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Thread Starter 

Thank you, in advance, for being patient with another newbie…


I’ve been using crap airport shop headphones for a while, and am now looking to ease my way into a more audiophilic experience.


Sources will be an iPhone or Mac laptop with lossless (ALAC) or high bitrate mp3’s.


For the sake of portability, looking for headphones that don’t need an amp to be well-driven by these sources.


I’m still torn between high tech buds, IEM’s, and over-the-ear cans.


My usage will primarily be at home, with kids in the house, with occasional airplane trips or long road trips. Isolation is important to me.


Last wrinkle - I have a big head and ears. Head is 24.5 ins (62 cm) in diameter (measured circumferentially about an inch above my ears). Ear lobes are 3 ins (7.5 cm) tall by 1.75 ins (4.5 cm) wide.


Looking for something I can wear for hours without head, ear lobe, ear canal discomfort.


If you look at the sound type definitions laid out on The Headphone List website (, I think I’m interested in either “warm and smooth” or “balanced”.


I’ve narrowed things down a little bit (I'm finding the number of options out there overwhelming)…


over-ear cans
AKG K550 - good for big heads and ears


AKG K551 - I think just an iOS “upgrade” to the 550’s, however I’ve seen some reviews that say sound is actually different than 550’s


NC ear buds
Bose QC20i - no review on The Headphone List, so maybe true audiophiles shun these. Mere mortals seem to love them (Amazon reviews). At this point, I’m a mere mortal looking to become more of an audiophile.



Yamaha EPH-100 - Well reviewed on THL, however review of Amazon shows that several people have had a channel drop out on them, and had to return these.


Shure SE215 - Well reviewed on THL.


Etymotic Research HF5 - Ditto.


Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkII - Ditto.