Results From An Audience Survey
The 10 Best Headphones, Chosen By You
A few weeks back we published an article asking you, Gear Patrol’s readers, a simple question: What are your favorite headphones? And the outpouring of reader submissions has been fantastic, if also a little bit surprising. The headphones (and earphones) submitted ranged from cheap buds to open-back audiophile-grade cans, and running-focused pairs to noise-canceling headphones. We also asked our readers to take a photo of their favorite headphones and tell us why they liked them. Below you’ll find just a few of the reader submissions, that also happen to be our favorites.
Powerbeats 3 Wireless
Reader’s Name: Spencer L
Where They’re From: Nashville, TN
What do you love about the headphones? My Powerbeats connect to my iPhone 7 within one or two seconds after powering on — that reliability is few and far between, and the only things I can count on more is my 2003 4Runner and Twitter being dark around election time. The sound is so consistent as well. I feel as if Beats has gotten a bit a reputation for only playing bass-heavy hip-hop and R&B, but Oasis’ greatest hits and my Ryan Adams records both sound incredible through these headphones.
What would you do to improve them? I wish they weren’t so trendy.
What do you think your next headphones will be? I would like some higher end, over-ear headphones. These would be nice for late nights in the library. But as a broke law student, I probably won’t purchase those anytime soon.
Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones
Reader’s Name: Grant B
Where They’re From: Los Angeles, CA
What do you love about the headphones? The noise isolating [properties] of these in-ear Bluetooth headphones work great on my motorcycle to reduce noise so I can hear my navigation.
What would you do to improve them? The Bluetooth necklace thing is a bit long.
What do you think your next headphones will be? Maybe a total over-ear just for listening to music.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H6
Reader’s Name: Theodore G
Where They’re From: Queens, NY
What do you love about the headphones? First off, they’re beautiful. And even nicer looking than Master & Dynamic headphones, which look beautiful on a stand but kind of make you look like you work for Lando Calrissian when you put them on. The H6s are the rare headphones that make your getup look better, not worse — especially an all black NYC getup with a pair of American optical aviators. Second, they sound better than anything else I’ve listened to. I remember the first time I saw these headphones. I was sitting next to a well-dressed, successful-looking guy on a plane and he plugged these sleek, space-age beauties into his seatback in lieu of the disposable plastic buds that the airline was handing out. I remember thinking, “Damn, that is one smooth son of a bitch right there.” Well, now these live in my bag, and I get to be a smooth SOB too.
What would you do to improve them? Lose the cord. I know Bang & Olufsen makes the wireless H9, but it’s not exactly the same as the H6 and it doesn’t sound quite as good. Or look quite as cool. I want these exact headphones without wires. From what I hear the new H9i may be [just] that. I’m looking forward to trying them out.
What do you think your next headphones will be? Probably the H9i from Beoplay, if I think it sounds good (and looks good) enough. I also use a pair of Jaybird X3s in the gym, and I want to move up to a pair of true wireless headphones. Once Jaybird refines the Run model and releases the second generation, I might pick those up.
Reader’s Name: Max T
Where They’re From: Lexington, Kentucky
What do you love about the headphones? They have a slightly warm and a sweet sound signature. Once they are broken-in they sound like reference monitors without adding or subtracting much from the music. Price is very reasonable and now these headphones are discounted.
What would you do to improve them? Improve build quality and bass, and widen the soundstage.
What do you think your next headphones will be? Bowers & Wilkins C5 Series 2, Focal Sphear or 1more Triple Driver.
Westone ES50 Custom Earphones
Reader’s Name: Justin K
Where They’re From: Stamford, CT
What do you love about the headphones? These are the absolute best sounding audio devices ever. The custom fit makes a world of difference when blocking out the outside world. These have a perfect balance of highs and lows. They lack for nothing.
What would you do to improve them? Nothing.
What do you think your next headphones will be? No need for another pair as long as these hold up.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i
Reader’s Name: Mitch N
Where They’re From: Pleasant Grove, UT
What do you love about the headphones? Light, not a lot of clamping force like my old Marshall over-ears; ear pads with memory foam are super comfortable; amazing noise canceling; good sound with the ability to customize the “tone” of the music to fit your mood or the type of music; the transparency mode is a life saver in the office. No need to fumble to take my headphones off every time someone needs to tell me something.
What would you do to improve them? Battery life is a little lacking. Luckily, you can buy spare batteries and swap them out, but they need to be in the headphones to charge and it’s kind of a pain to unscrew the ear cap to replace the battery. No complaints other than that.
What do you think your next headphones will be? I have always had a crush on the Master & Dynamic headphones. They look killer and I imagine they sound incredible.
