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  • Satisfying headphone listening experiences?

    Are there any headphones out there that are as satisfying as listening to stereo loudspeakers?

    Certainly some headphones are better than others.

    I'm interested in headphones that approach listening to full-range speakers.

    I'd prefer around-the-ear as opposed to something that goes in or on my ears.

    If possible I'd like to keep it to under $100. The more under, the better. But if it just isn't possible, that is okay, too.

    Also short cable with plug small enough to fit beyond an iPad or iPhone case would be welcome.

    Any ideas?

  • #2
    Not for under $100, sorry.
    Wolf
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    • #3
      Originally posted by philthien View Post
      Are there any headphones out there that are as satisfying as listening to stereo loudspeakers?

      Certainly some headphones are better than others.

      I'm interested in headphones that approach listening to full-range speakers.

      I'd prefer around-the-ear as opposed to something that goes in or on my ears.

      If possible I'd like to keep it to under $100. The more under, the better. But if it just isn't possible, that is okay, too.

      Also short cable with plug small enough to fit beyond an iPad or iPhone case would be welcome.

      Any ideas?
      Hello

      I have had a pair of AKG K420s for years; they were about A$80. I like them a lot: the sound seems balanced, bass is OK and highs aren't shrill or harsh. They sit over the ear and a bit like Sennheisers, sound leaks out. Before them I had a pair of Pioneer 'ear goggles' (as Jimi Hendrix called headphones) which were heavy, large and had poor highs.

      Suffice it to say that I'm not too disappointed when I listen to these after my various DIY speakers, which include the Classix II, Tritrix and Slapshots.

      Build quality seems OK. You do need to replace the ear pads occasionally, but they're cheap.

      Hope this helps

      Geoff

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Wolf View Post
        Not for under $100, sorry.
        Wolf
        Well that is okay, too, I can wait.

        What is missing @ $100 that I get at, for example $250 or whatever? Can they not achieve flatness @ $100? Comfort? Something else? Comfort is important to me, if I can't stand wearing them, I won't.

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        • #5
          I got a pair of Sennheiser 280 phones a few years ago. Special sale on Ama for $120.
          I see now that they are $99. Comfortable, balanced top to bottom, 'Love 'em.
          I'm sure there are other choices also....

          I think I hear a difference - wow, it's amazing!" Ethan Winer: audio myths
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          • #6
            Originally posted by philthien View Post

            Well that is okay, too, I can wait.

            What is missing @ $100 that I get at, for example $250 or whatever? Can they not achieve flatness @ $100? Comfort? Something else? Comfort is important to me, if I can't stand wearing them, I won't.
            Yes, all of the above.

            I used a pair of Sennheiser HD280Pro for a number of years until the vynil cushions crumbled away. They sounded ok, a lot better after I dismantled them and stuffed some cotton in the ear pieces, but they didn't have any wow factor is looks or sound.

            For true hifi sound and comfort, look in the $250 and up price tags. Today I am using Master and Dynamic MH40 and love them. The only bad thing I have to say about them is that they are heavy, and will fall off your head if you try to use them as "portable" headphones. But for sitting at a computer or wherever, just great. Very comfortable and I love the sound.

            One thing to consider is how much sound isolation and privacy you want. Open headphones sound better, but offer very little isolation so you can hear your neighbors, and they can hear you. I'd recommend looking at Beyer Custom One Pro, NAD HP50, Audio Technica ATH-M50X, Oppo PM3, and of course the M&D MH40.
            Don't waste your money on a new set of speakers, you get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers. Next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways it's still rock and roll to me!

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            • #7
              Try innerfidelity.com if you like measurement results.
              "Everything is nothing without a high sound quality." (Sure Electronics)

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              • #8
                +1 for the Audio Technica ATH-M50X !!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wolf View Post
                  Not for under $100, sorry.
                  Wolf
                  Yup and the field is pretty messed up with beats being the "go to" cans these days. The progress with headphones under $100 will be slow with the current situation of over priced headphones.

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                  • #10
                    Kind of a challenge because there is nowhere to go listen/compare models.

                    And why do open headphones sound better? Even with my very limited headphone experience I agree they do, it seems to be an ambience thing. Do the make open but off the ear headphones?

