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Ask DN: Best Headphones to Buy

almost 3 years ago from , Freelance Designer

What headphones are you guys using currently? In the market for some good'ens.

66 comments

  • Matt HoilandMatt Hoiland, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

    Former professional audio engineer here.

    I have always recommended three headphones. Each are comfortable for extended listening, have little ear fatigue, and sound amazing.

    1. BeyerDynamic DT770 Pro (80 Ohm) ($170) – I've had a pair of these on my head everyday for the past 9 years. All the parts are replaceable and will last a lifetime. Great sound isolation if you work in an office, and the high-end is not piercing, so you can play louder for longer without ear fatigue. http://www.amazon.com/beyerdynamic-770-80-Studio-Headphones/dp/B0016MNAAI

    2. AKG K702 ($235)– Sounds better than the DT770, but the open air design is not good for the office. Everyone will hear your music. If you work at home, get them! Incredibly comfortable with amazing accuracy for the price. http://www.amazon.com/AKG-Pro-Audio-K702-Headphones/dp/B001RCD2DW

    3. AKG K240 ($60) – You'll see these all over every studio around the world. They're not fancy. They look boring. But they sound great, and wear comfortably for long periods. Only get these if you can't afford the two above. http://www.amazon.com/AKG-240-Semi-Open-Studio-Headphones/dp/B0001ARCFA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449248324&sr=8-1&keywords=akg+headphones

    Stay away from marketing features such as bluetooth wireless, noise cancelling, etc. And stay away from Beats and the likes. Get a pair that'll last a lifetime.

    22 points
    • Yohul CYohul C, almost 3 years ago

      +1

      Ones I would recommend are the Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro (Love em) and the AKG Q701 (Which, in my opinion, sound better than their cousins the K702s )

      3 points
    • Peiran TanPeiran Tan, almost 3 years ago

      I actually quite consider the bluetooth function. I do visual design but often times have to make physical stuff, and not being able to be constrained by the cord is a big concern for me when working with the cutting board.

      0 points
      • Matt HoilandMatt Hoiland, almost 3 years ago

        In a standard setup, your computer is providing the digital-to-analog conversion (DAC) along with the analog preamplification to drive the headphones. A Macbook Pro (for instance) offers decent components for both. A dedicated DAC with a dedication headphone amp is the best.

        But with a bluetooth setup you're assigning those two roles to the bluetooth headphone setup. If your BT headphones are fed via USB from the computer, then it's sending the digital signal over the air and the headphones themselves are providing the DAC and amplification. If your BT headphones are fed via a 1/8" connection, then the analog signal is getting converted back to digital, sent across the air, then converted back to analog, and then amplified. You can see that each step will degrade the source signal.

        Stick to a cable for best sound.

        0 points
        • barry saundersbarry saunders, almost 3 years ago

          I have a pair of Sony MDR 7506 at home (recommended to me by a professional sound engineer) and a pair of Sony noise-cancelling bluetooth ones for work. While I'm no sound engineer myself, I can't hear a difference in the quality of the audio. The main difference is the soundstage feels closer, which I think is mostly down the to the larger volume of the 7506s.

          0 points
    • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, almost 3 years ago

      For BeyerDynamic I would prefer 990 250 ohm anytime. Much more pleasant sound.

      0 points
      • Victor TolosaVictor Tolosa, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

        If OP is considering the Beyers DT line, note that the 770 is closed and good for isolating sounds in an office environment, the 880 is semi-open and the 990 are open so sound will leak!.

        Oh and also they're over-ear/kinda big (almost too big for the office).

        If you're going portable I'd recommend the VMODA XS!

        0 points
    • Stefan TrkuljaStefan Trkulja, almost 3 years ago

      Hey, I'm about to buy my first headphones, and I have a couple of questions for you, if you find time to elaborate. :)

      1. You said to stay away from Beats, but have you tried the Solo 2? The sole reason I ask is this review (and the fact that I tried them at the Apple store and liked what I heard): http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/time-rethink-beats-solo2-excellent

      2. Is there much of a difference if all my music playing is done via Spotify? I'd think the best headphones in the world would not make it sound better if the source material is basically a ~160kbps .mp3 file.

      Thanks!

      0 points
      • Marc EdwardsMarc Edwards, almost 3 years ago

        Is there much of a difference if all my music playing is done via Spotify? I'd think the best headphones in the world would not make it sound better if the source material is basically a ~160kbps .mp3 file.

