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Monday, October 29, 2007

I Need Headphones

posted by on October 29 at 11:45 AM

My old headphones broke and I’ve been reduced to borrowing Annie Wagner’s, which look like this:


Now, I am extremely grateful to Ms. Wagner for her patience with my headphone borrowing, but I must say her headphones are not my fantasy headphones. My fantasy headphones are like giant earmuffs—the earpieces covered in all kinds of softness, the size large enough that the points of contact mostly involve my head and not my ears themselves. Also must be: Wearable with glasses and powerful enough to withstand an office of extroverts.

Where do I go to find these fantasy headphones? Are you wearing them right now? Where did you buy them and for how much?

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I saw some nice fluffy earphones at the Sharper Image store downtown. They were on display by the check out counter. The ear area was covered in sheepskin I think. Good luck!

Posted by D. A. S. | October 29, 2007 11:48 AM

Grado SR-60, maybe?

Posted by tebay | October 29, 2007 11:49 AM

Spend the money and buy a Bose pair. You won't regret anything that they make.

Posted by the best | October 29, 2007 11:52 AM

I have the Sony MDR-7506 - they're about 100 bucks, and well worth it. They more or less fit your description (although I don't wear glasses, so I don't know about that), and they sound great.

A link:

Posted by Levislade | October 29, 2007 11:53 AM

Even the big earmuff type still fit on your ears, not your head. Try any of the Sony MDR headphones. I have the MDR-V900HD, though those are kind of pricey- there's one for every budget.

Posted by Big Sven | October 29, 2007 11:54 AM

Don't you know you can get cooties swapping headphones?

Posted by Mike | October 29, 2007 11:56 AM

I got big ol' silver ones at Ross for 10 bucks. The sound quality is fine, too.

Posted by tabletop_joe | October 29, 2007 11:56 AM

Bose noise-canceling headphones. Check it out, they're pretty awesome.

Posted by Carollani | October 29, 2007 11:57 AM

I wear the Sennheiser eH350. I paid about $60 a year ago and have no complaints. After a decade of spending no more than $4 on headphones, these big muffs have been a revelation.

Posted by An Interested Party | October 29, 2007 12:01 PM

Second the recommendation for the Sony MDR-7506's. Platinum Records sells them and others, right near you guys.

Posted by Russell | October 29, 2007 12:04 PM

Bose are crap, and noise-reduction circuitry is a stupid idea. Get some good earbuds with a fit kit of different bud foams. Shure EC2's are great. Musician types swear by Etymotic earbuds. If you want over-the-ear ones, get Grado; nothing comes close to their price/performance ratio.

Posted by Fnarf | October 29, 2007 12:06 PM

Sennheiser HD-280s. The Grados are good, but w/an open back, have a tendency to leak sound.

Posted by losboats | October 29, 2007 12:07 PM

Wow. Those look really embarrassing. I agree with Carollani, if you want to shell out that much for headphones. I used to sell tons at Best Buy and never had returns.

Posted by Amelia | October 29, 2007 12:08 PM
Posted by spend money once, never spend again | October 29, 2007 12:09 PM

I bought Sony Monitor headphones that are available from Amazon for $14. I was amazed by how much better they sounded than the headphones I've used in the past (similar to the headphones you pictured). Some of the reviewers on Amazon found them big and bulky, but to me they fit fine. Here's the link:

Posted by Peter | October 29, 2007 12:09 PM

I have a pair of Grado SR-80s that I like. They sound great and get loud, but they don't block out much sound and aren't really that comfortable. I just ordered a pair of Sony MDR-V6's because I'd like to have something that blocks out more sound (I also have chatty co-workers and need to monitor sound for video occasionally). I have a credit from Sony, so they were free. If they don't work out, they'll probably go on Craigslist.

Posted by gillsans | October 29, 2007 12:12 PM

Just go down to guitar center. They have the full range of styles and prices. In fact, they have a headphone tree so you can try them all on!

