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What are the best sub $30 'behind the neck' headphones?

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Old 02-15-06, 08:08 AM Thread Starter   #1
zer0nix
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What are the best sub $30 'behind the neck' headphones?


thanks if you're reading this. the left headphone in my sony 'mdr-52' just died (it's the headphone that kicked off the whole 'behind the neck' thing; the wiring to the left 'phone has severed somewhere inside the plastic cup) and i'm trying to pick/find a suitable replacement. i'm hoping that if i tell y'all what i liked and disliked about these that perhaps some kind soul may point me in the right direction as to which are the best headphones for me. believe me, if i could simply walk into a store, tear off the packaging and try each of these on until i find a comfortable fit i would but i can't so i've gotta try this. please help.


the sonys were good; they are definitely the best day to day, simple, functional and fitting headphones i've ever owned. i really love this model's 'behind the neck' design because it really provides a good fit in that the phones hug the ear snugly in a good way; there is a noticable, 'pleasant' horizontal pressure on the ear and the close fit cancels out a crucial bit of outside noise and helps cement one into their own personal world (i wear these even when i'm not listening to music). they're just the right size and don't compress the cartilage uncomfortably. at the same time, there is no distracting 'headband' to deal with and aside from doing what it's supposed to -that is, to provide that horizontal pressure- the neckband totally disappears from mind because it is that well designed. it is superbly ergonomic and an excellent bit of engineering innovation. it's shape, form and even it's texture are immaculate in that it all contributes to doing it's job well. the neckband floats above the neck and one totally forgets that it's there. the only complaint i lodge is that prior to breaking off, the rubber things that go behind the ears are an annoying and uncomfortable distraction (and totally superfluous). once those are gone, i can find no fault to the physical shape of this headset and it is in that aspect that it earns much of my love. these are so precisely fitted to my liking that the thought of accidentally buying a set of headphones to be used for the next few years (knowing me, until they die) that are less comfortable is quite distressing; my headphones stay on for hours at a time. obviously, i'm bothering to write all this because i'm hoping to trade up and want to avoid trading down by mis-step.


the music comes out sharp and clear (as sharp and clear as mp3s may sound with a pc fan droning in the background) with sounds sounding the way they should sound and nuances clearly discernable but often the music lacks an 'intensity'; the lows can be lower and the highs could have reached higher. i don't actually know if it's a fault of my media or the headphones but with some songs, the extremes of either spectrum seem muted and could have been more intense. it's noticable with higher pitched and deep sounds and distressing enough that i'd spend weeks trying to track down 'a good enough rip' and i still don't know where the blame should fall but this is a fact definitely worth mentioning. people claim that sony headphones are noted for their good bass (as opposed to good anything else some might say) and while i'm glad to say they don't distort into eardrum shattering crap noises at either spectrum, i always thought these could do more to provide deep, enveloping, spine caressing bass. my music always seemed lacking in that area, even back when i used speakers and a bass unit :/

EDIT: actually the mid range sounds weak with some songs too :/ some parts of some songs just don't sound 'strong' enough, but like i said, i don't know where to place the blame. for the most part i am quite satisfied with these.


and now, the candidates for replacement:

Sennheiser PMX60:
the main draw of these headphones is their shape and the reputation of the brand (the price is not a factor because i'm only considering low priced headphones right now). that said, i'm wary because of their shape and the reputation of the product: people are complaining that these are 'open' headphones in that sound leaks in and out, the bass is weak and unlike my mdr-52s, the headphones seem to come at a much sharper slant which may or may not be at once less snug and comfortable. a possible pro: it seems that the cord can be unplugged from the headset which is an excellent feature to have. i really wish i could try these out in real life. i'll be calling the nearest fry's and circuit citys (and any other stores y'all can recommend) to see if they have any on display.


Sony MDR-G56V
the truth is, i bought the mdr-52s because i couldn't find these. my roommate at college used these and every chance i could get i'd use them myself. i love the handy volume dial on the cord and everything i said about the '52s can be said about these. of course, i'm hoping to trade up (if ever so slightly).


Sony MDR-G73LP
just something different. not sure if these provide the same or worse sound than the '52s or if they're more or less comfortable -they're probably less 'fitting' but i don't know that either. i like that these can be folded up but honestly i'm more likely to go with the g56vs.


once upon a time i once tried on a pair of headphones that had no 'band' connecting to either phone and they were incredibly comfortable. they simply slipped on and after a while, outside of providing excellent music, the fact that they are still on would escape perception. i don't remember what brand those were but the concept is similar to the next few sets.

