Do you want headphones, earphones or does it matter?
I have done a lot of headphone research and some listening of late.
Its very hard to choose on paper these days other than style maybe. So many good ones and headphone preference is a very personal thing.
I really like the Klipsch phones I have heard, both in and on ear. Seem pretty flat top to bottom but with bass that sounds more right to my ears compared to many phones. I bought the in-ear buds and those are quite good for the money as buds go. The on ear models sounded similarly good when I heard them.
I am still a Stax fan also for the combo of sound and low fatigue and have a pair of older Stax electrets. These are hard to find in US these days it seems but I would go out of my way for Stax electrostat headphones still if I were in teh market for a new pair. Most Stax require higher voltage than most phones and run off speaker outputs via custom transformer though, not off line level as with most headphone amps.
Here's my list of recommended headphones:
Audio technica ATH-esw9a - slightly warm,organic sounding, good balance,portable,comfy, easy to drive.
Sennheiser HD600 - neutral sounding, good balance,comfy,better with an amp
Grado Alessandro MS2 - lively sounding and neutral. Good balance and less treble than the Grado SR series. Down side is not as comfy as the above headphones.
fischer audio fa-003 - similar in sounding to the Sennheiser HD600 but with more micro detail bigger soundstage and not as comfy as the HD600. One of the best bang fo the buck imo. Low in stock and takes a while to deliver to your door.
AKG 500/501 - excellent sounding and not very expensive ($150). Huge soundstage and natural sounding headphones. Could only find them on the used market. The down side is it's not very easy to drive, so an amp is a must.
Thanks all, this is not quite the ghost town it was a while back.
Not planning on dumping the Grados, but planned to get something new to try for a change. Just didnt think I would need them so soon. My first were Senn 414s, my first paycheck, first job about 1975! Haven't listened to phones that much through the years.
Definition of frustration: listening to several phone at Sam Ash, all playing from the same source simultaneously, all sounding the same. Useless.
Well, I pulled the trigger on a set that was the last brand I expected -KRK KNS-8400. Found them so cheap I will still be looking to try others. Decided to try recent closed backs.
The ATH's are beautiful, MS2s a little out of budget (what about the MS1?)... had already searched the Fischers and could not find a seller. Considered Beyer, AKGs, Senns, HifiMan, Shure... just too much to sift through. Turns out 1/2 price helps!
Thanks for the tips on my Grados and the recommendations.
Might post quick impressionson the KRKs here.
Do you like the Grado sound? I have SR-225is and they get fatiguing pretty quickly for me. I find the treble and overall presentation is too forward, though not piercingly bright. I much prefer Sennheiser HD-600s. The sound is darker with more balance in the mids and lows with a deeper presentation, but very detailed as well. I used to run these with an Antique Sound Labs MG Head DT OTL Mk III and the sound was sweet and engaging.
I also recently had the Audeze LCD-2 and those were real stunners! Very refined and deep with remarkable timbre and texture. Much more pricey than the aforementioned, though. If you are looking to treat yourself the Audeze should definitely be on your list.
It seems to me with headphones that sound quality and fatigue are two big things to consider independently.
Headphones and in-ear buds in particular can easily become fatiguing, even in many cases where sound quality is technically excellent. In the case of in-ear buds, you are pretty much injecting the sound directly into your ears. Very efficient but correspondingly also potentially very fatiguing!
For this reason, I am a fan of dynamic speakers but of eletrostat headphones, like the Stax and a few others. The dynamics of eletrostat drivers tend to be less fatiguing in general when done well. Much better suited for direct exposure to the ear IMHO in terms of low listening fatigue and longer listening sessions.
I'm listening to Jethro Tull "Benefit" on some audio-technica ATH-A700s I picked up used locally on Craig's List as I write. I have enjoyed them to compare with my KRK KNS 8400s. Both are pretty nice sounding, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. But now I feel it is time for something a little different or maybe less mainstream.
Perhaps modified Grado sound from Alessandro. Or the German Maestro GMP 8.35d? Or the Mad Dog modified Fostex orthodynamic phones seem very intriguing.
Then what about tube rolling for my Little Dot...
This has definitely been worth the effort, enjoying phones for the first time in many years. Music hobby while sitting at my desk.
I have a pair of Grado RS2i's, which I really like. You can get a set used in the $300 range. The PS500 seems to be popular because it's a bit less bright than the Grado house sound, but you might not be able to get a used pair. The 225 seems to be the sweet spot in the prestige series. If it was me, I would send the 60's in for repair and then wrap some scotch tape around the outside of the bowl. It tightens up the bass. Another good deal these days is the Shure 1440. If you put a few extra pairs of the Shure foams into each ear cup it is said to bring the 1440 very close to the 1840. Lush midrange, lower treble to die for, but not real basshead cans.
I just got a pair of Shure SRH-1440's in the mail for $300. Return item, open box. What a deal!! I would agree with those who say this is a midrange-centric listening experience. The midrange is lush. The highs are extended without being harsh or grainy, and there is more bass than my RS2i's. I can listen to my japanese import king crimson on cd at fairly loud volume, for example, and it does not sound harsh at all. Listening to vinyl is also quite a treat. Can't wait to try some classical.
Just picked up a mint (less than 50 hrs) set of AKG K702 phones from a freind. Guy started at $175 and kept dropping. When he got too low I had to bite! Listening to "I am Shelby Lynn", and I am loving them!
Four cans I have bagged go for $560 (street price not MSRP), I have a total of $255 in them. Been lucky and having big fun!
Just switched to Brandi Carlile "The Story", never sounded this good on other cans or speakers. Apparently although these things are very detailed and natural, they are somehow forgiving of less than stellar recordings. Happy.
The other new addition is a the Monoprice 8323, available for $28. Amazingly good cheapies, these will be my portable knock-arounds. Happy
I own K702's but they sound horrible with my Rotor Cronus Magnum and the Magnum bleeds through to my monitor speakers. My son has a Darkvoice headphone amp that they totally sing with. He doesn't live with us and he likes Sennheiser so I might give them to my dealer as a kind offering (not drug dealer. Hes in prison).
When I started getting back into headphones I was worried that I would be disappointed. Well, turns out I'm not!
I have found great pleasure with all of my phones.
My most recent addition is a portable amp. Having come across different amps on "that auction site", and with a little research, I decided to try a cheapie Cmoy. The one I chose was super basic and cheap, but uses a Burr Brown 2227 opamp chip, Nichicon caps and an Alps pot. Built into an Altoid type mint tin that looks like a Ouija board, very, very cute. $37 delivered, including a 9v battery! I love the thing, drives any of my phones with ease, sounds great.
And did I mention it was only $37?
I know I tend to get into the questionable opinion area when I start talking about Cmoys and t-amps, but regardless of how cheap these things are, I have been really enjoying the sounds they make.
The Sennheiser HD580 / HD600 is the most balanced can of all and is a good match for the LD. It delivers a natural and fullbodied sound with great prat. Something i havent found in other models with latest technology such as Beyers, HD800, Stax, ... they have flaws in tonality and dont deliver that fullbodied sound. You really should give them a listen with a proper amp.