Anything in the legal field that doesn't require either a JD or Bar admission.
Killer build quality, great for people with big hands! The "x" bass can be subdued via EQ to craft an actually decent sound for pop music, though they'll never be as crystal-clear as Etymotics, but I don't really want that, anyway.
>Etymotic MK5 Earphones
Same same sound signature as HF5's, just with cheaper plastic housings and fewer, less-nice accessories.
>Etymotic HF5 Earphones
Crystal clear, cool sound. They really do bring out previously-unheard details in my favorite tracks such as distinct, identifiable background vocals and bass. The fast attack and decay of the bass on these makes them perfect for speed (heavy) metal with perhaps no equal. This is my second pair!
>Bose SoundTrue Earphones
Got them because my RE-400's failed so quickly. I'm coming to like these- they seem durable, well-made, the retention system works, their bass is ample but still well controlled and doesn't obscure the midrange, the sound separation and channel separation are both good and the open air sound works well. Not sure why I shouldn't like these.
Bright, in-your-face, engaging, fatiguing sound with fast bass. Great for "technical speed metal" which generally involves few instruments but which is so fast-moving that it really sounds best with the SS you get with Grados, Etymotics or anything with a very dynamic sound.
>Sennheiser HD 25-1 ii
Detailed sound can be harshly bright with some tracks; Ligtweight but sturdy build; split headband adds stability and makes other supraaurals seem inferior by comparison; can be used w/ HD 600 cables; high clamping force and little ear padding can be uncomfortable and gets worse over longer listenign sessions; look silly during recreational listening in public
HAVE OR USE NO LONGER:
>Shure SE 535's
Coming from Etymotics, I found 535s' treble truncation to be too great for my liking. Great build quality and I had no problem with the mini coaxial connectors and the compatibility. Good isolation with foam ear tips and the compatibility with Westone ear tips was awesome.
>Sennheiser HD 558
GAVE THEM TO MY PARENTS
Excellent soundstage, fairly detailed sound with slower tracks. SS is slow and thick, though, and is bad with fast, dense music. Good 'clamp' to keep them on my head, velour padding is dense and soft, 'chassis' is lightweight yet robust. Great for home theater.
UPDATE: These are great headphones but I now favor my Grados so I just wasn't using these enough and figured my parents could use a decent set of headphones.
>JVC Gumy Plus
JUST STOPPED USING THEM
Cost $8 at the local brick n' mortar and they're not all that bad. I get a decent seal and OK comfort with the medium tips; the sound it predictably warm but rather smooth. Have listened to them only with slow, simple pop music but they're very passable.
> Sony MDR-AS400EX
JUST STOPPED USING THEM
Cost $30 at the local brick n' mortar. The silicone retention system works well and the silicone ear tip fit is comfortable but the cable's too long- it's probably 5' long. I'm sure the cable length is no accident but I don't understand the rationale behind it. The sound is very warm with excessive and poorly controlled bass which is passable but annoying when you listen to these after listening to something more neutral. The treble can definitely be metallic and fatiguing.
> Philips CitiScape Downtown Headphones
MECHANICALY FAILED - RIGHT SIDE DRIVER CUT OUT
Good for watching Netflix and making telephone calls (they have an inline microphone) but bad for any critical listening due to their distant, obscure sound. Eye-pleasing design and the memory foam in the earpads really does work well.
RETIRED AFTER 2+ YEARS USE
Cool sound as was expected; the sound otherwise seems fast, punchy and precise; they're small and barely visible when inserted; the cable seems rather frail and doesn't inspire confidence, nor does the construction in general esp when transported in the included soft-sided case, but time will tell.
*update* Since these are very small, insert deeply, do not need to be worn over the ear and have a thin, flexible cable, these are easy to insert and remove quickly which is something I really appreciate after dealing with the triplefi.10's which are the opposite in all those respects.
*/update* The variety of eartips is nice but seemingly unnecessary as the triple-flanged eartips are the easiest to fit, most isolating and "anchor" themselves in the ears better than the alternative eartips. Pairs very well with my Sansa Clip+.
DEFECTIVE - BROKE AFTER <2 WEEKS USE
Loved them until the strain relief separated from the ear element housing after about 2 weeks of use. HFM needs to do something about their product build quality.
