Headphones for around £100

Aero

Standard Member
Hi folks,

Broached this subject about 12 months ago.

I was looking for a pair of closed backs for living room listening whilst my better half was watching telly. Listened to loads of pairs and basically decided that I couldn't get on with closed backs as I didn't like the sound.

Anyway, I'm back on the subject now and I'm looking at open backed phones now.

My local place have said Sennheisers are the best (but then that's all they stock!). I remember being very impressed by my brother's Beyers (round speakers with grey velour pads) and a pair of Grado SR80s at a dealer.

So what is the general consensus on here?

I'm after something fairly neutral, good all rounder - I listen to soft/heavy/classic rock, classical, bit of dance.

At the moment I'm thinking Grado SR80s or Beyer 880s.

Also, where's a good place to get them cheap?

Cheers all.
 

WhyAyeMan

Member
The Beyer 880 if you can get them are in a different league to the Grado SR80.

What you have to remember (and what most in the UK same to forget) is that the Grado's are artificially overpriced in the UK, which puts them in league with better headphones. They arent in that league however, and people fall for it, so I guess it pays off for them. In the US, the 880's are 2-3 TIMES the price of the SR80 and the 880's arent artificially inflated over there.

I've had both. I mainly listen to electronic music. I'd have the 880 every time, although it is more refined and laid back, so thats something to bear in mind, but they do sound sweet.
 

mattski73

Novice Member
What you have to remember (and what most in the UK same to forget) is that the Grado's are artificially overpriced in the UK, which puts them in league with better headphones. They arent in that league however, and people fall for it, so I guess it pays off for them. In the US, the 880's are 2-3 TIMES the price of the SR80 and the 880's arent artificially inflated over there.
I’m sorry you've lost me there pbirkett I have a pair of the SR60's and 125's. I’m not quite 100% with you on the 'price inflation point'.

In terms of quality (although they have there own sound) I think the SR 60 are far and away better than anything in there price range. For me the SR 80's offered little real benefit over the SR 60's.

If you buy the SR 60's you won't miss out. If you want clarity they would be my top recommendation...however.....

In terms of the most uncomfortable headphones in the price range Grado are the best. And if you want some bass, then I wouldn't choose the Grado’s

I also have a pair of Beyers the 660 which I love. I wear my Grado’s for clarity and my Beyers or Bose Triports for bass.

The Beyers are the most stunningly comfortable headphones ever, make no mistake.

If you do decide to buy a pair of Grado’s, save a couple of quid, buy the SR60's, and spend the rest on music or something.
 

wadia860

Novice Member
Love my pimped SR60's :thumbsup: I upgraded to the SR80 open style pads, a huge improvement over the 6o's pads. However, these cost a shocking £20, which in real world terms, you could get the 80's over the 60's. The Beyers are very good though. See if you can find a shop that sells a variety of headphones. Just out of principle, I wouldn't go back to that shop.
 

WhyAyeMan

Member
mattski73 said:
I'm sorry you've lost me there pbirkett I have a pair of the SR60's and 125's. I'm not quite 100% with you on the 'price inflation point'.

In terms of quality (although they have there own sound) I think the SR 60 are far and away better than anything in there price range. For me the SR 80's offered little real benefit over the SR 60's.
OK......

Headphone, American Price (Headroom), British Price (Stone Audio)
SR60, $69 (£36.67), £66.95 (allegedly after a 25% reduction!!!)
SR125, $150 (£79.72), £139.95 (after 13% discount)
SR325i, $295 (£156.79), £279 (10% discount)
RS1, $695 (£369.40), £634 (15% discount)

So, thats almost twice as expensive over here. I dont know how you can deny that there is some serious price inflation going on for UK / european customers. Oh, and it gets better, Grado do NOT allow anyone who sells their headphones to ship abroard. For example:-

headroom says said:
Note to International Customers: Grado Labs has asked us to respect their distributor and dealer territories and decline all orders from the following countries: Canada, UK, Mexico, France, Italy, England, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Austria, Yugoslavia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Israel, Slovenia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Oman, Peru, Argentina, Iceland, Lebanon, Thailand, Brazil, Malaysia, Falkland Islands, Malvides, Cro-Magnon Territories, Uranus, the Yukon, South Africa, South Korea, North Korea, the Land of Oz.
Notice they wont even ship to Uranus!!!!

I dont care if they were the best headphones in the world, I refuse to deal with a company who so blatantly tries to rip off the rest of the world.

Incidentally, FYI, the Beyerdynamic DT880 is £145 in the UK, yet $299 in the USA (£158). So you can see that in real terms, the DT880 is actually more in competition with the SR325i than the SR60.

