$500 cans on, this is how you dream right - Official Headphone Thread



Understanding Impedance - Of course what I'm about say doesn't apply to every pair of headphones or earphones, but here it goes: One important thing to note when picking a set of cans or IEMs is whether they are high impedance or low impedance. Low impedance head-gear usually requires little to no amplification in order to reach it's full potential, while high impedance head gear requires more amplification or voltage in order to sound how it should. Low impedance head-gear usually ranges from about 10 - 80OHM; High Impedance head gear 250 - 600OHM. High impedance head-gear usually suffers from less sound distortion and static noise.

What's a DAC - A Digital to Audio Converter converts a digital bitstream to an analog signal. Can be a separate "box" that connects between a CD Transport or CD Player and a pre-amplifier. Damping (Damping factor, etc.): Refers to the ability of an audio component to "stop" after the signal ends. For example, if a drum is struck with a mallet, the sound will reach a peak level and then decay in a certain amount of time to no sound. An audio component that allows the decay to drag on too long has poor damping, and less definition than it should. An audio component that is overdamped does not allow the initial energy to reach the full peak and cuts the decay short. "Boomy" or "muddy" sound is often the result of underdamped systems. "Dry" or "lifeless" sound may be the result of an overdamped system. If you have a poor sound-card and need a DAC or a better one you will probably experience a bit of distortion, which may be audible even without anything playing.

What's an Amp - A device which increases signal level. Many types of amplifiers are used in audio systems. Amplifiers typically increase voltage, current or both.

Description of Soundstage - A listening term that refers to the placement of a stereo image in a fashion that replicates the original performance. A realistic soundstage has proportional width, depth and height.

Closed Vs. Open Headphones - Usually this refers to headphones exclusively. Closed headphones leak sound less and generally provide better isolation from external noises. Open headphones may go loud enough to cover up external noises but generally leak sound to anyone present in the room and generally do a poor job with sound isolation. Open headphones are generally lighter and are more "lively" sounding with better soundstage. Closed headphones usually sport a greater bass impact, but obviously these generalities about sound vary greatly.

Portability - Usually this is a discussion involving headphones. Portable headphones are generally lighter, have lower impedance, and some of them fold up. Generally all IEMs (earphones) are portable given their small size, although some may benefit from amplification.

Supra-Aural (On-Ear Headphones) Vs. Circumaural (Over-Ear Headphones) - Circumaural headphones have ear pads that fit all the over the ear rather than resting on the ear. The results generally lead to added comfort and isolation, though there are some notable exceptions, and lately on-ear headphones have made large strides in both departments. Circumaural headphones also tend to sport wider soundstages and increased bass impact. Supra-Aural headphones are generally lighter, foldable, easier to drive, and thus more portable.

Earbuds Vs. IEMs - Earbuds sit very shallow in the ear (these are what come with iPods) whereas IEMs actually are meant to be inserted all the way into the ear. IEMs provide better isolation, generally better sound, and generally better comfort as well. They are mostly what are going to be recommended, although the Yuin PK3s are a notable exception.

[Glossary of Audio Terminology]

Headphone Storage Accesories

Should I buy a set of Beats headphones, considering I've been hearing so much about them?

*Take in mind I'm just going to address The Beats Pro, which are the flagship model. They sound sharper than the Studio's and don't run on batteries.

  • Stylish
  • Comfortable
  • Good Bass
  • Relatively light for such a bulky set of cans
  • Status Symbol
  • Relatively easy to drive
  • Good isolation

  • Lackluster Highs
  • Mediocre Mids
  • They are on sale at Amazon for $368, overpriced by about 200 dollars
  • Steep steep competition
  • Overall they are upper low-tier headphones being sold at an upper mid-tier price
  • Noontec Zoro's offer better sound and cost less than a hundred dollars

When Asking For Recommendations -keep in mind what has been presented in this section. Be specific, the more specific you are the better your recommendation will be...

