Headphone recommendations to replace Koss TD-80s?
April 12, 2015 4:25 PM   Subscribe

I have a beloved pair of Koss TD-80s that I now have to admit are ready for retirement - and of course they've been long discontinued. What should I replace them with?

The description in the link above hits all of the reasons I love these cans: ugly but durable, individual volume controls, heavy, hard clamping and full of bass. It didn't hurt that they were reasonably priced when I bought them: maybe $60 in 2001? Sound quality is certainly important, but I prefer steak and potatoes audio over gold-plated silliness.

I've had an eBay alert on them for awhile but everything that comes up seems to be either studio refurbs that lack the volume controls or dubious goods from sketchy sellers. Besides, I'm ready to move on. What should I move on to, you heavy headphone freaks?
posted by Chichibio to Shopping (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you invoked the Koss Lifetime Warranty? They may replace them with a more recent equivalent model, but it's worth a try. Koss is awesome, they'll almost definitely try to help.

Otherwise, the Sony MDR7506s are an excellent-sounding, similar replacement in that general price range. They don't have a volume control in the cord, but you can always buy that separately.
posted by eschatfische at 4:35 PM on April 12, 2015

I'm happy using the Koss UR-20.
posted by merejane at 5:09 PM on April 12, 2015

None of these have volume controls unfortunately

1. Sennheiser HD280 Pro (very accurate, bassy and warm. Hard clamping)
2. Sony MDR-7506 (highs and lows accentuated, sharp sounding)
3. (open cup) Grado - SR80i (lows accentuated, definitely my most "fun" headphones)
posted by aloiv2 at 5:18 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sorry, the Koss UR-20 also does not have volume control. (I read your original post too quickly, I'm afraid.)
posted by merejane at 5:23 PM on April 12, 2015

I have a well-appointed-if-financially-silly recording studio. I keep large selection of premium 'phones around for various recording and listening purposes, and consider myself a bit of a headphone snob. Grado SR-60s or SR-80s are by far my favorites for overall sound quality and deep, accurate bass. A big reason why they have such natural bass extension is that they aren't sealed or noise canceling. This has never been a problem for me, but if you are used sealed, noise canceling cans it may be an issue - as sound can leak in/out. ...and since they aren't trying to seal around your ears, they feel a lot lighter and less restrictive, which may be a bonus.

As a second choice, I'll second eschatfische's recommendation of the Sony MDR-7506s. They are bit "hyped" for my taste: slightly boosted treble and bass. The overall sound quality is excellent - especially for the price - and though they aren't noise-canceling, they have excellent sealing/isolation and I find them very comfortable. I always keep a couple of pairs around.
posted by Anoplura at 5:28 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love my Sennheiser HD280. Great sounding headphone for the price ($100) and they are really workhorses - super durable. Mine get thrown around a lot and I haven't managed to break them yet.

Audio Technica ATH m-50s are good, durable, reasonably priced cans too that get recommended a lot.

But if I were to go out right now and buy a new set of headphones, they'd be Grados. Only downside is they're supra-aural, so you won't get as much passive noise attenuation as you will with something like the Sennheisers, which cover your entire ear.
posted by Lutoslawski at 5:33 PM on April 12, 2015

I love Sony MDR7506 cans and have multiple pairs. Solid as a rock, clean as a whistle. Never get fatigued.

I myself have never understood the Grado hype (or pricing). But de gustibus etc.
posted by spitbull at 5:33 PM on April 12, 2015

Another sennheiser hd280 vote. Bear in mind that they're relatively subdued on the bass but highly capable of it when driven with either a tiny(like a fiio) portable headphone amp, or an audio interface/desktop preamp/good soundcard.

They're also the most durable headphones i own, and every part of them is possible to order(cheaply, like $5-15) and replace.

I can also vouch for the sonys mentioned upthread being everything above, but i really felt the sennheisers had an edge in audio quality.

Several of my coworkers really liked the stuff shure very recently started making that's about the equivalent price/featureset to those two.
posted by emptythought at 6:19 PM on April 12, 2015

The 280s are so painful for me to wear with the head-clamping (so you might like them! lol) I'm looking for something similar but more comfortable. I can vouch for the quality of the HD280, in both sound and durability. If comfort wasn't an issue, they would pretty much be my only pair of closed headphones.

Right now I'm using Sony MDR-10R which is quite good for the price and extremely comfortable. It's no HD280 though.

For open, I have HD555's with the 595 mod and they are *awesome*, but obviously not good if you need isolation and no leakage.
posted by kup0 at 7:59 PM on April 12, 2015

I just got the Kingston HyperX Cloud headset, which is actually just a pair of rebranded Takstar Pro80s with an added detachable mic. Takstar Pro80s are a design based (i.e. ripped off) on the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro, a nice $200+ set. It comes with a bunch of cable extenders, an inline volume control, and swappable velour/leatherette ear cups. I've been really happy with the sound and build quality, although you'd have to put up with a slightly beefier cable due to the mic wiring. I think it has a TRRS adapter to be used as a headset for a phone too. The branding might turn you off but I've been really happy with it.
posted by JauntyFedora at 10:54 PM on April 12, 2015

Grados, SR80 if open is fine with you (best bang/buck imo). So good in a quiet listening environment.
Berydynamics, DT770 (pick the correct resistance..) if you want closed. Really good.
I own the first one - going on 10 years - if not more.
Tried the DT770 once, not a big fan of closed phones, and man, that one hit the spot! If I had to have closed cans and had the budget, that would be it.
Had the HD280 Pro, not bad if I needed closed phones but the sound signature is not my thing.
AKG240 MKII - too detailed; probably good for editing, I found it very boring as a listening phone. Only had this for about 2 years. Picks out things like breathing and flute key clicks....
posted by TrinsicWS at 9:10 PM on April 13, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for your answers everybody - I won't mark any as best because they all have something to consider.

I waffled between the Sony MDR-7506 and the Sennheiser HD280 Pro, and eventually forked out for the latter. It doesn't look like I'll have my individual volume control wish granted anywhere I look, so I went for the hard clamping and durability that the Senns appear to offer.

Cheers everyone!
posted by Chichibio at 11:00 AM on April 17, 2015

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