> Koss Porta Pro
Ample and poorly-controlled bass; tastefully moderate highs; compactable; don't stay in place well during activity; they really do pull out your hair; generally flimsy-but-durable build; low MSRP = you get what you pay for
>Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10
DIDN'T CARE FOR THEM
To me, they seem pretty dark and warm as if they are meant to preclude fatigue and make poorly-amplified mobile devices sound good. The hard-sided case and replaceable cable are a plus as is the plentitude of eartips. They catch the eyes of others since they're so big, vibrantly-colored and are worn with the cable routed over one's ear so if you want something low-profile, these aren't the ones. These are good for low-intensity activities such as doing chores they stay in place well when worn over the ear (the only way to wear them) with the (symmetrical) cable running behind my neck and the cinch mildly tightened. They synced poorly with my Walkman Z1060; they were metallically bright when used with that source.
>Sennheiser HD 600
Sturdy build & feel; Modular; High clamping force = weight isn't concentrated on top of head = I can wear then indefinitely; Velour against skin = comfort; SS seems neutral and gives what the track calls for, be it warmth or shrill highs; *update* when listening to Ludacris' "Battle of the Sexes", I had to EQ-out some of the bass; if you want a cold presentation, you may want to look further and consider, for example, the DT880s */update*; "Very" open and give no isolation; Overall the build and SS are easy to live with.
>Beyer DT 800 600ohm
Flimsy design; Velour earpiece covers very plush but lack density; Driver covers press on the my ears noticeably but tolerably; SS seemed bright and a bit cool; Good instrument separation with fast, complex heavy metal. They actually did give some isolation compared to the Senn HD 600's. Their high impedance was a real treat because it made volume control easier, and I'd realy like to get some 600ohm headphones again.
UPDATE: Overall I liked these and would like to try them again.
> Sennheiser HD 518
Too warm for me, had to EQ out the bass!; dark compared to the ATH-M50's; very comfortable with moderate clamping force, fabric cushioning and lightweight
> Audiotechnica ATH-M50
Sound was divine with prominent highs and ample bass, but low clamping force + too little headband padding + heaviness hurt the top of my head w/in 30 minutes!!
> Sennheiser HD 555
Were bass-deficient when listening straight through my laptop DAC/AMP, but sounded good while watching movies through my Onkyo receiver; high clamping force was just short of intolerable
> Sony MDR-XB500
Too much bass actually hurt my ears when listening to Depeche Mode (unacceptable!!); hurt the top of my head due to heaviness and low clamping force
> Nexus 5 & Nexus 7
SS signature is neutral and... bland(?) enough that I can barely if at all comment on it. The N5 is not as "black" as my Sansa Clip+ but that's to be expected from a smartphone. Of course, the N7 has a stronger amplifier and does a better job powering my HD 25 1-ii's. Overall decent, acceptable devices.
HAVE OR USE NO LONGER:
> Sansa Clip+
I bought it again. This one actually works. Sound signature seems a bit dark & warm, so it takes the edge off my HF5's and therefore pairs well with them. 40GB on hand when I have my 32gb SD card in there though sometimes it seems the card gets unseated as occasionally the player will "refresh the database" even though I haven't added new music to neither the SD card nor the onboard memory in ages.
> Samsung Galaxy S3
Very strong amplifier, powers my HD 25-1 ii's well, but the sound is very noisy when used with earphones, so I don't use it with earphones at all and instead reply on my Sansa Clip+ and Walkman Z-1000 instead.
>Ipod Nano 5G 8GB
Tiny & Ultraportable; Absence of volume rocker button/s is disadvantageous
>Ipod Touch 4G 32G
Impressive resolution & strong speaker makes it perfect for watching videos; LO and accessory availability make it a good music drive/player
Tiny; physical control buttons easy to use w/out looking; 32GB Micro SDHC support; syncable via Windows Media Player; sync & charge via mini-USB cable; kept crashing when I put it on 'hold'; SQ was merely 'OK'
> Ipod Touch 3G 64G
Clear but clinical SS which lacked warmth, body and generally... "fun"; lousy web browser with its slowness, low resolution and tiny screen
> Sony Walkman NWZ-A865
Powerful sound as with the Walkman Z but sold it bc I wanted more storage capacity; should've kept it :(
UPDATE, 12/20/2014: Now really wishing I hadn't sold it. Generally combined the small form factor of the Sansa Clip+ plus the black, rich, full sound of the Walkman Z1060. Killer combination.
UPDATE: wish I'd kept it, but of course Sony discontinued it and now makes no equivalent.
No boutique cables.
Other Audio Equipment:
>Creative Gigaworks T20 II's
They work fine for "near field," recreational use.