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Ask Slashdot: Best Headphones, Earbuds, Earphones?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the boombox-and-duct-tape-no-longer-cut-it dept.

Music 448

alexbgreat writes "What do you think is the best set of head-mounted loudspeakers for the money, with a cost of less than $50? Here are some featuresthat would be stupendous to have (in descending order of importance): noise isolation (not cancellation), flat/near flat response (I need to be able to hear bass, but I don't need my eardrums blown out), long-term comfort (earbuds usually hurt for me), and durability. Over-ear is preferred to anything on- or in-ear. Boom mics are permissible, as I may well use it as a broadcast intercom headset." If you have experience using headphones from different price ranges, feel free to share that as well.

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20 dollar sonies (1, Interesting)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304111)

My 20 dollar white sonys from walmart are excellent. Dont know the model # off hand. But like I said 20 bones walmart.

Re:20 dollar sonies (4, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304209)

I know this will sound petty, but I'd rip my intestines out with a fork before buying something branded with Sony, given their recent history of putting out crap hardware, screwing customers over, distributing malware, suing music fans, losing online customer's data, etc.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. "But that wasn't their headphone division!" Still, I don't want that company seeing one red cent of mine. Sorry headphone division of Sony, but your parent company is scummy, so you have to pay the price of their shenanigans. I'm hopeful that there are plenty of alternatives for 20 bones that are just as good or better.

To anyone reading this, please remember all the times you've read an article here about Sony and though, "Wow, that's bad." Please don't fall into the "But their [whatever] is pretty good, so I'll make an exception and buy it." It's putting money in their pocket that they use to keep screwing people over so that we can see even more articles here about their spectacular douchebaggery.

Re:20 dollar sonies (4, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304439)

Sony is a large company and they put out many things. If you have a beef against them for whatever reason then more power to you. However the question was posed about sub $50 dollar head phones and I happen to have picked up a pair of Sony's for a road trip and I was very impressed with the quality, fit and portability. If your still upset about the rootkit and the removal of PS3 Linux that's fine. That doesn't apply to me however and I'm just giving advice and the OP can use it or lose as he or she chooses.

Re:20 dollar sonies (5, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304533)

Part of the method used to protest bad corporate behaviour is to boycott them. The other part is to spread the word. Only being boycotted by the people you've screwed over probably wouldn't even do much damage to Sony, (although it would be much more than most)

To stay on-topic, my favourites headphones are these JVCs [amazon.com] at about $50, They have a cheaper pair for about half the price (HX-33s?) that are almost as good. They isolate noise enough tthat I wear them while woodworking or mowing the lawn. Great sound, and I can wear them comfortably all day. You can actually get them on sale for about half the price listed on occasion. They seem quite sturdy, but I'm not that rough on headphones despite wearing them so much.

Re:20 dollar sonies (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304599)

Just out of curiosity, is there a large (Fortune 500) manufacturer of consumer products that you think DESERVES your business and that of others here?

The point is that lots of people have a beef with practically every consumer-facing company, on the basis of product quality, or service, or policies regarding IP or customer privacy, or how and where they manufacture their goods, or the personality and character of the CEO, etc.

you better stop watching movies & music too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304621)

cuz sony has it's hands in lots of movie studios
and productions of other movies not directly associated.

and music, they own many major labels.

in fact, you better stop watching football or hockey or soccer too, cuz a lot of those franchises use sony equipment
or have sony tie-ins in some way or another.

in fact, the only way to avoid it totally is to sit at home, tv and computer unplugged, no radio, and just sit there and rot. til you die.

Re:20 dollar sonies (1)

issicus (2031176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304417)

they sure do make a lot of different ear buds..(amazon) I got mine from walmart, I think they were philips or rca. those ones with the foam padding (something like Philips SHE8500) sound great, and have never hurt my ears. better then the 80$ sony dj set I had anyway.

Re:20 dollar sonies (1)

T-Mckenney (2008418) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304473)

Dude I use the same pair, and they are indeed one of the best out there.

Sennheiser PX100 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304119)

Downside: almost transparent to sound. People can hear what you're listening to and the isolation you get is next to none. Still, audio quality is great for the price, they're light and very comfortable.

Re:Sennheiser PX100 (4, Informative)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304435)

I'll second that recommendation. I've had several sets of Sennheiser headphones over the years, and they've all had excellent sound quality. They've always been excellent build quality too.

Best for the money isn't 50 unless you get used. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304121)

So try CL and get a bottle of alcohol to wipe down that stolen pair of Bang and Olfsens.

Monoprice! (4, Informative)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304125)

I bought two pairs of Monoprice 8323's [monoprice.com] and I think they are fantastic. I keep one at home and the other at work.

I've never been disappointed with anything I've bought from Monoprice.

These same headphones are available from other people (Kicker and others) for significantly more money.

Re:Monoprice! (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304645)

You'd better be right. I just bought 3 pairs of different headphones. Great prices. I am hoping the fabric covered wires indicates that they aren't the cheapest crap ever made. I bought some headphones on ebay a while back and it was listening to everything through a wet sock.

klipsch s4 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304129)

these are fantastic for the money (a little above budget at approx. 70$ on ebay in canada). i'd say the bass response is a little underwhelming but i got used to them.

Sony MDR 7506 (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304135)

Not under $50, but Sony MDR 7506 or the MDR V6

Re:Sony MDR 7506 (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304275)

Uhm, no. I have had a pair of the Sony 7506's for about 10 years now.

