Portable Headphone Recommendations -

Portable Headphone Recommendations

 

The list is sorted based on price, starting from the lowest to the most expensive. The categorizing is meant to be a rough guideline, for more detailed sound impressions please refer to the reviews.

  • HiFi: Warm sound signature with full midrange and bass.
  • Rockin’: Aggressive forward and lively sound with fast pace, good for Rock and similar music.
  • Monitoring: Precise sound lets you hear the recordings in an uncolored manner.
  • Basshead: Tuned for maximum bass quantity, punch and impact.
  • Open Sound: Very spacious and open presentation, almost speaker like. Tend to be weak in bass.

We start the list with the ultra-portables. Super compact portable headphones designed for ultimate mobility. These are the casual headphones. They are usually foldable and don’t require an amplifier. Because they don’t fully cover your ears, you will get sound leak both in and out with these headphones.

Koss PortaPro – Rockin’
The PortaPro is the biggest name in ultra portables. It’s been around forever and the crowd has always loved it. Personally, I think it’s a lot of fun, but the driver is relatively old and has been surpassed by the drivers found in newer models like Jays’ V-Jays. Still, the PortaPro has a very big following and deserves to be listed here.
$40.08 from Amazon.com | Ultra Portable Cans Shootout

Sennheiser PX100-II – HiFi
It is not as popular as the original PX100, but I have no doubt that the mark II is a better headphone than the original, both in overall refinement and musicality. It gives you a taste of the classic Sennheiser sound in an ultra-portable package. Laid back, smooth, with plenty of midrange and bass, they make for a great all rounder headphones.
$42.80 from Amazon.com | Ultra Portable Cans Shootout

Jays V-Jays – HiFi
Fun sounding ultra portable with modern driver refinement. Blows the old PX-100 and Portapro out of the water. Sparkly and fun treble, lively sounding, good bass though a bit loose.
$69.99 from Amazon.com Ultra Portable Shootout

Sennheiser HD238 – HiFi
The HD238 is somehow like a supercharged ultra portable. Slightly bigger than the usual ultra portables, but not quite as big as the semi portables. What you get is the convenience of the ultra portables, but with a bigger sound quality.
$99.95 from Amazon.com | Ultra Portable Shootout 

Marshall Major – Rockin’
The headphone from guitar amplifier Marshall comes with a sound signature fitting for Rock (no surprise there). It’s aggressive, forward, with tight and punchy bass. The build is quite tough and noise isolation is pretty good.
$99.00 from Amazon.com | Marshall Major and Minor

 

From this point down we are talking about the semi portables. They are bigger than the ultra portables and are not always foldable. They still do pretty well for mobile listening duties, and some of them has the added bonus of offering noise isolation, meaning outside noise is blocked so you can enjoy your music better at lower volume levels. They also don’t leak sound as much as the ultra portables, and their sound quality is generally better.

Sennheiser HD25-1 – Rockin’
Forward, engaging, tight and puncy bass, awesome PRaT, tough build, best-in-class noise isolation. Great for Rock, Electronica, Pop, RnB. The HD25-1 is one of the most popular portables around, and always a big hit with the crowd. Also try the HD25SP for a lot less money.
$199.95 (HD25-1) | $127.35 (HD25SP)Closed Cans Shootout

Audio Technica ESW-9 – HiFi
This headphone is a long time crowd favorite for a few years now. Warm sound and a sweet midrange makes the ESW-9 a very easy headphone to enjoy and like. Perhaps the only thing that’s lacking about it is the Rockin’ factor, where it can be too soft when the music calls for some energetic presentation. Since the release of the Bowers & Wilkins P5, however, I personally think that the Bowers & Wilkins is the better headphone, while offering similar sound character.
$295.18 from Amazon.com | Closed Cans Shootout

Bowers & Wilkins P5 – HiFi
Midrange centric, thick and sweet mids and full lows, medium to slow pace. The P5 is maybe THE most comfortable portable headphone around. Very easy to drive straight from your Iphone. Good for Vocals, Jazz, Pop, and RnB. Decent noise isolation.
$299.99 from Amazon.com | (no review available)

