The 8 best headphones for listening to vinyl and why they really make a difference

The 8 best headphones for listening to vinyl and why they really make a difference

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You’ve got your turntables, whether budget, vintage or high-end, now pick your headphones, for the ultimate and most intimate vinyl listening experience. Continuing our quest for the perfect hi fi, Paul Rigby talks you through the 8 best headphones for listening to vinyl, and explains just why they’re so important.


Words: Paul Rigby


So why headphones for vinyl play, specifically? Headphones are headphones, surely? Doesn’t matter what you hook them up to, you’re still going to hear a noise, aren’t you? Why should vinyl have its own selection of headphones?

Well, there is a point to this. In fact, there are a few points. Firstly, if you have a half decent turntable at your disposal then you have, my friend, the best quality source in terms of detail currently on the market. That is, despite its age, vinyl can extract more information from its grooves than any other source in the world. That includes CDs, that includes high resolution downloads up to 24bit/192kHz or even 24bit/384kHz, if you like. That also includes SACD and DTS. You name it? Vinyl walks all over it. More to the point, vinyl never stops getting better. Every time you improve your hi-fi source, your vinyl will improve alongside it. There is no glass ceiling in terms of sound quality, unlike CD for example.

So, if you are extracting all of this detail, you really don’t want a pair of headphones which will mask it do you? Such ‘phones would be fine for an MP3 player or even CD play, but not vinyl.

Also, don’t forget that vinyl play has a ‘warmth’ all of its own, it’s a tone that many people love. There are some headphone variants out there, however, which also have an inherent ‘warmth’ of their own. Put both together, though, and you end up with a mushy sound that lacks bite and attack. These particular headphones are great for more clinical CD or MP3 play, as they act as a sonic balance to some digital sound output options. Not for vinyl, though.

There’s also a comfort issue. You might think this aspect rather frivolous but you can get away with uncomfortable headphones for mobile players because you probably won’t have them on your head for that long but vinyl play is synonymous with sitting for long periods of time and listening to long pieces of music. You really don’t want to be getting pressure points on your head, chafing or headaches.

What follows is our Top 8 headphones for vinyl play, covering a variety of prices.


portapro

KOSS PORTA PRO
Price: £29
www.koss.com

Ah, old faithfuls. This design has been around for around 30 years. Created to exploit the old cassette Walkman craze, the Porta Pro has evolved over time but only a little bit. Light and comfortable, don’t expect amazing bass (although it’s good for the size) but there’s plenty of detail on offer. Folds away for easy storage.


Blueant

BLUEANT EMBRACE
Price: £38
www.myblueant.com

I reviewed these headphones, which sit on top of the ear, for a hi-fi mag and compared them to the swish and rather trendy B&W P3s, which currently cost around £170. The Embrace walked all over them. Bass is just as good but the Embrace offers far better upper mids. The P3s sounded harsh in comparison. The Embrace ‘phones are also mucho comfortable.


PX100_small

SENNHEISER PX 100-IIi
Price: £38
en-uk.sennheiser.com

Arguably, the best all round, value for money, headphones currently on the market. For such small headphones, they do a great job in extracting details from your vinyl. The pads sit on top of your ears that add to the open and spacious sound quality. The ‘phones are very light, comfortable and the frame folds away too for easy storage. A brilliant design and a bargain too.


DT770PRO

BEYERDYNAMIC DT770 PRO
Price: £95
europe.beyerdynamic.com

When they first appeared, the DT770s fetched around £165 but you can pick them up for around £95 on Amazon, for example. If you are looking for raw bass slam then these babies will sort you out, they do well on sub-bass too. Plenty of clarity and very comfortable.


AKG

AKG 702
Price: £165
uk.akg.com

Also the subject of a price drop that started out at a hefty £410. Not really a design for bass monsters, the AKGs are great for those looking for the bare truth in the midrange. They don’t enhance or colour the music at all so they do well as monitors for music producers. They need hefty amplification to work well, though.


