I bought the B and W P5's...very happy with them. I use a Mac with Amarra as the source...
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If you want to use your headphones directly from laptop, less likely you'll need to spend $$$ for these.
I believe that Audiotechnica ATH m50 is great choice, but they might not be comfortable.
I'd recommend Sennheiser EH350 for direct to laptop or to iphone/pad/pod.
If you plan to purchase headphone amp, than the choices are certainly different.
I believe the OP wants the quality headphones that he can run directly from laptop without any amp in between, but please, correct me if I am wrong.
I use Koss PortaPro all the time, great bargain, especially if you put extra pads on them, so you create a little more distance between drivers and your ears. To me, they are very hard to beat.
I am not sure about AKG K702, dont think they will work at their potentials at all. You have to check easy drive headphones only, not Sennheiser HD650 or something, if you know what I mean.
I will reiterate the recommendation of using a DAC/amp like the uDac. Together with the Shure 940 you can have a high quality portable laptop system. The AKG 70x is not the right headphone. I've owned 3. It's too demanding with it's need for a powerful amp. The PortaPro is fair at best. I've owned it. And just about every headphone mentioned in this thread.
The reason I suggested the Shure 940 is because it does well out of the laptop or an iPod. It's a closed headphone so it works well if isolation is needed. For a closed 'phone it manages to sound more like an open 'phone compared to most other closed cans. It also performs above it's price.
you should audition the Grado sr80i or sr225i. Own sennheiser HD650s($500) and sr225i($200) and the grado holds its own. The sr80i($100) are probably one of the best deals in audio today.
I own the Sony MDR-V6 as mentioned above. Although I think they are nice, the grado's outclass them hands down. Better transparency, focus, detail, and tighter bass (not as much of it though).
Make sure to listen to the Grados before you buy them...its all preference after all.
Thanks for all your helpful replies.
My wife is getting me the headphones as a xmas gift, so I had to let her know which ones to get. I opted for the Phiaton ms400s mainly based on their great reviews. I'll try to let you kow how they sound in January. BTW - she bought them from Amazon for only $149 (msrp is $249) with free shipping.But this was the red and black style. I prefer the new all black style but Amazon wanted $219 so I'm getting the red. I may add an amp or dac if needed, Thx again you guys n Merry Xmas.
Just thought I'd wrap up this thread by giving my impressions of the Phiaton ms400 headphones I've been using since Xmas 2012.
Overall, I'm very pleased with these 'cans'. My impression is they're a little bumped up in the bass but still maintain good detail and texture from bottom to top. The all-important midrange I would describe as neutral to the source/recording but, at the same time, very smooth and natural. The treble sounds very good; extended highs with a smooth and natural quality. I've never seen a frequency response curve for these headphones but I suspect it would show a slight bump in the bass region with a slight attenuation in the upper treble region. The only reason I say the upper treble may be toned down a bit is because I've never experienced listening fatigue even after hours of listening. The build quality is impressive with the use of carbon fiber and they're very comfortable with soft leather on the ear cups and headband. I've bought several of the all black versions of these headphones as gifts and everyone has been very pleased with them. Highly recommended.
I'm using a HifimeDiy tiny dac ($35 from Eastern Audio) that attaches through the USB port and bypasses the laptop's internal dac. And I'm using J River's Media Center to manage high resolution lossless music downloads and ripped cds. So far, so good with computer audio.