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andrew's avatar

Headphones. Sennheiser. Which ones?

Asked by andrew (16198points) February 19th, 2010

As you may guess, working in a remote space station orbiting the ocean can be a tad cramped. I’m looking for a comfortable pair of headphones I can wear all day whilst my coworkers yack to each other with me in the middle.

I was all set on a pair of Sennheiser open air headphones (like the HD-555)—I love how comfortable they are to wear. The only thing is, the open air headphones let in too much outside noise, so I still get distracted (I test-drove Tim’s HD-590’s).

Ben’s Ministry of Sound cans, (closed-ear or whatever you call it)—but they were annoying with my glasses. I’m actually eying the HD-280’s because people say they’re huge in size (which would be great for me). Any experience on the comfort here?

Finally, the best results I got for noise reduction were my crappy earbuds—but they’re super annoying to wear for long periods of time.

No, I don’t want noise cancelling headphones. It tires out my ears, and I don’t have enough low-freq background noise to really make them useful.

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21 Answers

sndfreQ's avatar

Yes, the HD280s are closed-ear and sound great. Not fatiguing, and have a fairly flat frequency response. The elongated shape of the cans work for those with longer pinnae (like me), and for the price, they’re a great value.

You could also try looking at some comparison forums like head-fi.com to get some user perspectives. Earbuds tend to be a bit more hazardous in the sense that their isolation makes listeners prone to over-powering them and exposure to unsafe levels.

You could also check out Audio-Technica ATH-M50S, which are comparable and slightly higher quality closed-back design.

Ultrasone, Denon, and Beyerdynamic are also great brands, but lean toward the $150-up end of the spectrum.

timtrueman's avatar

You could learn and/or practice Jedi-like concentration so you can man up and get the best headphones you’ve ever heard—the HD 590’s.

andrew's avatar

@sndfreQ Are they comparable in comfort to the HD-555, HD-595?

andrew's avatar

@timtrueman Maybe if my coworkers weren’t chatty cathys debating every blog article they just read.~

sndfreQ's avatar

The material around the ear is slightly less comfortable (not the terry-cloth/velour of the 555/595), but the general feel is the same (wrap around the ears). I think the 280s were just a smidge smaller, as I recall A-B testing the 590s and 280s and the 280s seemed a little more snug on my long ears. The padded foam covers on the 280s seemed to get a bit sweaty with prolonged wear, whereas the cloth-type materials of the others seemed to absorb/disperse the moisture.

Haven’t heard these but the Senn HD-448s might be a compromise between the two; they were about mid-point price-wise. In the headphone game though, comfort and listenability IMO trump all the frugalities once you exceed the $100-range.

I swear by my semi-open Beyerdynamic DT880 Pros…they’re like heaven and I can almost mix on them they’re that accurate. If you’re also looking to enhance the sound, you may also want to (down the line) look into a decent-priced entry-level headphone amp-it will make those cans sound like a whole different pair of headphones-no joke!

Rarebear's avatar

thanks for asking this question, by the way. I’m going through the exact same decision process.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I have the HD-280s. They are super comfortable. Sometimes I put them on just for a mostly muted effect—no music or whatever. Just headphones. They are heavy though. I was surprised by the heavy at first. They don’t bother me with glasses. I wear them… all day at times. I’m not easy on anything I own and so far they are pretty sturdy.

ChaosCross's avatar

$30 Zunes, work like a charm and block outside noise well.

rangerr's avatar

@timtrueman @andrew fight fight fight fightttt!

ArthurPeterson's avatar

If price were not an option I’d highly recommend getting a pair of custom mold ear monitors. I have a pair of ultimate ears 11 pro custom monitors ($1100) and I can’t begin to say how great the experience has been. You have to visit an audiologist and have an inner ear mold made, which you then ship to Ultimate Ears, who uses the mold to make your monitors. The result is nothing short of incredible. Total emersion/isolation in the music, amazing sound quality across the frequencies- high, mid and bass. Plus, they are comfortable for long stretches, due to the custom fit. The price is out of the stratosphere, but so will you it sounds like. Anyhow, after going through three or four $200 pairs of commercial headphones and one $400 pair that all failed to meet my demands (all for comfort, a few for sound or build quality) I figured I could either go broke little by little or pay a bunch up front and be relatively assured I’d never need to buy another pair. And that’s pretty much been my experience. Sure they may break or need service at some point, but UE is great about supporting their products. In fact, after two years with them one of the cables started to come loose. Though there was no reduction in sound quality I figured that wouldn’t be true for long so I called up UE and told them the problem. They had a new cable rush delivered to my door by the next day (another nice feature is that the cables are easily removed and attached from the monitors themselves so when the cable came, I just popped out the old one and put in the replacement. Good as new). Anyhow, there are a couple other companies doing the custom thing now, but I’d highly recommend the experience. Hope that helps and God speed.

ArthurPeterson's avatar

Also, check out Headphone.com. Great resource and buying advice.

Rarebear's avatar

@andrew Did you decide on a pair? If so, what did you decide on and are you happy with it?

andrew's avatar

@Rarebear Not yet—no one has the Sennheisers for me to try out.

Rarebear's avatar

@andrew Thanks. Well, when you do, would you post it please?

andrew's avatar

@Rarebear Just ordered the HD-280’s from amazon. I’ll keep you posted

Rarebear's avatar

@andrew thanks. I just got a new job at work, and I was thinking to myself, “Gosh, I need headphones. I wonder what Andrew got?”

andrew's avatar

They just came.

I’m a tad disappointed, since they’re a little annoying with my glasses on, and they don’t block out quite as much as my earbuds. That said, the sound quality is really good.

I’ll try them for a week and see how it goes.

Do they get more comfortable as they break in?

Rarebear's avatar

@andrew Thanks for the update. I’m a glasses wearer also and that’s important to me as well.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@andrew They either got more comfortable or I got used to them. Either way, I was not a huge fan of them at first, but love them now.

TheBot's avatar

Yes, you asked for Sennheiser…

But honestly, go for the Bose On-Ear headphones.

http://www.bose.com/controller?url=/shop_online/headphones/audio_headphones/on_ear_headphones/index.jsp

You can’t go wrong. I’ve had mine for 2 years now and they are so good you wouldn’t believe. The sound is perfect, you’ll never need to use an EQ again. The comfort is also second to none and although they are not active noise-cancelling headphones (which actually hurts my ears), I have to say they do isolate you very well and I find they are perfect when watching a movie in a crowded airplane with a baby crying in your face (true story from last weekend). I knew it was a buy as soon as I tried them on in the store.

malevolentbutticklish's avatar

@andrew: Over time I have purchased four pairs of Sennheiser HD280s. I sometimes also want to block out more noise so I will use ear-plugs AND headphones. This allows me to turn up the headphones increasing the signal to noise ratio.

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