Here in Montana, we have it pretty good, but “summer” is usually anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months, starting maybe in early May or maybe late June, and ending maybe in late June or maybe early October. There’s an abundance of fun things to do, just look below at some our staffers whoop it up in the great outdoors. There are lots of family and friends coming to town to enjoy the MontanaLife, and all kinds of festivals and concerts and holidays, plus weddings, family reunions, and parties. But there’s really only 9 or 10 bonafide “summer weekends” that can be reliably assumed to only have a 50% chance of major thunderstorms and 10% chance of snow. So while summer in Montana is pretty epic, it’s short. Things can get pretty hectic. Downright stressful, even annoying.
That’s why we all need at least one of the headphones on this page. Because wherever you are and whenever you might get a spare moment, there’s nothing like a little musical escape to unwind. Maybe it’s your way of getting through that 4 hour layover in Cleveland, that all-day neighborhood clean up day, or even one of those 3-birthday-parties-on-a-Sunday-afternoon days.
Got noise? Slip into your cocoon with a pair of small, discreet in-ear headphones from Etymotic Research. Etymotic is proven as one of the top isolating earphones in the industry by creating a tight seal, allowing them to block more ambient noise. This, while delivering wonderfully accurate and detailed resolution, models mic’d for smartphones, and a nice array of accessories.
Despite it’s ridiculously long model number, this headphone is something to remember. As one of the best noise cancelling headphones out there and pleasingly under $200, these headphones have generous battery life, mic’d for smartphone use, and sturdy carrying case. It’s no wonder we’ve always recommended the ANC7B’s, and our customer reviews tell the same story.
Yes, you can have noise cancelling and bluetooth wireless all in one, and it can be good, with the Phiaton Chord MS-530. Our favorite noise cancelling headphone since it’s release a couple years back, it was recently also highly praised in a review by Tyll Hertsens of Inner Fidelity, saying: “It's price/performance ratio is simply outstanding. If you need something like this, this is the one to get."
Here's Jamey, HeadRoom's CEO, with his upright bass doing what he loves best, playing music in the great outdoors, here in the beautiful Paradise Valley.
Ben (aka Headphone Samurai) plays a huge festival every year called Rockin' the Rivers in Cardwell, Montana on the banks of the Jefferson River... and he knows how to put on a show!
Susan loves to enjoy a little peace and quiet on Hyalite Reservoir outside of Bozeman.
Ivy doing some fishing, floating, and enjoying a beautiful summer day on the Yellowstone River.
Sennheiser really surprised us back in April with a sale on their world famous premiere products. The Sennheiser HD800 headphones and the amazing HDVD800 headphone amp/DAC were offered as a package at a substantial savings. Well here we are again and Sennheiser has decided to offer this amazing special once again through the month of June!
Even better, we're throwing in a CH800s 4 pin XLR headphone cable for balanced drive listening. In our opinion this cable upgrade is not an if but a "must" -- we say go big or go home. After all, you're listening to one of the world's BEST headphone systems ever known to man -- and the added spacial quality, overall tonal balance and sonic realism that can only be achieved with balanced drive is the icing on the cake.
Save over $849 on this amazing package, but hurry, stock is limited and we don't anticipate this to be offered up again.
Whether it's the latest pair of (surprisingly awesome!) new wireless headphones or one of the sweet little accessories listed here, we can help you find that unusual and useful gift for your dad, or yourself, that he'll actually want this year. And if you're still not sure, never fear, we spend a lot of time helping folks find the best audio set up for their needs and preferences. We're just a click or call away; 800-828-8184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There's a reason the Sennheiser Momentum headphones are found on many of our lists. These headphones offer a premium listening experience and are a GREAT value (get 'em while you can folks!). The over-ear Momentum is for the serious listener or audio professional and boasts luxurious details like a molded carrying case and Pittard's tanned leather pads. Momentum on-ears are an excellent choice for those looking for a slightly more compact headphone with almost all of the stellar sound quality, at a wallet-friendly price.
It's not very often tthat we say "wow" about the sound of a wireless headphone (okay, almost never). But the Bluebuds X promised a new wireless listening experience, and they really delivered. The Bluebuds offer convenience and durability in a great sounding package at a very friendly price point. Jaybird is clearly in the headphone game to win, and their line of exercise headphones are some of the best in the industry. So, if you know someone looking to get their sweat on, the Bluebuds X are a'calling.
The Westone Alpha Series is a perfect choice for the rugged adventurist in your life. (Or, maybe just for the guy that tends to break stuff.) Either way, Westone's Alpha Series is built for the long haul with extra tough reflective cabling and water resistant construction. The Alpha's are also iDevice compatible so you can keep those calls coming in whether you're on a mountain or the treadmill. Westone's patented STAR eartip design along with a large variety of included True-Fit foam tips will ensure a secure and comfortable fit with these workhorse in-ear headphones. New lower price: Was $199, now $149.
