AVS Forum is planning a series of buying guides for the holiday shopping season, and we need your help. Each guide will include the top picks of AVS members based on reviews, threads, and—most importantly—your response to queries such as this one.
So, what are your favorite headphones? Since this is for an upcoming buying guide, we're only looking for currently available models. Simply post a comment with the make(s) and model number(s) and any elaboration you care to add; we might even use your comments in the final buying guide. Perhaps you love the one(s) you own or those you've seen at friends' places. Either way, feel free to include more than one, but please limit your response to the best you've seen among currently available models. You can also consider price and value in your choices—a particular product might not be the absolute best performer, but if it's very good and its price is relatively low, that makes it an outstanding value and worthy of inclusion.
Thanks for helping us help others find the best AV products available today!
Editor, AVS Forum
best noise cancelling: bose qc15
best value: JVC HA-S700 or HA-S600
best sq: too rich for me, I have no idea
ones i'd like to try: Audio-technical M50, akg k181dj, v-moda crossfade, and apparently the monster headphones(now that they left 'beats') are actually pretty decent too
I should note, i'm not sure if all of these are 'current models' but they are definitely still being sold in stores/online.
Displays: Samsung PN64F8500/JVC X35
AVR: Pioneer VSX-1130K, 7.1/5.1.2 audio
Sources: HTPC(Enby), PS3, XBOX360, Wii
Control: Harmony One
Regular: Sony MDR-V6 or the pro version Sony MDR7506.
The standard of the recording and radio industry. I have listened to headphones that cost 3-4x as much and they don't sound as good or well balanced. Had a pair of Denon AH-D5000, which were definitely more detailed, but I couldn't get over how little padding there was on top, and the frame while light and made of magnesium hurt the top of my head.
Am updating this post as i now have a pair of Sennheiser HD558's and they are fantastic with rock music. Very snug fit. Great bass and great vocals as well.
Klipsch Image ones for $100 range.
My Name is Nobody...
Klipsch x11i - Klipsch x20i - Oppo HA2
Pioneer SC85 - Bel Canto REF 500M
Klipsch La Scala II - Klipsch Cornwall/Crites/Aletheia Audio - Klipsch RC64II - SW-115
Wyred 4 Sound DAC2 DSDse - OPPO BDP-93
I love them, bluetooth so they pair with my laptop, phone, and tablet. They sound great and are very comfortable. When I do work in our datacenters, it's nice to be able to listen to music without the worry about the cable getting caught on something. I can answer phone calls with them also which is an added bonus.
Highly recommended for good looks, comfortability and affordability!
Anthem MRX510, OPPO BDP103, 2x Emotiva XPA-100, Elusive 1099 LCR in progress, LG FP9000 Clone, 2x Dayton Ultimax 15 tuned to 14Hz
desktop Sonus faber Toy monitor| REL T Zero| Sony UDA1|Sony MDR-Z7|Audioquest Nighthawk|Audioquest Dragonfly Red
surround Monitor Audio Silver RX6, RX Centre, RX1|SVS SB-2000|Sony STR-ZA5000ES|Panasonic 60ZT60|Oppo 103D|Sonos Connect + Peachtree Audio DAC•iT
stereo Sonus faber Toy tower|Teac UD-501|Sony TA-A1ES|Sony SCD-777ES|Sony ST-SA50ES|Sony BDP-S1700ES|Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Esprit + Tube Box S|Sonos Connect|Furman Elite-15 PFi
Really dorky looking, but they sound and feel great.
I like phones that I tend to forget are on my head and phones that sound very neutral.
These qualify on both counts.
Same here, just wonderful, comfortable, awesome sound phones! If you can find a deal on them, they are well worth the price of admission! I use mine for gaming and love them.
Blasting brown notes for 10 years and counting!
For cost-no-object, universal earphones, I would have to recommend none other than my terrific Shures SE846! Best tonality one can ask for.
However custom in ears and headphones are also other options with so many choices in so many price range, it's really hard to pull together a guide for headphones.
On ear = Bowers and Wilkins P5
Over the ear = Bowers and Wilkins P7
...all driven by my NuForce iDo and Apple lossless files on my 80GB iPod classic. Only $150 and it has improved the quality of my music tremendously!
The Sennheiser HD 558 and 598 is the next level in quality audiophile sound at the under $200 price point (street price). These open headphones have a natural ease of sound reproduction that stays close to neutral, yet has an open airy quality that makes them a joy to listen to. These are not thumpers so if you like pounding boosted bass, shop elsewhere. Many owners like using them with an amplifier, but they sound very very good plugged right into a portable music player too.
The Sennheiser HD 600 is next on the heirarchy. Street prices fall between $300 and $350 and for that investment you get a true audiophile grade headphone that is the ultimate "Jack-of-all-trades." Another headphone that sounds pretty much neutral in frequency response, the bass is fast and punchy, yet more fully fleshed out than the 558/598 above. Beautiful midrange and a detailed but not too bright treble make them a match for all music genres. They sound more refined and grain-free than the lesser headphones on this list, and you get the bonus of much higher build quality. Their high impedance means they sound best with an amplifier. For most enthusiasts, these are the last headphones you would ever need.
The Sennheiser HD 800 is the creme de la creme. It retails for $1500 but is often available for $1200 if you shop around. The HD 800 is simply the finest dynamic headphone you can buy with its extreme comfort, big airy soundstage, deep, fast and defined bass, silky smooth mids and sparkly detailed treble that, for better or for worse, reveals every last detail of your recording. Like the 600's above (but superior in every way), they are a chameleon that performs beautifully with any genre of music. They also require an amplifier to get the most out of them.
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