Koss KSC-75/35
these look like the foam will wear out too quickly. honestly, i can't lodge any other complaint without first trying these on -they may be too loose fitting or uncomfortable and might not provide the immersion i need for pc gaming -never tried this type of headphone for that. seems like these provide good bass but some reviews make it sound like they provide too much bass. some say that the '35s sound better than the '75s and if i could have one, i'd like an audiophile's judgement. also, for anyone who has one of these, how flimsy/sturdy is the adjustable inner wire of the ksc-75 'clip?'

EDIT: unless the discrepancy is great, i'd probably go for the 75 just because you can change the shape of the clip without having to worry about accidentally frying circuitry


i know y'all can't make my final decision but i'll appreciate any advice y'all have to give. i also appreciate any recommends that are fitting to the style of headphones mentioned here. i wish i could test all of these out :/ if i had more disposable income i'd buy the lot of them and sell the 'inferior' ones i'd still go for a 'cheapie' model because the idea of wearing a huge, insulating clamshell over my head just isn't too appealing. -but of course if i had more disposable income i'd buy one of those too

Last edited by zer0nix; 02-16-06 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 02-15-06, 09:55 AM   #2
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Old 02-15-06, 09:02 PM   #3
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I think the Koss 75s are probably your best bet as well, from everything I have read while doing headphone research, koss seems to have the best cheap headphones, and for $14 from Amazon you can't go wrong.

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Old 02-15-06, 09:43 PM   #4
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the koss are the best bang for your buck with that much money, the rest of head-fi is behind me
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Old 02-16-06, 09:57 AM Thread Starter   #5
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no love for the Sennheiser PMX60?


i think i'm ready to make the jump with the Koss KSC-75 -it IS a cheap investment and i can always buy another headset if i don't like these. i'm still not sure that they can provide an immersive gaming/computer experience but if nothing else, they do seem like they would be good for working out.


would i be overstepping if i asked where best to purchase these headphones (i've read some bad stuff about amazon and i'd like these headphones cheap and asap)? i still haven't made any phone calls so if y'all have any stores to recommend (for availibility, price, units on display) i'd appreciate a mentioning of them.




EDIT: are the sony mdr-52s considered 'open' headphones? if they are then i can eliminate that as a possible deterrant for my future headphone choices -but then again their design does eliminate a small bit of ambient noise... honestly, i'm not too sure what 'open' means in terms of headphone design. i thought i knew what it meant but i'm seeing it used in different ways than expected and on products one wouldn't think to be 'open'.

EDIT: well i did say that i appreciate good bass and it's well known that the koss' (reputedly) provide solid bass and it's possible the pmx60s are lacking in that area. if the 75s provide too much bass then i'll go with the sennheisers. if those don't satisfy then i'll get the mdrs with the volume control and end up with the same sound i had before my old pair died. -of course by then, i'll have spent enough in shipping to have bought at least two more units but what can i do :/

EDIT: how can the koss' with their slim, low profile, hanging off the ear design provide such reputedly heavy bass? that's an engineering question for y'all tech heads...

Last edited by zer0nix; 02-16-06 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 02-16-06, 10:58 AM   #6
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Well CircuitCity sells it so you can get it with free in-store pickup and get it as cheap as possible because you don't have to pay for shipping.

http://www.circuitcity.com/ccd/produ...&cm_keycode=66

Also I'm pretty sure all of these are open headphones, closed headphones are the ones that cover your ear and don't have any ventilation holes.

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Old 02-16-06, 01:04 PM Thread Starter   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funnyperson1
I'm pretty sure all of these are open headphones, closed headphones are the ones that cover your ear and don't have any ventilation holes.
that's what i thought, thanks for mentioning that. i don't know why i thought otherwise. at $18.99 and just a mile away from my house (and en route), i'll be picking these up from circuit city tonight
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Old 02-16-06, 10:04 PM Thread Starter   #8
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ok... i haven't burned these in yet but i've discovered something disturbing; these headphones emit the sound of white snow incessantly and quite loudly; my ear drums are actually starting to hurt! are these supposed to do that or is mine a defective unit? -i can barely stand this! if the problem doesn't go away after the burn in, i'm returning them the next day for sure. please tell me this ain't right... these ksc75s came recommended by so many people... my so called '****ty' sonys never had THIS problem. the snow sound is LOUD. frankly, i'm disgusted. i'm putting these aside and i'm not putting them back on for 5 hours.
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Old 02-17-06, 10:46 PM Thread Starter   #9
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so how do these sound? the ksc75s are LOUD compared to the sony mdr52s. my windows volume control is set at the lowest it can possibly go (i use program specific volume controls for media) and the 'beeps and dings' are MUCH louder with these, though not uncomfortably so.