HD650

SENNHEISER HD 650
Price: £250
en-uk.sennheiser.com

A real, honest to goodness, 100% pair of classic headphones. For many people, this is the perfect balance of sound quality and cost. There’s great detail on offer here, meaty bass, informative midrange and, although they might appear a little tight on the head when you first put them on, they ease off over time.


HE400

HIFIMAN HE-400
Price: £300
hifiman.com

Bass is rather lovely on these headphones. It’s textured and has real impact while detail is plentiful. So you think, rock music then, right? Well, no, not really. It’s ideal for jazz and more delicate music or electronica. There’s no problems driving this pair, either, sounds good even on a laptop.


HD800

SENNHEISER HD 800
Price: £1,000
en-uk.sennheiser.com

A serious pair of headphones, these are the company’s top of the line models but, if you are looking to use these mothers then you really want to invest in a top quality headphone amp – you plug your phones into it and then the headphone amp plugs into your main amp. Wonderful sound, wonderful design, lovely to wear. Well, at that price, you’d expect nothing else, eh?

  • HorseOfPangor

    Amazingly under-researched article.

    • Paul Rigby

      Please expand on that. Amazingly?

  • AK7579

    Not a single Grado? Needs more research…

    • Paul Rigby

      So ‘No Grado = Bad Feature’? Is it that simple? Or can I sense a bias there? Grado are good, don’t get me wrong, very good, although they are often not top of their respective ranges but near to the top, sure. I have reviewed several of their models over the years so am willing to discuss this in minute detail with you, if you wish. More to the point, I did only have 8 slots to fill and part of our remit was to cover a wide range of users and price points (I did not want to exclude readers with minimal budgets). Too many headphones in one price point would have made the piece top heavy and quite possibly may have appeared elitist in terms of price. With more space then, yes, Grado would have been there.

      • AK7579

        I understand the space limitations and wanting to cover different budgets but you could have take out one of the 3 Sennheiser cans and added one Grado. Seems biased to one brand to me

        • Paul Rigby

          Yep, take your point and its probably one in which we may have to agree to disagree because, I would argue, at their respective price points, the 3 featured Sennheisers are generally seen as classic designs. Not by me, by the user base and the industry at large. Many, many journalists use all 3 designs as references too which says a lot.
          Let me qualify that statement. I am not a fan of any brand, only good music. In fact, in headphone terms, I prefer electrostatics every time but that would have been plain silly to include a heap of expensive Stax phones here. Considering who the target audience is (this is not a specialist audiophile hi-fi site). That’s were *my* bias lies, as it where.
          Grado has always done well. Their performance has always been respectable and they sell. I’ve interviewed John Grado on numerous occasions and respect his ‘house’ sound. In terms of key price points, registered sales, reviews and longevity, however, the Sennheisers are a force unto themselves. As I have said elsewhere, given more space, I would have included Grado. But not here.

    • David Hampson

      I use Grado SR80s and regard them as pretty awesome too. I guess at least they did not put Dr Dre Beats in the list! 🙂

      • Paul Rigby

        Glad you enjoy your SR80s, David. A fine set of headphones, that’s true. Not my cup of tea, I’ll admit, but still. There are many other excellent designs out there that didn’t make it. Their exclusion doesn’t mean I rate them as poor, by any means.

  • V1nyl

    As AK7579 rightly says no mention of Grado, much less Audeze, Audio Technica, Stax or Ultrasone. Sloppy collation of data and presentation.

    • Paul Rigby

      Sloppy? Be more specific please. See above re. space limitations which hopefully will address your point re. many of the manufacturers you mentioned.

  • SMAN

    Re: under-researched, you guys know who Paul Rigby is, right?

    • Paul Rigby

      Yea! Tell ’em Sman! 🙂

      • Hi Paul,
        Firstly, my very sincere thanks to you for a very balanced, interesting, constructive and well-researched article. I seriously don’t feel anyone could have done much better than this, esp. within your formal remit.

