I was waiting for sometime for some post on Headphones. I have been living with these more time than any other audio system. Graduated from some mid level Sony to Grado, AKG.
My experience so far:
1. Grado SR60, SR80 - These are probably the best I have heard in the entry level of high end headphones. The first thing that strikes you is that things are all clear and has quite an amount of energy. Probably if I am saying it right the tonality of the instruments are very good. But, there are couple of serious problems with these. For one, their bass in very less. One shock I got was that people said SR80 has better bass than S60 and infact some people even said it had lots of bass. So, I got them and there was very little difference to me. Infact, if at all probably I found that there was a slightly exaggerated bass in SR60 which was better. Neverthless, both these phones had very less bass. This is like the standmounts with less bass. Their highs can get a bit over the top sometimes particularly with bad recordings.
Also, another thing I noted was the comfort of the soft pads of 60 vs the bowl pads of the 80's. Bowl pads were quite bad, that I bought an extra pair of soft pads. Atlast, the leaking of sound and the looks are not helping either.
But the sound in itself, was very very good and when I got these from USA for less than Rs.3k and along with a Sony Discman was able to achieve the sound close to systems costing around 50k. So, thats a very good thing. I sold my SR60 and have my SR80 still.
2. AKG K81dj - this is a different beast from Grado's. Forget much about how accurate things are. But, if you want quite a huge amount of bass then probably this one is very good. The bass isn't quite clean, but not like the cheap headphones going rrrrrrr. Its quite clean and definitely for certain types of songs I prefer these over the Grado's. Also, the highs aren't harsh. In all, for mp3's I would say this might be a better bet than the Grado's. Add to that it does give a good degree of isolation and hence can be used in noisy locations and doesn't leak sound much. It costed me less than Rs.2k from US.
I still have it.
3. Sennheiser PX100 - This is a pretty nice headhpone and comes with a neat packing. Got this from US for less than Rs.1500. You can get these locally for about 2.7k or so nowadays. Reliance Digital , Apple iStore and even hifi shops are carrying these. These were definitely a lot better than the Sony you get in India for about the same cost. There was some good bass and crisper highs, but I think the mids weren't as good as I would want. In all a slightly laid back sound compared to Grado or Koss.
4. Koss KSC75 - This is simply awesome for the money. It costs less than 10 dollars sometimes and I got this multiple times from US only for my friends to take it away from me. In short, this is like a Grado SR60 for such a cheap cost. It didn't have too much bass and highs might be slightly harsher sometimes, but overall lot better than even the Rs.2k Sony sports model I had. Unfortunately, my last pair got stolen at office
5. Jays D Jays - This was my first experiment with in-ear phones and they are a bit odd when it comes to comfort. Some might be ok and might not. First try one and then go for these. Isolation is awesome. You need something like these for travel. Noice Isolation Cans are fine, but when its small like these and can give a greater isolation without batteries etc; I think these win hands down. Regarding the sound signature, these are good and I got these for less than Rs.2.5k from US. Bass is slightly lesser than I want and also, the highs are not so crisp. So, some of my friends thought its not wow. I would also say its not wow, but neverthless, my traveling has become very interesting thanks to these. I should be upgrading these soon.
Regarding the headphone amps. I found that there is a significant difference when you have and headphone amps even with those easy to drive phones. But, it did differ from phone to phone. The DAC/amp I had was Meier Audio 2move and it was simply great. I sold that as well and now planning for the Meier Audio Corda Opera.
I would be interested in knowing what DAC and headhpone amp people are using in this forum and if we can get any in India.
Dinyaar, regarding headphones in India, I suppose there are 2 options that are available in India:
1. Sennheiser - So, for about 12k you should get HD595. This is one level down their topmost 600 series and is rated very well particularly for classical music. Also, this can be driven without and amp if you don't have one.
2. Denon AHD2000 should be around Rs.15k probably and should be the finest all rounder and I am planning to get these. Profx started selling these recently. Or even get their cheaper AHD1000/1001 if you want lesser than 10k.
3. Shure should be available and E210 or E310 if you wan't. But like I said check if you are comfortable with in ear. My brother put it once and said thats something I never want. So, see for yourself and then shell out the money.
But best thing is to have somebody get from US as its far more cheaper. Or get second hand shipped by guys at Head-Fi.org: Headphones, iPod earphones, portable audio, MP3 players, high-end audio
can you ping me about the STAX.