Tag: best headphones

Top 5 In-Ear Headphones

Earbuds are great for just about any application; from going to the gym, on the plane or at the office, there’s a pair of earbuds that will match your needs. The biggest appeal of in-ear headphones is their size. While on-ear and over-ear headphones can be bulky and heavy, a pair of earbuds takes up next to no space and weighs even less. This makes them great travel companions. Despite their size, earbuds rarely sacrifice sound quality in comparison to their on-ear and over-ear counterparts and can even outperform them. Finding the right pair for you can be a tricky proposition, so we’ve created this list of our 5 favorite in-ear headphones.

1Westone W40

Westone W40

  • 4-way quad balanced armature driver in-ear monitors
  • Unique detachable cable design
  • Outstanding sound quality
  • Lightweight earpiece design for maximum comfort
  • Comes with secondary cable with in-line controls for iOS devices
  • Current Price: $499.99


Expert Review
“Westone’s W40 offer supreme clarity, ravishing detail, and astonishing dynamic expression, placing them in meager company within the hi-fi landscape. – Ryan Waniata, Digital Trends
Westone W40

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2Phiaton BT 220 NC

Phiaton BT 220 NC

  • Bluetooth 4.0 in-ear headphones with aptX and NFC
  • Built-in active noise cancelling
  • Full in-line controls with microphone
  • Clear Voice Capture for crystal clear hands-free phone calls
  • Everplay-X technology allows for listening to music after the battery dies
  • Current Price: $159.00


Expert Review
“For the price, the BT 220 NC delivers a quality level of noise cancellation that is better than expected.” – Tim Gideon, PC Mag
Phiaton BT 220 NC

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3SMS Audio BioSport

SMS Audio BioSport

  • In-ear athletic headphones
  • Biometric heart rate monitor tracks your workout
  • Compatible with most leading fitness apps through your smartphone
  • IPX sweat and water resistance rating perfect for gym use
  • Powered by your phone; no batteries required
  • Current Price: $149.95


Expert Review
“If heart-rate monitoring is important to you, SMS Audio’s BioSport earbuds are more convenient than you might think. Not only do you not have to wear something on your wrist or around your chest, but you also don’t have to worry about running out of batteries.” – Sarah Purewal, Techhive.com
SMS Audio BioSport

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  • Premium in-ear monitors
  • Large 11mm high fidelity drivers produce outstanding sound quality
  • Unique pivoting eartips for comfortable fit for any ear type
  • Three dimensional audio reproduction for the ultimate listening experience
  • Coated cable for convenient tangle-free operation
  • Current Price: $39.99


Expert Review
“Vocals have a great sound to them having a clean sound that’s placed well in the soundstage being center but not too forward. Guitars sound clean as well with every string able to be heard separately.” – Keanex, User Review – Head-Fi.org

Shop Now for the NVX EX10S In-Ear Monitors




5Sennheiser IE 80

Sennheiser IE 80

  • Luxurious wired in-ear headphone monitors
  • Special neodymium magnets ensure outstanding sound quality
  • Unique bass tuning screws allow you to precisely adjust the bass in each earpiece
  • Sleek design for both comfort and durability
  • Excellent sound isolation
  • Current Price: $329.99


Expert Reviews
“The iE80s have excellent separation and clarity. They dig out a serious amount of detail, which you’d arguably be expecting at this kind of money; Arcade Fire’s Ready To Start ticks along nicely with rhythmic, punchy drum kicks and zingy guitar, while the very natural-sounding vocals shine through.What Hi-Fi?
Sennheiser IE 80

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Top 5 On-Ear Headphones

If you’re looking for a pair of great sounding headphones that don’t take up the amount of space of a pair of over-ears do but don’t want a pair of earbuds, an on-ear headphone can be a happy medium. On-ear headphones take the same basic design and performance characteristics from their over-ear counterparts and put them in smaller, more compact designs. Digging through our selection of on-ear headphones to find the perfect pair for you can be a tall task. To hopefully help you save some time, or at least get you pointed in the right direction, we’ve created this list of our 5 favorite on-ear headphones.

