Digital Crave

Headphones–Still Cool After All These Years

Digital Crave

First introduced in 1958 for consumers, headphones have morphed into high-quality fashion statements in all sizes, shapes and colors. Celebrity-endorsed headphones remain very popular as recording stars like Ludacris and 50 Cent promote eponymous models; Beats by Dr. Dre really started the trend.

Sure you can use the headphones supplied with most portable music players but truth be told, you're really missing out. An investment of as little as 25 bucks elevates your experience tremendously since you'll hear your favorite songs much more clearly and accurately. Naturally you can spend a lot more but anywhere from $75-$399 will do the trick but there are even $1,000-plus models available.

There are three basic types of headphones—in-ear (the classic ear buds), on-ear (supra-aural) that rest on your ears as well as circum-aural that completely cover and surround them. Within these three categories there are more options than you'll find on Toyota Prius. With all of them, a key tech spec is frequency response, the range of low notes to highs. 20 Hertz to 20 kHz is the range of human hearing so you should choose the one with the widest range among the models on your shopping list.

Headphone Highlights

View gallery


Monster's Gratitude in-ear headphones

At the giant electronics trade show, Monster partnered with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Earth, Wind & Fire to launch a new line-up of CE gear inspired by the classic band. The first product to be released under the partnership is the "Gratitude" ($229) in-ear headphones. They have a sweet sound and come with an inline mic with iPhone/iPod/iPad controls plus volume and track up/down.

Sony—the company that created the portable music player—is one of the biggest headphone sellers. At CES 2012, it introduced a variety of new Balanced Armature (BA) in-ear headphones. The XBA-1, XBA-2, XBA-3 and XBA-4 include one (full range), two (full range + woofer), three (full range + woofer + tweeter), and four (full range + woofer + tweeter + super woofer) BA driver units, respectively. The ability to combine woofer and tweeter drivers in addition to the standard full-range driver delivers excellent sound which we heard at CES. For iPod, iPhone and iPad users, XBA-1iP through XBA-4iP have the Apple three-button control, adding a microphone, track and volume controls. Prices range from $79-$369.

View gallery


Sony XBA-3iP earbuds

Sync by 50 wireless headphones ($399) have Kleer wireless technology so up to four listeners can simultaneously listen to a single source with the included 3.5mm wireless transmitter which has a 50-foot range. Unlike standard Bluetooth wireless headphones, Kleer technology gives Sync by 50 16-bit digital sound, longer battery life, less interference and no feedback, according to the company. The wireless headphones are passive noise-cancelling. They're available in Shadow Black and Ghost White.

View gallery


Sync by 50

View gallery


House of Marley Little Bird on-ear headphones

Part of the House of Marley Jammin' series, the Little Bird over-ear headphones ($49, summer 2012) have an ultra thin, lightweight stainless steel frame design and are covered in earth-friendly fabric.

Sennheiser is one of my favorite headphone makers. The German company is the go-to brand for audiophiles of all types. You don't even have to be a music geek to appreciate them—they really sound good. New this year is the HD 700, headphones that are designed for at-home listening rather than the local fitness center. They feature advanced technologies that deliver a frequency response of 10 to 42 kHz, a spec that's hard to beat. Price is hard to top at $999. If you want to settle in for nice listening session, these are the headphones to wear.

View gallery


Sennheiser HD 700 audiophile-grade headphones

Targeted to frequent flyers, the new AKG K 495 NC ($349) are active noise-cancellation headphones that block ambient sound so you can hear your favorite tracks—not your seatmate's conversation or engine noise. They are charged via USB—not batteries—and continue to block noise in passive mode, unlike other noise-cancelling headphones. The on-ear headphones feature brushed-metal parts, leather ear cups and an adjustable leather headband.

View gallery


AKG K 495 NC noise-cancelling headphones

View gallery


Zik designed by Philippe Starck

Designed by Philippe Starck, the Zik Parrot by Starck Bluetooth active noise cancelling headphones were among the coolest we saw at CES—and there were dozens of brands beyond the ones mentioned here. Given we're in a world of swipe controls on our phones and tablets, they are the first headphones with a touch panel located on the entire surface of the right earpiece. Swipe the panel vertically to set the volume or swipe it horizontally to skip music forward/rewind. Zik also has a presence-sensor system. When you remove the headset it goes into standby mode automatically. The Zik is due to arrive sometime this year.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Ferne McCann is pregnant with acid attack suspect Arthur Collins' baby

      Ferne McCann's boyfriend, Arthur Collins, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder last night.