Beyerdynamic DT1350 – Rockin’
A new release from Beyerdynamic, which I think is what the Beyerdynamic T50p should’ve been from the beginning. Stylish design and build, it’s one of the best looking portable headphones out there. The cup size is small and it’s not quite as isolating as the HD25-1. Fast paced, forward with punchy bass, the DT1350 is very good for Rock, Electronica, Pop and RnB. It’s more expensive than the Sennheiser HD25-1, though I feel the Senn to still have the better sound between the two. Also check out the T50p for a slightly less price, but not as good in the bass department.
$299.00 (DT1350) | $249.00 (T50p) |  Beyerdynamic DT1350


 

Only list the most popular products are listed here. If you feel it to be too limited, feel free to browse the reviews on the Headphones Category:

 

 

'
  • Chris

    Hey Mike,

    Would the ESW-9 do good for Pop and Alternative Rock/Indie or would the P5 be the better choice?  The ESW-9 just has a really nice look to it.  :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Chris, 
      If you still want to play some alt. Rock the ESW-9 would be better. 

      • Extreme_reza

        i have marshall major pairing with ipod classic 6 gen rev.3 (late 2009 edition) i listen ALAC more than mp3..i like alternative and rock..some times pop/jazz…why it sound so bad? pain in my ears especially for the high freq..should i add some cmoy BB amplifier or Fio E10 for make it better?

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Probably not the fault of the Ipod or the recordings, but rather you need a headphone with less treble amount aka a darker sounding headphone. Try some sennheisers? The PX100-II perhaps.

          • Extreme_reza

            if i forced to use marshall and add Cmoy BB ampli…could i get warmer sounding?

            • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

              Yes.

  • pDM

    Hi mike. I just impress by beats solo hd for its portable use (direct ipod / blackbery), bass impact, and good isolation. Can you recommend me portable headphones which size is similar to solo hd, have a great bass impact, and good isolation (outside noises arenot heard) ? Btw Im considering hd25 adidas, but in jakarta it is 3.4millions rupiah ( the best price i could get), how is the hd25 adidas performance compared to dt1350 in bass and isolation?
    Thanks mike.

    • Pdm

      Btw is it worth to get the solo hd for 2.7millions rupiah or should i get the hd25 adidas?

  • http://www.radioshak.co.uk Shakil Shaikh

    Hi Mike!

    I’m looking to replace my original PX100′s and was looking at the PX100-IIs before reading your reviews. In the UK, the PX-IIs are £35, the V-Jays £40 and the Tracks £50. I’m guessing by the love you give them that the Jays is the pick of those three, but I just wanted to make sure that’s still the current reccomendation. Thanks!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I still think the V-Jays are a lot of fun.. however there has been some people who’s been using the PX100 who thinks that they still prefer the darker sound of the Sennheiser PX100-II than the Jays. 

      • http://www.radioshak.co.uk Shakil Shaikh

        Argh! That’s no help :) Thanks!

        • Fabio_Rocks

          The Px 100 ii is Excellent. I own Sennheiser hd 201, Sennheiser px90, Sennheiser hd380pro, AKG k518dj, Koss Portapro, and the px100ii that is the favorite of the bunch!

    • http://www.facebook.com/domagoj.tokic Domagoj Tokić

      V-Jays all the way :)

  • SoundEskimoo

    I think the lists a bit short .

  • http://www.facebook.com/nana.brenu.9 Nana Brenu

    Hello Mike, after your analysis of the ATH-m50, i was curious to try it, ordered a pair this week and i must say im pleasantly surprised at how good they sound, so much so that i seem to be reaching for them more than my HD25-1 II which i really love. Would you say they are portable for everyday use running around the city, because they are tempting me to replace my HD25-1 II as my main portables?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      The M-50 never fails to disappoint. ;)

      I wouldn’t replace the HD25-1 yet though. Give it 1-2 months and see how you like the M-50 for walking around the city.