You may not have heard much about Phiaton's Chord MS530 headphone, but we're not sure why. This bluetooth wireless headphone offers a noise cancelling feature and full iDevice compatibility. Expect a pleasantly well balanced sonic signature and very impressive wireless sound quality. If you're looking for an audiophile's headphone that doesn't skimp on modern day bells and whistles, the Chord is an excellent choice, offering the best of both worlds.
Fiio certainly doesn't rest on their laurels when it comes to new product releases; typically the result of continuous improvement and constant innovation. Enter the X5 high resolution digital audio player, doing what many of it's competitors do at a fraction of the price. Sporting a robust processor, huge storage capacity and acceptance of virtually every file format available, the X5 isn't just another FOTM*. On top of all this technology lies an attractive and well built device, with touch screen capability and impressive battery life. Seriously, there isn't much Fiio didn't think of with it's new X5, and as a result, the audio enthusiast community has bestowed upon the X5 it's whole hearted approval.
Now, let's talk about the (really) fun stuff for a minute... who wouldn't want one of these? The BOOM Swimmer is a little wireless bluetooth speaker that connects wirelessly to your iDevice. It packs a surprising punch in a small package; we think it sounds great for it's diminutive size and price! The BOOM Swimmer is also waterproof, as you may have surmised, making it that much more impressive (and great for the boat, too). Pretty much every staff member has picked up one or more of these killer little units, and you should too. It's a whole 'lotta fun in a cute little waterproof box.
*FOTM- Flavor of the Month. Originating in World of Warcraft, this term has also been coined by audio enthusiasts to denote the sudden and drastic rise in popularity of a new product, only to see it's quick and precipitous decline once the hype has been played out. FOTM phenomena regularly misleads unsuspecting consumers into getting the wrong products and parting them unjustly from the contents in their wallet.
Welcome to our new website!
We have been working overtime to get our new website ready for prime time. However, we still have plenty of tweaking to do now that it is live. Really, this is just the beginning as we see it. While the biggest change you will see is a new design, we are most excited about what you don't see. Behind all the beautiful photos of headphones is a flexible and well integrated website platform. What this means for you is that we get to spend less time coding widgets and more time finding and evaluating great headphones.
The ideas we have on how to improve headphone.com are overwhelming. This is where we need your help. We would rather bring in products that you want or build tools that would help you find the best headphones for your lifestyle rather than just working on our wants. So with that in mind we'd like to ask you:
What can we do better?
What new products would you like to see at headphone.com?
Or more simply, what do you like or dislike about the new website?
Feel free to post in the comments here or email email@example.com if you'd like to keep it private.
If you're just starting out, investing in a decent pair of headphones is the best way to get the most improvement out of your computer. Plan on spending around $50-$150. It's important to use headphones that do not require too much power to be driven properly, otherwise they will be under-powered from the relatively weak headphone output of computers and particularly laptops. However, today there are many highly quality headphones that can be driven efficiently from the headphone jack of a computer or laptop. Some laptops sound better than others depending on the sound card's quality and the computer's overall value.
But once you've acquired decent headphones, and you want to know what else is out there, it's time to consider an amp/DAC combo. The next step in creating a high-quality computer audio system is to use a digital USB-compatible headphone amp & DAC (digital to analog converter). These can be in one unit or two separate components.
Dedicated headphone amps & DACs can solve the following problems commonly found with computer audio:
Digital audio over USB connection can offer great sound quality because the music data is sent in "packets" and is then re-assembled at the receiving end, which is the external DAC device. This means that jitter from USB transmission is eliminated as the data received is re-clocked within the noise-controlled environment of the outboard DAC (or 'combo' headphone amp/DAC).
Ah, so you're a mobile audiophile eh? Lucky for you that today you can have a mobile audio system on par with $30,000+ listening rooms right in your laptop bags! A DAC becomes a critical piece in your audio chain at this point ,and we recommend an amp/DAC combination thanks to their compact size. Many little units today offer an impressive array of features, have rechargeable, AA, or AAA batteries, and sometimes in shockingly small packages. Most are capable of driving most headphones under 300 ohms. All of these units have USB connectivity, the most popular and commonly available method for connecting a DAC to your computer.
Many headphone choices are available to you at this point, as nearly all these amps will drive most headphones with ease. Many mobile audiophiles will recommend a high-end in-ear model; impressive universal fit models are available. For the ultimate in audio reproduction, blissful isolation, and supernal comfort, a custom molded in-ear headphone is a very popular choice. Several custom brands are available, with JH Audio leading the pack as the premiere custom provider.
Most headphone listeners will prefer an over-ear style for most home-based applications; since they provide great sound quality, lots of comfort and ease of use, with many choices at varying price points. Choosing an open or closed model will depend on your need to block outside noise.
