Full headphone recommendation

by admin

This page contains a list of recommended products. If there is a link, it means it goes straight to a review that I’ve done on this page.

Obviously, there are lots of other great brands out there, but these are items that I have personally owned and have extensive experience with. Some products, I’ll denote some as *, which means I haven’t personally tried it, but it’s highly recommended by the community.

Price ranges are as follows:

  • $: under $100
  • $$: $100 – $300
  • $$$: $300 – $700
  • $$$$: $700+

Open

  • Grado SR80e* ($: $100)
  • Beyerdynamic DT880 ($$: $200)
    • One of the best value headphones. Relatively neutral sound with tons of soundstage. Very comfortable and good build quality. They come in limited edition black chrome, which is my personal favorite.
  • Sennheiser HD598 ($$: $150-200)
    • Very comfortable headphone for people who like warm sound with an emphasis on mid range. I personally don’t love them, but I can see why people like these. It’s a good pair of headphones for people who don’t want to drop $300+ on HD6XX series.
  • AKG 701 / Q701 ($$: $230-340)
    • Large soundstage, but I don’t love the ribbed AKG headband type. Aside from the comfort, the sound is pretty neutral, but I much prefer the DT 880s. Probably recommended for people who want neutral but find the dt 880s too bright. The Q series looks cooler.
  • Sennheiser HD 600 ($300)
    • A slightly more neutral version HD 650s. See 650s.
  • Sennheiser HD 650 ($$: $300)
    • One of my favorite headphones. Very comfortable, stylish, and has a warm sound. One of the best performance value you can get. Excellent for lighter instrumentation.
  • HiFiman HE400S ($$: $300)
    • I liked the sound, but they just weren’t that comfortable for me. I know a lot of people who don’t find them uncomfortable.
  • Philips Fidelio X1 / X2 ($$: $300)
    • These are fun headphones. Slightly heavy, but bump in bass + recessed mids results in a really fun pair of headphones.
  • Sennheiser HD 700 ($$$: $450)
    • Wasn’t worth it during launch, but the price is reasonable now. It’s a more neutral version of 650s with a lot of separation in soundstage. A reasonable balance between 650s and 800s.
  • Beyerdynamic Amiron* ($$$: $600)
  • Beyerdynamic DT 1990* ($$$: $600)
  • Audeze LCD 2 or 3* ($$$: $600)
  • Sennheiser HD 800 ($$$$: $1000)
    • I only spent an hour with them, but it’s essentially AKG 701 on steroids. Awesome soundstage, neutral characteristics, great instrument separation. These are not high value headphones, and feel too big on my head, but they’re great if you really want the highest end headphones.
  • Beyerdynamic T1* ($$$$: $1000)

Closed

  • Audio Technica M50 ($100)
    • Relatively neutral pair of headphones. I say these are a common gateway drug into the world of hifi. Pretty portable and built like a tank. I don’t think they’re that comfortable, but a lot of people do.
  • Beyerdynamic DT 770 ($$: $150)
    • The essential studio headphones. U shaped response brings out the detail, making them great for studio use. Bass can be heavy at times, but it’s not crazy. Very comfortable, and awesome build quality. They make black limited edition versions.
  • ATH-MSR7* ($$: $160)
  • Fostex T50rp* ($$: $160)
  • AKG K550 ($$: $200)
    • The soundstage is kind of ridiculous for closed headphones. Very similar soundstage to the K701, but with more bass and more treble. It can sound really bright at times, and I like bright headphones.
  • Sony MDR-1R* ($$: $250)
  • Beyerdnamics T70p ($$$: $350)
  • Fosxtex Th 610 or Th-x00* ($$$: $500)
  • Shure SRH 1840* ($$$: $500)
  • Reviewed and tried, but meh
    • KRK 8400 – exaggerated u shape, headband hurt my head
    • HD 598 CS – If you like 598, you’ll like this, but I don’t think they’re that comfortable

Portable

Some of the closed headphones can also be used as portable, depending on how portable you need it. For example, the M50s are a popular choice for portability. I haven’t tried on a lot since I was really happy with my momentums.

  • Koss PortaPro* ($: $50)
  • V-Moda XS* ($$: $150)
  • Sennheiser Momentum On Ear* ($$: $200)
  • Beyerdynamic DT1350* ($$: $200-250)
  • Sennheiser HD-25* ($$: $250)
  • Sennheiser Momentum I or II ($$-$$$: $200 – 350)
    • These are one of my favorite portable headphones. They’re stylish, Gen IIs fold up, and have that signature warm Sennheiser sound, but with a bit more kick on bass and treble than your open headphones. They used to run a lot cheaper, but I’d still buy them for $250-300. Gen 1s are just as good as Gen 2s, minus the folding. Also, these are the premium step-up models, not the cheaper momentums. They should really name them differently.
  • Bose QC35 Series II ($$$: $400)
    • These are amazing for frequent flyers or commuting on subways. They’re good enough that you can enjoy music on them, but keep in mind that they’re nowhere near audiophile quality; however, they’re one of the best noise cancelling headphones.

 

Earbuds

I don’t believe in spending a ton on earbuds unless you have to. No matter how great they are, they’re going to fall apart if you use them outside as a daily beater. I also only use earbuds exclusively for commuting and gym.

  • Brainwavz M1 ($: $45)
    • My only pair of earbuds for the past 6 years. They have a balanced sound with a relatively neutral response, and they’re pretty durable. I probably go through one every 1-1.5 years, using them 6 days a week. Excellent warranty and customer service too!
  • Klipsch S4 ($: $50)
    • I don’t personally love them, but if you’re a basshead listening to hip hop, rap, and electronic music all the time, these earbuds isolate well and hit hard on the bass. Be careful though since the cables are pretty fragile and can easily break at connection points.
  • Fiio F5* ($60)
  • Shure SE215 ($$: $100-110)
    • I see this as an upgrade to the Klipsch S4. Strong bass, but sonic quality is all around better than the Klipsch S4. The build quality is also much better. I’ve only spent an hour with these headphones before, but I’d recommend them to any bassheads.

 

Wireless Earbuds

  • Jaybird X3 / X4 ($$: $120)
    • So good for running and working out. They isolate well, and function perfectly. The sound is tolerable for running or working out. I like to use them with comply tips.
  • Airpods ($$: $170)
    • If you have an iPhone, this is a no-brainer. They pair instantly with all your iOS devices and provide a convenience level that no other wireless earbuds can. As usual, you’re trading sound quality for convenience in truly wireless earbuds, but the Airpods are one of the better sounding ones in this category with a sound signature that’ll appease most people with a bumped up bass and treble. Keep in mind that they do not isolate very well.
  • Jabra Elite 65T ($$: $170)
    • If you’re an Android user or want more isolation, Jabras are the way to go. They’re one of the few truly wireless earbuds that function flawlessly and isolate very well. Again, the sound quality is tolerable, but you won’t get audiophile grade sound out of them.

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