Headphones for College $250-300 Max
Jul 26, 2008 at 9:07 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

AlexLastName

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Hey everyone, this is my first post, although I've been browsing these forums for a little while now. I'm heading off to college in a few weeks and have been going through hell trying to decide which set of headphones I want (I'm bad at big purchases). I'm looking to spend up to 250 (maybe 300) although of course I'd like to spend the least amount that will satisfy my needs.

First off, I'm pretty sure I want a closed headphone. I'll be listening to them a lot while my prospective roommate is probably sleeping, so I don't want the sound to leak too badly. If there is a set of open headphones that don't leak too much I could probably spring for them as well. I'd also like some good isolation.

I'd also like some pretty good bass response. Very present, but not overbearing, and definitely really clean. I don't really have any experience with a nice pair of headphones so I'm not sure what counts as average or above average etc. However, I do have a pair of my father's Yamaha Hp-1 orthodynamic headphones that I'm not really too pleased with. I saw there's a pretty large discussion about the orthodynamics which I haven't taken the time to sort through. What I do know though is that the bass is quite weak and that overall the headphones don't really seem to be as clear and crisp as I would like. I guess there's a chance that they're not working perfectly, but I wouldn't really know; they're in good cosmetic shape.

Another important thing is comfort, I could be wearing these for 5+ hours on occasion. I'd like something that goes around the ear completely. I guess I have a small head as far as headphones go, I wear my headphones on their smallest setting.

Last thing I was going to mention is that I'm also going to be using these for my keyboard and synthesizer, so something that can really bring a piano to life would be nice. I suppose I might want to use these for studio monitoring, too.

I initially was looking to buy in the $100 and under category, but I've decided I should just spend the money on a high-quality headphone now since I hope to be using these for a long time (and would rather not continuously upgrade). Since I decided I was willing to pay more there's just too many models for me to look up, especially since I don't really have the opportunity to listen to any. I was looking at the Sennheisers and Sonys, then I heard about Grados and they kind of sounded like fun, then I eventually heard about every other brand so now I need help. Currently, I was kind of thinking of the DT770's, but I know there's a ton of other stuff out there.

I pretty much listen to every genre, but I guess electronic, alternative (like Radiohead), jazz, and classical, as well as some stuff that would be classified as indie could sum it up.

Sorry for the long post, any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 
Jul 26, 2008 at 9:21 AM Post #2 of 12

aaron313

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Well crafted first post. Unfortunately I know virtually nothing about closed headphones (in that price range). But I can say...

Welcome to Head-Fi, sorry about your wallet.
 
Jul 26, 2008 at 9:24 AM Post #3 of 12

obobskivich

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my #1 suggestion is to get the headphones I bought as my first purchase: Denon AH-D2000, they're around $320 online, around $350-$360 at retail, worth every dollar

they basically do everything you've just listed, but somewhat blow past your budget (and if your source sucks, they'll bring that out, because they are reference quality components, just like Sennheiser HD-600's or AKG K701's (not at all trying to start a flame war, I'm just saying these three all exist at roughly the same level))

personally I would avoid Grado's, they're known for being good rock headphones, and being VERY open, the only thing less isolated is probably the AKG K1000 (lol)

other headphones you might look at would be the Denon AH-D1000/1001, the M-Audio Studiophile Q40, the Sennheiser HD-280Pro, the Sennheiser HD-595, or the Sony MDR-F1

i've heard all of those headphones personally, except the D1001's (but they're nearly identical to the 1000's) and the Sony's

vs the D2000's, I'd say the HD280Pro's are colder, more recessed, and a lot "straighter" sounding (the Denon's add a somewhat more musical flair to things than the Senns do), they do seem to provide better isolation though, personally I find them uncomfortable, a friend who owns them says they're the most comfortable headphones on the planet (and regularly wears them for hours on end, i can't stand it, but i also have a big head lol (it does make a bit of a difference, especially with somewhat smaller phones, like Grado's))

