The ear buds that come with the iPod defy physics, and both suck and blow. I tried them once, and moved on to Shure and Ultimate Ears in-ear monitors which work great. But eventually I wanted a bit more fidelity and began the search for some over-the-ear cans.
If an uneducated person (such as myself) heads down to Best Buy, they are at the mercy of the equally uneducated salespeople, and the limitations of what is in stock at the store. I avoided this route and went straight to the expert: my boss (of all people). All I had to do was mention headphones to him (a mega audiophile), and he brought in his headphones and headphone amplifier. He then started researching headphones for me and sending me a barrage of e-mails. His headphones were not going to work out for a few reasons: they are open-backed, which would share my unpleasant music with others, and they cost wayyyy too much money.
After all of his research, I decided to try the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones. It turns out that many of my musical colleagues already had them, and really like them for studio use. Maybe I should have checked with them first. These headphones are not a new model, they came out about 10 years ago.
Predictably, they did not have these headphones at Best Buy. So I started to poke around at Al Gore’s internet, and found out that these headphones retail for $199, but nobody is charging more than $100 bucks for them. I found a new set on eBay for $75. They have a 2-year factory warranty.
The HD 280 Pro headphones come with an instruction book, a 10-foot sproingy cord, and a ¼-inch adapter for home stereo use. I will surely lose the adapter at some point.
They sound very good, and have a nice crisp tone with good bass. I maybe hear a little mid-range resonance. Maybe. They are not as good as the high-end Sennheisers my boss loaned me, but good enough for the likes of me. By the way, I let them burn in for 24 hours straight before using them for an extended period, and they loosened up a little, with a bit more bass.
They are comfortable, though the vinyl ear cups get a bit sweaty after an extended wearing. There are 2-way hinges on the ear cups, so they fold into a more packable size. The earcups comes off pretty easily, and should I damage the retro coily cord, it is relatively easy to replace too (no soldering).
My only complaint is they are not terribly loud due to their 64 ohm resistance. For most portable players, 32 ohms is a better specification. Which means that my shopping was not done: I also invested in a headphone amplifier, which you can read about next time. Stay tuned.