Always on the lookout for a better audio experience, I've been collecting headphones to see how they differ. Published specifications for headphones don't always reveal how well they reproduce the highs and lows in your music. I've got at least 10 sets of earbuds that came with the media players I've evaluated. I can't find them all. The best in this bunch are the ones that came with my Zune 80. They're the in-ear type with braided cord shown below. The second best came with my Philips player, and are also in-ear. Both are passive noise cancellers, meaning they naturally shut out external sounds that distract from the music. I've got two different wrap around bluetooth headsets. Insignia's from Best Buy, and Wireless Gear from Target (possibly discontinued). Both $50. Very convenient, yet neither do low frequencies very well. Both are better sounding than any of the earbuds. My wired headphones include Sony CD30, Sony MDR-V150, JVC HA-NC80 Noise Cancelling, Maxell NC-11 Noise Cancelling, Philips SBC HN110/37, and Sennheiser 595s.Three are noise cancelling. Of these the Philips HN110s are the best. Second comes the Maxell NC-11s, and the weakest is the JVC NC-80s. The Sony CD30s are my oldest pair and also the worst of the bunch. Sony's V150s are next. Both suffer from very poor bass reproduction. My top three are the Philips, Sennheiser, and the Maxell in that order. Sound reproduction is amazing in both the Philips and Senns. Two reasons I rated the Philips higher is because they were 1/3 the price of the Sennheisers and include noise cancelling that does an excellent job of cancelling background noise.
The last of my collection is the Sony DR-BT50 Bluetooth headphones. Smaller than they appear in photos you'll find on the web, the BT50s don't quite surround my ears. Sound quality from my Samsung P2 is easily as good as from the Philips wired headphones. The Sennheisers completely cover my ears, and are more comfortable, but the Sonys are far more convenient. With no apparent loss in sound quality over the best of my wired headphones, no wires to contend with, and remote control of the player directly from the headphone, the Sony DR-BT50s win my vote as the best headphones in my collection. Just like all my bluetooth headphones they have volume control, FF/RW, Play/Pause, and will also pair with any bluetooth cell phone. Sony throws in an additional Folder +/- command, although none of my bluetooth players utilize it.
My top ten list, beginning with the best:
1. Sony DR-BT50
2. (tie) Sennheiser 595 and Philips SBC HN110/37
4. Maxell NC-11
5. JVC NC-80
6. Sony MDR-V150
7. Sony CD30
8. Insignia NS-BTHDP
9. Wireless Gear 4PR918
10. Zune 80 earbuds.
The Best value in a wired headphone goes to the Philips SBC HN110/37. With noise cancelling, a comfortable fit, and a low price they win hands down.
The Best value in a Bluetooth headset goes to the Sony DR-BT50. Yes, it's 3 times more expensive than the other two contenders. Far superior sound quality and comfort makes it a better bargain, though.
There are hundreds if not thousands of other headphones out there to choose from. My list is only from the headphones I've actually listened to and compared. I'd love to hear what headphones you prefer. Please leave a comment.