Best Headphones for Under $75

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by zflauaus, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. zflauaus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    #1
    My iPod headphones are almost unbearable. The metal is shaking even at low volumes. I'm also going on an airplane in October to Florida for a late vacation. What, in your opinions, are the best headphones for under $75. I don't want any Philips suggestions because I bought a pair of in-ear headphones from them and within two weeks they died.

    Thanks for the suggestions in advance.
     
  2. gootz macrumors member

    gootz

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    SF Bay Area
    #2
  3. zflauaus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #3
  4. SpankyPenzaanz macrumors 6502a

    SpankyPenzaanz

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  5. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

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    #5
    save a few more $ and get the shure e2c's their $100 but worth it
     
  6. mulletman13 macrumors 6502a

    mulletman13

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    #6
    Etymotic ER-6i's hands down. On sale they can be found for around $80.
     
  7. CellarDoor macrumors member

    CellarDoor

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    Dec 20, 2005
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    MI
    #7
    Grado SR-60 hands down.

    Audiophile quality for 69 bucks. killer cans. Can't recommend them enough.
     
  8. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

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    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    #8
    I saw this thread and came in here just to make the same recommendation.

    Grado SR-60 cannot be beat. Astonishing quality. It's so pleasant to listen to my music on headphones now. I know headphones are amazing when I attach them to my Yamaha digital piano and can hear all 88 notes in complete clarity. These headphones are worth hundreds of $$. Buy them from headphone.com for $69.

    I'm not affiliated with them in any way, I just like spreading the word about a great product :D
     
  9. evangelion-01 macrumors regular

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    Jul 6, 2006
    #9
    mhmm... i love using headphones, but i only have these 10dollar sony headphones... i should get those grado headphones, thx guys :)
     
  10. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    One Nation Under Gordon
    #10
    For home use, sure. I see smug looking people in their Grados outside and wonder if they can actually hear any music. The Sennheiser CX300 is $50, has a manufacturer's 2-year warranty, doesn't sound too terrible and has the same noise attenuation as the Sony mentioned above. And on the subject of the EX71, it's one to avoid if you're a smart shopper. Poorly built, poor warranty and sound is the worst out of the 'earplug' phones.
     
  11. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

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    Indianapolis, IN
    #11
    You may have a point there. I've never used mine outside the home, but they do require quite a bit of amplification to be really loud. I have a friend though who wears his around on the street all the time, with a Creative Zen, and he doesn't seem to have a problem hearing them with ambient noise.

    I also am not sure what your problem is with the Sony EX71s. I have a pair, and I think they're fantastic. I paid $30 for them, and they're loads better than most budget earbuds I've tried. They're not quite as good as many of the Sennheisers, although I haven't tried the CX300, but I think their sound is more than acceptable and they're very comfortable to boot.

    For overall sound quality though, I love my Grados.
     
  12. bossass macrumors regular

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    Aug 27, 2006
    #12
    Seconded for earbuds.
     
  13. br0adband macrumors 6502a

    br0adband

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    Aug 29, 2006
    #13
    The key here is what the person is looking for: headphones or IEMs (In-Ear Monitors, aka earbuds). They weren't very specific in the OP, soooo...

    If you want actual over-the-head headphones, the Grados might be a great choice. But if you're like so many other Apple product owners are, the looks of it matter and the Grados, well... if you don't leave the house, you're ok. I've been a "mid range audiophile" going on 30+ years now, and I've never ever ever seen anyone in public with a pair of Grados on - and I travel extensively around the US, always have.

    So, with that said, if you're looking for something that sounds phenomenal, absolutely amazing, and has some neat looks to boot, you might consider the Koss KSC-75 clip-ons. While some people can't stand them, it's really only up to you to decide. If necessary you could probably pick up a cheapy pair of over-the-head (I'll abbreviate that from now on as OTH) headphones and simply pop off the earpieces and replace them with the KSC-75 speakers.

    I don't mean you need a soldering iron or anything, the drivers use the familiar ball-joint attachment so common on "Walkman" style headphones, so you'd just apply a bit of pressure and they pop out, then you do the same for the KSC-75's - pop the speakers out of the ball-joint attaching them to the ear clips, then snap them into the headphone band.

    Simple job, takes all of one minute's time, then you'd have the OTH band which most people still prefer. I myself own 5 pairs of the KSC-75 - they were on sale a few months back at Radio Shack for $9.98 a pair so I stocked up.