Posted by lilblackcat | October 29, 2007 12:15 PM

Bose is crape. Sennheiser's pwnzor.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 29, 2007 12:18 PM

*crap. Fuck!

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 29, 2007 12:18 PM

I know you didn't ask for these kind, but I'm a fan of the $14 Koss KSC-75s. They look just like the ones you posted up there, but their comfier, sound much fuller and strike that perfect work-environment balance between canceling out background noise and letting in those "HEY NEED TO TALK TO YOU" noises.

Posted by Sam M. | October 29, 2007 12:21 PM

Typos on Slog replies are a pain. "they're"... Jesus Christ.

Posted by Sam M. | October 29, 2007 12:23 PM

Second on the MDR 7506 from Sony. Love 'em

Posted by sean | October 29, 2007 12:27 PM

Bose is crepes! Mmm.

Posted by Gloria | October 29, 2007 12:39 PM

Great, comfortable sound with Audio Technica ATH-ANC7 ($121). If you travel by plane much, these will make your life much better. Noise cancelling won't shut up high frequencies like your office mates. For that, you'll need a bad attitude.

Posted by SouthSeattle | October 29, 2007 12:44 PM

I have to agree with #4 and #22. The Sony headphones are great. I got a pair during my brief stint as a student at the Art Institute of Seattle. (It was part of the starter package they give you.)

Posted by Charity Mullen | October 29, 2007 12:46 PM

Noise canceling technology bounces all sorts of gross waves into you skull. I know they work for some people fine, but those things make my head want to implode.

I like regular old earbuds - most don't fit my ears great, and occasionally the wind pulls'em out (No joke, I work on a REALLY windy street), but for commuting, they let just the right amount of sound in to pay attention, and sound decent enough with the background noise. Wear noise canceling headphones in public, your kinda askin' for trouble.

For home/airplane travel I've got some $60 Sennheiser's that are great.

Posted by Dougsf | October 29, 2007 12:47 PM

Noise-canceling headphones are nice for scenarios like airplane flights where there's a lot of ambient noise that would otherwise force you to put your volume up to damaging levels, but the passive aspect off the cancellation (i.e. firm pressure on your head) makes them uncomfortable with glasses.

Posted by Gabriel | October 29, 2007 12:50 PM

@everyone (and no one in particular): Well I happen to know about sound stuff and I have a lot of opinions on headphones and blah blah blah.


Posted by Jude Fawley | October 29, 2007 12:54 PM

Check out some tiny noise-isolating earbuds, like the ones from Etymotic. Their soft silicone earpieces are fairly comfortable, at least in my ears, and they cut out 35 dB of the outside universe, passively. No noise-cancelling (with the tricky technology that doesn't always work right), just noise-stopping, like ear plugs, which they are. That is, if you weren't using them to play music, you could wear them as ear protectors. The only downside is they have filters, like hearing aids do, that need periodic replacement when they get stuffed with earwax.

I wear them on the subway all the time, whether I feel like listening to music (or Dan's podcast) or not. I'm sure they could stand up to a noisy newsroom.

Posted by Brooklyn Reader | October 29, 2007 12:59 PM

Good earphones are essential. As both Vanity Fair and GQ tell us, you can usually find very nice ones in the $60 to $100 range, but the best are in the $300 or more range.

That said, I think mine were something like $30.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 29, 2007 1:00 PM

I got a pair of these:

after I wrote about them last year. I hear you can pick them up at Fry's now for about $35. They sound FANTASTIC.

Posted by Matt Fuckin' Hickey | October 29, 2007 1:00 PM

oh and earbuds depend on the user - some people like certain ones and can't stand others - and some people are driven mad by having earbuds in the first place. So caveat emptor.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 29, 2007 1:04 PM

More details: I got the Etymotic ER-6 Isolator earphones for about $90 on the web. I found the seller either through eBay or Amazon. Can't remember now.