I've had the SR80 and the DT880 and basically, the DT880 is the superior headphone. Theres no doubt in my mind. I'll grant you that the Grado's have a unique sound, but its not for everyone... I found it somewhat claustrophobic sounding and harsh compared to the Beyers, but then again, everyones different.

However, you must agree that we are being ripped off with Grado's. TBH it boils my p!ss to see such blatant profiteering and exploitation outside of their home market and I wont hesitate to point it out to people.
 

mattski73

Novice Member
it's not so much the price inflatiuon thing, it's the fact the we pay twice as much for most things in the UK, form petrol to....headphones, so i'm not really iunderstanding your protest as such.

it's not that i don't believe you, it's just what we have to put up with from this rip off, of a country. so for me the price factor isn't an issue.

but one thing we all seem to agre on is that for this situation the, Beyers have it! are we in agreement there?
 

WhyAyeMan

Member
I know what you are saying, but the price increase seems to be rather more than you'd expect even just allowing for normal "rip off britain" prices.

Petrol, for example, can be explained by the fact we pay something like 70-80% tax and it is higher octane than in the USA.

Most other products are at least similar in price to the USA (headphone wise)....

But yes, i agree, the Beyers are better in this case :)
 
pbirkett said:
I know what you are saying, but the price increase seems to be rather more than you'd expect even just allowing for normal "rip off britain" prices.

Petrol, for example, can be explained by the fact we pay something like 70-80% tax and it is higher octane than in the USA.

Most other products are at least similar in price to the USA (headphone wise)....

But yes, i agree, the Beyers are better in this case :)
As ever eBay is your friend for these things. If you want the best at the least price go to eBay and circumvent the price fixing (woops I mean regional sales agreements). Loving my Rs1's at £300 and AKG701 at £200 delivered as well as Senn's, etc just ordered some e500 from USA at half UK price so happy with that too!
 
R

radyraa

Guest
You can also buy Sennheiser HD650's for £170 on ebay delivered. mind, if you like open cans... :smashin:
 

extremelydodgy

Active Member
Many people's definition of neutral differs so it's as always difficult to say but pbirkett is making an excellent reco with the DT880. It is neutral, although that can mean 'boring' for some. What the 880 is definitely though is a bargain phone in terms of technical ability. I've put it through some of the best headphone amps you can get and it doesn't sound constrained, although the generally better-regarded HD650 (which I think is the more agreeable of the two in tone) did for me definitely limit the capability of the amps involved.


One thing to bear in mind though is that it does require a decent headphone amp to get the most out of it. Pair it with the amp that pbirkett has, which is rather difficult to get hold of now unfortunately, and because the ANT kicks up the lows a little it 'unbores' the sound and you get a beautifully rendered tone combined with the technical ability of the DT880... which adds up to a listening experience that nothing can beat at the price.
 

WhyAyeMan

Member
extremelydodgy said:
Many people's definition of neutral differs so it's as always difficult to say but pbirkett is making an excellent reco with the DT880. It is neutral, although that can mean 'boring' for some. What the 880 is definitely though is a bargain phone in terms of technical ability. I've put it through some of the best headphone amps you can get and it doesn't sound constrained, although the generally better-regarded HD650 (which I think is the more agreeable of the two in tone) did for me definitely limit the capability of the amps involved.


One thing to bear in mind though is that it does require a decent headphone amp to get the most out of it. Pair it with the amp that pbirkett has, which is rather difficult to get hold of now unfortunately, and because the ANT kicks up the lows a little it 'unbores' the sound and you get a beautifully rendered tone combined with the technical ability of the DT880... which adds up to a listening experience that nothing can beat at the price.
I prefer the DT880 to the HD650. The DT880 has slightly less bass, but to my ears, also a clearer sound with nicer (especially female) vocals, and sounds less boring than the HD650 which again, to my ears, sounds a little dull, lacking treble and having somewhat slow bass.

Incidentally, I actually know a guy who uses the DT880 with the ANT Amber, and he absolutely loves it. I'm almost tempted to pick some up myself to try it out.
 

NoDad

Novice Member
Before you dismiss closed back, did you try the Sennheiser HD250 Linear II ?
For me there is no contest. For closed back it has to be the Senny HD250 Linear II. They have superbly extended frequency response, are very "open" for a closed headphone and have good isolation from outside sounds. Also very comfortable. These are excellent for mixing music or for relaxing with your favourite tunes.

They have been around for a few years now, which tells you something in these days of almost monthly replacements.
 

WhyAyeMan

Member
I havent heard those particular phones but i must say that i've heard lots of closed phones and generally speaking, unless you absolutely must have the isolation, go open every time. So much more natural and uncoloured.
 

