The Top Ten Headphones For Music and TV
Our round up of the top 10 headphones isn’t meant to be an assessment of the best quality headphones available. Comparing the $1500 Sennheiser HD800‘s to the $50 RHA earbuds is unfair. The improvement in sound quality, though, comes with diminishing returns as the price goes up. Instead this list is meant to evaluate headphones based on the value they give their owners based on price, sound quality and build quality. If you can get headphones for $150 that sound almost at good as $600, then the $150 headphones are considered a much better deal. As new headphones come into the market this list will be updated (fortunately headphones don’t age as rapidly as other electronics do!). But for now, here are the top ten best headphones available today:
Why is it #1? The combination of astonishing clarity and detail of these headphones goes un-rivaled for its price range. The HD598 SR’s sleek look is a significant upgrade over the cream and brown HD598‘s. The headphones stand out from the crowd and have an ageless quality about them. The open-backed headphones aren’t for everyone, as the noise bleed is not ideal for commuting on a train or otherwise listening to tunes in public. But make no mistake, this is a taste of the true audiophile high life at a fraction of the usual cost.
It’s difficult to visit any online headphones forum, whether head-fi or Reddit, and not encounter countless audiophiles recommending these headphones to advice seeking newbies. And it’s not hard to see why. Anyone who doesn’t find what they’re looking for in the HD598’s above will likely find it in the ATH-M50’s. The M50’s are close-backed and therefore commuter-friendly. They also work well with iPods and other portable music devices. They offer great sound reproduction and are ideal for music producers looking for some high quality, detailed headphones. The M50’s have become the main alternative for rookie DJ’s and producers who want to save themselves from the terrible sounding Beats. At around $150, they outmatch most $300 headphones at their own game.
Coming in at $40, these earbuds are some of the best sounding earphones you can get for under $100. The braided cloth construction and soft oval ear-tips make for a comfortable and durable pair of earbuds that handle both Zeppelin and Beethoven equally well. These are a great option for those looking for some durable workout earbuds that can take a beating. They recently topped our list of the best headphones under $50
V-Moda’s Crossfade headphones have similar strengths to the Audio Technica ATH-M50x’s: both excel at energetic, beat heavy music. While the sound reproduction isn’t quite as clear, the V-Moda headphones do get big points for the stand out industrial design of their headphones. There really isn’t anything out there like it. They are also build really well, and come with a handy hard shell travel case to make them even more commuter friendly.
If you want earbuds that will make your iPod or other mobile device sound amazing, it’s a toss up between the MA-350’s mentioned above and these Klipsch Image R6i II’s. The Klipsch earbuds have more of a booming bass, so if you’re music is primarily bass oriented than the Klipsch earbuds are a better bet. The soft oval eartips are very comfortable and will fit well in most ears. Klipsch loses points because of the plastic wires that won’t endure the wear and tear as well as RHA’s braided cloth cables.
Audio-Technica’s 2nd entry on this list is basically a stripped down version of the excellent ATH-M50x’s. Usually priced around $70, the M30x’s are the best over-ear headphones you can get under $75. The oh-so soft ear cups are heavenly to put on, and the top notch build quality means they can withstand day to day abuse extraordinary well. The bass is impactful, mids are crystal clear and highs are definitely done well. The only drawback with these headphones is that the highs are a little too ‘bright’. Music with lots of treble (think music with choirs) may prompt you to take the headphones off for a few moments to give them a rest.
Despite there being countless imitators, no pair of noise-cancelling headphones has come close to Bose’s QC15. They are an airplane traveler’s dream: a compact pair of headphones that fit like a dream around your ears and cancel out noise so you can sleep. Bose’s choice to make these headphones out of plastic is questionable, and other NC headphones will let you listen to music when the NC is turned off (with Bose once the batteries die, so do the headphones). But there is still nothing that can block out external noise this effectively.
Sennheiser’s HD 2.20s headphones are an update on the classic HD202 headphones, and stay true to tradition by being absolutely full of energy. They offer great clarity on the mids and highs, all underscored by strong bass. The HD 2.20s are excellent DJ and producing headphones for those on a tight budget. The padded headband and comfortable ear-cups (which are detachable) are a bonus as well.
The HD579’s came out at the same time as the HD598 SR’s and are very similar sounding, if not in looks. These headphones are also open, although there isn’t as much noise bleed as the HD598’s. Still, they aren’t exactly commuter friendly. There is only the slightest drop off in the quality of sound between these two Sennheiser models. So if you can’t afford the $250 HD598’s, or just don’t like the ‘European sports car’ look, these headphones are a great buy.
Sennheiser makes some great bass-head earbuds. Don’t worry, you read that correctly. The HD1 In-Ear Headphones are a successor to the spectacular Senneheiser Momentum in-ear headphones. But they are much better at providing a bass-heavy, yet well-rounded sound. The Momentum in-ear headphones were all about that bass, but the HD1’s are Sennheiser cleaning up the sound and delivering what they deliver best: immersive sound. Available in both Android and iOS editions.
There you have it! There’s always going to be lots of controversy with top ten lists. The list is designed to help readers like you figure out which headphones give the best value for their price. (Hence why we didn’t include the Sennheiser HD800’s). Hopefully this will help you figure out which headphones are the best fit for your needs. And if you want some great deals on headphones, you can always check our headphones deals section.