the sound detail with these headphones is much higher than with the sonys in that i'm picking up little details that were not present or not so clear before; certain lyrics that i'd have to look up before are suddenly absolutely crystal clear (almost not a 'pro' considering the type of music i listen to ). the sonys were good headphones in that i never noticed that i was missing this detail but with these headphones, i'm definitely picking up even smaller details; i can now hear how a string is being plucked and is vibrating in the ear whereas before i would just hear a note. i can also actually hear a word begin in an artist's throat now which is kind of amazing.

weird thing is, the menu music for "battlefield 1942 secret weapons of ww2" sounds like CRAP through these. the drums sound static-y and poor... of course, even with my sonys the drums were never absolutely clear so it must be that particular audio file sucks :/ long story short, after testing with these using various shooters, i can definitely hear 'direction' through these headphones.


now for the form:
the cord is really short. no way in hell is this a 4 foot cord. my mdr52s have a cord that is at least a foot longer than these by comparison and those were too short for my pc tower to be placed on the ground. i'm definitely gonna need to buy an extension cord if i want to keep these for use with the computer.

these clips are much harder to get on than the 'clip type' headphones i used before and the sound quality definitely depends on how snug and secure these are; you can't just slip these on -or at least i haven't adjusted them to the point that i can just yet. another review put it best, putting these on is definitely a 2 hand operation with each earphone; i'm the kind of guy who likes to have the tv on when working on the computer and i find they're much more cumbersome to adjust than 'behind the neck' headphones. having a cord that is shorter than the sonys also means i'm taking them off and putting them on much more than i'd have to using a different set of headphones.

the clips themselves are quite solidly built and are designed to retain shape very well -they are not too loose and considering how well they keep a subtle shift in positioning, they're not too tight imho. they also come off and are replaceable (!). i'm trying to see if i could buy a neckband attachment to replace the clips like the ksc11s have. i am SURE it will improve the sound even more and will make life a little easier -in fact, i'm so sure of this that if i can't find what i'm looking for, i'm gonna suggest it to the koss people.

these most definitely would make great workout headphones. they are very secure and will stay on despite the heaviest thrashing, shaking and changing of position (specifically done for testing). also, without a neckband, you can go straight to the weight bench and not have to worry about making adjustments.


now for the sound:
the lows and highs come out exceptionally well but it seems to me that the 'midrange' could be more powerful. notes which aren't particularly high or low pitched seem to be muted in comparison and the balance is definitely off (determined via extensive testing): higher pitched sounds are much louder through these than the bass (although the bass is now more powerful and clear) and other 'background' details (which used to come out loud and clear with the sonys) can and do get obscured by both. the adjustment to the treble is definitely louder than the adjustment to the bass and seems a bit too high in volume as adjusting the volume to hear the -newly- smaller midrange can be slightly uncomfortable.

the snow is still there. i could turn the volume ALL way up with my sonys in windows and in winamp (for dvd rips ) and there would be no static and no snow (so i know it can't be the connection to the sound card) but with these, there's snow right out of the box. when playing a song or a videogame, the snow is present in the background. at the LOWEST volume, there's still this loud snow! it is because of this that these do not make good pc/gaming headphones imho. the headphones are still good enough for working out with but imho this incessant -though not disruptive- snow is unacceptable for keeping the headphones on for hours or for the kind of tense listening that is sometimes required for first person shooters.


CLIFFS NOTES:
*i'd like a neckband attachment if there is one
*really minor details are now audible
*midrange seems weak, treble seems too loud
*cord is not quite 4 feet
*SNOW!!!! wtf?! can something be done about this?!
*these are good for working out
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Old 02-17-06, 10:50 PM   #10
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are you using onboard sound???
these koss are probably more sensitive so they are picking up the background sound cause by crappy sound cards/onboard/computer parts
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Old 02-18-06, 10:27 PM   #11
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Yea I would test it out, with a CD player or something that you know will have great quality coming out with little sound.

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