Pretty much after best sound rather than looks. At this stage source will be an iphone or pc
You don't state over ear or in ear or on ear preference, but you'd be hard pressed to beat the Senhiesser HD650 or the Massdrop version called the HD6xx and you'll have cash left over as well. They are a pretty warm but accurate sounding headphone, exceptionally comfortable. They sound great without a DAC/AMP but will sound reasonably better with additional driving provided by an Amp.
Computer Lounge in Auckland have a big range of headphones to listen to, with and without Amp's so you can hear the difference for yourself.
Don't underestimate comfort.
Open or closed? Open tend to sound better, but they don't block any external noise.
Sennheiser make good headphones, but I prefer Audio Technica. I use the A900 original model at work, but the ATH-AD1000X or ATH-A1000Z are probably a little better. I wouldn't rule out the ATH-A990z or ATH-AD900X at less than US$200 on Amazon, which are probably the sweet spot for price / performance in their range. My only concern for Audio Technica is the headband system they adopted about 5-6 years ago wasn't very secure, but hopefully they've addressed this now. They're unlikely to be suitable for bed, as mentioned below.
I also have the Audeze LCD2, which cost maybe US$1000 when they were new. The LCD2 are clearly better, but not worth the extra money for most people IMHO.
I have seen some great run-out prices on the Oppo PM-3 Planars - awesome 'phones for the money IMHO
I have heard good things about the Oppo as well, and that's a very decent price (I may actually consider a pair myself except for the colour!!).
Open back headphones are my preference because of better sound quality, but yes, everyone will be able to hear what you are listening to.
I have open back wireless I wear in bed, my wife is pretty sensitive and doesn't usually notice, but each headphone and person will have a different experience. I'd probably not risk it in your situation and buy closed.
Part of the reason for the open back is less noise cancelling so I am more likely to hear the kids IF they get up or call out.
keriboi: Thanks guys. I prefer closed for comfort and already have some sennheiser HD280 pro
I do listen a bit in bed so will open annoy the wife?
Don't bother with Audio Technica headphones with large headbands for bed, they're not as secure as others. They're effective and comfortable for home / office use. Maybe you want in-ear for in bed.
HD280 Pro are pretty tight and not super comfortable.
The hideous colour :-)
keriboi: Ok pretty sold on the oppo3 planars.
They have good reviews and fit in the budget on that special price. Anyone got a reason to not get these?
Other than the colour (you may be able to find them in black somewhere...) in the "against" column, I would consider that Oppo have pulled out of the headphone game (and Bluray and amps etc) to focus on phones (yawn). I am not sure what this would mean for any warranty or future repairs. That said, their stuff is usually of high quality!
I am kicking myself for not getting some PM-1s at run out prices now as I loved them and my dad bought the PM-3s...I think they are great cans for the money, even at full price.
I have a DAC / headphone amplifier and nice headphones, plus pretty good hearing - better than average I think. I can't tell much difference between my phone and the whole nice source / DAC / amp to be honest, at least not with headphones that are easy to drive. I compared two headphone amplifiers, a custom made PPA one (I think) and a commercial one and couldn't tell between them at all. I wouldn't spend too much money in this area unless you have magic ears.
You won't notice much difference on easy to drive Headphones, but I can't tell you if the Oppos are or aren't since I haven't tried them. Online reviews may shed some light, but take with a grain of salt. Perhaps borrow one if you can or try in store and beware the hype monster :)