First off: What is a "good" headphone is a matter of highly personal
preference. You will get maybe 20 different opinions, and in the end not
even one of them will seem "good" to you. If you can, it is highly
recommended to test the phones yourself and see how you like them.
Second from top: good headphones are full size. If it doesn't cover your
ears entirely, it's probably not good. Exceptions are few (high quality
ear canal devices such as Ultimate Ears and stuff like that).
There are two types of full size headphones: open-air and sealed.
1. Open air are as good as the technology permits, because they have
fewer design constraints. This is the category containing the phones
usually deemed "best" overall, such as Grado GS 1000, Sennheiser HD 650,
AKG K701, Beyerdynamic DT 880. But all those models are expensive, way
beyond the price range you mentioned, I put them here just as a
reference, to see what can be achieved if money is no problem.
I've a pair of Sennheiser HD 600 (previous generation, got replaced by
the 650 not long ago) and they are extremely clean. I learned to trust
them almost completely: if the HD 600 doesn't reveal it, it either
doesn't exist or it doesn't matter. Also, they don't "color" the sound;
what you hear is what is actually on the disk.
Something like an HD 580 (previous generation from the 600) might
collect dust in a corner and might be had for like $100 - $200 if you're
lucky, and should provide very good quality at an excellent price.
That's probably as cheap as it gets for a good open-air phone, it's what
I would try to get if I had 50 euros in my pocket (and some bargaining
Maybe an AKG K 240 S will be pretty close in terms of price and quality,
but it's a bit brighter than the Sennheiser.
Or try one of the low-end Grado - I have the SR 125, they should be in
the same price range and are pretty good, but _very_ bright - some
people hate them for that, and 25% of me is one of them :-). But they
are _extremely_ revealing; it's like looking at the sound with a
microscope. Of course, if you just want to enjoy the overall picture,
then you should rather use a wide-screen TV (Senn HD 650) instead of a
microscope (Grado SR 125).
The problem with open-air is that they do not isolate you from ambient
noise. So if you're in a noisy environment, that's a problem. You need
silence to use an open-air phone to its full potential.
2. Sealed phones solve that problem, at the cost of a slight performance
drop. They don't sound as good as open-air, but will attenuate the
Probably the most recommended one in this class is Sennheiser HD 280
Pro. I own that model and, for $100, they are very good. They are pretty
standard in recording studios, they give them to vocalists to monitor
the tracks because, being sealed, the tracks don't leak into the
microphone. I use them at work, in the office: at -15dB isolation, they
cut a lot of the yapping from adjacent cubicles and hallway. But the
focus of the HD 280 is quality, not isolation.
You may even try an ear canal phone (not cheap earbuds, but real ear
canal devices). They can be very good, although for 50 euros I'm not
sure if you can get to the really good ones. And of course it's not
indicated to buy these second-hand.
Just keep shopping around, there's probably a lot of good phones out
there. See what the studios use and try and get one of those if it's in
your price range.
See this site:
It's a commercial site, they make money out of selling headphones, but
I've found their reviews very accurate. Whenever I tried a phone, my
opinion and their review matched pretty closely. So I kind of trust them.
Of course, take _anyone's_ advice with a grain of salt and do your own
tests if you can.
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