        Yep. The compression will make a difference, but good headphones and speakers can still drastically improve things.

        1 point
      • Matt HoilandMatt Hoiland, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

        Beats – If a headphone costs over $200 you'd expect professionals to use them, but they don't. I've yet to hear of any professional studio using Beats for reference. You're paying for marketing and flashy plastic that will break down after a year. Your money can go farther with other brands such as AKG, Audio Technica, BeyerDynamic, or Sennheiser.

        0 points
    • Joe BlauJoe Blau, almost 3 years ago

      And stay away from Beats

      Yes x100. I've owned two pair of Beats and they have both broken. My roommates broke a week before mine and we both vowed never to buy Beats again.

      I'm also a former audio engineer and I've owned the BeyerDynamic DT770 Pro for 8 years. Great headphones. Currently I want more recreation so my daily earphones are the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2 only because they are metal.

      No Beats.

      2 points
    • Vikalp Gupta, almost 3 years ago

      @Matt How are Audio Technica M50x?

      1 point
      • Matt HoilandMatt Hoiland, almost 3 years ago

        The M50x's are very respectable. A close friend uses them daily with high praise. If you can get them for under $100, go for it.

        1 point
        • Vikalp Gupta, almost 3 years ago

          Any thoughts (a bit detailed if you can) on ATH M50x vs BeyerDynamic DT770 Pro you personally hung up on this one.

          I have used my friend's M50x and personally own M20x (bought them last year)

          0 points
    • Alex TalmonAlex Talmon, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

      Using a pair of AKG K551 almost everyday :-). Love them! alt text

      1 point
      • Matt HoilandMatt Hoiland, almost 3 years ago

        A friend got a pair from Massdrop. They are very comfortable, but the high-mid boost is too much for me – it's a little unrealistic. But the bass is contained, and the highs are very pleasant. These will probably be around for a while. AKG did good.

        0 points
        • Alex TalmonAlex Talmon, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

          Combined with a good DAC it's a lot better! Tested with a HRT Audio streamer, was really nice! (A lot better than the MBPr output)

          0 points
  • Timothy Kempf, almost 3 years ago

    AudioTechnica ATH M50x. (http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-ATH-M50x-Professional-Monitor-Headphones/dp/B00HVLUR86)

    Great sound on any device without having to worry about amplification. Comfortable over long periods of time. The detachable cable is a big plus.

    9 points
  • Nick Matarese, almost 3 years ago

    Sony MDR-V6

    They haven't changed a thing about them since their debut over 30 years ago. Timeless, affordable ($70), and reliable studio monitors.

    5 points
  • Chase ThompsonChase Thompson, almost 3 years ago

    I recently bought the bowers and wilkins P7 headphones and I find them to be fantastic. I already own a few nicer pairs of open back headphones, (sennheiser HD555, grado SR80) but I wanted something closed back since I sit in fairly close proximity to my team members.

    The build quality on the P7 is unreal and the sound is very balanced and musical. They are a little pricey, but if you can I would consider them.

    Image alt

    4 points
    • Chris Cacioppe, almost 3 years ago

      P7's are fucking dope .. i don't know why no one else has mentioned them .. like seriously impressive .. i found the AKG K702's too neutral .. a little boring without EQing - which makes sense as i believe the headphone is designed for mastering ... the P7's have a nice tight bass with crisp high notes .. you can bump them nice and loud with minimal sound leak.

      love these badboys.

      0 points
    • Magnus SkareMagnus Skare, almost 3 years ago

      How do they feel after an hour or so? Been using the P5 for four years, and I love them, but they're on-ear and I've been considering something for extended listening.

      0 points
      • Chase ThompsonChase Thompson, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

        These have been really good to wear for extended periods, even with glasses.

        The ear cups are big enough to go over your whole ear and as the leather is softening up they are just getting more comfy.

        In my mind nothing beats sennheiser for super soft ear pads (they've got that velvet fabric on them) but these come close.

        0 points
  • Account deleted almost 3 years ago

    Remember to

    Treat Yo Self

    2 points
  • Per VPer V, almost 3 years ago

    Sennheiser HD 25-1 II. Probably my best spent $ ever. I've been using them +5h on a daily basis for the past 3 years. The great thing is that almost every part is exchangeable, so if something breaks, just order a new part.

