Best headphones

Best headphones

Best headphones, For those who want to enjoy music in the highest sound quality undisturbed, high-quality hi-fi headphones are still the first choice. Since there are more and more users who mainly store their music collection on their smartphones or another mobile player anyway, in order to play them back from there, whether at home or on the go, we have divided our test into hi-fi headphones, which are mainly used stationary and those that can be plugged into the mobile device.

We’ve selected the best headphones you can buy today, from Best headphones 202, Best in-ear headphones, Who makes the best headphones, Best headphones uk, Best headphones wireless, Best headphones 2021, Best headphones 2021 gaming, Best headphones 2021 wireless, that can block out all ambient sounds, allowing you to focus on your work, music, or podcasts.

Due to different requirements and technical conditions (especially the impedance), the two classes of headphones cannot be compared directly with one another in a meaningful way. Therefore we treat them separately on two pages and choose a test winner and recommendations for each group. We tested 25 for the living room and 19 for the smartphone.

Impedance, Sensitivity and Symmetry

This test is not about Bluetooth headphones  or those  with active noise suppression , because you have to compromise on sound with both. We therefore have separate test reports for you for these headphones.

Impedance is the name given to the AC resistance of headphones. In interaction with the source device, it affects the volume and the sound.

High quality studio headphones usually work with an impedance of around 300 ohms, sometimes even more. Mobile devices such as audio players or smartphones, on the other hand, harmonize best with headphones with an impedance of 30 ohms or less due to the limited amplifier power. Stationary hi-fi devices with a headphone output usually require an impedance that lies between the two extremes at around 100 ohms, but can usually cope with higher impedances. Read our Noise-Cancelling Headphones Reviews

The sensitivity of headphones is similar: It states how much sound pressure the headphones can generate with a power of 1 milliwatt and is also a parameter for the attainable volume, but above all dynamics.

With conventional connection cables with an asymmetrical design, the lines for the left and right channels share the shielding, which is also often used for the return transport of the signal. With a symmetrical cable, each channel has its own forward and return line as well as its own shield. If the source, i.e. the amplifier, is also constructed symmetrically, this leads to better channel separation so that the left and right channels can no longer interfere with each other.

Choice of earphones

Closed, open or half-open – that is almost a question of faith when it comes to headphones. What is meant is the construction of the ear capsules, whether they are open to the outside, closed or half-open.

Clear differences in sound depending on the design of the ear capsules

Open headphones are known for their particularly fine, balanced sound, whereas closed earphones are a prerequisite for a powerful, contoured bass, but on the other hand have to struggle with sound colouration.

Enjoying music with a listener with a closed construction definitely isolates you from the outside world – conversely, the outside world is also spared from your own musical escapades, which can be conducive to peace in the house under certain circumstances.

Best headphones 202, Best in-ear headphones, Who makes the best headphones, Best headphones uk, Best headphones wireless, Best headphones 2021, Best headphones 2021 gaming, Best headphones 2021 wireless,
On the left the open capsule of the Sennheiser HD 600, on the right the closed capsule of the Fostex TH900 MK2.

Another differentiator has more to do with comfort. Both the open and closed models have cushions that encircle the ear and rest against the head – called around-ear or over-ear headphones.

The others support their pads directly on their ears and are accordingly called on-ear headphones. Some manufacturers offer both variants, we listened carefully to see whether there are also sound differences in addition to the wearing comfort.

A question of principle – the converter

In addition to the closed, open and half-open principle as well as the on and over ears, we have now also represented two different converter technologies.

On the one hand, there are the dynamic converters, which is probably the most widely used technology: Here, the membrane and coil for the drive form a firmly joined unit. Said coil dips into a magnetic gap and is moved to the beat of the music. This movement is transmitted to the membrane, which then transmits the sound to the ear.

In the magnetostatic converter, the coil windings are vapor-deposited onto the membrane and are thus part of the entire membrane surface. This membrane is stretched between two magnets and also moves as soon as musical electrons flow through the coil.

Magnetostatic transducers offer the best sound quality

The membrane of the magnetostatic and their relatives, the electrostatic transducers, is considerably lighter than in dynamic systems and is also driven over the entire surface. It can therefore follow even the finest instructions from the driving coil – and only those. It is almost free of unwanted partial vibrations that are not contained in the music. Read our bluetooth headphones for working out Review.

The construction of a magnetostatic converter is, however, a challenge and usually not as cheap to implement as with dynamic converters. More about the different converter systems can be found at Wikipedia .

 Headphone test: 11 hi-fi overview

The best hi-fi headphones for at home

With headphones, which are mainly designed for stationary use, it is less about excluding the environment than about uncompromising listening pleasure, ideally within your own four walls. So it doesn’t matter whether the outside world shares your taste in music or you want to isolate yourself from the outside background noise.

Whether closed, open or half-open, the construction of the earpiece and the transducer is solely due to the best possible music reproduction. Impedances and sensitivities only play a role here if we may have to select the player accordingly. Nevertheless, there will also be copies here that are also passable on the smartphone or other mobile players, as is so often the case, the transition is fluid.

Brief overview: Our recommendations

Our favourite

Philips Fidelio X3

Test headphones: Philips Fidelio X3

The third generation of the Fidelio X3 has made a big step forward. It sounds more expensive than its predecessor.

With the Fidelio X3 , Philips is bringing a classic into the third generation. Although the Fidelio has hardly anything in common with its predecessor after a good six years, the solid workmanship and high wearing comfort are largely on the same level. In terms of sound alone, the headphones have made good progress, making them our new favorite.

 

When money doesn’t matter

Sennheiser HD 800 S.

Headphone test: Sennheiserhd800s

The HD 800 S is almost outrageously expensive, but it also belongs in the luxury goods category.

 

The Sennheiser HD 800 S is the evolution of the much-praised HD 800. A little fine-tuning here, a little optimization there, while the wishes of the owners of the HD 800 were taken seriously and implemented – the result is a preciousness that is there from the first moment on the ears generously covered, allowing you to literally sink into the music until the end. Of course there are headphones that cost a multiple of the already lavish price of the HD 800 S, but the music experience is only enhanced by nuances, so the money saved is better invested in appropriate software and enjoyed with the HD 800 S.

 

The incorruptible

Neumann NDH 20

Test headphones: Neumann NDH 20

The NDH 20 was originally intended as an incorruptible tool in the recording studio.

 

Neumann has been known for excellent studio microphones for decades. Studio loudspeakers and now headphones have been added in the last few decades. The NDH 20 is nothing less than the headphone debut from the Berlin manufacturer. And that was extremely successful, because the headphones have excellent sound properties and, despite being developed and manufactured in Germany, can still be considered affordable.

The best closed one

Beyerdynamic T5

Headphone test: Beyerdynamic T5

The T5 from Beyerdynamic combines the advantages of open and closed headphones.

The third generation of the Beyerdynamic T5 is our current recommendation for headphones with closed ear capsules. It is traded for just under 1,000 euros and is certainly not one of the cheapest headphones. The materials and their processing are for eternity, and tonally it combines the best properties from a closed and open system.

Price tip

Sennheiser HD 560S

Test headphones: Sennheiser HD 560S

The openly constructed HD 560S ties in with far more expensive siblings in terms of sound. The equipment and workmanship are impeccable.

The Sennheiser HD 560S are headphones with open ear capsules. It is very well made and even has a pluggable cable. In terms of sound, it is very reminiscent of its more expensive siblings, but the price remains in the moderate range. One can easily get over the necessary savings measures.

 Headphone test: Philips Fidelio X3 free

Test winner: Philips Fidelio X3

When headphones like the Philips Fidelio X3 go into the third generation, the manufacturer has already done a lot right with the first. This is even more true if the third version does not go into series production until a good seven years after the basic model. This actually makes the Fidelio X3 one of the classics among headphones, which are getting better and better from one update to the next. Thanks to this gradual fine-tuning, the Fidelio X3 has now been able to climb onto our podium.

Our favourite

Philips Fidelio X3

Test headphones: Philips Fidelio X3

The third generation of the Fidelio X3 has made a big step forward. It sounds more expensive than its predecessor.

The Fidelio X3 has a rigid headband, the adjustment to the respective head size takes place with the headband, which adapts automatically. You don’t have to move or adjust anything, just put it on and the Fidelio sits. The capsules themselves are gimbaled and also adapt to the shape of the head. By the way, the back of these capsules are covered with fabric from Kvadrat. It’s not just a beautiful fabric made by Danish design professionals, it has very specific acoustic properties.

