Narrowed it down to two pairs of headphones... PLEASE help me out here!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Soreo, May 26, 2009.

  1. Soreo macrumors regular


    Jul 1, 2008
    I love my earphones, but I spend waaay too much money replacing my Apple earbuds with new ones every 2-3 months... and not from listening to music loud, either.

    A few days ago, I was angered by my crappy Apple earbuds irritating my ears and by from them buzzing, so I walked into the Apple Store to check out long-term headphones. I first went for Dr. Dre's, but I've read numerous amounts of bad reports on those, and they were waaaay too pricey anyway. $300? Please.

    This sort of inspired me to find a pair of ideal headphones. these were the preferences I followed:

    -Headphones that go around ear. Earbuds irritate my ears and plus I'm sick and tired of them.

    -Under 200

    -Noise canceling is optional but a nice add-on


    -long-term reliability

    Plus: These are for home use.

    After very extensive research and help from others on finding my perfect pair of headphones, I narrowed it down to THESE TWO:

    Audio-Technica ATH-ES7 Headphones - $170

    Sony MDR-NC7 - $50

    I LOVE the Audio-Technicas because 1) it's a respectable brand, 2) according to the "Most Useful" In-store review, the reviewer "guarantees you will hear music like you've never heard before" and that sort of gets me excited. it has a solid 5 star rating (from 6 reviews, though) and 3) the design is AMAAAZING. I know I shouldn't be paying attention to design when it comes to quality of sound, but they're just waaay too nice to not say anything.

    I LOVE the Sony headphones because of the price and the fact that there's noise canceling. Does that mean they're the best quality sound? Probably not, but they're probably pretty decent. and for noise-canceling headphones at 50 dollars, that's not a bad deal considering other companies charging around $100 at the least.

    What should I do??!?! The Audio-Ts are nice and they look promising, but for the Sony headphones' price, I can't not consider it, since I'll be saving $120 and still be getting a decent-ish sound.
  2. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    I have a couple of questions:
    1. If they are for home use, why is there a desire for noise-cancelling?
    2. Must they be purchased at the Apple store premium?
    3. Could you sorta rank your desires (sound quality, design, price, etc...)

    In the mean time, I'd start by saying the Audio-Technicas, plus you can get them at Amazon for $90.
  3. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Mar 25, 2009
    Folding space
    I went with the $200 Sony NC headphones NC60, I think. I wanted them for the gym to screen out the pumped up stereo, but have found them to have great sound. I'm hard of hearing, and something that blocks out random noise really helps my music listening. Earbuds are a no go for me.

  4. beg_ne macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2003
  5. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    I mean if you do a google search, you can find them for like $65 in the first add that shows up.
  6. PP133 macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2007
    Might I recommend two other brands? Sennheiser or Grado.

    I don't know if you've tried open aural headphones but I have the Sennheiser HD595s and they are just flat out great. With open aural headphones, sound can leak in and a little bit of sound leaks out but most people will argue that it makes the music sound more natural. If you have a lot of noise around your environment, this probably wouldn't be the best choice but if it's relatively quiet, I'd definitely recommend something in this category.

    The Sennheiser HD595s are $179 on Amazon ( They're super comfy (have velour on the ear pads), I wear them for everything from gaming to just listening to music at home. I've had them on for ridiculous amounts of time, 8+ hours and they never irritate.

    Grado headphones are also open aural and get great reviews, though I've yet to try them myself, I did just buy some sr60s for a friend and she loves them.

    I just can't recommend the HD595s enough. If i lost these, I would absolutely buy another pair the very same day, I wouldn't say that about a lot of electronics I own.

    Hope this helps.
  7. TheRageCage macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2009
    If you're using the headphones as a replacement for the earbuds of the iPod, then paying more then $100 for headphones is a waste.

    Get Sennheiser PX100s or KOSS PortaPro if you're traveling, or if you want superior sound quality and like the "big headphone" look, get a Grado SR60i
  8. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    Well I would normally mention other suggestions. The OP did say "extensive research" One cannot really do a headphone search without running across Grado or Sennheiser.
  9. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Don't bother with electronic noise cancellation. Get something like the Sony MDR-V6s.
  10. Shawny D macrumors member

    Shawny D

    May 13, 2009
  11. mgridgaway macrumors 6502


    Feb 25, 2006
    I know you're looking for high quality, but you might want to check out the Philips Philips SHS8200. I've used this iteration of headphones for years and have yet to find anything better for the price. In fact, they tend to sound better then headphones that cost two times more. And for about 20 bucks including shipping on Amazon, I can pick up a new pair every few years without feeling like I'm dumping money into something.

