Best headphones under 500 bucks

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am
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Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by am » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:22 pm

I’m trying to find headphones that will give me the best sound for a wide range of music. Everything from classical to hip hop. I’m ok with paying up to 500 bucks, more if it’s truly worth it. I hear Bluetooth doesn’t have as good a sound as wired. Headphones that don’t bleed sound much would be great, as I don’t want my neighbor to hear what I’m listening to, I read all the reviews but get more confused. Thanks,
Last edited by am on Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

UniversityEmployee9
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by UniversityEmployee9 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:26 pm

I paid $9.99 for mine on Amazon iirc. Just went with the "Amazon recommends" option or whatever it's called.

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Alexa9
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by Alexa9 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:31 pm

I would recommend Sennheiser and this is in your price range:
https://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD-66 ... sennheiser

If are using them in a quiet environment. The HD 650 and HD 6XX are also considerably cheaper and good. This is what I would get and they are only available for a short time:
https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-sennheiser-hd6xx

If you use them to drown out noise, you'll want to get closed back:
https://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD280 ... dpSrc=srch

Also make sure you wouldn't rather get nice speakers.
Last edited by Alexa9 on Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SoAnyway
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by SoAnyway » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:34 pm

OP, see this thread that Alexa9 started re. the same topic about a year ago. There are also other threads - Search for "headphones" in this sub-forum.

Personally, I love my Bose noise-cancelling headphones (esp. when flying) but I know many audiophiles don't want that feature.

Momus
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by Momus » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:37 pm

Sony 1000X MX3 $350. Noise canceling, superior sound, 30h battery, Bluetooth. You can take this to airplane and have minimal engine noise. Dual purpose, I don't like owning 20 headphones, they become junk clutter.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thever ... headphones

https://youtu.be/ZzCCMQ0rkM8

JBTX
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by JBTX » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:40 pm

This article seems to hot all the best known high end brands.

https://www.techradar.com/news/audio/po ... es-1280342

I bought a Sony pair half off for $100 and I have been satisfied with them.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by CascadiaSoonish » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:47 pm

I was never fond of the hype and marketing for Bose gear, but I'll swear by the QuietComfort 35s if you're a regular flyer. Very comfortable and it's lovely to have good quality noise cancellation on planes. For day to day use at home and work, my go to for 20+ years has been the Sony MDR7506 series, I'm on my second or third pair.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by wabbajack » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:12 pm

OP doesn't mention what environment they are using the headphones in. If in your own house, why not decent set of speakers? If in an office with other people, I would +1 Bose QC35. Especially if you travel by plane.

I just got mine and used them in a plane for the first time. The difference is jarring. Not having the constant drone of the air and engine does a lot for your mental state. As for wireless, it is infinitely better than wired unless you never have to move around. If that's the case, you're likely in your own house and the question goes back to why not speakers?

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by mhalley » Tue Oct 09, 2018 12:27 am

Lots of decisions to make with high quality audio gear. Open vs closed back, need for an amp, etc.
You could take a look at this list.it is meant for gamers, but a good gaming headphone must first be a good headphone. Just ignore the headset reviews.
https://www.lifewire.com/differences-op ... es-4135434
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/mad-lus ... ed.534479/
I picked up the fidelio x2 based on their rec, I like them a lot.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by CarpeDiem22 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:55 am

My all time favourite earphones (I don't use headphones) are these:
https://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-MX-17 ... B003V9M0VY

Have purchased 6-7 pieces over the years. They don't get tangled if put in pocket, don't come loose at ends, sound quality is good enough for me, and they can last up to 2-3 year even with rough use.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by tigermilk » Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:38 am

I have an old pair of Senheiser 580s, and someone suggested the 650s which are a successor. Only problem is they are open ear, so sounds goes in and out. Otherwise a great set of cans.

I will suggest something different and that is the Stax SR-002/SRM-002 combo. Stax does electrostatic headphones, and the 002s, despite being open and in-ear, pack some incredible sound. Some compare the sound to the vastly more expensive top of the line Stax full sized models. I use them at work, have another setup at home (along with my 580s and also a pair of Stax 404s with a 006t amp). If you don't need a portable solution, the Stax offers a great alternative.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by onourway » Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:52 am

You first need to decide what form factor you want - over ear or in-ear. This choice should probably be driven by where you intend to use these. If at home or at work, over-ear is probably most comfortable. If you'll be traveling a lot, especially on airplanes/trains, in-ear offer unmatched isolation and sound quality.