With the Fidelio X3 , the connection cable is appropriately plugged in on both sides. With the right / left identification you have to take a closer look, however, both the markings on the capsules and on the plugs are very discreet. The cushions can be removed relatively easily in order to replace them with new ones if necessary. When we removed the pads, we also discovered that the transducers are installed at a slight angle towards the ear. With this construction method you can reduce the “in-the-head” sound phenomenon known from many headphones, but more on that in the sound test.

Practically equipped, solidly made

The metal bracket in which the hearing capsules are swiveled is responsible, among other things, for the fact that the Fidelio X3, at just under 330 grams, is only slightly lighter than our former favorite, the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro . Thanks to the adaptable headband and the generously dimensioned memory foam ear pads, the weight is just as evenly distributed, so that in the end it is just as comfortable to wear. Nothing has to be moved or adjusted; just put it on and the headphones fit. The pressure of the capsules is evenly distributed around the ears and is sufficient for a secure hold without it becoming annoying in the long run.

Comfortable seat and audiophile equipment

Basically, the Fidelio X3 is solidly made, although the metal content appears to be lower than, for example, the DT 1990 Pro . But it actually comes from a professional business. Instead of a hard case, the Fidelio only brings a thin cloth bag for storage and transport, but it scores with other features. The handset comes with a second connection cable, also three meters long, but now with a symmetrical 2.5 mm TRRS plug. This means that the Philips headphones can also be connected to high-quality, mostly mobile players. These should also have a correspondingly potent output stage. Although the Fidelio is not a diva in this regard, it is definitely demanding.

The hearing test

We were curious about the sound characteristics of the Fidelio X3 not only because of the angled transducers . After all, its two predecessors have already left quite large footprints. However, we were surprised from the first moment in this regard: The X3 has nothing left of the rough edges of its predecessor. He was still toying with a slight loudness characteristic, in that the bass was properly increased and the treble was at least slightly raised.

Sound tuning at its best

You can no longer hear that with the Fidelio X3 . To stick with the image with the footprints, the X3 not only fills in the footprints of its predecessor, it also appears to be at least half a shoe size more, at least in terms of the transmitted frequency range. The level of the bass is a bit more restrained, but it goes much deeper. The same goes for the heights; It reproduces these right down to the finest points without tending to hiss – unless the recording is appropriately overdriven.

The Fidelio X3 also does an excellent job of reproducing the space . Almost three-dimensionally, he sets up the different recording situations in front of the mind’s ear. Whether in the cozy pub atmosphere on the “On The Road” album by Irish musician Christy Moore, or in the live recording of “In Extremo”. He accurately positions all instruments and performers on the virtual stage without dividing them up like a bean-counter. With the Fidelio, an overall result that is as authentic and lively as possible is what counts and thus it more than lives up to its name. In the third generation, the Fidelio has become a real luxury item, and at a comparatively low price.

Disadvantage?

You could of course also expect a real hard case at a price of almost 300 euros . However, the focus of the Fidelio is not on mobility, and the money is better invested in the sound-relevant components and processing.

The Philips Fidelio X3 in the test mirror

After about five years, Philips found the time was ripe to send the headphones into the third generation with the Fidelio X3. Many tests have confirmed this step:
In December 2020, there was a test LowBeats .com , it reached 4.7 out of 5 following an “outstanding” results:

»With the Fidelio X3, Philips shows in an impressive way how a good product can be successfully adapted to a changing market. Up until now, HiFi was mainly associated with high technical demands and functional optics, but now the focus is clearly on the experience factor. Sophisticated technology is taken for granted. “

Also on HIFI .COM one was full of praise for the Fidelio in its third generation. With 8.7 points he achieved a “very good” result:

»With the new wired X3, Philips is continuing its Fidelio X series, which is loved by headphone fans. This is not about wireless convenience, but about highly comfortable listening pleasure in the old-fashioned way. If you are looking for audiophile virtues in this price segment, you should definitely take a closer look at the openly designed over-ear headphones. “

In October 2020, the Fidelio achieved five out of five possible stars in the top class on hifitest .de . Michael Voigt concludes:

»The DT 1990 PRO provides extremely detailed insights into the playback without getting on your nerves or losing sight of the musicality. The most balanced listener of the ‘audiophile middle class’. “

On the website Kopfhoerer .com Fidelio has been tested in October 2020 he reached there by 4.75 total 5.0 points and the title “Best Headphones HiFi”. Tester Ralf Willke sums up his judgment:

“The Philips Fidelio X3 in the“ HiFi headphones ”category is a downright inexpensive alternative to some headphones whose sound is just as appealing, but not necessarily in the 350 euro class. The mix of materials and the high level of comfort also convince in the test. The Fidelio X3 shows its strengths with high-quality audio material, preferably also in HighRes quality, but I wouldn’t push them off my desk as headphones “for every day” either. “

Alternatives

The headphone market is huge – and in addition to the well-known brands, new players are constantly appearing on the field. We have therefore selected some really interesting alternatives to our favorites for you, which can come up with very special skills or equipment features as well as special sound characteristics. Read our in ear headphones noise cancelling Review.

When money doesn’t matter: Sennheiser HD 800 S

The Sennheiser HD 800 S  is the ultimate high-end headphone, which is why only small changes were made to it during its production cycle. While the predecessor HD 800 caused quite a sensation, the HD 800 S goes one better, which is of course also reflected in the price.

 

When money doesn’t matter

Sennheiser HD 800 S.

Headphone test: Sennheiserhd800s

The HD 800 S is almost outrageously expensive, but it also belongs in the luxury goods category.

 

Just a reminder: For an HD 800 S you get almost three copies of our current favorite, so the Sennheiser must have a lot to offer, which halfway justifies the price. However, it also has what it takes to become a prestige object without wanting to neglect its musical qualities.

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Headphone Test: Hd800s
The Sennheiser HD 800 S is the evolution of the HD 800.
Headphone test: Hd800s case extension cutout
The HD 800 S is stored in a massive, fabric-lined box, the two cables from the scope of delivery can also be accommodated in it.
Headphone Test: Hd800s Connector 1
As it should be, the connection cables are plugged in individually, the headphones are much lighter than they look and, with the large ear capsules, extremely comfortable.
Headphone test: Hd800s plug2
In addition to the standard connection cable, there is also one for balanced connection to a dedicated headphone amplifier.

Unlike most of its competitors, even cheaper ones, the HD 800 S  neither comes with a transport bag nor a hard case in the usual sense. It is a solid wooden box lined with soft fabric that provides adequate accommodation for the HD 800 S. The Sennheiser is definitely not designed for mobile devices, there is only one large 6.35-millimeter jack plug and the impedance of 300 ohms should bring some smartphone output stages to their knees.

In addition to the connection cable with a 6.35-millimeter jack plug that is plugged in on both sides, there is also one with a symmetrical plug, which is mainly intended for connection to high-quality amplifiers. An adapter from the large 6.35 mm jack to the small 3.5 mm jack for mobile devices is not included.

The large, very comfortable ear capsules, on the other hand, are a delight from an ergonomic point of view, and not just for large ears. The Sennheiser is built so generously that you never even think of taking it with you on the train somehow folded up – quite apart from the fact that it immediately attracts covetous glances because of its striking exterior.

When you put the receiver on, it is unusually airy around the ears for headphones – and that’s what it sounds like. He gives the music the space it needs right away. The HD 800 S manages to pull us into the sound events with complete ease, in other words actually right in the middle of it and not there. It delivers a striking resolution without particularly emphasizing the details, it just reproduces them.

In terms of tone, the HD 800 S , similar to our favorite with the balanced cushions, is on the warm side, with a fine basic tone, rich bass without exaggerating and a very fine mid-high range without it ever sounding sharp or even annoying. The Sennheiser turns music into a work of art in which some subtleties are only gradually discovered, but always as part of the total work of art.

The incorruptible: Neumann NDH 20

Even if it is actually intended as a working device for studio and home recording, it has a number of qualities that should also find their friends outside of the professional sector. One of them is the high level of comfort, but the most important thing is the sound quality of the Neumann NDH 20 .

 

The incorruptible

Neumann NDH 20

Test headphones: Neumann NDH 20

The NDH 20 was originally intended as an incorruptible tool in the recording studio.

 

Plastic is in short supply on the NDH 20, the receiver is made almost entirely of metal, which also explains the very high weight of almost 400 grams. However, the headband is so well padded and the cushions of the earphones are so large over the ears that the weight is well distributed. The cushions also provide a very good seal against outside noise, which is particularly important for monitoring. After all, you don’t want to be disturbed while listening to your work. The cushions also provide a touch of individual fit because they are filled with memory foam so that they adapt optimally to the individual head shape and stay that way for some time.

