Brent said: That the noise-canceling AKG N60 NCs came pretty close to the sound quality of my reference midpriced headphones, NAD’s Viso HP50s ($299), is remarkable. Overall, I do prefer the HP50s’ sound, but if I had to choose between them -- indeed, if I had to choose only one set of headphones to live with -- I’d take the N60 NCs for their much greater utility.
The gist: Great choice for frequent flyers.
Al said: For $189, Arcam’s MusicBoost will not only protect your phone and keep its battery charged, it will make your music sound good. If you own an iPhone 6 or 6s and care about sound quality, Arcam’s MusicBoost is an essential accessory.
The gist: iPhone-equipped audiophiles rejoice!
Brent said: I would enjoy having headphones that sound like this . . . if they were comfortable, which for me the Sines are not. But if you’re looking for a nice, clean, uncolored sound, I recommend you try the Audeze Sines at a dealer or your nearest hi-fi or headphone show.
The gist: Although they sound really good, they are not that comfortable.
Rad said: Due to their light weight and good fit, the Audio-Technica ATH-S700BT SonicFuels will be ideal for those who are looking for quality sound to accompany their physical activities, don’t want any wires in the way, and can’t wear in-ear ’phones.
The gist: Good alternative to the Koss BT540i ’phones.
Rad said: If you want on-ear headphones that deliver a driving midrange and highs to juice up your workout or yardwork, the Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BTs might be just the headphones for you.
The gist: Good sound but they lack deep bass.
Rad said: Move along, folks, move along -- nothing to hear here.
The gist: Skip it.
Brent said: I found the Beyerdynamic T 5 p closed-back model to be excellent headphones capable of bringing out the detail and space in any recording without sounding harsh or fatiguing.
The gist: Not quite neutral, but with a thoroughly engaging sound.
Brent said: The Final Sonorous IIIs have a neutral sound overall, with some of the most perfect, natural, grooving bass reproduction I’ve ever heard from headphones.
The gist: Solid choice if they fit your head.
Brent said: The Focal Sphears are exceptionally comfortable, well-designed, good-sounding earphones that I found especially enjoyable to use when listening to rock, pop, and jazz -- and any other music in which groove is important.
The gist: Super-comfortable design that likes to rock.
Brent said: If you demand the best, the HE1000s are the wiser choice. If spending $3000 on headphones is a stretch for you, the Edition Xes are the better pick, especially considering that you don’t need to buy or carry a separate amplifier or a high-priced portable music player to use with them. Just plug ’em into your smartphone or tablet and you’ll get fantastic sound with zero hassles.
The gist: More affordable version of the HE1000s.
Brent said: HiFiMan’s HE1000 V2s aren’t all that different from their original HE1000s, and that’s a good thing -- the HE1000s are widely regarded as being some of the very best headphones you can buy. Are the V2s better? In my opinion, their sound is a little different from their forebears’ -- not better.
The gist: Worthy new flagship replaces last year’s HE1000.
Brent said: They sound better, in my opinion, than every NC headphone I’ve named other than the PSB M4U 2s, and they offer several advantages over the PSBs: They’re slightly more portable, I found them more comfortable over the long term, and they have Bluetooth, a feature I very much enjoy using. These very good noise-canceling headphones are easy to recommend.
The gist: Check these out before you buy the Bose or PSB noise-canceling models.
Brent said: The Klipsch Reference X20i in-ears possess the sonic qualities that I -- and, I think, most listeners -- want in a set of earphones: uncolored sound and natural tonal balance.
The gist: Earphones that won’t color your music.
S. Andrea said: The 230HAD has prominent but controlled bass, relaxed and refined treble, and a full-bodied midrange that provides a coherent transition between the two -- a sonic profile I found worked well with all types of music and a variety of headphones.
The gist: Most affordable Simaudio headphone amp has many strengths.
Brent said: Bottom line: If you’re looking for high-end earphones that don’t exaggerate anything, never “bite” your ears with harsh treble, and provide full yet precise bass reproduction, the NuForce HEM8s are a great choice.
The gist: These earphones won’t grate on your ears.
Hans said: This visual and tactile feast, and the 0|1s’ exciting, dynamic sound, make Pryma’s first headphone model something of a bargain, and a no-brainer for those who want audiophile headphones that look every bit as good as they sound.
The gist: The standard in headphone industrial design.
Brent said: I’ve heard almost every major-brand closed-back headphone, and most of the minor-brand models. I can’t think of any for under $500 that are clearly better than RBH Sound’s HP-2s.
The gist: Not high profile, but certainly high quality.
S. Andrea said: The HD 630VBs are a serious attempt at high-end, closed-back headphones by one of the leaders in the industry.
The gist: The Variable Bass feature is a real plus.
Brent said: Sennheiser’s HD 800 S headphones are clearly some of the best you can buy. Unless you’re a diehard basshead, or hate open-back headphones, or refuse to use a headphone amp, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t like them.
The gist: Maybe the best Sennheisers ever.
Rad said: They sound terrific, with one of the most impressive soundstages I’ve heard, and an excellent noise-canceling system that let me hear my music unmarred by outside sounds. Given all that, the Sennheiser Momentums are very good value for the dollar, even at $499.95.
The gist: Old-school company meets new-school technology.