Assuming you want over-ear full-sized models, you then need to decide whether you want open or closed back versions. Open backs allow noise in and your music out, but can be made to sound high-end more easily than closed backs, which are the opposite - they keep (most) sound in and (some) sounds out. Great for home or office if you don't want to disturb others, but not good enough for air travel without noise cancelling systems which must be battery powered, increasing cost, weight and complexity, at the cost of sound quality.

Lastly, finding a pair of headphones that excels at everything from classical to hip-hop is a challenge as each genre strains the limits of driver design in opposite directions. Only the best headphones can do this well - and even then most people would have different headphones for those two genres.

Hopefully this will help you narrow things down in your search.

If closed-back and hip-hop are high on the list, it'd be hard to beat the Sony Z7 which will get you entry into the truly high-end at the top of your price range. If open-back is acceptable, Sennheiser has many models with great sound at a lower cost.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by lazydavid » Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:55 am

UniversityEmployee9 wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:26 pm
I paid $9.99 for mine on Amazon iirc. Just went with the "Amazon recommends" option or whatever it's called.
And this is helpful and relevant to the question how?

OP, is your budget $500 for headphones and amplifier, or $500 for just the phones? Most of the higher-end headphones will require an external amplifier if used with a typical phone/PC type source.

You really should be asking this question at Head-fi, as those folks really know their stuff. That said, you asked here, so:

I'm a value guy, so my cans are Audio Technica ATH-M50x for home. They perform well above their $150 price point. I haven't personally tested their higher-end ATH-M70x, but based on my experience would not be surprised if for $300 they perform similarly to $500 'phones.

For travel, It's Bose QuietComfort 35 all the way. However, there's a new pair from Sony that are said to be even better.

SDLinguist
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by SDLinguist » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:31 am

onourway wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:52 am
You first need to decide what form factor you want - over ear or in-ear. This choice should probably be driven by where you intend to use these. If at home or at work, over-ear is probably most comfortable. If you'll be traveling a lot, especially on airplanes/trains, in-ear offer unmatched isolation and sound quality.

Assuming you want over-ear full-sized models, you then need to decide whether you want open or closed back versions. Open backs allow noise in and your music out, but can be made to sound high-end more easily than closed backs, which are the opposite - they keep (most) sound in and (some) sounds out. Great for home or office if you don't want to disturb others, but not good enough for air travel without noise cancelling systems which must be battery powered, increasing cost, weight and complexity, at the cost of sound quality.

Lastly, finding a pair of headphones that excels at everything from classical to hip-hop is a challenge as each genre strains the limits of driver design in opposite directions. Only the best headphones can do this well - and even then most people would have different headphones for those two genres.

Hopefully this will help you narrow things down in your search.

If closed-back and hip-hop are high on the list, it'd be hard to beat the Sony Z7 which will get you entry into the truly high-end at the top of your price range. If open-back is acceptable, Sennheiser has many models with great sound at a lower cost.
+1

I see a lot of people spend a ton of money on fashion brands or Bose when there are better options around because they don't know what to look for. I am by no means an extrem audiophile but I do care about quality.

Personally my go to is a set of beyerdynamics DT880's. Very neutral so no artificially boosted bass like in a lot of headphones. And at ~$200 they are less than OPs max budget. I have a pair of the 600 ohm ones and with those you need something to drive them well. But they also come in 32 and 250 ohm versions.

Since they are very neutral they will make you hear the terrible mixing and compression if you are not listening to high quality productions in the form lossless or very high bitrate media.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by Shallowpockets » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:38 am

I am even more of a value oriented guy. More of a BH. I am not even sure I would ever need headphones. However I have been thinking about noise canceling headphones for travel.
Price point for me would be under $100. It seems not a good thing to travel with headphones which would be stuffed in and out of a bag, high risk of loss, and take the abuse of travel. Best to be cheap because you have to look at them as expendable. Probably not one pair for a lifetime.
So if there is anyone out there who has any < $100 noise cancel headphones I would like to hear it.

mrb09
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by mrb09 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:48 am

lazydavid wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:55 am
I'm a value guy, so my cans are Audio Technica ATH-M50x for home. They perform well above their $150 price point. I haven't personally tested their higher-end ATH-M70x, but based on my experience would not be surprised if for $300 they perform similarly to $500 'phones.
I have some older Audio Technica ATH-M35's, and Ive been very happy. I use them for both listening to music and for conference calls.