1Phiaton Chord MS 530

Phiaton Chord MS 530

  • High quality active noise cancelling on-ear headphones
  • Premium Bluetooth 4.0 streaming with aptX codec
  • Unique design rests comfortably on your ears
  • Battery life up to 30 hours
  • Everplay-X technology allows you to continue your phone call/music after the battery dies
  • Current Price: $249.50


Expert Review
“It’s a rare thing that we fall head over heels for a headphone, but the MS 530 have totally seduced us. Give them a shot, and you’ll see what we mean.” – Caleb Denison, Digital Trends
Phiaton Chord MS 530

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2Sennheiser Urbanite

Sennheiser Urbanite

  • Classic Sennheiser design and performance
  • Optimized for use with iPhone devices (Android version also available)
  • Engineered for outstanding bass output and crystal clear sound
  • Premium construction from the finest materials available
  • Designed and built at Sennheiser’s headquarters in Germany
  • Current Price: $199.95


Expert Review
“For the price, it’s one of the best-sounding on-ear pairs we’ve heard, earning it our Editors’ Choice award.” – Tim Gideon, PC Mag
Sennheiser Urbanite

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3JBL Synchros E Series E40BT

JBL Synchros E Series E40BT

  • Bluetooth wireless stereo headphones
  • PureBass sound performance envelops your ears in outstanding sound
  • JBL ShareMe technology allows you to stream music wirelessly to another ShareMe headphone
  • Sleek, modern design provides a comfortable fit
  • Battery life up to 16 hours
  • Current Price: $99.95


Expert Review
“There’s an incredible array of expensive Bluetooth headphones to choose from, but if you’re seeking something affordable that doesn’t sacrifice too much quality in the process, the JBL E40BT should do the trick.” – Andrew Hayward, Techradar.com
JBL Synchros E Series E40BT

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4Grado SR80e

Grado SR80e

  • New driver design for premium sound performance
  • Specially vented diaphragms produce natural sound and extended bass response
  • Engineered and built at Grado’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York
  • Open-back design produces a perfectly balanced soundstage
  • Perfectly matched dynamic driver transducers
  • Current Price: $99.00


Expert Review
“I am going to issue a blanket audition recommendation. You owe it to yourself to listen to a pair of Grados and hear this sound for yourself.” – Dave, Headfonia
Grado SR80e

Shop Now for the Grado SR80e Prestige Series Wired On-Ear Headphones




5Beyerdynamic T51i

Beyerdynamic T51i

  • New and improved headphone drivers offer brilliant treble and deep bass reproduction
  • Premium lightweight audiophile headphones
  • Extremely efficient Tesla technology
  • In-line remote and mic optimized for use with iOS devices
  • Handcrafted in Germany from the finest components available
  • Current Price: $299.00


Expert Reviews
“Like the the T51p, it’s one of the best on-ear headphones we’ve tested, and has the added benefit of having a inline remote/microphone for mobile use.” – David Carnoy & Steve Guttenberg, CNET
Beyerdynamic T51i

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Best Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $100


Noise cancelling headphones are the perfect travel companion. Headphones with active noise cancelling all but eliminate the ambient noise around you by creating sound waves that cancel out the incoming sound waves, also known as destructive interference. Noise cancelling headphones are available in over-ear, on-ear and in-ear designs to meet any listening preference and work well with any music genre. For anyone who spends a lot of time travelling, nothing beats a good pair of noise cancelling headphones that drown out road noise, the constant drone of an airplane and any other distractions so you can catch up on work, enjoy a movie, your music or even just get some sleep. Noise cancelling headphones do have a reputation as being on the pricier side, but there are some budget friendly options available for you to choose from. Here are our three favorite pairs of noise cancelling headphones under $100.

1Phiaton PS 210 BTNC

Phiaton PS 210 BTNC Noise Cancelling Earbuds

The PS210 BTNC earphones from Phiaton is our top pair of noise cancelling headphones under $100. Phiaton designed the PS210 BTNC earphones with a noise blocker which cancels out up to 95% of the ambient noise around you. Not only do these earbuds offer you the bliss of active noise cancelling technology, they also have built-in Bluetooth and an on-board microphone for the ultimate in wireless freedom. The Phiaton PS210 BTNC wireless noise cancelling headphones also include Echo-Off noise reduction technology which reduces background noise from the microphone so your Bluetooth phone calls go smoothly. These wireless Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones with microphone are your best bet!

2Audio Technica ATH-ANC25

Audio Technica ATH-ANC25

Audio Technica’s ATH-ANC25 on-ear headphones are another great pair of noise cancelling headphones that are easy on the wallet. These on-ear headphones feature QuietPoint active noise reduction technology which reduces environmental noise by up to 80%. Internally, the ATH-ANC25 headphones feature large 40mm drivers which produce amazingly clear sound. These headphones fold up when not in use for easy storage. They are also able to function as wireless noise cancelling headphones thanks to the detachable cable if you just want to drown out the ambient noise but aren’t worried about listening to music.

