The Best Audiophile Headphones (Part II) [Complete Buyer’s Guide]

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Updates:

  • 2/21/18: Added Status Audio CB 1 to closed back/casual. Retired the Sennheiser HD202.
  • 8/31/18: Retired the Superlux HD668B as there’s no need for 3 headphones (K240, SR850, HD668B) that sound almost identical. The build quality of the SR850 is a tad better than a K240, and it is cheaper. The 850 is also brighter, while the K240 is more neutral. I think both have their place so I’m keeping them. I have heard things with the 850 that I haven’t heard with any other headphone, so it stays 🙂
  • 1/17/19: The Philips SHP9500 was discontinued awhile back and the article should reflect that.
  • 2/27/19: The Philips SHP9500 is back on New Egg. Yayy!
  • 6/3/19: Added SR850 vs. K240 Video Comparison.
  • 9/22/19: Removed the outdated HD558 as it’s no longer a budget headphone. Article/link cleanup.

To send me a pair of headphones for demo, for the purpose of potentially adding it to this list: Click Here!


($0-100)


First:

  1. Entry level ($0-100)
  2. Critical listening
  3. Closed back

Sony MDR V6

Specifications

  • Price: Check Amazon! | check eBay!
  • Type: Closed back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 63 Ohm.
  • Frequency response: 5Hz – 30 kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 106dB/mW. What is Sensitivity in headphones?
  • Driver size: 40mm. What is a Headphone driver?
  • Material: Plastic, a bit of metal, faux leather.
  • Color: black, blue, red
  • Cable detachable: No.
  • Cable coiled: Yes.
  • Cable length: 3m.
  • Plug style: straight.
  • Comes with straight cable: No.
  • Ear-pads replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: Minimal.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Fold-able: Yes.
  • Weight: 8.1 0z.
  • Accessories Included: Black Carrying pouch (faux leather), silver plated 1/4″ adapter.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

I absolutely love these, and would rank them at or near the top. I do consider them to be #1, and they will compete with headphones way out of their price range. These are some of the most time tested, durable, and reliable headphones on the planet. They’ve been around for decades, and will likely always remain a staple in any serious audiophiles collection.

They’re built very well, with a compact, lightweight profile and a design that folds in on itself for added portability. The sound is incredible, especially for the price. If there was ever a headphone that revealed minor details, the V6 is it. They have a bright character in the treble, but it rarely feels strident or sibilant. What does Sibilant mean?

The really cool part about the V6 is that it also works well as a casual headphone, but I would categorize it as a mixers option first and foremost. Comfort wise, they feel very snug on my dome piece, but will become slightly fatiguing after awhile. Just make sure you take a break every so often.

Things to be aware of

  1. The ear-cups do tend to peel over time. One of the only things I strongly dislike about them. It doesn’t happen immediately, but will over the course of a couple years.
  2. The ear-pads may fall off as well. This happened with my MDR 7506, but hasn’t happened with the V6. Something to keep in mind.

My Video Review!

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Sony MDR 7506

Specifications

  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay! | Check zZOUNDS!
  • Type: Closed Back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 63 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 20 kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 104dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 40mm.
  • Material: Plastic, a bit of metal, faux leather.
  • Color: black, blue, red, some gold.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: No.
  • Cable coiled: Yes.
  • Cable length: 3m.
  • Plug style: straight.
  • Comes with straight cable: No.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: Minimal.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Fold-able: Yes.
  • Weight: 7.8 0z.
  • Accessories Included: Black Carrying pouch (faux leather), gold plated 1/4″ adapter.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

You may be wondering why I have the MDR 7506’s in the same list as the V6. Most people think they are just about the same, but there are some discernible differences. I do consider the 7506’s to be for critical listening as well, but the bass is definitely more pronounced than the V6. The treble stops at 20kHz, and although you can’t really hear anything over that, the V6’s will still sound crisper by contrast.

