Best Headphones $150?

Hello everyone

I need some help as I’m looking for a nice pair of ‘new’ headphones under $150.
Predominate use will be on the PC or DAC listening to music and movies,

Not for use while cycling, playing Polo, Jogging, Parasailing, Sky diving, SCUBA, pet grooming, Fondu-ing, listening to C-span, or while Noodeling, Armadillo hunting, spelunking, lumberjacking, surviaval outings, high wire walking, skiing, Safaris, and definitely no Ostrich racing will be involved, neither as jockey or spectator.

I’m thinking open back types as I need to hear things around me when I’m using them.

Primarily I listen to Jazz, Blues, R&B, Classic Rock, Big Band Jazz, C&W, Folk, Americana and Jazz Vocals… and of course the PC’s adaptive talking software as I use it for purely PC stuff too.

As extended use is a necessity, comfort is key. Thereafter, in audio, I’m all about natural sounding re-creations. I also lean towards something with a bit of jump to it over laid back finesse, albeit never to the point of the sound being bombastic or throbbing.

Clear, coherent, solid bass and musicality fill out the balance of my preffs.

Being able to upgrade or replace worn out parts would be really nice.

Not sure about how much impedance matters in this regard, or even if one has a choice in this price range.

So far, I’ve noticed Grado Prestige Series SR-60i, and 80i get much positive press and I’m leaning towards the 80i’s. I’ve not heard the 60s or 80s. Nor any others for that matter, but I feel pretty secure in going on what is predominately mentioned here as good solutions without actually auditioning them first. I’m thinking pretty much anything recommended in this thread will surpass the performance levels of those $20 - $25 Sony’s, JVC’s, etc., I’ve used for years.

I did own some plannar types once, but never liked the feel or the sound to much and they went for $300 about 20 years ago. Sure? STI? Sennheiser?, tight and bulky with flat foam on the ear pads. Yech.

Please help… thanks so very much.
blindjim, if you really need open back type phones, the koss porta pro are amazing for $35--crystal clear, comfortable
Audio Technica ATH-M50
There's plenty of good choices in your price range. Go to Its a pretty good resource.
I don't like wires hanging from both cups. Prefer AKG models for that cause. Comfort, soud quality... you can try to find used AKG K701 for your price range.
Grado SR125i is $150. Check it out.
These are very comfortable and sound great, especially for the price.

Audio Technica ATH-AD700 Open-air Dynamic Audiophile Headphones $99 New's my ideea.

The sound is the key, right?

I’ve narrowed it down to these 3 and only need to get an idea of what sort of sound can be expected from them. Actually it’s two brands, but 3 models.

Grado & Senheiser.

As Duke suggested, the SR 125i’s, and IMO, the 225i’s. Or, the Sen 518’s.

My idea and it’s OK with the dealership too, is to buy & try the Grado Sr 80i’s. Maybe they’l be fine enough and I’m done... knowing me though, I doubt it.

IF they are NOT my cup o' tea… I can opt up to either the Grado SR 125 or the 225i’s… which everywhere I look online, receive very high praise… from reviews and their owners.

Or entirely opt out of Grado and into Sehnheiser land with the 518s.

Then I guess it all comes down to finding out the SONIC diffs between the Sen 518s, and either the grado 125i’s, or 225i’s.

The aspect of having cups rather than another “on ear” experience is attractive too at this point.

I feel the AT AD 700’s are likely to detailed for me to enjoy for lengthy periods, though again, I’m looking back on my usual preffs. Analytical and overly detailed audio wears thin quickly on me. However, Musically resolute with detailed sonic cues is most welcomed. Pulling off the latter combination is likely to stiff a chore for HPs in and around $150, IMHO… so I”ve let AT out of this hunt.

That should do it for me, any notions on these HPs sound diffs are sincerely desired and I’ll wrap this one up and report back here on their sound in a couple months

Huge thanks.

Thanks all...

I can only find the port a pros with mic... but I did find Koss RUK40 - $40 free ship with a 60 day free trial/return or upgrade window.

RE There is a solution!

given this is a budget buying affair, and having much respect for those members known to me here, it seems prudent to begin at the begining or entry level position, and if not satisfied or funds permit more to be laid out, escalate the trek accordingly.

IF the Koss entury isn't suitable, Grado SR80i SR125i, Sen SD 558, or Sure 840 are inline to follow up. of these, I'm sure one will quell the need for new confortable, noisey ear muffs.

Further research with online info tells me the Grado's might be too much for me sonically and wearing for extended periods I hear, isn't mentioned with glowing remarks especially below the 225i's.

The Sen 518 seems less attractive to waste time with given the price diffs between it and the 558 aren't insurmountable.

Right there with the Sen 558, sonically speaking, the Sure's 840 build quality doesn't get much love but it's confort and SQ do. it's unique diameter jack is offputting, but fixable.

naturally, hearing is believing and now this aspect is available, albeit, independantly of each prospect like wiht about anything else in audio. it usually is one after another, note taking time once more.

Huge thanks for the help here.

any further notions or input is, as always, very welcome.
these are the koss (sans mic) i recommended-- $35.50 shipped:

koss warrants them for life. i don't know the ruk40, so can't comment on them.
If you're considering Sennheiser, the 515 is a steller headphone for under $70 new and mine were made in Ireland. Open back, easy to drive and very comfortable. Exc. bass. AKG 240m's are nice as well.

Uh oh. I completely forgot about J River. I bought my Onkyo rec from them a while back too. Nice folks.

My Bing searching only revealed the Koss with the mic, As I actually type pretty well, and don’t chat or Skype online I didn’t want them… but might get a pair later to use with another PC or cordless phone.