Basic Recommendations:


Lower Mid-Tier Earphones Starting From $60 - $200 - From Most Expensive To Least

RHA T10i

Dunu DN-1000

Bowers & Wilkins C5

KEF M200

Audio Technica ATH-IM02

Fischer Audio DBA-02

V Sonic GR07 Bass Edition



Astrotec AX-7

Sony XBA-40

Rockit Sounds R-50

PFE 122

Yamaha EPH-100SL

Fidelio S2

Vsonic VC1000

Phonak PFE 112

Brainwavz B2

Fidelio S1

Final Audio Design Heaven II

Audio Technica ATH-IM70

Audio Technica ATH-IM50

Audio Technica ATH-IM01


Brookstone Dual Drive

Hifiman RE 400

Ostry KC06a

Sony XBA-1


Mid-Tier Headphones Starting From $60-$299 - From Most Expensive To Least

KEF M500

Bowers & Wilkins P5


Beyerdynamic DT-250

ADL H118

Yamaha MT220

AKG K545

Sennheiser Momentum

Fidelio X1

V-Moda XS

Fischer Audio FA-011

Sennheiser HD 598

Sony MDR-1R

Audio-Technica ATH-WS99

M-Audio HDH50

Pioneer HDJ-2000

Beyerdynamic DT-1350

Sony MDR-MA900

Sennheiser Amperior

Audio Technica ATH-900x

Audio Technica ATH-AD900x

Soundmagic HP200

Soundmagic HP150

Grado SR225e

Beyerdynamic DT990's Pro

Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro (80 OHM)

AKG K612 Pro

Sennheiser HD 25

Koss Pro4S

Audio Technica M50x

HiFiMan HE-300

Kam HP1

Brainwavz HM5


Creative Aurvana Live 2

Alessandro MS1


Audio Technica ATH-AD700

Creative Aurvana Live


Grado SR80e

M-Audio Q40


Denon DN-HP700

Koss ProDJ200

Rockit Sounds R-DJ


Sony MDR7506

Budget Earphones Under $60 - From Most Expensive To Least

Havi-B3 Pro 1

Zero Audio Carbo Basso

Zero Audio Tenore

Fidue A63

Vsonic GR06


Vsonic R02 Silver

Vsonic VC02

Astrotec AM800

Hisoundaudio PAA-1 (Earbuds)

V-Sonic GRO2 Bass Edition

Hifiman RE-300H

Astrotec Am-90

Spider Realvoice

Vsonic VSD3S

Apple Earpods (Earbuds)

Vsonic R02 Silver

RHA MA-350

Soundmagic E10

T-PEOS Popular


Xaomi Pistion 2

Brainwavz Delta

Budget Headphones Under $60 -From Most Expensive To Least

Audio Technica M30x


Pioneer Se-A1000

Gemini HSR-1000

Beyerdynamic 350P

Takstar HI 2050

RHA SA950i

Samson SR850

Sennheiser PX100




Superlux HD 440

Beyerdynamic DT 235

Superlux HD681 EVO


Koss PortaPro

Panasonic RP HTF600

Koss KSC75

Starter Combos (Amps+DACs) - From Most Expensive To Least


Geek Out 1000

JDS Labs C5D

Arcam rPac

NFB 12.1


Geek Out 450

Hifiman EF2A

Aune T1

Sunrise Ray DA-P1

FiiO E17

Topping TP30

FiiO E10K

Fiio E07K

Schiit Fulla

Starter Amps - From Most Expensive To Least

Darkvoice 336

Travagan's Red

Qinpu A3

Schiit Asgard

Little Dot MKII


Cayin C5

FiiO E9K

Bravo Audio Ocean

Superlux HA3D

EHP-O2 (Amp)

Linearossa W1

JDS LABS CmoyBB V 2.03

FiiO E11

Bravo Audio V2

FiiO E6

Starter DACs - From Most Expensive To Least

AudioQuest Dragonfly

Audioengine D1

HRT Music Streamer II

E-DAC 24 Miniature USB


Schiit Loki

NuForce Icon uDAC-3


HiFiMeDIY Sabre

Behringer UCA222

Budget audiophiles:

If you enjoy technical, ultra-accurate cold sound, there is no other answer beyond the Head-Direct line. You will not find more accurate, cold IEMs than the Head Direct RE-0.