That said, the 7506 also represents just about the best entry level audiophile headphone you can buy, regardless of categories. I placed it second because I simply think the V6 is more resolving, and tends to reveal more details.

This was the first “real” headphone I purchased, and the sound signature, clarity, and detail simply blew me away. This is when you start to realize that there’s more to music than what your cheap-o convenience store headphones have to offer.

Like the V6, the build is very solid overall, and comfort is about the same; good, but you’ll need to take a break once in awhile.

Things to be aware of

Like the V6, the same applies:

  1. The ear-pads will peel/crack over the course of about a year or two.
  2. The ear-pads may also fall off. Luckily you can buy replacements, so the headphone in theory should last you forever.

Video Review

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Shure SRH440

Specifications

  • Price: Check Amazon! | check eBay!
  • Type: Closed Back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 44 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 22 kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 105dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 40mm.
  • Material: Plastic, faux leather.
  • Color: black, blue, red.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Cable coiled: Yes.
  • Cable length: 3m.
  • Plug style: straight.
  • Comes with straight cable: No.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: Minimal.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Fold-able: Yes.
  • Weight: .6 lbs.
  • Accessories Included: Black Carrying case, 1/4″ adapter.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

The SRH440’s are a great option for mixing/mastering as well, as their sound signature is even flatter than both the V6 and 7506. I do think the treble is a tad hot at times, but overall these are an extremely honest set of cans.

The build to feels a lot flimsier to me, due to them being all plastic without the metal that you get in the Sony headband adjusting mechanisms. The ear-cups are also a bit more rigid, and “tough” if you will. They aren’t quite as plush, and rest on my head kind of strangely. I will say that the fit is a true circumaural one, as the cups are very big and should accommodate most ear sizes without an issue.

Another thing to know is that the bass here is markedly leaner, and not quite as lush as the V6 or 7506. I would characterize it as dry. The entire sound is that way actually.

Things to be aware of

  1. The build seems pretty average. I don’t feel all that comfortable dropping these.
  2. The ear-pads, while large enough, aren’t deep enough. My ears end up touching the drivers.
  3. They do tend to get harsh at louder volumes, so I would say keep them at a dull roar for best results.

Video Review

Credit to @metal571. Check him out on twitter and subscribe to his channel!

 

 


Sennheiser HD280 Pro

Specifications

  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay! | Check zZOUNDS!
  • Type: Closed Back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 64 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 8Hz – 25 kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 102dB/mW.
  • Driver size: Not specified.
  • Material: Plastic, faux leather.
  • Color: black.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes, DIY only.
  • Cable coiled: Yes.
  • Cable length: 3m.
  • Plug style: straight.
  • Comes with straight cable: No.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: Yes.
  • Headband Padding: Yes.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Fold-able: Yes.
  • Weight: 7.8 oz.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

The Sennheiser HD280’s are an incredibly crisp set of cans with a bulky build and a tight clamp. They will open up over time, but do be aware that they will fit almost too securely on your dome at first.

The sound is pretty impeccable clarity wise, it just isn’t that loud or exciting. They do extremely well in a mixing/mastering situation though, so it really doesn’t matter what the heck I think. 😛 The bass is pretty lean, and dare I say anemic. I wouldn’t even give these the time of day if I wasn’t a producer, but they work incredibly well in studio.

Things to be aware of

  1. The HD280’s are a bit of a bulky set, but the plastic is pretty solid and doesn’t feel cheap.
  2. Don’t sleep with these on, the headphones are libel to crack at some point. I made this mistake and paid the price.
  3. The overall sound signature is a tad boring, but then again they’re meant for strictly critical listening situations. Take note!

Video Review

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Second:

  1. Entry level ($0-100)
  2. Critical Listening
  3. Open back

Philips SHP9500

2/27/19 Update: The 9500 is back up on New Egg for the time being. I’m hoping it makes an official return sometime soon!

