Nov 20, 2018590 views

Whats the best set of entry-level headphones you can get?

I've recently been getting more and more into audio and was trying to find the best set of entry-level headphones which is the most appropriate for someone getting into it. Any ideas?
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rastus and Jeffrey Wood
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Hifiman HE-400i is a great bang for the buck intro to audiophile headphones. You can get them for under $250. But beware, they just might start you down a slippery slope of ever more expensive headgear.
This is such a personal question, you'll never get one answer, and you'll probably end up more confused than you were in the first place. At least I was. Instead of focusing on "the best," focus on finding out what you like. Dynamic drivers are good for this, and they're much more forgiving with amps and other equipment that you'll likely end up adding to the list of things to look into. This could totally be an unpopular opinion, but I'd say go for the HD58X. They're easy to drive, you can use them most places (I never found sound leak that bad), and they have a reliable sound signature for you to compare to. Forget the amps, or DACs, find out if you want to get punched in the ear drum or if you like more neutral stuff. If you don't like them, the resale market is pretty decent, and they're good backups. After that, then start exploring based on what you like to hear and what you like to do.
I'm going to have to say the M1060. I upgraded to them from my Beyerdynamic T1 which costed significantly more. If you like the M1060's signature as much as I do, then you could move on to the more expensive Audeze line which sounds somewhat similar and uses the same technology. There's also Hifiman. Unfortunately there's not a whole lot else though. If you can find somewhere to try out headphones, I would do that. It helps to try both entry level dynamic driver AND planar magnetic driver headphones as they can be entirely different, where I'd say planar magnetic sounds closer to an actual large speaker (especially with their sub-20hz-response!) that is placed closer to you. Where as a dynamic driver headphone will usually sound like a smaller speaker that is a bit further away. (assuming both drivers are volume matched) HD6XX or HD59X work great as entry level dynamic headphones. As for me, I've moved on to the LCD-X from my M1060 but it only feels like a small upgrade. BTW the M1060's wood ring will crack (I guarantee it) where the headband meets the wood cup, it doesn't seem to alter the sound at all. It's not worth returning if that happens (which it will). A reason I went with the wood-free LCD-X later on. xD
I think what most people are missing is that there is no right way to start in this hobby! It truly does not matter if you're one of those people who is rich enough to start off with a Sennheiser HE1 or one of those who struggle to save enough to buy $50 headphones. Everyone starts from somewhere. That being said, it would help us out with suggestions a lot if you could tell us: 1) what your budget is, and 2) if you're looking for a complete system (source, DAC, amp, headphones).* That being said, the Sennheiser HD 58X or the HD 6XX is the safest start. Both are regarded as great headphones and scale well as you build your system and acquire better gear (the 6XX much more so than the 58X in terms of scalability). *Another thing. Recommendations for different headphones can also change depending on what you like to listen to. Listing this can also help.
dcha12
Yeah I see, my budget is roughly $500AUD and just headphones for now. What I listen to varies but is primarily rap and piano.
sleepyhxad
If you want them primarily for those two genres I'd recommend the HE-4XX. Otherwise, both Sennheiser options are much more versatile (and are much better at acoustic instruments like the piano in my opinion)
https://darko.audio/2018/02/go-forth-and-multi-buy-kzs-knockout-ate-iem/ best starter package for the $$. Nothing else even comes close. Using a chord mojo these are just slightly less detailed than my oppo’s ... they travel well ... and if I lose them or break them ... who cares!
Stax SR-009
I would have to vote both the Sennheiser HD 58x and the Hifiman HE-4xx. Or the HD 6xx and the Hifiman HE-400i. All of these will do extremely well paired with a good amp. The HD 58x will do very well without an amp, if that is something you are interested in. I use the Hifiman 400i in my studio for most listening purposes. I use the HD 58x on my couch when I need to be able to hear what my wife and kids are saying in the background, but still want a good listening experience. Your ears will tell you which of the bunch you like most, if you find yourself in a position to purchase two or more sets.
Any of the Sennheiser HD6xx family and by that I mean HD600 , HD650 , 660s or the Massdrop variants,the HD6XX which is really just 650 or 58X which is 660S with more bass.I heard all of them except the 58X,but if the user reports and measurements are true,then its best value for money headphone in the world. These Sennheisers despite their price are true high end and for many people end game headphone.No other headphone have such smooth,neutral,distortion and resonance free midrange and treble.At 149$ for HD58X or 199$ for 6XX,I dont see any reason to buy other headphone in sub 600$ price range.The closest competition would be Focal Elex at 699$,second hand used HD800 for 600-800$ or Audeze LCD 2 classic for 800$.
Neubrineo
I absolutely love my HD600. That being said, I was also going to recommend any of the headphones you mentioned with the note that some of those have high impedance, so a decent amp is recommended to use them to their full potential. I didn’t realize how underpowered I was driving mine until I bought a Schiit Jotunheim with the multibit DAC and swapped the headphone single ended cable for a four-pin XLR.
anilnatha
With all due respect, I disagree about both the high impedance and underpowered thing. High impedance headphones are easier to drive becose weak amplifiers often decrease their maximum output voltage as the headphone impedance gets lower. Crosstalk and distortion is much less on high impedance headphones, external amplifier might have worse crosstalk and distortion driving low impedance headphones than smartphone/notebook/tablet/PC driving high impedance headphones. High impedance headphones are much more tolerant of high output impedance of weak amps due to damping. The problem is that these build in amps have capacitor coupled outputs and the capacitors are often too small so its like highpass filter that is way too high and it kills the sub bass.
Define point of entry :)
phoenixsong
Someone getting into audio as like a first time.
sleepyhxad
True, but for some they enter with Focal Elex headphones and matching tier setup, while for others it would be the Koss Porta Pro driven direct from their mobile phones. Without defining the entry level, it would be hard to make any suggestions
+1 for any of the 60 ohm Koss on ears: Koss Porta Pro, KTX Pro, KSC75 (and the newer KPH30 mentioned) are all excellent options.
Koss KPH30i... not a better $20 headphone on the planet, and I like it better than most $100+ headphones. And its about being able to enjoy music, not picking music apart like so many cans do...
The Focal Elex is the best entry-level set of cans; instead of spending $500+ on multiple cans, trying to get to the sound you are searching for, but it remains elusive, though you know it's there... spend the extra $199 now, essentially for a set of entry-level cans, rather than a total of $1,199+ over a year± period, waiting to hear the sound... $699 done, w/o all the extra hassle and expense...
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It's certainly possible that the artifacts of hitting the rails on transients would be less noticeable with the low THD numbers on these amps. I don't have a set on have to look for it though. I can't back that up though. I only have anecdotal to support my theories there. I've always found O2 to sound much better than other amps with similar rails and higher THD driving my Senns.
Yep. Got the Elex and first impression was “these sound a lot like Utopias, but they’re missing this, and that....” At their price point they’re a remarkable pair of headphones, and as long as you don’t A-B them against Utopias on a reference system, you probably wouldn’t notice anything missing.