Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Top 10 Headphones Reviewed

Here is a list I have compiled of headphones that I have used over the past two years. I have owned at one point or another all of these headphones at one time. As most web designers know it is very very important to have good headphones seeing as more often than not it’s just you and your laptop plugging away with html, php, flash, etc. So without further adieu here is what I have experienced with each of these bad boys.

Bose Triport

Price: $149.99

Bose TriportsI’ll confess when I first saw these headphones I thought, how could these cone looking headphones produce good sound at all. However, I decided against my first instinct and bought a pair. Along with being Bose, as most audio gurus will tell you is slightly overrated in terms of sound, I had my own doubts. However I was pleasantly surprised. First off they are ultra comfortable on your ears because they are so lightweight and the padding they use is soft and not too suction-like. Secondly, unless you have unusually large ears, they earphones should fit around your entire ear which blocks out quite a bit of sound and produces very good sound quality.

Sound Quality:

On the Alicia Keys song that I used, if you’ve never heard her sing she has a very rich voice that covers a tremendous range, these headphones performed excellent against her raspy voice, trebles were good, bass was good, mid-range was sweet sounding. I’d say you can’t go wrong with these headphones at all.


If I had to point out one design flaw with these headphones I would say that the plastic ring connecting the two earphones is not extremely durable. Bose did make an improvement over their first Triport which just had cheapo plastic, and added a nice neoprene sleeve over this new edition Triport which gives a more quality feel and increases durability.

Dorkiness Factor:

I’m not sure these headphones would exactly get you girls but you won’t be made fun of either. I mean if Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat can sport them on national TV why can’t you (oh, wait I’m not in the NBA and shoot I’m not famous either, crud).


For all the reasons I listed above, I do believe that for the money these are a great pick and you can’t go wrong with these headphones. If you want to be blown away with the sound I’d recommend listening to Brian McKnight with this pair of phones.

Bang & Olufson A8

Price: $159.99

Bang and Olufson !8Perhaps my favourite headphones of all time these are the perfect low profile headphones that fit easily into your pocket with amazing sound quality. Trust me I’ve owned all of these headphones and this one is by far the one I would take with me if I could only take one. The best song to listen to with these headphones is “The Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice, first of all this song is one of the best songs of all time, second you can even hear the background studio noise because the headphones are THAT good. I would venture to say that Bang & Olufson makes the best sounding headphones. If they ever came out with a noice canceling headphone it would blow the water out of everything out in the industry right now.


I’d say they are more durable than most headphones because of the metaal earbands with the rubber lining. The only problem that I have had with them is I once dropped them in water and they stopped working for awhile, so as long as you don’t do something like that I think you’ll be fine.

Design Aesthetics:

The A8’s are low profile so no worries there. I’d say the only time I felt most like a dork was when I kept telling people to listen to my headphones and compare them to their stock ipod headphones.


One of the two pairs of headphones that I use pretty much everyday, the A8’s are perfect for my walk to work (through downtown San Francisco) and are perform just as well at home. If you want a high performing, great sounding, durable campanion to your IPOD I would get these hand’s down.

Bose Quiet Comfort 2 - Acoustic Noice Canceling

Price: $349.99

Bose Quiet ComfortsBefore I go onto my review of these headphones and everyone goes on to talk about how great these headphones are I must say that I too think they are GOOD headphones as well. Here is a statement that I’ll standby 100%, the Bose Triports that only cost half the price of the Quiet Comforts have a much better sound than these headphones. Most people will contest that these phones sound better but the way to actually test the sound quality is to sit in a quiet place and listen to both the Triports and the Quiet Comforts, the difference is staggering. From the trebles to the bass the Triport is just able to produce a crisper sound, you can just feel the singer’s voice and the vebratto.


These headphones will stand the test of time. They are much better constructed than the triports and will be able to take a beating. The head band that connects the two earphones is about 3/4 of an inch wide and very very durable, you definitely get the same tough/industrial feel that you get with the Sony DJ headphones reviewed here as well. The only part you will be changing out is the batteries most likely.

