Of course, consumer headphones and studio/monitoring headphones are very different beasts made for very different purposes, but is there any way of finding out what specifically makes my consumer headphones sound "better"? What are they doing to my frequency response curve?!?!?
Headphones are a headache and just because one set sounds great to one person, it doesnt mean someone else will actually hear the same thing on it, in the same way that a pair of speakers sounds different depending on the room that are in.
The reason for this is that the accoustic environment of a headphone includes your ear and its shape etc, where a compfortable listening position is etc, which in turn can mean the bass you perceive might be very different to what someone else perceives with the same cans. Back to your specific question the driver for studio cans might hopefully be intended to yield a relative flat frequency response for a standard test head, but all bets are off when stuff on a real head
So, just find something that is comfortable, lets you hear as much a possible (or not hear if isolating external sounds is a requirement).
Generally you have varation of the following options (yes - you know this allreasdy, but this is about sound consistency)
1. In ear (small sit in your ear - iphone buds etc)
2. On ear (medium, cover your ear, but dotn surround it)
3. Over ear (big - completely surround and cover the ear)
Then a couple of variations:
a) open back - With a good pair the sound allmost seems like it is coming from near field monitor rather than cans directly on you head. part of this is because being open backed, ambient sounds get in, and there is little driver pressure in your ear. Nice deep sound bass, but bass can be a bit flabby - you may even feel that there is a huge hole in the 90-300Hz region where alot of bass warmth comes from.
b) closed back - generally get much more of a sense of wearing cans, little or no ambient sounds in or out. Bass generally tigher (but might be less of it). Tend to exist in both 2 and 3 options above, some rely upon band pressure to isolate, while some rely upon thick pads around your ear and against you head to isolate. The problem with pressure on your actual ear is that it deforms you ear and drastically changes what you hear (people's ears deform differently).
So basically your fucked - dont buy anything just because some says its good if you are after the best for you
I actually have 3 sets of cans all for different purposes:
1. AKG 240 studio (around ear - open back) - very very comfortable, open back so sometimes I have to take them off to check sure I really did switch the monitors off! Good deep bass extension, but the bass level is wierd - quite low and for me personally, there seems a bit of a hole in the 100-200 or so range (but not everyone gets this with them). Can happily use them for hours. Cant make bass mix choices with them.
2. AKG 271 (around ear, closed back, isolating vocal booth use) - I got these for vocal recording work as they isolate a bit and have a cutoff switch - so ideal for a vocal booth. Sound wise, similar to the AKG240, but bass is much tigher, but for me the low end doesnt extend down as much. Can sometimes get away with bass mix choices with them. As far as closed back cans go, they do actually feel very comfortable and have an openess to them - which mean they dont fatigue much over long use and you dont get so much of a sense of a speaker right next to your ear compared to many closed back cans.
3. AKG 181DJ (high pressure over ear, closed back, isolating DJ cans) As these dont surround my ear and have quite high head band pressure, then they squash my ears which means they change the shape of my ear enough to quite strongly attenuate upper mid range upwards. The bass end however is very solid, doesnt seem to have the 100-200 hole and good enough to make quite alot of mix decisions with. Additionally, becuase I use these for DJing, then I am far most used to the sound of commercially produced music on them, which is turn makes them better for me for general mixing, despite what they do to my ears. however duie to shape and high band pressure, and hard head band, they are not comfortable for extended wear (when DJing they are only on my head briefly, or on shoulder etc, so not a problem).
The above probably is counter intuitive - in theory the 240 should be the best studio monitoring cans, but actually sometimes they are the worst. The 181 should be he worst for studio mix use, but actually they are times the best for various reasons. The 271 tend to be consitently in the middle. That may serve to give you an idea why you might choose a specific set of cans that works well for you, but may be completely different to what people would generally recommend for some reaosn or other.
Audiophile vs studio cans seems to be as much as a price differntiation and feature differntiation rather than a quality differntiation - feature being roughly equal, price is often a good rough guide. AKG for example target many of thier cans for studio and audiophile use, with some obviously having very studio or DJ, or some other music production orientated feature that is irrelavent to audiophile use. While some cans are designed to be flatter than others - that has to be ttaken with a pinch of salt, just as speakers can change drastically depending on the room they are in.
By all means, see what folks here recommend, but in the end - you have to either get something because people like them, or because you have acttually tried them and you get what you want out of them.