Earphone and Headphone alternative to Beats?

I've never been someone with a major interest in good headphones/speakers. As long as I can hear the music/sound to a decent level I'm happy. however, I was sitting on the laptop the other day and instead of unplugging my steelseries headphones from the PC i decided to use my partner's beats instead and the audio sounds amazing. It's the Beats EP she has, got her them as a gift last year. I'm thinking about getting myself a pair but I've been told by people at Uni that beats are overpriced for the quality you get. I don't know of any alternative though. I'm looking for decent (possibly wireless) headphones for home use and earphones when I'm out/travelling. What's out there for around the same price & quality as beats

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Beats are notorious for being a brand that you buy for the badge. I think in recent years it's gotten better, but at the $100 price point, Audio Technica ATH M40X are the way to go


That's what you don't want


I bought these years ago. They are awesome even though I paid 3x as much back then.
Quincy Jones tuned them and AKG makes Q-model ear buds and over ear models too.
These on-ear headphones have a mic, fold up and come with a compact carrying case.

If you like closed cans with good bass, try the audio technica M40X.
Bought my pair around 80,- Euro as a amazon warehouse deal.

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Ok...I know people are going to hate on my for saying this, but for wireless, the Bose QC35 are the best I've tried. Before I get into that, some background might be needed.

Headphones I've owned have been the Bose QC35, Audio Technica M40's, Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, HD 380 Pro, HD 558, HD 569, HD 4.40, and Philips SHP9500. I've tried countless others, but those are the ones I have the most experience with. With that said, here are my thoughts:

For open back, where you are not worried about ambient noise or others hearing what you hear, the Phillips SHP9500 are the best bang for the buck I've ever used. I do like the build quality and comfort of the HD 558's much more, but as far as sound goes, you really can't beat the Phillips for how cheap they are. To me, they are like 99% of the HD 558's for 50% of the price. I only ended up returning them as I already own the 558's, and didn't see a use for them. If you are buying new though, the only reason I see to get something else is that you want easily replaceable parts, whereas the Phillips have stuff like ear pads glued on. There really is no reason to buy anything else for the money.

For closed wired headphones, it becomes tricky. Sound and comfort wise, the HD 380's are simply AMAZING. They block out a fair bit of noise, with significantly better build quality compared to the HD 569's, but didn't block out as much noise as the HD 280's for me. They are easy to drive though, have that nice Sennheiser sound I've come to love (being very neutral), and are build like a tank. The weakest part of the Bose QC35's is the rotating hinge, which is a piece of plastic about 1/4" thick. On the HD 380's, this is metal, to give you an idea as far as what I am talking about. They are build for studio use to be abused, and it shows. Only the HD 280's I would say are built to their equal, but the HD 280's lack a replaceable cable.

The HD 569 is really just an HD 558 (which is saying a lot of good things) with a fabric ear pad (not leather), closed back, and audio controls for phones. Also a good buy, and the detachable cable is the more common locking type from the HD 558's, compared to the weird custom mold that the HD 380's have. Good luck finding aftermarket HD 380 cables, but at least you can replace it if it does wear out, unlike the HD 280's.

Finally, wireless. Oh God did I have a hard time with this one. I work in a machine shop, and wanted something that blocks outside noise, is comfortable, lasts all day, and doesn't have a cable to wear out; I've been through several earbuds, including some by Etymotic, and keep wearing out the cable from using them 8+ hours a day. This is what led me to buy the HD 380's, HD 569's, HD4.40, and the Bose. the HD 4.40 are quite simply, garbage. The bluetooth is garbage, the comfort is among the worst I've ever used, and they don't even passively block out noise well compared to the others. The HD 380's barely block out enough sound for shop use (the Etymotics do a better job), which left me thinking I just need to keep replacing my Etymotics (and changing out the silicone tips every few weeks...hence the search for closed cans).

Then I tried the Bose QC35. The bluetooth quality is actually what I would call good! The comfort is all day good, and the noise canceling is astonishingly good. While I am still not sure I will keep them at the $350 price tag, they are, without question, the best wireless/noise isolating/noise blocking headphones I've ever tried. For home use, where I am not worried about ambient noise, sure I'll go right back to my HD 558's as my gold standard, but I'm even finding myself using the QC35's more at home now with the summer weather hitting, and two fans running in my room. With the HD 558's, I still hear the 52db of sound from the fans. With the Bose, that background noise gets dropped to only a slight hum of 25-30db, and lets me not have to blast the audio up as high...it really is pretty amazing.


For around a hundred dollars these are the best headphones on the market currently.

Status Audio CB-1: The build is mostly plastic, but is sturdy enough especially given their price. The imaging on these headphones is very good. It's not quite planar, but it is still very good. Low end is also present while not being over powered. The final plus to these headphones is that they're extremely comfortable in their stock form.
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Status-Audio-Closed-Monitor-Headphones/dp/B01BDX1IVW

Philips SHP9500: For a long while these headphones were regarded as the best budget headphones out there. I haven't heard them myself, but from the reviews I've seen they have good imaging and wide, but not overly wide sound stage due to their open back design. High's are crisp and clear, while low end remains present.
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Philips-SHP9500-Precision-Over-ear-Headphones/dp/B00ENMK1DW

Audio-Technica ATH-M40X: You'll find these headphones have a great sound as well similar to the Status Audio CB-1's. However, most people prefer the sound of the CB-1's to the M40X's. The ear pads on the M40X's aren't very comfortable and considering that they are the most expensive of the three units I suggested that's a downside.
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-ATH-M40x-Professional-Monitor-Headphones/dp/B00HVLUR54

If you have any questions I'm more than happy to answer them. Sorry if this seems like random banter it's later.


If I wore headphones out and about, I would wear my focal spirit ones.

For bluetooth I use my Bang & Olufsen H6 with a 12,- buck thingy taped onto them.
Soundwise it blows away any other pair of bluetooth headphones.

Around the 100-200 range: Grado has some excellent products. Audio Technica has some winners (although most not immensely precise -- due to coloration).

Hey, Marshall Major II Bluetooth are great, maybe even better that Beats.
Also, take a look at BOSE SoundLink or Bose QC35, my father says tey are good as well :smiley:

Anything starting at ~5$ is a good alternative to Beats. :smiley:


This is where I usually link friends if they’re looking for a new pair of cans


they’re not the only headphones you can get, but the options are pretty good, you should be able to find exactly what you’re looking for

That’s a pretty sweet website. I have not seen that before. Though it doesn’t suggest and Grado’s when you select open back, which IMO is a sin.

Thanks for posting it :+1:

4 month necro. Thread is locked.