I spend a lot of time listening to music while I’m working and I was always under the assumption that the Sony MDR-X200 I owned was good enough. Then my friend introduced me to the Sennheiser PXC-450. They blew me away! Everything was so clear, you can make out so many instruments and there’s an overall better perception of from which direction and distance the sound is coming from. An A.R Rahman song stands out with classy headphones. To top it off, it was so incredibly comfortable – the circumaural cups fit around your earlobes and you can listen for hours.
The only problem: the PXC-450 is incredibly expensive. In India, it costs about twenty five thousand rupees and that my friend, is a lot of money to dish out on headphones.
Thus I set out on my quest to find a cheaper alternative, one that would be readily available and would not cost me a fortune. I headed to the Imagine store in the Forum, Koramangala. They have a decent collection of good quality headphones and I tried out the Sennheiser HD 438 from there.
I came back home and committed the first mistake: I ordered the Sennheiser HD 448 online. HD 448 should be better than HD 438, right? Well, the quick answer is no. HD 448 is more realistic and has better resolution than the HD 438; but the bass. Oh, the bass. The thump, my friends, is lacking. By “lacking”, I’m not saying it is bad. It is just not that great. I quickly managed to find a buyer for that and offloaded it. HD 438 scores on that count.
The next mistake: I then bought an open-back audiophile headphone – the Sennheiser HD 518. It costs around six thousand, but the clarity, bass and detail is stunning. If you haven’t listened to an open-back headphone before, I suggest you drop whatever you are doing and try it immediately. It is like listening to high-quality speakers at an incredibly high volume without any distortion or difference in quality. The only problem – open-back headphones leak a lot of sound. At around 50% volume, it is fine. Go any higher and people around you can hear what you are listening to. Not good when you’re in office.
Finally, I settled on a Denon AH-D1100. It costs around eight-thousand rupees; I’d say this is the best closed-back headphones around. The sound quality is exceptional; bass is lovely and the build quality is excellent. I picked these up at the Imagine store and am loving every single moment of using it:
Other models I tried and rejected:
- Bose QC-15 – Noise cancellation is awesome. Overall bass and treble sound a bit tinny compared to PXC-450 or the Denon AH-D1100.
- Beats by Dr. Dre – Too much bass; sound quality takes a hit when there’s only vocals and this is insanely expensive – around Rs. 27000/-.