Headphone Buyer's Guide


Headphone Buyer's Guide

Apple's white earbuds, included with every iPod, are rather good as far as earbuds go. The iPhone model even features a microphone for mobile phone calls, along with a button for basic playback manage. But if you happen to be nevertheless employing people integrated earbuds, you might be not experiencing your iPod to its full sonic potential--a new set of headphones is almost certainly probably the most satisfying you'll be able to make. To assist you find the ideal set, here is a rapid rundown from the differing types of headphones around the marketplace, the benefits and drawbacks of every variety, and some of our favorites at different selling prices.


Earbuds, the sort of headphones included with every single iPod and iPhone, sit loosely in your outer ears. Though earbuds do not generate excellent sound, they are compact and reasonably economical.

Recommended versions

Sennheiser MX 460 and MX 560 ($25 and $30, respectively);

V-Moda Remix M-Class ($50)

In-ear-canal headphones

Shure SE530These headphones, also called canalphones, fit snugly--and pretty deep--in your ear canals. Like earplugs, they block most exterior noise, so they're fantastic for journey and noisy environments. They are also able to creating beautiful audio good quality. However, many people find them unpleasant, and the greatest ones come with an equally beautiful cost tag. (For more details on in-ear headphones, see our primer.)

Recommended models

Ultimate Ears Super-fi 3 Studio ($130);

Shure SE210 ($180);

Etymotic Research ER-4P MicroPro ($299);

Ultimate Ears Triple.fi ten Pro ($400);

Shure SE530 ($500).


Ultimate Ears Tremendous.fi four

Halfway between earbuds and in-ear-canal headphones, canalbuds do not block as much exterior noise as, and can't match the overall performance of, very good in-ear-canal headphones. But canalbuds are inclined to be much more comfortable than true canalphones--because they don't sit so deep and don't match so tightly in your ear canals--and are frequently cheaper.

Recommended versions

V-Moda BassFreq and Vibe ($40 and $101, respectively).

Sennheiser CX300 ($90);

Ultimate Ears Tremendous.fi four ($130);

Lightweight headphones

Ultimate Ears Super.fi 4These transportable and generally reasonably-priced headphones use greater drivers (speakers) than earbuds and canalphones, and have earpieces that relaxation from the exterior in the ear. Some possess a thin headband that goes more than or behind the head; others use a little clip for every ear. For easier traveling, numerous also fold up. Despite the fact that most lightweight headphones create mediocre sound, there are a variety of standouts.

Recommended versions

Koss KSC35, KSC75, PortaPro, and SportaPro ($20 to $50);

Sennheiser PX100 and PMX100 ($60 and $70 each);

Grado iGrado ($50).

Full-size headphones

If you do not brain some additional bulk, great full-size headphones, which typically completely surround your ears, normally sound better than very good lightweight versions. Some are also much far more comfy. These headphones drop into two categories: closed models, which block out some external sound, and open types, which many people favor sonically, but which also allow much more noise in and out. One caveat: to reach their likely, many full-size headphones need a lot more juice than an iPod or iPhone's headphone jack can offer; the models detailed here all operate nicely when run directly from your portable player.

Recommended versions

Sennheiser HD201 (closed; $35);

Grado SR60 (open; $69);

Beyerdynamic DT 235 (closed, excellent for more compact ears; $70);

Sennheiser HD555 (open; $180).

Noise-canceling headphones

Panasonic RP-HC500If you might be not a fan of in-ear phones, however you want a thing that will filter out exterior sound these kinds of as airplane engines, train rumblings, the hum of a crowd, or even the buzz of a room full of computers, invest within a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. These headphones--which can be found in the two lightweight and full-size types, with all the latter presenting much better noise isolation--sample exterior sound after which pipe in an inverse audio signal to "cancel out" a fantastic deal of monotonous sound. Even though they do not generally sound as excellent as similar in-ear phones, they are easier to put on and get off, plus they still let you hear what is going on close to you. (For a lot more on noise-canceling technologies, see our roundup of noise-canceling headphones.)

Recommended designs

Panasonic RP-HC500 ($200);

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 ($220);

Bose QuietComfort 2 and QuietComfort three ($299 and $349, respectively).

iPhone headphones Maximo IP-HS2

Thanks to your reputation with the iPhone, a number of firms now promote iPhone-specific headphones with microphones and basic remote-control attributes built in (also referred to as headsets). Many provide improvements in each audio good quality and microphone effectiveness above Apple's iPhone headphones, and most use a canalbud design as an alternative of Apple's earbud strategy. (As noted above, canalbuds provide better noise isolation than earbuds; nevertheless, because they partially seal off your ear canal, like earplugs do, a phenomenon known as the occlusion effect can make your own personal voice sound odd--to yourself--when you happen to be speaking.)

Recommended models

Maximo iP-HS2 iMetal Isolation Headset (canalbud, $70);

V-Moda Vibe Duo (canalbud, $101);

Ultimate Ears Tremendous.fi 4vi (canalbud, $150);

Etymotic Analysis hf2 (canalphone, $179)

iPhone headphone adapters

You may currently possess a preferred set of headphones and observed that the original iPhone's headphone jack is recessed to the phone's physique, which makes it all but impossible to plug within your old stand-by. The remedy would be to use a headphone adapter that fits into this jack; you just plug your own personal headphones into the other finish with the adapter.

If you simply desire to use your favourite headphones for listening to music, a simple audio-only adapter will do. There are lots of of those about the marketplace at various value points and in numerous sizes. We're fans of modest, versatile, and economical ones; FastMac's iPhone Adapter ($4) and ifrogz's Fitz ($8), the latter accessible in black or white, match the bill.

If you like the built-in controller button and microphone on the iPhone's stock earbuds, but want the higher sound and comfort of the own headphones, an excellent number of adapters add equivalent call-taking and playback-control characteristics to any headphones. Because it turns out, our current favorite is also amid the least pricey: Griffin Technology's SmartTalk ($20).

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