Aug 1, 2017

Best headphones on the go?

I'm an audiophile noob, but want to get some good headphones for walking to work, and taking to and from home / on airplanes etc.
I am currently using HiFiMan HE-350 at work, and have cheap IEMs I use for working out. I think I'd prefer some light, over ear headphones for walking around and with my iPhone, but I find the HiFiMan a little too heavy and awkward when moving around (but maybe it's just the cord?).
What would you recommend for portable, high quality headphones?

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KOSS has reasonable models which all come with life time guarantees. I believe there are some currently dropped! The sad thing is they are rarely thought about with all the other brands on the market. KOSS has been around for many years and has withstood time.
Try the E-Mu Purplehearts
Walking around is different than most other applications you mentioned. For flying, train commute, office environment, etc, isolation is desirable. But for walking around, you really need to be able to hear cues from your environment like oncoming vehicles, etc.
I have Sennheiser HD 700's (recent MD purchase:) and had (gifted away) 598 SE's at home; used to have older Bose NC for air-travel (lost), now replaced by Sony MDR-NC500D's; but if buying again for air-travel (hi-level constant noise) I would get the Bose QC 35's.

But,, if you are looking for walking around mobility, put down anywhere, audiophile quality (wired), closed but not noise canceling; you are in an in-between, hybrid, audiophile/mobile can market. I have never tried them, but it looks to me that there is an unsung sleeper in these road-worthy, HD audio quality metal cans: Review/blog: Ignore the bass-boost thingy, they had to do that because marketing told them too... doesn't deter from the base quality of the cans, and you can use it for 'kicks' when you want.

Or,,, just go retro for fun:
Koss Portapro's. $40. Lightweight. Right angle connector. Lifetime guarantee. No brainer.
Well I just picked up a set of m40x's for exactly this purpose. There's a bundle on Amazon that includes a short cable and also got a pair of zmf cowhide pads to solve the comfort issue. You now have a neutral set of closed cans that are very comfy and have incredible sound isolation. Plus they feel really well built in a could take a beating and still keep going type way.
Go buy those Porta Pros lol
I don't see one set handling all things well. I'd want buds for walking, as you really should have some awareness around you. Office/home, you can go nuts with a tube amp and a big set of cans. Airplane, you want portable, but noise cancelling. Bose 35s kick ass here. I actually work in a noisy office next to the industrial area, and started bringing my 35s to work. While not the best headphones, they are the best at making the world go away and I don't have to blast my music to hear it.
I recently got some symphonized NRG 3.0 earbuds that are great! I got them during Amazon prime day at 15€ but are normally worth 60€ i say while not cheap they are really worth every penny they are the best headphones I've ever gotten
Monk plus earbuds are what I've been using recently. They sound pretty good and are five bucks from their website.
They're kind of big flat earbuds, so they don't fit a lot of ears, but if they fit you, they sound quite good. (amazing at the price)
Yep, completely agree! I just got mine yesterday, and I love their sound (for the price, of course). The fit though, could be better for me. I wish they came with earhooks.
None of these comments even bring up Koss headphones. Koss is king for portability on-ears in my mind and even for budget or just for on-the-go in general.

MassDrop is making an amazing move and doing the "MassDrop x Koss PortaPro X" or whatever the name is and that's because the portapros are literally the best sounding on-the-go cheap options. They're the same price as Apple EarPods that I use even now because Apple's design allows for solid impact with bass depth and with good detail despite mids being muddy with upper-bass and low-mids kind of just getting messy at some points.

Koss takes this and throws it out of the window with the KSC75 and the PortaPros. I modded my KSC75 to practically be the same as Portapros with a headband and changed out the earpads for pleather workout sessions but decided to go back to the foam since it's just super neutral, warm and beautiful with stock pads. PortaPros are (supposedly) the same drivers as the KSC75, so doing a headband mod with have the same results as what they're selling but I think MassDrop's revision really is appealing since they address build concerns and make it ~$10 cheaper with how they're already around the same ballpark as good IEM/Buds.

KSC75 are $12-15.
PortPros are ~$40.

Massdrop is taking the best of the modded KSC75 I did and the cheaper improved PortaPros for the mid-range of those at.. like $37 iirc?

Their sound is like this: Bass->Mids are EXTREMELY detailed with absolutely no loss or dip or boom. It's just solidly neutral and warm and is a slow descent into highs. Once highs kick in, they're the tiniest bit sibilant if you really kick up the volume, but they're tuned in a way they still have notable sparkle and shine with clarity that won't fatigue you since it's weirdly tuned down with detail. The soundstage is completely narrow, though. It feels like it's really only left->right and what's in front of you (but not fully in front of your face) and doesn't really have any depth with how it travels in echo into your ear canal. That's just because they're on-ears that don't really have any seal or full-open design. But it's sufficient and feels like on-the-go buds with small drivers. Not much more you can ask for $15. I don't have a solid opinion on Portapros since I haven't listened to them in a while, but I've heard they're similar with more bass.

Try out Koss with whatever small budget range there you feel. You really won't be disappointed since it's equivalent to a dinner with friends or a night out. And they're THE BEST on-the-go I own that only get beat out by Apple Earpods for the same price.

