Please help my find a pair of headphones that won't hurt my head or ears.
November 29, 2007 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Please help my find a pair of headphones that won't hurt my head or ears.

I used the same pair of Radioshack headphones for at least two years. They weren't great headphones, but were very comfortable - lightweight, with a nice, loose fit. They died recently, and I am forced to find new ones.

Unfortunately, every pair I've tried has been way too tight. I've tried both circumaural (around the ear) and supraural (on top of the ear) types. Neither have made me happy. The circumaural ones give me headaches, and the supraural ones made my ears hurt. I'm not a fan of the in-ear or earbud type - they're leaky, the sound quality tends to be poor, and I don't really think they're that comfortable.

Do they still make headphones that don't hurt? I should mention that I wear them for close to 8 hours a day, so comfort is really really important. I've returned, like, 5 pairs at this point, and am beginning to feel a bit discouraged.

All the pairs I've tried have been in the $50 range, and that's about as much as I'd like to spend. I could go as high as $75 - $100, but they'd have to be *really really* good.
posted by Afroblanco to Technology (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I just bought the Shure E2c-n in-ear headphones and am really happy with them. I've tried lots of different types as well, and these are the most comfortable. They come with nine different pairs of sleeves, three sizes each of three different materials.

It took me a few days to realize that the big bulky part was supposed to sit in my outer ear, not stick out looking dumb.

They sound great.
posted by zazerr at 12:52 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

These are the ones I have (or similar enough). They're not super light-weight, but they are very comfy.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:57 PM on November 29, 2007

I also have these. They're not the best and for the first few days I used them, they were slightly uncomfortable. However, now I don't even notice them.

Whatever you get, eventually you'll get used to them. It's like shoes... they need to be broken in.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:59 PM on November 29, 2007

I won't use anything but my Sennheiser HD600's, by far the most comfortable circumaural cans I've ever used.

The cans themselves are very very large, the pads, cord/etc are replaceable.

They are, however, expensive. I've had mine for about 6 years now, replaced everything on them, dropped them, kicked them, sat on them. They are awesome.
posted by iamabot at 1:06 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I second jeffamaphone... I have these ... a little cheaper, but they have great sound and last forever. Mine are about 9 years old. Also, obviously, super comfy. However, I would not wear them outside because they are heavy.
posted by smartless at 1:09 PM on November 29, 2007

Oh, if you want reviews, you must go to HeadWize.
posted by iamabot at 1:10 PM on November 29, 2007

Sennheiser or Grado are the endurance choices of those I know. Closed ear and suspension headband and you should be good unless you have freakish ears that stick out waay too far, in which case you may need some custom ear cushions.
posted by rhizome at 1:21 PM on November 29, 2007

I've been quite happy with the Sennheiser PC151 headphones I got several months ago. I haven't worn them for more than ~3 hours straight, but for that time, zero discomfort.
posted by Nelsormensch at 1:23 PM on November 29, 2007

The Shure in-ear ones would probably be much better with a custom made ear piece. I'm planning to do this sometime. They sound a lot better when you shove them in and get a really good seal, so I'll bet they will sound better too.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:31 PM on November 29, 2007

I'm been quite satisfied with the Koss KSC-75 - they clip on to the ear, so they can't clamp your head or mess up your hair. The clips are mildly adjustable. Very cheap also.
posted by meowzilla at 1:32 PM on November 29, 2007

I really enjoy my Sennheiser PX-100's. They sound great, but are light enough so that I can wear them for hours without any problems.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 1:44 PM on November 29, 2007

Seconding meowzilla's Koss recommendation. I have a slightly older version than the model meowzilla linked to, and I find them really comfortable and the sound is really good (surprisingly good, given the cost). I have some other 'phones (Sennheiser and AKG) that were a lot more expensive, but I rarely use them unless I'm actively listening to music as opposed to listening while working or walking around.
posted by nixxon at 1:48 PM on November 29, 2007

Seconding the Sennheiser PX- series. Very good fidelity, won't fatigue your ears, lightweight, and they fold up for travel. Worth the extra couple bucks for the PX-200s though, IMHO.
posted by myrrh at 1:50 PM on November 29, 2007

I wear Grado SR-80s all day long at work and have done for several years. I find them to be very comfortable if you buy the optional softer-than-stock foam pads for them. Sometimes my ears are a little bit sore at the end of the day, but I don't notice until I take the headphones off, and it passes after a couple of minutes.
posted by autojack at 2:14 PM on November 29, 2007

Seconding the Shure E2c's. Durable, forget-they're-there comfortable, and very good sounding. Excellent customer service too.
posted by merocet at 2:58 PM on November 29, 2007

If you want large, over-the-ear headphones, Sony's MDR-V6 (and its twin, the MDR-7506, but not its near-namesake, the MDR-600) has a good reputation for comfort and sound quality. It's pretty widespread in studios, too (so are Sennhisers), which is probably a good sign.

If you haven't tried the audiophile and near-audiophile (Shure, Etymotic, Ultimate Ears) in-ear monitors, and sound quality is what's holding you back, you oughta give 'em another try. If it's comfort, though, well, I can't blame you. I don't think in-ear monitors are very comfortable either.
posted by box at 4:47 PM on November 29, 2007

The Koss headphones mentioned above, while sounding awesome, are very leaky. I can't use them in the office since everyone in the office would be distracted by my tunes.

I have a pair of the Shure E2cs, and I can't wear them for very long without a lot of irritation, even with the smallest and softest tips. I think my ear canals are just too small.

I have a pair of MDR-E888LPs, which are earbuds that I wear for 8 hours a day. They don't hurt my outer ears like every other earbud I've used, and the sound isn't fatiguing. They're very highly regarded in the audiophile community.
posted by zsazsa at 5:24 PM on November 29, 2007

I really like my Skullcandy rasta headphones I find them comfortable and the sound quality is good. I also don't like earbud type headphones, but I do not wear mine for 8 hours a day so I can't attest to how they will hold up comfortwise for that amount of time.
posted by anansi at 5:33 PM on November 29, 2007

If circumaural ones give you headaches, is it because of physical stress or pain (like with the supraural ones)? If not, it might be a psychosomatic effect, like a lack of environmental acoustic information distorting your balance. In that case, it's worth checking out open-design circumaural phones, as opposed to closed ones.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:42 PM on November 29, 2007

Thanks for the help, all. You've given me a good place to start. Once I've settled on a pair, I'll let you know which ones I chose.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:33 PM on November 30, 2007

nthing the SHure in-ear headphones. I count my e3cs as one of my most worthwhile gadget purchases, right up there with 24" monitors. Unfortunately, the cords wore out on mine after 3 years, and I would guess that will be typical after daily use, so be aware of that. I'm trying to decide whether to replace them with se420s or se530s.
posted by lastobelus at 11:01 PM on November 30, 2007

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