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Recommendations for headphones?

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I've been thinking of getting my first pair of decent headphones. I'm not much of an audiophile but I do want something that sounds good. I'll be using it on my laptop and would like something comfortable because I'm on my computer 5-6+ hours a day. I mostly listen to rock and pop music. My budget is $150 at most. I've been doing some research and the Grado 60i seems pretty good. I have also been reading some good things about the ATH-M50 but that looks to be completely out of my budget. Then again I'm new to this and would like to hear your opinions and other suggestions.


Thanks! :)

Edited by chknbll

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The best opinion you can get is to audition the headphones on your own.You can go to Music by Design on the 2nd floor of the Adelphi to audition the Grados SR60I. Just bring your laptop along.

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Hi chknbll,

This is only my opinion basing on science and experience.Many audio virgins think that

what is missing in sound quality is the price tag of a pair of headphones,more cost equals quality and technology.Because of business and marketing the truth is actually ignored and suppressed to impress

the gullible.Research has been done long ago and the facts established,you can search online or buy

books that talk about headphones or speakers and transducers as such.


Does that mean all is known about the science of headphones/ hearing? Well research cost money

and it depends whether a company wants to stay ahead of the game.Currently the main components which

is the transducer or "speaker" which technically what it is are standard ,the big ones (40mm) and the tiny in ear buds.So the difference between them is the quality of maufacture,materials used (magnet material) and cosmetics

or the packaging that give the impression of quality and luxury.


I don't want to talk about the earbuds because in reality one cannot expect the optimum

sound quality due to it's tiny size.Now let's come back to the big ones with 40mm diameter transducers

or "speakers".In general they have a thin sheet of plastic (mylar) over the magnetic driver or in speaker

terms the plastic sheet is the cone and magnet assembly, the voice coil and magnet.So it all boils down to construction or build quality and type of magnet.The cheap ones use ferite material,ferites are not metalic but have

electromagnetic properties,in essence they behave like magnets have north and south polarities.They better ones

are made or rare earth elements,I'm sure you have heard it in the news about rare earth material/supplies

allegedly being controlled by main producer China that made Japan look towards exploiting/finding rare earth

elements in their own backyard so to speak.Rare earth elements are the over 20 types of elements that you

learn in basic chemistry and it is the mastery and technological use of them to make things that basic metal

or iron/steel alone cannot possibly make a modern car engine for instance.


The better transducers have what is commonly termed neodenium magnets what that means

is that the magnet material contains neodenium which is one of the rare earth elements.See how important

they become to headphone people? :)) You may have heard of alinico magnets in conventional speakers

of old.The basic advantage of these magnets is that they have what is commonly known as high magnetic

flux or power to push or drive the cones that is to vibrate thus having greater efficiency and therefore

improved sound output.Alinico magnets contain alluminium,nickel and COBALT which is also a rare earth

element of which the USA has designated as STRATEGIC RESOURCE so it controls worldwide the stockpile

of rare earth elements.You may like to know that cobalt is used in steel making, imagine steel

plates for battleships and armour piercing artilery shells. :yes: It can make many "useful" things.


Why is it called rare earth? Well because it is rare or not commonly found and the quantities

are small or less in the earth as a whole.Nobody calls iron rare only diamonds which you know as rare

and expensive. :)) Our housing prices are increasing not because they are rare but controlled, an

artificial lack or "rare" if you like.It's basic economics of supply/demand and greedy people take advantage of it.

That's how the world works.


Back to topic :b2t The construction and housing play an important role in the sound quality.

You may notice that some housing are half dome and fully enclosed that is there are no holes or openings.

Now these can have boomy base as the enclosure behaves like a resonating chamber as everything in

this 3D world or universe resonates or vibrate like electromagnetic energy.Then there's the open back

type or hear through ones which don't have a cavity or less of it behind the transducer.So open types

sound "open" unrestricted feel airy.


The rest of the construction is mainly ergonomic that is it follows the contour of the human

anatomy in the case the part surrounding the ears and head for comfort and efficiency.The exterior

cosmetics like syntethic leather trim and chrome/gold plating make you think there is a high tech transducer

in there when like putting spoilers on commercial stock cars don't make them a Lotus or Ferrari sports



Now come the most important info when it comes to audio.Since you say that it is the laptop

or PC that you listen to ,everybody and now's the time for you to know that the PC is a noisy environment

when it comes to signal to noise ratio.What that means is that the PC was never intended as the ideal

piece of equipment to use as an audio device.What with noise radiation from 50 hertz AC supply to

gigahertz digital signals floating around literally.But of course the marketing people say humans cannot

hear beyond 20 Khz. so that shouldn't bother you but research has shown that higher frequency

signals as high as 200Khz. can be felt by humans thereby giving the sensation of a fuller sound.

Check the Stereophile magazine archives for the article.So in short there is more than a good pair

of headphones for you to start enjoying music as the whole is the sum of it's parts.

Remember this and you can make your way to audio nirvana.


Good luck.






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If you can save up 50 more bucks on the M50, you're probably going to get the best price:value ratio for your type of music. The bass on these monsters sound like they come from headphones at least 100 dollars more. Note this though: the M50s aren't TECHNICALLY bass-heavy. They're bass-STRENGTHENED, and the clarity is exceptional for cans at the SGD$200 range.

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hi there man... i was about to suggest the ATH M_50 but you had already cancelled it out from your options!:)


it has a good tonal balance, a fairly decent soundstage (for a closed pair),excellent instrument separation, a well defined treble and can plumb the low frequencies fairly well... at a very reasonable price...


anyway, if you want something more affordable, may i suggest to you the sennheiser HD-202... it shines with mainstream pop and its quite good looking too!



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I'd second the M50s. I'd also like to point out most grados are open backed - these are often (not always, i suppose) less bass oriented, and tend to leak sound in or out (also, not always a good thing).


Most decent headphone shops tend to let you test - I got my m50s cause the sales staff at stereo let me try it, and it was mindblowingly good - considering i wanted a sennheiser model whose name i forgot right after hearing it, its that good.


Its 40 bucks more - that's what... a couple of cups of fancy coffee? ;p

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A bit off topic. If I were to listen up to 5~6 hours a day from my notebook/computer, I would want to add a Centrance DAC. This is of course add quite a bit more to your budget.

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