The good news is that extremely high-quality music reproduction on a computer is within easy reach. Headphone amplifiers and DACs can be purchased separately or are commonly found as an all-in-one. An important consideration for high-fidelity digital listeners is bit rate transmission, with many DACs offering up to 24k/192. Most amps and DACs offer multiple inputs simultaneously connected and easy switching between sources and from headphones to speakers. Occasionally you will have a computer that offers digital output via optical connection, this can be arguable slightly superior to USB, so you may want to consider an optical connection. Balanced drive is also a popular way to obtain extremely high quality audio, and a computer can be an excellent source for balanced transmission.
Although headphone systems for audiophiles are most often used as a way to get a superb listening experience in secondary locations, there are a couple of very good reasons to have high-end headphone capabilities in your main listening room.
Critically speaking, the most precise audio resolution is heard on top headphones. Speakers will always deliver the physical intensity of sound better; but headphones can offer listening isolation and a personal intimacy with the recording in a far more intense way than speakers. If you find yourself hearing things on your big home rig but can't quite make out the nuances, a simple check on reference headphones will make every subtle musical detail plainly apparent.
The comment HeadRoom gets most from music lovers is that they regularly hear things on top headphones that they've never heard before on their $25,000 speaker system. Naturally, audiophiles often must coexist with others who don't want to hear their music late at night or at the office. A superior audiophile headphone system delivers a private listening experience that's different than, but just as satisfying, as a giant room speaker system -- and all without disturbing anyone else.
If you're serious about working out, running & workout specific headphones is a necessary part of your fitness gear. Exercise headphones are made to withstand the rigours of constant movement, sweat, and weather. Better yet, will keep you pumping to the sound of your favorite workout playlist. Here's what to look for when finding your ideal exercise headphone.
Secure Fit: Bottom line- your headphones must stay secure and stable on your head. Look for ergonomic designs, including in-ear, clip style and other styles. Short, flexible cords to ensure easy mobility.
Highly durable: Workout and running headphones must be built for holding up in extreme conditions. Many workout headphones are made of bullet proof materials, are sweat-proof, and super flexible cables. You'll also find many travel friendly models you can throw into the gym bag and grab for the treadmill.
Bluetooth & microphone features like a microphone headset gives one the flexibility to answer calls and skip tracks, while bluetooth delivers freedom from cables.
Noise blocking or not? If you exercise outdoors, it's usually critical to hear noises around you. We recommend a clip-on, earbud, or open headband/neckband style. Indoors is a different story; you may need to drown out screaming children or bad gym music. An in-ear or closed headphone style will isolate ambient noise and distractions at varying levels. You'll also be able to hear your music or media clearly at safe listening levels.
2. The Fostex TH-900 is arguably the best full-size sealed-back headphone currently available; many may prefer the mild isolation, comfortable circumaural fit, beautifully rendered mids/highs and textural bass response over any other high-end headphone.
3. With nearly the imaging of the HD800, the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 has a fuller-bodied timbre that will thrill those looking for a more romantic listening experience; with classical music in particular.
8. Audio Seekers Of The Great Beyond looking to replace iPod, MP3 player, or other portable device earbuds will marvel at the pristine, rich tone and easy universal fit of the Shure SE846 premium in-ear headphones.
9. Uber-musical in-ear mavens will want to consider going fully ‘custom’ with the Jerry Harvey Audio line of audiologist-molded headphones, a superlative series of in-ear monitors all rating at the very top of the category at their respective prices.
Most folks will find the best TV headphones are wireless headphones. Using wireless headphones for TV viewing has many benefits; not only convenience but also improved speech intelligibility (see box below) and the ability for multiple viewers to set the TV volume to their liking. Wireless headphones can be bluetooth, RF (radio) or digital transmission types. Some of the best sounding and widest array of options in the wireless field come from Sennheiser, which use Kleer. Kleer is a wireless technology that streams uncompressed digital CD-quality (16-bit, 44.1 kHz) stereo audio in the 2.4 GHzband. Since Kleer's wireless technology requires very little battery power to operate, it is very efficient for wireless headphone use. Your TV will have a digital or analog connections (or both). This will determine what wireless headphones and accessories you'll need. If you have analog outs on your TV, choose an analog wireless headphone.
Adding a DAC
If you have digital outs you can add add an outboard DAC that will allow the use of a regular analog headphone. A DAC is a Digital to Analog Converter. A DAC takes this stream of digital numbers from a CD player or computer and converts it to an analog electrical signal that can be amplified and used to drive headphones or speakers.
Read more about a DAC here.
Connecting Wireless Headphones to Your TV
Wireless headphones have a wireless transceiver inside them that communicate with the headphone base station, which is directly connected to your TV. The base station connects to your TV via analog audio output or digital audio output connections, depending on your TV (see inset right). Most wireless headphones include required cabling(check this). Whether connected via digital or analog, the TV speakers will be adjustable via normal TV controls, while the headphone listener will use the volume control on the headphones.
