What Makes a Pair of Headphones Great?

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You already know this, but it is worth repeating: headphones are a personal taste and there are an abundance of them for sale in the marketplace.  I happen to buy a new pair at least once a month, if not more.  I do this for several reasons, the first one is because I can’t concentrate without a pair of great headphones on my head while doing work.  In fact, you won’t EVER catch me doing household chores without a pair of great headsets serenading my ears with sweet sound sugar.  The other reason is, I love exploring the new technologies that they come up to jam pack in a small circular speaker diaphragm.

Now, let me preface this by stating that I’m no audio engineer.  I can barely hear the TV across the living room on medium volume and I am not trained to distinguished the “Highs and Lows” of what makes a great pair of headphones.  What I can offer is my own personal experience on both the quality and fit of each of these headphones I’ve own and be able to tell you what I’ve found as my reasons that makes a pair of head phones great.  Don’t worry these, headphones won’t break the budget too much.

My Top Headphones and What Makes them GREAT:

  1. Sony MDR-ZX770BN: This is my go-to pair of headphones, I take these almost everywhere except in places where I have other headphones to use.   You see, I’m sort of a lazy guy, I have a pair of headphones in EVERY room of the house.  I even have a pair of headphones in my tennis bag in case I need to listen to a video clip while waiting around for my match to start.  But, these Sony MDR-ZX770BN are comfortable to wear.  I think I have a mid-to-large sized head circumference and these fit me very comfortably without adding much compression to my head. Added compression around the ears are very uncomfortable for long-time listening.  These also have a “Noise-Cancellation” feature, I say that in quotes because I don’t think it works very well.  I don’t have a defective pair, because I’ve verified this with more of the same model, but if you’re trying to achieve what the Bose QC model line has done to the Noise Canceling technology, good luck.  They are the gold standard when it comes to NC.  Here’s what makes these headphones GREAT: iPhone Controls, Comfort and long battery life. The Sony MDR-ZX770BN also have a slim profile that would allow you to move about without getting them snagged or caught in something.  Accidentally bumping your headphones while listening to them can create some discomfort and loud sudden sounds.  Big headphones are usually susceptible to this problem. Which brings me to my second favorite…
  2. Sony MDRXB950BT/B:  This one is by far my most comfortable to wear headphones.  These cans were designed to boost bass without that buzzing, after-sound.  Bass-heads know what I mean.  After a while of loud, head-pounding music from the turned-up bass, all you’re hearing is some phantom buzzing sound.  Here’s the secret to these headphones: unplug that analog wire and go bluetooth.  You see, these have a backup cable that you plug in when you run out of batteries (the MDR-ZX770BN has them too).  But, when you use the analog cable to listen, the bass is much more overpowering than if you’re on the bluetooth connection.  By the way, the headphones will not turn on and side phone controls will not work if you’re connect via the analog 3.5mm jack.  It’s a good feature to have if you’re all of the sudden on a long flight to nowhere and the batteries died.  If you’re in a long flight to nowhere, you actually have much bigger problems than locating your headphone’s battery charger!  Anyway, here’s what makes these cans GREAT: Thick ear pads (and I mean, really thick), outstanding bass distinction, and sound space.  Sound space is like when you can put on a pair of headphones and the music isn’t directly in your ear, but it feels like it’s about 5 to 10 feet away.  I admit, I made that word up to describe that feeling, but anyone who knows what I mean can comment below or reach us on Facebook to let us know what the real term is.
  3. Plantronics Backbeat Sense:  This one is a deviation from my norm.  This isn’t my typical over-ear headphones, they’re on-ear.  They are VERY light and fits perfectly around a ten year old boy’s head without falling out.  I really like how the volume buttons to these aren’t buttons at all but they’re dials.  This idea borrows from a retro-style knob that you see on high-end receivers.  They feel great and very tactile.  These headphones are also comfortable, but only for about 35-45 minutes of wear.  After a while you’ll feel the pads against your ears and the heat created gets a little sweaty.  But, it’s okay if you’re listening for only a short period of time.  I’ve had these headphones for about two years now and here’s what makes them GREAT: Super hearing!  Yes, if you’re a fan of Plantronics headphones, you already know what I mean.  There’s a button on these headphones that once pressed, the music is put on pause, and you are now amplifying the sounds around you, creating a feeling of having super hearing without anyone really noticing.  So go ahead you creeper, turn on the super hearing in these headphones and eavesdrop on that conversation, you know they’re talking about you!

There is one other pair of headphones that deserve the Honorable Mention: Bose MIE2i.  I personally hate earbud headphones, just something about it that bothers me, I haven’t quite pinned it yet.  But, the Bose MIE2i isn’t like any earbud pair, they’re on-ear buds, and they literally sit on your ear and but not in it.  If that makes any sense.  The weight pressure is relieved by those little wingtips that go under the fold of your ear grooves and helps them stay in place.  These are great for working out, as they won’t fall out and you can control your iPhone with them.  They also work with Android, but only for Pause/Play and skip.  Can’t answer Android calls or turn the volume up or down in these.  I have had these headphones for about 5 years now and they still function like new.  Sound quality hasn’t gone down and surprisingly the wires haven’t frayed or opened up yet.  Maybe it’s because I also take care of my stuff so that they last me for YEARS.  I promise I won’t be preachy, but when I take care of my electronics products or really anything, I found that they last me longer, thus saving me more money in the long run.  I know that’s obvious to some of you, but you should see the kind of stuff I get in my eBay inventory orders. It will make you scratch your head, thinking, “what kind of bomb went off in your home for these headphones to look this way?”

So, these three are my current top pairs of headphones at the moment.  I may get a few more worth writing about soon, until then, good luck in your search!

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