NoDad

Novice Member
Generally yes I would agree but the HD250 Linear II are probably the most open closed headphones I've heard (if you know what I mean).

The other thing which is important to me is that, in reality it's often difficult to listen with nothing else going on in the background.

Open headphones (of which I have the HD 580 Precision and I used to have the HD 560 Ovation II), in terms of noise around you, is like not having headphones on at all. I personally find the other noises in the room / outside, very annoying when trying to listen to music. If you have a quiet environment, go for the open type but don't dismiss the HD250 Linear II without an audition.

One final thing, I haven't heard any open headphones which have the bass extension of the 250s.
 

Aero

Standard Member
Thanks for all the responses guys - some very interesting stuff here

(hello to pbirkett as well, I am nice cuppa on PH ;) )

I think my biggest problem is trying to get a decent number of the phones I want in the same place so that I can demo them. I am so frustrated by local hifi places that only do Sennys, or swear by such-and-such saying all the others are rubbish. I then have no faith in any of their opinions.

I had been lead to believe the 880s were a similar price (low 100s) but can't see them anywhere under 180 or so! pbirkett, that site that you mentioned doesn't have the 880s but it has the 990s at just over a 100 (as opposed to 250 odd on headphone world :eek: Edit: Sorry, just found them at 145, still a little rich for my blood...

Can anybody clear up the Beyer numbering schemes? Doesn't seem to be "bigger number is better" or anything like that - I gather the 770 is closed back, but the 880 and 990 open...

I was off down to Tunbridge Wells today to listen to some phones as there seems to be a decent lot of hifi shops there, but found out that my main port of call (Audio T) are closed on Mondays :rolleyes:

Anybody know any hifi shops in the SE with a decent stock of headphones?
 

WhyAyeMan

Member
Hi Aero ;)

I know what you mean about the difficulty of demoing headphones. Pretty much every hifi store i've been to does not even stock a quarter of the better headphones that's out there - at best!

Therefore, if you want to try different headphones, the reality is, you end up having to buy and sell. This is what I've been doing for years now.

I've lost a fair amount of money that way too. The best way to do it is buy second hand. Then you minimise the amount you lose, or you can even on occaisions, make a profit (i have a couple of times).

Things get even more complicated when it comes to headphone amps because hifi stores rarely stock any truly good headphone amps at all. Most of the headphone amps you find in stores are made by mainstream manufacturers using sub-par components and little thought give to the overall quality, and more thought about how much profit was made.

Problem is though, not everyone wants to buy and sell - most people, rightly so, just want to buy a decent set and be happy.

For what its worth, as one final suggestion. I notice hifibitz are doing the 2006 Beyerdynamic DT990 for £125. That is a very, very good price for those cans (I am thinking of ordering some myself). They are apparently better than the DT880 of any era.

The Beyer range is confusing.

As it stands now though.... in order from cheap to expensive: DTX series > DT440 > DT660 > DT770 > DT860 > DT880 > DT990

Whereas previously, the DT990 was actually considered a lesser headphone than the DT880. The DT990 is Beyer's traditional range topper though.

£125 with free delivery for the new DT990 is a bargain.
 

BenW

Active Member
Are you sure 990 are better than 880? A quick froogle shows the 880s are much more expensive than the 990s
 

WhyAyeMan

Member
I'm talking about the 2005/06 series.

The 03 series 880 was better and more expensive than the 03 series 990.

However, you'll find everywhere except hifibitz, the 05 series 990 is more expensive than the 880.

Incidentally, 90% of the places in the UK are still selling the 03 series not the 06 series.

Go to www.meier-audio.de to see the 05 series Beyers.
 

Aero

Standard Member
Those 06 990s sound great Paul - reckon they'd be ok driven with Arcam source/amp?

I listen to a fair bit of rock as well as classical &c.

Bit more than I wanted to spend but they do sound good. My bro has some 521s (I think) that I was quite impressed with.
 

WhyAyeMan

Member
Well I wouldnt like to say since i've not heard either the new 990s or your kit, but I do know that the new 990s are receiving some good praise, and I've ordered some :)

I think the price they are charging is wrong though, and I wouldnt be surprised to see that price go up in the near future.
 

Aero

Standard Member
Um, you're not wrong - just refreshed the page and the price jumped from 125 quid to 230... :thumbsdow

So, what Beyers can I get for around a hundred that are decent?
 

WhyAyeMan

Member
Hmm, I wonder whether they will honour my order....

Anyway, although often an underappreciated choice, I think the DT440 might be worth a look. They are apparently the replacement for my DT531 and those were much better than they had any right to be for the price. In fact, even if they dont honour my order for the 990 i may just stick with those. The only reason i tried to buy was simply because they were so darned cheap!
 

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