Two pluggable cables are included: one is straight and one is coiled. The coiled cable is often used when the distance to the hearing source is to be kept variable within a certain range. So when you move away from the source the cable will give way, when you get closer it will pull back together without hanging around. The NDH 20 fits together with the two cables and an adapter in the transport bag supplied. It’s not intended for traveling, but neither are the headphones.

The vote of the NDH 20 is less superficial than the layman would sometimes assume with the addition of “studio”. The most noticeable feature in the first listening session is the very natural voice reproduction. The Neumann headphones manage to give the voices of ZAZ or Christy Moore almost something like intimacy. The same applies to the acoustic instruments often used there, such as piano and guitar.

There are no annoying hissing highs – unless they are immortalized on the recording. The saxophone sounds particularly authentic on Klaus Doldinger’s En Route, in order to simultaneously help the deep rumbling bass lines to their right, but so subtle and sovereign that you almost feel them rather than hear them. Where others like to raise the level to conceal due to a lack of depth, the bass runs simply roll out of the NDH 20 and into the ear. In terms of spatial imaging, the NDH 20 has to admit defeat to listeners like the DT 1990 Pro or even the HD 800 S , although the Sennheiser costs almost three times as much.

Anyone who has always wanted to listen to the sound engineer over the shoulder while listening to music, or just wants to enjoy pure music in all its facets, is sure to be well served with the NDH 20 . It doesn’t cost the world and because of the processing it is an acquisition for life.

The best closed one: Beyerdynamic T5

The Beyerdynamic T5 is already in its third generation. The T-series from Beyerdynamic benefits from the so-called Tesla converters developed in-house. The converters, which are known for their particular efficiency, are used in closed capsules in the T5. In addition, the Beyerdynamic T1 is an open-design earpiece, which you can find below.

The best closed one

Beyerdynamic T5

Headphone test: Beyerdynamic T5

The T5 from Beyerdynamic combines the advantages of open and closed headphones.

The T5 follows the design of the other headphones, which are manufactured by Beyerdynamic in Germany. Here you will find the same metal headband with the distinctive forks in which the capsules are swiveled. The cushions for the ears and the headband are made of smooth synthetic leather, and memory foam is used at least in the ear cushions. This ensures both a perfect fit and a good seal to the outside.

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Headphone test: Beyerdynamic T5
The T5 has closed capsules and delivers a nice, open sound.
Headphone test: Beyerdynamic T5 plug
The connection cable is plugged in on both sides, an adapter to 6.3 mm jack is included in the scope of delivery.
Headphone test: Beyerdynamic T5 locking
The connection plugs snap into place when you press lightly.
Headphone test: Beyerdynamic T5 Case
The T5 is built to last, and it also comes with a solid case for storage.

Even if the cover of the hearing capsule looks like a perforated and therefore open construction at first glance, it quickly becomes clear that this is just an engraving and not real openings. As befits high-quality hi-fi headphones, the three-meter-long connection cable is attached to the headphones in a pluggable manner. With the T5 , both earphones are plugged in separately. This ensures the same cable length on both channels and therefore basically the same operating conditions.

As standard, a small 3.5 mm jack plug is mounted on the other end, an adapter to the 6.3 mm jack usual on hi-fi devices is included in the scope of delivery. Headphones, cables and other accessories can be accommodated and transported in the hard case that is also supplied, which is covered with hard-wearing fabric.

During the first sound test, the Beyerdynamic T5 then provides a little surprise. At this price we didn’t expect the often slightly potty sound of a closed system anyway, but we were really impressed by the very airy sound. There is no trace of discoloration, but the listener delivers a perfect spatial idea and a transmission range that perfectly fathoms the edges of the audible frequencies. With just the right shot of speed and dynamism, he ensures that the music remains lively despite all the attention to detail.

On top of that, the Beyerdynamic T5 is comparatively undemanding in terms of the source compared to its predecessor in this position, the Aeon Flow 2 . It also plays to its potential without a dedicated headphone amplifier, which gives it the place of the best closed headphones.

Price tip: Sennheiser HD 560S

The Sennheiser HD 560S is for us the most enjoyable product from Sennheiser, after the – in our opinion – something failed HD 660 S . Sure, in this price range a connection cable that can be plugged in at both ends is actually rarely found. It’s good that the connector on the HD 560S has a lock, so the cable that is plugged in on one side cannot simply be pulled out.

Price tip

Sennheiser HD 560S

Test headphones: Sennheiser HD 560S

The openly constructed HD 560S ties in with far more expensive siblings in terms of sound. The equipment and workmanship are impeccable.

Speaking of connection cables, unlike most other manufacturers, Sennheiser also attaches a large jack plug to the connection cable of the HD 560S , with a diameter of 6.35 mm for the hi-fi system. An adapter cable is included so that you can also use the Sennheiser on the move or to another device with a smaller 3.5 mm socket. This can be an additional source of error because even a short cable can break. However, it can be replaced inexpensively and without great effort. In addition, this qualifies the listener more for operation on the home system than on the mobile device. However, the Sennheiser is no more demanding than the Beyerdynamic T5 , for example , and can therefore hold its own on a smartphone.

However, that was it in terms of the equipment, because nothing more than the headphones and the connection cable and adapter are in the box. The workmanship, on the other hand, is very neat; Although plastic is mainly used, it is of high quality and ensures the low weight of the receiver. This is also distributed so well with soft, generously dimensioned pads over the head and ears that the HD 560S is extremely comfortable to carry . The ear pads can be easily removed and replaced if necessary.

Compared to the aforementioned HD 660S, the HD 560S is much more neutral. It delivers clear, clear mids and highs without being annoying; With the bass it presses gently, but this does not mean that the mids and highs are overwhelmed, or it tends to drone.

The Sennheiser HD 560S is well-balanced, with a slight increase in the bass range, which also ensures a pleasantly sonorous fundamental range. The workmanship is very good, the wearing comfort is suitable for a long time and the short list of equipment can be tolerated well at the price.

Also tested

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

Headphone test: screenshot 2019 12 04 at 10.35.08

The  DT 1990 Pro follows the design principle with open capsules. In contrast to high-end headphones, the connection cable is only plugged into one capsule, namely the left one. Both are owed to professional use: both the pluggable connection cable and the one-sided cable routing – after all, you don’t want to get tangled up in a mess of cables in the recording studio or a similar work environment.

As it should be for a work device, the DT 1990 Pro is delivered in a hard case with a hard-wearing surface. In addition to the headphones, there is still space for both connection cables, because in addition to the smooth cable, a coiled cable is also included in the scope of delivery. As standard, both cables have a small 3.5-millimeter plug to which the 6.35-millimeter adapter can be screwed tightly. This adapter is also included in the scope of delivery, as is a second pair of ear pads. However, they are not intended as spare parts, but rather set different accents in terms of sound.

The EDT 1990VA upholstery ensures a more analytical sound, whereas the EDT 1990VB creates a balanced sound, whatever that means.

The DT 1990 and the EDT 1990VA upholstery are indeed extremely analytical headphones, but they do not dissect the music, but play dynamically, fast but always as if they were made from one piece.

Equipped with the EDT 1990VB pads, there is now more pressure in the bass and fundamental range (although we hadn’t missed anything so far). In addition, the B-pad takes away the sharpness of the tips without completely rounding them off. The sound becomes a bit more pleasing, more relaxed, but without losing any of its tempo and impulsiveness.

No question about it, the DT 1990 Pro is a real exceptional talent, and tonally one of the most harmonious headphones we have heard so far. His strength lies in appropriately taking on the finest musical structures without the music as a total work of art suffer.

On top of that, the DT 1990 Pro is available almost at a bargain price, at least in view of the experience that headphones that are twice as expensive don’t sound twice as good – let alone are twice as well made.

Dan Clark Audio AEON Flow 2

Headphone test: Danclark Aeon Flow2

The Aeon Flow 2 is currently probably the cheapest model from Dan Clark’s forge. Sure, development and production also have their price in the USA. However, the Aeon Flow 2 is worth every euro, because apart from the fact that it sounds excellent, it is also of high quality and extensively equipped.

We do not want to deny that the Aeon needs a powerful amplifier in order to develop its sound quality to the full. This can either be a hi-fi device, the headphone output of which can ideally be adjusted, or a separate headphone amplifier. The Aeon is therefore hardly suitable for mobile devices.

The effort is worth it, we rarely have the pleasure of headphones playing so casually and naturally. The Aeon plays the entire frequency spectrum with no audible preferences. It delivers a clean reproduction of the mid-high range and thus an almost three-dimensional spatiality.

The Aeon also grabs the low-frequency range courageously, and with a similar ease and sovereignty as we were able to admire with the Neumann. The piano on some of ZAZ’s recordings sounds a bit freer and more airy, with more surroundings than on Neumann’s. The Aeon knows how to convince right away, and only in direct comparison with other favorites does a certain desire to experiment arise to try out the supplied filters.