        I must, as well, deeply commend you on the mature way that you countered / explored the heavily over-biased, immature and, frankly, pretty distasteful and revolting commentary from the likes of “The Engineer”, et al. Clearly, he and his ilk are needing some new perspective in life, and, yes, better manners / decency, not to mention better style. You mature, constructive and measure response in return, starkly highlighted that. Sadly, however, your approach may be lost on these guys. Let this suffice; some folk just need to get lives.

        Please keep up the excellent sharing of this kind of information – there are a plethora of folk, like myself, that deeply appreciate your intelligent dedication to music, the pleasure it brings and how best to extract it from one’s hi-fi equipment. And, yes, I’m a vinyl believer, always have been. CD has progressed very much, esp. the last couple of years, but, it still has very far to go to satisfy our … Souls… 🙂

        Take good care,
        Dorian

  • TheEngineer

    “More to the point, vinyl never stops getting better”

    … except for the wear every time you play it. Granted, it’s minimal with a decent, well set up turntable / cartridge, but so much in this article simple isn’t true – it’s all subjective opinion presented as facts.

    • Paul Rigby

      Vinyl is the best quality physical format on the planet. Fact. Not opinion. Also, if you spend money improving your vinyl hi-fi chain then you will always extract more information from that chain. The same cannot be said of any digital format out there. All digital formats feature a glass ceiling in terms of sound quality. That was my point.
      Also, properly looked after, vinyl will last far longer than your life time. You cannot say the same for other formats which often suffer from inherent manufacturing instabilities, never mind the problems of ‘progress’ that often leaves many users stranded. No vinyl user – even those buying ‘software’ in the 50s – has ever had the latter problem.

      • TheEngineer

        24bit/192KHz audio (while being completely pointless from a consumer perspective) contains much more information than vinyl could ever hope to contain. So yes, while there might be a ‘glass ceiling’, it’s so high up into the stratosphere its irrelevant.

        Digital formats will last far longer than anyones lifetime too seeing as it can be copied infinite times with zero loss of information.

        • Paul Rigby

          OK, I can see that we are getting into a conversation that is moving away from the remit of this group review and even this forum. Nevertheless, you throw numbers at me and sit back believing that you have done a great job in stating digital’s case. No so. There is more to sound that the rather one-dimensional set of numbers that you have presented. I won’t go into great detail here because it would take 5 sides of A4 but, basically, vinyl is far more ‘involving’ than digital because of what it does and what digital does not do. I’ll give you just one example of many: low level signals are poorly handled by digital. I’m not talking about bass but ambience within reverb, for example (ask many mastering engineers…ask Neil Young). Also, the sampling rate of any digital curve is wholly imperfect. On 192kHz and on 384kHz too, for that matter. That’s why you’ve got audiophile outfits like Chord (selling 192kHz and 384Khz DACs which handle hi-res digital files), frantically inventing DAC technologies to rebuild the sine wave to make it smoother. I’ve interviewed the creator of the QuteHD, for example, on this very matter. Their ‘perfect’ reference for these technologies? Vinyl. I could go on but look at how much I’ve already written.
          Bottom line? Your information is flawed, I’m afraid and I would question your sources. You also need to listen to vinyl on a top flight system and be awed by the capabilities of wax.
          Also, digital files, per se, will only last as long as their carrier does. Every past and current digital carrier is either cumbersome, unfriendly or fragile and mechanically suspect with a life span that, too frequently, flatters to deceive and, too often, bites you in the bum. I don’t know how many TB of music I have lost because of it. It takes basic care to keep a vinyl disc for a lifetime.

          • TheEngineer

            “frantically inventing DAC technologies to rebuild the sine wave to make it smoother.”

            Before I address any other points in your comment, I just need to clarify – are you implying that the output from a DAC is not smooth, and is jagged / stepped?

