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Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by max2, Apr 24, 2018.
Going headphone shopping brands and models to look out for currently? Budget $300 to $500
Take a look at Bowers & Wilkins. I love their P5 and P7 models; the P9 is stunning but costs more than your stipulated budget.
Lots of incredible headphones in that price range, the usual suspects in terms of brands: Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, AKG, Grado, Auto-Technica, I'm talking audiophile type brands, with a focus on the audio quality.
There are a number of characteristics, sound profiles from different models: brighter highs, punchy lows, considerations like soundstage, if they work with the mediocre output of mobile devices vs. really coming to life with an amp - and of course I'm also talking about wired headphones.
Normally I wouldn't bring this up, but since you mentioned a pretty stout price range, unless you want to spend a bunch on inflated pricing from some brands, or wireless tech, you've got a great budget to put into the main area of focus for headphones, audio quality.
Additional FYI: over-the-ear come are available as open or closed. Open will leak sound in and out, and don't isolate you, generally they have better soundstage, closed can isolate you (which you may want), and tends toward more bass.
Mass Drop currently has one of the best headphones you can buy under $700, and they happen to be $199.
I'll probably get raked over the coals for this, but my Beats Studio Wireless headphones (wired is optional with the wireless headphones, just fyi) are the best-sounding headphones I've ever had.
I’ve tried Bose QC35, Parrot Zik 2.0, Beats Studio Wireless and B&W PX. All great headphones with their own perks.
I’d recommend trying them out in a store or just buying them online and trying them out in your own environment (what I did).
I found out that they all hurt my head after an hour and that my AirPods are superior in comfort and portability. To each their own.
Sennheiser PXC 550
Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro
If you have gold to burn:
Sennheiser HD 800
PS. As mentioned, you really do have to listen. Ears have their own preferences, it matters not what the experts or audio graphs may advertise.
@max2 If you want to go with closed phones (see above) and get a good sampling of a high quality product, for a really terrific price, don't spend a bunch, try something like the AT50X, here at Amazon for $149: http://a.co/e6YAaBS
They're comfy, fold flat for portability, come in some neat color options (see link), plus have some nice details like a removable cable and ear pads (you can get all sorts of 3rd party components for them). Plus, the specification mean they'll sound great with just about any device.
Are you aware, the incredible Senn HD-6xx from Mass Drop have a new drop? About to close, but they're $199, free [US] shipping, though you might be interested! That's probably the headphone steal of the year.
Without getting into the weeds too far (and avoid too much noise for the OP ...), those DT1770s are 250ohms, if someone is driving them with the built-in amp from an iPhone or Mac, I think they're going to be underwhelmed.
Do you have PM-3s? Love to hear your impressions.
Check out Grado.
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Oh, also, I don't know if this is okay on this site, but you might want to check out MassDrop (you need to sign up to see pricing), but they have a lot of over the ear in their audiophile community, so you might be able to save a few bucks on your purchase.
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Grado SR60 are the best open headphones for any money for a low-power device like an iPhone. For around $100. Very power efficient, which is what you need for a low-power device. There are headphones that are better if you plug them into your HiFi equipment at home, but for an iPhone they are the best (including better than more expensive Grado models). They look quite old-fashioned, but the sound is what counts.
And they are open. Which means you know what goes on around you, and people around you can here you.
Bose QC35's are easily the best headphones I've ever had.
The noise cancelling is brilliant, especially if you travel. I wouldn't dream of getting on a plane without them.
I find them comfortable enough to wear all day.
They're also on-ear, not over-ear Great product though, I had a pair of SR60s for a long time (haven't had a chance to listen to the newer e-series).
B&W P7 Wireless. Awesome device. Not quite noise cancelling like the Bose QC, the P7 more than makes up for this with incredible sound quality.
The difficulty with headphones is that people have different music and listening tastes. Here's just one article that I quickly found that discusses choosing a headphone by music genre:
But then maybe you really just like bass, or maybe you want a neutral headphone, or ....
You can chose them by headphone type, over the ear closed, over the ear open, noise cancelling, wireless, etc. Here's a website that reviews them based on type:
There are number of websites that review headphones. Here's one professional headphone reviewer's list of the best headphones of 2017:
Reviews on another site that I trust:
Given that this is an investment, if you can try a headphone before purchasing (or can return it) that would be ideal. Take a familiar track in a lossless version to a store and try it out. If you are listening to compressed music (i.e., iTunes, Spotify, etc.) then the headphone quality is less important since the source fidelity is low. It is a thrill listening to a familiar track via Tidal MQA 192 kHz. A great headphone will let you hear things that you never heard before, such as a triangle in the back of the soundstage.
