$75-$100 Open-backed Headphones for Various Genres
Apr 30, 2015 at 4:17 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

TRapz

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It looks like I'm searching for headphones again! I'm relatively confused obviously about which is the best for me, but I'm also confused about what I like. Some background:
 
I went to a headphone meet earlier this year and tried many different headphones, most of which were very expensive but a did try some that were within my price range. My favorite headphones there were the HE-400i and the ZMF Blackwood. I'd like the sound signature of the headphones I buy to be similar to either of these two. I remember that the ZMF had wonderful texture and bumped up bass and mids; they were very fun and I really enjoyed them. The HE-400i had striking clarity and the texture of the bass was incredible. I understand that for my price range, I won't get something that's very close to these, but having the general sound signature would be great.
 
At the moment, I own a FiiO X1 with all lossless files (FLAC or WMA Lossless). I may be getting a FiiO E11k or E07k soon. I also have Shure SRH440s and SE215s. The SRH440s are slight bit bass light but do sound very good. The SE215s are a bit congested and maybe a little bass heavy. Mids are good on both, and treble is only okay on both. I listen mainly to rock, stuff like Muse, Porcupine Tree, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Green Day, RHCP, etc. Obviously, I jump around a bit and would like my headphones to be able to handle this as well as my other genres, such as metal (Dio, Metallica, Slipknot), electronic (PrototypeRaptor, CHVRCHES), and sound track stuff (WoW, The Hobbit). I enjoy a smooth and cleanly sound from electronic and stuff like Muse, but I also like a hard bite to the guitar and stand out vocals on stuff like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. These will be used at home, hence why I would like open-backed headphones.
 
So, what I'd like:
  1. Open headphones that have good clarity and soundstage, as well as feel very much open
  2. Good clarity
  3. Good mids and bass, not bright (but also not bass heavy). What matters most to me is vocals, guitars, and drums (vocals and guitars should be upfront, and I should be able to hear the drums without them being overpowering)
  4. Smoothness on songs that require it, but a bite and excitement in rock and metal
  5.  Good build quality, comfort is not required but good to have
 
I'm looking at the AKG K240S, Grado SR80e, Sennheiser HD558, Grado SR60e, and ATH-AD700X. I do not know much about these last two, though I have tried the SR80i, SR60i, and HD558. I tried the HD558 in a Best Buy where the sound was loud, but smoothness seemed to be good; other than this, I don't know much about it. I tried the Grados at the headphone meet I attended, and while I cannot remember why, I believe they did not impress me. This may have been because of my source or I may not be remembering correctly; at the moment, I'm most interested in the K240, the SR80e, and the HD558. I fear the HD558 may be too smooth and not rough enough for when I listen to rock; the K240 seems good but I hear of problems with build quality and I don't know if they have the guitar bite I'm looking for for rock. The Grados seem great, but my worry is that I thought I did not like them when I tried them at the meet. I would obviously like to spend as little as possible, so the K240s are attractive, but the sound signature of the SR80e seems better. What should I get/do you recommend another headphone?
 
TL;DR: Looking mainly at K240 and SR80e, I want smoothness and soundstage for electronic but bite and guitar/vocals upfront for rock.
 
Thanks for reading and for any recommendations!
 
Apr 30, 2015 at 4:21 PM Post #2 of 12

Fadem

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From the buyers guide (all the headphones you should have an eye on at least I guess):
 ​
Budget Headphones: $0-$75
Looking for a pair of headphones for travel, something cheap to throw around? Or perhaps you can't justify spending much on a pair of headphones but want something of decent value? Look here!
 
Open Headphones
 
(T) Koss KSC75, $10-$20. Mid-bass heavy, sub-bass roll-off and sparkly highs. *These are clip-ons*. #1, #2, #3
(B) Sony MA-300, $30-$40. Warm, bassy, good soundstage, decent comfort. 
(N) Superlux HD681 Evo, $30-$40. Leans bright without sacrificing mids or lows. Great price ratio. #1, #2
(N) Samson SR850, $50. Neutral, slight emphasis on treble. Removable cable. #1, #2
(B) Koss PortaPro, $30-$40. Strong but slightly muddy bass, recessed mids, slightly rolled off highs. #1, #2, #3
 ​
Entry Level Headphones: $75-$150
These headphones are for people who want to take the next step up and possibly enter the audiophile world. The low price-tag does not mean these headphones aren't serious about sound!
 