      Yahoo Celebrity UK
    • Man who made his living killing African wildlife gets eaten by African wildlife

      Scott Van Zyl made his living taking wealthy clients on "safaris" for the sole purpose of bringing home trophies like leopards, zebras, wildebeests and even lions. Now, investigators in Zimbabwe believe that Van Zyl ended up on the wrong end of the predator-prey relationship, and DNA tests have confirmed that he was attacked, killed, and eaten by crocodiles while on a hunting trip. Van Zyl, who ran SS Pro Safaris, offered specials for hunters to spend a week or more on his hunting lands which border nature preserves, with the promise of killing up to seven different species for $9,000. He also offered other hunting expeditions with targets like elephants and giraffes, though specifics for those, including prices, aren't listed on the company's site. Photos of clients holding the bodies of several rare species are posted on Van Zyl's site, along with the motto "Stop whining, go hunting." The circumstances surrounding his death are spotty, but reports suggest that Van Zyl and a second hunter and a pack of dogs. The two men split up, choosing to travel on foot alone, but when the dogs returned to the base camp without Van Zyl, his companion knew something was wrong. His footprints were tracked to a riverbank where searchers found his backpack as well as several large Nile crocodiles. Authorities killed the crocs after getting clearance to do so and subsequently discovered human remains inside the stomach of one of them. Tests of the remains matched Van Zyl. The incident is just one of a handful of fatal crocodile attacks tallied so far in 2017 alone.

      BGR News
    • When Airbnb goes wrong: A Miami story

      Jose Gonzalez was walking his two sons to his car early one morning to drive them to school when he glanced across the street and had to do a double-take. It was a strange scene for The Roads, a cozy Miami enclave nestled between Coral Way, Brickell and Coconut Grove, where families help each other find lost dogs and Facebook about stray foxes, traffic and stranger danger. It turns out a homeowner across the street had leased her gated two-story, white-washed house to a new tenant who makes her money renting out properties on Airbnb. While living upstairs in the master bedroom, Bonny Tejada turned the ground floor of the six-bed, five-bath house into a hostel, renting out beds and mattresses by the dozen for prices as low as $30 a night — an offer neighbors claim attracted hundreds to the home over just a few months.

      Miami Herald q
    • Conjoined Twins Refuse to Be Separated Despite Doctor's Warnings

      Conjoined Twins Refuse to Be Separated Despite Doctor's Warnings

    • After Their Flight Attendant Made A Mum Cry, American Airlines Reacted Perfectly

      The days of "flying the friendly skies" appear to be long gone, but American Airlines is at least trying to fix the latest flight attendant controversy to go viral. On Friday, a flight attendant on board American Airlines flight 591 from San Francisco to Dallas heatedly scolded a female passenger travelling alone with two children for attempting to store her buggy in an overhead locker, reports ABC News affiliate WFAA in Dallas. When another male passenger came to the mother's defence, the flight attendant then reportedly got physical, threatening the man who had spoken up on the young mother's behalf before a pilot appeared and attempted to calm down the irate flight attendant.

      Refinery 29 UK
    • Illinois college student killed in freak accident during track and field meet

      WHEATON, Ill. –  A college student was killed on Saturday during a track and field meet in suburban Chicago. Friends gathered at a vigil at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.  said the student was named Ethan Roser.  They said Roser was killed during a track and field event hosted by Wheaton College on Saturday afternoon. Witnesses said Roser was hit in the head with a "hammer," which is a heavy metal ball attached to a thin wire. In men's events, the hammer weighs 16 pounds. In women's, it weighs almost 9 pounds. It is not clear which type of hammer was involved in the tragic accident. Friends said that Roser was a freshman on the soccer team. He was volunteering at the meet.

