Beyerdynamic DT 880
Anyone who's stepped inside a recording studio will be familiar with Beyerdynamic's classic over-ear studio headphones, the DT 100s. Indeed, this German company has been producing headphones since 1937, so it must be doing something right.
The DT 880s are quite beautiful and are certainly one of the comfiest fits too. The soft velvet-like ear pads make the DT 880s a joy to wear and, while they are quite bulky, the design is admirable, as I didn't feel at all conscious of their size when taking to the streets.
Open-backed designs do leak a lot of sound, but they're incredible to listen to and don't hurt the ears over long periods of time. Beyerdynamic chose the middle path here and the balance hits the spot delivering a spacial soundscape and containing the audio more than fully-open models.
Sound is neutral, clean and crisp with a distinct mid-range accompanied by powerful bass frequencies that rarely overwhelm. They improve my home recording setup, and I can tweak levels perfectly with these beauts.
My only disappointment was a fixed cable and a huge carrier case, although despite its size, the latter would definitely protect your investment. I can't fault them too much, although they are maybe a tad on the pricey side, but some things are worth paying for and the DT 880s ranked as one of my favourites in this roundup.
Reg Rating 90%
More info Polar Audio
Bose are known for sound systems that deliver an impressive output, and the company's ability to get a big sound out of little boxes has been applied to its headphone range. Without question, the Bose AE2s bring are the most compact option to feature in this round-up.
Black leather earpads combine with a matt-black finish to form a very executive look, perfect for the travelling businessman. It's easy to forget they're there as the body is super lightweight and they fit so snugly over the ears, isolating outside noise rather well in the process. Despite feeling quite flimsy, there's an opulent grace to the movement of the linkages and the cable detaches, so shouldn't accidentally break if caught in your office chair for instance.
Onto the sound then and the Bose AE2s have nice rounded bass notes and a warm mid-range, however top-end frequencies were a bit too crisp. Listening to big band tunes with lots of crashing percussion emphasised this. Koop, a stunning electronic jazz duet were awesome through them, though.
By and large, the AE2s were impressive and the company is so confident you'll like them, it offers a 30-day money back guarantee. Peachy.
Reg Rating 80%
More info Bose
Next page: Monster Beats Pro
THREE FIGURES for FUCKING HEADPHONES? Are you having a laugh?
In the real world, <£20 is cheap and nasty, £30-£50 is decent quality, but you're paying for it, >£50 is very good, but pricier than I'm generally willing to go. £330? £550??!!??!! You'd have to so rich that price tags have literally no meaning to you or stark raving insanse!
It's all a con
There was a story recently about someone disassembling Sennheiser HD 555 (about 70 quid) and finding the working parts were identical to the 595 (about 140 quid) except they jammed a bit of foam in to muffle the sound slightly. So if you have access to a screwdriver you can double the value of your headphones by removing it.
One thing that really really gets me is the crappy quality earphones that you get with apple products and other pmps and the amount of people that happily use them..
They sound terrible! Even a £10 pair of buds from HMV is a 10x improvement over the crappy free ipod earphones..
When commuting in london I regularly see obviously well off people well dressed with ipads and so on, and they're using the shitty free apple earbuds to listen to their music.. They've spent 500 quid on kit to listen to music on and have crap earbuds.
After all when buying hi-fi the recommendation typically is you spend 50% of your budget on amp and sources, and 50% on speakers.. these people have spent 100% on source..
Its almost like spending £500 on a decent blu-ray player and then hooking it up to a 14" black and white crt TV.
Personally due to the amount of background noise while commuting and the fact I'm not loaded I have spent around £60-70 on a half decent set of in ear buds. I would probably only spend the money on the ones listed above for home listening which I don't do much of.
Even so when friends see them and ask how much they cost the reaction is usually "£60 for earphones?!!"
I just don't get it.. I spend more time (1 or 2 hours a day) listening to these earphones than I do my home hi-fi setup, in terms of £s per hour of usage my earphones cost a fraction of a penny per hour..
sorry, rant over.. bloody apple consumers, all style over functionality...
Not even on old MP's expenses
would I pay those prices - and I've got Quad speakers!
What's it worth to you?
If all you listen to is the highly compressed and low dynamic range stuff in noisy environments and/or are only interested in making you ears bleed then I'd agree with you. I use a 4 year old 2nd gen Nano and a pair of ~£40 Sennheiser iems on the train quite happily (though not at eardrum bursting levels).
On the other hand when I'm listening to high quality flac at home with other good quality hi-fi gear I'm not going to use a cheapo pair of headphones just to save a couple of quid. I'm no rabid audiophile but if you would spend £2-300 on speakers why not £1-200 on headphones? I use mine (Grado, why were they overlooked?) for extended periods while photo editing in the evening so as not to disturb the neighbours and the level of detail expressed rivals that of my speakers. They are still the cheapest part of my hi-fi rig too.