The filters can be clearly distinguished and used even more easily. Nevertheless, one should refrain from overly hasty alternation actions, because the individual coordination takes time and leisure. So use the first filters and listen to music for a long time. Then insert the second and listen to the same pieces again intensively. You can continue this up to the third set of filters to find out the ideal setting for the Aeon Flow 2.

However, you can also tune the headphones to the music or even according to your own mood, there are almost unimagined possibilities, so that for some, the issue of headphones should be settled for the time being with the purchase of the Aeon Flow 2 .

Sennheiser HD 600

Test headphones: Sennheiser HD 600

The  Sennheiser HD 600 has been on the market for some time – a sign that the engineers did a lot of things right when developing these open headphones. In fact, the listener sits so comfortably right from the start that you can no longer feel it at all. The velor cushions generously enclose the ears and also distribute the already moderate pressure exerted by the temple over a large area. The connection cable is plugged in on both sides and, as is usual in the high-end sector, is routed separately to the left and right from the earpiece to the plug. The clear color coding of the plugs to the capsules makes it impossible to mix up the channels.

The HD 600 is delivered in a sturdy box, but you won’t find a hard case or a similar means of transport for everyday use. The Sennheiser is not intended for mobile devices. This is also ensured by the very high impedance of 300 ohms, where most mobile devices with their limited output are likely to fail miserably – the HD 600 should be connected to the hi-fi system or, if you like, to a separate headphone amplifier.

Here it can really develop: it sounds big and, with its three-dimensional sound reproduction, creates a wide and deep stage. It sounds extremely authentic and you quickly forget that you are even wearing headphones. Despite its relaxed, light style of playing, the tonality of which is somewhat reminiscent of the HD 800 S  , it also remains committed to dynamism.

Recordings from large classical orchestras in particular can expose some of the test subjects. Although many, especially higher-priced headphones succeed in the distortion-free reproduction of very extensive tutti, if you then put on the HD 600, you often simply hear more subtle nuances and more details – and not picked apart with acoustic tweezers, but quite confidently and as if from one pour.

Of course, the HD 600 is also fully suitable for modern music styles. For a listener with an open construction, it reaches astonishingly deep into the bass cellar, so that it does justice to the music in a crisp and precise rather than resilient manner. However, the bass has to be on the source, because nothing is thickened.

The new edition of the HD 600 in 2019 shows with a new design that Sennheiser is also taking the changed taste into account; everything remains sound as it was before. However, the price is quite stable, so that the headphones are no longer our price tip, which in no way disqualifies them as a good investment.

Fostex TH900 Mk2

Test headphones: Fostex TH900 Mk2 - Casque

We received two devices from the  Fostex TH 900 MkII to test: the red-painted standard model and the version from the Sapphire Blue Edition, one of only 300 copies, to be precise. The blue special model is correspondingly more expensive , currently you have to pay between 200 and 400 euros more. The high-gloss finish is just as impressive as the entire headphones. Only the finest materials are used for the TH 900 MkII: the best cherry wood for the capsules, the finest protein leather for all upholstery and precisely milled aluminum for the forks and joints. Despite the high use of materials, the Fostex weighs just over 400 grams less than we initially assumed. The weight is optimally distributed with the finely adjustable, well-padded headband and the thick, soft ear pads, so that the TH 900 MkII does not interfere even after hours of listening.

In addition to the processing quality, the equipment is also of the highest level: Although there is no hard case, the Fostex comes with a solid stand on which the piece of jewelery can be beautifully presented when it is not on your ears. So that the fine high-gloss lacquer is not robbed of its shine by nasty grains of dust, a soft leather pouch is included in which the headphones and connection cable completely disappear.

In terms of sound, the spirits differ: to make matters worse, the two brothers are tuned differently: The blue Anniversary Edition of the TH 900 MkII has a more neutral tuning than the red version. Bass and treble are a little more restrained than in the red standard model. However, this does not detract from the perfectly spatially reproduced sound: With the appropriate recording, the Fostex – whether red or blue – places the musicians acoustically precisely on the imaginary stage.

Unlike its open brother TH 909  , the TH 900 MkII in red shows a little more oomph, delivers more bite in the highs and an audibly more impulsive bass – dry and precise, as it should be.

No question about it, the TH 900 MkII is a real fun device that conveys an enormous amount of joy in playing and always remains tonally serious and uncoloured. The Fostex is one of the best closed headphones – the red one, mind you, because the blue one is sold out and is not that much fun due to its more neutral coordination.

SendyAudio Aiva

Test headphones: SendyAudio Aiva

The manufacturer SendyAudio is still quite unknown here – wrongly, after all , the Aiva is not a headphone like any other. Instead of dynamic drivers, magnetostatic drivers are used: this is technically more complex, but if it is implemented well, it is a special kind of sound experience.

The fact that the connection cable is coiled may make good electrical sense, but the thin, transparent insulation does not. Nevertheless, with one cable and two adapters, you have all connection situations fully under control: The starting point is the mounted symmetrical Pentaconn plug, to which a small 3.5 millimeter jack can be plugged with an adapter cable, which in turn can be connected to the 6, 35 millimeter connector is expanded.

With a weight of almost 450 grams, the Aiva is certainly not one of the lightweights, which is certainly not entirely due to the high proportion of metal in the frame construction. Overall, the listener is of high manufacturing quality and, on top of that, sustainable, because even the adjustable headband can be easily replaced if necessary after loosening two screws. Despite its weight, it sits comfortably on the head and ears, which are generously enclosed thanks to the soft, large cushions.

Then there is the airy, light sound experience known from thin, large-area membranes, with a pleasant fundamental range and finely resolved mids. Right at the bottom in the bass cellar he takes a step back, the same thing happens at the other end of the frequency band, even if this is only noticeable in direct comparison with the correspondingly coordinated competition.

The Aiva spoils you with a coherent, spacious stage image . With the appropriate recording, the musicians are neatly placed in the depth and width of the acoustically represented space. The Aiva is currently one of the cheapest ways to enjoy the fine sound that only patch converters such as magnetostats can reproduce.

Fostex TH 909

Headphone test: Fostex Th909

The Fostex TH 909  is practically the open version of the TH 900 MkII , also the edition with blue lacquered capsules made of cherry wood. In this case there is no difference in sound to the standard version, which is painted red. If you like the look of the blue special edition better, it’s time to grab it – it’s limited to 300 pieces. The Fostex TH 909 also provides an enormous spatial representation of what is happening in music, and in this respect is on a par with the also openly constructed HD 800 S from Sennheiser. In terms of tone, it is very similar to the closed blue one and is therefore somewhat more reserved in the bass than, for example, the Sennheiser.

The mid-high range is a bit more present in the TH 909, but without sounding sharp or even annoying in the uppermost registers. In any case, the Fostex TH 909 is also worth a listen, which is recommended anyway if you want to spend so much money on headphones.

Beyerdynamic T1

Test headphones: Beyerdynamic T1

The Beyerdynamic T1 comes as the T5 already in the third generation. Here we have the open version of this successful series. The design is also determined by the high use of metal, as is the weight, except that on the T1 the holes in the covers of the ear capsules are not printed, but rather belong to the open construction principle.

In terms of equipment, too, the Beyerdynamic T1 is based on its brother; In addition to the headphones and the three-meter-long connection cable, there is also space for the adapter from 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm in the large hard case. Its ear cushions are made of fluffy velor and not smooth synthetic leather, which has an impact on the sound. Read our Kids’ Headphones Review.

The T1 comes across as strong, impulsive and dynamic as usual. However, it might be a bit too dark for some people, the upper frequencies are reproduced, but do not have the gloss that the T5 passes on. Personally, I don’t like this set-up as much as that of the DT 1990 Pro , and it only takes half of it out of my wallet.

Hifiman Ananda

Test headphones: Hifiman Ananda

Hifiman can already refer to a lot of experience with the production of headphones that work with magnetostatic transducers. The  Ananda is priced above the entry-level Sundara and, together with this, significantly below the manufacturer’s premier class. In terms of sound, it is above the other two headphones from our test, which work on the same converter principle, namely the Quad Era-1  and the Aiva from SendyAudio, both in terms of tonality and the spatial representation of the musical events. Nevertheless, the Ananda has to admit clear minus points compared to the named competitors: Both are slightly better equipped, but what weighs more heavily is that both of the cheaper competitors are much better processed.

However, if you only value the airy, spherical sound of a magnetostat and can live with the somewhat lax workmanship, the Ananda comes very close to the ideal.

