Have you considered open headphones?

It sounds like you don’t want that much isolation, and it’s true that the semi-open design of the CAL will help in that department…but you might feel even more comfy with an open headphone.

The SHP9500 is a great budget choice.

I don’t think that your onboard audio will have any issue powering any of these headphones, especially at lower volumes. The only issue you might run into is board/case noise or hiss, so if you’ve used other headphones with your board and haven’t noticed any hiss, you’ll probably do fine with any of the options you’re looking at.

I haven’t used that specific motherboard solution, but I haven’t had any issues with onboard audio in the last five years. I use the onboard solutions in my desktop and laptop every day, and they’re both run by similar chips in the Realtek lineup. After onboard audio got a bad reputation ~10 years ago, great strides have been made…so hiss from interference in the case is now the main thing to watch out for.

You might also check out a more objective measurement-focused site like www.rtings.com for a faster way to compare headphones than trying to page through my reviews.

Also, the people over at Reddit’s new headphone advice board might have some good suggestions, as they live and breathe these sorts of questions every day. And they’ve tried far more pairs than I have.

Knowing your desire for lower isolation, of the ones you mentioned I’d consider the CAL, or I’d go for a cheaper open option like the SHP9500, Sennheiser HD 559, or Audio Technica AD500X.

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I do radio voice work by day, and write by day and night. I studied film and production. I love audio, design, and music. Also video games.

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