I just replaced them with the Sennheiser 38o pro. There is no contest. The senns sound clear, clean, with an excellent soundstage. The 7506 sound mushy / boomy.

Go read other people's reviews / rankings at head-fi.org for confirmation.

They cost about $79 (2)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304141)

And they are "Studio standards" - AKG-240M. Big, comfy and accurate. Not as good as $200 Bose or Sennheisers, but a fuckton better than most of the other crap out there.

Re:They cost about $79 (5, Funny)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304147)

oh, and 10 shitloads = 1 fuckton, just so's ya know.

Re:They cost about $79 (1, Informative)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304431)

I'm very happy with my AKG K240 studio headphones. They are also close to $99 retail. But worth every penny. The audio cable is detachable as well so if years down the road you get a short, you can easily replace the cable for about $15. If I'm just at home, nothing beats a pair of big ass headphones.

Re:They cost about $79 (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304551)

The 240Ms looks a lot like the Realistic-branded cans that I bought in the early 90s, with a single active and six passive diaphragms. I loved those cans and still do, but I can't wear them now for any length of time because of physical pain to my ears.

STAX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304143)

STAX

Re:STAX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304165)

http://www.stax.co.jp/

Noise cancelling! (1)

mdjnewman (2293194) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304145)

If you can find some decent noise cancelling buds for that cheap I'd go with them. You're unlikely to get decent on/over ear anythings for that price IMHO.

JVC Marshmallows (1)

dank zappingly (975064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304151)

They're about 12 bucks on Amazon (more if you want the iPhone model), but they're cheap, comfortable and pretty durable. Sound is fine, but I'm no audiophile so I can't really tell the difference between earbud sound quality when I'm listening to MP3s.

Re:JVC Marshmallows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304429)

I second JVC when it comes to earbuds. Personally these [amazon.com] are the best earbuds I've ever owned with regards to sound quality _and_ durability. I also have a really old pair of $5 JVC Gumy's that still work fine.

Stay away from Sony and Skullcandy. Some of them sound decent, but they break very easily and quickly. Less than 6 months, tops.

Bose (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304163)

I know they get a lot of greif around here, but their earbuds have interchangeable tips to size them for your ear canal (S/M/L included) and they are $100. I use mine at work and for earbuds they are amazing (fidelity wise), and comfort is very good. I have a set of the $300 over ear QC15 (to replace my old QC1's) and I like them fine, but they are not nearly as good a bang for the buck as the earbuds.
When I am doing actual audio/video work I have an ancient set of JBLs that I wear for the detail work and a pair of nice monitor speakers for actual previews, but I don't think you could find anything close to that for reasonable cost (hence why I still use the ancient ones).
-nB

Re:Bose (4, Interesting)

Prune (557140) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304493)

The lower end Etymotic earbuds are also around $100 and much better than the Bose.

HD650's (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304169)

I've got a pair of Senheiser HD650's so old the foam padding needs to be replaced and they are frickin' awesome.

I can wear them for 10+ hours a day, 7 days a week, in absolute comfort. They don't touch my ears at all, just the top of my head and the side of my head.

And they sound magic.

They're a full order of magnitude more than your price range, but worth every cent, and you can find them secondhand.

Re:HD650's (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304651)

Is that a wired set? I've been wearing the wireless TR136 headphones for probably 5 years now.... I can wear these 15 hours/day (and I do because of my job) The soft foam around the ears is a huge improvement over the plasticy ones that sit right on the ear

Monoprice (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304171)

Monoprice's $23 headphones have gotten some pretty good reviews:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-57337747-47/how-good-can-$21.59-headphones-be/?tag=mncol;txt [cnet.com] )
http://www.head-fi.org/t/608453/monoprice-dj-headphones-8323-review [head-fi.org]

They sound good to me, but I'm not a serious audiophile, I just use them to cover up background office noise. I think the sound is comparable to the $80 Sennheiser's I use at home. (which, a friend tells me are completely unbearable compared to his $500 Sennheiser HD650's, so I refuse to listen to music through his headphones, 'lest some of his "golden ears" rub off and I find myself needing more expensive gear)

Re:Monoprice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304323)

I think the sound is comparable to the $80 Sennheiser's I use at home. (which, a friend tells me are completely unbearable compared to his $500 Sennheiser HD650's, so I refuse to listen to music through his headphones, 'lest some of his "golden ears" rub off and I find myself needing more expensive gear

The HD650's are arguably the best sounding headphones that have ever been made. At the very least, they're good enough to be within the realm of personal taste dictating whether or not some other company's model sounds better.

You shouldn't worry too much about getting 'golden ears'. I wear HD650's all day long at work, and into the night for gaming and watching TV (on my PC), but when i leave the room I grab a pair of stock iPhone earbuds, because the inline play/pause/volume/mic are more important to me than having good quality sound.

You can enjoy pristine sound without ruining your taste for mediocre sound.

Go to AVS forum (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304173)

or Head-Fi. They aren't audiophile dumbasses but also they aren't the broke neckbeard losers that inhabit slashdot listening to their $5 Jensen headphones.