Anywho, I went with these to break the ice…

As I’ll be moving up into other phones periodically during this HP treasure hunt, the window for upgrades is 60 days, and for returns too. They seem the best route for leisurely investigating HPs at least, and I’m definitely into getting something which does a fine job for me and my preffs, but doesn’t require an HP amp, and won’t hurt much financially. Auditioning others and paying incrementally if an upgrade is desired at that point allows an awful lot of latitude and makes moving on to higher priced phones exceptionally easy on all accounts.

Kotta wrote:
“Sennheiser 515 is a steller headphone for under $70 new. Open back, easy to drive and very comfortable. Exc. bass.
AKG 240m's are nice as well.”

Thank you.
I have the 518’s and 558’s on the short list to listen to along the way to picking one out. I’ll look into the AKG 240m online press as well.

Not sure where I’ll land, but the Grado 225s, Sure 840, and Sen 558’s, or those costing under $200 will be among the final ones I check out. That’s all I’m willing to invest on any single pr of HPs. Albeit I may wind up with another el cheapo closed back isolation type for more secure PC use.

Nice sound, great comfort, and the ability to upgrade cords or pads/cups and price will swing the vote on the ones I’ll keep.

My only worry is I hope these things don’t end up being like pistol holsters and I wind up with a drawer full of them while I’m seeking the best one for me! lol

...of course any other notions as to other noteworthy HPs and their sonic traits are still sincerely welcome.

Finding something that meets your needs is fun. Finding something that meets your needs and is less expensive than you thought it would be is outstanding.

FYI …. Just to provide closure.

Certainly by now, some other brand or model will exceed what I finally acquired.

I went Koss HPs as recommended here. They eventually fell apart got tossed into a bag and into a drawer and forgotten. They did sound pretty good while they lasted. Surprisingly so. And very lightweight. An all day pair of phones for sure. Only caveat was their uduly short wires.

I was given an Iphone recently. It came with an optional ‘on bone’ headset which ran $100. It worked but not well with music. iPhone stuff and telephone use were OK.

Wanting wireless portable high functioning HPs I took a flyer on a pair of Jabbar Revo 3.5s from Office Depot online. $125 landed.

Blue tooth, NFC, wired, or as USB HPs, these are significantly very nice sounding HPs in each area of connectivity or facility. They integrate with the iphone readily. Control the apple music app and other like wise IOS apps. Have nearly a 12 hour rundown interval before they need recharging via USB port.. their battery life shows up in the info bar on IOS devices so you know when they need a bit of juice.

Very nice sounding phones. Really. Comfortable on ear cushions. Easy to use controls. Broad padded head band. Foldable. Comes with USB charging cable and single wire stereo cables.

My one knock would be on the sound stage they present. Its fairly closed in and doesn’t resemble much of what one would get from entry level one box home audio gear, although the music is engaging and enjoyable with very good bottom end and great mid range and top end clarity. They play very loud without losing coherency or becoming non musical.

Given the feature set, flexibility, and sonic presentation which sure exceeded expectations, for $125 I’m going to call these no brainer blue tooth HPs.

Still, a desire exists for better personal audio but picking out better dedicated head phones will wait until a personal portable headphone amp arrives. Either as a USB DAC or one of the new ‘all in one’ portable player devices like the Aurender Flow or Cort hugo, or some other similar unit.

Nothing is for sure these days, but the newer version of the Jabbar Revo or its replacement should get your attention if you need or want, a pair of really nice BT HPs with nice sound, and great versatility with various interfaces.

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I would suggest bumping your budget up 50 dollars and get the Sennheiser HD 6XX from Massdrop. The current drop is about to end. The AKG 7XX is also very good at $200, but I like the HD 6XX better. It's very comfortable and easy to listen to. I have some high-end headphones that cost thousands and often reach for the HD 6XX over those. They are a great value. 
If you haven't found something already, here's something else to look at on Massdrop, right at your budget -  Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee

I don't have any experience with these, but they are said to be similar to the HD 600 and HD 650 and I have owned and enjoyed both of those.  The reviews are very positive.
AKG K701 through K712 are just a little higher than your budget.

Range is $175, $220 and $300
I own the K712s and I couldn’t b happier with them, except at work when they let too much noise through.

I just bought the ESS headphones for $200 :

And the mid to treble is really phenomenal, but the bass is pretty elevated. It’s not a rocker headphone, but I find myself activating the EQ in my player to bring the bass down a couple of notches. I’ve read you can fix this with better earpads:

The thing I love about these phones is how much detail in the BASS they have. Even after adding EQ, the bass is super smooth and extended, and you feel like you can tell the brand of drums, cymbals and double bass being played.


Sony MDR-7506 best headphones at any price.
Sony MDR-7506 best headphones at any price.
I have no experience with those, but if that's true I wasted about $1500 on the Sony MDR-Z1R. Glad I didn't pay full price for them!
@big_greg I think the Z1Rs are great too, but I will always choose closed ear versus partially open as is the Z1R. And I’m not a fan of full open ear style at all.
I like both.  For me (I know not everyone shares this opinion) the Z1R are right up there with the best headphones I've listened to, Focal Utopia, Audeze LCD-4, etc. 

I love my Audeze LCD-XC, but they are really heavy.  The Z1R and LCD-XC are great for music with a lot of bass, but for other types of music I prefer some of my open back headphones more.

I also have E-MU teak, which are the most disappointing headphones I've bought in terms of sound quality/built quality/price performance.

Another pair of inexpensive cans I forgot to mention are the  Massdrop x Fostex T-X0 at $150.  These are not for everyone, the top end is rolled off, but that can be a plus, especially if you like to listen at higher volumes.  They are very easy to listen to and have a lot of bass slam and are comfortable to wear.
Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee for $150
Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX for $200

You will not do better at these price points