Headphone discussions are often some of the most amusing and personal exchanges I see on audio boards. Spend a few weeks over at Headfi.Org and bask in the insanity. Not unusual is the concept that "my" headphones are the best for the money and that's what you should get. Anything else would be a clear indication that someone is a complete idiot. This is oft times accompanied by references to some self-appointed guru of headphones. For those of us who started in this HiFi "thing" 30, 40, or 50 years ago, we have accumulated a base of knowledge and experience that we have come to trust. We've listened to a myriad of speakers, amplifiers, receivers, turntables, tape decks, et al. Most of us have arrived at the point where we know what we like and dislike as far as the sound of our system(s). We have little interest in what some reviewer dictates as the best, we are unmoved by "celebrity designers" and we give little credence to the opinions of those less experienced. This may or may not have its pitfalls, but whatever comes of it, we still know what we like. Headphones fall into a different category. Headphone listening was not a prominent part of the previous decades. There were few choices and not much was said about headphone listening. You did it when you had to - not because you wanted to. At some point, we all had some variation of a Koss product. They weren't particularly good, but they sufficed. A few ventured into electrostatics, but most did not. So, we arrive in the late '90s and there are some viable options beginning to emerge. Still, headphones for most serious listeners were a "have to", not a "want to" proposition. Those little headphones from Walkmans and earbuds from MP3 players certainly weren't viewed as real HiFi. Now, even oldtimers don't have 30, 40, or 50 years of experience with headphones. We're behind the curve as much as the newer folks in some cases. Which 'phones do we buy? I bought a pair of Senn HD-580s in the '90s and paired them with a little EarMax tube amp. I was duly impressed with the sound of this combination. I was convinced it couldn't get any better - not that I spent all my time listening to headphones. It was now an "I'm in the mood" thing. I added the HD-600s and the HD-650s over time and found that there was indeed differences. One pair sounded better with certain music as did another of a different genre. Stereo stores were disappearing and soon there was little opportunity to audition newer phones. It's even worse in some places now. One thing that seems overlooked in all the chatter about headphones, especially among the newer folks who seem to be enthralled by the sanction of a pair of headphones by certain reviewers, is that most of these reviews will not give you any solid indication of how those headphones will sound to you. Headphones can be viewed as on-ear speakers. The same criteria applies that encompasses loudspeakers - phone impedance, power requirements/handling, frequency response and low output impedance from the driving amplifier. This amplifier output impedance has become particularly important with the proliferation of low impedance phones. Vintage receivers often have headphone jacks and output impedances in the 50 - 75 Ohm range. These are a very poor choice for driving anything other than a 300 to 600 Ohm headphone. Phones with 10 to 20 Ohms impedance need to be driven with amps approaching zero Ohms output impedance in order to not skew the frequency response. And the biggest variable of all is your head. While speakers in your listening room may be moved, elevated or toed to alter their sound along with room treatments to tame offending resonances, unless you are an adventurous amateur trepanner, there is not much you can do to alter the sound of headphones on your head. The size , shape and cavity structure of your head will and does have a profound effect on how a pair of headphones will sound to you. Test this by pressing in on your phones while listening or very lightly pull the cushions a very small amount away from your head. The sound changes. If you have a big, chunky head, most phones will fit you tighter and conceivably at a slightly different angle than someone with a tiny, little head. The two will NOT hear the same thing. Add to this bone structure and cavity size and the variability increases more. If you truly want headphones that "sound" right to YOU and provide the type of HiFi experience YOU want, read the reviews to learn about the various models available. But don't believe that the phones will sound the same to you - they won't. If you are really interested in getting some phones that meet your criteria and sound "right", plan to spend a little time getting experienced. Make a list of the phones that fall into your budget. Then pick a vendor or two that offer 30 day audition/returns and spend the time listening to them. Make sure you have the necessary amp to drive the phones (impedance boogie man). On the other hand, if you want a pair of headphones to listen to when you "have to", post the usual "What's the best headphone for $XXX.00" question and wait for someone to tell you what to buy. I'm fortunate in that I have been able to accumulate several different headphones over the years. There is something about each one that I like and of course, some thing or things I don't like. I have phones from Beyer, Sennheiser, Sony, Shure, Audeze and HiFiMan after auditioning more than 30 different phones. I've probably auditioned a dozen or so headphone amps and have kept around half of them. Listening to headphones is still a mood thing, but I find I'm in the mood much more often now. The sound can be truly amazing. There are a baffling number of choices for headphones and headphone amps today. Along with that is a number of fabulous-sounding headphones and amps. If you just want to get something and be done with it, read the reviews/opinions and roll the dice. You might get lucky. If you've been in the hobby for decades, you know there's no substitute for experience - so, get experienced and get the phones that will make you happy.