Need advice on an upgrade - my 280s broke :(
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MattHock

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I put my 280s on tonight, only to be greeted by a shower of plastic as the right side of the top bar shattered into a dozen plasticy pieces (it's been developing major cracks for a couple weeks now, minor ones for a couple months). It's still holding together, barely, but it's not going to last too much longer.

So, I find myself in the position of needing new headphones. Normally, something like this, I'd do a bunch of research before deciding what to get, as I did with the 280s back in November when I got them, but I'm finding myself a bit lacking in the time to do as thorough a search this time
Hence, I decided to try consulting some experts, people who already have the time invested and would probably know off the top of their heads what I need
Especially amps - I know some about headphones from the previous searching, but I know next to nothing about headphone amplifiers.

Here's the deal: I'm looking to step things up a bit. I've been hovering around the $100 range - my first good set of headphones were some Sony MDR-V600s three and a half years back, then I went with the Seinnheiser 280 Pro (64 ohm due to not having an amp) because the sony headphones were starting to wear out. However, I decided I'm not going to mess around this time, and I'm shooting for the $300 range (I wish I could not mess around more then that, but alas, a poor college student does have limits, and my parents would kill me if they knew I was even considering this; though I might, if you were convincing enough, push that to $350
).

With that money, I'd like to get a small headphone amp and a decent set of headphones. Any recommendations for the best amp/headphone combo in that price range? For reference, this is getting hooked into a computer, a laptop with an Audigy 2 ZS Mobile card. Also, portability is a plus - I absolutely loved how well the Sony headphones folded up (and the likely reason the 280s broke is because they don't fold up as protectively and got bashed around in my bookbag, hence, I'd like to avoid getting another set of 280s). Same applies to the amp - I intend to carry this thing around with me on a daily basis, so battery powered is a must, and it needs to be fairly small.
 
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Jasper994

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The Shure E4 should fit nicely into your budget and still leave room for a starter amp if you want one. It'll also offer you fantastic isolation and excellent portability.

If you want to skip the amp for now, or just go for broke and push your budget, you could also consider the Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5 Pro.

If you want a very balanced and detailed sound, you may prefer the E4. On the other hand, if you love lots of bass the Super.Fi 5 Pro may be better. One thing I have noticed while I'm working on a review of the two (among others) is that the Super.Fi 5 Pro has a lot of texture in the bass region. I really like this aspect of it, but sometimes things get a bit muddy if there's a lot going on in the low end all at once. The E4 never has this issue but can edge itself into harshness if you're using it with any of the silicone tips (some being worse than others).
 
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MattHock

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Do the earbuds work as well as over-ear headphones? I've always avoided them because I've always figured they wouldn't be quite as capable. Also, how is the comfort on them for extended use?

[Edited to add]

How well to you think a Cmoy amp off Ebay combined with the Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5 Pro would work out? That would stay pretty close to my budget, and start me off with a good set of earbuds that I could get a better amp for later.
 
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Jasper994

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Well, canal phones (IEMs) aren't earbuds, they are something quite different in fact. In the case of the UE Super.Fi Pro and most other canal phones, the technology used isn't even the same. Most canal phones use what's called a "balanced armature" driver. What that basically means to you and I is: Small package, BIG sound. While they don't necessarily compete dollar for dollar in pure sound quality when compared to a full sized can you get a lot of pluses to make up the difference such as: miniaturization (it's small), portability, consistent sound (the isolation they provide makes sure you get virtually the same sound regardless of the environment you are in), hearing protection (isolation also means you don't have to turn them up as loud to drown out ambient noise), and comfort (Once you're used to having something in your ear they provide unsurpassed comfortability. This is particularly true of UE and Shure products (except maybe the E2). I think the Westone products are also equally comfortable but I have no personal experience with them.

As far as the Super.Fi 5 Pro and CMoy goes, they should be a nice combination but CMoys can vary quite a bit in quality so I can't say for sure. I don't really think it's absolutely necessary for you to start with an amp if you go with the Super.Fi 5 Pro but of course that wouldn't be the Head-Fi way...


BTW, welcome to Head-Fi! Sorry about your wallet...
 
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