Sennheiser HD 280 PRO by asdfdsa
One of the most common pair of cans out there and highly lauded in the $100 headphone bracket, all for good reason. Compared to the rest of what's available for the same money, I find the HD280's to overall surpass the competition. The build quality is pretty strong, the phones are resistant to drops and banging around, but like most every headphone, watch out around the joints that connect the lobe to the head band. Comparing these to the Sony MD 7506, the headband is thicker and more stout, though it is all plastic where the 7506 have a little strip of metal...I still think the HD280's can handle more abuse though. One of the great things about the 280's is the isolation. Something like 32db of attenuation! That's real hard to beat, the 7506's for example suck in comparison. A main cause of the great isolation is the ability for the 280's to 'clamp' down on your head, sealing the phones around your ear and blocking out sound - perfect for tracking. The isolation also comes in handy when micing up instruments for placement and finding the 'sweet spot' by listening through the mic.
The sound of the headphones at first before they're broken in is rather harsh and very mid-forward, but after a good dozen hours they mellow out and become more smooth, still with a good mid-presence which really emphasizes vocals, and is real useful for vocal tracking. They have a pretty flat response, and a closed frequency response of 8hz - 25khz. Any one who says these cans lack bass is mistaking...though because of the un-scooped mids I can see where you'd think they were bass shy, I at first thought they lacked bass before they were broken in, and keep in mind that the bass isn't bumped. I wouldn't use these cans to mix on (other than reference checking) but the imaging is very deep and wide. For closed cans, they sound really good.
The overall design of these headphones is great, allowing for twistable lobes for one-ear monitoring (such is useful in DJing) and the ability to fold into itself for better transportation. One downside to the design of these headphones is the coiled cable... I'm not a fan of the coiled cables as they add weight to one side which is uncomfortable and they always need to be stretched. It does make it easier to ''roll up'' the cable though. Sennheiser claims up to 113db of SPL, these cans have all the volume your ears can take. For me, their tight-fit is very comfortable, but you'll need to take them off and let your ears 'breathe' every now and then.
I would definitely recommend these phones for anyone needing closed-back phones in the under $200 market, I really feel these are the best thing around for $100, and am also happy that Sennheiser has a 2 year warranty (so keep your receipt just in case).