Cool comfy ?on-ear? headphones for office use
Jan 14, 2017 at 10:01 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

Joel Benford

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I'm looking to buy a pair of headphones for office use, to play quietly with a Chord Mojo. I'm in Britain southwest of London, and I want to dem before buying. Budget is something like a couple of hundred pounds.
 
I am a martyr to heat, so I'd prefer to avoid anything that encloses my ears. I like the music that comes out of my Grado 1000s, but I can't wear them for more than an hour (I mostly use speakers at home). I'd love to go with custom IEMs, for isolation and ventilation, but I'm pretty sure the second or third time the boss answers the phone because I didn't hear it my listening days will be over. So I have been wondering about on-ear headphones, especially closed back 'phones to cut the leakage (I can't go annoying the colleagues).
 
At the moment I use SoundMagic UE30s, a not-very-isolating IEM. They're splendidly musical and free of boom-tizz for the price, but I would like something more clear and open with treble extension. Basically, I want something more expensive sounding that I can knock off my ear with a phone handset. :)
 
 
My question, essentially, is: do you folks think this will work? Are on-ear 'phones a good route to office harmony for the guy with sweaty ears? Or should I go about this in a different way?
 
Jan 14, 2017 at 12:28 PM Post #2 of 4

yoyojoe

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I would recommend the Isine10 haven't heard them, but they sound like something that would fit your categories. They are small iems, that are open sounding, and can be had for about 400 usd. 
 
Jan 14, 2017 at 4:21 PM Post #3 of 4

serman005

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People in offices who need to hear what is around them usually either get on-ear or open, or wear their IEMs without a good seal.. The issue with open obviously is that they leak sound, so that may not work. For some people it does. That said, a few on-ear options are the Senn HD 25-1 II, VMODA XS, and the B&O H6. You might also read about the Meze 99 Classics. It's over-ear, but with small diameter pads. It could potentially work.
 
Jan 29, 2017 at 7:10 AM Post #4 of 4

Joel Benford

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Thanks guys. I went along to a dealer yesterday (Audio Sanctuary at New Malden, London) to try out some options. It didn't end up how I expected…
 
Beyerdynamic T51p
The first ones I listened to. These were the ones I thought were the most likely option, based on reading the internet before going along. And I hated them. They were a wall of confused and congested mush, with no treble. And very uncomfortable. Uh oh, I thought.
 
Meze 99 Classic
An over the ear headphone, which I specifically didn't want because I thought it would be too hot. But the dealer really liked them so I thought I ought to put them on for a few minutes to be polite.
 
Well, they were certainly quite nice. This actually felt like proper, working gear: fairly neutral and wideband, with deep enough bass and no glaring bass hump, and treble in proper measure that went high enough to keep my old ears happy.
 
And they were musical. They timed, they played tunes, they turned confused/congested tracks into comprehensible layers of guitar and rhythm section, they made the four strings on a bass guitar sound different in pitch, they did voices that sounded somewhat human. They're no Sennheiser 800s, but they are a sorted headphone with good musicality and no dramatic sonic failings.
 
A pity, I thought, that they're going to be uncomfortably hot in 15 minutes and I'll have to ignore them. Only… they weren't. They were fine. Comfortable, very light, and not so isolating that I couldn't hear a phone on my desk.
 
B&W P5 2
Nice looking cans. My instant impression was positive – they played tunes, there was pace and rhythm and timing, the dynamics were not like my speakers but they were at least an improvement over my IEMs, and there were no nasties. But after a minute I decided they were just too civilised. The top is very rolled off, it may never offend anybody but it offers no excitement either. They sound like a caricature of a 1950s valve (tube) amplifier. Also, after ten minutes they started to get uncomfortable.
 
I think these are a “lifestyle” product. B&W should do a grown up version for people who don't want noise rock to sound like smooth jazz. There are some good flat earth headphones in here trying to get out.
 
B&W P7
Over the ear, which was a concept I was now prepared to consider. I think these are much better balanced than the P5 2s. Generally a well-sorted headphone, but not quote as good as the Meze 99s and a bit heavier. The bass is about right for quantity, but gets a bit vague when you try to listen into it and follow a bass guitar or whatever.
 
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0
Nominally on ear, but they completely hid the top three quarters of my ear (and squashed it against my head). Well balanced sound and good musicality. Probably the best sound per unit of currency I heard, but the more expensive Mezes beat them overall. There's a bit more there there on the Mezes.
 
I was thinking about these, until they started to get hot after 10-15 minutes.
 
I like the looks, especially in ivory. Nice headphones if you find them comfortable.
 
Master and Dynamic H30
Very cool looking retro metal sculptures. The first thing I noticed was the excellent isolation. They were far and away the best isolation of the group. It was more isolation than I actually wanted, I need to hear the desk phone (or colleagues yelling at me to answer the desk phone), but damn it's good. The second thing I noticed was that they were very comfortable; I didn't notice them sitting on my ears
 
These were new, un-boxed before me, and not run in. So take the sound with a pinch of salt. They were pretty dark sounding, and weighty, though not boomy. I wouldn't expect that to change much with run in – you usually tame edgy treble, not add treble. They were a little congested, which might improve with time. So, nice to wear but not the neutral voicing I was looking for.
 
These might be good for people on underground trains, who want the excellent isolation and the weightier sound, if they don't like IEMs for some reason.
 
Denon AH-D7200
With a 6.5mm jack and wooden cups that would stop the wimpier bullets, these aren't competing with the headphones above. These weren't on my list when I went in. But I figured since I liked the Meze 99s I should try another closed headphone from further up the food chain.
 
They're good. Another musical and neutral headphone with good extension. More precise and less coloured than the Mezes, although there was a bit of colouration right in the vocal range that stood out by contrast. But they're too heavy; my neck was feeling them after ten minutes and I wouldn't want to wear them for six hours at work.
 
Nice headphones for lying on the couch, head on a cushion, in a room that you don't have to yourself.
 
 
I bought the Meze 99s. I went for a colour they didn't have in stock (walnut and silver), so they're on order.
 

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