          • Paul Rigby

            Hmmm. This conversation might be best moved elsewhere. It will do anyone that is looking for headphone info, no good at all. So I am tempted to end this very soon, TheEngineer. I’m getting back to that 5 pages of A4 I mentioned above 🙂
            Let’s see how far you want to go, though. What I’m saying is the core of a DAC, any DAC, are its filter and noise shaper that accept a 44.1kHz CD-quality signal, say. The DAC then normally upsamples that signal by 8, 16 or 32 times to ‘try’ to reconstruct the original analog waveform by inserting information in between the digital samples. Doing so moves the sound further away from that harsh-sounding, metallic cliché and more towards a rich, warm output. Well, somewhat. Part of the reason that some digital music can sound tinny is the timing problem, not whether the resolution is 44.1, 96, 192, etc. Don’t get too wrapped up in these figures.
            Another factor is the number of taps used in a DAC, more fully known as FIR taps that is also part of the issue. These are an indication of the amount of memory required to implement the filter and the amount of filtering the filter can do. All off-the-shelf DACs contain only a limited number of taps. That is why advanced audiophile companies use FPGA chips to programme their own chips.
            Oversampling is also critical. A DAC that oversamples just 8 times, for example, creates a waveform with steps that resemble the staircase in your house. Some audiophile outfits oversample 2048 times with more to come. All of this work aims to reach analogue standards. Analogue. The basis of vinyl.

          • Ryan S.

            Exactly–the Achilles’ Heel of digital audio overall has always been the DAC hardware, and how effectively it can reconstruct the original analog audio waveforms after they’ve been broken up coarsely (depending on the sample rate & bit depth) into samples and bits of data. It’s like making a mural out of a tile mosaic–using PCM as a example (since its the most common way to digitize audio), the higher the sample rate, the smaller the tiles used. And the more bits per sample, is like having more colors/shades of tile, and the characteristics of the DAC are much like the grout/filler used between tiles. Whereas analog audio is like making the same mural using paint and a freehanded brush.

          • Paul Rigby

            Good point, Ryan and well put.

          • The problem of the digital formats is not resolution which they have plenty (even the Red Book CD is more than adequate) is what music producers have done with it. Starting from the ’90s when everything analog was proclaimed dead, recordings and unfortunately digital re-masters of previously recorded material have pushed the loudness higher, essentially crushing the dynamic range of everything in an effort to make everything sound good on average equipment and noisy environments (think car radios).

            In theory even the lowly PCM will wipe the floor with anything analog in terms of… well… everything. In practical terms however, the loudness war has negated pretty much all the advantages of any digital supports, low noise floor excepted.

            If anyone wonders why an entry level turntable, with a decent, properly set up cartridge, sounds better than most (not all, OK?) digital recordings the explanation is simple really. Vinyl is a purely mechanical format and at the level of loud compression present in current digital masters the needle would simply jump out of the groove. So the lowly vinyl will hold MORE dynamic range, hence more data with a better set of “layers”. Will this count on heavy metal recordings? Not really, but with anything else that has a good deal of level variation (which represents the vast majority of material out there starting with Bach and ending with, I don’t know… Radiohead? ) the difference between a digital and an analog master is startling.

            Take Led Zeppelin for instance. Their recordings were never particularly brilliant to begin with but in the early ’90s the Digital Remasters took those so-so masters and made them downright awful. Others did not fare better at their digital transition with perhaps artists like Peter Gabriel being notable exceptions.

            I truly believe the uncompressed or lossless compression digital formats wipe the floor with anything analog. In theory. Shame on the music industry for making a mess out of it.

            Have a look here for a more comprehensive look at the loudness war:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war

            http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=daft+punk&album=random+access+memories

          • Paul Rigby

            Well, I’m not sure that I agree with you on your points about “uncompressed or lossless compression digital formats wipe the floor with anything analog.” That said, I do sincerely agree with you that excessive compression has damaged, not only digital recordings, but the public’s perception of music itself.

            I have interviewed many mastering engineers over many, many years on this one point. The problem, for anyone else reading this (I’m sure you know Bogdan) is compression or more specifically, in many cases, excessive peak limiting and it can be visualised by thinking about parking a car in a garage.