Sennheiser Momentum HD1 Wireless
Reader’s Name: Andrew G
Where They’re From: Austin, TX
What do you love about the headphones? This is a set of headphones that does a phenomenal job of overall balance, from design to the way they sound. They do everything a set of Bose QCs or Sony WHs do and they look unique without being obnoxious or “attention-seeking.”
Physically, they are incredibly well constructed. Sennheiser has managed to perfectly combine retro and modern design cues into a unique package. Because they are over-ears, they are substantial but manage to avoid being overbearing or clunky. They are comfortable, easily adjustable, don’t get too terribly uncomfortable after long periods of use and just feel good to use.
Functionally, they have all of the bases covered, presenting everything you’d expect and eliminating waste. For example, there are no awkward/tweaky touch controls to be found. They connect quickly and easily to your device with a long press of a power button. When everything is connected, a volume slider/button on the right ear cup allows for pausing and skipping tracks. The battery life is great (about 15 hours), and when it runs out, you can go with a wired connection.
Of course, the reason why you buy a good set of headphones is primarily for the sound, and the HD1s deliver past what you might expect. There is the signature Sennheiser sound, with nice tight bass, balanced mids and detailed highs. All of this is conducive to avoiding listening fatigue. You can throw any genre at them and they handle it without a problem. It has a considerable soundstage and, for a close-backed set of cans, feels surprisingly open. Even the ANC manages to contribute in a way that doesn’t feel as heavy-handed as similar headphones.
What would you do to improve them? The only thing I’d change about them is the microphone for when you might be using them for phone calls. When I’m talking to people, they often say that my voice is a little muddy.
What do you think your next headphones will be? I just recently bought a set of AirPods! I like to keep a set of them on my person for quick use. I had a set of wired RHA T10s and a set of B&O H5s. While they both sounded fantastic, neither of them were quite scratching that “quick use while sounding great” fix I was looking for. The AirPods manage to achieve that balance nicely.
Reader’s Name: Brian H
Where They’re From: Farmington Hill, MI
What do you love about the headphones? Where do I start? They sound amazing. It has very clear bass but at the same time a balanced treble and midi. The headphones are really comfortable to wear all day long; as I work in an office, they’re perfect. They’re durable, too. I’ve had these headphones for years and they’ve been through a lot. It’s nice that the audio cable can be exchanged because that seems to be the flaw in many headphones. And finally, design. Simple and modern looking — even after ten years of use, they still look new.
What would you do to improve them? Bluetooth capabilities — they’re not wireless (although, you can now get a wireless model of the newer versions, the AIAIAI TMA-2.)
What do you think your next headphones will be? Probably the AIAIAI TMA-2 as they have updated the headphones to be much more customizable and added Bluetooth capabilities.
Jabra Move Wireless
Reader’s Name: Matthew V
Where They’re From: New York, NY
What do you love about the headphones? They are the best all-purpose Bluetooth cans. The eight-plus-hour battery life is enough to meet the week’s commutes, they are comfortable, affordable at $69.00 on Amazon, sound great and pair easily. Sure there are better-sounding headphones for two to three times the price, but if you want [headphones] that sound good playing talk radio to hip-hop to classical [and are] priced affordably, built to last and comfortable enough to wear all day, this is the only set of cans you need.
What would you do to improve them? A longer battery life and maybe adding noise canceling would be fantastic features, but would probably also more than double the price.
What do you think your next headphones will be? Another set of Grado’s for listening at home in a quiet room for the biggest brightest soundstage you can find.
Sennheiser HD 800 S
Reader’s Name: Momin B
Where They’re From: Dayton, OH
What do you love about the headphones? It has great bass for an open dynamic, low distortion headphone; the bass isn’t as thick but you get a better texture and great extension. There’s nothing wrong with the bass, it’s just that many people are just used to higher distortion or closed headphones playing off the cups. The headphones are extremely resolving, detailed and revealing of subtle cues. It does have the obvious 6K ringing but at lower volumes and some genres, it can be fine. My biggest issue with the HD800 is the lack of upper mid presence. Like the LCD-2/3/X and Focal’s Elear they dip in that area, though not quite as bad — I feel the HD 800’s more resolving nature, especially compared to the LCD series, allows them to still reveal subtle details.
The best trait of the HD 800 for me is its sense of depth. Most headphones really don’t pull depth very well. I would say the… K1000 and for closed headphones and the ZMF Atticus for semi-open are really the only headphones I feel pull of that sense of depth and out-of-cup experience with the right track.
I don’t think the HD 800s are perfect, but their technical ability is unmatched as a whole. There aren’t more musical, engaging or better headphones for enjoyment out there for my personal taste.
What would you do to improve them? Nothing.
What do you think your next headphones will be? I really don’t believe I’ll ever need another pair of headphones.
This definitive guide to the best noise-canceling headphones of 2018 explores everything you need to know before buying your next pair of headphones. Read the Story