Advice on first decent headphone
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captainsolo

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Hi all!
 
After many years of cheap headphones, tinkering, minute upgrades, radio work and joining audiophile boards I have decided to start upgrading all of my meager system one by one on a budget. I wanted to start with headphones because that is probably the one area where I've never had really great equipment.
 
Here's my criterion for a new headphone:
-My budget is around $100
-I would like open ear
-I have no preference for treble or bass, I prefer neutral as possible but still relatively involving
-I'm looking for a very comfortable pair that I can wear for long periods without ear fatigue, sweating or pressure because my head is rather large and I wear some pretty large glasses.
-I would like a pair that didn't require an amp that could occasionally be paired with a portable player (a Sansa Clip+)
 
My dream pair would be a Senn HD-600 with a matching quality amp, because I've always wanted a open dynamic but relatively neutral phone. But of course my budget won't allow for that...
I figured that by going with a lower phone, that I could still have a pair that was at least still useable outside the home listening environment.
 
I typically listen to rock and alternative with some jazz and blues. I listen to both CD and vinyl, and the occasional hi-res.
 
I started with a whole host of options narrowing down to the ATH-M50s, AD-700, Senn HD 518. I would like to stick with the HD518 because I like the overall design and the comfort is probably the best fit for me. Currently I use a pair of HD202s which I'm really wanting to upgrade from despite still enjoying the sound. However, would it be worthwhile to either wait for a used pair of 558 or 598s or is there not really that much of a jump for the price to be worthwhile?
 
I nearly purchased a Sennheiser HD 280 pro, but the fit is so uncomfortable and the cups so flat on my head that my ears are sweating in 5 minutes and my head feels as if it's in a vise.
 
Of course any other recommendations are welcome. After lurking around here for a while, there are an astounding number of phones I've never heard of.
 
Thanks in advance!!
 
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NA Blur

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The 598 sounds identical to the 558 to my ears and the charts show the identity:
 
http://graphs.headphone.com/graphCompare.php?graphType=0&graphID[]=2851&graphID[]=2861
 
So if you want to save some money and have the save sounding headphone the 558 is the better choice.
 
The DT770 sounds very similar to the ATH-M50 so there may be a cost savings for you there as well.
 
Some headphones that come to mind:
 
1.)  Sennheiser HD-449
http://www.headphone.com/headphones/sennheiser-hd-449.php
Average Price: $120 US
 
2.)  Audio Technica ATH-M50
http://www.headphone.com/headphones/audio-technica-ath-m50sle.php
Average Price: $135 US
 
3.)  Audio Technica ATH-AD900
http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-57-headphones-compared-update-hifiman-he-400-added-12-24-12#user_ATHAD900
Average Price; $250 US
 
Be sure to check out Tyll Hertsens' "Wall of Fame"
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/innerfidelitys-wall-fame

 
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captainsolo

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How would the m50's compare to the hd series? I'm kinda worried that the closed design might not be the best for long sessions, and some complain that the m50s lack in the mids.
 
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The HD-25-1-ii series sound more neutral than the M50, but the M50 is a great entry level sealed headphone.  They can sound a bit boring at volumes, but driven well they sound great especially for the price.  I just plugged mine back into my m903 and they sound pretty dang good compared to my AH-D2000.  There is a much needed boost in the treble and a slightly laid back feeling to the bass.
 
The comfort and seal on the M50 is awesome.  The sound is something I am amazed with and when I first tried on several pairs of headphones at Headroom I settled on the M50 out of probably 50 high quality headphones.  This was well before the Beats days and the wall was filled with everything from Grado, Denon, Sennheiser, AKG, etc.  The M50 is a headphone well worth its high rating.

Tracks that sound great with the M50:
 
Mason Jennings' Dr. King
 
Ella Fitzgerald's Wait Till You See Her
 
Even listening to Dream Theater's A Nightmare To Remember sounds great.
 
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