I also have some Bose noise cancelling headphones, but those are strictly for air travel for me, I prefer the ATH's if I'm not sitting on top of a noisy jet engine.

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Sasquatch
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by Sasquatch » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:59 am

I like my grado SR60s. Great bang for the buck. Many different price points to choose from in their line up.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by dumbbunny » Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:09 am

If you are considering in-ear phones I would recommend Ultimate Ear 5 Pros.
As for cans, I have enjoyed my Bose QCs but I feel they are over-priced.
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by WhiteMaxima » Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:29 am

Massdrop Sennheiser HD6XX. rebadged HD650. $200. rest of $300. get a tube earphone amp: Little Dot MK3.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by peterinjapan » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:50 am

I was pleasantly happy to find the Bluetooth Quiet Comfort III are outstanding. Good quality, good design, Google Assistant button that's surprisingly useful, plus the ability to change connected devices, between two on the fly, or more if you use the mobile app.

Apple AirPods are also amazing if you want airbuds.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by knightrider » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:15 am

Sasquatch wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:59 am
I like my grado SR60s. Great bang for the buck. Many different price points to choose from in their line up.
I agree. I upgraded to the Sr80e ($99) and am very pleased..

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by Ged » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:38 am

I've owned a lot of different headphones over the years. If you are focused on sound quality don't buy any headphones from Bose. Bose is a marketing company, not an audio company.

Sennheiser are excellent for the money and offer a variety of price points. I've had a half dozen of their models over the years and felt I got good value in all cases. Grado makes a quality product but not everyone likes their frequency distribution bias. Audio Technica makes good phones, as does Beyer. Some Sony models offer a good quality sound for the money, others not so much.

Head-Fi is an interesting place to read about this technology, however I'd take anything written there, especially in a 'review' with a very large dose of salt. There may be relationships between the reviewer and the manufacturer that are not disclosed.

There are some interesting specialty vendors that sell good products in the $1000+ range. Some of them do sound great others not so much. I have a pair of Audeze LCD-2's that I like. Whether or not that price is worth it to you is your choice.

Also in this game it is worth getting a dedicated headphone amp. The headphone outlets built into most equipment are poor.

I do not like tube amps. They play games with the frequency distribution which if I wanted I'd get from other approaches.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by alfaspider » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:49 am

am wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:22 pm
I’m trying to find headphones that will give me the best sound for a wide range of music. Everything from classical to hip hop. I’m ok with paying up to 500 bucks, more if it’s truly worth it. I hear Bluetooth doesn’t have as good a sound as wired. Headphones that don’t bleed sound much would be great, as I don’t want my neighbor to hear what I’m listening to, I read all the reviews but get more confused. Thanks,
It would helpful to know how you plan to use the headphones. Are they only going to be used in your house, or on the go? Will they be used in noisy or quiet environments?

Bluetooth vs wired is a bit of a false dilemma as all the better bluetooth headsets have a wired option. However, the high-end audiophile headphones do not generally come in bluetooth. If you are worried about sound-bleed, the audiophile open headphones like the Sennheiser HD-650 or Grados are not appropriate as they are "open" style that do not seal off outside sound. Similarly, headphone amplifiers can be great for sound quality (and are required for certain headphones), but not really great if you plan on taking the headphones on the road.

Personally, I have a pair of AKG 701 audiphile headphones, and the Sony 1000-XM2 bluetooth noise cancelling. If I'm in my house, I use the former, out and about the latter. Biggest advantage of open-style audiophile headphones is that they are extremely comfortable as they don't trap air aroudn your ears.

The new Sony 1000-XM3 that came out last month is supposed to be the bees knees (even better noise cancelling and better comfort). In general, the Sony's tend to be reviewed as "Bose killers" in the noise cancelling department. As far as sound quality, the Sonys are more than fine for anything other than critical listening. If you are the type who wants to sit down with an album and analyze the nuances or are doing audio engineering, you will benefit from something better than the wireless bluetooth. For anything else, it's really not necessary.

You can also look into custom molded IEM (in-ear monitors) which do a very good job of passive noise cancelling (as they are essentially custom ear plugs) and can have sound quality up there with the open audiophile headphones.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by apex84 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:51 am

As others have mentioned, there are many different types of headphones.

In my office, I like the Massdrop HD6xx (Sennheiser HD650. The open back is the best for sound, but they are only ideal in a quiet environment.

