I have a number of headphones that I use for different purposes:

  • The obligatory Sony MDR7506s: Love these, they're like the NS-10Ms of headphones. I use them for as much as possible when external SPL allows. I use them for any critical listening I might have to do.

Sony MDR7506 http://assets.sonybiz.net/products/MDR-7506-1(img1).jpg

  • Sennheiser HD280s: I have 4 or 5 of these. I use them when the external SPL is too loud for my 7506s (because they isolate so well). I also use them in the vocal booth because they limit bleed so much. I try not to use them if I can help it, since I think they sound fairly "muffled"

Sennheiser HD280 http://www.sennheiser.co.uk/sennheiser/products.nsf/resources/7FE507DDB7ABB9D9C1257482003BEA93/$File/HD_280_Pro.jpg

  • When listening to classical music or the such, I love my Grado SR80i headphones, but they get uncomfortable after a while. Great natural sound though.

Grado SR80i http://www.gradolabs.com/09_images/sr80i.png

  • For in-ears, I have a pair of M-Audio IE-40s (made my Ultimate Ears, distributed by M-Audio). They don't have traditional drivers - they use a triple armature driver system, and have an amazing bass response, and incredible isolation. I can be listening to my iPod at half volume and a subway will go by, I won't even hear the subway in New York City (NYC). I use these for listening only while biking, walking, all the time in NYC, etc...

M-Audio IE-40 http://www.m-audio.com/images/global/product_pics/th/IE40_explodedview_custom_v2008.jpg

  • I've saved my favorites for last. My Beyerdynamic DT880 PRO cans. Pure bliss. Amazing. Slightly hyped, but amazing low end response, super smooth high end, and AMAZING localization. Almost sounds like you're listening to speakers. I like using these for listening to a final product. Its my equivalent of pumping the mains for a client versus critical mixing on the near fields. Also one of the most comfortable pairs of headphones I've ever worn. 6, 7+ hours no problem. They're semi-open back, so they have nice ventilation, and of course they have the famous velour ear pads. Fuzzy! Gotta love these guys :-)

Beyerdynamic DT880 PRO http://europe.beyerdynamic.com/typo3temp/pics/f3f37e592a.jpg

What's your headphone collection like?

36 Answers 36


I've got the Senheiser hd800, Grado gs1000 that are the most expensive ones I own and sounds absolutely stunning. But non of the head phones I own are as comfortable as the BOSE QC15 or the BOSE Tri-port over ear HPs. You honestly cant feel that you are wearing any phones at all until u take them off and realize your ears have some sweat.

Sound quality of the mentioned bose units are nearly identical to the Beyerdynamic DT770 80 ohm version with a tad bit more low end bass + bit more mid range than the DT770. They don't require any external amps coz they're designed to work straight off your phone or low power MP3 player. Amping them didn't seem to improve the SQ, but make the drives move a bit more air and distort if you play too loud. But overall, the QC 15 (active noise cancelling) is quite good, especially if you can get it used off ebay, otherwise the Tri port is basically a QC15 without active noise cancellation, but it isolates quite well. If I'm wearing them without playing music and the person next to me speaks to me, I can barely hear the person speak.

For in house use

Senheiser hd800 or GradoGS1000 : as they are open back they leak lots of music. So you will annoy others with your music and you will be annoyed by others making noise + they require substantial amplification to get good sound. If you amp them correctly, (I use the Lehmann Audio Black cube ultra-linear) it will be the benchmark in ultimate SQ, and sound stage. The Grados have more bass than the Sens IMO. All this comes at a hefty cost unfortunately and not everyone can spend over $2000 on a pair of headphons and a headphone amp, let alone a stereo system. But, IMO to match the SQ of a properly amped Sen HD800 or Grado GS1000, you'd be spending at least 10 times as much in hifi gear, so it's a bargain in comparison.

On the move use

No matter what the haters say, IMO, BOSE tri port or QC15 works brilliantly on the move without amps and it's less bulky to carry and I can't stress enough on how comfy they are. If you think the Beyerdynamic DT770 is comfy, this set will make you re-think your decision. It's that comfortable. Another use I found for the BOSE QC15 was gaming. If you have a gaming rig like me that has many cooling fans making noise, the QC 15 cuts them off completely! Brilliant!

