There are lots of resources on the internet, but you should absolutely listen to them before you buy. Comfort is a big determinant as well as the expected sound quality. Headphones can also be more revealing so I would give a long listen if possible to make sure the amp has a sound you can live with. Here are a couple of good resources http://www.headphone.com/ and http://head-fi.org/
More info than you could possibly want at www.head-fi.org
Be sure to have your hearing tested before habitual headphone use.
I don't use headphones 'cuz I always get carried away and turn them up too loud.
I always (real or imagined) seem to have diminished hearing after using 'phones.
As I'm going to need my ears when I get old (e.g. next month), I'm very cautious.
The AKG K1000 fits the bill nicely. It's one of the more interesting sounds I've ever heard. Extremely detailed, with great soundstaging. This unit hooks to the speaker jacks of your amp (powered by a regular amp, not headphone amp). I'd encourage you to audition it.
Have to agree with Sufentanil that the AKG1000 is fabulous. But by the time you buy it, a Stefans Art cable and an amp (like a used Sophia Electric Baby) you are well beyond your budget... Also getting a bit bulky for the rough and tumble of the dorm...
A Pmotz points out, a lot of this comes down to what you like having on your head. The Senns are classic as are the Grados. Another really interesting one within your price point - but no tubes at your price point - is Stax. They are great big things and you will either love them or not but they sound great and the dorm can burn down around you and you won't know it.
Keep an eye here on Agon as well as the other very good sites for used gear.
In response to Pmotz ("There are lots of resources on the internet, but you should absolutely listen to them before you buy"). I realize the best way to buy is by auditioning, but i have a hard time going into stores and being taken seriously, because everybody knows i'm in high-school and therefore not about to buy at full price at an audio-salon (of which there are few of in houston for whatever reason). If anybody has suggestions for getting around this problem (i.e. websites that let you trial at home) that would be extreemly helpful.
I believe there are several online sources with 30 trials...headphone.com, audioadvisor.com to name two. Everyone here has given great advise...as someone who has listened to headphones for many years the truth is that many brands sound fantastic but each is good to my ears at certain things. My old faithful is Senn HD650's, but I know several people that hate them and prefer Grado or Sony...If I were to build a $700 system I would buy the hd650's (or similar) and get either a Musical Fidelity X-Can V3 or think portable...one of Ray Samuel's models...then it could double for travel.
I just purchased a pair of Ultrasone Pro 2500s. They are detailed but smooth and have a great sense of space due to the speaker configuration.
I'd consider some old Stax phones (I have the Lambdas) and you'll still have some room to be your amp (I'd consider the B&K ST202)
First of all...thanks for carrying the torch to the next generation. Our listening future is with you!
I agree with a previous poster; a visit to head-fi.org is your first stop. Lots of knowledgeable posters with varying opinions.
Here is a list of gear that regularly comes and goes here on A'gon. Every piece is either a current or former Stereophile Recommended product. There are other products, but these are a generally accepted as decent choices. You should be able to buy, try and sell anything that is not to your liking without suffering depreciation as you would if purchased new.
Creek OBH-11, OBH-11se and OBH-21, OBH-21se [newer model of OBH-11]
Headroom (several models)
Channel Islands (CI Audio) VHP-1
Musical Fidelity X-Can (v2 or 3) [tube]
...upgraded power supplies are worth pursuing.
Grado RS and SR series
Shure E4 or E5 (in-ear...a different flavor)
Etymotic ER4 (in-ear)
...as always...a good source is critical.
Any combination of amp/can should provide hours of blissful listening and be under your budget. Use the savings to buy more music! Good luck and good listening!
lot of great ideas here! some things to mull over though:
if you're gonna have a roomate, but wanna be able to rock out at all times with zero impact on the roomie: seriously consider one of the in the ear phones (as the above mentioned etys and shures). i sent my tube o phile daughter (her home rig is all tubes) to bennington college last year with grado rs60's, etymotic er4s earphones and a ray samuals xr7 headphone amp, as she wisely opted to keep the tubes in the safety of her room at home (college can be carazy). she ended up using the ety's a LOT as noone else could hear them while she listened. that xr7 amp can be found new for (485 or so from the ever tustworthy TODD THE VINYL JUNKIE) and used for less than 400 at headfi if ya keep looking and have some luck. it is AMAZING (and as you will see written at headfi over and over again it has unusual tubelike properties for a ss amp) also it is PORTABLE so you can use it all over campus and beyond. it also is NOT fragile!!! I've used a lot of high end amps, preamps and headphone amps over the years, and this is the only one i've heard that is at that level for so "little" money. it is just smokin'. i currently have a woo audio 3 with expensive nos tubes in it as a bedroom unit. it is a great tube amp FOR THE MONEY (it's just under 500 also; plus 150 for killer amperex tubs). i just borrowed my daughters xr-7 to compare it for fun. as sweet as the woo is; the xr-7 BLOWS it out the window. it is dead quiet, amazingly dynamic, extremely detailed and has killer imaging/soundstage slash headstage.
nope, i don't work for ray samuals or todd.
also: you might consider seeing how much the new shure /due out in may 2006/ e500 earphones go for (suggested retail is $500?). a bunch of very experienced folks have tested them and apparantly they set a new standard for earphones (people who love etymotics say these blow em away). another thought would be to get a pr of grado sr60's for 69 bucks and one of the current shures which cost less and are extensively reviewed/described at headfi. but a portable amp as good as the xr-7 will see you thru 4 years of anything with audiophile sonics! good luck!!!
Off topic, but a suggestion for a person under 20 who still has great hearing (I'm a dad and I'm 43 but my audiophilia had taken firm root at your age--Also, I apologize if this sounds like a lecture): Whatever you buy, do not listen for long periods (>15 minutes at a time) at high volumes(significantly louder than talking level). Look through some of the tinnitus threads on this site if you need to be convinced. You won't go deaf, but you could end up with lessened high frequency hearing, and needlessly so. Tinnitus can be an annoyance if it's persistent. Also, closed back headphones make it easier to damage your hearing. (Sorry to be such a geezer-nerd, but I couldn't resist, since you seem like a smart kid, based on what choices you've listed.)
i kept calling the ras amp the xr-7 but it is really thr xp-7. its hard bein an old guy...
If you can stretch the AKG K1000 is in another league by itself, very amazing, but it will need rewire and a pricey amp. You will get world class sound with all this though.
I prefer the Senn 600/cardas cable to the Senn 650 which has more bass coloration and is darker sounding.
Or Grado RS-1 which I prefer over any Senn.
Mdhoover. You bring up a very good point. I use a radio shack decibal meter and a peice of board agains the phones to make sure they are under 80db's. Just to be safe. It may seem anal, but when I'm 60 I will be able to hear quality music still.
That's a good idea with the decibel meter that I hadn't thought of. Smart, imo.
Get yourself a pair Sennheiser HD650s w/ the stock cable replaced (Stefan Audio Arts makes good ones.) $450 total and one of these:
There's few on A'gon right now.