At home, I use the Denon AH-D2000 for watching TV when my wife wants to read. These don't disturb others as the open back headphones do. These are no longer available, but Fostex headphones are similar.

For other uses, the Sony WH-H900N is great. Bluetooth. Noise cancelling. Bought on sale at Costco for $179. I can connect these wirelessly to my laptop, phone, or watch (all Apple). They do a good job blocking outside sound, but are hot to wear. They are ideal for airplanes.

I have a high end pair of in-ear monitors which sound great, but I really use them because of the need to insert them properly for a good seal.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by WhiteMaxima » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:51 am

Ged wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:38 am
I've owned a lot of different headphones over the years. If you are focused on sound quality don't buy any headphones from Bose. Bose is a marketing company, not an audio company.

Sennheiser are excellent for the money and offer a variety of price points. I've had a half dozen of their models over the years and felt I got good value in all cases. Grado makes a quality product but not everyone likes their frequency distribution bias. Audio Technica makes good phones, as does Beyer. Some Sony models offer a good quality sound for the money, others not so much.

Head-Fi is an interesting place to read about this technology, however I'd take anything written there, especially in a 'review' with a very large dose of salt. There may be relationships between the reviewer and the manufacturer that are not disclosed.

There are some interesting specialty vendors that sell good products in the $1000+ range. Some of them do sound great others not so much. I have a pair of Audeze LCD-2's that I like. Whether or not that price is worth it to you is your choice.

Also in this game it is worth getting a dedicated headphone amp. The headphone outlets built into most equipment are poor.

I do not like tube amps. They play games with the frequency distribution which if I wanted I'd get from other approaches.
I have a Sennheiser HD600 and Audeze LCD-2. Both them are very good earphones. HD600 is a very comfortable one, LCD2 is very heavy to wear although i like it the bottom Hz. Tube amp is a very pleasant to hear. Very best combined with HD600.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by onourway » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:03 am

With $500 to spend I would avoid anything that requires an amplifier. There are plenty of options that can be driven adequately from any source - and most modern phones - certainly iPhones, and many other modern devices have surprisingly good output. Adding an amp to, say, an iPhone for any reason other than to power a set of headphones that requires an amplifier is a bit of a fool's errand - it may change the sound - but not necessarily for the better. It's money better spent to get the best $500 headphones you can find vs. $300 headphones and a $200 amp.

I say this as someone who has been on and off sites like Head-Fi (and their predecessors) for most of 20 years and has headphone equipment that cost well into the 5 digits. Reading reviews of headphones, like any product really, requires a bit of a skill to be able to tell apart those who know what they are talking about vs. those who just like to hear themselves talk. I would suggest reading through the archives at https://www.innerfidelity.com/ for good information from a comparatively un-biased source. Unfortunately the founder Tyll left the site recently so I can't speak for recent reviews, but there is a lot there to digest that's more than worthwhile.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by c.coyle » Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:26 pm

Sony is still making the MDR-V6 after 30 years, which means people are still buying them. Must be a reason. Flat response. Closed back for no leaking sound. Comfortable. Replace the factory vinyl earpads with some Beyer velour pads, and you will be very happy with the sound, comfort, and the left over $400. No kidding

https://www.amazon.com/Sony-MDRV6-Studi ... ony+mdr+v6

https://www.amazon.com/Compete-Audio-BD ... er+earpads
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onourway
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by onourway » Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:48 pm

c.coyle wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:26 pm
Sony is still making the MDR-V6 after 30 years, which means people are still buying them. Must be a reason. Flat response. Closed back for no leaking sound. Comfortable. Replace the factory vinyl earpads with some Beyer velour pads, and you will be very happy with the sound, comfort, and the left over $400. No kidding

https://www.amazon.com/Sony-MDRV6-Studi ... ony+mdr+v6

https://www.amazon.com/Compete-Audio-BD ... er+earpads
I have had a set of these (with the Beyer pads) for at least 10 years, and given many of them as a gift. As good as they are for the price, they aren't nearly in the same league as really high-end stuff. Lots of options at $300-500 that will sound much better (if you want to spend that much...)

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F150HD
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by F150HD » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:08 pm

wow. I cannot imagine paying $500 for a pair of headphones. Ever. regardless of how wealthy I ever was!

