• New Patreon Tier and Early Access Content available. If you would like to support AVForums, we now have a new Patreon Tier which gives you access to selected news, reviews and articles before they are available to the public. Read more.

Suggestions for (type of) headphones for...

Stephy23

Standard Member
I am looking for a new (pair of) headphone(s), but can't decide what type to buy. I will use it in combination with my iPhone to listen to music on the go (in the car/train and maybe sometimes on the bike) and at home, connected to my laptop to watch movies, or to my iPhone to listen to music. I might also want to use it with my PS3 when playing games on some occasions, but listening to music in combination with my iPhone will be the primary use.

I want headphones that block outside noise, and equally important, that prevent noise coming from the headphone to bother other people around me. Wireless headphones would also be a plus. I listen to various types of music, such as pop music, dance, and classical music. I would like balanced headphones that produce an accurate sound, however a bit more bass wouldn't hurt either.

I am currently using IEM's for about a year and a half now, but not one single type of ear bud fits my ears, except for the memory foam buds, but the memory foam stops working much too quickly, and they become increasingly difficult to put in. Therefore I think I would like full-sized, over the ear headphones better, but as I will use them to travel a lot, I am not sure whether their size/weight will be a problem? Where do I keep them when I don't use them? And how does the sound quality of IEM's compare to over the ear headphones of the same price?

I would really like some suggestions and/or experiences with different types of headphones, and optionally specific models (max. price +-200 euros). Thanks!
 

Drubbing

Established Member
closed back portables is probably what you need to look out for. Shure 240, Audio Technica ES7 etc.

Full size phones can't be easily compared to IEMs for sound, but they will be more sturdy and travel better. IEMS are built for portability over durability.

SQ will be limited by your phone, IMO spending 200EU is over the top for phone use.

Don't bother with wireless. You'll pay 200+ for that tech, and get SQ equivalent to phones less than half the price.
 
Last edited:

Stephy23

Standard Member
What exactly do you mean by "Full size phones can't be easily compared to IEMs for sound"? Why not? Also, is the sound quality of the iPhone really not that good? What kind of headphones would not be over the top in your opinion, around what price range? I thought music from iTunes wasn't too bad in combination with an iPhone? Thanks for the advice regarding the wireless phones!
 

Drubbing

Established Member
It's simply a matter of scale. While driver size doesn't make a lick of difference in specs and sound, obviously, the smaller they are the more imitations they'll have.

For instance people talk about looking for IEMS with wide soundstage. It's just not going to happen.

It's not that a phone isn't any good - it is if you don't overcapitalise on headphones to go with them. They sound good, but they are still the most basic audio sources. If you buy phones that are far more capable than the signal the phone can give them to work with, they won't deliver their potential, so you've wasted the extra money.

same concept with iTunes files. SQ is only as good as the poorest bit of kit you have in the chain.

I've got an iphone and I've plugged my various nice phones in them. They sound fine. But I can hear all the stuff that's missing from my home setup. They just sound flat and lifeless.

IMO, halve your budget.
 

Stephy23

Standard Member
Do you have any recommendations for specific over-the-ear models in the price range you mentioned or slightly above, considering what I would use them for and how? (I figured that even if they would be "too good" for my iPhone, should I ever buy a better portable audio source the investment now would be worth it, but as I said, 200EU max.)

EDIT: Also, what would be some good review sites to check out?
 
Last edited:

Drubbing

Established Member
I suggested a couple above. Add the Shure 440 and 840 to that.

Try cnet.com for reviews or an audio based sites.
 

