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:
1. Sennheiser HD598 Headphones
Why is it #1? The combination of astonishing clarity and detail of these headphones goes unrivaled in this price range. The unique-looking headphones (modeled after high-end European sports cars) 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.
Read our full Sennheiser HD598 Review here.
2. Audio Technica ATH-M50x Professional Headphones
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.
3. RHA MA-350 Earphones
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
4. V-Moda Crossfade LP2 Headphones
V-Moda’s Crossfade headphones have similar strengths to the Audio Technica ATH-M50’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.
5. Klipsch Image S4 In-Ear Headphones
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 S4’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.
6. Audio Technica ATH-M30x Headphones
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.
7. Bose Quietcomfort 25 Noise-Cancelling Headphones
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.
8. Sennheiser HD202 Headphones
Sennheiser’s HD202 headphones have been around for over 10 years, and there’s a reason: these headphones are full of energy. They offer great clarity on the mids and highs, all underscored by strong bass. The HD202’s are excellent DJ and producing headphones for those on a tight budget. The padded headband and comfortable earcups (which are detachable) are a bonus as well.
9. Sennheiser HD558
The HD558’s came out at the same time as the HD598’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.
10. Sennheiser CX300B MKII Earbuds
Sennheiser makes some great bass-head earbuds. Don’t worry, you read that correctly. There’s two reasons these bass-head earbuds stand above the pack: the great price ($20-$25 range) and the great overall sound. Most bass-heavy earbuds muddy up the mids and highs, making for a terrible sounding track. But these earphones manages to give you great sound quality overall…while still giving you bone rattling bass. They were listed in our round up of the best bass headphones.
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.