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by Esq123 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:11 pm

am wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:22 pm
I’m trying to find headphones that will give me the best sound for a wide range of music. Everything from classical to hip hop. I’m ok with paying up to 500 bucks, more if it’s truly worth it. I hear Bluetooth doesn’t have as good a sound as wired. Headphones that don’t bleed sound much would be great, as I don’t want my neighbor to hear what I’m listening to, I read all the reviews but get more confused. Thanks,
I got wireless bose headphones few years ago and they sound great. I have only used bose because I think they are the best. I spent probably around $200-300.

GmanJeff
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by GmanJeff » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:16 pm

I have and enjoy a pair of Audeze EL-8 closed-back headphones. They retail for a little over $300, but unless you're exceptionally discerning or demanding, spending more may not give you an improvement proportional to the extra expense.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by onourway » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:29 pm

F150HD wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:08 pm
wow. I cannot imagine paying $500 for a pair of headphones. Ever. regardless of how wealthy I ever was!
It's a hobby like anything else. Far cheaper than things like watches, boats, ORV's, cycling, etc.

That said, at work I spend 4+ hours a day with headphones on. Might as well invest in something that is comfortable and sounds good.

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randomizer
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by randomizer » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:32 pm

I know Bluetooth isn't great but it can still sound pretty good at that price point. I got Sennheiser Momentum's (I think? it was a while ago and I can't remember) and love the sound (and look) and convenience of Bluetooth.
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F150HD
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by F150HD » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:49 pm

onourway wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:29 pm
F150HD wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:08 pm
wow. I cannot imagine paying $500 for a pair of headphones. Ever. regardless of how wealthy I ever was!
It's a hobby like anything else. Far cheaper than things like watches, boats, ORV's, cycling, etc.

That said, at work I spend 4+ hours a day with headphones on. Might as well invest in something that is comfortable and sounds good.
by that logic you must spend $1500 on a pair of shoes, as like most, you probably wear shoes 12+ hours a day.

onourway
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by onourway » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:58 pm

F150HD wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:49 pm
by that logic you must spend $1500 on a pair of shoes, as like most, you probably wear shoes 12+ hours a day.
$1500 doesn't buy shoes that are any more comfortable than a pair of $20 sandals. Fancier, maybe. But no more comfortable.

$1500 headphones sound dramatically better than $100 ones. It's not even close.

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by anonenigma » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:42 pm

I have Grado SR60s, which are about $100 these days, but I rarely use them - prefer the soundstage of speakers in a room.

Maybe take a look at the Class B and C headphones in Stereophile's Recommended Component List. There are a few under $500 and a bunch that are in crazy money land: https://www.stereophile.com/content/rec ... headphones

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by c.coyle » Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:10 am

onourway wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:48 pm
c.coyle wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:26 pm
Sony is still making the MDR-V6 after 30 years, which means people are still buying them. Must be a reason. Flat response. Closed back for no leaking sound. Comfortable. Replace the factory vinyl earpads with some Beyer velour pads, and you will be very happy with the sound, comfort, and the left over $400. No kidding

https://www.amazon.com/Sony-MDRV6-Studi ... ony+mdr+v6

https://www.amazon.com/Compete-Audio-BD ... er+earpads
I have had a set of these (with the Beyer pads) for at least 10 years, and given many of them as a gift. As good as they are for the price, they aren't nearly in the same league as really high-end stuff. Lots of options at $300-500 that will sound much better (if you want to spend that much...)
Good point. It really depends on the OP's listening habits and tastes, and the system he's using. If you are listening to a high quality source on a high quality system, and if you (not to sound snobby here) have refined ears, you might hear an incremental improvement between $100 and $500. I have.

But in my experience, most people nowadays don't listen to that level of sources on those kinds of systems. If you're listening on a laptop or a portable device, the additional bucks are probably not going to get you much.
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c.coyle
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by c.coyle » Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:13 am

anonenigma wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:42 pm
I have Grado SR60s, which are about $100 these days, but I rarely use them - prefer the soundstage of speakers in a room. . . .
Relating back to the original post, Grado headphones are open back, and the sound will definitely leak into the room at moderate levels or above.
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onourway
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by onourway » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:02 am

c.coyle wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:10 am

Good point. It really depends on the OP's listening habits and tastes, and the system he's using. If you are listening to a high quality source on a high quality system, and if you (not to sound snobby here) have refined ears, you might hear an incremental improvement between $100 and $500. I have.