    I also have a nice pair of Sennheiser Canalphones, which sound good, but I've found make me nauseous. Just a thought.
  12. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    It depends a lot on how you use them.

    Noise canceling is good if you are in a noisy environment and you don't want to hear what's going on around you. Noise canceling always reduces the sound quality somehow, but that's unavoidable.

    Closed headphones also keep the noise out; they are a bit bigger and heavier but will have better sound than noise canceling. They also keep the noise out.

    Open headphones don't keep noise out (and don't keep the sound in). They are fine if you are in a quiet environment, or if you want to hear what's going on around you. I personally can't stand being closed off from the environment, so I use open headphones.

    I personally use the Grado SR 60 headphones, about $80 or so. You won't find better sound for twice the money (except the Grado SR 80 for a bit more). They are optimal for use with an iPod, because they use very little power. There are more expensive headphones that have better sound connected to your HiFi equipment, but the iPod doesn't have enough power for them.

    These headphones are excellent where I use them: Either when I'm on my own, or when I'm working. The sound is excellent, and I know what's going on around me. Or sitting in the garden and hearing birds and the wind while you listen to music or an audio book. They are rubbish if you want to use them in a loud office and want to be in our own little quiet world; for that you would want closed or noise canceling headphones.
  13. jackiecanev2 macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2007
    Both are open, and in different price ranges, but I'd definitely reccomend Grado's over a lot of other higher-end phones (Senn, AKG, etc) for the following reason alone: they're easy to drive. For HD595's or K601's to really sound good, you need an amp. Since these kinds of phones are already pushing the top end of your budget, I'd steer clear. More budget phones paired with an amp won't give you as good a sound. But the grado sound isn't for everyone, so I'd recommend trying as many as you can to find what kind of style is comfortable, and what sound signature suits your taste and the type of music you listen to. That said, I'd offer these as good entry-level phones:

    Alessandro MS-1 (~$100) - Made with grado; all the grado goodness, but a little more neutral and laid back. Not so sugary-sweet like grados. Amazing sound, and great bang for the buck. Add some bowl cups and you will be listening to these for years (literally) to come.

    Grado SR225i (~$200) - the new i-'s have extended cups; these were already the sweet spot in Grado's lineup and they are phenomenal. But sound signature and preference is personal. These are balanced and clean, with amazing highs while retaining fast, clean lows. The nice thing about grados is that they really sing without an amp, and get even better if you do decide to get one. Definitely not necessary though.

    Any, and I mean ANY, of the phones you have listed in this thread will blow your iBuds away. Even those Sony's and I think those are pretty miserable (personally).
  14. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007

    Grado are much better for home use.
  15. Soreo thread starter macrumors regular


    Jul 1, 2008
    Firstly, I'd like to say Thanks alooooot for all of these recommendations; I sort of thought Grado and Senn were as overrated as Bose, but now I know that Grado and Senn are overrated for a reason... :cool:

    So far, I've been looking at the Grado Sr60i's, and they look like they're pretty amazing; I'm just sort of paranoid on actually buying them, since I'm not sure if they're the kind of sound I'm looking for. Right now I'm actually looking for audiophilic stores where I can test some out before I buy them.

    Also, I'm seriously considering a pair of these as well (, but they look a little too homey, and I want to be able to take them out of the house without people staring at me like I'm weird.

    I mean, these Grado Sr60i's... It has rave reviews, and I can use it for years? I mean, I'd believe it, I'm just sort of skeptical about it because they're only $80, you know? Why aren't these more popular? I find it to be sort of ignorant when people go spend tons of money on brands like Bose and Klipsch, etc. now...
  16. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    I used to have some over the ear headphones that had noise cancelling and it just didn't work. Yes it cancelled some of the noise but it brought in some high pitched noise and I kept getting headaches when using them.