If you enjoy bass, look elsewhere.

I'm currently using the Fischer Audio Eterna Rev.2s. Decent sound for ~$60. I think I'm ready to move up to a higher price range though.
Yeah I'm a budget guy myself, I don't think I'll ever buy anything over $250...So high end recommendations are welcome. Credit will be given in the OP.
AD700 is great for everything.

Loses out on bass tho.

It's a great PC gaming pair of phones however, especially for the price
Just bought my first headphones, AKG K 518 LE for ~€50. From what I've read, they're a good choice in the €50 price class.

They sit tight as hell, can't wear them for more than 30 minutes, but I love the sound in them. Will still keep my cheap in-ear one's for when walking outside. I'll steadily walk upwards in the price range when I got more money later on.

The OP is filled with 20-30 different kinds. For a mainstream sound noob like me, how much would I probably need for pay to hear any difference compared to K518? Is it steadily getting better the more I pay, or are the models for €50 more or less the same quality as the one's for €100? (=do I need to pay €200 to get a change in sound quality?)

Also, does music headphones like these work well with PC gaming and those sounds (explosions etc), or am I better off to buy those gaming/PC headsets which are designed for games and movies?
I got Sennheiser HD 595s for Xmas, and I've never ever had even decent headphones, so they sound awesome... but they leak sound like a motherfucker, had no idea they would do that. Can't take em on an airplane or anywhere really :/
Perfect timing for this thread to come about for me.

About 2 months ago, I went to HMV to buy some new earphones for my iPod. I didn't do any research beforehand and know fuck all about headphone, which was pretty stupid all round, so ended up basically going for the ones in the pretty package :lol I ended up going for Aircoustic Studio Monitors, and they were great until a couple of weeks ago. What happened first was the left earphone more or less died, and is now almost completely silent. Then a few days later the actual sound quality diminished, and now they're a horrible fuzzy mess to listen to.

So I'm going to take them back to HMV and replace them for something else. I got the headphones for £49.99, and will be looking to spend a further £50 quid or so to take it to £100 when I buy new ones. I'm assuming the jump between £50 and £100 headphones is large?

I'm looking for a pair of in-ear earphones with as good noise-cancellation as possible. I listen to music on the bus, so not having to worry about having to keep them quiet for the person next to me would be ideal. Aside from that, I have no idea. Any recommendations?


asking dangerous questions
Jenga said:
AD700 is great for everything.

Loses out on bass tho.

It's a great PC gaming pair of phones however, especially for the price
I also rock AD-700s.

They're affordable, crisp, incredibly comfy, not-great-for-heavy-bass, are not portable at all, have AMAZING soundstage, and look hilariously awesome.
peterb0y said:
Also, am i the only one who HATES IEM's? I feel like they're drilling into my brain, can't stand them
I absolutely hate them as well. The idea of having something in my ear canals for an extended period of time is kind of... not sure of the word for it. A combination of weird, strange, disgusting? Only thing that is allowed in there is a q-tip!

Speaking of which, (this question might be better suited to an iPhone thread) does anyone have a recommendation for earbuds for the iPhone that have the remote and mic, similar to the official Apple buds?
Very informative OP, thanks. I have a question on rips. I've heard some stuff about FLAC or what not, so what type of file should I rip my music in?


