Do manufactures know that us audiophiles will pay for sound above all else and therefore skimp on construction quality? 

 

Personally, I'd be much more likely to part with $300+ on headphones if I know they had a good chance of lasting me 5 years under regular use.

 

Which elite sounding portable headphone does have the best construction?

 

Well, my HD25s were built like a tank -- they looked brand new when I sold them after 7 years.

 

Perhaps it is not the manufacturer skimping on quality...maybe you are just treating your headphones like schiit.

post #3 of 47
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elvergun View Post
 

 

Well, my HD25s were built like a tank -- they looked brand new when I sold them after 7 years.

 

Perhaps it is not the manufacturer skimping on quality...maybe you are just treating your headphones like schiit.

 

I've not owned the NADs or the Focals but many people report build problems.

 

My thinksound on1s and Onkyos broke within a week - normal treatment. Mikros 90s broke within 6 weeks  - again normal treatment.

 

The point is, if these are really portable headphones they've got to be made so they don't need to be treated with kid gloves.


Edited by Stuff Jones - 5/29/14 at 7:25pm
post #4 of 47

Hi,

 

What about, V-Moda M100?

post #5 of 47

Sennheiser Amperior or HD-25 are durable.

 

I've had good luck with V-MODA with the M-80, M-100, and now the XS.

 

For long-term viability, a removable cable is a must, especially one which is easy to replace.  The V-MODAs all have standard mini-stereo single-sided plugs, which are much much better than proprietary cables like B&W uses (one snag and you are done).  Sennheiser is also good because of their repairability and longevity; I successfully refreshed my 15-year-old HD-25 with new cable and new earpads.

post #6 of 47

I think that Senn has good offerings for their portables. The HD25, Amperior etc. are great as mentioned above. The new DJ line by them seem pretty durable as well. Maybe you should check those out.

post #7 of 47
I agree with OP. I'm very gentle with my gear but have had problems with the build quality of several portables too.

The best I've found are the V-Modas and some of the Shures.

Right now, I'm using a Focal Pro because I enjoy the sound but I'll continue to avoid cracking the headband.
post #8 of 47
Thread Starter 

From what I've read, the Senns and V-Moda's are not on the sound quality level of the elite portables, unfortunately.

post #9 of 47
Solution: CIEMs. Owned mine for 2 years and they don't get any special treatment. They ride in my pockets, not in a case. They get used while mowing and working out. Nothing's been broken and they sound like the day I got them. Bonus is that they sound better than 'elite portables' and can be pretty close to a high end home based full size rig when used straight out of a DAP. Let's not get into other benefits like size, weight, not falling off while on the move, isolation, etc, etc.
post #10 of 47

A better question: why are there so few affordable (70$ or less) good sounding portables?

 

Another point of concern would be the discussion location. Isn't this the "full size" section?

post #11 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by KlarkKentThe3rd View Post
 

A better question: why are there so few affordable (70$ or less) good sounding portables?

 

Another point of concern would be the discussion location. Isn't this the "full size" section?

Durability comes at a price and so does portability.

 

Both of which consumers look for in a portable headphone.

 

$70 is pretty cheap for any good sounding headphone, but anything portable costs a bit more than its non-portable counterpart. That's just the way it is :/

post #12 of 47

If the Shure SRH 1540 is build anything like the Shure SRH 1840, it's probably has one of the best build quality among headphones in general. 

post #13 of 47
I own V-Moda M-100's & also Sennheiser PX100II'S. Both sound good for what they are but the Senn's are better built in my opinion.
post #14 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubs28 View Post
 

If the Shure SRH 1540 is build anything like the Shure SRH 1840, it's probably has one of the best build quality among headphones in general. 

Not shure how portable those headphones are though...

post #15 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuff Jones View Post
 

From what I've read, the Senns and V-Moda's are not on the sound quality level of the elite portables, unfortunately.

 

The V-MODA M-100 is definitely more bassy than the HP50.  The XS is the most neutral of the V-MODA lineup but still has a bass hump.

 

One headphone to try is the Audio-Technica ATH-ESW9.  It is not durable, as the yokes are known to break with too much force, and of course there's the wood cups.  But the sound is very inviting.    It has been compared to the OPPO PM-1, although I haven't compared them myself (am still looking to hear the latter at a local meet at some point).  The size of the ESW9 is also good for a portable both for transport and for wear.

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