Help me figure out what to buy?
Aug 21, 2010 at 8:53 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 27

byte

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 9, 2009
Posts
20
Likes
0
Not sure if this is a good place (since I don't see many threads in this forum soliciting similar advice). I'm not too versed in audio equipment, and am looking for a decent pair of headphones for home and bus usage. My intended budget is around 80-100 USD, and I'm pretty sure I want open air & over ear headphones, I'm just not sure if I should decide based on brand or reviews or what.
 
Here are some headphones that seem to be highly recommended:
 
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000ULAP4U
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000G3LCQC
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0001FTVDQ
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000065BPB
 
Other than looks (which are a little bit important to me, I'm not ashamed to say), I have no way of telling which I should be using and why. Any help is much appreciated.
 
Thanks
 
Aug 21, 2010 at 8:59 PM Post #2 of 27

Paste

Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 8, 2010
Posts
69
Likes
16
Well the M50 isn't open, they sound great, but they're not open. Open backed phones will let noise in and let your sound leak out, so they're not ideal for a crowded bus. Also, these headphones all have very unique sound signatures, so you should look into which suits your favourite genre of music. 
 
Aug 22, 2010 at 6:27 PM Post #3 of 27

byte

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 9, 2009
Posts
20
Likes
0
After meditating on it a bit, I'm going to change my mind and say perhaps I should want closed headphones (room mate is pretty noisy!). And I guess I'd be a little self-conscious on a crowded bus, leaking gangster rap.
 
No, genre-wise I can't be too much help. My taste is extremely varied and my player holds all kinds. I suppose I listen to classical music and progressive rock slightly more often though.
 
After spending hours reading reviews, I'm leaning towards Sennheiser. Still would like more opinions, though!
 
Aug 22, 2010 at 7:37 PM Post #5 of 27

Kouzelna

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 18, 2010
Posts
571
Likes
25
 
There's a ton of us here who would give you great advice.  But I think you need to spend a little more time thinking this over from another perspective:
 
Why do I want / need a pair of headphones?  
 
For example:
1.  My stupid roommate is too loud.
2.  My wife hates how noisy my current headphones are.
3.  I take a bus 6 hours to work and back every day.
4.  I receive secret messages from outer space, and don't want anyone to know I'm wearing headphones.  Etc.
 
Once you get that sorted, then it boils down to a matter of taste:
 
1.  What type of music do I listen to?
2.  What type of sound do I like?  Heavy, thumping bass vs. Light controlled bass?  High treble vs. Warm treble?  Lots of nice airy soundstage vs. Tighter studio environment?  Etc.
 
Answer the first question.  Then answer the second question, listing your likes and dislikes.  Then you will get a ton of answers that will prove very helpful to you.  
 
As of now, the question you are asking is too open-ended, and either no one will answer, or the few good people who will answer will give you a mass of information you cannot really use.
 
Just for an example:
 
8 months ago, I needed a pair of headphones to listen to on my computer.  I already had a pair of Etymotic ER-4 which I loved, but they were impractical to use at home.  (I also feel that full-size headphones are impractical to use outside of home: I don't want the looks, and I like to keep my full-size cans pristine by leaving them at home when I'm away - on their special headphone shelf, i.e., my bed).
 
So, I had a pair of Koss PortaPro for computer use, that was awesome.  However, I moved into a noisy apartment complex, and with those being on-ear cans, I couldn't even hear them above the din of my neighbor's football games.  
 
Thus, my search began.
 
Obviously, because open cans let in outside sound, I needed a closed can - and not just any closed can, but one that also sealed out the outside noise.  Ex: an M50 does a great job of isolation; a D2000 does not.  Yet both are "closed" cans.
 
Next, I wanted a headphone that didn't break the bank.  Again, an M50 seemed to fit.
 
Finally, I listen to mostly techno when I hear headphones, so I wanted something that had thumping bass, good midrange for female vocals, and highs that were nice but weren't shrill.  You guessed it, the M50.
 
What did I buy?  The M50.  And I loved it.
 
Fast forward 6 months later:
 
Recently I had a nasty injury that left me with sensitive ears that ring easily.  On the flip side of life, I inherited an awesome tube headphone amp.  Plus, I have recently build a standard wall over the window that faces my neighbors - if you can't beat 'em, build a wall between 'em.  
 
Thus, what I needed was a can that was light on bass, of great quality for the amp, and being closed wasn't such a priority any more.  Plus, I had a little more money than last time.
 
Yada yada yada.... and according to my personal tastes, the AKG-K701 has been the perfect fit.
 
In Summary:
 
So, all this nonsense to basically say, we need more information, and then you'll get a slew of great advice that will turn you onto the right headphone.  
 
Aug 22, 2010 at 7:50 PM Post #6 of 27

Kouzelna

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 18, 2010
Posts
571
Likes
25
After all that, I thought it'd be fair to at least answer the question.
 
Based on what details you have mentioned:  
 
If I were you, I'd buy an M50 for home use, as it's awesome, it's well isolated, and it's extremely comfortable and durable, and it's $75 used on Head-Fi or $100 new.  The M50S uses a long straight cable, which I like, while the M50 is a curly-stretchy cable.
 
Then I'd use a pair of inexpensive ear-buds for the bus, until I could afford a good IEM like the ER-4 or another of your choice.  Currently the ER-4 is running about $200 new, and I've owned the same pair for 6 years and love it.
 
wink_face.gif

 
Aug 23, 2010 at 6:10 PM Post #7 of 27

twn2

New Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 13, 2010
Posts
42
Likes
0
I would suggest you to get a pair of Philips SHP9000 if you can based on your budget (although it is hard to get in US). This is semi-opened, but in my experience, it doesn't bother anyone near me in my office. Additionally, this headphone performs like a 200 bucks one, but it is sold for roughly 100 bucks. Try to hear this HP and see if you like it or not!
 