Quad Era-1

Test headphones: Quad Era-1

The Quad Era-1 is the third in the group to work with magnetostatic converters. For this and in view of the excellent workmanship, it is astonishingly inexpensive. In terms of equipment, too, you don’t mess around, in addition to the hard case and two connection cables, the overall package also includes two pairs of ear cushions, which, like our favorite, enable fine sound tuning.

The Era-1 also provides a striking spatial representation of the music, it plays very openly and airily, especially in the mid-high range, provides a somewhat warmer sound overall than the Ananda , for example , but still does not lack the necessary glitter in the uppermost registers. With the smooth, perforated padding, the mids are a little more dampened compared to the mixed padding made of suede and synthetic leather, giving the listener a slight loudness character. The upholstery can easily be repositioned.

Unfortunately, the headband is way too big, at least for us. For a perfect fit over the ears, we have to lift the headphones slightly. This is annoying, especially since there are many people whose heads are even smaller, or the head shape is unfortunately out of the question for the Quad Era-1. If the Quad Era-1 suits you (be sure to try it out beforehand), you get headphones with fine sound adjustment and excellent workmanship.

Mackie MC-100

Test headphones: Mackie MC-100

The Mackie MC-100 is a real hit, we mean that positively. For an almost ridiculous price of around 30 euros , the headphones have a lot to offer. It is light, quite solidly built and delivers a decent sound. How to do this is basically quite simple: Originally, the MC-100 was part of the Mackie Creator Bundle , consisting of a microphone, two small monitor boxes and headphones, along with cables and other accessories. Now the headphones are also being offered separately – and rightly so, as we think.

Although the Mackie MC-100  is quite balanced, it clearly pushes the bottom, which is clearly in line with the trend. Although the frequency band is comparatively narrow, there is no discoloration. At the price, you can justifiably claim that it can keep up with headphones that are twice as expensive. You can’t expect much in terms of equipment, but an adapter from small to large jack is included. In addition, the MC-100 is not particularly demanding, so that it can also unfold quite well on the smartphone.

Mackie MC-450

Test headphones: Mackie MC-450

Mackie actually makes studio electronics. A good studio also needs reliable headphones so that you can check the recording or the mix directly. After the first successful placements in the inexpensive segment, the manufacturer has now made the connection to higher regions with the MC-450 .

Speaking of connections: the Mackie MC-450 can easily be connected to a cell phone due to its low impedance and high sensitivity. The corresponding cable with inline microphone, which is included in the scope of delivery, underlines the mobile ambitions of the headphones. However, you will not have much fun outdoors with the open construction, which is why we see the good piece more in the stationary indoor headphones.

However, if you use your smartphone or other mobile device for recordings, the Mackie MC-450 is of course the ideal companion, although the closed MC-350 should certainly cut a better figure here. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt if all options are open in terms of connectivity, especially since the Mackie is delivered with a spacious hard case in which all cables and adapters – including the headphones themselves, of course – are safely and securely housed.

In addition to the extremely rich equipment, the Mackie MC-450 can also convince in terms of sound. They quickly turn out to be the lively, dynamic type of headphones and are especially great fun with modern music. It reproduces voices aptly, but with strong S-sounds it often does too much of a good thing and sounds correspondingly pointed. He does not go down uncompromisingly deep into the bass cellar, but does not try to cover up this deficit with an increased level in the upper bass.

Overall, with the Mackie MC-450 you get a complete all-round carefree package at a really low price. Those who tend to stroll on the classic path musically will be better served with the Sennheiser HD 600 in terms of sound . In terms of equipment, there are hardly any alternatives to the Mackie at this price.

AKG K712 Pro

Test headphones: AKG K712 Pro

The AKG K712 Pro  is a clone of the K702 that has been around for a long time and is still available. You also have to like the 712 Pro, or rather its set-up. In a direct comparison with most of the other models from the test, one misses the low frequency range, which does not mean that the 712 Pro does not transmit bass, it just exercises a lot of restraint here.

Voices, whether from male or female performers, benefit from this concentration on the mid-high range; the spatial reproduction of the sound stage is also extremely accurate for the AKG. Because of its low weight, which is also very well distributed when worn, it sits very comfortably over the ears and invites you to long-term listening – as long as you can do without the punch in the bass.

Ultrasone PRO 1480i

Test headphones: Ultrasone PRO 1480i

The  Ultrasone PRO 1480i  is the first affordable headphone in an open design from the traditional Bavarian manufacturer. In terms of sound, his focus is less on styles that are mixed with plenty of bass, his specialty is classical and especially vocal music. Here he is in top form. If you miss the punch below , you should  listen to the PRO 580i from the same series, which we will also be testing in detail soon.

Shure SRH1440

Test headphones: Shure SRH1440

The  Shure SRH1440 works on the open principle and is one of the most powerful open headphones in this price range. Due to the design, it does not descend that deep into the bass cellar, but it is extremely precise and provides an impressive spatial image. The equipment includes a set of replacement pads and a plug-in replacement cable. The SRH1440 is rather brightly tuned, with a very fine mid-high tone resolution. In addition, it provides an astonishingly wide stage and literally lets the music breathe. Due to its open design, it is not suitable for deep bass fetishists: the bass is reproduced in a rich and contoured manner, but does not go as deep as with its closed colleagues.

The Shure is definitely more than suitable for cultivated music enjoyment at a slim price.

Sennheiser HD 660 S.

Test headphones: Sennheiser HD 660 S

The Sennheiser HD 660 S sounds a bit dull at first, even compared to the HD 600, which plays much more freely. The HD 660 plays more muted in the treble than the 800 S, which can no longer be disputed with stress-free high-frequency reproduction. Overall, we would prefer the HD 600 here , especially since it is also available in an at least externally revised 2019 version if you don’t like the marbled design. It is also cheaper.

Fostex T50RP MK3

Test headphones: Fostex T50RP MK3

The half-open system of the Fostex T50RP MK3 has a very balanced sound. However, it needs a powerful player, otherwise the headphones will sound rather quiet and lack impulsiveness.

The smartphone is therefore not the ideal player for the Fostex, which is why we cannot recommend it there. However, if you use the receiver on a full-blown hi-fi device, you get a lot on your ears for the unbeatable price of 150 euros .

Philips Fidelio X2

Test headphones: Philips Fidelio X2

The Philips Fidelio X2 is also an open listener, which makes up for the supposed shortcoming of a powerful bass reproduction with a slightly higher bass level. In addition, it sometimes reaches too bravely at the heights, so that it tends to hiss. That changes a bit if you increase the level of the source, it seems to be quite demanding in terms of impedance / sensitivity.

The successor has grown significantly in all areas, so that the X2 only benefits from the low price.

AKG K702

Test headphones: AKG K702

The AKG K702 is open and invites people sitting next to you on the train to listen in. In terms of sound, especially classical pieces are reproduced very well. The vote is neutral and harmonious. In terms of bass reproduction, however, it does not come close to our favorites.

 Headphone test: 7 Mobile2

The best hi-fi headphones for on the go

With the mobile models, the specialists have their say, here the headphones should be as close as possible to the outside, on the one hand not to disturb the outside world in the bus or train excessively, but also to rule out interference from outside as far as possible. You can also use models with active noise suppression, but then you usually have to make losses in terms of sound quality.

So this is not about headphones with active noise cancellation . For this reason, the construction of the earphones and the sealing by the upholstery determine the extent to which we are alone with our music. Closed capsules are therefore mandatory here. The situation is similar when it comes to the choice of impedance and sensitivity: most smartphones and many mobile players are usually equipped with an output stage to protect the battery charge, which can only insufficiently drive complex loads. The lowest possible impedance, preferably in the low two-digit range, is also essential here. In addition, when using a smartphone, a microphone can be an advantage for occasional phone calls.

Brief overview: Our recommendations

Our favourite

Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7b

Test headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7b

Very finely differentiated, naturally tuned closed receiver.

The ATH-MSR7b  from Audio-Technica is our favorite among hi-fi headphones for predominantly use on mobile devices. The few points of criticism of the successor to the ATH-MSR7 have been eliminated, and it has become a bit lighter and therefore more convenient. The cable is now plugged in on both sides and instead of the additional cable with microphone, there is now a special, symmetrically wired cable for connection to a high-quality mobile player.

When money doesn’t matter

Campfire Audio Cascade

Test headphones: Campfire Audio Cascade

The Cascade is the first full-size headphone from Campfire Audio, it can convince right from the start.

With the Campfire Audio Cascade we have the first full-size or headband headphones from Campfire Audio at the start, so far the Oregon manufacturer has limited itself to in-ear headphones, which have already earned a melodious name. In addition to a hard case, the Cascade come with four pairs of filters that can be placed in the capsules to adapt the sound to your own taste.