    If you think I'm joking about this, go over to www.headfi.org, the web's premiere spot for headphone and portable audio forums. There are countless threads available where people have rarely ever been quiet about these simply amazing low cost wonders. If you get some, they're normally around $20 or so for a pair at Radio Shack and other retailers (Circuit City normally stocks them also), and who knows, you might find them for $10 again.

    But the sound quality, that's what will knock your socks off from the first time you put them on and press Play. They're simply astonishing for the price.

    Grados are nice, they're ok, and they have a following, but until Grado actually makes a product designed specifically for portables or portability, I'll stick with the KSC-75's, thank you very much. There's simply nothing else like them at any cost, and the reviews at HeadFi and many other audio-related forums will back that statement up.

    Also, while they're not the prettiest things to look at, the Koss PortaPros are still the kings of the hill for pure portability. They've been around for almost 1.5 decades now and they're still the best buy you'll find on portable headphones under $100.

    Another phenomenal choice would be the Radio Shack Pro-35A set, which is actually manufactured by Koss as the KTX-1 headphones. Same headphones, same drivers, etc, even the plug has Koss on it, but they're rebranded with the Radio Shack name on the earcups. They're usually $39.95 but go on sale twice a year for $19.95. I've owned several pairs of them, and again, from the first time you press Play, you should instantly realize "These aren't the crap they look like, they're wonderful."

    Only your ears will really tell you what's right for you. Opinions, even mine created from so many years of listening on the go - I still have an original Sony Walkman from 1978 around here someplace and it still works, and the headphones do too with those simply bugtastic orange foam pads - are still second to what your ears will tell you.

    Grados won't be found in local stores unless you have some Hi-Fi shops in town that specialize in selling them. My suggestion: grab your iPod and head to a Radio Shack, ask to demo the Pro-35A and see if they're comfortable for you. It's free, and when you press Play, you'll probably buy them on the spot. If not those, ask about the KSC-75 earclips and buy 'em. If you're not satisfied, return them. Or get some from Circuit City.

    If you're looking for IEMs/earbuds, something from Sony would be my recommendation. The EX-71 series has been around for a few years now, and I've owned 2 pairs. Nice, but nothing to really write home about, even with the mods you can do (over at HeadFi they have a lot of mods for these, and the KSC-75's too, amazingly... simple things that dramatically change the sound quality of these products), they're just not quite up to my standards.

    Sad to say there's nothing else in the IEM/earbud range I'd suggest for $60 or so. ER6i was mentioned, they're good, but my money, all $180 of it (less if you find a lower price online, retail is $179) will be going for a pair of Shure E3g IEMs next week to go with the 30GB video iPod I'm getting. For pure sonic bliss, they're the best IEMs I've ever heard for the price. The E4 and E5 series sound about the same to me and are 2-4x more expensive - and I'm serious about the increase in cost. It's ridiculous, but that's what people are willing to pay.

    The E3g is the "update" to the E3c, in solid black, with a 6" shorter cord, so for that iPod of mine, that's the ticket. :D

    Hope this helps...
    bb

    ps
    I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Sennheiser PX-100 models also, in white and black. They're a very nice option if you're interested in the form as well as the function, and they sound great. I've owned one pair, white ones, but they broke from under a month's use of regular daily listening out on the go. Too flimsy in construction for my tastes, and the fact that they fold up is nice but contributes to the flimsiness in my opinion, which is all I'm offering. Good luck, and happy listening...
     
  14. scudsone macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2006
    #14
    i've had a pair of the Etymotic ER-6i for almost a year now. last winter they were 80 on amazon, could be less by now. the sound quality is fantastic. it took a few days to get used to the rubber plugs in my ears, but there are no better sub-$100 tiny headphones out there. the sony ex71's are pieces of crap. 2 of my coworkers have them and they are falling apart. go with the er-6i
     
  15. nsbio macrumors 6502a

    nsbio

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    Aug 8, 2006
    Location:
    NC
    #15
    How about V-moda Remix earbuds (v-moda.com)? They are not in-ear, but they supposedly beat the original ipod buds, for $50. In-ear earbuds sound better, but try inserting them in and taking them out 50 times a day every day for several weeks - each time your boss tries to address you - gets tired after a while. I own a pair and they are OK for casual listening at work. Their web site is annoying (music starting automatically) but their service is good.
     
  16. PaulinMaryland macrumors regular

    PaulinMaryland

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    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    #16
    Akg K-81dj

    The AKG K-81DJ is a closed phone, available for under $60 on eBay. The K-81DJ thread at headfi.org is currently 77 pages long. I owned a pair till giving them to my son. He is now going through 40GB of classical music on his MP3 player to hear what he's been missing.
     
