I'm looking for a nice set of cans.

Yep Audiogon is one of the few places on the internet where that is not a dirty remark.
My current set of headphones broke in half the other night. So I�ve decided to step up my head phone game and buy a really good pair of head phones. Something I can use on my main system but also when I�m traveling.
After some quick research I realize that I am very behind and out of my element with headphones. I don�t know the pros and cons of open back vs closed. Which brands are currently the best? I�ve looked at Sennheiser, B&W, and Grado but I�m open to any brand as long as the quality is there.
My uses are primarily for travel. In the car, train or plain I�d like something that can block out ambient noise and not annoy the people next to me with music leakage. If I had to prioritize my needs it would be, 1: Sound Quality. 2: noise canceling 3: staying at or below $300.
Thank you for your help and thoughts.
You may regret stepping foot over there, but HeadFi is the go-to internet resource for headphones. Some looong threads, but also some people who know their stuff.

With your requirements, you will need closed headphones. Too much leakage in and out for open cans to work for you. Open headphones are generally considered to sound better than closed, but they aren't great for use outside of a quiet space.

Another thing that will help folks give good recommendations is whether or not you plan on pairing them with an amp (and there are some nice portable headphone amps out there too). Some cans will need more power than an iPod etc can provide.

Lastly, what are your listening preferences? Both in terms of genres of music as well as what you mist listen for an appreciate when music is playing (bass? treble? soundstage? dynamics? transients?)
Don't be turned off that these say DJ headphones. They have good SQ and are way under $300. No active noise cancellation though but they do a good job of isolating ambient noise.

AIAIAI TMA-1 DJ Headphones


Definitely easy to carry and can be used with portable devices.

Another favorite of mine but isn't so travel friendly IMO due to the rather long coiled cord it employs is the Sony MDR V6. Be sure to get the velour pads as an upgrade. Definitely improves the comfort.
Roscoeiii thanks for the response! That's what i figured about open cans but i wanted to ask first. the Grados are tempting but since they are all open they won't work.

as far as my preferences go i'm very eclectic. rock, classical, musicals, electronic/techno. Honestly as long as it sounds good i'll listen to it. As far as the "type" of sound I'd say a combination of sound stage and accuracy is closest to what i like, i don't want artificial bass humps like the Beats have. and i appreciate treble but i like a more even balance of bass, mid, and treble. I don't have a dedicated head phone amp yet, but i'd like to get one eventually. Id really love to have one for my portable use but power supply is a problem. What portable headphone amp sounds good and has a 6hour+ battery life and is worth the money?
I also recommend headroom dot com for good evaluations of all kinds of headphones and they are friendly and easy to talk to on the phone. I have bought many from them and have always been pleased. 30 day return policy. You will have to decided on many things but if you are going to use them in noisy environments you may consider in-ear monitors. Good luck.
I've found that electronic noise-cancelling cans can be bothersome after a while (perhaps I'm just sensitive to them - they give me the sensation of "sucking on my ears" when they are turned out...). But I've also found that decent in-ear monitors can do a very good job of blocking outside noise. The key is getting a good seal in your ear. Full sized cans will generally sound better of course, but at the cost of additional bulk and less effective noise cancellation (and audibility to your neighbors for open designs).

Pairing a decent set of IEMs with a nice portable amp can be very satisfying, and not necessarily too $$$. Feed it lossless files from a portable device and you're good to go.

I use a Ray Samuels portable amp at work, and bring it with me on planes/trains too, and really like it (its an SR71A). I use it with IEMs (one of the upper-line Shures - can't remember model name - along with UltimateEars TripleFi 10s) plus my full sizers (Beyer T1 and Audez'e LCD2) and it does a great job. It's a great sidekick to a full-blown headphone amp, or a substitute for one in a pinch.
I got an Email from "The Cable Co." a couple days ago. They have started a "head phone" lending library like they have for cables. Hygeine questions aside, it does allow for in-home audition and might be worth checking out.

I 2nd the Headroom recommendation. Purchased Yuin PK2s from them. Not that they will meet your specific need but I listen to Pandora while falling asleep and it doesn't bother my wife. I also think they sound great.
KOSS Sportapro's are great for non-classical music. Two 'audiophile' drawbacks, they don't cost very much, and they have a lifetime warranty. Over the years I have sent a couple of pair back to Koss for repair of replacement.

For other non-portable cans, Senn HD 650 or AKG 702. These aren't small or portable, but they do sound great and after all, what's the point of buying inferior headphones? The best ones aren't that expensive.

I bought a pair of Grados. Listened to them once for about an hour. Extremely uncomfortable.
Thanks Tgrisham i'll check out headroom. I've tried in-ear monitors but there is something about the shape of my ear, they never stay in for the length of a song. thy just slide right out. I've tried many different types and shapes but nothing will stay in.

All of these sites are great starting points for an in depth education on all things headphones, IEMs, portable amps and DACs. From there you can jump to other sites to your hearts pleasure.

As for blocking out ambient noise, there are some IEMs that can do the job quite nicely. Comply foam tips are very good at this as they can lower the outside noise by 25-30db (the same material that shooters use). IEMs can also reduce the geek factor of headphones in public, unless you're not concerned about that.

I presently use my iPod Touch, a Fiio E17 DAC/AMP and a pair of Brainwavz M3s that practically seal out the outside world. An incredible sounding rig for not much lucre. Case in point: today, after a walk, I started my car twice thinking it didn't turn over when it fact it did. Nothing like grinding ones stater motor.

All the best,
Nonoise, very interesting suggestion with the Fiio, how did you connect the iPod t the e17 DAC? can i connect t it via USB?
There is a LOD (line out from the dock) which is also made by Fioo. They have several models (l1, L3, L9, etc.) depending on build quality and whether the connector is L-shaped or straight in. It connects to the AUX input on the bottom of the unit.

I've found MiccaStore to be one of the better distributors of Fioo products. In fact, the L3 connector they sent with my E17 didn't work and they sent out another without my sending back the original first. Great customer service.
They also threw in a free Toslink cable when I ordered--I don't know if the offer still exists.

Also, there's a guy over at eBay who goes by the moniker AudioMinor who's been making LODs for years now and his prices are the best I've seen. Comparable work goes for several times his price. I ordered his basic LOD for $26 and the next best I could find from others was well over $100. 22 AWG silver plated cooper wire with a silver plated over brass Neutrik connector. The only downside is he's over in Ankara, Turkey and it takes about 3 weeks to get his LOD. The good thing is he ships for free and is recommended by listeners at some of the sites I mentioned.

If you're handy with a soldering iron, you can look up on YouTube on how to make your own. Of the 30 pin connector, only three are needed: positive, negative and ground. I'm just not that handy so I opted for the one from AudioMinor.

By the way, it sounds really good with the L3 connector and in a couple of weeks I'll post my findings on how well the LOD from AudioMinor sounds.

All the best,

I'm sorry but I missed your second question about connecting via USB.
Yes, you can. There are inputs for SPDIF (coax or toslink) as well as AUX.
Here is a link to a great look at the Fioo E17:

It sounds really good out of my iMac.

All the best,
@Kenm80, im a regular member at headphne forums. It looks like the Sennheiser HD-25 I II suit all your original requirements.