3Able Planet NC200B


The Able Planet NC200B over-ear headphones were built specifically for travelers. Don’t let the price of the NC200B’s fool you, these aren’t just some cheap noise cancelling headphones. They feature the award winning LINX AUDIO Hear the Difference technology and active noise cancelling, these headphones are a sure bet to impress. They also include a tangle free cable with in-line volume controls for easy use. When not in use, these stylish headphones fold up for easy storage in your carry-on or backpack.

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Selecting the Best Headphone Type: Closed-Back, Open-Back, and Semi-Open Back

When searching for a new pair of on-ear or over-ear headphones, one important step to making the best selection is to consider all the headphone types available. A functioning knowledge of headphone type, also known as acoustical principles,  allows buyers to make a selection that best satisfies their expectations as listeners while meeting the demand of a headphone’s intended use. The three main acoustical principles found in modern headphones are closed-back, open-back, and semi-open back designs. Each principle offers users a unique and markedly distinct experience suited for particular environments and applications.


Audio Technica ATH M50s/LE, Excellent Closed Headphones

Perhaps the most ubiquitous acoustical principle, one of the primary advantages of closed-back headphones is minimized sound leakage. Whether in an on-ear or over-ear design, the closed-back headphone prevents music from spilling into your surroundings and keeps ambient noise from penetrating the reproduction. The resulting effect is described as sound isolation and is defined by a reproduction that is minimally colored by ambient noise.

Because they are among the best suited for quality reproduction even in noisy environments, it is of little surprise that sealed headphones are among the most common. Closed-back headphones are particularly well suited for studio engineers and DJs who demand a focused sound despite loud surroundings and are also of great benefit for travelers and office use.

Of course, for all the benefits of being able to listen to high quality audio in raucous environments there are some trade-offs. Most notably, the acoustic character of sealed headphones can have a constricted quality with a compressed sound stage leading to less resonant high and mid frequencies. Nonetheless, the limited space of the chamber does have some advantages particularly for enthusiasts of lower frequencies and robust bass. For such individuals, closed-back headphones may provide the most satisfying experience.


Grado GS1000I, Top of the Line Open Headphones

Open-back headphones are the inverse of closed-back headphones. Unlike sealed headphones, open-back headphones allow sound to flow freely through the drivers allowing more sound to emanate from the headphones. The effect of this acoustical principle is to achieve a broadened sound stage with organic and realistic sound character. While bass frequencies are not particularly accentuated, they tend to be properly balanced with higher frequencies which are allowed to ring and develop over time and space because of the free flow of air through and around the transducers. To many listeners, the freedom and natural development of the sound waves offers the highest quality sound.

While the convincing realism of the open-back sound stage can be impressive, it practically relegates the open-back headphone to the private and silent rooms of a home. Not only might people nearby find the sound leakage of the open-back headphone distracting, open-back headphones also allow ambient noise into the transducer resulting in sound so tainted by noise that it is hardly enjoyable.


beyerdynamic T5p, Exemplary Semi-Open Headphones

Certainly one of the most polemic principles available, semi-open back headphones attempt to reconcile the opposing acoustical principles by blending certain qualities of each. The semi-open headphone offers some sound isolation without fully enclosing the chamber and allowing sound to develop organically. While this certainly creates a more dynamic sound character, semi-open headphones might still leak enough sound to be a nuisance to others and should be considered as open headphones with better isolation.

In other words, semi-open headphones are more than likely to be a better fit for private listening than something one might use in a quiet library or office.

Conclusion: Choosing Yours

Knowing the distinct characteristics of each acoustic principle, it is time to think about what your demands are from your headphones. When choosing, be sure to consider the environments you are most likely to be in while enjoying your headphones.

If you know that you will be in busy and loud environments, DJ-ing the next block party, or monitoring a live performance, no other type of headphone will better serve your purposes than a fully closed, enclosed ear design. On the other hand, if you wan to unwind after a long day at work to the immaculate sound of your headphones in the privacy and quiet of your favorite lazy chair, open-back headphones might be the perfect companions (as I know they are for me!).

Most importantly, the acoustic principle of a pair of headphones is meant to help you get the most out of your music. Be sure to consider the types of music you are most likely to listen to. For instance, if you prefer classical or acoustic performances with balanced and rich sound textures, perhaps a semi-open or open design will be your best fit; whereas if you are into electronic and bass heavy music, a closed principle may better reflect the robust bass frequencies you are seeking.