Favorite "bad" headphones

What headphones have you used that you thought weren’t really that good, but had some redeeming quality or use case that made them special to you despite the flaws?

For me that would be the Fidelio X2. Big soundstage, punchy mid bass and very comfortable. But not a lot of refinement, recessed mid-range and harsh highs. After owning them for a few months I stopped using them for listening to music.

But… Then there was DOOM 2016. Holy crap! They were really fun gaming headphones that made me keep them just for slaughtering demons to thumping explosions.

I sold my first pair after finishing DOOM. A bit later I bought another pair of X2’s for gaming. Then that pair had to go as well to fund other stuff.

Please share your own favorite “bad” headphones.

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I used a pair of AKG K550s for a few years at work in an open plan office, before there were any great closed options. They’re OK but not great, and listening to them now they’re awful. I really liked the high end.

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For me it would be the Sony MDR-Z1R.

They’re beautifully made, light, super-comfortable (maybe only the Empyrean are more so), but are so odd in their tonality that they really only work well (for me) in guilty-pleasure usage or with the WM1Z/TA-ZH1ES (both of which make them sound pretty damn good).

Too much bass and too much zing otherwise. Which would probably be fixed if the driver had a more powerful motor … the actual driver material/construction is quite interesting.

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Monoprice M560 planars…Really great build and so very comfortable. I can’t stand to listen to them w/ anything more than some mild blues and jazz, stupidly sibilant, so much so that I have true hatred towards the sound. I keep them hoping I can use the headband to “save” or modify any of my better HP’s if they ever break…I doubt i could make it work but I really do love the build and headband on these.

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I learned to understand the Beats profile when riding the subway. The noise and rumble of the trains interferes with normal bass. Beats makes music sound fairly normal. Mine are the neck collar BeatsX IEMs. I don’t recommend the collar design, but am happy with them in a rumbling environment.

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Aiaiai tma-1. The day I got them, I knew I should have returned them. First hype I fell for. I kept them thinking I’ll get used to the dark muddy sound of them. I did. They were still pretty bad but I got used to them. Form factor and looks were nice and comfort could have been worse so I kept them for many many years and they are still functioning and covered in splotches of white paint.

They are my favorite bad pair because I can slap my btr3 or btr5 on the headband with a short cable and have bluetooth headphones that I can throw around as a beater pair of headphones.

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TakStar Pro 82

Fell for Zeos’ hype. At first I liked the bright, detailed sound. But eventually I was treble-murdered.

I like it for the great storage box. And Zeos was right about one thing; theeese are probably the most comfortable headphones to wear in existence.

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Audioquest Nighthawk Carbon. Beautiful and very comfortable but horrible to listen to for 80% of my music.

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That headphone held so much promise. One of the best “bad” headphones.

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When I first starting exploring this hobby properly in 2015, I landed on a pair of the AGK K553 Pro. They were the best of the sub-$200 headphones I spent a long, long time auditioning at a couple of hifi stores here in NYC - I’m slightly embarrassed, looking back now, at how much time I devoted to test-driving entry-level headphones. $200 back then felt like a fortune. I hadn’t fallen fully in love with the hobby yet. It was just the first date, after all…

I wanted something closed back but quite neutral and transparent, that would work for a wide range of musical genres (inc. classical and jazz), and that would’t sound too boxed in or congested. The AKG beat out the Audio Technica M50. I didn’t get chance to hear any Senns. I agree @Simonfish, the AKG were ok and better than other similarly-priced closed backs but I moved on to other whirlwind and lasting romances.

Every now and again, though, I think back to those initial auditions and wonder if I should have picked up a pair of V-Moda Crossfades (I forget which one, exactly, the M-100?). They were a hell of a lot of fun to listen to, lots and lots of bass and plenty of dynamics. They may be a favorite “bad” headphone.

The NAD HP 50 was also a close runner up. They had a premium feel to them, in terms of build quality, and they had plenty of v-shaped fun without being overly bassy, so I guess that extra bit of class and refinement puts them behind the V-Moda. Part of me still wants to get the V-Moda!

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It’s funny. The first thing that came to mind was my X2s. But you know what? They are the only cans that I would replace in a heartbeat if anything ever happens to them.

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Mine is the Audio Technica M50. They were the first set that made me go wow, and sucked me into this hobby hard. I still have them, and despite their shortcomings, I still think they’re a blast to listen to.

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HD700… need to see about getting a set back in again lol… loved these for gaming and movies!

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My absolute favourite bad headphones are the Grado SR80e for sure. Light weight, not good at anything in particular, good all rounders. When I’m away from home these headphones don’t get too much space in my luggage with their case and give decent full size headphone experience. On ears pads are the worst part but can be easily swapped to something more comfortable.

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HD 700, which for me was the first headphone with an out of head experience I had no idea was even possible, when I first got into the hobby. I also only paid $225 for it, not the original $1000 price. With EQ (especially Sonarworks Ref 4) and a tube amp (like the Woo WA7 I had with it) it can be greatly improved, but even without I find brain burn in happens fast enough to enjoy as is. Detailed, wide soundstage, somewhat punchy bass, and extremely light and comfortable. The treble on them bothers me little compared to the Beyer T1.2 I sold in a week, largely due to sibilance. At my age I can’t hear above 13-14khz, so that may be part of my tolerance for elevated treble.

My love of “bad” (ly reviewed) Sennheisers continued with the HD 820, which I like significantly more than the much loved 800 & 800S. Got them new for $1680, which like with the 700 impacts my views of them for the price. Would never have paid $2500. Always good to keep in mind that reviews are great for getting a sense of a headphone, but you just may not really know until they’re on your head.

I’ve also learned to pay particular attention to comments and reviews by folks like DarthPool who enjoy and have several of the same (loved and hated) headphones and amps that I do.

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I too am a fan of the HD700. I got mine new but they were heavily discounted. I moved on eventually but I wish I had kept hold of them. Very comfortable headphones.

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I used very old big Philips whicn were really uncomfortable, but it was something in them… something that reminded me of the childhood and the past!

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Favorite “bad” headphone? Koss ______ (take your pick). Been casually using and losing Koss headphones for 25 years with no regrets.

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Beats Mixrs circa 2012.

I used to absolutely adore them. I recently plugged them into a very expensive amp and dac and thought it sounded very “meh” and then tried running them off my phone or PC headphone jack like I used to nearly ten years ago and it was super duper “meh”

But they still brought me great joy and I remember that at the time, I felt so cool wearing them and enjoyed music with them, haha.

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Adding another one to my favourite bad ones. They have been a gift my colleagues kindly gave me when I left Jung Institut in Zurich years ago and I forgot them until yesterday evening. Bowers&Wilkins original P5 headphone are bad in so many ways but they have their plus and I’m enjoying them with my A&K SR25. Clearly they have been bought from someone who looked more to the aesthetics than to sound. Nonetheless they fit very well on my ears, they passively isolate from surrounding noises and take very little space in my bag. The sound isn’t perfect but I’ve heard worse. The leather pads and band do perfectly their job and they stay on the head and ears like pillows. The cable is one of the most horrible I’ve ever seen but send audio signal from DAP to headphone and it is sufficient. Not too bad all in all.

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