Music is full of small details that can’t be heard with thumpy stereo systems and cheap earbuds, so in order to get the most out of your audio collection, you’ll need a quality pair of cans (unless you listen to Nickelback, in which case we recommend these).
Here are four pairs of over-ear headphones that will allow you to hear instruments that you never knew existed.
- Audiophile-grade high performance headphones
- Twist and lock single-sided cable eliminates tangles and simplifies exchanges
- Internal Sound Reflector immerses the listener in rich audio
The HD558s share the same modern aesthetic as the rest of the Sennheiser family, and stay true to the German engineering stereotype. The circumaural HD558s envelop your ears in pure bliss, and offer many difficult to pronounce features, including Eargonomic Acoustic Refinement technology, comfortable velour ear pads, and a neodymium ferrous magnet system.
Amazon - $144
- Brilliant sound for a low cost
- Adjustable headband made of soft vinyl
- Earpieces rotate 360 degrees – great for packing flat
- Mini stereo termination with 1/4-inch adapter
Grado headphones resemble a pair of cans made during the Cold War, because the design literally hasn’t been changed for decades. Love them or hate them for their retro looks, Grados of any size produce amazing audio, and the baseline SR-60i is no different.
The ‘legendary’ headphones are among the most popular in this price range, and can beat the pads off of any of those silly Skullcandy abominations.
If you’re looking to stretch your audiophile wings, look no further—but note that due to the open-air nature of Grados, the fellow sitting next to you will be able to hear your tunes just as well as you can.
Amazon – $80
- Dynamic, closed-ear headphones with up to 32 dB attenuation of outside sound
- Lightweight and comfortable, ergonomic design
- Extended frequency response and warm, natural sound reproduction
- Collapsible earpieces for compact transport
- Earpads, headband padding, and audio cord are easily replaceable, ensuring long life
- Collapsible ear-pieces for compact transport
The Sennheiser HD-280s are in the same price and quality range as the Grado SR60s, but will offer more privacy due to the closed ear design. The collapsable design makes them perfect for traveling or stuffing in your backpack, and they won’t break the bank in you’re new to the pro-audio game.
Amazon – $80
- Power handling capacity: 1500mW
- Over the head, around-the-ear wearing style (circum-aural closed)
- King size ear cushion (diameter: 3.7¿, thickness: 1.8¿)
- Cord: 1.2m flat cord
If you scrolled to the bottom to look for the lowest priced headphones, then stop right here. At $50, the Sony XB500s aren’t exactly ‘cheap’, but they will be the only worthwhile step up from whatever crackling monstrosities you currently have squeezed around your cranium.
The ear pads are harvested straight from a cumulonimbus cloud, and while the drivers don’t provide the same angelic tones as some of the more costly options, they do produce enough bass to make even CATS from Zero Wing jealous.
Amazon - $50
The best part? All of the earphones make the perfect gift for your music loving friends and family this holiday season!