Headphones & Accessories for Your iPod
Nowadays, most of us have smart-phones in hand and music right on our phones. But there is still an important place for iPods, as many music lovers still use these trusty devices for large capactiy storage of extensive music libraries. This article discusses iPod-oriented headphones and accessories to get even better sound from your 10,000 albums.
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For Apple iPhone-specific products, please see our HeadRoom iPhone selection guide.
HeadRoom Recommendations: Best In-Ear Headphones for iPod
Although the newest 'free' Apple earbuds are pretty good as earbuds go, you can get significantly better sound by simply upgrading your headphones. Headphone fabricator YUIN offers the PK2 earbuds, a premium treat with the best sound quality in the entire earbud category. In-ear headphones -- unlike earbuds -- boast superior noise isolation and can often provide stellar sound performance. The Sennheiser CX 300 II offers a moderate ambient noise seal, truly superb sound, and an easy in-ear fit priced right. Moving up the sonic and pricepoint ladder, we'll again mention UE; their UE600 is cost effective model, well built and offer a nice overall balanced tone. Etymotic Research has long made outstanding IEMs and hold many original patents in the category; the Etymotic HF5 have exceptionally clean sonics while their ER-4PT is an audiophile dream delivering maximum resolution at every frequency featuring a very highly controlled bass response. In our HeadRoom opinion, amongst the best headphones for iPod (perhaps the top 'universal fit' in-ear headphones overall) is the Shure SE535, a liquid, rich-toned in-ear listening experience with your audiophile 'lossless' or uncompressed iPod music.
HeadRoom Recommendations: On-Ear Headphones for iPod
For some iPod / portable device listeners, the comfort and ease of an 'on-ear' headphone is preferred. If you're constantly on the go, it's important to think about a durable, foldable headphone ready for easy mobility. It's also key to choose headphones that are efficient enough to be well-powered direct from an iPod headphone jack (see listings below for 'amped iPod headphone' recommendations). All kinds of iPod listeners will enjoy the Sennheiser PX 200 II, which offer a smooth sound and fold into a compact size. With a bit more style, the hip-looking Noontec Zoro offers superlative 'on-ear' sound quality performance under $99. The Polk Audio UltraFit 2000 provide a "sporting" iPod headphone alternative at an affordable price with a surprisingly clear-as-a-bell sound at this price and secure 'behind-the-head' fit. Pictured at top is the wonderful Shure SRH 240A, Shure's 'entry level' full-size headphone [$59] delivering a smooth tone in a sealed-back, very comfortable ergonomic design.
Your iPod Sounds Better with a Headphone Amp (+ line-out adapter!)
If you are looking for a premium iPod listening experience, consider adding a quality headphone amp. When you plug your headphones into the iPod, the headphones present an electrical load to the device, which requires energy from the iPod power supply. Fluctuations in the iPod's internal power supply voltage can degrade the sound. Unlike headphones, the input of a headphone amplifier has an extremely high input impedance and presents almost no load to the iPod. Additionally, by using an iPod line-out adapter accessory like the Sendstation 'Pocket-Dock', the CablePro Lite-EL, or the superb Reverie iPod docks, you can get a much cleaner and sonically superior 'line-out' signal to feed a headphone amp with amazing audio results. Fiio's E17 Alpen headphone amp is perfectly suited for this use and adds a digital USB [DAC] input for computer use as well, but additional models and brands of headphone amps are also available.
HeadRoom Recommendations: Best Sound Quality Headphones for iPod
Perhaps the best 'bang for the buck' for iPod listeners seeking a high quality headphone, the Audio Technica M50 is tough to beat at its $159 price. But bested it is indeed by the extremely competent Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro at $199. At $299 in an 'around-the-ear' full-size design, the AKG K550 offers a very clear sound, expansive depth and imaging ability plus a highly durable construction/ build quality that's ready to jam on the streets, campus or while commuting. For listeners wanting to experience the very best possible sound quality for their mobile iPod'ing, the Ultrasone Edition 8 is touted as the "World's Best Portable Headphone" and it is hard to argue against the claim. Featuring unique rarified element scratch-proof coatings and the very best ambient isolation / noise-blocking specs of any over-the-ear headphone on the market today, the Edition 8 delivers good sound featuring deep, rich-toned bass and extended highs with a focused midrange that's ideal for vocals and acoustic music. The full-size Beyerdynamic Tesla T5p rates at an extremely efficient 32 Ohms and sounds sweet and clean direct from an iPod. The simply beautiful wood-backed Audio Technica ATH-W1000X delivers uncompromising closed-back dynamics from these venerable Japanese audiophile specialists. The unassumingly cool Sony MDR-Z1000 gives listeners solid isolation and a neutral, down-the-middle sound that is accurate and pristine with no headphone amp required. Naturally, all these top-end headphones will sound audibly better under the dedicated power and control of a great reference-quality portable headphone amp, like our HeadRoom Portable Micro Amp.
Check out more great HeadRoom headphone recommendations for your Apple iPod below.