Headphone Snobbery

Oh… and while I am at it. Ken Levy (who got the pair for Robert Scoble) reviewed his experience with the Ultimate Ears.


My point being that nothing lasts forever.

This is why you can buy a replacement cable and pads from the Sennheiser store.

Thought I’d chime in with my Senheissers of choice, the HD-570. What makes me like it so much?

  1. Detachable cable, so when it some-day goes bad, I can replace them.

  2. Felt/Velvetty cups. I can’t stand the feel of real or fake leather against my the side of my head. It’s okay at first, but as the material warms up, it gets very uncomfortable. The HD-570’s felt sides actually breathe. I can wear them for hours in total comfort.

  3. While they are a large pair of ear-phones, they are surprisingly light.

listening to white noise is supposed to be the most relaxing thing and also helps concentration by overlaying noise from your surrounding environment

Well then, I should be super-mega-relaxed right now, since the air conditioning vent above my head does nothing but broadcast white noise 24/7…

I hear that listening to white noise is supposed to be the most relaxing thing and also helps concentration by overlaying noise from your surrounding environment - has anyone tried that?

There are quite a few decent headphones out there not mentioned that cost less than $100. I recommend going to any reputable music store and try them out FOR YOUR OWN EARS. Forget going to the Best Buys. I stumbled across the AKG K-55. I own a few pairs and do music recording. I think you can get them for $40 or so. Throw aways. They have a good balanced response and block out the sound well. They reproduce all types of music, from death metal to ambient to classical to rap. I have not found a better bang-for-the-buck for large speaker heaphones.

You want REAL silence AND comfort in a noisy environment?

Try these puppies:

Been using the Pillowsofts for years, and they are super comfy, block out better than any earphones, and give you silence. Only about $5 bucks at your local CVS too.

Hello, you headphone seekers. Just a clarification - the HD580 is a Circumaural headphone, because the pads go over and surround the ears. The Grados are the Supraaural ones, because they rest on the ears.

Since the time of the HD580, there have been two updates to this design - the HD600, and the HD650. Right now, the HD650 is really getting some well deserved press for a $300 headphone that can “do it all.” But as suggested, I recommend an external amp to go with it, as 300ohms is a lot to ask of an onboard soundcard.

For more research on good office cans, check out www.head-fi.org and dive into the madness!

Keep upgrading.

I bought a pair of Sennheiser HD490’s a few years ago, for about $100 in South Africa. I was quite impressed by the sound when I listened to them. A co-worker who was with me and was also looking for good earphones, listened to a pair of 530’s ($250) and was ready to buy them when the salesman suggested he listen to a pair of 570’s “just to compare” ($400). He listened for 30 seconds and then bought them because the quality was so noticeably better. The salesman hinted that quality jump to the $500 HD600’s was the same again, but he didn’t have any in stock to demonstrate at the time.

What I did notice on his headphones was that it was possible to listen to the same music at a lower volume, because the sound quality was so much better that there was no need to substitute volume for quality.

I reckon that people can’t appreciate true high-end goods immediately on leaping from consumer junk, you need time to adjust to one quality level before you can perceive the improvements at the next. Buying a set of HD600s may be a dream, but for most people the 500 range will be a great start, and you can always upgrade to 600s when you decide you need nothing less than the best.

i don’t know off hand how many apirs of sennheisers i have right now, but i think that they are a safe good buy. the ONLY pair of sennhiesers i had a problem with and eventually sent back (because the headbnad broke) was the 280’s.

the grado’s are great if you can stand the comfort issue. but for me the sennheiser HD25’s offer the best solution between home and portable use.

I’ve had my pair of Sennheiser HD320’s for around 15 years now, and they still sound better than anything I’ve heard costing five times as much. They were around 40 when I bought them, and I’ve been through three headbands (one every five years) from the very good parts service here in the UK. They do take a beating though as I tend to stuff them into my Pakuma bag when I take them out and about with me, and the sponge padding on the earpads has all but vanished now. I just can’t bring myself to retire them!

One caveat on the Sennheisers. After about 3-4 years of ownership, I’ve had TWO pairs of Sennheiser headphones (580 and 600) develop the exact problem described in this blog post (intermittent sound in one ear).


Replacing the cables worked on the pair I use at work, now my home pair is due. :frowning: Sounds like a design flaw to me… You can buy a replacement pair of Sennheiser headphone cables from HeadRoom:


I’ve also ordered this cable direct from the Sennheiser web site but I can’t for the life of me find that link any more.

Hi Jeff,
I had a similar problem to yours in my Sennheiser pair - and I repaired it just by opening that dead earpiece and… connecting the cable back to driver (simple plug it back onto pins).

To open it: pull out the pad, then unsnap all what’s got visible and appears to be unsnappable, then open it… don’t be afraid to use some force.

Good luck!

(Personally, I use AKG K701 for about 2-3 months and I love them - good bye Sennheisers…)

Looks like headpone.com doesn’t sell the 580 anymore, the link in the initial post yields a not-found-page. I wonder what comes next to it from the currently available full-headphones.

Hi Jrn,

Use the HeadRoom recommendation guide to find an equivalent set of headphones for your taste:


The closest Sennheiser equivalent to the 580 is probably the 555:


These look quite comfy: I enjoy the bigger pads, they feel much more comfortable when you wear glasses. I had some silver Sennheisers (HD479 or something) and they pushed my ears against them; gradually it’d go from uncomfortable to headache-inducing pain. Not good.

I’m still happy with my Philips SBC-HP890, but sadly they’re no longer made.

I have the Sennheiser PX 100, they are excellent.
You can fold them easily and fast, comes with a small case so they travel around easily.

I’ll second the Sennheiser PX 100. Wow, what a sound! Too bad everybody also listens to your music :wink:

One downside of good headphones is that now you need at least 192 kbps MP3 since the lower bitrate ones sound noticeable muffed :frowning:

About headphones never becoming obsolete, I’m sure a new technology will appear in 10 years which will be cheaper and better sounding (like neodymium magnets and aluminium voice coils in todays generation).

I’m curious how BitHead compares to an E-MU 0404 USB 2.0 audio interface, which is said to have one of the best 24 bit DAC in the world, but which is not really focused on use as a headphone amplifier.


I use the Sennheiser 555 headphones and love the sound quality. The problem I have with them is that they grip the sides of your head quite hard, and can press down on the top quite hard too. I haven’t found the adjustment to be capable of fixing this issue, but I can mostly live with it. My wireless Sony headphones are much more comfortable in this respect, with two bands: one very wide and loose for support and one tight over your head to turn it on (shame it makes you look like a cyber-man from Doctor Who :). If the sound quality matched the Sennheiser’s, I’d prefer them… but it doesn’t.

Far more important to me right now is the headphone amplifier. I also use headphones while gaming or watching DVDs, so I bought a box of tricks from Creative that takes an optical input (Dolby Digital, Pro Logic, DTS or just old fashioned stereo) and outputs ‘Dolby Headphones’, which is some kind of virtual surround sound that works with any pair of headphones (and works surprisingly well, even if the included headphones were mediocre). Unfortunately, it works only on battery power and I don’t know if a normal headphone amp would be better. For now I just bought a cheap power supply and wired it directly to the battery compartment.

just bought the SennHeiser PX 100. its great to have a worldclass headphone. Its like hearing the songs anew.