(Side note: I haven't tried KZ ZS5, and those are supposedly the best on-the-go IEM for budget. Screw people who like Monks because they shred my ears with their bad plastic design. )

I would +1 most of that, but will note that the KSC75 has a different diaphragm from the portapro, and they do sound different beyond just how tightly they're held to your ears.
The KSC75s are a little harsher and more sibilant in the treble, but awesome for the price.
The portapro are a little less tinny.

Definitely a very good portable headphone, though if you're listening in very noisy environments, they're not ideal.
I recommend you any comfortable open back headphones so you don't get crushed by a car on the way to/from work because you didn't see or hear the incoming traffic - maybe an Audio Technica AD700x. But they are atrocious for airplane use. For airplanes you'll need a good ANC - maybe a Bose QC25/35 or Sony MDR-1000X - or at least a good closed back for isolation.
If you have the money to spend I'd recommend the Bose quiet comfort 25's. They are very lightweight, wireless, good sound quality, and noise cancelling. They have a very good battery life and don't take too long to charge. The only issue is the price. They are quite expensive but seem to fit your lifestyle perfectly. That's what I recommend.

Here's a link:
well, I can tell you one thing: you won't be able to actually enjoy the good quality you get if you're walking on the street. There is way too much noise around you, so just use something that's comfortable for you and isn't as awful as skullcandy. If you want to enjoy audiophile grade headphones, better do it in silence or use bulky over-ear headphones that block external noise. The latter option is not suitable for walking outside, it's very dangerious.
Status Audio CB-1s are fantastic, they're probably one of the best options for an otg over ear headphone (they're also ridiculously cheap on Massdrop drops), if you want to go higher end, Oppo's PM2 and even better the PM3 are fantastic and are built beautifully. I've also heard some pretty impressive things about the Audio Technica MSR7s. If you don't mind a bigger headphone, the AKG K553 Pro is wonderful as well. I've heard good things about the Hifiman Edition S, they may leak a little bit of sound, due to their odd design though. The Audeze isine 10 is great as well, especially if you want some planar IEMs. If you want some bluetooth, noise cancelling cans, the Sony MDR1000x is great too, it won't sound as good as the others mentioned above, but it still sounds great, this is probably the best choice for travel IMO .
TL;DR: Focal Listen

I tried using my M50x on the go, but my LG G4 didn't get them loud enough, and they don't have enough bass for me. And using the EQ to increase the bass just made everything else less loud instead :-D

I bought a DAC/amp combo with EQ for that reason (Sound Blaster E5), but the G4's Bluetooth is absurdly bad (at least on mine), and with cables this was too much of a hassle. So I only used the M50x at work through the E5 with the EQ running to boost the bass. Software based solutions on the Mac either cost money or had their own issues of sound cutting out.

After two years, the fake leather on the padding (earpads and headband) starting disintegrating, and they looked pretty hideous as a result.

I went to an audio store and said I would like to get a new pair of closed cans in the <$1000 range (I didn't really want to spend that much, but if something had blown me away, I would have). They showed me two models for $800 which I didn't consider better than the M50x, and one for $1200, which was maybe a tad better - but not $1000 better. Then they showed me the open-backed Focal Elear and I was in awe. Sounded just like actual speakers - amazing.

But they are open, so not good for the office or public transportation. Checked what else Focal has to offer and found the Focal Listen. Reviews were positive, some also suggested the Meze 99 Classics, which are gorgeous.

So I went back to the audio store and compared both to my M50x. Both sounded better to me, didn't lose the wonderful highs of the M50x, but had enough bass, and were more comfortable.

Then I discovered something I never heard before: on the Focal, I could pinpoint the source of the instruments, while with everything else, it sounded more like instruments and voices are coming from a larger surface.

So I went with the Focal Listen! I love them. The headband is a little uncomfortable, and the microphone is crap, but the sound is absolutely gorgeous.

I tried about 20 headphones last Saturday, for up to $2000 each, but didn't like any of them better. mrspeakers has a more natural sounding bass, Sennheiser HD800 a lovely sound stage, but nothing sounded better to me overall (the HD800 have less bass).

Also very nice: the Focal are very efficient (32 ohms, 122 dB sensitivity). Now I have great sound straight out of my phone! So happy.

Best $249 I ever spent. There's now also a wireless version for $299 or so, have not tested that.
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One thing I like better about the M50x is that you can rotate the ear cups by 90º in either direction. That is really useful when you have to put the headphones on your neck since you can still freely move your head. The Focal instead restrict your mobility when you do that.
In terms of storage, the Focal fold down nicely, so no complaints there. Both come with a little pouch, not a hard case. The Focal one is a little smaller, slightly padded (look like neoprene to me), and has a zipper, while the M50x's pouch has fake leather, no padding and just uses drawstrings to close (at least on mine, I have the M50xBL with different colors). Looks nicer, but protects the headphone less.
I can't speak to the Listen!, but I've been very happy with the Focal Spirit, which was their original foray into headphones. They do many things well, and I think you'll find them superior to your hifiman phones in almost all ways. I certainly do...