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June 23, 2004

{     Sennheiser HD500 "Fusion" Headphones (and more)     }    

For some reason lately, I keep buying headphones. Lots of them. I have way more than I need at this point, and although several of them are wonderful, I still haven't found the perfect pair. For some reason this has become very important to me lately, and it seems I'm on a constant search for the ultimate under-$100 pair of cans. It all began when I found a good deal on, and bought, a pair of Sony MDR-V700's for around $100. They were awesome: hardcore construction, sounded great, kinda heavy, but solid, and looked fresh- but the thing was, they crushed my ears. Bad. After an hour of wear, my ears ached in a bad way, so those beautiful pieces of work, although maybe perfect for many other people, had to be sold. Then my laptop musician buddy bought a pair of Sennheiser HD-280's (around $90) because of their notorious monitor usage, and although they sounded good when I tried them out, they crushed my skull 5 times more so than my old V700's. My next pair bought, for full disclosure, was a set of Aiwa HP-X223's (now discontinued) on eBay for under $10. Now for the money these are the best set I have bought so far, but how can they not be worth $10? They sound a little weak, and some of the plastic seems a little thin and may not last years, but for use with my iPod at work, these bitches are fly. They have a cool little 'mute' button, a long cord, and the sound is better than any other set of comparably priced 'phones you'll find. Next to be bought was an incredibly cool set from Sony, called the Sony EGGO. These things make me think of those Gorillaz characters from a few years back, but they look like the headphones you see anime characters wear, which makes sense since they are only sold in Japan. I had these pretty young things imported from Japan for my iPoding pleasure and although out of the box they sure did get a lot of wow-factor from all who saw them, they also (possibly still spoiled by the sturdiness of the 700's) seemed like they would break now too far in the future. You see, I bought the lower-end model, the Sony MDR-D22SL (around $65), rather than the Sony MDR-D66SL (roughly $100). The important joints were made from plastic, and although every decision made in manufacturing these headphones was made to be sure they looked like the coolest headphones you could find, the materials used were just kind of flimsy, and I know that those plastic joints would snap soon. I also must add that they made my head look even bigger than it already is, which is big. So again, another pair eBayed to some lucky fashionista. The latest in my headphone foray has been the purchase of a pair of Sennheiser HD500's (around $100 as well). More exactly, they are the Sennheiser HD500 Traditional Over-Ear Open "Fusion" Full-Size Headphones, and damn, they sound good. I'll get my complaint out of the way first, the 32-ohm impedance makes these headphones hard for my iPod or my iBookto push, and thus even with the volume cranked, the sound is not quite loud enough for me when I really want it to be loud. That said, these headphones are incredibly comfortable, completely surrounding my ears, and after a mild flex-and-hold before putting them on, they rest just right on my oh-so-hard head. The sound is perfect, with all the online headphone number-cruncher types being absolutely correct about all that number-crunched stuff. All the highs and lows are high and low, and the mids are good as well. Listen, obviously I don't know the tech, but these bitches sound niiiiice. You would think with that said, I would have found my heaven in headphones, right? Well, the thing is, in looking into all these buys, I've whet my appetite for several others that I cannot rest until I try. First and next will be my very own pair of what seems to be Sony's greatest work, the Sony MDR-V6 ($60. Anywhere you ask, these are the phones that are recommended for higher-fi headphones beginners. They look good, and the word is that they sound superb and are the meanest, most long-lasting set you can buy. Yeah, sounds good to me. Then after that, I'm also interested in my very own set of Koss Pro-4AA's ($50), as they look like warplane headsets, and I remember my Dad having a pair very similar to these for years and years when I was a little boy, worn all the time until one day they fell off his sweaty head while mowing grass with the riding lawnmower and got made into audio mulch. The rest of the wishlist would be as follows: Sennheiser's big step up, the HD580 ($200), Sony MDR-CD580, Sony MDR-CD180, and sadly, several more. If you yourself are looking to buy some 'phones, be sure to click the links above and read about them on their subsequent Amazon.com detail pages. For further research, I've provided some links below to a few other useful online shops and resources… Good luck, and leave a comment below if you can recommend a pair I've missed!

     » Read and ask questions about headphones in the Head-Fi forums.
     » But rare and import cans at AudioCubes.com
     » Have a teched-out, info-overload, headphone wet dream at Headroom

     » Buy it...

Comments

I'm a frequent visitor to slickdeals.net -it's kind of a "best of what's on sale on everybody else's site" kind of thing, and it's really hit-or-miss. Occasionally they have some incredible deals listed for Sennhieser, Sony or other manufaturer's 'phones, and they frequently have great buys on other audiophile gear. (Onkyo recievers and components, Bose speakers, etc.)
It's hard to spot this stuff before they sell out or expire, and there's no guarantee that they'll have exactly what you're looking for, but sometimes the planets align and you end up with some really dope gear for an unbelievable price.
Oh, and they also list lots of free shit, like magazine subscriptions and promotional items. You pretty much have to check in 2-3 times a day to catch it all before it's gone, but if you're online anyway....

Posted by: Adam at June 25, 2004 3:55 PM

Nice headphone buying-and-selling diary. It's not so much a straight review as a confessional, a process, a quest. I've been wanting a nice set of headphones for no particularly good reason for a while now. I wanted to plug them into my nonexistant iPod, and perhaps into my PowerBook. . . except I can't exactly walk around listening to iTunes lugging around a teetering 6-pound hunk of metal and silicon that easily, can I?

Nevertheless, I want some. . .

I saw a set of headphones show up on slickdeals a while back that I was sorely tempted by, until I read the user reviews. Those have to be one of the smartest things about slickdeals, because inevitably someone will have a gripe about any given product. For me, as a fellow of limited means struggling against headstrong purchases (and failing every so often) that little gripe is usually enough to cause me to hesitate from clicking the little "BUY NOW!" button and saving myself from blowing more cash straight out of my ass. Given how quickly those deals evaporate any hesitation will almost always result in a missed purchase. . . which is both good and bad.

Posted by: benjamin at June 26, 2004 4:31 AM

try the px200s they are extremely portable and nice. they dont have the "impact" i crave (that some of the sony cans u mentions have) but they are good for portable use. also, ecost.com has amazing deals one v6's every once in a blue moon, so keep your eyes pealed (like $40 or something like that...). also, remember to always break in your headphones!

head-fi.org is a good site BTW, ipodlounge can suck my dick.

~EO

Posted by: einolu at July 4, 2004 5:58 AM
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