as far as the Studiophile Q40's go, I look at them like little brothers to the Denon and Sennheiser lines, they've got good sound (theres a thread about them on head-fi too), especially at their price, nice features, they're somewhat warm sounding, but not amazingly warm, nothing is overly bright, it isn't an awe inspiring listening experience, but its one that I don't mind, and I wouldn't be averse to owning a pair (although if given the choice, I'd still take the Denon's)

then we come to the HD-595's, which are in the same price world as the D2000's, they have a more open, airy sound imo, and not as much bass, but aren't a bad phone (obviously my preference is the Denon's, thats what I ended up leaving the store with, lol)

the F1's i've read are the most comfortable headphones out there, and don't have an overall bad sound, although I'm not really sure what "don't haev an overall bad sound" really translates into compared to something like HD-595's, D2000's, HD-600's, K601's, K701's, SR-325i's, SR-225i's, or DT880's (all of which are within $100 of the F1's current retail pricing, based on how much more common those phones are among head-fi'ers, vs the F1's, that might tell you something, idk though, I honestly haven't found tons of people writing about them other than to say comfy and not bad sounding))

for the kinds of music you're talking about, I'd look at Denon or Sennheiser, I found AKG's to be a bit flat for electronic (and they're wide open, at least all of the ones i've heard), and Grado can't keep up with the pounding bass (not to mention, its ENTIRELY wide open, like zero isolation wide open)

the M-Audio's would be another choice, but I'd honestly suggest auditioning them, when I heard the HD280Pro's against the Q40's in an A/B with the same source/music, its a hard choice, the Q40's are a bit warmer and a bit more "there", but the 280's are a bit straighter and a bit "cleaner" i guess you could say, so its really personal preference (both are around $100 US, the M-Audio's tend to run a bit more, and either can be found at any decent proaudio retailer)

the 595's and D2000's is about the same debate, it comes down to which one you feel sounds cleaner, the D2000's are a bit more expensive, but not unreachable if the 595's are within your budget

i'd go audition some stuff, finding the pro-audio phones is a lot easier than finding the audiophile/reference stuff, because most PA stores let you try before you buy, and they're more common than audiophile boutiques
 
Jul 26, 2008 at 12:14 PM Post #4 of 12

REB

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Actually, I find that AKG's are very good with electronic music, but most are really open, so you wouldn't want them. You might want to look at the closed AKG monitors, such as the K240.
In your budget and with your musical tastes, I'd also look at the Ultrasone Pro 750 (I'm not sure at what price they sell in the states, they may be a bit over budget) and perhaps the Beyerdynamics DT150 (although it's probably not the most comfortable phone to wear for five hours straight!).

BTW, did you think of amping?
 
Jul 26, 2008 at 1:19 PM Post #5 of 12

slwiser

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ATH-ESW9 is another consideration.
 
Jul 26, 2008 at 8:06 PM Post #6 of 12

a1joe507

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It may help to get a good idea of everything available currently in the price range (I know this helps me with big purchases...probably more help than I need! :-$)

Check out the section on Headroom's webpage for a list of all sealed/inner-ear/noise-cancelling headphones from $20 - 1k+.

Although you might find different prices elsewhere, this will give you the basic pool from which you are choosing as you aren't going to find many other headphones not listed on HR's page.

Sealed/Noise Canceling - HeadRoom - Right Between Your Ears

Good Luck! And, no matter what you think, you're going to upgrade at some point! So don't worry, this is not your last purchase!!!!
 
Jul 27, 2008 at 12:11 AM Post #8 of 12

AudioCats

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To bring out the best performence of any phone you will need an amp, so 770 is probably the best bet. 770 / portable amp combo is under $300.

There is also the Stax 001 system, lowest "new" price is $300 shipped, on ebay. It leaks some but not too bad. Not for all-day listening though, your ear will hurt after 2 hours. The system consists of the headphones and a little portable amp.
 
