Headphones have been a large part of my listening enjoyment since I was a kid. Dozens of brands and models have been over my ears during that time.
A listener can get used to many types of headphones. The way one listens will influence the design and form. You can completely cover your ears and isolate outside sounds. You can hear the outside world with open air headphones. Or you can put ear buds or pods in your ear canals. Ear buds typically block outside sound while pods also allow some outside sound to come through.
This post will discuss over-the-ear closed headphones to isolate outside sounds. While it is a matter of user preference, I prefer this type for an immersive listen and less distraction from the outside world. The trade off is you might not be able to hear people talking or other things in your surroundings very well, so use caution. You can receive text notifications and phone calls with these headphones.
The quality of closed earphones is similar or the same to what professional musicians and producers use to create music in the studio environment.
My top recommendation is studio quality and now available with Bluetooth eliminating the cord in most listening situation. For me, it is very enjoyable to listening to everything with this same high sound quality; favorite music, podcasts or my Noise Ambient creations.
Tips to find your favorite headphones:
A great way to see if you are a good match to a pair of headphones is to play selections of your favorite music and see if it has the detail, the high and low frequencies you remember.
Noteworthy but not my favorite:
There are headphones that over-hype the bass frequencies, like Dre Beats. I love robust precise low frequencies, but find headphones with hyped up bass fatiguing over time.
Beats Studio Pro
The legendary Sony MDR-7506 have been around for decades as an industry standard, but are just too bright for normal use in my opinion. They have a place for audio engineers in loud environments, or on movie sets where that extra detail at high volume is required.
Noise cancelling caveats:
When it comes to noise cancelling type headphones, I have found the electronics added to cancel noise add subtle yet distracting artifacts to the sound quality. Unless you take airline flights regularly, I would skip these type of headphones for daily use.
I could go on about the subtleties of many brands and styles used over the decades, Sony, Shure, Sennheiser, AKG, Beats, Koss, Bose, etc. I’m going to spare you trials and cut to the chase sharing my current favorite pair and it’s mid and lower priced counterparts that are similar in quality.
This is my all around favorite pair of headphones:
Solid accurate low and high frequencies. Great battery life, charging cable, headphone cable and pouch included. Excellent all around.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
Close in quality to the ATH-M50xBT with slightly less low frequencies, but good high frequencies. Good battery life, charging cable, headphone cable included. Fantastic for the price.
And while these may seem pricy to some readers, the amount of enjoyment will go on for many years as these are professional grade. The ear pads can be replaced on all versions. The cord is removeable and replaceable on the ATH-M50xBT2 and ATH-M20xBT2. I own a few wired (non-Bluetooth) pairs of the 50’s and 20s for recording studio use. I loved the quality so much I used the Apple headphone adapter to go mobile with these headphones. These adapters are awkward, fail often and are easy to misplace. After purchasing a dozen, it became clear the cheaper long-term option was to ditch the corded version and go Bluetooth.
The battery life is very long, compared to less expensive off brand Bluetooth headphones. I listen with them 1-2 hour a day and charge about once a week with a USB-C cable.
The over-the-ear pads are comfortable yet small enough that you can listen on a pillow at night, but not as small as my wife’s favorite headphones.
My wife’s favorite headphones:
My wife prefers slightly smaller earphones for in pillow listening and has opted for the Sony WHXB700
While XB stands for extra bass, they do not feel as over hyped as some other brands on the market like Beats.
If you have more money to spend:
There are much more expensive headphones out there, and yes, they sound slightly better. The price begins to increase exponentially with diminishing improvement in audio quality. I find the Audio-Technica series high quality and rugged enough to use outside in the garden, or to throw in a backpack and take on an airline flight.
If it is good enough for music makers, it is a perfect match for listening back in day to day life.
About the cord:
The cable is necessary for music and video editing and broadcast because the Bluetooth creates a short sound delay. Many musicians can be seen wearing AT’s with their trademark silver ring visible on each side. Color options included black, white, blue and ice blue. Skins or wraps are available if you desire a more unique color or look on camera.
These are affiliate links:
If you are considering buying these headphones, using the links above will provide me with a small commission. And if they are not right for you, Amazon will take returns and has most every brand available as an alternate.
Prices are subject to change.
As always, thanks for listening, Dale