14 Picks for High-End Headphones

Listen up -- and learn about some of today's most high-tech headphone products.

You spend a lot of time listening to music. Most likely, you researched, planned and shopped around for all of the audio components in your home theater setup. Why wouldn’t you do the same when it comes to finding the right pair of headphones?

After all, headphones are a very personal thing. Not only do headphones provide a way for you to hoard music all to yourself, the right pair can actually keep out all of the sound around you. Also, this is something that you’re going to be strapping to your head. You want it to sound good and feel good. You want it to be perfect.

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In-ear headphones and earbuds have their place. However, when it comes to the hi-fi experience, you want a pair of on-ear or over-ear headphones. These are perfect for all-day listening, since they don’t poke your inner-ear canal. Also, on-ear and over-ear options provide the most immersive experience, as well as some of the best sound quality that money can buy.

On-ear headphones rest on top of your ear and are typically very comfortable. Sometimes, they even provide noise isolation features. However, over-ear headphones are usually larger than your actual year, in order to cover the entire thing. It nestles the ear comfortably, letting little-to-no sound in or out. The type of headphones you prefer may be dictated by your budget or how the headphones actually feel on your head. Here are a few other things to look out for when choosing the right headphones:

    1. Comfort is king. If the headphones don’t feel right on your head in the store, they certainly aren’t going to feel better as time goes on.
    2. Some headphones offer in-line controls and microphones. This is an option that’s located on the cord, allowing you to make and take calls or control media devices. Just be aware that most of these options only work with iOS devices. If you don’t have one of those, it’s probably not an important factor.
    3. Cord length is important! If you’re going to be using headphones while sitting on the couch, you may need a lengthy cord. If it’s not an issues, you probably won’t want wires dragging and tripping you up.
    4. Noise isolation will give you the most private listening experience of your life. If you want to shut out the entire world, you want headphones that have a sealed design or noise isolation.

Of course, these small audio units also pack in plenty of specs. Here are a few of those to consider when buying headphones:

Frequency Response: Many audiophiles will argue that frequency response is a crap spec pumped up by the manufacturer. Its purpose is to explain the musical range that headphone drivers can deliver to your ears. However, if you’re leery about manufacturer claims, the best way to test out frequency response is to strap on a pair of headphones and listen for yourself.

Sensitivity Rating: How efficient are your headphones when it comes to converting the electrical signal into sound? This little spec will tell you that. If your headphones have a low sensitivity rating, you may have to crank them up to get the proper sound needed for rocking out.

Impedance: This is one of the most important specs. Low impedance headphones don’t need a whole lot of power. That means they can crank out music from just about any device — even the crappy ones.

Another thing to look at is the Maximum Level. After all, if you plan to listen to music loud, you want it to be clear. If you go beyond the maximum level with your headphones, things start to get a little distorted.

Still listening? Now, check out our list of 14 Picks for High-End Headphones.

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