Best headphones for under $350

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by jslade, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. jslade

    jslade Senior member

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    Hello gentlemen,

    I have owned a few different pairs of high-end earphones before (currently using Monster Turbine Golds), but have always been dissatisfied with the fit of them in my ear canal. Trust me - I've tried every single eartip (foam, gel, etc.) out there, and have not found one yet to comfortably fit me.

    As such, I'm in the market for a pair of nice headphones, with a budget of about $300 - $350 or so. I'm not an audiophile, and don't have any specific requirements, but was hoping that I could get some recommendations and suggestions for a good pair here. I've done some preliminary research and looked through reviews for headsets by Sennheiser, Bose (QC-15 and QC-3), and AKG, but it's all very confusing given that each of the headsets have an average rating of four/five stars, and all claim to be "the best."

    It might be of relevance to note that I don't intend on purchasing an amp; some reviews that I've read have stated that I need an amp to get the maximum mileage out of some cans, but I'm really just looking for a pair that can be used without one.

    Thanks in advance!

    - Jonathan
     


  2. indesertum

    indesertum Senior member

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    if you pay more you can get earphones that are molded your ear and ear canal shape.

    i would say dont go with bose unless you prefer noise cancelling simply because it's overpriced.

    i have a pair of audio technica esw9s and i am very pleased. i think you can get the esw10 which is higher quality wood and drivers for 350. it's also one of the most beautiful headphones i've ever seen or used.

    http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-ATH-ESW9A-Portable-Wooden-Headphones/dp/B002FTIDQC

    this is the esw10

    http://www.head-fi.org/t/382665/i-have-wood-review-of-esw10jpn-vs-ad2000

    hard to come by
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012


  3. ErikW

    ErikW Senior member

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    I have the Sennheiser IE8's and they are super comfortable. Can't say I recommend them though - my right earbud crapped out after a few weeks. Apparently it's a common issue.
     


  4. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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  5. ConcernedParent

    ConcernedParent Senior member

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    I own the ESW9 posted above. They sound decent, are stylish and are very portable.

    Off the top of my head other suggestions, Sennheiser HD600, Grado 325i, Ultrasone Pro 900, AKG701, Denon D2k. Check out reviews for them online and see what suits you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012


  6. MrGoodBytes

    MrGoodBytes Senior member

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    +1 to that list.

    I've been using grado lab sr80 for many years now and couldn't be happier with them and big bang for your buck. (you could go higher range but for me thats the limit of my ears)
     


  7. NAMOR

    NAMOR Senior member

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    Audio Technica and Shure. Shure has great CS. 4 years ago I purchased a new pair for 60% off retail and when I eventually broke them, Shure sent we a free replacement. I believe it was the 4-series headphone
     


  8. Nerkg

    Nerkg Senior member

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    These need an amp to get any full potential, the best value overall would be the audio technica ath-m50, there's no other headphone in the conversation for unamped headphones in that price range, most high end ones need an amp or don't waste your money, they sound like earbuds without one
     


  9. jslade

    jslade Senior member

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    Thanks for the advice, folks. Yes, I'm mainly looking for a pair of quality headsets that don't require an amp to use. However, after browsing through more and more reviews, it becomes increasingly apparent that an amp is probably necessary in order to take full advantage of any pair of hi-end headphones. I really like the Sennheiser 600s and would definitely purchase them, but am deterred by the fact that most reviews state that an amp is necessary in order to even boost up the volume of them to an acceptable level.
     


  10. poissa

    poissa Senior member

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    under what context will the cans be used 80% of the time?
     


  11. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    One decision is whether you want in the ear, on the ear or over the ear headphones. I bought Grados but just couldn't get used to the on the ear feel. Yet, tons of people love them. So some of it is personal preference. I have owned both in the ear and over the ear headphones for 9 years.
     


  12. ConcernedParent

    ConcernedParent Senior member

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    I didn't read the part where he didn't want to buy an amp. Generally, 'phones over $200 really need amps to make them sound like the price was justified.

    ATHm50 is a nice headphone but I don't think it's the only one worth consideration. Grado and grado-based phones (alessandro ms1) don't need amplification for decent sound/output. Likewise my ESW9 doesn't need amplification either, the other ATH line, the A700 doesn't need much driving from what I recall.


    I would probably advise against that phone then... I had a 580 and it definitely needed an amp.

    What are your preferences? Open back (generally more 'lively', clear, but everybody can hear you)? Closed (sound isolation, no/little sound leakage, generally bass heavier)? Any particular genres? I.e Grado headphones are generally thought of to shine in rock with the pronounced, aggressive mids but lack the bass to do justice to electronica, hip hop, etc..
     


  13. jslade

    jslade Senior member

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    Probably either sitting in my room listening to music off my computer, or sitting in the library listening to music off of my iPhone/iPod. A bit of flying here and there, but certainly not a large percentage of my total time. It'd be best if there wasn't too much sound leakage, but at the end of the day, it's not too big of a deal to me.

    Are there any decent amps that can be purchased at around a price range of $100? I'd be willing to spend somewhere in that ballpark to buy a decent amp if it meant having a noticeable improvement in the quality of my headphones. If so, I'm looking at an amp + Sennheiser 600s.

    I listen to all types of music, to be honest. I'm a younger individual, so I do listen to hip hop and R&B, but I also listen to indie, alternative, and classical music. I don't listen to much rock or metal, if at all.

    Thanks again for all the help, gentleman. It's much appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012


  14. Fred G. Unn

    Fred G. Unn Senior member

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    I'm a musician and I have the Grado SR125, the AT M50s and the Etymotic ER-4s. The M50s are what I usually take on the road when I'm going to be listening to music around other people. The Grados sound great, but they leak a lot of sound and also are uncomfortable after a couple of hours. (I wear glasses so cans that go on ear vs. over ear are uncomfortable for me after an hour or two.) The Etymotics are fantastic, but again they bother me after a couple of hours of wear. The isolation is great, but I usually leave them in my gym bag now. The M50s sound great, are very comfortable, are reasonably priced, and they leak very little sound. If you're going to be in a library, definitely don't get the Grados as you'll bug everyone around you. The M50s are a great choice.
    Fred
     


  15. jslade

    jslade Senior member

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    Hi everyone,

    So this is what I've done (and just placed an order on Amazon for):

    I purchased the Sennheiser HD 600s and an Fiio E7 USB DAC / Amp.

    I did a bit of research, and it seems like the Fiio E7 is really the best option for a budget amp (in the $100 price range).

    I'll definitely upgrade in the future (most likely adding the E9 onto it), but this is about the best I can do as of now on my college budget.

    I don't consider myself an audiophile by any means, but am learning more and more every day!

    Any thoughts on this combination?
     


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