I bought a pair in 2017 for around $54 on New Egg. I have always said (even before it was discontinued) that it’s worth way more than that. I’d value this headphone around $200 and would gladly pay that price for it if I had to buy them again.

Specifications

  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay!
  • Type: Open back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 12 – 35,000 Hz.
  • Sensitivity: 101dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 50mm.
  • Material: Plastic, metal, cloth.
  • Color: black, silver
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 4.92 ft.
  • Plug style: straight.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: Rotation inward slightly.
  • Headband Padding: Yes, cloth.
  • Headband Style: Traditional mechanism. Numbered with a small window for added convenience.
  • Fold-able: No.
  • Weight: 0.65 lbs.
  • Accessories Included: Detachable chord.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

Well the secrets out. The SHP9500 has gotten a lot of deserved recognition lately, but by and large you won’t find this one on a lot of best lists.

What really impressed me was the build. For a roughly $50 set of headphones, they feel very sturdy, and actually have metal headbands. Most sub $100 sets are all plastic. Another standout feature is the headband adjustment. Instead of guessing if both sides match up, the 9500 is numbered 1-6, with a small circular window on each side that you can easily stop at to get an accurate fit.

I lent these out to Metal571 to see what he thought, and I would agree and disagree with him. He claims the Soundstage isn’t as wide as people claim, but I still think the overall image is fairly expansive and does immerse you quite well in the music. They’re not going to provide that true 3-d effect by any stretch (what headphone truly does?), but there is some really nice separation going on. More on that in my video review below!

As far as the bass, the trend here continues: it’s fairly lean and light, but still runs deep. You will be able to discern individual bass notes with greater precision, and it really becomes a joy to sit back and analyze the music. It’s like a Mr. Clean type of sound. There’s sparkle, but it’s not overdone or harsh. I would call the mid-range definitely forward, as instruments and vocals really come to life.

It’s a bit frightening that these provide an eerily similar sound to headphones costing hundreds. It’s also nice to be able to turn them up without having to worry about sibilance. To be honest, I kind of prefer these over an HD600, and I never thought I would say that. More on all that in the video review and the comments on Youtube. 🙂

Things to be aware of

  1. They have a somewhat odd fit at first. When you put them on initially, you’ll be a little taken aback. “There’s no rhyme or reason to this at all. What have I done? Why did I buy these?” Just stay calm and don’t be alarmed. Lol. After awhile you’ll get used to the fit and it will blow your socks off.
  2. Your ears will touch the drivers. This seems to be a commonality with entry level open backs. It’s not really a big deal to me, but it might bother you.

My Video Review!

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My Video Review! (Part II)

 

 


Samson SR850

Specifications

  • Price: Amazon | Check eBay!
  • Type: Semi-open.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 30 kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 98dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 50mm.
  • Material: Plastic, velour.
  • Color: black.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: No.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 8.3 ft.
  • Plug style: straight.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: No.
  • Headband Style: Hammock, self adjusting.
  • Fold-able: No.
  • Weight: Not specified.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

Oh man, these babies just came out of nowhere one day, and blessed me greatly. Besides the venerable AKG K240, I can’t think of another headphone that delivers so mightily for the price. Like the V6, I believe these to be just about the best price to performance ratio open back headphones around, and they compete with headphones way out of the price range. Like far out man.

The sound signature is incredibly detailed, airy, and open. You’ll definitely start to notice minor details that truly make the song come together. In fact, I’ve heard things with the 850 that I haven’t heard with any other headphone. It’s truly remarkable. The bass, while leaner, is extremely articulate and enjoyable. It knows it’s place for sure, and the sound really just has this ability to make you smile with delight.

Things to be aware of

  1. They do have a tendency to be a bit “essy” or hissy at times, but it’s not a deal breaker.
  2. They are very lightweight, and the ear-cups are very shallow like the 240’s.

