As an audiophile there is no undermining the importance of a good pair of headphones. Most music lovers and audio enthusiasts own more than one set — and why not? There are tons of brands and models to choose from, all of which are different in some aspect or another. Here are the top 5 headphones (under $300) that will offer you great quality and a good value without breaking the bank:
- Sony MDR-7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones
- Grado Prestige Series SR80i Stereo Headphones
- Sennheiser HD 598 Headphones
- Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint Noise-Cancelling Headphones
- AKG K 701 Headphones
Sony Pro MDR-7506
The MDR-7506 often gets buried in most gear talk and reviews because there are bigger and better players in the headphone market. But this headphone is THE entry level headphone to consider if you are on a budget and are looking for a closed back headphone. Unlike the Grado which is next in our list, this one is great if you don’t want sound leaking. It is also a great headphone for daily use and on the go. Do you remember the MDR-V6? This one is the next in the evolutionary line. The MDR-V6 is the Sony classic which left a memorable footprint in the market. The MDR-7506 is a slightly updated version of the classic.
We are talking ear comfort, sturdy construction, high quality sound and a decent low-end response. At $99, what more can you ask for? It has bang for the buck written all over it.
- Pros: Mega Bang for Buck. Good on the go cans.
- Cons: Slight ear discomfort. Cups deteriorate over a year or two.
Grado Prestige Series SR80i
First off, these are open back headphones that are handmade in Brooklyn. These WILL leak sound and people around you will be able to hear what you are listening to (quite clearly, actually). So these may not be ideal for listening to your iPod on the subway. But for anyone who can ignore the above consideration, these Brooklyn cans are superior and one of the most critically acclaimed open back headphones in the market (especially for that price tag). You will either love the styling or hate it but there can’t be any two opinions about the stellar sound quality. They offer a rich soundstage and a very natural sound image which works amazing well for all types of music. The low-end response is much better than the Sr60i which is why these made it to the list over that model. You can enjoy their superior sound quality for just $99 or explore more models by Grado if you can stretch you budget.
- Pros: Detailed Natural Soundstage. Good low-ends as compared to earlier models.
- Cons: Comfort may be an issue for long hours. Styling is retro (this can also be a pro depending on your taste). Open back headphones – may not be ideal for on-the-go listeners.
These circumaural headphones (covering external part of the ear) are well designed and have sturdy construction. The feel is comfortable and luxurious. The padded headband coupled with ear cups that breathe make for a product that promises to eliminate sweat and fatigue during long hours of listening. The sound on the HD-598 is amazingly good. The sound is balanced and natural. The great part is that it can handle all the frequencies with ease and can take on really tough tracks without flinching. The midrange response on these receives a mention for being right at par with cans that cost thrice as much. Price wise the Sennheiser HD-598 pitches tent closer to the $300 mark but these could just as easily be a top contender for the best headphone under $500. The main drawback is the color and styling of this product is uninspiring and there aren’t any options available other than the “sedan interiors” styled beige and brown. The other notable drawback is that the product comes without a case, carry pouch, or airline adapter – all of which need to be bought separately.
- Pros: 10/10 sound. Comfortable. Amazing midrange reproduction.
- Cons: Looks one-dimensional and boring. No carry case, cover or flight adapter with the product.
They do really well in the noise cancellation department and outgun competition from Sennheiser, Boss & Beats. When you consider the price, you know you have a good deal. The cans will cost you approx. $250.
Audio-Technica has managed to create a great product for people who want noise cancellation. This model in particular has three modes. All three work great – it is worth noticing that these headphones sound good even without the noise cancellation feature. However, there is some hyped midrange when you use them normally. The overall sound is commendable and these are certainly a deserving candidate for noise-cancellation earphones in the ‘Best under $300’ list.
- Pros: Three modes. Good Quality. Noise Cancellation is great.
- Cons: Midrange is hyped. Ear fatigue when used too long.
The K-701 is a great choice for the DJ or mixing market that is looking for professional audiophile earphones. Aesthetically, the white and black color variations are classic designs. The white is certain to attract attention. The construction is high-quality and you get well-cushioned wide ear pads on a fairly lightweight headphone. The sound quality is perfect for those who are looking for a detailed sound. These may need a burn in period but once that is over you are looking at a product that offers pristine sound with a competent soundstage that can rival headphones three to four times its price. The musical detail, 2 year warranty, replaceable ear pads and aluminum voice coil design make this a steal at under $300. Couple these headphones with an amp and you have yourself a winner for the studio. You can find these for an online price of $260 and probably cheaper with a few dealers.
- Pros: Top quality build and comfort. Impressive soundstage. Rich natural response. Good looking cans.
- Cons: Mids might be a little lacking. Break in period.