What is near perfect but won't break the bank?
Jun 30, 2009 at 7:17 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 63


May 26, 2009
I'm in the market for a very good set of headphones but am not into knit picking minor differences at extreme cost. Was wondering if people could suggest something that produces very accurate sound that is still within reasonable cost.

This is a oversimplified schematic of what I mean:


The HD800 seems to be heralded as among the very, very best, but it comes with a 1.4k pricetag. I'm looking for something that produces 1) clear, 2) accurate sound. But I'm looking for something's that's not priced in the diminishing returns area. I'm not the type of person to knit pick about rolled-off highs. I don't even know what that means. I'm looking for a rich, overall experience.

I'll be using it on a computer sound card with output to a Grado headphone amp. Sound leak is fine, since it's for personal, not office use. I already own the SE530, and I'd be happy with the headphone version of that. Sub $300 would be ideal.
Jun 30, 2009 at 7:29 PM Post #3 of 63
There are a lot of good headphones that can be had on a $300 budget. I know you said that you're not extremely nit-picky or concerned with audiophile perfection, but do you have anything else to give us that might guide our suggestions? If you have developed a taste for any sort of sound signature that you can describe, that would be ideal, otherwise things that you have heard and liked/disliked, or even musical preferences would be helpful.

Off the top of my head, AKG K601/701, Sennheiser HD600, Beyerdynamic DT880 can all be had for <$300 and are respected by many to be fairly clear and accurate. There is a Sennheiser HD580 up in the FS forum that would probably work well. Grado and Ultrasone also make headphones in this price range, but people will probably be a little less willing to call them accurate, as they have certain idiosyncrasies (Grado very prominent mids and highs and in-your-face presentation, Ultrasone very bassy).

Audio-Technica AD700s are also often recommended as being fairly clear and accurate, especially for their price (~$100 - although I haven't heard them myself).
Jun 30, 2009 at 7:35 PM Post #5 of 63
Be careful what "live music" you are comparing headphones too. I've been to plenty of live shows where the sound quality was fair at best.

As far a good overall experience at a good price, I love the Beyer DT150 (available at bhphoto), but that's for enjoyment. I don't really look for "accurate" headphones, but I own Ety 4p/s that are considered to be very accurate and I enjoy them as well.
Jun 30, 2009 at 7:36 PM Post #6 of 63
Closest headphones to the SE530 that I've heard is the HD650 (I own both). You can get it sub $300 used. I see it being sold in these forums quite often, and there should be some for sale right now.

A big problem is that you need to get a proper amp for the phones to drive them well. That's easily another $350-$400 at least. But if you like the HD650s, you can always save up for a nicer amp for them.
Jun 30, 2009 at 7:38 PM Post #7 of 63
Nothing is near perfect. We have a long way to go (i hope) and I cant wait to hear it.
I also disagree that live music sounds the best. Most of the time live music sounds like poo.
For albums there is time taken to make sure stuff sounds great (even if by 'great' it sounds bad to us). For live performances the building is designed to have "good" acoustics (i.e. non-parallel reverb and whatnot to increase the 'size' of the sound). It odesnt suit everything.
If you're into the local scene and attend pubs, SQ gets even worse.

Some generic drops:
With amps - HD600, DT880
Without - ER4P, AD900.
Jun 30, 2009 at 7:44 PM Post #10 of 63
IMHO once you spiral upwards of $200 you get much less per buck - if you have the money to burn I'd spend it on speakers instead. You'll never get "perfect", and I would argue that if perfection is your only goal you've lost before you've begun. (enjoyment is what I'm after, and I have it).

Some headphones that get the job done in that range are: Beyer DT250 (one of my favourites, especially the 250 ohm), AKG k601, AKG k271, Sennheiser HD25-1. There are many more but for some reason I always end up preferring Beyers, Senns, and AKGs. You can spend more if you want, but it will probably be the difference between a Toyota MR2 and a Porsche Boxter S.

Only you probably aren't going to impress anyone with an expensive headphone.
Jun 30, 2009 at 7:47 PM Post #12 of 63
AKG and Beyer top models ( 880 and 701 ) are under the 300$ mark and can be considered "near perfect" for the money, then there are the AD900 from Audio Technica, and HD600...one may suit your tastes better but they are all good in some areas...
Jun 30, 2009 at 7:56 PM Post #15 of 63
I own some AD700s - they are amazing for under $150, but if budget allows, I think K701/K702 for ~$250 is pretty damn good.

Does K702 sound exactly like K701?

P.S. Also in the market for Shure SE530..wondering if I should just buy Phonak Audeo PFE...

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