Open Headphones
 
(NW) AKG K240, $70-$100. Good build quality, detachable cable. Tight natural highs, slightly forward mids and highs. #1, #2, #3
(TM) Grado SR-60e, $79. Bright forward headphones. Bass is punchy but overshadowed by the forward mids, bright, potentially fatiguing highs. Great value headphones with good potential for modding. #1, #2, #3 
(MT) Audio Technica ATH-AD700x, $120-$160. Great comfort and decent build quality. Weak bass though it has some impact, detailed mids and highs with no fatigue. One of the best soundstages in the price range. #1
(M) Alessandro MS-1i, $99. Decent natural sounding bass, good warm mids, good detail in the highs with decent extension. #1, #2, #3
(MT) Grado SR80e, $99. Decent lows, though the aggressively forward mids overshadow them. Shrill highs, very bright headphone. Highly regarded for the price. Comfort and fatigue are potential concerns. #1, #2
 

 
Apr 30, 2015 at 5:15 PM Post #3 of 12

cel4145

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Many people find Grados pretty amazing for rock. In fact, I would pick the SR80i (haven't heard the e series) to be as good as any headphone in the <$250 range for rock. Well, except the SR225 :D

However, not everyone loves them because of their forward sound. But I think you owe it to yourself to see if you might be in the group who does :o2smile:
 
Apr 30, 2015 at 8:31 PM Post #4 of 12

TRapz

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Thanks guys for your responses. Really leaning towards the SR80e, it seems pretty much perfect and I can get it in store this weekend instead of having to wait for shipping. I'll have enough money for sure and buying in store is preferable. 
 
Apr 30, 2015 at 8:36 PM Post #5 of 12

cel4145

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Thanks guys for your responses. Really leaning towards the SR80e, it seems pretty much perfect and I can get it in store this weekend instead of having to wait for shipping. I'll have enough money for sure and buying in store is preferable. 


If you can get it in store, take your mp3 player/phone with you and try them out. If they won't let you open them in the store, try 'em in the car before you leave just to make sure you are likin' em :)
 
Apr 30, 2015 at 8:57 PM Post #6 of 12

TRapz

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If you can get it in store, take your mp3 player/phone with you and try them out. If they won't let you open them in the store, try 'em in the car before you leave just to make sure you are likin' em
smily_headphones1.gif

That's the plan. Already sent an email asking if they had a pair I could try in the store. Pretty sure they do, if I remember right from the meet. I'll bring my X1 and see how it sounds; I'll get them if I like them, if not, I'll come back here and try the next option.
 
Apr 30, 2015 at 9:53 PM Post #7 of 12

lakedmb

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My vote goes to the AKG K240's.  I think they are excellent headphones.  You could order both from somewhere with a good return policy, like Amazon, and audition them for a week to see which ones you prefer and return the other.
 
Apr 30, 2015 at 11:16 PM Post #8 of 12

cel4145

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That's the plan. Already sent an email asking if they had a pair I could try in the store. Pretty sure they do, if I remember right from the meet. I'll bring my X1 and see how it sounds; I'll get them if I like them, if not, I'll come back here and try the next option.


Yep. If they are not for you, the more you can listen to the better :)
 
May 1, 2015 at 5:33 AM Post #9 of 12

TRapz

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  My vote goes to the AKG K240's.  I think they are excellent headphones.  You could order both from somewhere with a good return policy, like Amazon, and audition them for a week to see which ones you prefer and return the other.

I'll try out the Grados first (that's free!) and if I don't like them, I'll order the K240. If I don't like those (I'll probably like one or the other), I'll find something else after sending them back. Does anyone recommend anything other than these two that they feel is better?
 
May 2, 2015 at 6:36 PM Post #10 of 12

TRapz

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Got an email back from the store, they only have a SR80i they used as a demo. They'd sell it to me for $80, which I might take if I like it. Can anyone explain the difference between the SR80i and the SR80e?
 
May 2, 2015 at 9:34 PM Post #11 of 12

TRapz

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Bah, didn't notice it but the store is closed on Sundays, and I'll be leaving the area to go back home tomorrow, which means I likely won't have another chance to try them for at least another month. I'd like to get something sooner, so it looks like I may or may not take a risk. Many I've talked to so far have described the SR80e's sound to be just what I want, and I'll likely be getting those at some point. Thanks to everyone for your help!
 
May 3, 2015 at 4:33 AM Post #12 of 12

taffy2207

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