A friend was looking for advice on headphones and asked me (thanks for trusting me). Happy shopping.

I really had no idea how many headphones I had before my friend asked (shhh don’t tell Kate). Also there are many (ok not many but a few choices). I don’t like in the ear. So no reviews of those. That leaves on the ear and over the ear. I like those so here’s what I told my friend.

I love B & W (speakers) and these aren’t over the ears but rather on the ear. Very nice. $300 for the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile HiFi Stereo Headphones. Their sound is wow. This is top of the class and if you have the money go for it. I borrowed a pair of these and someday (Santa I’m looking at you) I’ll own a pair.

I have and love V-Moda Crossfade LP Custom for $200 (although I got an email saying that on Cyber Monday at Amazon these would be on sale for $75). They sound great. Have a “hard” case which protects but makes them not very easy to pack. They get “tight” around your ears after a bit of wearing. Good sound. Very happy.

I also love the light weight Sennheiser hd 485 for about $100. (555’s are good too but I like the 485s a bit more). Over the ear and comfy and great sounding. They are big and don’t fold. The wire is looooong. Remember it takes a bit to “break in” new speakers/headphones too.

These are probably the best deal ever. I don’t say that lightly. Grado SR 80i for $100. You will be amazed at the sound. Again on the ear. Not a style for everyone but with sound and price like this… They aren’t the sturdiest (just be gentle). Not sure I’d travel with them. The sound is great.

At $90 another good one to check is Audio-Technica Solid Bass ATH-WS55 (for smaller ears…seriously). But if you don’t want to pay for the name “Beats” but still want the bottom…check these out. Most of the other headphones I’ve mentioned are more natural sounding or neutral leaning. These focus on bass.

I just bought the kids some noise canceling Sony NC-7’s. They pack to almost nothing (so easy bringing them on the plane). Sound great for the price and you can use them without the Noise Canceling features. Which we’ve never used since it’s for the kids (I know bad dad). I think they were under $50(?) Again on the ear. Very comfortable. The bass isn’t very good.

I haven’t tried but am curious about the on the ear Noontec Zoro at $80. Maybe if I ask nicely the company will send me a pair to review?

So I hit send and she asked about On the ear v Over the ear. My response.

Pure choice. If you find an over the ear that is comfy for you then it’s great for blocking out a bit more background sound (and not always needing the noise canceling). On the ear are in general much more comfy. At home I use over the ear. Mostly the V Moda and the Sennheisers. I’ve not used any Shures but if they are getting good reviews don’t be afraid to try. It’s funny I love (LOVE) my Grado’s but I don’t use them as much as the Sennheisers.

What do you wear?


  • Heard great things about the Grados but I ended up with the Audio-Technica ATHM50s (over the ears) myself for serious listening but I have some random wrap around the head set I use when exercising. I can’t deal with in-ear headphones as I end up feeling like I’m getting deaf afterwards. I also don’t feel noise cancelling headphones to be too important. You have to be alert to things around you if you are out and about but on the occasions when you can sit quietly and listen, you don’t need that feature.

  • In the studio I have a pair of Presonus HD7s…and a pair of audiotechnica…prefer the HD7s for that application..if money is no object then I suggest the Sennheiser 600 series..they range up to $500, but for the audiophile they’re an excellent open vented around ear buy! I use a pair of Shure in ears for my mobiles. Especially when flying.

  • Been looking for a pair of headphones for some time and could not decide. This was helpful as it forced me to look at some other brands. Read this and finally decided on the V-Moda Crossfade LP which were selling on Amazon for $89. So far, very pleased with both comfort and sound. Looking forward to using them when I listen to parts 3 and 4 of the Best of 2012.

  • So…one kid, who will remain nameless, broke his headphones. I replaced them with Sennheiser hd 280 pro that were on sale. Now my kids “fight” over these. So when the kids were at school I took them for a spin. Recommend them too.

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