But in my experience, most people nowadays don't listen to that level of sources on those kinds of systems. If you're listening on a laptop or a portable device, the additional bucks are probably not going to get you much.
Keep in mind though that given sensitive enough headphones (of which there are many high-end models if you look), a device like an iPhone is already an exceptionally high-end source. 256k AAC is nearly indistinguishable from the original. The DAC, even the tiny one in the new lightning to headphone adapter, is extremely flat and essentially zero noise.

The benefit of a high end set of headphones vs something like the MDR-7506 is in how much spaciousness there is to the sound. Being studio monitors, the 7506's sound is very up-front and flat - there is little separation to the layers of instrumentation. A good set of high-end headphones will make it sound like you are at the venue, rather than in the studio. This is irregardless of the much more subjective topics of preference of frequency response, tone, etc.

Keepcalm
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by Keepcalm » Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:02 am

Just purchased the Bose QC 35's a few days ago as I had their predecessor (QC25's) and I am returning them. I feel the QC 25's are superior in the long run for the following reasons:

- QC 25's utilize (1) AAA where as QC 35's need to be plugged in via mini-usb (can become an inconvenience traveling)
- I often have conflicts with switching between connected devices over bluetooth
- I get periodic stutters during playback not sure why, others have claimed a poor bluetooth chip choice
- Bose has refused to make it public who their BT chip provider is (others claim its standard to release such information)

Honestly, wireless is great....and it has been a convenience. However not worth it in the long run, my QC 25's are just too solid and as long as I have a AAA hanging around I can seamlessly swap them out with almost zero down time.

In addition I would note that I have had my QC 25's for a few years and my ear cups recently began to deteriorate which is normal after such time. Bose offers replacement cups which are easy to install yourself for $35.00, and are available via Amazon as well with prime 2 day shipping.

There's a bit of a fulfilling feeling knowing I spent hundreds of dollars on the QC 25's years ago and today I'm still getting my moneys worth out of them and all I have to spend is $35.00 for a pair of ear cups.

The kicker is if you're in the apple ecosystem they are slowly ridding the headphone jack port on their devices.......and this means you need the adapter as you probably already know. If I did not already have the QC 25's it would lead me to have a little more patience with the QC 35's. So if you are a first time buyer, do your homework and look up the reviews for the 25's and 35's and also try to find reviews from users who have owned both. In the end I still feel the 25's are the better buy as the inconvenience of a cord is superficial to the dependability and "they just work" benefits I see them having over the 35's.

Cheers!

retiringwhen
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by retiringwhen » Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:22 am

Not exactly sure of the application that OP is looking for, but non-open back appears to be a requirement for not annoying surrounding listeners.

I recently dropped some money on a Pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50x for mixing live performances. They have very good sound range and response characteristics. Most importantly, they have excellent noise isolation (the outside world does not encroach AND they don't leak sound outside.) I really like these for serious sound mixing.

If open back (non-isolating) is appropriate, then the Grados mentioned earlier are excellent value.

Of course, you can go in-ear and get very good stuff for $20-30 that have decent isolation as well. My sons seem to find a pair on amazon or some music site every year that get better and better. Their new favorite is the Symphonized NRG 3.0 earbuds (also an Amazon Favorite). They are pretty discriminating as well and have been willing to drop $100-200 on V-Moda headphones and find these are as good or better.

TSR
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by TSR » Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:39 am

c.coyle wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:26 pm
Sony is still making the MDR-V6 after 30 years, which means people are still buying them. Must be a reason. Flat response. Closed back for no leaking sound. Comfortable. Replace the factory vinyl earpads with some Beyer velour pads, and you will be very happy with the sound, comfort, and the left over $400. No kidding

https://www.amazon.com/Sony-MDRV6-Studi ... ony+mdr+v6

https://www.amazon.com/Compete-Audio-BD ... er+earpads
I live in Nashville, and these Sony headphones are sort of the industry standard for studios. No, they are not the nicest thing you can possibly own, but if you are accustomed to listening to earbuds they will knock your socks off. Nice, unadorned sound, great for all music types, and you can buy five of them for the cost of nicer stuff.* OP doesn't say what kind of audiophile he/she is. If you haven't done a lot of this stuff then stick with the Sonys. If you have and you've "moved on," then there MAY be better options at higher price points. (Emphasis on the "may" because sound is a lot like wine -- it's perceived quality can correlate closely with its cost.)