Posted by Brooklyn Reader | October 29, 2007 1:04 PM
Posted by Abe | October 29, 2007 1:18 PM

Future Sonics makes some great in ear monitors. The Atrio is the model I have and I absolutely love them. They are expensive but well worth it. Many professional sound people and producers use them.

Posted by Dork | October 29, 2007 1:42 PM

#31 - thanks for the tip. I like those!

Posted by Dougsf | October 29, 2007 2:01 PM

I won some SkullBot Ti headphones at the Incredible Feast earlier this year and they are pretty fantastic. They're slightly ugly and have a couple of little stud-spikes in them, but the sound is nice and the fit is wonderful. If you don't mind looking a bit like a wanker, they're great.

Posted by iwanttobealion | October 29, 2007 2:04 PM
i got my badass headphones from this website. it's very very helpful

Posted by lola | October 29, 2007 2:08 PM

I wear glasses and Bose headphones work great for me.

Posted by k. | October 29, 2007 2:48 PM

so I dj, that means I have 5 pairs of headphones. If you were taking them off all the time, I would suggest the sony, pioneer or technics dj models, for everyday wear there is only one name: Sennheiser. I can wear mine for hours...Thanks for reminding me that I have spent $600 on headphones in the last 5 years.

Posted by wisepunk | October 29, 2007 3:04 PM

I love the Bose headphones I bought recently @ Best Buy. Not the cheapest or lightest, but they're damn comfortable, and they block out so much noise, I can edit music files while sipping coffee at noisy Victrola on 15th:;jsessionid=GWLAHIXTIW3CHKC4D3EVAIA?skuId=6655728&type=product&id=1082742915065

Posted by Will in 98103 | October 29, 2007 3:47 PM

My current headphones are the Eytmotic er-6i and the AKG K701, if you've got some cash I really like the 701's. I've always been a fan of Sennheiser but the price/performance/looks made me go with AKG for this round. has em for a pretty good price.

And baby jesus cries every time someone reccomends Bose.

Posted by bitmover | October 29, 2007 4:02 PM

Oh man, do I ever love my BeyerDynamic DT-770/80's. They're huge, they're comfortable, and they shut you out from the world around you. Not super bassy or treble-y, per se, but the detail is amazing. And c'mon, the earmuffs are periwinkle velvet - it doesn't get any cooler than that.

If you want open-backed headphones that aren't so isolating, the Grado's are way cool, too.

Posted by Dade Murphy | October 29, 2007 4:03 PM

I'm really embarassed to admit this (and it's not like me--honest!) but I buy cheap Sony headphones in bulk at Walmart. They cost about $10, last up to 6 months, and they sound fantastic. They also actually manage to stay in my ears. Yes, Mud Baby has ears... The only thing that's not to like is having to go to creepy places like Renton and Lacy to buy them. Oh, I forgot: Renton is ahead of the curve...

Posted by Mud Baby | October 29, 2007 8:38 PM

I'd agree with people that suggested something a little lower-profile. Canal-phones really are the way to go. Don't confuse them with earbuds (those tinny things that come with the iPod)! Canal-phones (like the ones made by Etymotics, Shure, etc.) sit inside your ear canal and make a seal all the way around. I wear glasses, and used to use big cans, but found that they were uncomfortable with the glasses. I'm now using a pair of canal-phones that, for this category, are reasonably low-end: a pair of Sennheiser cx300 ($80-ish, I think, though there's now a new model in the same line). I love them. When I'm playing music, I can't hear my phone ringing on my desk. They isolate much better than any active noise-canceling phones I've ever used, and there's no hiss introduced or anything like that. Also, clear highs, no mud in the middle, and a solid bass.

So yeah. Go with canal-phones, either the Senns, which I love, or, if you have the capital, something from Shure or Etymotic. I hear bad things about the Sony models of this type, though, so probably best avoid those.

Posted by abpend | October 29, 2007 10:20 PM

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