Grado RS1 is definitely overpriced ones. They're uncomfortable to wear and sound not too much better than Senn HD600. I use Stax SRM1 and SR5 headphones and adore that drive and instrument separation. For regular stereo-finger headphones I like AKG K240. You can get them for arround $100 and they surely can compete with Grado and Senns.
Big topic. What's your budget? I'd recommend the HD650s (HD600s are cheaper now). The Grados are more forward sounding; I prefer the Senns. There is also the Etymotics if you need to shut out background noise. Stax for high-end electrostat sound.
I recommend an aftermarket cable for the Senns, like the Equinox. A headphone amp will always outperform the headphone out of any component, especially with the Senns. There are many good brands.
it's a whole nother world. Check out Head-fi.org : )
i really enjoy mine. it's great for listening when you don't want to disturb anyone. i would recommend a decent headphone amp though - check the archives here there's tons.
The March 15 issue of "Forbes" has an article about headphones in which the highest rating for sound quality (I know...what does "Forbes" know about sound quality), and comfort goes to the Ultimate Ears UE5c earbuds. The UE5c are a consumer version of Ultimate Ears' pro earbuds used by a number of pro musicians (think Rolling Stones and Brittney Spears). They are custom molded to your ears and provide isolated, two-driver sound. They run $550 a pair. The top-of-the-line model runs $950 and is a three driver earbud.
I don't know about the Sennheiser's or the Grado's, but i basically agree with Marakanetz' statements. If you can find a good set at a reasonable price, electrostatic headphones or electret condensor headphones are the way to go. For E-stat's, look for Stax or Koss. For Electret's, look for Signet or Audio Technica. If shooting for dynamic type headphones, i've always liked the AKG K240's too, although i haven't listened to any newer offerings for a LONG time. Obviously, personal preference and the various styles ( over ear, on ear, in ear, etc... ) all come into play, so only you will know what you like. Sean
PS... For all of you "old timers" out there, i've still got a pair of Lafayette ( remember them??? ) E-stat headphones (!!!) from the early 1970's that work GREAT. I've also got a pair of Audio Technica ATH-6's too. Don't use either of them too much, but after thinking about it, they would both make for a great computer based audio system for late night listening. Thanks for bringing this up Rsa !!! : )
I bought a pair of HD600's about 4 months ago and what a whole new world! Even though I have a good set of speakers, there is no room interaction to deal with. Amazing level of "musicality". As far as an outboard amp, Musical Fidelity puts out the Xcan for ~$300 or, of course, Headroom amps for more money. I believe that the consensus is that most CD player/preamp manufactureres add on headphone amps as somewhat an afterthought and are not that good. My Sonic Frontier Line 2SE preamp has the Headroom op amp with the "imaging processor" in it. Very good, however, I have not compared it to others.
Let's see, you can buy a Senn 600/650. Then buy an aftermarket cable. Then buy a quality headphone amp. When all is said and done, you've spent, maybe, $800 minimum.
Or, you can buy a Koss ESP/950 for $600.
Or, you can buy a Stax 2020 or 3030 for $600 or $1000.
Any of these electrostatics will easily surpass Senn or Grados. I know. I dumped my Senn 600 for the Koss which I found on Ebay for $375 new. I've never looked back.
I would just like to add that the nice thing about the Stax electrostatic phones is that they are available with interfaces (which hook up to your existing stereo amp) or with their own dedicated solid-state or tube class-A amplifiers, many of which have two inputs and a direct bypass output. The latter approach seems to work much better than plugging a set of cheap phones into the headphone jack on a CD player or even a good preamp...
Sean, Lafayette headphones were my first exposure to the world of headphones. I can recall listening to Led Zeppelin way back when and being amazed by the stereo panning effects on "Whole Lotta Love" from Zepp II. I never knew that Lafayette made electrostatic phones, but I think it's cool that you have a working set!
I like the Stax 2020...I was very impressed as it was real close to the 3030 in sound. I got them here on the Gon for $425.00 and bought the 16' extension cable used for 35.00, I thought it was quite a bargian. Detail, resolution and warmness with outstanding tight bass are the Stax hallmarks in their stats.
How familiar are you with headphone listening? If you are not, I suggest you buy something for under $100 and see if you can justify spending more. It's sorta like the rest of high end: you probably didn't invest until you got your feet wet.
I, for one, cannot tolerate headphones for serious or relaxed listening.
I've went through the Stax adapters to poweramps and prefered the active amp that connects through the line outputs.
I also dislike the wearing part of headphone listening, especially when the weather is warm. But there are times when my wife has a writing assignment with a deadline and I need to listen to something with guitars, bass and drums. That's when the Senn 600/Xcan V2 system comes in handy. And after a few minutes, I adjust to the feeling of my head being trapped in a vice and relax to the great sound.