  17. QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

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    Oct 1, 2005
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    Colorado Springs, CO
    #17
    The guy is looking for a pair of headphones for air travel which rules out any Grados which will annoy anyone sitting next to him and allow him to hear the jet engines a bit too easily.

    Go for some in ear phones that are suggested if you find in ears comfortable (personally I hate them).
     
  18. p0intblank macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2005
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #18
    While we're on the topic, can anyone comment on the new earbuds that are included with all iPods? Inside Mac Radio (Podcast) was praising these things like crazy and was wondering if they were really that great. The co-host was even comparing them to his *gasp* $300 headphones.
     
  19. mulletman13 macrumors 6502a

    mulletman13

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    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Los Angeles.
    #19
    That guy was crazy then...

    The new earbuds stick in your ear better, but sound quality doesn't seem to be improved.

    As for the people that said Grados -- yes those would be a great choice if he wasn't looking for a travel/portable phone. Listen to anything with them and 5 people around you will get annoyed quickly.

    About the UE vs. Shure vs. Etymotic debate, I have used all three and prefer the Etys over both, but the Shures were pretty damn good as well. The UEs just didn't sound as good sound quality-wise. Currently I have a set of Ety ER-4p for the road, and a Grado HF-1 for home... but I've auditioned a large amount of phones.

    Good luck
     
  20. p0intblank macrumors 68030

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    New Jersey
    #20
    Okay, thanks for clearing that up. He was obviously exaggerating a bit to the extreme.
     
  21. Elrond39 macrumors 6502

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    Utrecht, The Netherlands
    #21
    Seems to me as though my Apple In-Ears are starting to give out, or, rather, the left one seems an awful lot quieter than it should be... So, I'm thinking of replacing them with a new pair of something. Much like the OP, I've got a bit of a budget, but I was wondering if you could give me some specific suggestions in the in-ear category. Shure E2c, Sennheiser CX300 look to be good candidates. For reference, I really love my Apple in-ears, and I wear them with the cable tossed over my ear (feels better that way, I guess), which has me leaning toward the E2c's off the bat. But any help would be appreciated, thanks!
     
  22. br0adband macrumors 6502a

    br0adband

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    Aug 29, 2006
    #22
    Don't quote me on this, but somewhere a bell is ringing in the back of my mind. I seem to recall something about an issue with some iPods regarding different volume levels between left and right channels, but I swear at the moment I just can't pull enough info from the grey matter to get a solid lock on it.

    Might consider browsing the HeadFi forums, especially the Portable Audio subforum and look around. Damn I hate it when I sortakinda remember something but not enough to work with. :p

    Not sure if it was a firmware issue or bad earbuds or what, but something popped out when I read that post above and I decided to mention it. Maybe someone else knows exactly what I'm talking about and can help more.

    bb
     
  23. SkyBell macrumors 604

    SkyBell

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    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    Texas, unfortunately.
    #23
    those little 99 cent earbuds at Wal-Mart:D

    But I'm not kidding. They have, on a scale of 1 to 10, 6 sound quality. Good for when you're in a hurry, but can't seem to find those good ones you just bought:D

    be warned, I think they are programmed to fail at exactly 5 hours of usage. EVERY SINGLE PAIr has failed me at 5 hours usage. but for the price of an iTunes song, 5 hours aint bad:)
     
  24. zflauaus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    #24
    Wow. I should check in more often.

    I'm sorry I wasn't more specific in my post. I would take about any headphones besides the ear-clips and the behind-the-neck phones. I'd probably go with in-ear headphones. I'll try to respond in a somewhat logical order.

    I am not going to get Grados because I will use these headphones everywhere, at home, on the bus, in the car, on the plane, etc

    Seeing as the Sony EX71 are getting more bad reviews than good, those are out.

    br0adband: That's a lot of info. Thanks. I'm not really looking into modding my headphones.

    I think my choice is down to the Etymotic ER-6i and the Shure E2c. Yes I did pump my budget up but these are ones that I want to last a long time.

    Now I would like comparisons between these two items, if anybody has both.
     
  25. mulletman13 macrumors 6502a

    mulletman13

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    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Los Angeles.
    #25
    The Ety's have a more flat response curve, and generally a more accurate sound meaning the clarity is a bit better.

    The Shure's have a better low-end and produce a sortof 'full' sound, but sometimes that overtakes the vocals. Granted, both can be equalized to sound excellent/compensate for the pitfalls, but its a matter of personal choice really.

    I prefer the Ety's simply because I like how they fit, and in my experience they block out more sound than the Shure's.
     

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