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Old 07-09-2011, 08:44 PM
gsl gsl is offline
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Default SoundMagic P20 quality/recommendation for cheap, closed, on-ear phones

At work I generally get to listen to music for the whole day, and I've got a pair of Sennheiser HD-201s that have been very good to me for a few years. I wear contact lenses, and on the days that my eyes are too tired for the lenses or I run out, I have to switch back to my glasses. I find the combination of the around-the-ear design of the headphones to be really uncomfortable with the way it presses on the earpieces. I've got a pair of SoundMagic PL-20 in-ears that I like, but they can get a little uncomfortable after 7-8 hours of use.

I'm thinking of getting a pair of super cheap (~$30 max) closed headphones that sit flat on the ears. I'm not too picky on quality, as my audio source is generally either a Rockboxed Clip+ or straight from my laptop's headphone jack (been meaning to get a USB soundcard for some time). I'm considering the SoundMagic P20 headphones since they look to be the style that I want, and because I'm happy with the quality of my PL-20s. I had looked into the similar Audio-Technica ON3/ON300 phones, but I saw a few reviews that spoke of a nearly non-existent low end, which is most definitely what I don't want. My general listening comprises basic rock and a large amount of electronic music, from drone ambient to chiptunes to lighter house. My office is generally pretty quiet, but I prefer closed headphones to open for their natural noise-reducing ability.

Has anyone had any experience with the P20 phones, or can you recommend something similar in my price range that work comfortably while wearing glasses? Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 07-10-2011, 09:13 AM
TimYoung TimYoung is offline
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The only super cheap headphones I know of are Koss Porta Pro and Koss 75 clip ons. I dunno how comfortable they are but maybe look into iems if you wear glasses?
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  #3  
Old 07-10-2011, 01:55 PM
gsl gsl is offline
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Like I said above, I've got a pair of IEMs, but those get fairly uncomfortable after a few hours of use. I also have a tough time getting the IEMs to fit just right--my ears seem to be right between the standard small and medium-sized earpieces, so I'm always having to fidget with them to get a perfect fit. Usually there's an annoying and really disorienting gap in one side where they don't seal completely.

I really hate the feel of clips, but the Porta-Pros may be an option. I'm mainly looking for sealed/semi-sealed phones, though, as I prefer the isolation ( = not having to turn my music up so loud) and how they passively can block out background office noise.
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:34 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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Default Try The JVC Flats

I have the Portapro and had the KSC 75. Neither has any isolation. You can put them on and have a low voiced conversation with someone across the room. If you're looking for isolation neither of those will work.

As a glasses wearer I'm very aware of comfort issues with on ear and over ear headphones. In this price range the one's I've found that give me the best combo of sound and comfort are the JVC Flats. The phrase that keeps being used with them is "surprisingly good for the price." That's a good description for them IMO.

The MSRP is $19.99 but it's not unusual to find the for much less than that online and in the big box stores. They tend to go on sale fairly often, especially near the holidays. Even a couple of my audiophile friends that kind of laughed when they saw them for the the first time were impressed. Not blown away but more than a bit surprised that something at that price point could sound that good. Plenty of bass and the rest of frequency spectrum is also well represented.

Don't get me wrong, I'm saying they're good for the price, not great headphones. The build quality is clicky and rattly until you get them on. Then for me they give just the right amount of clamping force to be comfy for long times without slipping off with normal activity. The pleather pads do warm up like any others but they're soft and well made.

For me they're like the Clip+. Everybody should try them at least once just to see how good cheap can be.
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  #5  
Old 07-19-2011, 01:11 PM
gsl gsl is offline
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Thanks for the recommendation--I ended up getting a pair of the Flats at the Best Buy for $19.99 (read in several places where people managed to find them at Big Lots for ~$10, but I had no luck in the one here). Comfort-wise they're perfect, as they sit on my ears with no added pressure on my glasses. Sound-wise, they're not quite as good as either my HD-201s or the PL-20s, but I'm hoping that will change a bit over time. I let them run for about a day playing from an old iPod I had filled with a proportionate selection of my usual workday music. A few albums I tried sounded just fine (Tom Waits' Rain Dogs, Deepchord's Hash Bar Loops), but now listening to Conqueror by Jesu, everything seems a bit muddy and the bass end is a bit heavier than usual. The quality seemed to improve a bit when I turned off crossfeed in Rockbox on my Clip+, but the album was also an eMusic purchase that seems to be encoded at a fairly low target bitrate, so there's a few different things that could be the cause of the problem before I go blaming the headphones. All in all, though, I'm quite pleased with the quality of the phones for the price. It'll be nice if they shape up a bit with extended listening, but I can't complain too loudy.

An interesting observation, though, is that they are definitely a bit 'louder' than my HD-201s, and are almost on par with the PL-20s. I generally turn the volume on the Clip+ up to about -35 or so for the HD-201s and kick it back to -40 through -50 for the PL-20s; I've found myself keeping the Flats in about the same lower range. Odd for something that doesn't isolate quite as much.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:58 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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Glad things are working out. TBH they "may" improve a bit with time but I wouldn't expect miracles. As I said they're good for the price.

You're not the first person that made that observation about the Senn HD201. Marvin the Martian has stated several times that they're one of the times the numbers don't tell the whole story. The numbers, 24 ohms 108 dB SPL, say they should be easy to get loud enough with any reasonable source. He had a set and says that just isn't true in this case. Makes me wonder if those numbers are accurate.
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Old 07-26-2011, 06:16 PM
gsl gsl is offline
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I don't really know much about what the numbers mean (beyond a general grasp of the concept of impedence), but yeah, the HD201s really do need a bit more volume than other phones/IEMs I've used. It's not a problem--my Rockboxed Clip+ can get them plenty loud and then some--but I just need to remember what I was listening through last so I don't accidentally blast my ears out with less-demanding headphones.

The Flats are getting a little more listenable after a few full workdays, or maybe I'm just getting used to them. I decided to plug my Fiio E5 into the Clip+ to see if that may possibly make any difference in the sound. The bottom end is still pretty heavy, but I almost feel like the amp helped bring the highs and mids up a little bit. That may be just me mentally fooling myself, though--I always have a hard time wondering if I really experience some sort of sonic difference with different gear or settings, or if I just subconsciously convince myself that I do.
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