            A good recording puts the car in the garage and parks it with the nose close to the back wall. The front of the car and the back of the car is your dynamic range. What a lot of producers (it’s not mastering engineers fault, btw, they are ‘under orders’ to do a job, it’s the producer’s fault) are demanding is excessive peak limiting to push up that ‘loudness’ you mentioned, Bogdan. The idea being to push every note of a song into your face so you don’t miss anything on a crappy radio (a defunct notion nowadays – radios are lot better than they used to be and music itself is heard over much wider and varied technologies than radios – but one that has become ingrained in the psyche of many producers)

            Going back to our parking car. Controlled by peak limiting, that car parks in the garage…but then keeps going. The nose hits the wall, the car keeps going, the nose crumples, the front of the car because mangled. It keeps going. Until the car is about a quarter of its original size. Hence, dynamic range is squeezed, there are less quiet moments in any one song, etc.

            If you are fortunate to have an 80s mastered CD and compare that to many remastered CDs of later vintage, the 80s variant will often sound better. Mainly because its often a flat transfer with no EQing. That is a broad, broad generalisation, though. Often, recently released remastered CDs sound a LOT better. Why? Because many labels are ‘good guys’ and do a great job (i.e.: Ace, Bear Family, etc), wanting only the best in terms of sound quality. Also, technology has improved over many years so mastering kit can now produce digital sounds that are inherently better. I’ve talked to Abbey Road about this and they have told me how much better their own kit is now than even 10 years ago…5 years ago. Things are improving all of the time.

            If you pick and choose your music and the labels you buy them from, therefore, digital can be a nice experience.

          • richard vreede

            THE cd was doomned from the start, Philips made iT for 14 bits, but like Betamax was better then vhs, it became 16. But the up sampling lately is strange thing , since it often creates more noise and really need some expensive studio gear to do it right, only it doesn’t wipe the flore with analogue at all, since that’s the source for upsampling , but I assume everybody has read how it works , but i can’t remember ver that using 24 bits(32 floating) with 192 kHz with a mixer or audiocards gave a better analogue result then lower rates or you have to use some reverb by the dsp…. sounds warmer. But the last year the records have improved a lot in quality, I don’t need upsampling to hear that:) and with a soundcard which has a phono stage and decent parts Offcourse you digitize it the right way .Which really sounds better then the cd. But those Stanton bad built TT with a major cheap converter is fooling the people, … Waste of time. Only two many people see the brand name of the dac and high sample rate , while you buy the best dac burr brown has for 10 euro’s , I would bother more about the rest and Offcourse has vinyl
            a max …it may offer more data, but how large is the information part. It has a lot of noise and the interface between your vinyl and phono stages use two main values for a whole frequency spectrum and that quite a problem and will take some very smart people’s and Offcourse nice processors to do it. but I like the Philips fidelity l2 headphones a lot, really well build nice cushions and they fit and sound very good for just about 200euro. Overall a nice warm sound , with no frequency range singing out of bounds, but certainly no flat sterile character . open cans. Nice thin cables, with on with a mic and one without.

          • guys – there is “no best”
            BUT – I would’ve, personally, included Audeze LCD-2s

  • Diego Villegas

    Great list, Mr. Rigby.
    Q: What do you think about Monoprice 8323? Some people say they are not only the best headphones for 20ish bucks out there, but can compete with much pricier models.
    I haven’t heard them yet.

    • Paul Rigby

      Thanks. Re. the 8323s, In that case, if you ever do, I’d love to hear your report. That, I must admit, is one set of ‘phones that has eluded me. Anyone else out there ever used them?

  • inb4 Beats Studios lol

    • Paul Rigby

      Beats? They should be. Regularly.

      • wat?

        • Paul Rigby

          I could have said the same to you 🙂
          Beats are image over substance.

          • i have walmart headpones bruh. $19.99

  • richard vreede

    This really doesn’t say a thing and i may hope the 1000dollar unit sounds good.