  • cyborg drackle

    im thinking of buying px100 ii, nd had 1 ques. can i get same quality of bass, or even more in full size ones..-in the same price range? :P sennhisers r my first priority as they easily available in india (buying is less time consuming) i listen to metalcore, hard rock nd a little rap, i need bass, as i like the blend of base nd distortion. there r few new models also nd choosing is very confusing. plz do suggest me 1 with open back, either portable or full size, in 40$-70$. ur reply wld b a gr8 help for me mike. thx

  • Guest

    Hi Mike!
    i’m searching for a good headphone with detail Sound.. i have two option: the ATH M50 and the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro. i often listen to metal, rock, alternative, but also Jazz.. what do you recommend?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      MEtal rock alternative, Beyer COP would be good. Also try the Senn HD25-1 I think it’s better for Metal, Rock and Alt.
      Jazz, ATH M50.

  • Sasmit

    Hi Mike,

    you reviewed the fidelio L1 in March. I was looking at the lower range but similar downtown and uptown primarily as the L1 is out of my current Budget. have you ever tried out these portables? What is your view on their strengths and weaknesses? Thanks for your help.

  • Marcilio

    Hi mike, I’m from Brazil and want to buy a very nice headphones for my iPhone. I usually use it at the gym (a quiet gym) or on the go, and usually listen to pop rock. I’m in doubt about the px210bt – U$160, hd25 – U$200, dt 1350 – U$250 and the P5 – U$340. What is the best one? I like a good bass, not as beats, but good. Thank you very much

    • http://gorboman.wordpress.com/ Gorboman

      I’d pick the HD25 out of those choices. But if you do treadmills in the gym, maybe consider IEM / earbuds with ear hook instead. For non gym activity, Vmoda M80 is also good sounding with bass.

      • Marcilio

        I already have some IEM =)
        Do you prefer the M80 – U$160 over the HD25 – U$200? Thank’s

        Enviado via iPhone

        Em 27/11/2012, às 23:06, “Disqus” escreveu:

        • http://gorboman.wordpress.com/ Gorboman

          I’ve owned the M80 and have demo the HD25 also. Both are good headphones. But I think the HD25 with the split headband can stay in your head better while working out at the gym compared to the M80. So it’s more of a functionality preference rather than sound preference.

          • Marcilio

            Last question, promise: what about the sound?

            Enviado via iPad

            Em 28/11/2012, às 01:16, “Disqus” escreveu:

            • http://gorboman.wordpress.com/ Gorboman

              Both offers different traits, but more to modern music recordings. If you like agressive sound, but not in a Grado fashion, the HD25 is best. I think it’s also respond to a broader range of music genre than the M80. But if you like a more balanced, a bit laid back, and a bit airy sound, the M80 is for you. Though I’ve found the M80 did not quite match my taste in rock music. Other than that, I love the M80 more.

              • Marcilio

                About IEM (here I come again), there are 2 on sale. The Monster Turbine Pro Gold Audiophile In Ear Speaker with ControlTalk for U$150 and the Klipsch Image X10 Noise-Isolating Earphone for U$85. Do you know any of them?
                Enviado via iPhone

                Em 28/11/2012, às 02:39, “Disqus” escreveu:

                • http://gorboman.wordpress.com/ Gorboman

                  I’ve never tried any of those. Sorry.

                  • Marcilio

                    damm, you are fast! thank you very much

                    2012/11/28 Disqus

                  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

                  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                    The Monster I think it’s awful. The Klipsch X10 I’m not really familiar with.

                    You should try the Vsonic GR02 Bass. It’s very cheap and extremely good. I’m guessing $30-$40. Try some sites like mp4nation to see if they have them.

              • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                Good comment there by Gorboman.

          • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

            Good point there on the split headband.

            Nothing works as good as an IEM though for Gym sessions.

  • Ahmad Parapat

    i think this recommend list need to upgrade….

    • Robert

      Yes, definitely

'