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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 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.
|Folding design for easy transport,||Foam cushions rest against ears|
|Cable only dangles from one side||Not exciting to look at|
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.
|Funky, vintage look||Funky, vintage look|
|Great sound||Cables dangle from both earpieces|
If you don’t want to be tethered to your music player by audio cables, you need to embrace Bluetooth headphones, and one way to do so is with the Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones (available in Black, Shock Yellow, or White). They feature all the things that have made Beats a household name, a W1 chip for quick pairing with Apple Products, plus a 12-hour battery, and 5-minute power charging functionality for one hour of playtime in a pinch. Also, they repel moisture, making them great for exercising. An integrated module lets you control playback and talk on the phone.
|Freedom from wires||Reliant on batteries for operation|
|Built-in phone mic + controller|
Many people spend a little extra to get a good smartphone, but what about ear buds? When you’re ready to treat yourself to a premium set of in-ear headphones, check out the Bose QuietComfort 20 (available in Black). 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.
|Great sound quality||Battery-pack module adds heft/td>|
|Excellent noise cancellation|
You don’t have to spend big bucks to get a decent pair of headphones, and the Skullcandy INK’D 2.0 Earbuds are proof positive of this. Available in Black and Red, Blue and Black, and Pink and Black, they deliver surprisingly good sound quality, are very comfortable in the ear, 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.
|Good sound at comparatively low price||Not made with premium materials|
|Built-in iPhone mic||Not top-of-the-line sound quality|
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 Silver, Black, 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.
|Good looks, great sound||Cushions rest against ears|
|Very comfortable to wear|
Quite a few members of the writing staff at B&H love their Parrot Zik Series Stereo Headphones—and not just for the 40mm neodymium drivers, touch-sensitive controls, wireless charging, Bluetooth connectivity, NFC pairing, and HD voice technology. We also find the active noise cancellation remarkable for the price. These headphones are available in snazzy colors too, such as Emerald Green, Ivory, Leather Grain Black, and Croc-Texture Red.
|Wireless and wired connections available||Not the best on battery life|
|Fantastic active noise cancellation||Cannot use noise-cancelling technology without corresponding app|
You don’t need to pay a premium price to get a good set of Bluetooth headphones. The Jabra Move Wireless Bluetooth Headphones provide good sound quality, they’re easy to set up, their styling is sleek, and the built-in rechargeable battery provides eight hours of talk time and twelve hours of standby time. A built-in microphone with onboard controls enables you to take phone calls, control volume, and change tracks. As a bonus, the headphones can stream from two devices at the same time. You can also listen the old-fashioned way by means of an included 3.5mm cable. These headphones come in Black, Red, and Blue.
|Stream audio from two devices over Bluetooth||Phone calls could be clearer|
|Automatic pairing mode|
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.
|Pro headphones that work well with mobile devices||Bulky|
|Excellent sound quality||Some people find they fit tightly|
If you want a truly exotic listening experience, look no further than the Audeze EL-8 Magnetic Planar Headphones. They deliver smooth, 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.
|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.