Everything is better with a new pair of headphones. Whether you’re stranded in the airport or getting in a run after Christmas dinner, the best way to endure a miserable situation is to plug in and tune out.
Luckily, for anyone rushing to order a new pair of headphones in time for Christmas, there’s enough quality listening devices to satisfy even the snobbiest audiophile. From Beats and Sony to Sennheiser or a studio quality pair from Audio-Technica, the only factor limiting customers is how far their wallet opens. Here’s a brief guide to the best headphones available during the 2015 holiday shopping season.
Cords are finally going the way of the Dodo Bird. After years of awful sound quality and soaring prices, headphones companies have finally proved that Bluetooth-enabled headphones are the next frontier for audio addicts. They’re already the only acceptable option for runners and gym rats who are tired of interrupting their workout to untangle the cord.
Look for a pair of SoundPEATS Bluetooth Mini Lightwieght Wireless Stereo Sport Headphones for $24.99 on Amazon. These in-ear beauties come in a range of colors and, thanks to an around-the-neck style, fall onto your shoulders (and not the ground) if they slip out of your ear. Range tops out at around 15 feet, so you’ll have to bring your phone with you on a jog but can put it aside to lift weights or perform calisthenics.
Not all wireless headphones are created equal. If the SoundPEATS are small, cheap and durable then Bose’s SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones are the opposite end of the spectrum. For an over-ear headphone with Bose’s sound quality, you can do worse for the $279.95 price on Amazon. Bose has always have durability issues, but this pair of SoundLink’s make up for it with an immersive sound experience that’s probably best tailored for a movie on the couch instead of a trip to the gym.
Think Twice Before Investing In A Pair Of Beats
Audiophiles can be a snobby bunch. Even as Beats By Dre headphones have skyrocketed to popularity and became part of Apple, though, the audiophiles’ biggest complaint about Beats headphones has remained true: They don’t sound that great.
Price varies between $200 and $700 but the true cost is suffering through song after song of substandard bass. Beats ranked in 17th place out of the 18 most popular headphones brand as part of a Time magazine poll assessing sound quality last year.
But Beats had got to be doing something right. It’s impossible to walk down a city street or turn on a football game without seeing someone wearing some version of the bright headphones. If you want Beats, here are some options:
Beats Studio ($264.00 on Amazon) are over-ear headphones that stay connected up to 30 feet. They come with a 12 to 20 hour battery (depending on if your phone is connected) and come in at least eight color combinations.
Beats Solo 2 ($259 on Amazon, or $199 in the Apple Store) are the lighter, slightly cheaper version of the Beats Studio, which first propelled the brand to must-have status. Customers can buy them in red, blue, silver or black and fold them apart for easy transportation.
Beats Mixr ($183.99 on Amazon) are advertised as the Beats for DJs. Mixr headphones come with rotating headphones that swivel back behind the ears, or rotate backwards for total noise cancellation. The yellow model is available $109.99.
Go To The Store
Try not to buy headphones online, if you can help it. Sampling one of your favorite songs on a variety of high end headphones is one of life’s great pleasures. The best way to do that isn’t to sift through mind-numbing amazon reviews, but to take a break from holiday shopping and bliss out at the headphones display in an electronics store.
Here are a couple to check out while you’re there:
Audio-Technica ATH M50X: Simply put, the headphones Beats owners actually want. These Audio-Technica’s retail for $144.90 but can be purchased for $119.99 on Amazon. That’s for a pair of professional studio headphones that can be used for anything from mixing audio, recording a podcast or cranking Metallica until your eardrums pop.
Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear: This explains why audiophiles have always been so down on Beats. For $151.92 on Amazon, customers can spend half as much as they would on a pair of shiny Beats and instead take home an open back, over ear model of headphones built with actual wood parts and velour covered ear pads. Seriously, velour covered earpads!