Sound Quality:

As discussed before, for the price, the sound quality is a bit lower than expected. I believe that people often confuse good quality sound with the noise canceling that the Quiet Comforts provides. The Quiet Comforts do provide excellent noise canceling, I can testify to this, as I wore them on an airplan and couldn’t hear the engine or that typical airplane buzz at all. If I were looking into the market to buy a pair of noise canceling headphones I would definitely go with these bad boys.


Don’t get me wrong I like these headphones for noise canceling I just have a hard time recommending the Quiet Comforts just based on sound quality. I would say if you are traveling in airplanes, trains, or on a whole in noisy environments a lot then these are actually really good headphones to buy because of their effectiveness blocking out sound. I would say if you are a consultant that hops on a plane more more than 4x a month this would be my pick for headphones.

Shure E3C - Sound Isolating

Price: $179.99

ShureThe two pairs of in-ear headphones that I bought were the Shure E3C’s and the Ultimate Ear 5 Pro’s and though I don’t like to bash another product I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the Ultimate Ear’s and miles better than the Shure’s. There is definitely a reason that 90% of the professional music community uses the Ultimate Ear headphones. Though I’m not a huge fan of in-ear headphones if I had to recommend a pair of headphones it would be the Ultimate Ears. Ok, ok but this is a review of the Shure E3C’s, they are cheap. Quite simply, these headphones, at the E3C level, are Sony Fontopia’s for a higher price with a better in ear foam bud, and I might argue that the Fontopias are better. I once again used the Alicia Key’s song “If I ain’t got you” as a good song to test these headphones out. What I found was that the when her pitch got higher the E3C’s sounded very tinny and almost hurt my ear from the badly balanced treble. I chose a song with a lot of range because on a whole it is unfair to judge in-ear headphones on their bass performance, it’s just not going to be there with any of them.


If you work out don’t buy these headphones. The main reason I say this is because when you’re running if you hit that wire at all it will reverberate back into your headphones and will be very disturbing. Though this is true with most in-ear headphones, in fact if you’re working out just buy cheapo headphones or if you want better sound go buy the Bang and Olufson’s they will work perfect. In fact I can’t recommend these headphones at all in light that the Ultimate Ears are available and are exponentially better in my opinion.

Sony MDR-EX71SL Fontopia Headphones

Price: $49.99

Sony FontopiaIf you’re looking for the most bang out of your buck and a good trooper of a pair of headphones these are it. For in-ear headphones they are very good. These headphones aren’t tinny and handle bass very well when I tried playing some 50 cent on them while working out. Probably the second most important characteristic about in-ear headphones asides from sound quality is the foam earbuds that come with the earphones. The Sony Fontopia’s come with 6 pairs and they should fit most people’s ears comfortably, if you can handle in-ear headphones without headaches. Sidenote: check to make sure that you can handle in-ear headphones before you buy them, it is a very different feel than regular headphones you may be used to. Most people that don’t like in-ear headphones either get headaches when they wear them or the ear foam buds don’t fit in their ears.


Buy if you are looking for those headphones to get your from point A to point B. Perfect for the train ride commute that is less than an hour. Don’t buy if you are planning on using these guys for hours on end while doing homework or web designing it’ll give you a headache or your ears will start throbbing…ok yours might not but mine did. This isn’t a Fontopia thing, it’s an in-ear headphone thing, though like I said in-ear works for some people just not me and I’ve owned some pretty good in-ear phones which right now my sister is enjoying (she loves in-ear headphones and CAN wear them for hours on end). Good buy if you like in-ear headphones, not super expensive and provide good value.

Sony MDR-700DJ Studio Monitor Series

Price: $149.99

This is a pair of headphones I hold near and dear to my heart. Always by my side, the MDR DJ700’s were made famous by the 1000’s of DJ’s that swear by these headphones. Don’t believe me, go out this weekend to your nearby club and see what headphones the DJ is sporting, it’s the 700’s guarnteed. These headphones are quite simply a perfect balance of sound quality, durability, design aesthetics, comfort, and overall feel.