Today, many televisions only have digital outputs. While this can provide better quality, digital wireless headphone options are more limited and can be expensive. One solution to this problem is the Fiio D03K DAC, and inexpensive digital-to-analog converter that will convert your digital signal out of the TV to analog, allowing you to use analog wireless headphones.
If more than one person wants to wear headphones, each headphone's volume can be controlled independently. Extra wireless headphones can be purchased and used from the same base station, although only one headphone can be charged at a time.
Although sound quality is not as good, you can also plug the base station audio directly into the headphone jack (1/8″ or 3.5mm mini plug) on your TV. This turns the TV speakers OFF. Some older televisions do not have dedicated rear panel audio connections, so this would be the only method for using headphones with your TV. On most modern TVs, connecting headphones automatically turns off the TV speakers and you'll be able to adjust the headphone volume with the volume for the TV set. You can also use any regular wired pair of headphones with a TV's headphone jack, although a headphone extension cord may be needed.
Speech Intelligibility & Headphones
An important aspect of TV and movie watching is speech intelligibility; how clearly you can hear and understand dialogue. Another great benefit of using headphones is that all of these particular models are optimized for the best speech intelligibility possible. Typically, this is determined by how well TV speakers can reproduce lower-treble sounds. The frequency range which determines audible differences between “S” and “F” sounds, for example, occurs between 3kHz and 7kHz, often called the 'presence' region. Many TV's have lousy fidelity in this range, and turning it up louder simply increases distortion modulation. Headphones are able to provide improved fidelity in these critical lower-treble frequencies (and across the board, really) which allow users to listen at a lower, safer volumes. They allow others in the room to listen at regular volumes via the TV speakers.
Your Stock Earbuds, And What's Wrong With Them
You might be asking yourself why you need something better than the little white earbuds that came with your iPod. Sure, they are getting better, those little white buds have made some progress in the last few years. But, you should still upgrade for this simple reason: headphones are kind of like shoes. Everyone has different tastes, preferences, and activities while wearing them, so you should have the style and type best for you. In fact, it's so important to get the right headphones for the right activity, many people own several pairs of headphones for various applications. But besides that, here are some more reasons why you should upgrade:
Okay, so now how do you know which headphones are right for you? This depends on what you're going to be doing with your iPod. Below are some of our top recommendations and most commonly-used types of headphones used with an iPod.
In-ear Headphones. In-ear headphones offer excellent sound quality and more isolation (typically 25-35 dB) than a closed or noise-cancelling headphone, and are more compact and travel-friendly. There are many models, price ranges, and features available.
On-ear & Over-ear headphones. On ear and over-ear headphones can range in size, but feature a traditional headband with an ear cup that either rests gently on the outer ear or surrounds the outer ear. Many fold for convenient transport and/or come with carrying cases. While some on-ear headphones and many over-ear headphones require a headphone amp, there are many options that do not require a headphone amp and are designed for travel and portable use. These same models will also work well with directly with a computer, laptop, or pad. We recommend most folks look at closed headphones, meaning that they block some outside noise and do not leak your music out; an important factor in social situations.
Other Headphones, including noise-cancelling, ear-clips, and Exercise Use
If you're looking for a headphone for exercise and workouts, visit our Exercise Buying Guide. All of the headphones listed there will work well with an iPod. If you're looking for a noise-cancelling headphone, please see our top recommendations for noise cancelling headphones[link], since noise cancelling phones have an internal headphone amp, they too will all work just fine with an iPod. Finally, here are a few more models that we have found to be popular for iPods:
Using a Headphone Amp with an iPod
If you're looking for high-fidelity listening experience, then it's time to consider a headphone amp and line-out adaptor. A line out adaptor allows output the audio signal directly from the bottom 30-pin connector of the iPod rather than the headphone jack. This analog signal can then be fed to a headphone amp, typically via mini jack to a headphone's amp's input. Most of the headphone amps listed below are portable.
What About Using a DAC with my iPod?
You may have heard about DACs and are wondering about using one with your iPod, but this is not an option. DACs are digital to analog convertors (you can read more about them here) – meaning a DAC must start with a digital signal that it then converts to an analog signal. You cannot get a digital signal out of the iPod except with very select equipment (such as the Wadia iPod dock). The iPod has an internal DAC which converts digital music to an analog signal that is then fed to headphone jack or line-out. Even when using the bottom line-out connector, this is still NOT a digital signal. So, you do not need a DAC with an iPod, but do not fret, this is not a huge consideration compared to using high quality headphones, a good headphone amp, and high-bit rate recordings. Only when you have all 24/96 files (higher than CD quality) and headphones over several hundred dollars should this become a factor.