    1 point
  • David HuntDavid Hunt, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

    I've owned the Bowers & Wilkins P3 for a few years now and they're excellently engineered and made. Great sound and lightweight if you'll be using them on the move or for travel.

    Would highly recommend pretty much anyone to buy them.

    1 point
  • Mark Lamb, almost 3 years ago

    Depends on where and what I'm using them for. I use a pair of Sony MDR-7506's to listen to music at work, and a pair of Beyerdynamic MMX 102iE's with third party foam tips for listening to podcasts and music on my phone during commutes.

    Check out The Wirecutter's headphone picks for more good options.

    1 point
  • Vincent MillikenVincent Milliken, almost 3 years ago

    Ive got a pair of aiaiai tma-1's had them about 3 years now, solid headphones for their price.

    1 point
    • Erick De La RosaErick De La Rosa, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

      +1 They are super comfortable and have a great minimal design. TMA-2 are also great, they are a modular headphones so you can customize the cans, the band, etc.

      1 point
    • Sam KingSam King, almost 3 years ago

      Amazing headphones but I broke the headband 3 times. I think that's maybe the reason they don't sell them anymore. I've just been upgraded to the TMA-2's though so fingers crossed!

      0 points
  • Marc EdwardsMarc Edwards, almost 3 years ago

    I have:

    • PSB M4U 2
    • Sennheiser HD 25
    • Sennheiser HD 650

    Before I bought the PSB M4U 2, I tested heaps of different models. I like all three. The Sennheiser HD 650s are — as they should be for the price — utterly amazing. I like the PSB M4U 2 for travel.

    So, if you can spare the cash, the HD 650s are great. Don’t listen to them if you don’t want to spend that much though. :P The HD 650s are also open. If you intend to listen to music near others, they may be inappropriate. Open headphones are also sub-optimal for recording (too much spill).

    1 point
  • Aron CedercrantzAron Cedercrantz, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

    I use B&O Play H6 at work and I’m really happy with them. Good sound, keeps noise out, light weight and looks good. They’re closed but I can easily keep them on for hours as they’re so soft. Also comes in a wireless version, H8, if that’s your thing.

    Reviews:

    1 point
  • Nathan GathrightNathan Gathright, almost 3 years ago

    http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-best-150-over-ear-headphones/

    There's the ones I love.

    1 point
  • Remko DijksmaRemko Dijksma, almost 3 years ago

    The headphones mega-review by Marco Arment is a must read; http://www.marco.org/headphones-closed-portable

    1 point
  • Brian AlexandrowiczBrian Alexandrowicz, almost 3 years ago

    Bought a pair of Sennheiser Momentums last year and I've been very happy. Great quality, comfortable for extended listening.

    1 point
  • Saul SutcherSaul Sutcher, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

    I have had the Bose QC3's for over 8 years now and they are still going strong. A few highlights:

    • Rechargeable battery (get a second for $25 on amazon)
    • Replaceable components - I've changed the ear-pads twice for $20. It's like getting a brand new set.
    • The noise cancelling is superb. When you really want to drown out all outside sound, these are my gotos.

    I believe they've discontinued these, but Bose does have other newer alternatives.

    1 point
  • Andrei KorytsevAndrei Korytsev, almost 3 years ago

    Parrot Zik are really awesome. Great sound (I could not expect it from BT headphones), noise cancelation, stunning design. You can control music and answer calls with swipes. The only con is battery life. It lasts only 6 hours in wireless mode but 3rd generation will be much better.

    0 points
  • Alex CampAlex Camp, almost 3 years ago

    I've heard these are great http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00001WRSJ?colid=1URU2M2R949MX&coliid=I2ASKTCL8TUKL1&psc=1&ref_=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl

    I always recommend Sennheisers too.

    0 points
  • Josh Aronoff, almost 3 years ago

    I just got a pair of bluetooth headphones... Plantronics Back Beat Go 2 or something like that. They're decent. Similar price to the Apple Iphone headphones and they are wireless which is great.

    0 points
  • Account deleted almost 3 years ago

    What is your budget? Once you're in the ~+$300 range I'd pretty much tell you Sennheiser every time. HD600/650's are damn fine.

