The Wife Says I've Got $300. Help?
Jun 6, 2015 at 11:46 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

snlassen

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Hi everyone, I've been lurking for a little while now, so let me first say thanks to all of you for the great wealth of info you provide. On to the question: I'm being rewarded for some good behavior, so the wife said I could spend $300 (give or take) on my first pair of nice headphones. I've gone through several purchases and returns on Amazon, and I still haven't found a pair that I'm happy with, so I'm hoping for some advice.

Background: I'm a sax player and bassoonist, so I listen to a lot of jazz and classical, but I also like to break out rock and hip hop sometimes too. My education in good sound comes from my dad's old Quad ESL 57 speakers. He taught me to listen to the cymbals on the drum set as a test of good-sounding equipment. He said they should sound realistic. I know it's not the only thing that matters, but the headphones I've been trying out lately haven't been passing that test.


Here's what I've bought and returned so far:
Westone W20's
Bose Quiet Comfort 20i's (btw, I already knew Bose gets a bad rap from audiophiles, but I was genuinely AMAZED at how muddy these sounded.)
Shure SE425's.

To my ears, the Westones and the Shures sounded awesome in the mid-range. The lows seemed a little underwhelming, but were clean and accurate. I was hearing a lot of cool things, but when I focus on the drum set, it just sounds like a hollow shell of what I hear when listening to a real set. I can only guess that I'm not getting enough treble?

Obviously I started my search by focusing on IEMs/earbuds. I wear glasses every day, and I was concerned about sound leakage through a pair of cans, as well as pressure on my frames. But the sound in these IEMs have been a little bit of a let down (I confess, I'm just using CDs and mp3s as sources, but that's the best I've got right now), and comfort has been an issue for me with the IEMs too.

So now I'm thinking of trying out some actual on-ear headphones. They would need to be close-backed since I do a lot of studying in libraries and coffee shops (decent isolation would be a big plus). Would I be any happier if I bought some Sennheiser Momentum 2.0's? Any other recommendations?

Since I'm a grad student with a baby on the way, $300 is a stretch for us, so I really, really want to love what I end up with. Are my expectations too high? Thanks a ton in advance.
 
Jun 7, 2015 at 9:22 AM Post #2 of 14

H20Fidelity

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Some of the nicer on-ear headphones I've owned are:
 
Sennheiser HD25
Sennheiser Amperior
Thinksound On1
 
I especially like Thinksound On1 recently, they're quite clean, technically capable. Of course, HD25 has been a true workhorse for many a decade now, its a great purchase, one that pays itself off for years.
 
if you want something for absolute home use looking for clean bright sound then the Grado line-up, SR125e, SR225e, SR325e are all excellent headphones, but definitely towards a brighter side of the spectrum.
 
You have the names, now you can research these models using the sites search feature. 
smile.gif

 
Jun 7, 2015 at 9:38 AM Post #3 of 14

pbui44

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Get the Sennheiser HD25-1 II for closed listening sessions when the baby or wife are asleep and Philips SHP9500 for open listening sessions when the both are awake. Both meet your budget with free shipping here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000TDZOXG/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1433684054&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SY200_QL40&keywords=HD25-1&dpPl=1&dpID=41p-8oB5QxL&ref=plSrch

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00ENMK1DW/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1433684106&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SY200_QL40&keywords=shp9500&dpPl=1&dpID=41%2BX-iFa0PL&ref=plSrch
 
Jun 7, 2015 at 10:35 AM Post #4 of 14

inthere

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Try Marshall Monitors. You can try out a pair at most stores to see if you like them. Leakage is professional level-no one will ever hear what you're listening to, even at max volume. I record with them all the time and nothing leaks over the mic. 
 
They have very smooth sweet highs and a great soundstage. As I said before, you can find them available for demo at most stores.Directly comparing them with the Sennheiser Momentums, the Momentums seem to have recessed mids unamped compared to the Monitor, but the Momentum scales better with amplification and passes the Monitor in overall sound quality in my opinion. If you're just going into a smartphone/mp3 player, the Monitor will sound a lot better than both the Momentum and the HD 25 and it's not even close; I've tested this many times with many friends and all instantly preferred the Monitors. 
 
 The Monitors will cost about $150 in most stores but you can get them on Amazon for less than $120: http://www.amazon.com/Marshall-04090800-Monitor-Headphones/dp/B00D3ITOHG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433687637&sr=8-1&keywords=marshall+monitor
 
 
*edit* there are a lot of reviews on these on Amazon, and also a thread here at head about the Monitors: http://www.head-fi.org/t/662178/marshalls-new-cans-the-monitor-headphones
 
Jun 7, 2015 at 3:03 PM Post #5 of 14

snlassen

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Thanks for the quick responses everyone! I'll definitely be doing some more homework on what you all mentioned. I know I said I was looking into on-ear, but I'm open to over-ear too if the fit is right. My thoughts are that if the right over-ear has memory foam and is covered by something pretty supple, it may not push on my frames too much or leak sound. Thoughts?
 
Jun 7, 2015 at 3:12 PM Post #6 of 14

Kozic

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The Dunu line DN1000,DN2000 or the new DN2000j may work for you.I have the DN2000 very nice set. The DN2000j is at massdrop $299.(sorry looks like it ended)
Good luck
 
Jun 7, 2015 at 6:05 PM Post #7 of 14

pbui44

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Another On-Ear is the Beyerdynamic DT1350:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B004QMH8KI/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1433714604&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SY200_QL40&keywords=dt1350&dpPl=1&dpID=41Dct3Rt6dL&ref=plSrch

For the SHP9500, the memory foam will go around the frames and make a sealant for your head.
 