DJ working device

Pioneer HDJ-X10

Test headphones: Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10

Pioneer also equips DJs, the HDJ-X10 are the official headphones for the job.

The  Pioneer HDJ X10 makes no secret of its main area of ​​application. And that doesn’t mean the DJ imprint on the bracket – but rather the solidly crafted hinged joints of the hearing capsules, which are known to be folded aside to hear whether the audience is really listening. Crucial surfaces are rubberized, which is easy to grip and makes the corresponding surfaces sweat-resistant. The perfect work tool for professionals and those who feel like professionals.

The best on-ear

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II Basic Edition

Test headphones: Sennheiser HD 25-1 II Basic Edition

The HD 25 is a classic in the latest version, it is particularly popular as a tool in recording technology.

The Sennheiser HD 25 has been around for several decades, the HD 25-1 II Basic Edition provided to us is the basic model, without any accessories. The HD 25 has always been popular with cameramen and sound recording teams, making it the epitome of mobile headphones for assessing sound recordings outdoors – the best prerequisites for using them on a smartphone.

Price tip

Sennheiser HD 400S

Test headphones: Sennheiser HD 400S

The HD 400S is impressively cheap and yet it is not a budget model in terms of sound.

The Sennheiser HD 400S now rounds off our recommendations in terms of price. It sits comfortably over the ears and offers an appropriate sound experience without compromising too much. Despite the tightly calculated price, the cable with the integrated microphone is plugged in and there is even a transport bag included.

 Headphone Test: Audio Technica Msr7b

Test winner: Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7b

The ATH-MSR7b , thanks to its natural vote without so popular artificial boost in the bass range, a good basis throughout the hearing range of time. In addition, with its low impedance and high sensitivity, it is ideally suited for mobile devices. It can be folded up very compactly and then disappears into the supplied transport bag.

Our favourite

Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7b

Test headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7b

Very finely differentiated, naturally tuned closed receiver.

The fact that the standard cable has a small 3.5 millimeter jack plug also speaks in favor of mobile use. However, you have to do without a microphone or even a remote control for your smartphone.

The second cable included is something very special: It is equipped with a 4.4 millimeter connector, this has five instead of 3 poles and is symmetrically connected. This connection standard, called Pentaconn , has so far only been found on very high-quality mobile players, it guarantees the most interference-free music transmission possible , so you are well equipped with the ATH-MSR7b .

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Headphone Test: Audio Technica Msr7b
The Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7b is an update of the MSR7.
Headphone Test: Audio Technica Msr7b Case
Everything is accommodated in the neoprene case.
Headphone test: Audio Technica Msr7b connectors
The cables are plugged into the receiver separately for the right and left.
Headphone test: Audio Technica Msr7b plug
Everything is there – on the far left the Pentaconn plug for the symmetrical connection to high-quality players, next to it the 3.5mm standard connection, and just in case the 6.35mm plug for the home system.

Comprehensively equipped, solidly manufactured

In contrast to its predecessor, the cable is not plugged in on one side, but on each of the two capsules separately. So there are definitely the same requirements regarding the signal path for the left and right channels. The plug contacts themselves are no longer provided by simple, small jack plugs, but by coaxial plugs from the professional sector. This applies to both the standard connection cable with the 3.5 millimeter jack plug and the 1.20 meter long cable with the symmetrical Bantam connection. Both cables and the headphones themselves can be safely stored in the neoprene transport bag when you are out and about. Read our gaming headset Review.

Although the proportion of metal in both the bracket and the capsule housing has not become noticeably less, the new ATH-MSR7b weighs around 50 grams less than its predecessor – and even that was not particularly heavy at under 300 grams. The low weight is also distributed evenly by the ear cushions and the cushion around the temple, so that the listener does not press anywhere, even during longer music sessions.

Good equipment and comfortable seat

In addition to the generously used, excellently processed metal parts, there is of course also plastic. However, here too, the surface finish only reveals the difference to the metal applications on closer inspection – or rather, by feeling it. The ATH-MSR7b is not only available in the black, blue decorated version available to us, but also in the gun metal version known from its predecessor, with red decorations.

In addition to a defective connection cable, the ear pads can also be changed if they have become unsightly at some point. The padding of the headband cannot be changed, at least not that easy.

Listening test

The ATH-MSR7b  is much brighter than, for example, the HD 600  from Sennheiser. In direct comparison, it sounds fresher and seems to have a finer resolution, especially in the mid-high range, than the open high-flyer. Nevertheless, even with critical pieces of music, there are no annoying hissing sibilants (S-sounds) to be heard.

However, the rather bright tuning also has its downsides, because the low-frequency range and the fundamental range above in the frequency band are somewhat more dominated than with the opponent. Still, I didn’t really miss the bass – it really comes into its own, reaches deep enough and is jagged to the ear, a touch more jagged than with the Sennheiser.

Balanced sound and enormous fine dynamics

The voices are not quite as sonorous as with the Sennheiser, but the ATH-MSR7b also clearly brings out the finest glitter of the voice and the percussion. The Audio-Technica is a fine draftsman par excellence, but can also lend a hand if the material is appropriate, and even with deafening levels I was unable to drive it into distortion.

Last but not least, the ATH-MSR7b also had to prove its capabilities on a smartphone, of course. I currently don’t have a mobile player that can compete with the said symmetrical cabling, but the standard cable was completely sufficient. Thanks to its high efficiency and its low impedance, the Audio-Technica can also convince with the comparatively weak output stage of the smartphone. Although the comparison is not quite right, at least with the OnePlus used – just like the LG smartphones of the V series or the ZenFones from Asus, a very passable audio level is used here.

The  Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7b  are amazingly versatile headphones. Thanks to the wide range of accessories, it is suitable for both at home and on the go. In terms of sound, it is one of the honest headphones, which are rather neutrally tuned, with a rich but not cheeky bass.

As always, the excellent performance of the ATH-MSR7b does not release you from trusting your own ears before investing in a new listening device.

The Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7b in the test mirror

Only a few reviews have been published of the new ATH-MSR7b  . The vast majority of the publications are still concerned with the previous model, but we have found some test reports:

On the website Kopfhoerer .com the Audio-Technica received in September 2019 with 4.75 stars possible total of 5, the price / performance Editor’s:

»You just have to love the Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7b. Stylish and timeless in design, it delivers an impressive sound. A punchy and grippy bass rests on the warm sub. Above this, detailed mids and crystal-clear highs, which are significantly reduced compared to the predecessor, form a high-resolution, homogeneous sound image that, together with its very comfortable wear, invites you to listen to hours of listening. “

In the 9/2019 edition of audiovision, the ATH-MSR7b received a »good« result, whereby we had nothing to complain about in terms of equipment:

»The MSR7B from Audio-Technica offers a pleasant sound. The wearing comfort is pleasing, but the features could be more extensive given the price. “

 A test report was published on the Kopfbox website in March 2019. In particular, the high level of comfort and the excellent sound quality were rewarded with 9 out of 10 points:

»If the MSR7 is already great, the MSR7b is even better! audio-technica has carefully and precisely improved the headphones in detail at the points that gave cause for criticism in the predecessor. The fresh and detailed coordination has remained absolutely true. So the highs are still brilliant and shiny, but a little less demanding. The bass is more pronounced and rousing, very punchy and physical. And the mids are precise, handy and even more detailed. […] At a price of around 250 euros, the audio-technica ATH-MSR7b is a pair of headphones that inspire with a terrific sound and a great fit – both mobile and stationary. At this price, I don’t currently know of any closed, circumaural headphones that can keep up with this. This is perfect product care! »

Alternatives

In addition to the small in-ears, headphones in the so-called full-size format are increasingly being worn. So it is hardly surprising that every manufacturer also has a model in their range for the steadily growing mobile use. We have discovered a few more treasures that are worth listening to more closely.

When money doesn’t matter: Campfire Audio Cascade

The Campfire Audio Cascade comes from Oregon, the Campfire Audio company has already made a name for itself in the development of great in-ear headphones, the Cascade is now the first hit when it comes to full-size or headband headphones.

When money doesn’t matter

Campfire Audio Cascade

Test headphones: Campfire Audio Cascade

The Cascade is the first full-size headphone from Campfire Audio, it can convince right from the start.

The fact that the focus here is also primarily on mobile music enjoyment is certainly to be understood as part of the company philosophy. As a result, a nice transport case is included in the delivery, in which the connection cable is housed in addition to the headphones, which can be folded up surprisingly compact despite their massive appearance.