    0 points
  • Dana (dmxt)Dana (dmxt), almost 3 years ago

    This guide always do some good

    0 points
  • Donald HuhDonald Huh, almost 3 years ago

    At home I use the Sennheiser G4ME ZERO gaming headset on my gaming PC. Awesome open ear design and looks great while streaming.

    At work I used to use Audio Technica ATH-M50x's (blue brown combination is sweet) but have been recently using Apple EarPods way more often. I'm starting to believe once you get in the "flow" you stop paying attention to music quality and just get work done.

    0 points
  • Aaron SAaron S, almost 3 years ago

    I have the BoseQC 25i the sound quality and noise cancellation is a must have! Expensive but completely worth it!

    0 points
  • Xavier HaniquautXavier Haniquaut, almost 3 years ago

    I love my Aedle VK1 for everyday use. http://www.aedle.net/fr'VK1' For Audiophile listening my favorite is the Sennheiser HD650

    0 points
  • Greg ChristianGreg Christian, almost 3 years ago

    If you can, grab some custom molded monitors. I've had these for 3 years now. http://pro.ultimateears.com/products/custom-monitors/for-audiophiles/ue-11-pro

    0 points
  • Can GoktasCan Goktas, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

    not an audiphile, just a regular electronic/pop/indie listener here. the way my headphone looks is as important as it sounds. with this approach, I've been using Beats urBeats for a year and I'm so happy. Next week I'm gonna buy Beats Solo 2 too, tested them on Apple Store and feels&sounds even greater. Yes I've heard of "better" headphones like AKG, Beyerdynamic etc. but they all look like crap tbh. They either seem so "bulky", "naked" or... idk so "metal", geek-ish.

    0 points
  • Ryan Hicks, almost 3 years ago

    I've had the v-moda m-100 for 2 years now. Use them 8 hours a day. Excellent headphones for a mid price range. I did some extensive research when I bought them in 2013, and these were what everyone was recommending for $300 price range.

    V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone by V-MODA Link: http://amzn.com/B00A39PPDK

    Pictures of mine: Image alt

    Image alt

    0 points
  • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

    Beyerdynamic 990 Pro 250 Ohm.

    Trust me on this one! I'm a huge sound geek. I've been producing music for many years and tried many high level headphones. I currently use a pair that are twice as expensive as these ones for music production, I've tried many Sennheiser and many other Beyerdynamic as well. But still I think these are my favorite headphones which I wear every day at work.

    With headphones, you have to choose between a neutral sound or a colored sound. Headphones for music production require neutral sound which often isn't pleasant to listen to. The Beyerdynamic 990 has a crisp sound, great bottom-end and they are pleasant enough to listen to all day. At their price point they blow the competition out of the water.

    0 points
    • Jared Pike, almost 3 years ago

      I've been thinking of getting these for a while. Two questions:

      • Do they leak sound when playing music loudly?
      • I'd need an amp for these, correct? Any recommendations?
      0 points
      • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

        They are open, so if you listen to music at high volume people can hear it, but it's the same as any other regular headphones. If you listen to music at normal volume, it won't annoy anybody. I've never had anybody tell me they could hear the music.

        A regular soundcard in your laptop can run them. You can get a lower Ohm if you want to play really loud, but the sound quality is way better on the 250 ohm ones at lower volume (that you would actually listen to all day). However I use a Steinberg UR22 at work and use another one at home. I would recommend getting some kind of headphones preamp since it can really improve the quality of the sound.

        0 points
        • Jared Pike, almost 3 years ago

          Thanks for the reply! They're probably not for me then. I listen to obnoxious bass music at loud volumes in an open studio setting.

          0 points
  • Tori PughTori Pugh, almost 3 years ago

    I use Sennheiser Urbanite XL, I love them.

    0 points
  • Bayan Damra, almost 3 years ago

    I use NGS red artica wireless headphone and its so good :)

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/NGS-Red-Artica-Headphones-Bluetooth-Black-White/dp/B006N8KUE4

    0 points
  • Andrei KorytsevAndrei Korytsev, almost 3 years ago

    Parrot Zik is really awesome. Great sound (I could not expect it from BT headphones), noise cancelation, stunning design. You can control music and answer calls with swipes. The only con is battery life. It lasts only 6 hours in wireless mode but 3rd generation will be much better.

    0 points
  • ポール ウェッブポール ウェッブ, almost 3 years ago

    I've been using Marshall Majors for years, but my next pair will be from AIAIAI.

    0 points