Help Selecting High Fidelity Headphones for ~$100
Jul 24, 2013 at 3:29 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

DangerousMouse

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Hello from a new member. I have spent the past couple of weeks researching various models of closed back over ear headphones. My goal is simple: to find an excellent sounding pair of cans that I can use to listen to music at my desk at work an occasionally while riding on the metro or walking around the block on my lunch break.
 
I primarily listen using my 80 GB iPod Video, my Android phone, my work laptop (Dell), and my 17" MacBook Pro. On my phone and at work I listen to music on Pandora, YouTube, and stuff I stream from my laptop at home via Google Play Music and sometimes files I store on a flash drive. With my Mac and iPod I listen to my iTunes playlists of varying quality, mostly 128 kbps to 256 kbps audio files. As for the type of music, I listen to literally everything from Sinatra to Schubert to Third Eye Blind to Macklemore to A7X to audio books and other spoken word albums. I mostly listen at low to moderate volumes as I need to be at least somewhat aware of my surroundings if a coworker is speaking to me, etc.
 
I am looking to spend about $100 but am willing to go up to the $150 area if it means a worthwhile increase in performance; an example being going from spending $100 for the SRH-440s to $150 for the SRH-840s if it is a justified increase. I would like to achieve a clean and fairly balanced and largely uncolored sound, meaning I would like something that does not overemphasize certain frequency ranges. I have a pair of Beats Studios and, while they are incredibly comfortable and sound cool, I would like something that will provide real high fidelity, rather than just making some of the garbage pop and rap that I listen to occasionally sound decent. I have noticed that some of the songs that I have listened to for years sound completely different through these.
 
My introduction to the world of HiFi earphones came recently in the form of a pair of Sennheiser HD201S headphones that I purchased from Best Buy. I bought them after reading several reviews from this forum as well as several other sites that touted them as an inexpensive way of dipping one's toes into the world of high quality headphones and I am pleased with their performance and am excited to hear what an even better pair will sound like.
 
I will soon be receiving a Fiio E6 amp and a HiFiMan HM-101 DAC that my fiancee ordered for me at the advice of my father (who suggested them as a good jumping off point).
 
Now that I have practically written a book, here are the models that I have narrowed it down to from my research thus far:
 
Shure SRH-440 (worth upgrading to the SRH-840?)
Audio-Technica ATH-M40FS (worth upgrading to the ATH-M50?)
Sennheiser HD-280 PRO (worth upgrading to the HD-380 PRO?)
Ultrasone HFI450 (worth upgrading to the HFI-780?)
Sony MDR-V6/7506 (right now I'm leaning towards the V6)
 
I am open to suggestions if I have missed a model that would be worth considering.
 
Most of the comparisons I have read seem to be pretty split on spending the extra money for the better model, e.g. SRH-440 vs 840.
 
Right now I am leaning towards the ATs, Shures or the Sennheisers, though I am considering all of them. I look forward to the feedback and knowledge of the experts!
 
Jul 24, 2013 at 3:41 PM Post #2 of 7

Trunks159

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There are a few options at this price range but id pick:
ATH M50-Emphasised bass and treble
MDR V6-Cold and analytical
Philips Citiscape uptown- Just like the m50 except more comfortable, larger sound stage, slightly less bass
 
My favorite of the three would be the Uptown.
 
Jul 25, 2013 at 1:30 PM Post #5 of 7

blueangel2323

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I heard the M40 a few years ago and it sounded quite dull to my ears, no excitement whatsover. Maybe they needed burn in as they were right out of the box in the store. M50 is probably a safer bet. But the Philips will be better bang for your buck.
 
Jul 25, 2013 at 5:25 PM Post #7 of 7

blueangel2323

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That seems to be a common opinion on the M40s. I think that I am really leaning towards the ATH-M50 or the SRH-440 right now, but I am still not sure which way to go.

 
I have the 440 and have heard the M50. 440 has a leaner, brighter sound, with a pretty big emphasis in the 10k region. The treble is grainy but not harsh. Bass is punchy but not that extended, rolling off gradually below 80-100hz. However it's capable of producing very low bass, it's just not very loud, so you can EQ up the lowest bass without any distortion. M50 is more v-shaped with thicker, warmer mids, more and better extended bass, and pretty harsh treble.  
I would say straight out of the box, M50 sounds better. With EQ, you can make the 440 sound better than the M50.
But still check out the Philips.
 

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