No solution for the closed back but if you're interested in improving the 80i, buy some G-Cushions like the ones on the GS and PS1000i. Makes my 325i sound like the top of the line.
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very cool...thanks for the response...unfortunately I might have to let the grados go depending on the headphones I find...I've read a few things stating the ultrasone line has a very open feel although closed back...it's a shame that I might have to rid myself of these, cause they are just amazing for the price
I also like the Grados, but dont want an open backed phone.
Audio Technica has been recommended for a more reasonable price, but I have not yet compared my Grados or Sennheisers with Audio Technicas.
I dont want to disturb my family if they are sleeping, the passenger next to me if I am traveling and I dont want anyone in the gym knowing what music I like.
What is the benefit of open headphones?
I have owned so many headphones I lost track.
Grado are very nice and I used Grado RS-1 for a long time. Grados have their own sound and you will not find anything like them. There are good closed heaphones but I really can't think of one under $400.
I would recommend using two pairs of headphones. Use your Grados at home and buy a pair of in ear monitors for out and about. Ulitmate Ears Triple-Fi 10vi are very good. They retail for $400ish but I have seen new pairs on ebay/amazon for as low as $150 (the top of your range). They also have a mic and button for changing songs.
Ultimate Ears have a nice sound. The highs are a little more extended than Shure's IEM. The mids are very clear and will hang with some of the best speakers out there. The mids are a touch set back though and I feel the need played a little loud to sound there best. The bass is stunning really...
Ultimate Ears fit maybe hit or miss though. They stick out pretty far but do not need to sit way down in the ear like most IEM. They almost fit like cheap earbuds, just resting inside the inner ear. They provide much better isolation than over the ear headphones but other brands of IEM will provided more isolation.
Here is an unrelated like to Alessandro headphones, they take Grados and modify them and they are a touch smother with softer highs.
"What is the benefit of open headphones?"
It is like having a larger room for your speakers. The mids are more open and the bass is more controlled (less lumpy), but closed headphones have come a long way and there are a growing number of closed heaphones that sound as good as open.
I want to try some of these Planer Magnetic Headphones, Maggies in a can....
Yes, I have noticed the planar headphones and would love to give them a try too.
But to me, one of the main benefits of headphones should be privacy.
For in ear, I have tried expensive Etymotics, expensive Shures, cheaper Shures and I have just ordered a pair of Sennheisers.
But they all sound claustrophic to me, with an annoying, "orchestra inside my head" lack of imaging, not to mention generally uncomfortable.
For other closed phones, apparently Sony makes a decent pair for not too much $$$.
How much of a factor is size? Sennheiser HD280 Pro sound nice for closed cans. They are somewhat bulky, though, if you plan on using them in an active setting. For that purpose I suggest IEMs like Etymotic, etc. However, be aware that that kind of complete isolation can be annoying and in some cases dangerous.
Have custom wood covers made for your grados! I was drpping off a pair of headphones I sold to guy who was a real collector of phones and amps and I wanted to experience some of his cans to see what the best really were. He had a pair, I no longer recall the brand, but they may have been Grados that he had custom made wood covers for open backed headphones.
of all the phones he had, some in the $5K range, these were my favorites. I can't tell you more about his design for he closed caps, but they sounded awsome. If you really are interested in this, e-mail me and I can likely find his contact info. in old e-mails and get it for you.
Also, check out headfi, you will likely get the best advice there. Good luck