                    I had a pair of Senheiser open on ear headphones once and they hurt within a minute or two. Open off-ear would seem like the best combo for me at least.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by philthien View Post
                      Open off-ear would seem like the best combo for me at least.
                      Maybe take a look at beyerdynamic. They have both open and semi-open models. More than $100, but sometimes deals will get you closer to that threshold.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Geoff Millar View Post

                        Hello

                        I have had a pair of AKG K420s for years; they were about A$80. I like them a lot: the sound seems balanced, bass is OK and highs aren't shrill or harsh. They sit over the ear and a bit like Sennheisers, sound leaks out. Before them I had a pair of Pioneer 'ear goggles' (as Jimi Hendrix called headphones) which were heavy, large and had poor highs.

                        Suffice it to say that I'm not too disappointed when I listen to these after my various DIY speakers, which include the Classix II, Tritrix and Slapshots.

                        Build quality seems OK. You do need to replace the ear pads occasionally, but they're cheap.

                        Hope this helps

                        Geoff
                        A long time ago I had a pair of PIONEER ear goggles, they were two ways in each ear with bass and treble adjustments. As far as I was concerned, they performed admirably. I wish that I had kept them.

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                        • #13
                          I currently use a pair of ATH-M50s for mixing at church, but for critical listening I'd repeat some of the others and recommend either the NAD HP50 for a closed headphone, or the Sennheiser HD600 for an open one. The Senns do have a lot of clamping pressure, though.
                          Eric L.

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                          • #14
                            At the $100 price point Grado SR80 (bright), Phillips SPH9500 (neutral), Senn HD25 (neutral to dark). All can be run straight out an iPhone for decent sound quality. Headphone sound quality has greatly improved over the last 5 years or so, but it costs a lot more than a $100. And even at that you will never get the "full range stereo loudspeaker experience."

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                            • #15
                              Sorry in advance - this is a little long-winded...

                              I have a pair of KRK KN8400s and really enjoy them. Many years ago I needed better cans for critical listening/mixing – at least better than my Sennheiser HD280 Pros that I find too thick & congested – plus they clamp my head way too hard. I auditioned every option I could find at my local banjo hut. Price didn't matter. I really enjoyed the big Beyers they had, I think they were the DT 770 Pros. Very nice sounding, but maybe not the flat sound I was looking for. I wasn't wowed by any of the AKG models they had on hand. The Audio Technica M50 was OK, but just didn't quite do it for me, but I don't recall why. I eventually thought the Shure SRH840s or the Beyers were the ones that would follow me home, but then I heard the KRKs. The KRKs have a very clear & open midrange that reveals the layering and air within a mix...at least for my old ears. They are somewhat cold and clinical on poorly mixed or mastered material, just like a studio monitor should be. I'll say I could easily live with just them because they respond so well to subtle EQ changes. Many people think they lack low end. Compared to most consumer cans at the big box store, they certainly do. To counter that, there are a lot of bass-heads out there and most of the audio-jewelry many people wear on their ears are not what I would never consider high fidelity. I would rather tweak the low end EQ on the KRKs than live with something that doesn't resolve the details.


                              Skip forward a few years - I wanted a second pair of headphones just for relaxing. Something that was the equivalent of sinking back in a big plush leather recliner. Maybe it's time to try some open back cans? I scoured the headphone forums and tried a few of the budget cans many people thought were giant-killers. Full disclosure - hearing damage leaves me sensitive to sibilance issues and that's where many of the <$100 cans seemed to have problems for me. I sent back the sexy Phillips Fidelio L2BO/27 because of they sounded like an ice pick was jabbing my eardrums, but later learned it's possible I may have been listening to a counterfeit or change in manufacturer. I sent back some Pioneer SE-A1000s too. Now I had never really liked the Sennheiser voicing on their cheaper cans. But then I heard my son's HD598s when he came home from college. There was something very attractive about the sound of those cans and they were so comfortable. I eventually found a pair of HD600 at a great price and decided to increase my budget and hear for myself why so many people love these. I'll admit they are somewhat dark compared to many others out there, but they're always very easy on the ears. Listening to them right now!
                              Last edited by tom_s; 07-23-2017, 07:09 AM. Reason: formatting
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