The headphone industry has exploded over the last 5 years with many new brands emerging. For those interested in a great pair of headphones to enjoy their music, the number of choices can make you shopping experience daunting!
The fact is, many of the headphone brands that have become popular are marketed and sold purely as trendy fashion accessory. They don’t sound very good, and the sad thing is, the average consumer may not know what they’re missing!
We’ve spent a lot of time testing and culling through products to find the best sounding headphones on the market. For us, it’s about much more than a trendy logo or a celebrity endorsement.
Below is a summary of the brands you will find here at Audio Advice. All of these headphones are on display and available for you test in our showrooms, giving us the largest and best selection of premium headphones you will find anywhere.
This is a new brand for Audio Advice. Audeze headphones are used by many of the world’s top recording engineers for two reasons:
- Pure sonic accuracy
- Long-term comfort
All Audeze headphones use a super lightweight system they call their planar magnetic driver. This technology helps to reveal every subtle nuance of sound. Audeze models are all over-the-ear headphones, which means exactly what you would think — they completely cover your ears.
There are two series available, the EL-8 and LCD series. These come in either an open or closed back design. We feel the open back design gives you an airy, three-dimensional sound though they do allow some sound to leak out. The closed back designs are typically a little easier to drive with a portable player and completely isolate you.Which style is best for you will depend on what you’re listening to, as well as your listening environment.
This is the entry level Audeze at $699. Lightweight and very comfy, these get you very close to state-of-the-art sound for far less than a pair of speakers that sound this good cost.
These represent the cream of the crop in headphones. The LCD-3 at $1945 sound unbelievable! You can get them with either butter soft leather earpads or a leather-free microsuede pad. While you can drive these with most portable devices, they really shine with an external headphone amp. Even if these are more than you want to spend, you should come experience them, its remarkable!!!
Audio Advice has been an AQ dealer for over 30 years. The team at AQ decided to attack the headphone market a few years ago. In typical AudioQuest fashion, they set out to come up with a radical design that works like a dream. The Nighthawk uses both 3D printing and an innovative, new environmentally friendly material they developed called liquid wood. Liquid is a great way to describe these guys, as they always seem to be able to catch the next wave.
Bowers & Wilkins
One of our favorite speaker brands also, unsurprisingly, make great headphones! B&W has both on-ear and over-the-ear models starting at $199. The new P7 at $399 is super comfortable and doesn’t disappoint, with that classic natural B&W sound. The P7 is over-the-ear and is a great option for folks who spend a lot of time listening on a portable device.
Most Grado headphones are somewhat of a cross between on-ear and over-ear with their classic foam earpad. No headphone line on the planet has won more awards than the NYC-made Grado’s. Starting at $49.95 and going to $1,695, you’ll find a huge variety and Audio Advice has many models in our Charlotte location and almost every single one in Raleigh.
An all-time favorite has been the SR80, now in the “e” version. At $99 they can not be beaten! At the other extreme is the GS1000 at $995, a personal favorite of our resident audiophile Ivan.
Master & Dynamic
This is a new series of headphones from another NYC based company. I tried out a pair on a cross-country flight and was very impressed with both the sound and build quality for the money. M&D have a design philosophy that you should not only have rich, warm sound, but a product that will last for years and years.
These guys are made with high-end materials like stainless steel that you can even replace as parts wear out! They have over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear products starting at $129 and going up to $549. A favorite for us is the MD-40 at $399. The MD-30 is also great for travel with it’s folding design and soft leather pads. Master & Dynamic is on the tip of everyone’s tongue lately. You have to check these out.
Last on the list but certainly not least are the over-the-ear headphones from PSB. While designing these headphones, Paul Barton spend a great deal of time at the Canadian National Research Center analyzing the way the human ear interacts with headphones. They have a noise canceling model at $399 and one without noise-canceling for $100 less.
Test Them For Yourself!
No matter which headphones you choose, you simply can’t go wrong. With this many great options, there is something for everyone. Contact us or visit one of our showrooms to try them for yourself, and let us know which are your favorite!