AKG K44 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304179)

AKG K44: $20, sound pretty decent, isolation is good, reported to be comfy by a trusted friend.

http://amzn.com/B001K3ENEA

My recommendation is to spend a little more to get a whole lot more with the Sony MDR-V6's, at $75 on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00001WRSJ/

Had these for years, they travel with me everywhere in their bag, I beat the hell out of them. Reponse is fairly level, bass has some punch and highs are a little pronounced, but they're the best sounding headphones under $100. They're great for EDM (Electronic Dance Music). I can wear them for many hours a day.

You sound like you want some cheap DJ headphones. (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304181)

You should be able to get a pair of sennheisers [sennheiserusa.com] that fit around your ear.
It's could be worth paying extra at that price range and what ever is on special that closed and around the ear would work.
I have the 280s and they are pretty good for isolation.

Re:You sound like you want some cheap DJ headphone (1)

naroom (1560139) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304269)

Wearing a pair of Sennheiser 280's right now. I've had them for a few years, best money I've ever spent. They're durable and block out a fair bit of office noise. They sound great, too, they're a nice upgrade from the crappy $20 pairs you can find everywhere else. Perfect office headphone, also use them as monitors for my synthesizer.

Re:You sound like you want some cheap DJ headphone (3, Insightful)

Prune (557140) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304543)

I used primarily the HD-580 for about seven years, until I switched to Stax electrostatic headphones (Omega 3, that cost about $5000). The 580 were around $250 when I bought them new on eBay and one could probably find them now for $200. Over this time period I auditioned several dozen headphones (I don't have speakers as I move frequently) and in the under $250 range there's nothing that compares. It's a sort of a sweet spot. Anything above that price point is an incremental improvement; most things below are a significant degradation. Even the $5K Stax are not that greatly better (but hey, felt good to buy myself a little present, and it was an excuse to build a high voltage hybrid solid state/tube headphone amp instead of plunking another $5K after one... http://gilmore.chem.northwestern.edu/bluehawaii_moda1.png [northwestern.edu] )

Sennheiser Over the Ears (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304183)

My pick would be: Sennheiser PMX 60 [google.com.au] .

Comfortable, good sound quality, reasonably priced.

Who are you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304191)

Hearing experience differs significantly between people as well as their tastes, so your only real option is to try everything out you can and make up your mind afterwards. I have no good offers for under $50 models, but you're looking at low end senns and other major brands like Sony and Philips and etc. At least they'll be cheap to try new models. I also suggest you look through head-fi's trade section. People often buy headphones to demo and sell if it doesn't suit them, as ultimately pays only postage as they sell it back for near same price.

that's not a lot of money (1)

milkmage (795746) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304225)

but check headphone solutions or earphone solutions dot com

they have a $60 dollar section, and a 15% coupon right now for Father's Day. code = DAD15 until 6/17.

I don't think many audiophile sites will even review pairs in that price range, so I'm afraid you're going to end up with Sony, Sennheiser, etc.. (mass market brands)

buy a couple different pairs from amazon and just see which sound best to you. return the rest (read the small print for canal buds or in ear type - returns might not be allowed because of hygiene issues).

i tried about 6 to 8 different pairs of over the ear cans... returned all but the Beyer Dynamics for the house and for my commute Westone 3s. Both well out of your price range though. Until I discovered "good" headphones and a DAC to go with.. I used Sony MDR71's and Grado SR81s (sony $40, Grado $100) music only, no mic.

HeadRoom (4, Informative)

juventasone (517959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304227)

HeadRoom [headphone.com] tests more headphones than probably anyone. They're unbiased enough to say when a $40 pair is better than $100 pair that they sell.

Re:HeadRoom (4, Informative)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304317)

They're unbiased enough to say when a $40 pair is better than $100 pair that they sell.

I have no experience from HeadRoom ( I am sure they are good if you recommend them).
But I did use to work in an electronics store as a teenager, and I just want to say that it is quite possible for the reseller to have better margins on a $40 pair than the $100. Especially when the cheaper product isn't all that well known and the more expensive one is. So that is not really a foolproof sign that they are unbiased.

Re:HeadRoom (1)

Prune (557140) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304381)

I have multiple experience with them and back up GP's post.

DIY Custom Molded on the cheap (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304235)

If you want comfort and ultimate noise blocking you can do a DIY version. I made a pair and they were fantastic and comfortable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmk-y_9exJ8&feature=player_embedded

Just pick up a set of decent earbuds, I used skullcandy ones when I did mine, and a radians custom earplug kit ($11).

http://www.amazon.com/Radians-Custom-Molded-Earplugs-Red/dp/B002XULPSQ

Re:DIY Custom Molded on the cheap (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304371)

Funny, along the same path, I ripped a pair sennheisers apart and installed them in a headpiece to practice shooting firearms or operating heavy and and noisy machinery. They are basically the same. Perfect noise isolation. I use them to record drums so I can't hear the drums directly, only the feedback from the headphones...

Sorry, no video available.

Andrea (1)

BaverBud (610218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304239)

I have an Andrea headset I find fairly comfortable (http://www.andreaelectronics.com/Buy/headsets.htm). The only thing I dislike is that the mic seems to require a battery power pre-amp that has no on-off switch, so the battery dies often. Otherwise, I like the sound, and the mic quality is pretty good. I wouldn't consider it an audiophile headset though.

http://www.head-fi.org/ (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304241)

Re:http://www.head-fi.org/ (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304309)

Please mod parent up +5 !

Why? Because you can sort by -user- reviews, you know people who actually _have_ the cans you are interested in. :)

It is not an accident that Sennheiser is consistently ranked best overall compared to other brands. Great German design.

Re:http://www.head-fi.org/ (1)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304475)

I thought the common thread on head-fi is that sennheiser isn't all that amazing. That there are a lot of other options that are cheaper AND sound better.

Wasn't there an article a few months ago reccomending their favs, and sennheiser only had 1 out of like 10 in that list, and they weren't even that enthralled with it?

I'm not an audiophile, but I've spent a year testing just about every config you can think of and a ton of headphones. It seems that, no offense, the groupthink on the net is to choose sennheisers or people repeat it. But the most important thing is to try the headset on, and listen to it and see if the sound is pleasing to you. And apparently, there are a ton that sound amazing (again not for audiophiles tho) but are dirt cheap--like $40-60.

So no, even the above-average person doesn't need $200 sennheisers. Spend between $50 and 80 and call it a day. Tho my Sennheiser $35 earbuds are pretty damn good for earbuds

Cheap ones: Sony MDR-W08L (0)

lemur3 (997863) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304251)

Ive been using some of these since the late 90s.. They are great.. sort of a combination of 'good' earbuds that will never fall out and over the ear headphones..

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Lightweight-MDR-W08L-In-The-Ear-Headphones/dp/B00005N6KG [amazon.com]

$8.13 on amazon.com

http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&partNumber=MDRW08L [sony.com]

Sony calls them "Vertical In-The-Ear Headphones"

worth a try

I know the answer! (0)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304271)

If you want to have a full blown no holds barred freaking audiophile experience worthy of a 10,000 home set up, walking down the street here's how you do it:

1) Never listen to any music you buy from Apple or same. They compress the music until it's shit and no, their ALAC isn't worth a damn:

http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=Lossless_comparison#Comparison_Table [hydrogenaudio.org]

No really, you don't have to have golden ears to hear the difference. Either take the time to burn tracks from CDs into a totally loss-less format like FLAC or do what I do and screw digital music for now, it's not ready for prime time- buy used CDs they're literally sonically perfect, (even too perfect for some vinyl lovers).

Get yourself a portable, skipless CD player (which are sadly getting hard to get in decent quality anymore) and pair it with the most expensive version of this headphone you can afford, new or used,

http://www.gradolabs.com/page_headphones.php [gradolabs.com]

disregarding entirely the in-ear variety because you said you want something *really* good.

I own the SR325is and it blows everything else away including the highest end Bose (junk) Sennheisers etc etc etc.

The separation of the sound and incredible detail is nothing you're going to experience this side of $6,000-a -pair home speakers. If you've been listening to digital audio, you've never even HEARD whole parts of the recording.. literally you'll hear things in the music, like, percussion parts, you didn't even know were there

. Not to mention the actual quality and timbre of the vocalist's voice.

This is the way to roll.

Re:I know the answer! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304337)

... except Grados all commonly have the mid-range boosted, with only some noticeable bass (not the reproduction of it, but rather impact of the bass), and weird treble characteristics. It's highly coloured, and it's not detailed. Bowl models, depending on your ears, are still superaural rather than more comfortable circumaural. It's good for rocking out without being fatigued for long wearing due to its light weight and easy potential for modding, but it's no replacement for a good home speaker setup.

Guy wanted flat response. Your response is entirely wrong from get-go.

Re:I know the answer! (4)

dcl (680528) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304385)

I was under the impression hardly anyone could tell the difference between lossless and a v0 mp3 on even pretty decent gear....

Re:I know the answer! (1)

rot26 (240034) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304397)

I had to decide: mod you up or respond with agreement. Pretty much anything Grado makes is an incredible value, but their "lower-end" headphones are a BARGAIN. The consumer brands otherwise mentioned here are toys in comparison. (Except maybe the upper tier Sennheisers.)

Re:I know the answer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304447)

1) Never listen to any music you buy from Apple or same. They compress the music until it's shit and no, their ALAC isn't worth a damn:

http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=Lossless_comparison#Comparison_Table [hydrogenaudio.org]

  No really, you don't have to have golden ears to hear the difference. Either take the time to burn tracks from CDs into a totally loss-less format like FLAC or do what I do and screw digital music for now, it's not ready for prime time- buy used CDs they're literally sonically perfect, (even too perfect for some vinyl lovers).

Bullshit. ALAC and FLAC are both exactly the same. *Exactly* the same. There is no difference between one format and another except for what devices/software is capable of decoding it. Most modern hardware audio decoders can decode ALAC, while most cannot decode FLAC, which gives ALAC a slight edge in practicality.

Audio CD is not "sonically perfect". Actually they sound pretty shit compared to what ALAC and FLAC are capable of.

And if you want to compare quality between an Audio CD and a "mastered for iTunes" track, then you will only notice the difference with a really good "DAC". Because it doesn't matter how good your digital source is, unless you have good hardware to convert a digital signal into analogue sound waves, there really is no point wasting your time trying to get a good digital version of the song.

If you are going to discuss high quality audio and %6,000 speakers, first take the effort to actually *learn how the fucking things work*.

My home stereo is worth many tens of thousands of dollars, but I still buy MP3's online - because most of the time I'm not listening to music in my lounge room.

Re:I know the answer! (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304577)

No really, you don't have to have golden ears to hear the difference. Either take the time to burn tracks from CDs into a totally loss-less format like FLAC or do what I do and screw digital music for now, it's not ready for prime time- buy used CDs they're literally sonically perfect, (even too perfect for some vinyl lovers).