My Video Review

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AKG K240

Specifications

  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay! | Check zZOUNDS!
  • Type: Semi-open.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 55 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 15 Hz – 25 kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 91dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 30mm.
  • Material: Plastic, faux leather.
  • Color: black, gold.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 9.8 ft.
  • Plug style: straight.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: No.
  • Headband Style: Hammock, self adjusting.
  • Fold-able: No.
  • Weight: 8.5 oz.
  • Accessories Included: gold plated 1/4″ adapter.
  • Amp needed: Highly recommended.

Summary

Upon first listen, the AKG K240’s are a bit uninspiring and dull. It’s only after spending some time with them that you really start to appreciate their open Soundstage and detailed signature. This is a headphone that simply won’t sound as good out of your phone or laptop. I would highly recommend to use at least an audio interface with these, preferably something like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. I use the Magni/Modi combo for them, it works great. I would also advise you to keep these in studio at all times.

Like the 850, the bass on the 240 may leave you desiring for more. It is however very textured and nuanced, and runs pretty deep without all the impact. The treble isn’t recessed nor is it too bright. There is a wonderful sparkle to certain tracks, but unlike the 850, it doesn’t get out of line. Of course, the mid-range is the highlight of these headphones. Vocals and instruments really come to life, and take on a new personality than the V-shaped cans that we discussed earlier.

Things to be aware of

  1. The build of the 240’s is rather flimsy. I wouldn’t feel that comfortable dropping these or generally being rough with them. Proceed with caution. They really should never leave your studio.
  2. The ear-cups, like the 850’s are round enough, but not deep enough. Your ears will likely touch the drivers.

Video Comparison with the 850

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Third:

  1. Entry level ($0-100)
  2. Casual listening
  3. Closed back

Audio Technica ATH M40x

Specifications

  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay! | Check zZOUNDS!
  • Type: Closed back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 35 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz – 24kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 98dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 40mm.
  • Material: Plastic, metal, faux leather.
  • Color: black, silver.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Cable coiled: Yes.
  • Cable length: 9.8 ft.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: Rotation inward, pads lay flat.
  • Headband Padding: Yes.
  • Headband Style: Traditional mechanism.
  • Fold-able: Yes.
  • Weight: 0.53 lbs. without cable and connector.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter, straight cable, coiled cable, carrying case.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

The Audio Technica ATH M40x’s are marketed as monitoring headphones, but I believe them to be more suited for casual listening, as they have a similar sound to the M50x, but with less overall punch. The bass is still deep and tight, but it’s not as prominent as the older brother.

Keep in mind that you can mix with these, and they will work for that, but as an all around headphone they work phenomenally well for a multitude of genres and applications. I can’t cage them into one specific category, and in this price range I believe them to be about the best “jack of all trades” type of can. With the inclusion of both a coiled and straight detachable cable, their fold-ability, they’re fairly decent portability, and good sound isolation, there’s really nothing that jumps out at you as being a flaw.

The build quality is pretty solid, and they rest right in the middle of being too heavy and too light. They’re sort of just right, and I appreciate the metal headband as well.

The sound places an emphasis on bass, but it feels crisp. The sound signature is definitely more on the “fun” side, but I love how the treble doesn’t become too hot or fatiguing. It’s simply a lively signature that satisfies your bass head desires without getting out of line.

Things to be aware of

  1. While the ear pads do rotate inward, they don’t rotate out. With the 50x, the pads rotated freely just about 180 degrees (I believe). There’s been a lot of talk that the M40x’s are prone to cracking around the headband mechanism. This makes sense; I’ve had my 50’s since January 2013. Because they’re able to move more freely, they have yet to break even after heavy abuse. My 40x’s are still fine, but I could see how they would break, given their range of motion is a bit more limited than the 50.
  2. Like the 50x’s, the pads will peel and crack over time. It’s just something we have to live with. It’s not going to happen immediately, but probably around the 2 year mark if my general calculations are correct. The faux leather is amazing at first, but it kind of hardens as the years go by. Again, not a deal breaker because you can simply replace them, but something to keep in mind regardless.

