In this latest 6 of the best feature we look at some of the headphones we’ve tested recently for all ears and studio use…
We’ve looked at variety of headphones over the lifespan of MusicTech and we’ve got to say that this year’s crop have been the best headphones we’ve come across since day 1. Here’s our latest roundup of our faves…
Best Headphones – In-Ear – Audio Technica ATH-E70
Contact Audio Technica 0113 277 1441
We like pretty much all the models in the ATH IEM series of in-ear ’phones. The cheapest E-40s are particularly good for just £70 but if you want the best in-ear experience, you’ll have to go for the top-end E-70s.
Yes they’re four times the price but, well, here’s what reviewer Andy Jones said: “The 70s are the best all round, as you might expect for the money, and the best in-ear ’phones I’ve mixed on, translating all I’d done on much more expensive headphones and £1,300 monitors.
They will take some getting used to, but if you want your music making streamlined and free of excess weight and size distractions, these are as good as it gets. It’s the old ‘you gets what you pays for’ message, as these sound the best of the AT IEM range.”
Best Headphones for Mixing – Ultrasone P880
Contact Synthax +44(0)1727 821870
The Holy Grail of headphones is to get comfort, accuracy and something that doesn’t fatigue over long sessions, and these might just fit all bills. Andy Jones said: “The 880s are a great fit and feel snug and assured.
The sound is flat and accurate, and surprisingly not too fatiguing which – like flat monitors – can happen with such responses over long sessions. So flat, comfortable and suitable for long sessions? That is a rare and great combination to achieve. Good price, great sound, accurate and comfortable. Win, win, win and win!”
Best Headphones – Best Looking – Blue Mo-Fi
Contact via website
Okay, we admit that we were drawn to these more through their looks than anything else when we saw them on display at last year’s NAMM show. Luckily, they not only sound as good as they look but are also easily as comfortable.
We said: “They fit incredibly well around your head. The headband extends from a compact, sprung storage position outwards, and if this wasn’t enough, both ’phones extend downwards, too. This is the clever bit; rather than notching them down, you gently pull the ’phones away from you and they drop – very cool!
Sound-wise, these are right up there with our reference phones and they translated a mix we were working on very well indeed – all of the detail we expected was there. They look and sound great – the amp and unique design set them apart from the rest.”
Best Headphones on a Budget(ish) – Fostex TR Series
Contact SCV Distribution
These might not be budget for some people, weighing in, as they do, at £155, but as with studio monitors, we recommend spending as much as you can on your cans, so this is cheap believe us! There are actually three models in the TR range: open back, closed back and semi-open and these will very much suit whatever you are used to.
We find that open back, for example, might offer a more immersive experience but do need to be driven harder and are not as good at insulating the outside world.
Of the range, reviewer Andy Price said: “Overall comfort scores highly and the unique slider bars are easily scalable to get the perfect fit. For the all-important sound quality we tried out a variety of genres, finding that the Fostex TR Series offered a magnificent and dynamic listening experience, balanced between the weighty low end, detailed mids and sharp trebles.” He concluded: “Our new go-to ’phone choice for music listening.”
Best Accuracy Pioneer HRM-7
Contact Pioneer 0208 836 3500
With a frequency response of 5 to 40kHz you can expect these to deliver accuracy… and they do. They are also comfortable and offer good isolation, but that accuracy can fatigue over longer periods.
We said: “As with monitors, you want them to be as accurate as possible and these ’phones are good for critical listening. Use with caution and they can open up parts of your mix that others don’t reach. You really can hear that response. A fine addition to your studio.”
Best Headphones – The Ultimate! – AKG K812
Price £1,099 +VAT
Contact Sound Technology on 01462 480000
At the best part of £1,300 (retail, you can get them for under a grand street) these are the most expensive ’phones we have tested but they do certainly sound it. You can literally hear everything you need to within an airy environment that exudes quality.
We said: “These are the best-sounding ’phones we’ve used, bar none. Price will be an issue. Even though we’ve said that money should be no object when monitoring, try explaining £1,300 for some headphones to your partner. If you can, however, your mixes and masters won’t regret it. Accurate, vibey, spacious, comfortable and perfect for mixing, these are the ultimate ’phones (at a price!)”