Agreed! Perfection is overrated!

Re:I know the answer! (1)

Prune (557140) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304581)

I've heard essentially every Grado headphone that has been available at headphone.com over the years. And they are all--without exception--colored. They are for people that like that particular sound. For an all-around great headphone at mid-price level, Sennheisers can't be beat. The HD-580 were my mainstay for years, until I recently went all in and got Stax Omega 3s.

Sennheiser HD203 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304279)

I'm pretty fond of my cheap Sennheisers. Less than $40 on Amazon, but they sound great and they're reasonably comfortable. Koss Portapros are pretty nice, too, and around the same price.

Misc Findings (2)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304299)

You actually are in luck. I spent like a year playing around and tinkering with all sorts of configs. What I found is that there is not a lot of information or data on this. So here is what I did find, and I welcome any different perspectives because quite frankly I can't find anything else:

Ignore gaming headsets or anything with a mic integrated. They are universally terrible. I've tested the Creative $60 one (only good for bass--mids and highs are distorted and sound very fuzzy), the Cooler Master Storm Sirus (sounded weak, volume was waaaaay too low even at highest settings & then at the highest the sound gets distorted, and only good bass comes from the left ear but not both), the supposed well-reccomended Corsair one (which was absolutely pathetic--no bass and all sounds sounded flat and no vibrancy). So the solution is to get a good pair of true stereo headphones, which are cheap $40-80, and if you must have surround sound, pair it with a sound card that does 3D upmixing. I have an old an old Creative X-Fi (ExtremeMusic I think--drivers don't recognize it properly--I think I have a XtremeGamer but it will only install extrememusic). It's pretty bad that I use a $35 pair of Sennheiser earbuds and overall it sounds better than any of those $100+ headsets. Yes, with earbuds it lacks significant bass and it's clear but not crisp clear, but I bet you a good set of stereo cans with a dedi sound card will be phenomenal. Those earbuds I mentioned are pretty damn good for earbuds, and pretty cheap. 300% better than earbuds thrown in electronics. But then again you don't want earbuds and I agree with you. I freaking hate them. It's just that I havent' gotten around to trying the JVC Harx something or the Grado SR60. I can't think of their exact names, but supposedly they deliver clear at all levels and hearty bass. But then again that's what I read. And astroturfing is so prevalent.

Best advice though is go to a place where you can TRY IT ON and listen to it. Seriously. Even if something is settled on, try it on before you buy it! An uncomfy headset is the absolute worst. I couldn't bare wearing that damn Creative headset because the small tight leather cups drove me mad. And an uncomfy headset will.

Re:Misc Findings (1)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304355)

Forgot to mention that I also say use a dedi sound card because it seems that USB just can't handle the load, at least for games and 3D upmixing. But apparently creative makes upmixing software for $20. Check it out. I don't know the quality, and it still may sound like shit, but it might be better than investing $180 in a Creative Titanium X-Fi or whatever it's called, when it sounds good enough with integrated audio.

Also, get a dedicated USB mic. Gaming headsets are ALWAYS the worst pieces of shit ever. Yet a $20 stand-alone always sound amazing. Go figure.

And FYI I'm sorry but I can't remember the model of those Sennheiser ear buds I have. They're only $35 on amazon but I bought them in 2009. You could search on Tomshardware for the earbud roundup back then. That's where I found out about them

Klipsch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304319)

Earbuds; got a pair of Klipsch S4's for about $50AUD (~50% off), heavenly, over ear; Marshall Major for about $100, good trade off between size and sound.

love $20 sonies also (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304329)

i have about 10 pairs of earbuds, and if i cant find my $20 sony earbuds i got from best buy, i just wont even bother. its really more of a comfort thing with me, earbuds have been known to easily hurts my ear lobes, as quickly as 30 seconds in, but with these i can wear them all day without a problem, hope that helps ;)

What electronics can you buy new 28 years later? (3, Insightful)

juventasone (517959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304343)

Koss Porta Pro [koss.com] don't just look retro, they're the real deal. They've been mostly unchanged since 1984, and Amazon has sold them since 1990 (up to 1,200 reviews now). It's nice to see a company stand behind a product instead of cycling them every 6 months.

Re:What electronics can you buy new 28 years later (1)

juventasone (517959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304395)

Since Amazon was established in 1994, the 1990 date obviously means something else...

Superlux HD668b (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304345)

From an audiophile with stupidly expensive headphones, DACs, and amps to power them, and no $50 cables:

The Superlux HD668b [amazon.com] have the most impressive bang for your buck I've ever seen. At $50 ($30-40 if you look around), they easily match other cans $200-300 in quality. They are super analytical monitors—you won't get that V-shaped response that most people find pleasing. If it happens you like that type of response (many people requesting a flat response don't actually realize how accustomed they've become to non-flat), they'll still keep up with an EQ-ed source like a champ.

Re:Superlux HD668b (2)

Prune (557140) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304603)

For that price point ($40), the Koss Porta Pro remain the kings, as another poster pointed out. I'm saying this as someone that's auditioned everything from the shittiest do-it-yourself headphones I made to $5K electrostatic headphones.

Asymmetric cord (1)

MicroSlut (2478760) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304347)

Every time I go to get a pair of headphones they that damn asymmetric cord as if everyone has their mp3 player in the left back pocket and needs the left side of the cord shorter. Sorry but this really bothers me and no one is mentioning it.

