Decent all-around headphones for under 250 USD.
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343 Grenadier

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Good day, Head-Fi. I'm a newcomer to the world of high-quality audio. My first question and post here on Head-Fi's forums concerns a computer I recently constructed for someone else that I plan to turn into an HTPC some time in the next few months. It is limited to PCIe x1 sound cards and will eventually run Windows 8 64-bit. Currently, it is using Windows 7 x64 Ultimate ARC Gamer Edition. I'm looking for a good sound card and accompanying all-around pair of headphones for his use with music and movies.

I considered the famous Essence STX, but stories of dangerously loud screeching on Windows 7 64-bit have deterred me from suggesting it thus far. If anyone knows of an easy and guaranteed fix, I may consider it instead. The ASUS RoG Xonar Phoebus appears to be a decent pick due to it seeming relatively stable. (He's not a technically-inclined person, so the less hassle the card gives him, the better.) I'm aware it's a rebranded Xense and is less flexible than many more audiophile-oriented solutions, but my companion is not too picky about the sound card as long as it's a significant improvement over his current onboard audio. (That, and I know of a place we can acquire the Phoebus at a relatively low cost of around 150 USD.) The card is strictly for headphone and maybe 2.0/2.1 speaker use.

Unfortunately, he's not willing to shell out hundreds and hundreds for multiple headphones to cover the wide variety of music genres he listens to. Off the top of my head, I know they include jazz, 60s rock, whatever you call the music Ry Cooder played, and classical, so it would be nice if you could recommend highly-flexible all-around headphones for under 250 USD or so. It would help if the headphones are also portable. I've heard many good things about Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro 250 ohm headphones, so I guess that's going to be my control. Physical durability is also important. The headphones need to be able to last for a very long time. Say, three to five years.

Your pardon, Head-Fiers, but you might have to explain some of your terminology to me now and then. My experience with audiophile-grade equipment is currently limited to an entry-level Audio Technica ATH-AD700 and an ASUS Xonar U3. (I'm a gamer, which is also how I know about the DT 880 Pros. But don't worry: I already know gaming headsets are generally gimmicks.) I know some of the basics. I know, for instance, that X-Fis have notoriously bad drivers and are mostly suited to gamers, and that ASUS's Xonars are more flexible and better for music overall but also have bad drivers, though not as bad as Creative's. I know Auzentech makes solutions based on both the C-Media and X-Fi chipsets as well, usually high-quality ones. And I hope to learn the ins and outs of the audiophile world over the course of my stay here.

As with any worthwhile discussion, keep things civil, please. Thank you in advance for your cooperation. I look forward to hearing your suggestions.

P.S.: As a gamer, I'm open to suggestions on alternatives to the DT 880 Pro for positional audio in games. I myself will have a Xonar Phoebus very soon. This is a secondary consideration to the above inquiry, however.
 
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MegaMushroom

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I would recommend the Sennheiser HD598.  I'm not sure what your definition of durable is, but my 598s have lasted about a year and a half now, and no damage what so ever.  I don't consider myself much of a coddler when it comes to headphones.  I see myself replacing the ear pads about a year down the road, and use them well into the future.  
 
Sound quality?  They are pretty good with anything short of dubstep and electronica.  With a lower impedance they should pair up nicely with just about any amp you can buy. 
 
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ostewart

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Check out the Soundmagic HP100
 
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343 Grenadier

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I've also found Beyerdynamic DT990 Pros within the price range specified. How would these stack up against the 598, which I've heard is also an excellent choice?
 
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