Sony DJ

Sound Quality:

This time I gave these headphones the full test. When I first bought these headphones it was because of the incredible hype around them that existed, but still I waited awhile, a long while. Finally after a particular hard day at work I broke down and ordered them off of Amazon ($83 bucks right now) and I wasn’t disappointed. The sound is incredibly rich. When I say rich I mean the bass is complete, soft when the drums are lower, crisp when it’s a cymbol, just nice and balanced. You will never flinch because the sound is too high-pitched or uncomfortable with these phones. I guess I can’t say more than these headphones are just balanced, however if you do buy them make sure to use the extra adapter and listen to them through your receiver. Oh, now that is amazing, the extra power that using the 8mm brings is such off the hook.


By far the most durable of all the headphones reviewed. Double enforced head band, metal components, half the reason that DJ’s use these headphones is because they are soo durable. You can throw them around (did that), sit on them (that too), and overall do everything you aren’t supposed to do to them and they will keep on ticking.


For anyone that will be listening to music for longer than an hour at a time. That’s calling all you engineering students out there, web designers, programmers, and anyone else that spends more time on their computer than they should. As far as design aesthetics these headphones are beautiful, we’re talking the Jessica Alba of headphones. I know that there are now more expensive new generations of this headphones and better DJ headphones out there, but there is a reason these headphones have become a classic.

Ultimate Ears 5 Pro

Price: $249.99

Ulitmate EatBest in-ear quality headphone brand out there. Great fit with the foam pads (very important with in-ear headphones), great sound quality. I love the range of the 5 Pro’s and would definitley recommend giving a bit more money to but this version over the cheaper version. I know easier said than done, I had to skip a few meals and eat to ramen for the month of September, but I can now say it was worth it. Ultimate Ears was a brand started by a sound engineer in the music industry and it shows in pretty much the entire product. If you are into heavy bass or trebles these headphones will cover the range of music easily and well. To test the bass out I listened to a lot of down tempo, drum and bass, stuff and can say I could easily pick out snare drums and different bass drums. Surprisingly, also, after wearing these headphones I didn’t have a headaches because the fit with the foam pads was so secure.


Yep, I recommend these headphones as an alternative to noise canceling headphones and as the best in-ear headphones around for the money. If you are debating between Shure and Ultimate Ears I would recommend the Pro 5’s, or just Ultimate Ears in general.

Apple In-Ear Headphones

Price: $39.00

apple in earDon’t buy these headphones. Ok now that I’ve gotten that out of the way let me tell you why. I bought these headphones so that I could use them to work out but they performed so terribly that I had to return them the day after. First off the ear buds don’t fit correctly, and though I did manage to get them to fit for a second of two they will definitely fall out during a short run. In addition the sound quality is no better than your typical Apple Ipod stock headphones and realistically I wouldn’t even accept these headphones as a gift.

Bang and Olufson Form 2

Price: $99.99

Bang and OlufsonAesthetically I’m not sure about these headphones at al as they are black and someone spaceship like, however musically they perform very well. Since you can try these out at the apple store, to test the sound quality, I would first listen to the Alicia Keys song “If I ain’t got you” any of the other headphones and then listen to these headphones. Eventhough they may not block out the sound very well because of their ear phone design the quality is top notch.


I’m not sure I can recommend this as a buy because for $100 this is a bit over priced. I see this pair of headphones as a tweener between a really good pair of headphones and your stock headphones. I would suggest you save your money and buy the Bang and Olufson A8’s or the Bose Triport’s if you are thinking of spending this kind of money on headphones.

Apple Ipod Ear Phones

Price: $29.00

The stock ear phones that come with ipod are actually probably the best stock ear phones that you will ever get. They are stylish durable, produce decent sound, and overall are a good pair of headphones if you don’t want to spend anymore money. They will however not block out any sound and if you do ride the train or are in an airplane your music will be competing with the outside noise and airplane engine.

And that concludes my headphone review (I swear I thought this article would never end, I just about wore out my keyboard). If you found this article helpful I’d be much appreciated if you would digg this article.



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