THINGS TO KNOW
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
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...
*******ALL PRICES ARE BOUND TO FLUCTUATE WITH DEMAND*******
Lower Mid-Tier Earphones $200 and Under
MEElectronics Pinnacle P1
Bowers & Wilkins C5
Final Audio Heaven IV
Audio Technica ATH-IM02
Dunu Titan 5
Dunu Titan 3
Dunu Titan 1
Alpha & Delta AD01
Final Audio Design Heaven II
Fischer Audio Tandem
Audio Technica ATH-IM50
Final Audio Heaven Adagio III
Hifiman RE 400
Second Tier Headphones Under $250
Budget Earphones Under $60 - From Most Expensive To Least
Creative Aurvana Live 3
Fischer Audio Consonance
Zero Audio Carbo Basso
Zero Audio Tenore
Hisoundaudio PAA-1 (Earbuds)
Apple Earpods (Earbuds)
Xaomi Piston 3
Entry Audiophile Headphones Under $100 -From Most Expensive To Least
Starter Combos (Amps+DACs) - From Most Expensive To Least
OPPO HA 2
Leckerton UHA-6S MKII
Geek Out 1000
JDS Labs C5D
Sunrise Ray DA-P1
Starter Amps - From Most Expensive To Least
Little Dot MKII
JDS LABS 02
Bravo Audio Ocean
JDS LABS CmoyBB V 2.03
Bravo Audio V2
Starter DACs - From Most Expensive To Least
HRT Music Streamer II
E-DAC 24 Miniature USB
Centrance DACport Slim
NuForce Icon uDAC-3
****NEWBIES STOP HERE FIRST****