We wish finding a seat on a train was as easy as it is to spot someone wearing Beats on it: they are everywhere. Inescapable. Apparently everyone who’s anyone seems to have a pair (even good old Ed Sheeran has given in), so its no surprise Apple have got in on the act and spent $3 billion buying the company. But with their hideously heavy bass and even more hideous exterior, we decided to compile a list of five headphones that make much better sound, and sense.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50 ($120)
Buying headphones should follow the same pretense as shopping for wine. While everyone acts as if they know what they’re talking about, nobody really has a clue. Too cheap and you will get a headache, too expensive and you’ll be buying a bottle that tastes the same as something half its price. Which is where the Audio-Technica’s come in: Offering excellent quality, for an okay price. It’s well-judged treble and bass boost makes sound sharper and more fun to listen to, without excessively overdoing it like Beats. Although its passive isolation means that these aren’t the type of accessory you would take out on the town, everyone knows wine tastes better when you’re drinking it on your sofa anyway.
Klipsch Image X7i ($150)
In-ear headphones, especially at this price, are rarely favoured by audiophiles. These tiny teardrops however, are the exception. With sound quality that is easily on par, if not superior to Beats, these little babies will provide you with clean, detailed sound, without looking pretentious. Their inconspicuous size combined with their excellent noise cancelling capabilities also makes them perfect for subtly muting out your gran’s story you’ve already heard five times.
Bose QuietComfort 15 ($300)
Perfect for frequent fliers, these noise-cancelling experts can drown out the sound of all airline cabin fans, crying babies and that man snoring in the seat next to you. In fact, their noise-cancelling capabilities are so well crafted that they even give you that underwater feeling, where you feel totally cut off from the hectic world.
Shure SE425 ($300)
Each earbud contains three separate drivers - two woofers and a tweeter - which results in excellent sound from across the spectrum. A deep and silky smooth bass, clear, undistorted highs, and an equally powerful midrange, no detail is lost across the board. Dr. Dre’s Beats wanted to combat the fact that ‘people aren’t hearing all the music’, but no matter how eclectic your listening tastes are, these humble earpieces will still have you hearing ‘all the music’.
Sennheiser Momentums ($300)
Providing unrivalled crisp, clear accuracy, these are the type of headphones that will have you sitting for hours relistening to all your favourite songs just to hear them with your newfound clarity. Although they boast superb guttural basses it’s the top notes that are the real gold dust - you can practically hear the guitar string vibrations and intakes of breath. And their retro leather-covered, brushed stainless-steel headband make Dr Dre’s plastic just look downright embarrassing.