Best Headphones for under £200?

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by andy888, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. andy888

    andy888 New Member

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    Hi guys,

    This is my first post on this forum, as I am just starting to get into listening to music on a regular basis. I like a relatively varied selection of music, from rock, indie, classical, hip hop and so on, so generally I am looking for headphones that sound good in any type of music.

    I currently have the Sony Extra Bass headphones, they cost me around £40, and I consider them to be good headphones, but I am looking for something that is a big step up in sound quality.

    As I will be mainly using these at my PC plugged into my Line 6 UX1 audio interface I don't mind about sound leakage or whatever, so open-back headphones are the ones I am mainly looking at.

    I was looking at the Sennheiser 650s, which are around £275 on Amazon.co.uk, but they are really stretching my budget as I am looking for something under or just over £200.

    I was wondering if some of you guys could give me some suggestions on what headphones I should purchase.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    Hi Andy

    I would avoid the HD650 in this case, they're really nice cans but they need an awful lot of driving and will require you to spend a similar amount again on an amp to get the best out of them.

    An amp will in most cases produce better results - if headphones don't need that much power to really light up a small DAC amp(this takes a digital signal and processes it very cleanly adding extra drive too) this could be a next purchase to really make the most of the excellent headphones you will end up with for this budget.

    FiiO E7 Headphone Amplifier & USB Audio Decoder (DAC) in Black
    £64.99

    The price point you are looking at (under £200) is the best value to excellent sound ratio price to look at, you don't need to spend any more than this to get seriously enjoyable and well made headphones!

    Have you taken a look through our top 10 best headphones reviews? This is a good place to start if your looking for a better pair of full size headphones. I've also listed some of my favourite headphones below:

    Here are some you could plug right into your computer without an amp.

    Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 Open Back Hi-Fi Headphones (AD 700)
    £124.96 - I really like these with their huge airy sound, for me they suit Classical, Jazz and Acoustic and Choral better than contemporary music. Great for gamers too.

    GermanMAESTRO GMP 435S Open Back Headphones (GMP435S)
    £189.00 - I actually prefer these to the HD650, much easier to drive (GMP400 is a higher impedance version for those with a powerful amp) lighter weight, handmade in Germany with a 3 year Warranty. Not as pretty as the HD650 but every bit as technically accomplished. As I said I prefer the bass on these as they reach low but have a much smaller bass hump so feel smoother and less fuzzy.

    Beyerdynamic DT880 Premium Semi-Open Headphones 32Ω
    £208.96 - Another handmade in Germany, 2 year warranty headphone which I prefer to the HD650. The HD650 is very warm with a shorter soundstage, next come the GMP435s which feel warm but cleaner and sharper than the HD650 and then these are a little lighter at the bottom end (still plenty of bass) but feel really accurate and detailed. Again no amp necessary for these.

    there are plenty of reviews for these - You would probably like all of these as each is very impressive but I hope I have helped as the HD650 without an amp might have been an expensive disappointment.
    :)
     
  3. andy888

    andy888 New Member

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    Thanks for the advice regarding the HD650s. I will look into either the Audio Technicas or the GMP 435s.

    After I get my headphones (whichever ones I decide to buy) I would consider getting an amp to get more out of my headphones. Would an amp just be plugged into my pc? Because my pc is the only source where I really have all of my music stored.
     
  4. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    What sort of audio outputs do you have on the PC? For example, my PC's have a headphone jack and USB ports - that's it. A headphone amp off of the headphone jack is not just redundant, it's going to reduce the already limited quality of what's there. Better to get a DAC and amp combination to run off of the USB, and bypass the audio card in the PC completely. Here are some examples:

    Digital to Analogue Converters (DACs) for headphones
     
  5. andy888

    andy888 New Member

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    I have USB, so would i be best to get a DAC and an amp, then some decent headphones to get good sound on a budget?

    Would this be a good purchase? As it seems to include a DAC and an amp in one unit

    http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/fii...b-audio-decoder-dac-in-black-prodid-4236.html
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
  6. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    You are welcome to advice on all three at the same time - that's quite a good way of doing it, not necessarily buying them at the same time but planning a little. The headphones are a good first purchase for two reasons. Firstly you will see the biggest improvement from getting a headphone which really suits you and secondly you can then decide in which direction you want to push it with the amp. Some amps will make headphones a bit darker and maybe more stable sounding, some amps can make a sound brighter or more exciting. Getting A DACamp or separate DAC and amp will improve your source hugely. You should find a good DAC (which in this case simply does the job of your soundcard) really cleans up the sound and stops hard drive noise from inside the PC - basically you get a quieter more detailed/defined sound. When you get nice headphones you find that as well as digging up extra detail they also find the flaws and noise in your set up. Dale has excellent knowledge in this area, it is well worth ploughing through the Reviews section as there is loads of great info in there.
     
  7. andy888

    andy888 New Member

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    Thanks, I will probably get the headphones first, and then decide on an amp later as you said.

    I have pretty much narrowed it down to two sets of headphones. Either the Sennheiser HD 598 or the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700. As they are roughly the same price, what headphones would you reccomend I get considering they will be pretty much exclusively used for listening to music.

    Thanks again
     
  8. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Coming from Sony "Extra bass" you might be shocked to find the AD700 very shy in the bass compared to what you're used to. The Senn 598 is better in that regard, but still be prepared for some adjustment. The 598's bass quality should be convincing, although it won't "boom" as much as the Sony's.
     
  9. andy888

    andy888 New Member

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    Thanks for the reply, generally I'm not sure why I bought "Extra Bass" headphones in the first place, as I find the bass in my current headphones overpowers everything else. I think I will probably go with the 598's as I do like a bit of 'meat' in the bass, and then soon I will look into getting an amp.
     
  10. marcusd

    marcusd Member

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    If you have an extra 23 quid (223) try out the AKG K550 - a closed headphone that sounds like an open can, wonderfully articulate, coherent presentation, tight bass, easy enough to drive (better with a tube amp) and my fav mid-fi can of the year.
     
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