Jun 7, 2015 at 6:40 PM Post #8 of 14

Max Choiral

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snlassen,  give a try to Etymotic ER-4S/P. Keep in mind that this IEM is very tricky with the fit, so find the chance for the audition before actual purchase. Etys is higly regarded, worth much more than its cost.
If you want realistic cymbals, avoid Sennheiser HD25 and Beyerdynamic DT1350.
 
Jun 7, 2015 at 7:03 PM Post #9 of 14

howdy

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Well if your looking for for in ear I would suggest JVC HAFX850 they would be hard to beat unless your going to get customs. For over ear being that you have a baby on the easy you would definitely want some closed back, a good starter would be V-MODA M100 they are coming down in price and have really good bass but do lack oin a bit in the highs, if you get and bright type headphones they can get a bit tiring and not very enjoyable for extended listening.
 
Jun 7, 2015 at 7:26 PM Post #10 of 14

Gadget67

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My first really nice over ear headphones were Sennheiser 600's. There is a pair available in the sales area for $220. They'd really be hard to beat especially at that price and the seller has over a hundred positive ratings. If you don't like them you likely resell them for the same price.
 
Jun 7, 2015 at 9:01 PM Post #11 of 14

DangerClose

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For over ear being that you have a baby on the easy you would definitely want some closed back, 

Get a closed back so he can't hear his baby crying? 
biggrin.gif

 

Looks like the OP isn't sure if he wants something for portable use or not.  
 
Portable use means a headphone is more likely to get broken and stolen, and if $300 is that much of a stretch, I think I'd set my sights lower if possible.  If Best Buy or someone has the Momentum for demo, that'd probably be my first stop.  My second stop would be reading the JVC S500 thread.  $35. 
 
I'd think more along the lines of having a nice full-size headphone for home, and a cheaper portable pair for portable use.  There's also the theory that for portables how good of sound do you need if they're not going to isolate noise or keep sound in if played at a good volume.  It's like putting an expensive stereo in a car that has bad sound deadening and a loud exhaust.
 
SHP9500 are so open they're louder on the outside than the inside.  Sound really good though, other than I think the imaging is not great.
 
If you don't have an amp, remember you might need one for some headphones.
 
Jun 9, 2015 at 9:56 AM Post #12 of 14

snlassen

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Wow, again, thanks for all the recommendations. If they're over-ear/on-ear, I do need them to be closed back (and not just so I can't hear the baby crying 
wink.gif
). I went ahead and ordered 3 more pairs from amazon with the intention of returning at least two of them (can't find a retail store nearby with any sort of decent selection to audition, so I've got to do it by mail I guess). I got some Sennheiser HD25-1 IIs, a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7s, and some Sennheiser Momentum 2.0s. They should get here tomorrow, so we'll see how it goes! 
 
Jun 18, 2015 at 9:39 AM Post #13 of 14

snlassen

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Well, after listening to these last three pairs, I feel good about the MSR7's. The cymbals sound pretty good. Maybe not quite as real as I was hoping, but I am listening to them without amplification, so maybe that's part of it. But besides that, everything else is fantastic. As I write this, I'm listening to "So What" from Kind of Blue, and I love that I can hear the moisture on Coltrane's reed during the opening head. When I was listening to Beethoven's Piano Concerto #1 last night, I was especially impressed with how clear and tight the tympani sounded. Also, being a bassoonist, I naturally listen for them. The bassoon is a quieter instrument, and constitutes a small section within the orchestra, so they typically get buried when playing with the strings. But with these headphones, I can hear what they're up to most of the time. Pretty great. My wife (who is a classical pianist herself) was blown away by the quality. Little nuances similarly come to light in other types of music also. Billie Jean sounds awesome through these :) 
 
They sit tighter on the head that I would prefer (big head), and the Momentum 2.0's were definitely more comfortable. No joke, Momentum's felt really nice on the ears, even for a glasses-wearer. But I couldn't justify keeping them for that reason alone when the MSR7's gave me so much more detail in the music. The MSR7's don't come with a hard case, but on the advice of a comment by hte80, I found a case for the AT ANC9 on eBay for $20, which works great.
 
The HD25-1 II's dropped out of the running pretty quickly for me, just because they really pressed hard on my glasses frames. This might be true of all on-ear designs, or it might just be because of the specific glasses frames I have. Not sure, but for me, the MSR7's, while not totally comfortable, sound awesome. So they win this one. Thanks again for all the input!
 
Jun 18, 2015 at 4:25 PM Post #14 of 14

Solrighal

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My first really nice over ear headphones were Sennheiser 600's. There is a pair available in the sales area for $220. They'd really be hard to beat especially at that price and the seller has over a hundred positive ratings. If you don't like them you likely resell them for the same price.

 
Although the HD 600 is a great sounding headphone it doesn't fit the OP's requirements at all. It's open-backed & so won't work in a library environment and it really needs an amp to perform at it's best.
 
I'm looking to buy a pair of closed-backs with similar requirements to the OP & so far my research has led me to the Sennheiser HD 380. It's supposed to sound pretty decent & it isolates well too. YMMV.
 
Good luck.
 

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