    These days I swear by Shure's in ear range, the SE110 and SE210. I had some E2C's before that were great. When they finally gave up the ghost I got some SE210's. Great headphones. I've buggered them up now by sleeping with them in and have damaged the wires but I've already spoken to Shure and if I send them in, they'll replace them.
  17. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas

    I wouldn't say they are overrated. They really are great headphones. The reason why Grado doesn't get as much attention is that they are not sold in any national retail stores. I've gone to Guitar Center hoping to find replacement pads and the techs didn't even know what I was talking about. They are very good headphones. My SR60s were the first serious step I took into the non-IEM world, with that being said, I still love my SE530s.
  18. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    I have a few pairs, panasonic rjb=300, JVC HAFX-300 and last night I just picked up a pair of the new dual driver :apple: in-ear headphones on a clearance rack for $36... I like how they sound so far and at 50% off I'll keep them:D

    Out of the above, I like the JVC BiMetal's the best... and I tried the UE 3's and 5's but didn't like that sound, especially for the cost...
  19. Bengt77 macrumors 68000


    Jun 7, 2002
    I'm an Audio-Technica fan, so my vote of course goes to the ATH-ES7. But if you're willing to spend a bit more, might I also suggest the ATH-ESW9? Now that's class!

  20. bigdaddyp macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2008
    I would go with

    I would go with a pair of sennheiser, I have the hd497 which are older then dirt (and so am I) but are comfortable and have a fabulous sound. As a matter of fact they totally spank my Bose noise canceling headset (got em cheap and use for traveling). I think on ear versus over the ear is a personal preference but as much as I like the sound of my brothers Sonys I could not stand the on the ear design and they got very uncomfortable for me fairly quickly.
  21. PP133 macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2007
    I should warn you about these, my friend has them. They will totally cut out sound, and that's what he uses them for as he does professional sound work, but they hurt like hell. They press in on your head real tight to keep sound out. He says he can't wear them for more than an hour without getting a headache. I tried them on for a few minutes and I totally agree with him.
  22. Bengt77 macrumors 68000


    Jun 7, 2002
    There. Que Audio-Technica. They probably make the easiest to drive portable and especially full-sized headphones you can get.
  23. inmotion macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2005

    i just wanted to add that the ATHES7 are awesome headphones as long as you're looking for a sound signature that slightly favors the highs over the lows.

    i own a pair and have used them for daily commutes as well as for my djing and they have been really solid.

    if you're looking for bass though, these are the wrong headphones. i also own a pair of ultimate ears superfi 5.eb and the ATHES7 simply cannot match the bass of the UEs.

    once more, the sound signature of the ATs favors the highs and i have found that some of the higher frequencies can be somewhat piercing but i mean, thats just a picky complaint. oh, they also attract finger printers like there's not tomorrow but the carrying case acts as a cleaning cloth so that's that.

    while djing, i've found them accurate enough for proper beat matching while providing enough sound isolation for mixing (without having to wear some huge headphones with obnoxious branding (*cough*pionneer*cough*)).

    honestly, it really comes down to personal choice and i would really recommend finding a retailer that let's you test drive several headphones.
    as also have mentioned, the driving power is also very important especially when using portal devices so keep that in mind.

    i might also recommend which is an awesome forums for headphones etc (but keep in mind, you'll be finding audiophiles there :D)

    i hope this helps!

    (if anyone enjoys electro music... i'm a new DJ based in downtown Toronto and you can check out my mixes at
  24. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Have a pair. They are adjustable and unless you have a giant head it works fine.

    Works great when djing and on airplanes / noisy places.
  25. esaleris macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2005
    I'll add one more to the hat. I personally swear by these - couldn't pry them off my dead hands. Denon AHD-2000.

    Based on reviews from, I bought these a a year ago and, in my humble opinion, they sound better than comparable Sennheisers to me. I like closed-cans and the comfort of these guys, plus the very "sweet" highs and pretty decent bass make them. They are literally the only headphones I have ever owned that I can wear for 6 hours a day and not complain.

    They are, however, $22 above your price limit.

    I own the Sennheiser HD-280 Pro and they are great for situations where you want as much sound blocked as possible - planes, etc. But they don't sound as good as my Denons, in my experience. I also compared the Denons to the open cans (I think 595) and preferred the Denons.

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