    • Paul Rigby

      Hi Richard

      You comment is a little lacking in explanation – doesn’t say a thing? And they all sound good. That’s why they are on the list.

      • richard vreede

        Hello, Well that’s what i allways miss in reviews, THE technical reason why something sound good. Most reviews about hardware are just useless, without opening units and technical explanations. I bought a new TT this week , a project, which tomorrow goes back, since it feels to cheap, but the guy rik stort, knows I have my phd and I open everything I buy when I come home. But the units for mm and their special psu , which cost 800 euro are terrible cheap builds and the psu has a great case , but you really gets rip of. Cables, I don’t even start about. Magnetic free wire…. Then you have as real passive filter for your speaker/drivers a problem.
        But to keep it simple, pioneer would have bought the technique from technics . And by looking at the platter, which was just the Stanton way, and the fact that it never has been shown , while that part makes the technics spin way more stable. And finally a friend bought one….. No technics system. There are way too much reviews done by none technical persons. But I have to say, some headphones are real nice to look at, which
        Counts for hi-fi gear and that has is pricetage also for 40%. Offcourse knows a manufacturer from capacitor that gold on black looks better, only get ripped of, simple. inter links from 70 euro, made yourself, will as good as it can be. Real real off was never supposed to be used in the audio-industry and the difference between normal copper and normal is 1%. And that cables are have a burn in type……, why does no university goes along with those idiot statements . It can be (semi) earthed one way, but the particals have no direction . And if a cable is really made for a system , it won’t have lengths to choose from:) the imp from 1.00 m interlink a 200euro and Offcourse the solder joints , make it sound different. But more open and more bass … Blabla, insane in the brain.
        And hi-fi throws around with often wrong measurements of the th+d, etc and that’s where they make a huge mistake, since that’s measuring with two standards. It’s nice gear, but an average engineer builds a psu and a better phono-amp incl housing for 125 euro; and a lot of units had Chinese elco’s in it……. And silver…. No go… Don’t like making turns like copper does. greets richard

        • Paul Rigby

          RIchard – take a quick look at the feature again. I have around 100 words or so to say my piece. If I could have provided more technical information on the hardware then you would really need a 2,000 word review per product.

  • Add the Grado SR60e to the list. For a modest outlay these are hard to beat and have a whole list of inexpensive mods to make them better. And the PSB M4U1 probably the best sounding headphone under $300 and a steal at $199.95 (Canadian 🙂 ) I paid for them on a year end sale…

    • Paul Rigby

      Thanks for adding the Grado – I like the idea of enhancing phones with mods. A sector of DIY that needs more attention, editorially, methinks.

  • Mikael Murstam

    ATH-m50 is a good choice. I got them.

    • Paul Rigby

      Bit of a result, there Avatar1337 (snappy name you got there)

  • Vijay

    I haven’t tried SENNHEISER PX 100-IIi, but the earlier PX 100 was bad with strong coloration in low mid frequencies. I was surprised, most people gave rave reviews to a below average headphone, possibly only because it had strong emphasis on bass. I realized, Sennheiser can make good as well as really bad headphones.

    • Paul Rigby

      I’m a bit confused about this one Vijay because the 100 series was never lauded for its emphasis on bass. The 200 series was, yes, but not the 100 series. The 200 series tried to enclose the ears (they didn’t because the pads are too small, but still) enhancing bass but losing a lot of the mids. Are you confusing the 200s with the 100s? The mids on the 100s are excellent, great detail for the price, delicate presentation and excellent clarity – again, for the price.

  • NO mention of Audeze cans? I LOVE listening to my VPI analog rig and tube phonostage – and tube headphone amp w/ my Audeze headphones!

    I think that’s a BIG oversight.

    • Paul Rigby

      Which Audeze in particular, you didn’t say? Audeze are good but I was trying to fit a lot into a small space including a range of items covering many budget points. But look – you’ve given a nice shout out for the brand so they’re in 🙂

      • AH – my utmost apologies for missing your post! I could recommend ANY of the Audeze LCD-Series – depending on budget, associated equipment, and music taste – their new EL-8s are also spectacular. I’ve recently discovered the sonic wonders of the Oppo PM3 planar headphones as well!