Personally I have gone through a whole series of headphones. Beats, Bose, Etymotic, Grado, Phiaton, Pioneer, Sennheiser, Sony, Ultimate Ears. My preference is neutral, duplicating what I would hear in a concert. I use different headphones at different times.
When I want noise cancelling, at the expense of sound quality:
When traveling: Bose Quietcomfort 20. Sound isn't that great, but fits into shirt pocket and best sound cancellation in the industry
At home listening to Apple TV: Beats Studio 3. Compromised sound quality and noise cancelling, but comfortable, convenient and easy to use
Wireless listening to Apple TV
Beats Studio 3. Easy to use. OK noise cancelling, although as I move room sounds will sometimes fade in and out
Sennheiser RS 195 RF. Has to be in range of transmitter, but has better bass and brighter than Beats Studio 3
Listening at computer
When I want ultimate quality I listen to MQA audio via my Meridian DAC with my Oppo PM-1s. The PM-1 replaced my Grado GS1000i when I discovered the superior bass performance of a Planar headphone. Although out of your price range, the PM-3 is:
From the review: "At $400, they surpass anything else in their price range."
Oppo has sadly announced that they are going out of business, but they are still available:
Used Oppo equipment can sell for more than the original price. A few used PM-3's have sold on e-Bay at $100 over list. Once they discontinue manufacturing the cost of their used equipment will likely rise.
Depending what you're looking to use them for and where you plan to use them, a great all around pick are the Bose Quietcomfort 35's
I've had mine for a year or so and they've held up great. Good sound quality (not the best in terms of being an audiophile) but quite impressive for casual listening. They're also really comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
The noise cancelling feature is really effective and the battery is also really good.
If you care primarily about sound quality and don't want or need wireless and ANC, get the Bang & Olufsen H6 (second gen). They sound spectacular.
I tried them after reading these reviews and was not disappointed.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 32 Ohm
I'm going to disagree with the recommendation of the Grado SR60 and go with the SR80. The SR80 has matched drivers, the SR60 doesn't. I'm also a Grado owner/hacker - the lower-priced Grado Prestige cans ship with "S" (SR60, SR80, SR125) or "L" (SR225, SR32x, RS1, RS2, PS500) cushions. I own a pair of SR80 cans (the original version) and SR325e cans - both have been "upgraded" with the over-the-ear "G" cushion that ships with the PS1000/GS1000/GS2000, and I use glasses and can attest that the G cushion is the hack of the century for any Grado cans that retail for less than $1k.
My two other over-the-ear cans are the wireless Senn TR/SR 185 and wired Massdrop 6xx, the latter is a beast and maybe the best over-the-ear cans I've used but you'll need a decent amp to get great sound out of them (as a 300 Ohm set of cans and therefore IMO stay-at-home cans, I use a Schiit Valhalla 2 with these).
Another option for TV viewing and/or music is what I've set my 80-YO mom with, she's got severe hearing loss in the treble and mid ranges. She loves her music and tele. I set up a combination of Sennheiser's Flex 5000 wireless dongle and Beyerdynamic's Custom One Pro with modified pads. The Flex is a wireless receiver that allows for plugging in your own wired cans with 15 selectable sound profiles. The Custom One Pro has several wiring options (like many decent headphones) - I chose a nicer and shorter option that what shipped with the cans, and my mom's told me that she can hear music and dialog that she hasn't been able to hear in years. I'm also a Beyer fan, I use a pair of on-the-ear closed pair of T51i cans (they're really nice, don't by from Amazon as a lot of them are fakes - I got mine on a deep discount from Adorama a couple of years ago...).
OP, you didn't offer where or how you'll be using your cans, so, there you go...
Another awesome option is B&O H9i just picked up a pair from T-Mobile online. I had a coupon from them for 20% off so got em for $399 so far they are excellent. Build and sound quality are outstanding. Or you could pick up my Beats Studio3 the B&O are replacing. The Beats studio3's are another excellent option the B&O just suit my sound preference which totally subjective.