      Fox News q
    • Ron Howard, Henry Winkler Mourn Death of ‘Happy Days’ Costar Erin Moran

      “OH Erin… now you will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on earth …Rest In It serenely now.. too soon,” tweeted Henry Winkler, who most know as The Fonz. Moran’s big brother on the show, Ron Howard, also expressed his grief over her passing, writing, “Such sad sad news.

      The Wrap
    • Aaron Hernandez's hidden sexuality fueled the murder of Odin Lloyd, police sources say

      On April 19, sometime before 3 a.m., Aaron Hernandez, the former star New England Patriots tight end, scrawled three notes—one to his fiancée, the mother of his little girl, one to that daughter and a third to his close prison friend—and placed them next to a Bible in his solitary prison cell in the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts. Don't miss: Quora Question: Will the Senate Scrap the Filibuster for Legislation?

      Newsweek q
    • Animated map of what Earth would look like if all the ice melted

      Many of the effects of climate change are irreversible. Sea levels have been rising at a greater rate year after year, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates they could rise by another meter or more by the end of this century. As National Geographic showed us in 2013, sea levels would rise by 216 feet if all the land ice on the planet were to melt. This would dramatically reshape the continents and drown many of the world's major cities.

      Business Insider q
    • The business case for Fox dropping Bill O'Reilly wasn't his actions, it was his age

      For all of Bill O’Reilly’s problems at Fox News, the one that has garnered the least attention is probably the one most responsible for his dismissal: His audience is dying. According to CNN, the average age of viewers of The O’Reilly Factor was 72. The average life expectancy for males in the US is 78,…

      Quartz q
    • Australia, New Zealand hit back at North Korea threat

      Australia and New Zealand stiffened their rhetoric against North Korea Sunday after the isolated state threatened Canberra with a nuclear strike, urging it to think twice before "blindly and zealously toeing the US line". The move comes as US Vice President Mike Pence wraps up an Asia tour, which has included visits to South Korea, Japan and Australia partly to reassure allies amid fears that Pyongyang may be readying for a sixth nuclear test. "If Australia persists in following the US' moves to isolate and stifle North Korea... this will be a suicidal act," a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said after Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called the hermit state a "serious threat".

    • Video: A look inside the cabin where missing Tennessee teen was found

      The national manhunt comes to an end with ex-teacher Tad Cummins in FBI custody.

      ABC News q
    • Missing Teen Elizabeth Thomas Returns Home As Details Emerge On Kidnapping

      Tennessee high school student Elizabeth Thomas has reunited with her family after going missing for more than a month with Tad Cummins, the teacher accused of kidnapping her.

      Yahoo View
    • Erin Moran’s final years: reports of homelessness, evictions, a drunken brawl

      Erin Moran was a mainstay of American TV in the 1970s and 1980s as kid-sister Joanie Cunningham on the hit sitcom “Happy Days” and as Scott Bain’s love interest in the “Happy Days” spin-off “Joanie Loves Chachi.” But Moran was more in the news in recent years for her financial struggles, battles with depression and accounts of homelessness, living in hotels and even a drunken brawl with her mother-in-law who kicked her out of her home in an Indiana trailer park. The former teen star was just 56 when she was found dead Saturday afternoon, the Associated Press reported. Authorities in Southern Indiana, just west of Louisville, Kentucky, said they received a 911 call at 4:07 p.m. for “an unresponsive q
    • More details on American Airlines' flight attendant's confrontation with passengers

      The clash began when a passenger was carrying a collapsed stroller down the plane's aisle.

      ABC News Videos
    • Kim Kardashian's Dress Is Completely See-Through (38 photos)

      From sweatshirts to slip dresses and all that's in-between, check back as we track Kim Kardashian West's ongoing street style looks. From Harper's BAZAAR

      Harper's Bazaar
    • Aaron Hernandez once told Ian Rapoport if you f--- me over, I’ll kill you’

      When Aaron Hernandez was being investigated for murder, NFL reporter Ian Rapoport saw an interaction he had with Hernandez years earlier in a whole new light.

      Sports Illustrated
    • 'River Monsters' host shares his 5 closest brushes with death

      River Monsters: Jeremy Wade closest brushes with death

      Entertainment Weekly