When choosing the materials for the Cascade from Campfire Audio, weight optimization is obviously less important than longevity. The capsules and most of the bracket, including the mechanism, are milled from metal, while the upholstery is generous with the finest leather. The ear pads are held by strong magnets and can be removed. Three openings are visible on the back of the upholstery, one is the sound hole, another is permanently sealed with a white filter plate and the third is the real highlight of the Cascade: You can insert one of the supplied filter plates here.

There are a total of four pairs of these platelets: HD7, HD10, HD12 and HD15, each with a thickness of 7, 10, 12 or 15 micrometers, influence the low-midrange in particular; the thicker the platelet, the more it is attenuated. So there is a lot of potential for personal sound optimization here.

Without additional filters, so to speak in raw form, the Cascade descends mercilessly deep into the bass cellar, brings even the deepest rumbling to the ear and finds the perfect connection to the mid and mid-high range – a seamless mapping of the entire audible spectrum with a preference for the deep locations. The mid-high range doesn’t fall by the wayside: it has a very fine resolution, the headphones play as if they were cast from one piece and, at the same time, create an authentic spatial image. Read our in-ear headphones Wired earphones with mic Review.

The Cascade will please many with its somewhat bass and fundamental tone preference . Thanks to the filter, however, it can also be tuned more towards neutrality and is therefore a veritable luxury item even for less bass-oriented music.

DJ work equipment: Pioneer HDJ-X10

The Pioneer DJ line alone has been spared the turbulence surrounding the brand in recent years. This also applies to the DJ headphones, of which the HDJ X10 represents the upper end. DJ headphones, or rather headphones that call themselves that, are actually quite a few on the market. However, if you hold the HDJ X10 in your hands, you immediately know that this designation is little more than waste for many.

DJ working device

Pioneer HDJ-X10

Test headphones: Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10

Pioneer also equips DJs, the HDJ-X10 are the official headphones for the job.

With the HDJ X10, however, you immediately notice that everything is right: The workmanship of the joints that are so important for the DJ, indeed the entire headphones, leave no doubt that something could wobble, rattle or even break inappropriately. The joints are made entirely of metal and have stops and locking positions in exactly the right places. Some areas of the headphones are covered with hard-wearing rubber – namely where people tend to grab hold of it, i.e. as a ring around the earphones and on their outer surfaces. Here, in the heat of the moment, your hands can be wet with sweat, they don’t slip and don’t leave any unsightly marks.

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Headphone test: Pioneer Hdjx10
The HDJ-X10 is designed for professional DJ use.
Headphone test: Pioneer Hdjx10 complete
A second cable, an adapter and a sturdy hard case are also included in the scope of delivery.
Headphone test: Pioneer Hdjx10 plug
The connection cables are plugged in, a professional plug-in system with locking is used here.
Headphone test: Pioneer Hdjx10 joint
The joints offer extensive mobility and are made entirely of metal.

Two cables, one straight and the other coiled, are included with the HDJ X10 , as is the obligatory adapter from small to large jack. The connection cables are plugged in with professional plugs and locked so that nothing can be torn out accidentally. A solid hard case, in which everything can be stored, is included in the scope of delivery.

The HDJ X10 sounds tidy to unspectacular – and there is a reason for that: While the popular, crisp, impulsive bass that comes from the system push some hi-fi headphones to their limits, the headphones simply play them back without ifs and buts .

The Pioneer HDJ X10 is the right choice for everyone who doesn’t want to miss out on the ultimate party sound on the go, and who might like to hang up themselves . Because of its robust appearance, it is also a smart long-term investment.

The best on-ear: Sennheiser HD 25-1 II Basic Edition

The Sennheiser HD 25 has been around for a few decades, the HD 25-1 II Basic Edition provided to us is the current version in the – as the name suggests – basic version. It is also available as a light version with a single instead of a double headband and simple attachment of the ear capsules. The Plus version includes an additional connection cable, replacement pads and a transport bag. The converters themselves, however, do not differ.

The best on-ear

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II Basic Edition

Test headphones: Sennheiser HD 25-1 II Basic Edition

The HD 25 is a classic in the latest version, it is particularly popular as a tool in recording technology.

In addition, there are various replicas, old model variants and certainly also models in circulation that are clearly attributable to counterfeiting or product piracy. An important indicator of increased attention when buying online is, as usual, outrageously low prices or an unclear shipping address, possibly somewhere overseas.

This is certainly due to the long-lasting popularity of these headphones, because recording professionals in particular have always appreciated their robustness, the light, comfortable fit and of course their very neutral sound. This is why the HD 25 can often be seen on the ears of camera and sound people. Read our True Wireless In-Ear Headphones Review.

The tuning is, as I said, very neutral and clearly goes in the direction of the HD 600 we used for comparison  – only that the HD 25-1 II  is a listener that works on the closed principle and also on the ears sits and not over it. That doesn’t suit everyone, but if you don’t have a problem with the loose fit of the handset, you can get a great-sounding professional device at a bargain price.

The cable is plugged in individually and can be easily replaced in the event of a defect. The HD 25 is a lightweight, robust work tool for sound recordings and for DJs. Compared to the AT, it has more punch in the bass and is generally a bit warmer. But he plays very crisp and impulsive.

Price tip: Sennheiser HD 400S

The Sennheiser HD 400S is our current price tip, with the materials obviously the red pencil was applied. The headband in our test sample made a slightly faded impression, even though the receiver came out of the original packaging. Fortunately, the savings measures are hardly noticeable in terms of sound quality.

Price tip

Sennheiser HD 400S

Test headphones: Sennheiser HD 400S

The HD 400S is impressively cheap and yet it is not a budget model in terms of sound.

The equipment is also impressive: a transport bag is included and an inline microphone has been integrated into the connection cable so that the HD 400S can be connected to the smartphone without hesitation. What you won’t find anywhere else in this price range, and even above that rarely, is the pluggable connection cable. In the event of a defect, it can easily be exchanged or exchanged for another one without a microphone.

The HD 400S sits fairly comfortably over the ears and, given the low price, offers a very good sound experience without making too big compromises. Above all, the headphone output of the smartphone is not overloaded, because the HD 400S is quite undemanding here and can elicit decent sound even from the flattest smartphone. Especially those who cannot make friends with the included in-ears will be more than satisfied with the Sennheiser.

Also tested

AKG K371

Test headphones: AKG K371

With the AKG K371 we have a real all-rounder on the list: It can provide entertainment on the go, can be folded up small with its smart mechanism if necessary and can also be used very well as DJ headphones. For this purpose, one of the capsules can be folded away so that you can hear what is going on on the dance floor. The scope of delivery includes a total of three connection cables: a long one for at home, a short one for on the go and a coiled cable that ensures sufficient freedom of movement at the workplace, for example at a DJ, and still does not hang around in the way. The headphones can be easily and compactly folded up and then placed in the transport bag supplied. The cables and adapters also fit in.

To ensure that it works like this, AKG has given the K371 oval capsules and pads, which are soft, seal very well and thus ensure excellent wearing comfort. Because you can adjust the incline of the capsules, you can choose whether the bracket should lead over the head at the front, in the middle or at the back – an advantage that should not be underestimated compared to oval capsules, which cannot be adjusted so variably, after all, is yours Position on the ears dictated by the shape.

The tuning is  similar to that of the ATH-MSR7b , but with a slight tendency towards loudness, which is quite pleasing. The AKG plays impulsively and quickly, it can only lose control in severe low-bass thunderstorms.

The strength of the  K371  is the high level of comfort, a result of the variable suspension of the capsules, thanks to the comfort and the good-natured coordination, it invites long-term listening .

Fostex TH7

Test headphones: Fostex TH7WH

The Fostex TH7 is our current price tip, with the materials and even more the equipment, the red pencil was used in order to be able to meet the budget requirements. Fortunately, the savings measures are hardly noticeable in terms of sound quality. In addition to our white test sample , the Fostex is also available in black as the TH7BK , which is not so prone to dirt, at least in daily use.

The surface of both is made of slightly roughened plastic and the padding allows the already light listener to sit comfortably over the ears. The cables are permanently attached, there is no transport bag or other accessories. The focus here is clearly on the sound properties and the greatest possible comfort.

The Fostex TH7 also  delivers amazingly good resolution, considering its price. It is neutral to light, but fortunately there is no trendy boost in the bass range. However, the bright tuning also has a disadvantage: With some pieces, the sibilants (S-sounds) tend to hiss very quickly.

If you know this and reduce the highs a bit with the appropriate music, the Fostex TH7 is a good-sounding, comfortable headphone that doesn’t make a big dent in your budget.