My Video Review!

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Status Audio CB-1

Specifications

  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay!
  • Type: Closed back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 15 – 30,000 Hz.
  • Sensitivity: 97dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 50mm.
  • Material: Plastic, protein leather, metal.
  • Color: Black, Gold.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Cable coiled: Yes.
  • Cable length: 3m.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: Yes.
  • Headband Padding: Yes.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Fold-able: Yes.
  • Weight: Not specified.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter, Box, extra cable.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

The Status Audio CB 1’s best feature is Soundstage. These do tend to open up quite a bit, which is surprising considering they are closed back headphones. The deep ear cups and their 50mm drivers have a lot to do with this I think, and the comfort level is phenomenal. This makes them a relatively easy recommendation, but they aren’t without their flaws. In fact, I’m fully convinced that this would be the best budget headphone of all time if not for some glaring issues. The detail retrieval and Soundstage are that good. Think of this like a budget Focal Utopia, except without the glassy smooth sound. It’s shocking how much these pick up. It’s just that the signature is too raspy and rough around the edges, which is presumably why they’re budget cans.

Things to be aware of

  1. The mid-range does have a tendency of sounding sucked out in some regards, with the music kind of taking a back seat and appearing somewhat distant.
  2. I perceive some bloat in the mid bass, and the bass as a whole can sound kind of flabby at times.
  3. Treble is good overall, but can become a little too metallic with certain songs.

Video Comparison to the 40x

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Fourth:

  1. Entry level ($0-100)
  2. Casual listening
  3. Open back

Audio Technica ATH AD700x

Note: The AD900x is a nice upgrade, and sits just a bit outside the $100 range.

Specifications

  • Price: Amazon | Check eBay!
  • Type: Open back.
  • Fit: Circumaural (Over-ear)
  • Impedance: 38 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response:  5 Hz – 30000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 53mm.
  • Material: Plastic, velour.
  • Color: black, bronze accents
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: No.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 9.8 ft.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: Minimal. Slightly inward.
  • Headband Padding: No.
  • Headband Style: Winged.
  • Fold-able: No.
  • Weight: 9 0z.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

The Audio Technica ATH AD700x has an extremely airy signature, and is very bass lean. In fact, this might be the all around best headphone for gaming due to it’s positional accuracy and open sound. Learn more: The Best Headphones for Gaming I would say that the 700x is a little bit more involved than a headphone like the HD558, but the sound signatures are very similar: Balanced, bass lean, with a brighter treble. I will say that the 700x seems a bit more airy and open than the 558, and the overall sound is louder. L0ok forward to the headphones lifting the veil off of the sound. I start to hear more background vocals extremely clear, as if that person didn’t exist before with other cheaper cans.

Build wise, it’s a flimsy headphone. Haha. There really are no two ways about it. That said, I don’t feel like they’re overly fragile or anything, but you’ll want to keep them in studio at all times. It’s just not a headphone that I would be comfortable wearing out in public. It pretty much screams “Look at me, I’m a geeky audiophile!” Lol.

Comfort is a bit of a mixed bag. When you first put them on everything feels right. You think it’s a match made in heaven, until the headphones start slowly and gradually sliding down your dome piece. The ear-cups actually end up resting on the tops of your ears because there isn’t an actual headband that holds them into place! So in theory the winged idea seems logical, until you realize that in practice it’s a pretty horrible idea. That said, it’s still a bit of a nitpick. A simple adjustment will in most cases enable you to wear them. But really, what’s the point of a cool invention if it doesn’t actually benefit anyone?

Things to be aware of

  1. The treble will get harsh at high volumes, so keep it to a dull roar there champ!
  2. May be the best overall unknown headphone for gaming. Positional accuracy is phenomenal.
  3. The winged headband has the capacity to become uncomfortable after awhile due to the entire headphone sliding down on the tops of your ears. Not a deal breaker in my eyes but something to consider if comfort is your highest priority. The rubber band mod works well, and just involves placing a band around the wings, pulling them together so they don’t slide down. A simple but effective fix.

