Audio / Buying Guide

10 Recommended Headphones Your Ears Will Love

         

There is no accessory more fundamental than a good pair of headphones. They link our ears, privately, to music, media, and entertainment. These days, there is so much content to enjoy that the number of options can be overwhelming. The same is true with the sheer number of headphones on the market. There are so many different kinds available, you might want some help sorting through the possibilities.

In this article, we’ll take a look at several different kinds of headphones that suit the needs of different kinds of people. Some will be eye-catching, others will be more low profile. One thing they all have in common is great sound quality. Choose any of the headphones on this list and your ears will be happy.



Sennheiser PX 100-II On-Ear Stereo Headphones
Sennheiser PX 100-II On-Ear Stereo Headphones are slim, lightweight, and simple. They sound great, and they fold up compactly into an included carrying pouch. You probably won’t get any compliments on the street for how fashionable they look, so if you prefer to go unnoticed, these are an appealing option. If you want to take calls on an iPhone with your headphones on, you can upgrade to the PX 200-IIi. If active noise cancellation is on your wish list, check out the PXC 250-II. Both of the upgraded versions feature neodymium drivers that deliver even richer sound.

Pros Cons
Folding design for easy transport, Foam cushions restagainst ears
Cable only dangles from one side Not exciting to look at



Koss PortaPro Stereo Headphones 
Vintage-style audio has made a huge comeback. Many young people collect vinyl records, and some stores continue to stock music in cassette format. Whether you opt for a portable tape player, rather than the omnipresent smartphone, you can’t go wrong with these classic Koss PortaPro Stereo Headphones. Their design dates back to 1984. They have a fun, old-school look, and they deliver fantastic sound quality at a great price. A handy switch on the side lets you adjust the pressure of the earpieces.

Pros Cons
Funky, vintage look Funky, vintage look
Great sound Cables dangle from both earpieces



Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 Wireless Earbuds
If you don’t want to be tethered to your music player by audio cables, you need to embrace Bluetooth headphones, and an excellent way to do so is with the Powerbeats2 Wireless Earbuds (available in Black, Flash Blue, Shock Yellow, Siren RedWhite,
 or Red). They feature the sound quality and style that has made Beats a household name, and they repel moisture—great for exercising. An integrated module lets you control playback and talk on the phone. A built-in rechargeable battery provides six hours of use, and they have a 30-foot range.

Pros Cons
Freedom from wires Reliant on batteries for operation
Built-in phone mic + controller  



Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling In-Ear Headphones​
Many people spend a little extra to get a good smartphone, but what about earbuds? When you’re ready to treat yourself to a premium set of in-ear headphones, check out the Bose QuietComfort 20 (available in Black or White). They provide a comfortable fit, excellent sound quality, a mic and remote for Apple devices, and top-notch active noise cancellation. When you need to hear your environment, press the handy “Aware Mode” button, which lets in ambient sounds—so you’ll know when your flight is boarding.

Pros Cons
Great sound quality Battery-pack module adds heft
Excellent noise cancellation  



Panasonic Ergo-Fit In-Ear Headphones
You don’t have to spend big bucks to get a decent pair of headphones, and the Panasonic Ergo-Fit In-Ear Headphones are evidence of this
. Available in BlackBluePinkPurple, or White, they deliver surprisingly good sound quality, and feature an iPhone-compatible mic and remote button. If you seek premium materials and exotic drivers, look elsewhere. If you want an affordable set of good-sounding earbuds to replace the ones that came with your device, this is the ticket.

Pros Cons
Good sound at comparatively low price Not made with premium materials
Built-in iPhone mic Not top-of-the-line sound quality




KEF M500 On-Ear Headphones
It’s not difficult to find stylish headphones, but what about a set that looks great and sounds incredible? If sonic performance and style are of equal importance to you, consider the KEF M500 Hi-Fi On-Ear Headphones (available in SilverBlack, or White). They are extremely comfortable, thanks to their memory foam ear pads and multi-directional SmartFit hinge. The 40mm neodymium drivers deliver a 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response, enabling you to enjoy full, rich sound. Two flat-style cables are included, one with an Apple mic and remote, and one without.

Pros Cons
Good looks, great sound Cushions rest against ears
Very comfortable to wear  



Polsen HCA-12MB Bluetooth Headset
You don’t need to pay a premium price to get a good set of Bluetooth headphones, either. The Polsen HCA-12MB Bluetooth Headset provides good sound quality, they’re easy to set up, their styling is sleek, and the built-in rechargeable battery provides impressively long run times. A built-in microphone enables you to use your phone while wearing the headphones and integrated buttons let you control your audio. If the battery dies, you can connect to your device with an included detachable audio cable.