Sennheisers rock. (1)

Anaerin (905998) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304351)

If it's audio quality you want, grab the HD650's. But they are open-back, so no isolation whatsoever. If you want/need isolation, go for the HD280 Pros. They're comfortable enough to wear all day and have massive amounts of noise cancelling without any electronics whatsoever.

Re:Sennheisers rock. (1)

Prune (557140) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304617)

Yes, Sennheiser are the best in the mid-price range (sub-$1K), but the OP was asking about $50 headphones, not $500.

You get what you pay for. (1)

IcerLeaf (586564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304373)

I am a happy owner of Sennheiser's PX 200 IIi. There is a less expensive version which doesn't have the microphone and iPod/iPhone controls in the cord. They are over the ear, not around, but the seal is still good enough that ambient noise is at least subdued. I can use them on flights without going up to full volume. I had to go this direction because every headphone with noise cancellation gave me motion sickness. You'll probably pay more than $50, but you get what you pay for.

I'm using them right now (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304377)

I'm streaming from Magnatune [magnatune.com] to my Bose QC 15 right now.

In-the-ear sucks (for people with hyperacusis)! (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304387)

I bought a nice pair of AKG earbuds a couple years ago. AKG has a reputation for quality, and many years before I'd bought a Realistic-branded set of AKG circumaural headphones that were awesome. Alas I couldn't enjoy them any more because they caused me physical pain, from pressure and bruising of cartilage, because my ears had grown too large (ears keep growing)... or something. I'd bought several other circumaural brands, thinking I could find one that didn't hurt, but they ALL caused pain after perhaps a half hour. So in desperation I bought the earbuds.

They had really great sound, excellent response, but I couldn't use them: any jaw or body movement, or vibration or movement of the attached cords, was strongly audible. This vibrational noise(?) was so strong it made enjoyment of the intended audio impossible. I seem to have the symptoms of what is called hyperacusis, so perhaps that extra sensitivity is the cause for me. Do earbuds cause the same problem for most other people? I haven't seen widespread complaints, and their wild popularity seems to suggest otherwise.

My last sonic line of defense has been the discovery of a Philips-branded earphone that isn't an earbud but rather hooks loosely over the outside of the ear and rests just "at" the ear canal, rather than inside it. They're not the greatest audio quality, BUT they cause me no physical pain at all and so can be worn for extended periods without the conscious distraction of pain. I have two sets now, and will probably wind up buying more as backups just in case Philips decides to stop production.

Anyone need a barely used set of AKG earbuds...?

Re:In-the-ear sucks (for people with hyperacusis)! (1)

darkfeline (1890882) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304593)

Amplification of vibrations is common to IEMs. You can prevent/reduce it either by not listening to music while walking/moving, or "grounding" it by clipping the wire to your shirt, gripping between your fingers, or wrapping over/behind your ears.

Re:In-the-ear sucks (for people with hyperacusis)! (1)

Change (101897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304609)

I have a pair of Koss headphones that are just like you describe, I'm a big fan of them. They are quite comfortable and sound pretty good too. http://www.headphone.com/headphones/koss-ksc-75.php [headphone.com]

UrbanEars Medis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304407)

Amazing and just a bit above the price point, $42. They sound fantastic and have a built-in mic in the cable for smart phones.

http://www.amazon.com/UrbanEars-Medis-Headphones-Black-Size/dp/B00359FQLG/

Sennheiser has some great budget headphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304427)

I have use a pair of Sennheiser HD 202's for the past 3 or 4 years and they have been totally worth the $40 I paid for them. The response is relatively flat, it blocks out a good amount of noise, sounds sharp, even at high volumes, are comfortable, and apparently last forever. These have a super long (10 feet i think) cord which I usually keep wrapped up, but occasionally it comes in handy. Here is the Newegg page for it: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826106455

But really any of the sub $100 Sennheiser's will fit your request.

VMODA ear buds take the most ABUSE (1)

batray (257663) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304455)

I am hard on gear. I use an Otterbox case for my iPhone, if I did not I would have destoyed it long ago.

VMODA headphones are great sounding, but not the absolute best. What makes them the best ear buds is the quality of the wiring and the offset plug on the cable that makes them last far longer than other brands.

I have had other high end earphones that died within a few weeks to months becasue the wire broke internally. The offset plug on the vmoda headphones prevents the majority of severe strains on the wire when you bump the phone with the headphones plugged into an object. The wire breaking internally at the plug is where all of my non VMODA headphones have died. My VMODA ear buds far outlast any other brand I have tried including Sennheiser, Bose, and Shure.

read my comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304467)

below $50 some $5 panasonics would be nice.

above $50 ... grado hp2 are the most amazing pair i've ever listened to. smoothest sound ever.

it's not the headphones entirely, consider what you are driving them with too!

Kicker HP541 ($50) (1)

DarkLegacy (1027316) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304477)

I've wasted something like $300, testing out sub-$60 headphones, and I have found absolutely nothing matching the quality of the Kicker HP541s. I'm not a fancy audiophile, I won't draw line graphs for you with frequency response, because that's all tripe anyway (most adult humans can't hear over 18 KHz), but I will tell you that they are the best pair of cans you can get for anything less than $100.