Video Review

Shoutout to Lachlan! Subscribe to his channel too! 🙂

 

 


Grado SR 60e

Specifications

  • Price: Amazon | Check eBay!
  • Type: Open back.
  • Fit: Supra-aural (On-ear).
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 40mm.
  • Material: Plastic, polymer.
  • Color: black, silver.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: No.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 7 ft.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: Minimal.
  • Headband Padding: No.
  • Headband Style: Traditional, but with a slightly different look.
  • Fold-able: No.
  • Weight: 0.75 lbs.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

I was blown away the first time I heard the SR60e. Yes, it being another bright headphone has something to do with it, but the clarity and detail here is unreal. One of the go to headphones for anything rock, metal, or guitar related, you’re going to really fall in love with the intricacy and small nuances you undoubtedly missed before in other headphones.

The trend is similar to many of the headphones we’ve gone over thus far. Nuance, subtlety, detail, clarity. Exciting times my friend.

Things to be aware of

  1. As good as these headphones are, the build is lacking. I didn’t have any issues, but I could see how over time they might break down if you tend to abuse your gear a lot. Still, I think the risk to reward ratio is worth it.
  2. Comfort is pretty good, but you will find yourself adjusting them. The On-ear cups are prone to hurting your ears after awhile, but all in all these headphones are worth the price of admission because of their sound alone.
  3. I don’t like the chord, and find it much too bulky for a headphone of this weight. What were they thinking? The headphone is like a feather yet there’s this girthy chord pulling the cans in all directions.

Video Comparison of the SR60e vs. 80e

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Koss Porta Pro

Specifications

  • Price: Amazon | Check eBay!
  • Type: Closed back.
  • Fit: Supra-aural (On-ear).
  • Impedance: 60 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz – 25kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 101dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 35mm.
  • Material: Plastic, metal, foam.
  • Color: black, turquoise.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: No.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 4 ft.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: No.
  • Headband Style: Traditional, sort of. Lol.
  • Fold-able: Yes.
  • Weight: 2 oz.
  • Accessories Included: Carrying case, 1/4″ adapter.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

These things are straight out of the 80’s. For real. 1984. Koss has yet to update the design, and I’m glad. I love how nerdy they are. Not only that, but why change something when it’s been working for so long? Comfort is good for extended periods, as they are extremely light and rest on your head quite well. The “Comfort Zone” is a spring loaded mechanism that allows you to adjust how tight they sit, and won’t remain in position after the headphones are taken off. This could prove to be somewhat irritating however. The build is very impressive though, especially since they’re light as a feather. You also get a lifetime warranty, so don’t fret!

The sound is crisp and clean overall, with a bass that has impact, but isn’t as meaty as some other more expensive offerings that extend lower. The mid-range is very present, lively, and well balanced, but may be slightly overshadowed by the bass. The treble is crisp as well, though sometimes can sound a bit muffled. Overall it’s a warm, fun signature, without any high end harshness or fatigue.

Things to be aware of

  1. Though the headband adjustment mechanism is very effective, there is a tendency for your hair to catch it. It’s so 90’s man. Since I’m an 80’s baby, I remember this sort of thing happening with cheaper sets. In fact, it still happens from time to time with even the most prestigious headphones.
  2. The lifetime warranty is cool, but you may have to pay Koss to ship them back should you have any issues.
  3. The Comfort Zone feature, while a good idea, doesn’t always work the way it should. The adjustment tends to change without your consent.
  4. To further enhance the treble and really make it come alive, employ the “quarter mod.” This is a modification in which you take off the foam pads, and place a quarter in the center of them. Then cut around it with a sharp knife and put them back on. This will allow the high end to come through a lot better.

Video Review

Big shout out to @Metal571 for the dope review. Check him out on twitter!

 


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