Pros Cons
Good-sounding, affordable wireless headphones Need to keep battery charged for wireless use
Fold compactly for travel Leatherette cushions rest against ears



Bose SoundTrue Around-Ear Headphones II​ 
If you appreciate the lifelike sound you get from full-sized headphones, and you want to be able to answer and make calls on a smartphone, you should seriously consider Bose SoundTrue Around-Ear Headphones II. With a brand like Bose, you know you’re getting exceptional sound and build quality. The performance of these headphones is further enhanced by their superior comfort. Another nice touch is that there are separate models for use with an Apple iPhone (in Charcoal Black or Navy Blue), or for use with Android devices (also in Charcoal Black or Navy Blue).

Pros: Cons:
Great sound, comfortable Doesn’t have Bose active noise cancellation
Specialized models for Apple and Android phones Around-ear headphones are large



Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Monitor Headphones
Wouldn’t it be great to listen to your tunes on professional studio headphones, similar to the ones that the musicians and producers used to make the music you love? This is exactly what you get with the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Monitor Headphones, which are available in Black
 or White. They come with three detachable cables, two longer ones for use in the studio, and a short cable for your portable device. The sound that their 45mm neodymium drivers reproduce will make you feel like you’re with the artist in the recording studio.

Pros Cons
Pro headphones that work well with mobile devices Bulky
Excellent sound quality Some people find they fit tightly



Audeze EL-8 Magnetic Planar Headphones​
If you want a truly exotic listening experience, look no further than the Audeze EL-8 Magnetic Planar Headphones. They deliver smooth and warm sound, and an exceptionally wide frequency response of 10 Hz – 50 kHz. This is achieved, in part, by their neodymium magnetic planar transducers, which feature a lightweight diaphragm that’s suspended within a magnetic plane. These headphones are a pleasure to look at, too. Credit for their industrial design goes to BMW Designworks. You can learn more about these headphones in this B&H hands-on review.

Pros Cons
Lush and immersive sound Premium quality, premium price
Comfortable to wear, aesthetically pleasing These are large headphones

 


If you have any questions about these headphones, or if you want additional recommendations, you can speak to a B&H Sales Professional by visiting the SuperStore in New York City, calling 1-800-894-9703, starting a live chat, or sending an email.  

Discussion 8

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Great article, love it!

Headphones are the new and improved way to listen to music, video games, television, and to use while buyers are on the computer.

No list of great sounding headphones should exclude Grado.

Their low-end models are the best bang-for-the-buck, and their higher-end models sound like heaven!

I think the open-back construction of Grado headphones is what excludes them from this list aimed at the average consumer, for whom isolation tends to be important.

i can't believe the  list doesn't include Sony MDR-7506 studio headphones!  They're as good sounding as the Audio Techs and several others on the list, for about $50 less.  The fact that they're used by audio pros more than any other headphone for over 20 years demands inclusion on any list of quality cans!!! 

Definitely have to agree. I had a pair of the MDR-7506 headphones for at least 7 years. The quality of the audio was fantastic throughout their entire lifespan. I finally tossed them when the cord broke and the ear pads fell apart. I bought a pair of $99 Sennheisers as replacements just to try the brand out and haven't been disappointed yet. Can't remember the exact model. Only complaint with them so far is that the headband is held on by a cheap ziplock type fastener and it broke within 6 months of buying the headphones.

Anonymous wrote:

i can't believe the  list doesn't include Sony MDR-7506 studio headphones!  They're as good sounding as the Audio Techs and several others on the list, for about $50 less.  The fact that they're used by audio pros more than any other headphone for over 20 years demands inclusion on any list of quality cans!!!

+1. The 7506 is, at the price, the best over-the-ear phones you can buy IMO.

Hi! It's Sam. The author of this post. I am a long-time owner and fan of Sony MDR-7506 headphones. When I chose models to include in this article, I intentionally made the decision not to include them. My intention for this article was to choose an interesting range of different kinds of headphones that the average person could purchase, use, and be happy with. 7506's are great to use in video and audio production, but they're not the best choice for the average person who wants to listen to music and podcasts as they're walking down the street. Why? The cable is far too long. The lengthy coiled section easily gets tangled and bunched up. Plugging a pair of 7506's into a smartphone, then putting that phone in your pocket and walking is not the best experience. For this reason alone, I decided not to include them.

With that out of the way, I would like to say that your criticisms are welcome and encouraged! I like to learn about the models people feel compelled to passionately defend. :)

Thanks,
Sam