Beyerdynamic DT770 80 ohm version is also not bad for on the move use but a tad bit bulky. The cushions are quite comfy but gets on your jaws and irritates them. Also the cushions aren't as soft as the Bose's ones and doesn't do a good job in sealing the phone/ear cup against my head. And the cable is too long (10 feet). Sound quality is very comparable to the BOSE head sets mentioned above with slightly less low end bass. If you buy the 250 ohm version, your phone or mp3 player will struggle to power it and will require a portable amp.

It's also very important to give the DT770 a good initial break in. I had the amp (Lehmann Audio Rhinelander with high input gain) and ipod running music to the DT 770 250 ohm version and 80 ohm version continuously for abt 4 - 5 days before I found them working well. Initially vocals sounded a bit nasal and bass was not that good. The 4 -5 days break in opened things up quite a bit and made them sound great :)


More of a tip/heads-up than a recommendation: I have a pair of Sennheiser HD265 - great sounding cans (obsolete now, I think). Sound fantastic, comfy, etc.

But if I had known the price of replacement parts for these, I would have stayed away!

  • I have replaced the "reinforced kevlar cable" twice (on my third cable now). Cable costs around 50 bucks.

  • Earpads are in total disarray - but new ones cost 75 bucks! SEVENTYFIVE! In perspective, earpads for the 7506 cans cost around 15. Just saying.

When I bought the second cable for these, the salesperson said: "oh, Sennheisers? Made to break". Gee, thanks. If you're investing in a good set of cans, maybe check out the price of replacement parts first. Just an idea.


A new option here!

Takstar PRO80

A pair of closed back headphones, which are getting lots of positive reviews recently. Because..

For 70-80 dollars...

..You get a sound close to ATH-M50x by Audio Technica, which on amazon cost 150 bucks (according to number of reviews)

I didn't buy anything more expensive than Takstar PRO80. It's more important now to buy other upgrades to my studio (better cables, better mics, maybe preamps). Only then I will upgrade to something bigger - but that's not going to happen soon..

..Because I'm just happy with Takstar PRO80.

I recommend it for everybody who's just starting in audio.


Some overlap with previous answers, but still:

For FOH-work, or other noisy places I use the Beyerdynamic DT-770M. These are sturdy, can take a lot of punishment, and are fairly cheap considering the level of isolation, comfort and sound quality you get. There is less bass compared to the regular DT-770, so to me it sounds a bit more neutral.

I also have the Beyerdynamic DT-880 Pro for situations with less noise and where comfort is required. As others have mentioned they sound good and are comfortable to wear, and compared to other high-end cans I've tested they sit better on your head and won't come loose if you move a little. Also, they don't have the plastic feeling some other expensive headsets have, the build quality is excellent.

When at my office (open landscape, cow-orkers to consider) I use a pair of Sennheiser Momentums (on ear). Good sound, compact and easy to bring to clients or wherever when travelling. There is also a mike on the cable, so it doubles as a hands-free for the phone/computer.

Lastly, whenever I'm playing (drums) myself, I have a Shure SE-425 set with custom moulds. They sound great, and I'd love to use them more. Unfortunately my ears gets a bit tired after wearing them for more than a few hours, so these are for drumming only.


Ultrasone 750 pros

great resolution, very comfortable, offset driver greatly reduces fatigue in long listening sessions.

  • @Rene - Any idea on how the ear cup size compares to the Beyerdynamic 770 Pro? I love the 770's because the fit around my ear, but the portability of the Ultrasones is hard to ignore. Sep 30, 2012 at 21:03
  • not sure, although mine do fit all the way around my ears and provide good isolation.
    – Rene
    Oct 1, 2012 at 11:55

I use an Elega DR-196C. Actually I recently bought a second pair (used). They were made by some obscure long-deceased Japanese company and are one of the earliest using rare Earth magnets. But I didn't know that then. When I bought my first of those 35 years ago or so I went to a HiFi store and listened through their entire lineup. I got those then. Unfortunately, the ear padding (just a rectangular area) decayed over the decades and I had to scrub it off. I eventually replaced it with some fitting cheap ear pads, but the straight foam had been more pleasant to wear. The guy I bought my second from recently had refitted it with some other foam matching the original optics but unfortunately not the acoustics. So I pulled those pads off again and put another pair of round earpads on.

Not really happy about those round imitation leather padups as they are less commfortable than the original. But I don't really have a good idea about what foam to use here in order to retain good acoustics.

I rather like them, they don't differ much in impression from my vintage high-end active speakers. Transparent and clear tone quality. Very good value for their price, then and now. I was actually astonished to see another for sale after all those years.


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