        • Paul Rigby

          Thanks for that – must investigate the Oppos.

          • rockin’ em RIGHT NOW sittin’ on the couch via Double Helix Cables 2.5 TRRS balanced-out oif my AK240 + Lehmann Audio Traveler!!

            The AK380 is NEXT-LEVEL BROTHA!!!!

          • The PM3s are what, IMHO, the Audeze EL-8 (and it was supposed to be called “EL8” for “Elate”) could’ve been

          • oh yeah, the PM3 perform FAR outside their price range – IMHO!!!!

      • whats the budget??

  • bediddleby

    You mention the BW P3s, but what about the P5s? Have you listened with them? I’m curious as I already own a pair, but wondered if I’d be missing anything using them with my vinyl setup. My ears are 47, so I also wonder if a younger pair might notice subtle nuances in the audio better than mine! 🙂

    • Paul Rigby

      Sorry for the long delay in replying. If I was being ultra critical, I would say that I find both a mite strident in the upper mids. Good but not great. Your ears are fine. Worry about it when you hit 65.

      • bediddleby

        Follow-up, a little off topic: maybe you can point me to something already written if it doesn’t fit here. I have a pre-amp to go to my non-Phono equipped Yamaha receiver, but for use with headphones, what’s my best course? I can plug into the receiver’s headphone jack, but is that defeating the purpose? Is it better to do a Y-cable or switchbox off the turntable (or just manually switch the cables) and go out to a headphone amp instead? Does it matter?

        • Paul Rigby

          Yes, you can use the headphone jack on the receiver. No problem, as long as the receiver is connected to the turntable. That’s the ‘zero budget’ option. For better sound quality, you’ll need an external headphone amp. If you need advice on this, I’ll need a budget figure from you plus the type of headphones you use or want to use.

          • bediddleby

            Thanks; that’s what I wondered: if the quality was better directly from a headphone amp. I still only have the BW P5s mentioned above. I was waiting on some reviews of the new Iron Maiden “Ed-ph0n3s” before buying another pair. I was looking at the Bravo Audio V2 Class A 12AU7 amp which is reasonable, but if it’s worth spending more, I would. Can I spend less than $100? I see a fair amount of banter on the Little Dot stuff which can be very expensive.

          • Paul Rigby

            I would advise spending as much as you can. The better the head amp, the better the sound.

          • bediddleby

            Ok. If you have some amp product suggestions, I’d appreciate having them. Thanks!

          • Paul Rigby

            What’s your total budget?

          • bediddleby

            Oh, I’d spend £400; if stretching a little further really up’d my quality I’d probably spring for it; I’m not in a hurry. For the headphones, I notice that HifiMan doesn’t have just a 400 anymore, they have a 400i and 400S on both sides of the cost listed above. Wondered if you had any experience with the two models or updates to your 400 review.

          • Paul Rigby

            Haven’t heard the other HiFiMan phones, I’m afraid. Must get on that case. As for the amp? I’d plump for the Schiit Audio Lyr 2 for £380.

  • SENNHEISER PX 200’s are big step up in material quality from the 100’s while still remaining compact and pretty reasonably priced. But Audio Technica ATH-M50x has become my standard for classic big over the ear comfort and sound quality. I also love the disconnect-able cord, and multiple cords included. Makes them ideal for DJing, running the long cord into my receiver at home for vinyl, or the short for just my phone when on the go.

  • StellaRagazzo

    Audio Technica ATH-R70x

  • Todd Elving

    What about Grado?

    • Paul Rigby

      Yes, respected brand. No problems with Grado, just issues with a lack of space to write abut them 🙂 But happy to hear about your favourites.

  • Zak Pearle

    this is the most generic list of headphones ever, it’s like you looked at a few audio threads on /g/ and thought yourself a pro

  • what about Audio-Technica?