Best Hybrid Over Ear For Sub $500

First of all, does such a thing even exist? I’m trying to find a daily driver that can handle just about any situation I put it up to. Wanting to watch a movie? Easy. Long trip on an airplane or a daily commute? Grab em. Forgot the earbuds at home and need a backup for the gym? You bet.

I wouldn’t say I’m an audiophile but I definitely have my fair share of music/audio experience. Wether it’s installing my own sound systems in my car and home or being a DJ over the last 6 years, I’ve strived to make my listening experiences as top notch as possible.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars perfecting my DJ equipment and in home sound systems. I know headphones are a really tough comparison but I want to get as close as possible to taking that same experience with me no matter where I go.

What would you guys recommend?
(As a DJ I play primarily house/bass music with some hip hop/rap thrown in there. So id like my headphones to be able to shine in those genres.)

2 Likes

This is where your request becomes impossible. There are no over ear headphones I would want to exercise in, and the ones you could either have a clamping force that will fracture your skull, are terribly uncomfortable, or just sound like crap. The M50x comes to mind.

So, ruling out any use cases where you want an exercise headphone, I would start here : https://www.headphones.com/collections/closed-back/products/meze-99-classics-over-ear-headphones

They travel really well, are closed back so they will block out quite a bit of background sounds, have bass, and look fantastic. It’s not going to require a ton of power to drive them either, although some kind of amplification is suggested.

4 Likes

I always forget about the 99 classics! They are excellent quality for the price, and they sound very good for the price as well! @MRphotography have you looked at them as an option? They won’t be as quality as the Aeon2c but are pretty good looking with above average sound quality.

2 Likes

I was definitely considering them!

2 Likes

Hello and welcome @Neowulf.

2 Likes

Welcome.
For your gym backup, you might want some Koss PortaPros on Massdrop for $25


You can just leave them in your gym bag. You’re not doing critical listening in the gym anyway, and you won’t be irritated by IEMs

Introduce yourself to the forum

6 Likes

I agree with @pennstac , @Neowulf That’s what I just did for gym and eliminating my Bluetooth iem which are going back to Best Buy this week as I didn’t realize I had an extended holiday return policy. With one caveat they make a specific model if you are an iPhone user which doesn’t have issues with the inline mic controller so if you use iPhone make sure to get Koss Porta Pro KTC Ultimate Portable Headphone for iPod, iPhone and iPad.

2 Likes

I’m with @ProfFalkin on this one. There is NO WAY I’m going to the gym with anything that has foam earpads or a cable. I used cable IEMs in the gym and for walking in the city for several months. I felt instant relief upon switching to Bluetooth. The advantages of Bluetooth are gigantic when using any machine or free weights. There is no competition against Bluetooth for winter clothes either (i.e., hats, umbrellas, top coats). Cables are a proven nightmare.

For $500 I’d split my budget three ways: The Mass(Drop) 6XX for listening quality ($200), something with active noise cancelling or perhaps the 99 Classics (up to $250; air travel, DJ, office), and a dirt cheap Bluetooth IEM (e.g., $25-$50) for the gym.

3 Likes

For what it’s worth, I use the Aiaiai TMA-2 as a dedicated DJ headphone and I love them. They work perfectly for what I’m doing.

Thanks for all the replies. Sorry it took me so long to get back to commenting, it’s been a long weekend/start to the new year. I’ll definitely get to introducing myself as soon as I can. Thank you for the welcomes.

As far as the headphones go, I know there’s really no cure all when it comes to that. I guess I’m stuck with the Bluetooth in ear options when it comes to the gym. The SoundSport Frees tend to do the job well enough minus long lasting comfort. Luckily I’m only in the gym for an hour to an hour and a half.

So let’s toss out the gym altogether. What about for everything else? I’ll be the first to admit that going all out with wired (potentially open back) cans and an amp is something I have never experienced before. I’m not even sure there’s anywhere near me that would allow for seeing that first hand unless I travel to Nashville. We have a Best Buy and a couple music stores but nothing in the HiFi range.

I plan to look into the headphones you all have listed above but in the mean time let’s switch the scope and aim more for travel and at home listening (where most of my use will come from).

Sony wh1000xm3 is probably the best bet…for your use case …

3 Likes

That’s been my #1 contender for a while now. That and the QC35II. I wish I could find a pair that will allow me to run the app and play music from my phone instead of the demo at the store so I could get a more accurate reading of the sound signature and bass response with EQ adjustments.

1 Like

I have the WH1000XM2 (last generation) – but they are either the same or very similar to the XM3 following a major firmware upgrade.

The Sony EQ is quite effective, and decent as far as electronic Bluetooth things go. I prefer a neutral profile while the XM2 defaults to a bass-heavy profile. So, I tend to set it on “Bright” for many recordings. To my ears it has about the same quality on Bluetooth or wired through a headphone amp.

I got started with a set of Sennheiser HD-600s from the Magnolia section of a Best Buy. They had an HD-650 on display (bass heavy), while I wanted the neutral HD-600s. Admittedly, Best Buy locations without Magnolia can be pretty limited.

These days the most widely recommended starter audiophile open-backs are probably the Mass(Drop) HD-6XX. They are just HD-650s with a different name and lower price ($195). That plus a $100 amp would provide a solid introduction.

5 Likes

So would you recommend the MX2 or the 3 if the sound is the same but probably a $100 difference in price? Are there any significant features I would be losing by dropping back a generation? Or do they even sell the 2’s anymore?

Now time for kind of a dumb question…when it comes to audiophiles and their high end desktop setups, what are the headphones actually being used for? Couldn’t imagine headphones of that caliber being used for nothing but watching YouTube videos and movies. I know I would use them for producing but most people aren’t doing that.

1 Like

From a quick check at Amazon, the XM3s are $200 refurbished and $250-$300 new. I paid about $300 for XM2s a few years ago. My guess is that the XM2s are long closed out and hard to find in good condition now. I wouldn’t pass up a good deal on the XM2s, but would look for XM3s today.

Well, sometimes yes. And everything else too. Once you spend a few hundred dollars, you can easily hear the limitations of the recording and source. Most will listen to the same music you do, but at high initial quality levels.

You don’t need to spend a lot for a major boost in quality, but it’s a hobby for some. They’ll spend $10,000 or more easily.

3 Likes

What are your thoughts on refurbished headphones? I’ve always purchased new with all of my electronics but that very well could be me just being stubborn.

I buy new for consumer products (yes, I avoid dirty and disgusting heads and ears!).

However, you’ll find there is a robust used audiophile market. Someone just spent $1,000 and gets $800, then the next seller gets $750, and so forth. There can be huge savings on trendy high-end products. With amps and DACs there’s usually not much grime.

4 Likes

Everything. Music, games, movie watching, YouTube, whatever.

It’s just a device connected to my computer that makes sound so I can hear things.

Now, I know some folks who think that is audiophile sacrilege, and I’m going to audiophile hell for it. Which is fine. They can have any wrong opinion they want. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

3 Likes

When you say $100 amp for the 6xx you mean Atom. I thought I was ok with the Dragonfly Black but having serious power with the 6xx has taught me differently. DFC is adequate but only barely. 6xx is happiest with power.

Now with the 58x, you have many more choices.

1 Like

For @Neowulf – He means the JDS Labs Atom. Yes, the Atom is perhaps the best starter amp at $100 for the HD-6XX.

I’d also consider the Schiit Magni Heresy, despite my bad experience with the old Magni 3. And perhaps a Monoprice/Monolith amp too.

4 Likes