Marco Arment has published his mega-review of Bluetooth headphones:
My criteria for this review is what someone seeking good all-around headphones today probably wants:
- Closed-back for isolation, ideally with active noise cancellation (ANC)
- Portable enough to fit in a small bag; suitable for listening at a desk, bringing on an airplane, and wearing outside
- Definitely under $500, and ideally under $300
For everyday use I’ve been using AirPods for the past few months and absolutely love them. I listen to almost exclusively podcasts or audiobooks with them, but they’re fine for music.1 If you’re looking for where to start with Bluetooth headphones, this is a good resource.
Apple’s new wireless AirPods are now available for purchase.
Geoffrey Fowler, writing for The Wall Street Journal, looks at the current state of truly wireless headphones:
Earin and Bragi have accomplished leaps of technology to make earbuds truly wireless. The problem is our heads. It’s not just that they’re hard; they’re full of water, which stops wireless signals dead.
Earin’s solution uses familiar tech. Made by a Swedish startup, it connects its left bud to your phone via Bluetooth. That bud then uses special antennas to bounce a second Bluetooth connection off walls and other surfaces to the right earbud to complete the stereo pair.
By all accounts they’re still not quite there yet. This is one of my dreams of earbud listening, but not until it feels like a clear win am I ready to pony up the cash.
When it comes to audio equipment my recommendation has always been to do your research, know what you’re looking for, know your budget, and then try and go test things out before making a purchase. People like different sounds in their music and I don’t think there’s a tried and true “best” out there for anyone. Some people prefer a more natural and accurate sound in their headphones, others actively are searching for a heavier bass sound. Only you will know which you prefer and how a specific set of headphones will sit on your ears and feel after a few hours of listening.
This list is what I consider my favorite sets of headphones (and a record player recommendation). This is based off of my personal judgment of sound accuracy, comfort, and relative price. If you’re looking for an in-depth review of a bunch of headphones in all price ranges, I recommend reading Steve Guttenberg and Marco Arment’s reviews. There are also recommendations at The Wirecutter and various internet forums.