Magnificent Eager Mighty Brilliantly Erect Registereduser
Bought some Sennheiser CX300-B's about a month ago. Pretty happy with em so far but could be a little bassier. Although I don't know how much of the lack of bass is due to the mp3 player itself (a cheap 40 dollar samsung 4gb). I talked someone out of buying some bose headphones and into getting the sennheisers while picking mine up. I hate being "that guy" that does shit like that, but I had bought the same bose headphones in the past and was severely disappointed.
killertofu said:
Very informative OP, thanks. I have a question on rips. I've heard some stuff about FLAC or what not, so what type of file should I rip my music in?
Zunes and iPods(?) can't play flac so if you're just going to be playing it on there rip it to a high bit rate mp3. If you're just playing it on your computer in foobar/winamp or somesuch then go right ahead.
killertofu said:
Very informative OP, thanks. I have a question on rips. I've heard some stuff about FLAC or what not, so what type of file should I rip my music in?
FLAC is lossless, as in you lose no quality compared to the original. However, a FLAC file is quite a bit larger, so while it would be suitable for your computer's hard drive, it might be difficult to take it on the go. Also, some MP3 players do not support FLAC.

If you want to balance quality and file size, I'd suggest going for VBR. What VBR does is increases the bit-rate at more complex areas of a song and decreases it for less complex portions.
MrBig said:
Zunes and iPods(?) can't play flac so if you're just going to be playing it on there rip it to a high bit rate mp3. If you're just playing it on your computer in foobar/winamp or somesuch then go right ahead.
Well if hes converting from his CD he could convert to Apple Lossless if he really wanted to. However, the difference in size from Lossless to 320KB is ridiculous. Most people cant even hear the difference between the two, I know I cant.
killertofu said:
Very informative OP, thanks. I have a question on rips. I've heard some stuff about FLAC or what not, so what type of file should I rip my music in?
I don't have the best ears but generally I think encoding into Lame VBR Mp3 (at around 200kpbs) or AAC at around 192kpbs is most efficient and still manages to sound good unless you're listening to it with a pair of $500 reference headphones.
My Klipsch Image S4 headphones served me well for the year and a half I had them, but the other night the right side no longer outputs any sound. I couldn't find my receipt so sending them in for warranty was a no go. I decided to try something different and picked up the Monster Turbines yesterday. I've been pretty impressed so far, the bass is definitely quite a bit better than the Image S4s. I'm looking forward to listening to my favorite albums with these.

I'd like to upgrade from the Senn 555's

What would be an affordable, yet still retain a noticeable improvement for my next pair of headphones?

Edit: Or would buying an amp of some sort be better than upgrading headphones? Is an amp really going to do much for Sennheiser 555s?
from the reviews ive been reading, Turbines are actually pretty good. Not sure how much he paid for his, but they have been really cheap lately.


Ask me about the GAF Notebook
I'm a cheap mother fucker and think it might be time to get uncheap with some new phones. I have a pair of Koss KSC-75s, an old beat up pair of Grado SR-60s, and a pair of Audio Technica ATH-FC700As.

Then again I need to upgrade a lot of my electonics this year. Finally pulled a trigger on a phone, and I think it's time to do a major computer rebuild. Maybe I'll get some headphones while I'm at it.
Someday I will own Audez’e LCD-2s...

I love kpop. Would a pair of SR325is be good for that? My Senn 555s are too soft for it, so I have to set the EQ just right to make it sparkly.
kamspy said:
How many pairs you own Des?
Only four sets of cans, and 11 pairs of earphones...Although I only use about 4 pairs of earphones regularly.

Dice said:
I love kpop. Would a pair of SR325is be good for that? My Senn 555s are too soft for it, so I have to set the EQ just right to make it sparkly.
Hell yeah they'd be good, those or some Alessandro MS2's maybe.

Alucrid said:
Awesome OP. Love the title. :lol
Thanks :lol Though I'm pretty sure I stole the idea from somebody in the other thread...Was it you?
I've got a pair of Sennheiser HD555's and I use the Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 for my DAC. I don't use my headphones that often anymore unless I'm trying to be quiet. I'm generally blaring it through my system. One of these days I'll invest in that side.


the smegma spreader
i use the AKG k240 for mixing projects in logic, in combo with monitors. right mix on these will translate well to car stereo and ear buds. grados sound great as well, 255 especially.