Portable headphones are a good way to listen to good music on the go. I’ve been trying out several headphones over the last few months to find out which fit my giant head the best and which reproduced the best sound for my sensitive ears.
I “burned-in” each of these headphones for 100 hours before listening through them. I did that by plugging each into my stereo, turning up the volume to a comfortable listening level and then taking the headphones off my head and letting the music play on without me.
That kind of burn-in period lets the headphones find their place and
balance. Never make a judgment on headphone or stereo speakers flat out
of the box. All sound-reproducers need to get their membranes limbered
up and their highs and lows need to be exercised and you do that by
letting them play with the music alone for awhile.
So here are the
results of my totally unscientific and personally biased (I favor crisp
bass and pinging highs over middle-range reproduction) review results.
I wanted to keep the price around $40 for each headset and, with one
exception; I was able to accomplish that goal. I also wanted all the
headphones to be “open” and not “closed” to keep the price down and to
allow environmental sounds around me to be heard in an emergency.
Remember, a $40 set of cans is not going to be as good as a $300 pair,
but for lounging around the house or running errands or goofing off on
the beach all of these headphones are a good choice. I used each pair
for a minimum of 10 hours before writing this review.
Koss KTXPRO1 Titanium Portable Headphones with Volume Control ($13.99)
These Jetson-like silver plastic retro headphones are an excellent buy
at $13 if you can get past the “titanium” color and the sappy baby blue
rubber headband. These phones are comfortable to wear and the sound
reproduction is acceptable. You won’t find a better buy on the market
than these headphones so it’s hard to be hard on the middling lows and
muddy highs. The inline volume control is handy and the foam ear
cushions are fine. Cord length is long and acceptable.
Sony MDR-EX71SL Fontopia Headphones with Closed Type Design ($40)
you’ve ever worn earplugs to block sound you know how these headphones
work. There is a sense of pressure and inner-ear imbalance that comes
along with these headphones when you first try them on. I often wear
earplugs, but I found the way these headphones plug into your ear canal
a bit uncomfortable and being on edge with hurting ears make music
enjoyment a secondary priority. I could not wait to rip these
headphones out of my ears. The cord length is acceptable. Sound
reproduction was okay and, even though they claim to be “closed”
instead of “open,” I found I could hear the environment around me just
fine. These headphones are small and sleek-looking; if you can handle
the pressure in your ear these phones may be the way you want to go.
Sennheiser PX100 ($44.99)
The PX100 are, by far, the best of the bunch and I loved them so much I
bought a second set just in case I burn out the first set from too much
use. I wear them all day. The foam ear cushions are comfortable. Your
ears do not sweat. You can hear the music and hear the phone ringing.
The PX100 give you a crisp, thumping, bass that will blow away your
mind while delighting your ears. Trumpets on the upper end have a snap
and a bash that present a wonderful shock to your imagination as you
wonder how a $44 dollar pair of cans can deliver such beautiful range.
The midtones are fine and clear and substantial. The Sennheiser PX100
headphones rival my beloved closed-type Sony MDR-V6 cans (but not the
awful Sony V600 headphones) that I’ve been using for the last 15 years.
The only bad thing about the PX100 is the cord is six inches too short.
Sennheiser PXC250 Noise Canceling Headphones ($119.99)
purchased these headphones as an attempt to listen to music while
drowning out sounds from the outside I did not want to hear. The PXC250
did not accomplish that goal (my Sony MDR-V6 phones do accomplish that
goal). These headphones appear to be most effective while traveling in
an airline cabin as they seem primed to block out the whine of jet
engines, but not the local car alarm outside my window. The range of
loyal musical reproduction of these headphones is rather awful in
general and by far worse in particular than the $13 Koss headphones
appearing at the start of this review. Cord length is divided in two by
a cigar-shaped “noise canceling” computer shell that holds a battery to
power the active noise canceling. This set up is heavy and bulky and
Buy the Sennheiser PX100 headphone right now! You won’t be sorry.