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Old 07-26-2011, 12:50 PM
seeker_moc seeker_moc is offline
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Default Recommended closed headphones under $200

I'm currently deployed to Afghanistan, and the pair of Sennheiser HD280s that have served me well the last few years broke. I liked the 280s, though I thought they were somewhat lacking in bass, and I'd like to upgrade to something similar but better. I'm looking for something with the best possible SQ that meets the following criteria:


  1. They should be reasonably durable, as I travel often and to austere places. The ear pads on my 280s ripped, and the cord has a short in it, though they lasted me 3 years so I won't complain too much
  2. They should have closed cans, I don't want people around me to have to hear what I'm listening to, and some noise attenuation from aircraft engines is nice
  3. $200 or less (I can go slightly higher if there is a very good reason to)
  4. I need them to watch movies, play games (no FPSs, so emphasis on surround imaging isn't critical), and listen to music (mostly rock/hard rock, though I have a very small amount of classical, mostly piano and violin) on my laptop (IDT 93HD73C1 audio chip), and listen to my DAP (8GB 2nd gen Zune)
  5. They should be reasonably accurate and balanced (though slightly better in bass than the 280s)
  6. They have to be available online, as I can't exactly go to the nearest audio store
  7. They should be comfortable enough to wear for 4 hours straight on occasion (2 hours at a time would average). I thought the 280s a little tight, they got better as they were broken in, but still became uncomfortable around the 4 hour mark.
  8. I'd prefer something with around the ear cans, but this isn't a strict requirement as long as they meet the sound isolation and comfort criteria
  9. I'm not looking for small headphones, though they should be at least portable enough to be stuffed into a carry-on 15" laptop backpack and usable on a long, somewhat cramped, economy seat flight.
  10. They shouldn't need an external amp, but if one is recommended, then the headphones + amp should be under $250

So far, I'm considering the Sennheiser HD 380, Audio Technica ATH-M50, and Ultrasone HFI-580 or 780, and possibly the FiiO E7 if needed, though don't let this limit your recommendations.

Thanks for any comments/recommendations.
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  #2  
Old 07-26-2011, 01:02 PM
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IDvsEGO IDvsEGO is offline
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Audio Technica ATH-M50, AIAIA TM1, and Sennheiser hd-25II are all very well regarded in that price range...well, the senns are a little over the range, but worth it from what I am told.
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Old 07-26-2011, 03:01 PM
cnhardwick cnhardwick is offline
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I have the M50, but have not spent enough time with it yet to say too much--that and I have no other headphones for comparison. For what it is worth though:

Quote:
They should be reasonably durable, as I travel often and to austere places. The ear pads on my 280s ripped, and the cord has a short in it, though they lasted me 3 years so I won't complain too much
They seem fairly durable, but I have only had them a few weeks, so it is still too early to say really.
Quote:
They should have closed cans, I don't want people around me to have to hear what I'm listening to, and some noise attenuation from aircraft engines is nice
I am really surprised how well these isolate. I was letting a friend try them last night and despite the fact she turned the volume up way louder than I ever do I could not hear them leaking any noise. To be fair it was a noisy room, but still I was expecting to something.
Quote:
I need them to watch movies, play games (no FPSs, so emphasis on surround imaging isn't critical), and listen to music (mostly rock/hard rock, though I have a very small amount of classical, mostly piano and violin) on my laptop (IDT 93HD73C1 audio chip), and listen to my DAP (8GB 2nd gen Zune)
They should be reasonably accurate and balanced (though slightly better in bass than the 280s)
I mostly listen to rock and they sound good to me. They slightly recessed mids to my ears and it kind of bugs me, but then that may just be because I love mids.
Quote:
They have to be available online, as I can't exactly go to the nearest audio store
I got mine from soundprofessionals.com for what it is worth.
Quote:
They should be comfortable enough to wear for 4 hours straight on occasion (2 hours at a time would average). I thought the 280s a little tight, they got better as they were broken in, but still became uncomfortable around the 4 hour mark.
This is where I have concerns, because honestly I find them uncomfortable after hour or so. But, and this is a big but, this is my first pair of full size headphones. I have always preferred IEM's and still do. So take that with a grain of salt as I am not use to wearing headphones.
Quote:
I'm not looking for small headphones, though they should be at least portable enough to be stuffed into a carry-on 15" laptop backpack and usable on a long, somewhat cramped, economy seat flight.
They are not especially small, but I can fit them into my laptop bag--although they do bulge out a bit (speaks more of my small bag than the headphones).
Quote:
They shouldn't need an external amp, but if one is recommended, then the headphones + amp should be under $250
I use mine without an amp out of my Sansa Clip and iPod touch just fine. Sometimes I wonder if amp would not help though. My phone (Palm Pixi) cannot power them for what it is worth.
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Old 07-26-2011, 05:30 PM
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I love my Audio Technica ATH-M50s! They're great phones, and well within your budget if you shop around a little. I got 'em for less then a hundred. They don't need an amp (they're 32 ohms impedance), they're super comfy, and if you want them to be portable, you can get a coiled cord set which I know a lot of people aren't fond of, but I have no problem with it. If you fold it in half you can put it in your pocket and it'll reach very nicely from there to your head. I don't have enough cans or headphones in general to comment much on sound, but my impressions are that the bass is strong with everything still being rather accurate. The isolation isn't GREAT, but it's still fairly good. If you're playing music, it's difficult to hear people, but I can still hear cars go by as I walk down the street. The pads swivel, so they can be most flat, or you can fold it up and it forms a small ball shape. Easy to transport.
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Old 07-26-2011, 09:35 PM
seeker_moc seeker_moc is offline
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The M50 it is then. Thank you all for your help.
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Old 07-26-2011, 09:40 PM
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Anytime.
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:58 AM
seeker_moc seeker_moc is offline
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I found some M50s on soundprofessionals.com for $105 + shipping, which seems pretty good to me. That leaves me with some cash left over, not that I'm necessarily eager to spend it. I know that the average consensus is that the M50 doesn't require amping, but judging by my sources and my selected headphones, do you think that I'd benefit at all from a DAC/amp combo like the Fiio E7 for playback on my laptop (I'm not really sure of the greatness of the SQ from the IDT integrated audio, and I have noticed some baseline static from the headphone out), or should I save the money? Thanks again.