Sony MDR-1AM2

Test headphones: Sony MDR-1AM2

The Sony MDR 1AM2 is very well made, has slim, oval capsules that still enclose the ear, but when folded give a pleasantly small pack size. Compared to the favorite, it makes no secret of its modern tuning with the slight loudness character. This is somewhat at the expense of the upper mids, but this can be corrected somewhat by correctly positioning the capsules on the ears. The bracket should then mostly lie on the front head section so that the oval capsules cover the ears perfectly.

Our former favorite is still worth a sin. Although the Custom Studio from Beyerdynamic has a slightly higher impedance than our favorite, it can compensate for this well thanks to its high degree of efficiency. We especially liked the bass management of the Custom Studio, because if you like the music, you can increase the bass level in several stages without it degenerating into uncontrolled rumbling. The depths of the music are always nicely crisp and contoured, without any information being lost in the mid-high range. Incidentally, the studio version of the Custom delivers a beautifully balanced sound in the neutral position of the bass slider, which can also be used to confidently enjoy classical music.

For its price, the Beyerdynamic is properly equipped and neatly manufactured, a cable with a microphone for connection to the mobile phone is not included, however, you have to do without accepting calls. The Beyerdynamic only works in top form on mobile devices with a potent headphone output. Those who only use the headphones at home will be happy with the Custom Studio, especially since they are a few euros cheaper than our new favorite.

Meze 99 Neo

Test headphones: Meze 99 Neo

The Meze 99 Neo are closed headphones so that you don’t hear much of your surroundings once you have them on your ears. He was our favorite for a while and still knows how to inspire. It is versatile, has excellent sound properties and belongs to the ranks of really convincing headphones – but that does not absolve you from trusting your own ears before investing.

Mackie MC-350

Test headphones: Mackie MC-350

The Mackie MC-350 is the closed counterpart to the MC-450 . It is also excellently equipped with a total of three connection cables and, thanks to the inline microphone, is ideally equipped for mobile use. Even if the electrical values ​​and the equipment as well as the closed principle speak in favor of use on the go, it is a bit incomprehensible that Mackie has dispensed with a smaller pack size. So you need a really large hard case to be able to stow the headphones well on the go.

The ear cushions are cut oval differently than with the open colleague. In addition, because they don’t sit tightly on the capsules, they sometimes have to be turned so that they fit over the ears and seal perfectly. In terms of sound, the MC-350 is as lively as its open colleague, only its bass foundation has a little more emphasis.

SoundMagic HP1000

Test headphones: SoundMagic HP1000

The SoundMagic HP1000 is the manufacturer’s first hit when it comes to full- size headphones, so far the focus has been mainly on the in-ear segment. The HP1000 is very solidly manufactured and comprehensively equipped. However, it is quite center-weighted, if you like it, you get headphones with a pleasing sound and the best workmanship.

Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro

Test headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro

The Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro  was designed as a working device for people who need headphones outside when shooting a video, in the studio or on a PC for listening. It is light, sits comfortably for a long time and has a pluggable cable. Depending on how it looks at the audio workstation, the cable can be plugged in on the left or right so that it hangs as little in the way as possible.

A simple, synthetic leather storage bag, the low impedance and its lightweight construction make it particularly interesting for use on smartphones or other mobile players. The sound characteristic tends towards loudness, so it sounds very voluminous even at a low level.

The  DT 240 Pro  is very well suited for checking sound recordings with the camera and it also does a good job afterwards when editing on the PC. But it will also find attentive listeners for listening to music on the go.

Mackie MC-250

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The price of the Mackie MC-250 with a current RRP of just under 100 euros is on the same level as the DT 240 Pro , but its price has already dropped significantly. The Mackie would also have what it takes to be a great value: It is solidly made, comes with a lot of accessories, including a carrying case, and is also very easy to carry and, last but not least, good sound. Anyone who prefers a sound with a slight loudness character and a listener who reaches deep into the bass cellar, but does it bone dry and without excessive actionism, are well served with the Mackie MC-250 and, above all, inexpensive.

Mackie MC-150

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The Mackie MC-150  is the cheaper brother of the  MC-250  and although it looks like a twin, everything is different when it comes to sound: the loudness characteristic, which is almost only hinted at there, is clearly pronounced. In addition, the MC-150 cannot go so deep into the bass cellar, but it is more or less successful at concealing this with a higher level. Equipment, workmanship and wearing comfort are on the same level, the price is lower. If you like it a bit stronger in the bass and do not attach great importance to unconditional balance, the MC-150 is an inexpensive alternative.

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

Test headphones: Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

Warm tuning and great sound: the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 is primarily designed for listening to smartphones. With its thin cable and built-in microphone, it is ideally equipped for mobile use. It convinces with great comfort and its retro design, which is not only something for the ears, but also for the eyes.

Thanks to its closed construction, it provides the user with a powerful, contoured deep bass, but it is also not too bad for a differentiated middle position. But the entire set-up is rather warm.

1More H1707

Test headphones: 1More H1707

The 1more H1707  According to the manufacturer over three drivers per earpiece. However, only two of them are active: One is the usual dynamic driver, here with a diameter of 40 millimeters, and then a so-called piezo-ceramic driver, which is responsible for frequencies up to 40 kilohertz. The third driver, mainly responsible for the low frequencies, is a passive membrane that supports the work of the 40 mm driver in the low frequencies.

But it is not this elaborate construction that gives the H1707 its full weight, it is rather the twisted housing of the earphones. The 1More is excellently processed and despite its elaborate construction, the low impedance and the solid case from the scope of delivery make it almost predestined for mobile use.

It sounds very balanced, without preferring or neglecting frequencies – almost a little sterile. A direct comparison with the  Sennheiser HD 600 , which is at a similar price level, reveals that the H1707 plays everything the source has to offer, but does not succeed in reproducing the whole thing as if from a single source. He even omits some fine details. The concept with several drivers is still very promising, there is only a little bit of fine tuning missing.

Sennheiser HD 200 PRO

Test headphones: Sennheiser HD 200 PRO

The Sennheiser HD 200 Pro  reached us parallel to the DT 240 Pro  from Beyerdynamic, both of which are suitable for monitoring audio productions. The upholstery of the Sennheiser is also covered with easy-care synthetic leather, but cannot be changed, at least not so easily. The connection cable is firmly connected on one side. Due to the oval shape of the cushions, however, the type of wearing on the ears is largely predetermined. This ensures constant acoustic conditions, which is particularly important in (semi-) professional use.

In terms of sound, the listeners are not really convincing: the mids are slightly subdued and almost a little nasal. On the other hand, the upper bass is a bit too thick, which may at least partially explain the discolored mids and should probably hide the fact that the HD 200 Pro does not reach down that far.

That’s how we tested

We allow each headphone a certain break-in time before the hearing test. However, we consider the information circulating that headphones need a break-in period of several days or even weeks to be exaggerated, after a few hours the sound doesn’t really change much.

On the contrary: if we assume that a device, whether headphones, loudspeakers or even electronics, would have to play in over days and weeks, we must consequently also assume that these devices are subject to an equally rapid aging process.

So we test all models after a short break-in period on a high-quality stereo system and a dedicated headphone amplifier. The listeners, who are mainly used on the move, also have to prove their potential on the mobile music player and smartphone.

Since not all hi-fi headphones can cope with the low impedance of the smartphone output, we have generally excluded headphones with an impedance of 100 ohms and above from mobile use. In our opinion, the same applies to headphones with an open design, as an undisturbed music experience is hardly possible outside. However, since the mobile player is also being used more and more at home, the transitions here are now fluid, so headphones for home systems with low impedance are also increasingly being offered. In addition to the sound on the various source devices, the processing quality and the equipment are also included in the assessment.

In several test rounds, we have now tested 44 headphones, 40 of which are currently still available, divided almost equally into the categories stationary and mobile. We hear all headphones in a test round in comparison and test them with all common music genres. We largely ignore personal preferences when assessing the sound. Instead, we have tried to give as precise a description of the sound characteristics as possible. We hold back with the assessment because it is inevitably subjective.

The most important questions

Which is the best headphone?

Our favorite for use on a system at home is the Philips Fidelio X3. If you want to use the headphones with a mobile device, the   Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7b is our top recommendation.

What do “open” and “closed” mean in headphones?

“Open” and its counterpart “closed” refer to the construction of the ear capsules. Closed ear capsules shield better from the outside world and enable a richer bass, but more often struggle with sound colouration.

What do over-ear, on-ear and in-ear mean for headphones?

The ear capsules of over-ear headphones enclose the entire ear, on-ear headphones rest on the ear and in-ear headphones are inserted into the ear canal.

What does impedance mean?

Impedance is the AC resistance of headphones and affects volume and sound. High-quality hi-fi headphones for at home have a high impedance and can therefore sound better than headphones for on the go, because mobile devices have a much lower amplifier power and accordingly have a lower impedance.