The bass is phenomenal at high volumes (Kicker, heh), the sound is very crisp and flat, the earcups are made of genuine leather, they also spin 180 degrees to sit outwards, so if you have a portable amplifier like the Fiio, and I think this is the best test - you can raise the volume enough that they become actual speakers sitting on your neck, and they DON'T DISTORT or crack! Also, make sure your media library is FLAC, or at least 256 kbps MP3. You will hear the artifacts in your music with any bit-rate anything less than that.

For a cheaper alternative, without the $400-pair-of-headphones feel like the Kickers have, I'd recommend the Sennheiser 202's, which are in the $20-$30 range.

Re:Kicker HP541 ($50) (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304661)

The Kicker HP541 [kicker.com] seems to be identical to the $23 Monoprice 8323 [head-fi.org] . It looks to be a re-brand, but that's a huge price drop.

Grado Labs SR60i (1)

caljorden (166413) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304505)

I have the Grado Labs SR60i, and they cost about $79, but they sure sound great. Check them out at http://www.gradolabs.com/page_headphones.php?item=f4ba8830232696b5f580bd531134b668 [gradolabs.com]

I purchased them online from http://goodcans.com/HeadphoneStore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=83&zenid=16a9581e498c2dc5bd2481384bd45a74 [goodcans.com]

They are especially known for their flat frequency response, and allowing you to hear what other headphones can not reproduce. In my experience, this has been the case. They are incredibly well-built, for the price. The cable for them is very flexible, but also rather thick. I am very happy with them.

Re:Grado Labs SR60i (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304607)

Alessandro Series are nice too. Basically slightly modified Grado for much cheaper.

Skullcandy (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304507)

I have several... many... sets of Skullcandy earbuds. Though I've experienced uncomfortable earbuds before, that isn't the case at all for me with these. The only contact with your ear is a very soft, squishy "mushroom" of silicone/rubber. I can't imagine any over-ear headphones that would be more comfortable, personally.

And, the bass and noise isolation is excellent. Their "base models" are cheap, with little discernable quality compromise from their higher-end. At the price, I'd suggest trying one--they may challenge your preconceptions of what you are looking for.

$9.99 sony @ target (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304519)

I've spent a good deal of money on headphones. I've been using noise cancelling earbuds since probably 1996 (Koss plugs were really the only thing back then). I used them at the time as ear plugs and to listen to NPR while commuting on my motorcycle. Now I use them for NPR podcasts and audiobooks while on any variety of two wheeled transports..bicycle more these days. I've bought the high end variety (bose, koss, etc upward of $100 or more per) as well as the low end variety ( $10). They all fail at about the same rate and my ears aren't sensitive enough to tell any "significant" difference (they higher end ones certainly sound better, but the failure rate is just as bad..and it's not THAT much better).

I've found I get the most mileage out of Sony earbuds which are $9.99 @ target (that's the only place I can find them consistently). The ones with the 90 degree 1/8th inch plug. The straight plugs fail in less than a week for me. The 90 degree plugs last at least a month and sometimes up to 6 months (though that's rare). It matters not how much I pay for them, that's the consistent failure rate, so why would I pay more that 10 bucks?

Sennheiser HD 280 PROs (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304535)

While the Sennheiser HD 280 PROs are about double the asked for price range, I think they're worth every penny. They're good for about 30 db of noise cancellation, have an excellent and balanced response across the audio spectrum, and stellar audio reproduction. I've had mine nearly three years now, and I use them about 20 hours per week (about 3000 hours of usage so far). I still absolutely love them, and if I ever needed to replace them, I would get the same model in a heartbeat.

Considering my cost per hour usage is about $0.04 and dropping, and the headphone will easily last 10,000 hours, spending a little extra money is absolutely worth it in my opinion to get some totally amazing ear cans. I've heard several people say they like them better than the $500 headphones they've tried, so they're also a bargain in any sense. You would not be disappointed!

Re:Sennheiser HD 280 PROs (1)

Tobenisstinky (853306) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304655)

Another vote for the Sennheiser HD280's. Best headphones I've ever owned.

I got a logitech with a boom mic (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304553)

I went to target, 20$, it is great for playing video games with friends and chatting on Team Speak.

My previous headset was the overly hardware laden Microsoft Sidewinder from late 90s or early 2000s, and I had it to play Warcraft3 with friends. Voice chat is invaluable for RTS. Our team was the best in the world at the time 200wins 1loss(from my teammates screwing around).

Zune HD earbuds (1)

kriston (7886) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304565)

The earbuds that came with the Zune HD were and still are the best padded earbuds I've ever owned. The second best were the earbuds that came with XM MyFi portable satellite radio.

Despite searching for years I have never found the OEM for these two models of earbuds. I recently found a few new/old stock Zune HD earbuds to replace my old pair and to keep me going until I find something comparable.

I don't prefer the sound isolation "ear canal" headphones because it messes with the pressure in my ears and the cables cause noise when brushing against anything.

I'll take the Sony ones (1)

andyring (100627) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304573)

http://tinyurl.com/6ujmge3 [tinyurl.com]

I have one of these which I bought about 10 years ago. Back then I think I paid $150, but anyway, they are comfortable, do a very good job of cutting out external sound, and the frequency response is wonderful. Deep but not overpowering bass, all the way up to clear, crisp highs.

I bought them as I was the sound technician for my large church's praise band. Even worshipping in a large, acoustically horrible gym, with these headphones on it was wonderful to hear just the band (or individual instruments depending on how I configured our sound board) regardless of other noise, kids crying, etc.