Last edited by seeker_moc; 07-27-2011 at 04:06 AM.
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Old 07-27-2011, 08:55 AM
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I don't have an amp, but I do know that my ZuneHD powers it fine (though I have to turn the volume up to 25 if I'm running the lawnmower vs. the 18 it's normally on if I'm using IEMs) and my laptop powers it wonderfully. No complaints here. Sorry I can't give you advice on amps, though.
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Old 07-27-2011, 09:49 AM
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IDvsEGO IDvsEGO is offline
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If I were buying an amp right now, it would be this one...

http://anythingbutipod.com/forum/showthread.php?t=62402
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  #10  
Old 07-27-2011, 10:51 AM
cnhardwick cnhardwick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IDvsEGO View Post
If I were buying an amp right now, it would be this one...

http://anythingbutipod.com/forum/showthread.php?t=62402
I want one of those.

For his purposes though, the E7 might be better. I have IDT soundcards on my laptops and there is some noticeable static, so having something like the E7 that would bypass all that might be better if he plans on using with his PC.
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:36 AM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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A good solution for dealing with internal noises from your laptop would be to get an external USB soundcard. I use this one from Turtle Beach. It gives me a very clean signal and eliminates the internal noises of my PC and laptop. You can usually find them for around $20.

I first got mine when I was using Realtek AC 97 in WinXP. Absolutely stunning how much of an improvement it brought there. With the more modern codecs included with my Win7 and Vista machines the SQ stays the same, very good, but it cleans up the internal noises. I'd check one out for my laptop before I laid out the money on an amp.
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:46 AM
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Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skip252 View Post
A good solution for dealing with internal noises from your laptop would be to get an external USB soundcard. I use this one from Turtle Beach. It gives me a very clean signal and eliminates the internal noises of my PC and laptop. You can usually find them for around $20.

I first got mine when I was using Realtek AC 97 in WinXP. Absolutely stunning how much of an improvement it brought there. With the more modern codecs included with my Win7 and Vista machines the SQ stays the same, very good, but it cleans up the internal noises. I'd check one out for my laptop before I laid out the money on an amp.
+1 on the Turtle Beach.....I have it and it was well worth the money.
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Old 07-27-2011, 12:45 PM
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If portability is the main focus, I would have to recommend the HD 25-1 (Mk I or Mk II, same thing). If you have a big head, well, it won't be very comfortable, but if that isn't the case, the velour pads and some stretching will probably do. They are very durable, roughly balanced, with punchy bass and can be found from $135 (Mk I, comes with only the pleather pads and straight plug) or $195 (Mk II, pleather and velour pads, angled plug). I personally have the Mk II, love them to bits. If you prefer a darker sound signature, I believe the TMA-1 would be pretty good too.

Also, if, by any chance, your DAP breaks in the near future and you decide to buy another DAP from, say, Sony or Cowon, I believe the Clear Bass/Mach3bass function would give you as much bass as you could possibly want.

Last edited by Cain; 07-27-2011 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:20 PM
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Bit late to the game here, but another option would have been the indestructible DBI PRO 705.
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:22 PM
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I got the DBI 700, and while they are fine, they are not really a match for the other phones mentioned in this thread (HD25, TMA1, M50).
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Old 07-27-2011, 06:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfkt View Post
I got the DBI 700, and while they are fine, they are not really a match for the other phones mentioned in this thread (HD25, TMA1, M50).
I gotta agree here, as my dbi pro-700's are destroyed by my HD25-1 II's, Ultrasone HFI-780, and even my new AKG K518 LE. The M50 also kicks it's azz, same for the TMA1 (I also owned both).

PS: I'm selling my HFI-780's in the classifieds BTW - and I'm selling cheap!!!
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