So, you want great headphones. You are not sure what to get or how much you should invest. I am going to inform you a bit about higher grade audio knowledge known as “audiophila” and give some reviews of some equipment I’ve had/have.

Some of you may ask, “Why should I get these expensive headphones? My skullcandy’s work great…”

This is a common question.  Let me answer in a few ways for you.

1: Skullcandys are a terrible piece of crap.  They are for hipster 12 year olds.

2: Investing in a sub $100~ pair of headphones will generally last you longer than a pair of $20~ headphones. Many of my friends go through multiple skullcandy headphones that cost anywhere from $10-100 each. I’ve had my ad700 for almost two years now with no issues, and it costed me $90~
3: Better bang for your buck if you are willing to make the investment

TL;DR: Do not buy Skullcandy, Bose, Beats by Dr. Dre, Apple, etc. They are all pieces of shit and over priced.

~ AMP ~
A headphone amplifier is an audio amplifier designed particularly to drive headphones instead of loudspeakers. Most commonly they are found embedded in electronic devices such as integrated amplifiers, portable music players and televisions, but standalone units are not uncommon.

How they work:
Effectively, a headphone amplifier is a small power amplifier that can be connected to a standard headphone jack or (usually) the line output of an audio source. The headphone amplifier improves the sound quality by increasing the amount of power available to move the transducer, increasing the control that the source has over just where the transducer is in space.

A great amp I’ve had was the Fiio E9. It can power pretty much any headphones by supporting 600ohms max. This is paired great with the Fiio E7, or you can use any other DAC with it.
I recently tried the Hifiman EF2, a hybrid tube amplifier. The DAC in it wasn’t as great, but the amp was much more impressive. It can really bring out the brightness and coloration for a pair of headphones.

If you want to look into more, you can do so here.

~ DAC ~
In electronics, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC or D-to-A) is a device that converts a digital (usually binary) code to an analog signal (current, voltage, or electric charge). An analog-to-digital converter (ADC) performs the reverse operation.

- I first had the Asus Xonar DX sound card, it is great, but remmeber it stays inside the desktop computer.
- The Fiio E7 wasn’t that great of a DAC, but considering it is portable it changes that fact.
- This Nuforce uDAC(1, not 2) is pretty good for what I paid for ($40). It is small and portable. USB powers the device and I think it supports up to 300ohms.

Again, more here.

~ Headphone Reviews~

- Audio Technica ATH-AD700 [Open Dynamic]:
+ Great representation of mids and highs (frequencies)
+ Great for gaming (You can tell where enemy’s are from, the bass from explosions doesn’t escalate over other sounds.)
+ Very comfortable
+ Very durable (I’ve dropped these many times on my tile floor, I’ve dented the grills before but those are easy to fix)
+ Long cable for home use (in some cases it could be bad but you could just tie it up)
+ Low impedance (Easy to drive)
+ Amazing soundstage
+ Lightweight
- Very lacking in bass
- Can get uncomfortable (after about 3-4 hours)
- With an AMP/DAC and a EQ you can get a bit more bass out of it but not enough for you bass lovers.
- Price fluctuates too much
- Price Tag (What I paid for it): $90 + $5 for shipping from Amazon

- Audio Technica ATH-M50 [Closed Dynamic](coiled):
+ Great soundstage
+ Low impedance (Easy to drive)
+ Foldable, comes with a carrying pouch
+ Plenty of bass in most situations
- When comparing to my D1100, I find the bass to be a bit muddy and less punchy.
- Not as comfortable as my D1100
- I’ve enjoyed these for the past 6 months, but I sold them after getting the Denon D1100. I honestly think the Denons are superior in everyway.
- Price Tag (What I paid for it): $109 shipped from Ebay
- AKG K701 [Open Dynamic]:
+ More bass than ad700
+ Highs were not as sharp as AD700
+ Decent soundstage
+ Looks cool
- Somewhat hard to drive
- Needs 1/4 to 1/8 adapter for 3.5mm jacks
- Build quality wasn’t as great in my opinion
- Needs an AMP/DAC to get the enjoyment out of them.

*Keep in mind I only had these for a month. I barely used these. These are a love or hate pair of headphones. I didn’t hate them but I rarely enjoyed them.
- Price Tag (What I paid for it): I traded my Beyers for this. They go for around $250

 

- Beyerdynamic DT990 (250ohm) [Open Dynamic]:
+ Great soundstage
+ Great bass while representing the mids and highs still
+ Pads are pretty comfortable
- Caused me fatigue after 2 hours of usage
- Did need an amp due to high impedance
- Price Tag (What I paid for it): $179.95 free prime shipping from Amazon

 

 

 

 

- Denon AH-D1100 [Closed Dynamic]:
+ Low impedance (Easy to drive)
+ Great soundstage
+ Lots of bass
+ Great mids and highs while pertaining bass
+ Comfy
+ Short quality cable
+ No tightness on the clamping/pad
+ Comes with a carrying pouch
- Not foldable
- Build quality is questionable; not the best but not the worst.
~ Price Tag runs around: $135

- Grado SR80 [Open Dynamic]:
+ Low impedance (Easy to drive)
+ Great representation of highs
- Can be quite uncomfortable at first, heed my warning
- highs can be too sharp in some cases, becareful amping this or turning at high volumes
- Weak bass, not as weak as ad700 though
- Price Tag (What I paid for it): $90 free shipping from Head-fi.org

- Sony MDR-XB700 [Closed Dynamic/No Picture]:
+ Low impedance (Easy to drive)
+ Lots of bass
+ Very comfy
+ Somewhat lightweight
+ Short cable
+ Easy for travel use
- Bass can be overwhelming and mids/highs can sound muffled
- Cable quality isn’t as great
- Price Tag (What I paid for it): $65 free shipping from Head-fi.org

[Open Dynamic]: No sound isolation. Meaning anyone nearby will hear what is being outputted from the phones. These types of headphones are not optimal for public/travel use. In most situations I find open dynamic headphones to be more comfortable, however much larger.

[Closed Dynamic]: Sound isolation included. Much better for public/travel use. Mostly the pads are going to be made of leather. Keep in mind in hotter temperatures you may sweat more. Possible fatigue due to a tighter clamping from the headband.

Outside of that, here are some price guides.  Not made by me, but it’s nice to look around at multiple opinions.