Steve Guttenberg, who writes the “Audiophiliac” column for the consumer electronics website CNET. A former record producer, Guttenberg has worked in the audio industry for more than 30 years. CNET.com
There are hundreds of different headphones available. Here’s a look at eight great ones…
“In ear” headphones are a good choice if you want small, light headphones capable of blocking out a good deal of outside noise. Some people call them “earbuds,” but earbuds technically are small headphones that rest inside the ear without entering the ear canal. True earbuds are not recommended—they do a poor job blocking outside noise, which causes people to crank up the volume to hearing-damaging levels. In-ear headphones, in contrast, extend partly inside the ear canal. Good ones are very comfortable. Great options…
• Trinity Hyperion is the best pair of headphones you can buy for less than $50. Their sound is full and warm, and they are comfortable to wear. They don’t offer quite the sound quality of the higher-end headphones, however. They cost $45 at recent exchange rates for the British pound, with free worldwide shipping from Trinity-Audio-Engineering.MyShopify.com.
• FiiO EX1 headphones outperform most headphones costing twice as much. Their sound is extremely clear, and their bass is phenomenal. $90. FiiO.net
• Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones excel at eliminating background noise. While most headphones simply block outside noise, these cancel out noise electronically. Available in models for Apple and Android devices…and in larger QuietComfort 25 over-the-ear models. $299. Bose.com
Over-the-ear headphones completely cover the ears. They tend to sound better than comparably priced in-ear headphones (though this varies) and often do as good a job blocking out external noise. Among the best options…
• Sony MDR-7506 headphones don’t offer cutting-edge technology—Sony has barely updated them since the 1980s. But these headphones make every genre of music sound great for a reasonable price. They are very comfortable, too. List price $130 but available for as little as $80. Pro.Sony.com
• Koss Pro4S headphones provide well-rounded sound. And if they ever break, just mail them back to Koss’s Milwaukee factory with $9 to cover shipping, and Koss will repair or replace them. $150. Koss.com
Also: Koss Porta Pro headphones offer the same wonderful Koss warranty for a much lower price. They also fold up for easier transport. Their sound quality is good for the price. List price is $50, but available for around $35.
• Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones sound great at any volume, with deep bass and excellent clarity. List price $239 but available for less than $170. Audio-Technica.com
• NAD Viso HP50 headphones are “neutral” and “accurate.” That means they present music as the musician meant it to be heard. They fold flat for easy transport. List price $299 but available for around $250. NadElectronics.com