And oh, can they handle it. 3 watts of power, which is insane for headphones. Playing around with them and our sound board, I could get them past 120dB according to my sound meter, and they just refused to distort at all.

Koss (1)

Nugoo (1794744) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304587)

I don't actually know much about headphones, but Koss has a fairly wide variety of them at different price points, and, most importantly, all of them have a lifetime warranty.

JVC HA-RX700 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304589)

A few months ago, at the recommendation of some of the Head-Fi guys, I got a ~$30 pair of over-the-ear JVC HA-RX700's from Amazon, and they have been fantastic. Very comfortable, decent noise isolation, and they sound fantastic. A bit heavy on the bass to some (although not to me) -- if you think so, you could correct it quickly via equalizer. They have stood up to being stuffed in a backpack and biked all over town almost every day so far, without any sign of wear. They look stupid (because they are huge), but who cares?

The ultimate review spreadsheet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304597)

Head-fi.org is the ultimate resource for this.

Here is the super awesome mega thread that reviewed 240+ IEM's by various qualities:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568/multi-iem-review-242-iems-compared-vsonic-gr99-gr02-bass-edition-added-06-11-12

The spreadsheet link is a bit buried, but can be found here:
http://www.mediafire.com/?fdf0dse1tgqyetb

A few good low-priced ones I've owned:
JVC Marshmallow - $12 - pretty decent for a cheap earbud. I just picked up a spare pair for $6 off cowboom.com
MeElectronics M9 - $10-$18 depending on sale - great seal and bass. Mids are a bit weak and they are a little fatiguing though.

Engadget... (1, Informative)

xded (1046894) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304613)

Seriously? Is this the kind of deeply technical questions that the diversified and experienced /. community is supposed to answer? Is this becoming Yahoo Answers?

And to the poster (because the first paragraph was to the editors), just take some time to type something [google.com] into google and head over to:

  • ilounge [ilounge.com]
  • engadget:
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/26/ask-engadget-best-over-the-ear-headphones/
    http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/04/ask-engadget-best-passive-noise-cancelling-headphones/
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/03/31/ask-engadget-best-usb-headset-for-skype-calls-and-podcasting/
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/11/ask-engadget-best-non-gaming-wireless-headphones/
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/24/ask-engadget-best-non-ugly-noise-cancelling-bluetooth-headset/
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/01/ask-engadget-best-earbuds-for-outdoor-fitness-use/
  • any [head-fi.org] audio [avsforum.com] forum [google.com]

At least you will get more detailed answers and consistent comparisons. And I won't have to do the google typing for you.

Get to your local close-out store. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304623)

Big Lot's, Ross, Marshall's, Ollie's.

Buy something from them. Seriously, I've gotten 80-120 dollar headphones for 20 bucks.

Shure SRH 440 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40304635)

I got mine for $78.00 from Amazon.

From experience (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304637)

Under 60, Sennheiser px100-ii.

The best ones (0)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304641)

http://www.amazon.com/3M-Peltor-Optime-H10A-Earmuff/dp/B00009LI4K/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339556671&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=sound+muffle+head+phones [amazon.com]
It cancel all the sounds, it makes you feel GOOOD. It lets you work without any distraction....Simply the best.
LOL, if have not yet catch my joke, let me give you one free advice. Only "idiots" would wear such a nasty brain killing machine as a Head-phones, it is not only the sound (do you really know what sound is???), but also the specific and nasty field spread out of this head phones is good enough to fry anything and everything in a mother of just two three years constant use. Or five years accidentally use. Take my advice, by a decent HiFi system, and live happy.

Look at the frequency response (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304653)

if its not listed move on, cause its crap

generally I like it when its low end is below 20Hz and its high end is above 20Khz, I have a pair of sony's that my wife bought me, maybe 20 bucks thats 18Hz and 21Hz and they still sound a bit muddy (yes I am a bit of a snob), but they are well balanced over the frequency range and for 20 dollar or so headphones are quite adequate for my snotty taste, probably sounding pretty good to your average person.

The above opinion has also been echoed by quite a few studio musicians, pretty darn good, and when they break them shuffling gear from studio to stage no big whoop, though they dont have a mic (sony MDR-V150). But the point remains, look at the driver specs, go low, go high, something like 50,15K is going to sound like a brass horn and nothing else. If they do not list frequency response then just move on, they will be nothing but ear damaging crap.

2 cents

Sennheiser/Soundmagic (1)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304657)

Whats the driver?
If its your PC/Laptop. over the ear "HEADPHONES" will do.
Sennhieser RS110 or similar(HD series) all have excellent quality. Truly amazing.

However, if its your tiny mp3 player, in ear is the only way to go
I use a Soundmagic PL-21 which cost 20$, and are excellent. With your budget, you can get sennhieser or Klipsch image S4 etc.,
Again, I have listened, and they sound better than the soundmagic.

That said, my budget was $25(for creative nano), and PL-21 came out to be the best

Cheap headphones are good enough for me... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40304665)

In general, I've never really found that expensive headphones are worth it due to their tendency to break. Myself I'm using a cheap pair of Phillips in-ear headphones, I don't think they cost more than $15, fit pretty comfortable for long terms and have decent enough sound quality, at least for me. Of course, I'm not much of an audiophile and mostly use my headphones for listening to music in bed, throwing them in my pocket and using them with my laptop/phone while in a car (passenger of course), listening to music at a coffee shop and occasionally when walking.
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