The market for good quality headphones has exploded in recent years, with the birth of the iPod kickstarting a wave of goodwill towards the portable playback of music. Closer to home however, there are an increasing number of us who are turning to a top set of ‘cans‘ for our listening indoors.
For those of us who’s music enjoyment is restricted by children, neighbours, an angry spouse telling you to “turn that racket down!”, the need to create our own personal island of Hi-Fi tranquility is all the more important. If music is really something you can’t live without, fear not, we take a look at some of the very best value headphones for the ultimate personal listening experience…
One of the oldest and most highly regarded headphone brands in the world, Grado have been developing their headsets in Brooklyn, NY since 1953. The multi-award-winning SR325E is built around Grado’s philosophy of “less bling, more zing!” They’re as good a place to start as any to hear what the fuss is all about when it comes to high end headphones. Crisp, clear highs are matched by a strong and impactful bass. This latest version also offers lower distortion than its non-‘E‘ predecessor. Throw in Grado’s retro stylings and you’ve got one cool customer – and a great sounding one at that!
While the title may be a bit of a mouthful, these gorgeous headphones are an absolute treat for the eyes – and fortunately the ears, too! Japanese marque Final Audio Design (FAD) started off as a manufacturer of turntable cartridges back in 1974 before moving exclusively to the design of headphones. Their stainless steel and leather housing encases a unique ‘armature’ driver (used mainly for in-ear ‘phones) as well as a more conventional dynamic driver, so these beauties are able to offer a fantastically balanced sound across the entire frequency range. There’s also less sound leakage for those who really need to be quiet!
No high-end headphone list would be complete without the inclusion of Sennheiser – and these are their absolute finest. Having owned a set for the past two years, it’s fairly obvious that I’m a massive fan. Using the largest available drivers currently seen on a headphone (they really are huge!), the HD800 is effectively a way of strapping a set of properly brilliant speakers to your head! As a fully open-back headphone, they do leak a lot of sound, but the trade off is in an enormous soundstage and immense instrument separation. These really need a dedicated amplifier to show them off (like the Audiolab MDAC), but when they’re running at full pelt, they’re one of the wonders of the audio world.
Now we’re in truly high end territory, it’s only right that we take a closer look at this next set of world beaters. These are what’s known as a ‘Planar-Magnetic’ headphone, and the technology is certainly as clever as its name implies. Inside each enclosure is a pair of magnets that sit either side of a super thin diaphragm. This diaphragm is covered in small electrical conductors, and when a signal is fed into them, they help to generate the sound that is then picked up by your ears. Even if the science goes over your head, the results are undeniable. Clarity, detail, separation – everything is heightened. Bass is cavernous, mids are rich and full, and the treble frequencies are hyper-real. The design is striking too, with Audeze placing comfort at the forefront in its design. Again, you’ll need an amplifier to get the most out of them, but with the right setup you’ll be rewarded with seriously world-class sound.
You can audition any of these headphones in our stores to experience first-hand just how amazing your music can sound, be sure to call ahead though as some stocks may be limited. You can also call our telesales team on 0333 900 0093 to find out more about the huge range of options, with our help you could be in personal Hi-Fi heaven very soon!
Author: Chris, Liverpool store