Stephy23

Standard Member
So, I tried out some headphones in a store nearby today, including the Shure 840. They first hooked them up to their very expensive looking sound system, and all headphones I tried sounded fantastic. However, I then tried some of them (Beyerdynamic DT770M and Shure 840) in combination with my iPhone...where did that sound go? It suddenly sounded flat and lifeless. I was told it was primarily because my iPhone can't deliver enough power for those headphones, and of course also because it isn't the best audio source. From this I concluded that buying full-sized headphones for use with my iPhone is useless, because they don't sound that much better than my IEM's (Ultimate Ears UE700) I currently own. This left me with a couple of questions however:

1) Do all full-sized headphones require too much power for mobile audio sources to sound good, Or are the ones I tried notorious for their power consumption? Are there any full-sized headphones that are especially for use with mobile audio sources, which sound (almost?) as good?
2) Are there IEM's that sound as good as the full-sized headphones I mentioned? I started looking for full-sized headphones because I am not satisfied with my UE700's, but if there are IEM's that address those issues they might be a better option... The issues I have with them is that they keep falling out of my ears, the bass is lacking and the high notes too 'harsh'. Comply foam tips are the only ones that stay in, and when I don't use comply tips the sound quality is much much much less. However, they stop working rather quickly (the memory foam immediately expands again before I can get them in my ears), and I am tired of buying a new set every few weeks.
 

Drubbing

Established Member
1) Do all full-sized headphones require too much power for mobile audio sources to sound good, Or are the ones I tried notorious for their power consumption? Are there any full-sized headphones that are especially for use with mobile audio sources, which sound (almost?) as good?

The advice you've got is partly right. Some phones need power, and some need a good source AND power. The 840 is suffering from using a comparably poor source for its capability - it doesn't really get that much better with amping.

Generally, full size phones are designed for indoor use and all the gear that goes with that - no point in trying to replicate that with a iPhone/Pod. 'Full size' compact models are also designed for portables, so you could look at those. Senn's 200's range springs to mind.
 

Stephy23

Standard Member
One more question: what about active headphones? They have a built-in amp, right? One pair that comes to mind are the Beats by Dr. Dre Studio, which sell for 299 euro's (ouch). I know you pay for the name and all that, however, apparently they are rather good (are they?), and if them being active means they sound very good on my iPhone as well as on better audio sources at home, they might be worth it. Any opinions on this?
 

Drubbing

Established Member
Firstly, amps don't 'add' extra sound quality, just by having one.

'Active' headphones have noise cancelling tech. You pay for that, and it only filters selected frequencies. And you also pay on top of that for the Dre name. Ergo, you get far less sound for your money, which in their case, is a lot.
 

Stephy23

Standard Member
OK, I'm confused now as I'm getting different signals from different sources. Some claim my iPhone 3GS is the weak link and I would benefit the most from buying a better PAP, others say the SQ of the iPhone 3GS is actually pretty good (see also here and here) and a portable amp is what I need. So, which one is it? Also, how much of an improvement in SQ can I expect by converting my MP3 collection to a lossless format (probably ALAC)?
 

Drubbing

Established Member
OK, I'm confused now as I'm getting different signals from different sources. Some claim my iPhone 3GS is the weak link and I would benefit the most from buying a better PAP, others say the SQ of the iPhone 3GS is actually pretty good (see also here and here) and a portable amp is what I need. So, which one is it? Also, how much of an improvement in SQ can I expect by converting my MP3 collection to a lossless format (probably ALAC)?

Listen to your own ears, not those of others. Especially not HF, which is a hype machine of dubious fanboy information.

The iPhone is only a weak link if you buy phones that are way to good for it. IMO, 100 quid or so is the most to spend on phones for such a source. Amping a iphone will only reveal its limits more easily. Same goes for your laptop; both a very basic sound sources.

Where do you get your MP3 from and what bitrate are they? If downloaded, you're stuffed, you can't 'reset' the bitrate to a higher quality one just by converting to another format.

If ripped from CDs, IMO 320kbps MP3 is as good as lossless (CD) without taking up all the extra space. I listen to all my stuff on a mid range setup costing about 1,500 quid and I can't tell the difference between CD and 320. Some people will claim they can, but I'd question their ability to do so from a phone/player.

Bottom line is, a reasonable pair of phones and a higher quality of mp3 is likely the best and most cost effective approach.
 
Last edited:

The latest video from AVForums

CES 2023 Round Up: New TV Lineups for 2023 from LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Hisense & TCL
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom