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Trusted Products: Headphones

Certainly, if you’re a music lover, you need to move on past those cheap earbuds that came with your phone and trade up to a full-sized pair headphones with proper acoustic range.
headphones

With the amount of multimedia we now consume through our gadgets, it’s on trend to use different headphones for different applications. All the cans listed here have great toe-tapping qualities.

BEST BUDGET SOUND

Headphones

Sennheiser HD 202 II, R599

These boring-looking cans are the biggest surprise package in our line-up! At a mere R599, they delivered a beautifully balanced and exciting sound, and easily outplayed some headphones costing three times as much. If you’re prepared to look past their all-plastic build and conservative styling, you’ll end up very well satisfied with this budget buy.

Features: Over-ear design

ROADWORTHY

Headphones

Outdoor Tech Los Cabos, R1 199

For the music lover on the go, these are extremely tough. They sit flat against the head and ears, and fold down to a very small package that fits easily into bags and even pockets. Despite the thin ear pads, they’re very comfortable for long sessions, because they press lightly against the ears. Unfortunately the overall package is let down by slightly below-average sound.

Features: On-ear style, Bluetooth, cordless

CHILDREN’S CHOICE

Headphones

Amplify Kiddies Monsta Tunez, R96

These headphones are specifically designed for smaller kids, with a light, bendable plastic design, a smaller headband and some funky colour schemes. The drivers are limited to just 85dB output, which is the maximum permissible level of noise exposure recommended by audiologists at the World Health Organization.

Features: On-ear design

BASIC BLUETOOTH

Headphones

Skullcandy Grind Wireless, R1 500

This hip streetwear brand has matured a lot, ushering in much improved sound and much better build quality. These are surprisingly comfortable, given the thinner padding on the cups, and they deliver a lively sound for pop enthusiasts, with adequate bass. The on-ear controls are well positioned and easy to master, but we’re disappointed that these don’t fold down to fit in a backpack when travelling.

Features: On-ear style, Bluetooth, cordless

STREET CRED

Headphones

Beats EP, R2 200

This wildly successful brand has been shunned by audio buffs for its terrible sound (exaggerated highs and lows), worse build quality and sky-high pricing. But Beats’ new owner, Apple, is slowly fixing that, and this entry-level offering, ironically, offers much better materials and better sound than the more expensive pairs. It’s still bass-heavy, of course, so good for electronic dance music, hip-hop and rap.

Features: On-ear design

ACTIVE AUDIOPHILE

Headphones

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless, R6 500

The original Momentum headphones raised the bar for the whole industry, and now that same near-perfect sound with full, taut bass and superb mid-range has gone cordless. They look great too, using premium materials throughout (full-grain leather ear pads, all-metal hinges and headband), but are still very light and comfortable, and fold up neatly. The budget on-ear models also rock.

Features: Over-ear style, Bluetooth, cordless

TRAVEL COMPANION

Headphones

Bose QuietComfort 35, R7 900

Bose are the undisputed leader for the noise-cancelling headphones so highly prized by frequent flyers. These measure ambient noise in your environment, then create opposing sound waves to cancel out the interference, and the well-padded cups also seal out disturbances. They’re very light and fold flat, and you can now set the level of isolation you prefer. The cabled QC25 headphones cost much less.

Features: Over-ear style, Bluetooth, cordless

Buying Guide

NOW EAR THIS!

There are two main headphone styles. On-ear presses the cups against the ear, while over-ear surrounds the ear, is usually more comfortable and offers better acoustics. Over-ear styles are bulkier and more expensive. In-ear headphones (like buds) are called earphones.

CORDLESS FREEDOM

Wireless headphones that connect with your PC or phone using Bluetooth are now widely available and more affordable than before. Sound quality and battery life have also improved, but Bluetooth connections can still be erratic. The best Bluetooth headphones can also be used with a cable.

AUDIO ATTRACTION

The tiny speakers inside the headphones, called drivers, contain magnetised metal bars. To make headphones more portable, most quality cans now make use of a metal called neodymium, which is very light but has strong magnetic properties.

MAKE SOME MOVES

Many more headphones are now designed for use with phones, and the best of these fold down so they can travel with you. On bigger ones, the cups lie flat on your chest when they’re hanging around your neck. Almost all have built-in microphones to handle phone calls.

TUNING IN

Phone apps are available to optimise headphone sound. In reality you’re not tuning the headphones, but adjusting the music playing on the phone to sound better in your cans. Try CapTune for Android and iOS, which lets you save settings for each of your headsets.

HEAD IN THE GAME

Gaming headsets are not optimised for music but for comfort over extended sessions, durability and noise isolation to keep out distracting sounds. Most use USB and won’t work with your phone.

PHOTO: iStock/Merlas

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