*I've owned a pair for many years. My one complaint is that the plastic on the ear cover started flaking a bit after about 10 years.

c.coyle
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by c.coyle » Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:03 am

TSR wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:39 am

I live in Nashville, and these Sony headphones are sort of the industry standard for studios. No, they are not the nicest thing you can possibly own, but if you are accustomed to listening to earbuds they will knock your socks off. Nice, unadorned sound, great for all music types, and you can buy five of them for the cost of nicer stuff.* OP doesn't say what kind of audiophile he/she is. If you haven't done a lot of this stuff then stick with the Sonys. If you have and you've "moved on," then there MAY be better options at higher price points. (Emphasis on the "may" because sound is a lot like wine -- it's perceived quality can correlate closely with its cost.)

*I've owned a pair for many years. My one complaint is that the plastic on the ear cover started flaking a bit after about 10 years.
That's the point I was trying to make, you just said it better. People who are used to listening to portable devices with earbuds, no matter how good, will be floored by a decent source into a decent set of headphones, and absolutely staggered by a decent source into a decent set of speakers.

I like to restore 1970s era amps and receivers (Pioneer, Marantz, Sansui, etc.), and I love watching someone hear music for the first time out of a good amp and good speakers. Jaws drop.

EDIT: The Beyer velour pads solve the problem of the original plastic pads.
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by lazydavid » Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:58 am

Keepcalm wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:02 am
- QC 25's utilize (1) AAA where as QC 35's need to be plugged in via mini-usb (can become an inconvenience traveling)
As an owner of both, I fail to see how this is an advantage, unless you regularly fly all the way around the world. Battery life on the QC35 is WELL in excess of the rated 20 hours. If you're worried that's not enough, plugging in the cable that comes in the case more than doubles the runtime with NC active. Runtime is unlimited with the cable plugged in and NC off.

And presumably you have a mobile device of some sort (what are you listening to otherwise)?. Likely that device also needs to be charged. So you have a charger with you. Personally, even on longer trips I typically don't find a need to charge them at all while I'm gone--except for that one time I wore them on a 17-hour conference call. But if I do, two hours sitting on the charger while I'm at dinner or whatever tops them up. I've certainly chewed through an entire phone battery in under a day, but have never done so with my headphones.

My son uses his a LOT more than I use mine--at home, with his computer. Probably 3-5 hours a day, almost every day. He charges them about once a week. This does not seem inconvenient to me, but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

TSR
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by TSR » Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:35 pm

c.coyle wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:03 am
EDIT: The Beyer velour pads solve the problem of the original plastic pads.
I'm glad to hear this!

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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by anonenigma » Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:04 pm

c.coyle wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:03 am
TSR wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:39 am

That's the point I was trying to make, you just said it better. People who are used to listening to portable devices with earbuds, no matter how good, will be floored by a decent source into a decent set of headphones, and absolutely staggered by a decent source into a decent set of speakers.

I like to restore 1970s era amps and receivers (Pioneer, Marantz, Sansui, etc.), and I love watching someone hear music for the first time out of a good amp and good speakers. Jaws drop.

Not sure how I'd plug headphones into my Dynaco Stereo 70!

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BeerMoney
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by BeerMoney » Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:01 pm

am wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:22 pm
I’m trying to find headphones that will give me the best sound for a wide range of music. Everything from classical to hip hop. I’m ok with paying up to 500 bucks, more if it’s truly worth it. I hear Bluetooth doesn’t have as good a sound as wired. Headphones that don’t bleed sound much would be great, as I don’t want my neighbor to hear what I’m listening to, I read all the reviews but get more confused. Thanks,
You're probably better off buying a DAC/Amp like this one and spending the rest on the cans themselves:

http://www.schiit.com/products/fulla-1

That was a huge upgrade for me for only a hundred bucks vs plugging directly into my PC.

am
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by am » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:13 pm

I’ll be using the headphones with my iPad mini and iPhone. I was thinking Bose QC35 but want excellent quality sound across the full range of music- hip hop, rap, classical, etc. Some of the reviews are not great on amazon, so I hesitate to spend so much. Was hoping there was something better.

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whodidntante
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Re: Best headphones under 500 bucks

Post by whodidntante » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:21 pm

I use Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones when travelling. I've been happy with the sound quality and noise isolation, and I can comfortably wear them for an 11 hour flight. I listen to Rock, Rap, and podcasts. Best of all, you can realistically drive them without a headphone amp. They are quality headphones, but not so expensive that I worry about breaking them. I normally use speakers at home.

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