Jul 27, 2008 at 8:31 AM Post #9 of 12

AlexLastName

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Thanks for all the replies everyone. I've looked into all of the solutions you guys have suggested and I think for the moment, the Denon AH-D2000 is currently winning, though I'm still checking out the HD595. The link to Headroom was quite useful also, so thank you for that. I couldn't really find much on the ATH ESW-9, so if anybody has any experience with them I'd be interested in hearing it.

I've got a couple of questions regarding amps. The first is if one of the DIY amps is in any way passable. Together me and a friend are moderately handy with that kind of stuff and I think we might be able to make one of them. The second is, would a headphone like the D2000 unamped sound better than something like the Senn HD280 or the DT770 with a decent amp. I'll probably be using my Zune and my computer as my sources mainly and I'm aware that the computer warrants special products (a DAC?), though I'll admit I'm not quite sure what they do. And I guess lastly would be, what are some decent amps and how much do they cost? I imagine there are as many amping solutions as there are headphone ones.

Also, has the price of headphones gone up recently? Because I've seen some places that are out of stock with prices up to $100 lower.

And could anyone recommend a place where I might be able to try out some of these headphones? I haven't really found anything. I live in Central New York in the USA, by the way.

Sorry about all the questions. Thanks again.
 
Jul 27, 2008 at 9:15 AM Post #10 of 12

belleiseult

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Quote:

Originally Posted by slwiser /img/forum/go_quote.gif
ATH-ESW9 is another consideration.


X2.

Very comfortable, easy to power even with small portable devices, and good sound quality unamped. I got mine for about $280 in Hong Kong. There isn't an abundance of information on them persay, but there's a couple of reviews around the forum if you just search for "ESW9." In brief, I find their sound very warm and organic.
 
Jul 27, 2008 at 2:55 PM Post #11 of 12

obobskivich

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if you live in new york, as in NYC, theres actually the Audiocubes retail store available, so thats a great choice, lol

or if NYC is reasonably close (less than hour I'd say is reasonably close)

as far as an amp, the D2000 sound much better with amplification vs off a PC

what sound card do you have in your PC? as this may make a DAC somewhat extravagant (if you have a reasonably good soundcard, like one of the upper end X-Fi's, one of the CMI8788 based cards, or a good Envy24 based card, the D/A stage should be decent enough to drive an amplifier, although if you have a crappy onboard card, I'd update your soundcard before I'd buy a DAC)

as far as a DIY amp, there are many available, I'd just search the forums, the cheapest one I can think of is the Millet Starving Student, which should cost under $100 built (you can make it cost more, by using "audiophile" grade components and getting fancy with the enclosure, or tracking down NOS ami tubes vs just buying new russian or chinese)

the D2000 is somewhat hard to drive, so I wouldn't be all gung-ho about running it off a portable player (i'd never run mine portable, and i'd never run mine on a portable DAP, but thats just mine, i'm not saying it'd damage them, it might damage the DAP (unlikely tho, at least long term), and it probably wouldn't sound all that great)
 
Jul 27, 2008 at 4:16 PM Post #12 of 12

lmilhan

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For $200ish dollars you can score a pair of lightly used Denon D2000s in the "For Sale" forum here at Head-Fi. If you are looking for a pair of closed headphones, absolutely NOTHING can touch the D2000s, especially in that price range IMO. You can then use the remaining $100 to buy a nice little amp of some sort.

Edit: And for the record, the Denons can be driven just fine from most portable sources and PCs. I use my Asus eeePC to drive my Denons, and they sound pretty damn good, and can go louder than I would ever consider listening to them. I generally have music playback volume set at only 6%. Also, my iPods (60GB and shuffle) drive them fine, and are capable of putting out ear-splitting levels of volume. Do the D2000s benefit from a dedicated amp? - Absolutely, but don't believe for a second that they don't sound good being driven directly by most portable sources. Just for giggles I just plugged my D5000s into my shuffle, and (all things considered) they sound fantastic.

In summary, the D2000s don't require a dedicated amp. Sure they would benefit from a decent dedicated amp, but most portable sources and PCs should drive them just fine.
 

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