Aug 31, 2010 at 12:12 AM Post #8 of 27

byte

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 9, 2009
Posts
20
Likes
0
Okay so classical music and progressive music is probably what I'll be listening to the most. I don't have many opinions on bass or other qualities of sound, I'm not an audiophile by any stretch.
 
Looking at the M50S, it seems to be something like I want. I just want to bump this thread before making the plunge. Is there anything comparable to M50S in the price range I should look at?
 
And another question, just because I'm interested: is FiiO amplifier nice, is it un-needed? It's only like 30$ and a tempting purchase if I could get better sound out.
 
And one last question: my last pair of headphones seemed to have wore out at the connector (i.e., I could twist the part where the headphone jack and cable met to get varying sound quality/crackle). Is this something that most headphones do, or only the cheapies? The headphones were JVC HA-M750 Black Series, which I heard was a good headphone from a pretty crappy brand, so maybe that explains it?
 
Thanks, and sorry for the bump.
 
Aug 31, 2010 at 2:01 AM Post #9 of 27

Kouzelna

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 18, 2010
Posts
571
Likes
25
 
OK, I'm a huge fan of Prog, and I love great Classical on great equipment.  You still haven't answered the question (I think?) on closed vs. open - but the M50S is the best option, by far and away, at that cost than any I've ever tried or heard about... for a CLOSED can.
 
However, to be completely honest, the M50's strengths are far more suited to Trace, Rock, and Metal.  That's not to say they won't sound great with Classical and Prog, because they definitely will.  But in my opinion, and I think this is generally shared by most here, both Prog and Classical sound best on open cans.  After a zillion tries in this arena, for a $100 more ($200 total) you could do no better than a pair of AKG K701.  
 
For the same price as the M50, I think it's generally agreed that the Audio Technica AD-700 is a great way to go.  Sennheiser also makes, I think, a good can at this level but know that both Sennheiser and Grado have very distinct sound qualities, that you'll either love or hate.  Whereas the Audio Technica M50 and AD-700 are generally "loved by all" for that price range.
 
Just keep this in mind:  an open can will give you more "space" to your sound, which is great (or essential to some) for Prog and Classical.  But it comes at the cost of sound leakage.  The K701 is useless at blocking sound coming in, or going out of the headphone.  Whatever is going on around you, you'll hear while listening to the cans.
 
The M50 most definitely does not need an amp to drive it.  I listened extensively to a pair from my iPod Nano alone, vs. from a HeadRoom Total Airhead portable amp and a NuForce Icon Mobile, both $100 portable amps.  There was a slight difference, but it is very slight.  From the Nano alone, it's great.  From a cheaper amp, I wouldn't bother, personally.  Neither the AD-700 nor the lower end Sennheiser/Grado or Koss PortaPro (another great semi-open headphone) require amping, to my knowledge.  (The K701 however will require quality amping to perform well).
 
I really hope that helps!  
 
Long story short, if you're going closed, I don't think you can possibly beat the M50S at the $100 price range, not even close.  It's practically designed, built like a tank, with beefy bass and a magically intimate midrange.  It's the most "musical" headphone I've ever heard, one of the few that makes me get up and groove as if under a spell.  
 
I've heard several headphones that improve on certain aspects of the M50's sound, but I've never yet heard a headphone that beats it's overall perfect package, where nearly everything is perfectly balanced and musical sounding.  You definitely won't regret the purchase!
 
Aug 31, 2010 at 2:15 PM Post #10 of 27

byte

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 9, 2009
Posts
20
Likes
0
Okay my only other concern was that last aforementioned point, about headphones "wearing out" where there seems to be a broken connection between plug and cord... Do all headphones suffer from this? Will I need to worry about that with these? Someone mentioned that you should keep headphones in one place, plugged in, so they don't wear out, but that's kind of bad when I plan on using these between my computer and Zune (i.e., I'll probably be switching jacks daily).
 
Aug 31, 2010 at 3:31 PM Post #11 of 27

Equus

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 3, 2007
Posts
1,554
Likes
16
Depends on the cord and the plug, but in general you shouldn't have a problem if you're careful and the cable is not really cheap.  The connections into the plug and into the headphones themselves are one of the parts most susceptible to damage, but that's not just isolated to headphone cables either.  It's one of the primary places an electrical cord will go bad too.
 
Aug 31, 2010 at 5:33 PM Post #12 of 27

byte

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 9, 2009
Posts
20
Likes
0
Well I've heard that some headphones have replaceable cords, so maybe that's something I should look into. I'm really paranoid about my headphone cord going bad again, which was something I wanted to avoid if purchasing at such a price.
 
Aug 31, 2010 at 6:08 PM Post #13 of 27

lie495fc

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 18, 2010
Posts
179
Likes
14
AKG K241, not the MK2 goes for $99 on amazon. replaceble cable, superp build quality. sound wise i dont know, some say it's good but not M50 like good.
 
Aug 31, 2010 at 8:11 PM Post #15 of 27

Uncle Erik

Uncle Exotic
Joined
Mar 18, 2006
Posts
22,596
Likes
506
What about a Sony MDR-V6? I had a pair for years and found it good with everything I threw at it. It is closed and fits your budget, too. The V6 is something of a classic, too. It has been around for at least 20 years and gets a lot of professional use. If you were able to buy an open headphone, the Alessandro MS-1 would also be a good choice.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top