"For years, geeks like me would recommend that most people get inexpensive studio-monitor headphones like the 280 Pro, ATH-M50, and MDR-7506 for listening at their computer desks. These offer good isolation, reasonable sound, and long-term comfort for around $100, but aren’t practical for portable use: they’re large and don’t fold much, and they usually have long, coiled cables that are unwieldy at best when away from a desk. Fortunately, the $200-and-up portable category has boomed in the last few years with amazing improvements in comfort and sound quality, dramatically outclassing the old studio monitors. Those were great recommendations for years and are still excellent values, but they’re no longer a good default recommendation.
"My criteria for this review is what someone seeking good headphones today probably wants:
- Semi-portable, over-ear headphones — not pocketable, but should fit comfortably in a small bag; suitable for listening at your desk and bringing on an airplane, or maybe wearing outside
- Closed-back design with at least moderate isolation
- A straight, short cable with a 3-button clicker
"The hard price cap is $400, but ideally, these should be under $300."