Review: Full-sized headphones

As music players get smaller and smaller, your headphones definitely should not.

One of the joys of being a music lover in 2012 is that wherever you go you have access to every song in your collection. The only problem is the sound quality. If you’re still using those tinny white earbuds, you’d be better off at home with your dad listening to vinyl. What you need are some full-sized headphones.


1. Grado SR60i
If you grew up in the ’70s and you wanted to listen to The Dark Side of the Moon in the privacy of your room without your mom asking you to turn it down, your headphones might have looked something like the SR60i. Even the font on these old-school cans is a throwback. What isn’t retro, though, is the sound quality—rich mid-tones and deep bass for around $100 make these the best value on the market.; $100

2. Incase Sonic
Made by a company that’s famous for stylish iPhone cases and boasting the most fashion-forward design of any audiophile-grade headphones on the market, the unimaginatively named Sonics are easily dismissed as sacrificing function for form. But don’t be so hasty to judge—they’re comfy, reasonably priced, and produce more than passable noise.; $150

3. Bose QuietComfort 3
Bose’s noise-cancelling headphones have been a business-class staple since 2006. And it’s a good thing they’re so popular because, with their bulky looks, you wouldn’t want to be the only one seen wearing them. Originally developed to protect pilots’ hearing on long flights, they eliminate all sounds except those you want to hear.; $400

4. Bowers & Wilkins P5
The P5s were engineered by people who love music and hate plastic. Like a Jaguar E-Type interior or a Wassily chair, these luxe headphones are made of metal wrapped in fine leather. With a built-in microphone and an answer button on the cord, they’re designed to work with your iPhone. They’re also light and breathable enough to wear on a long commute.; $300

5. Sennheiser Audiophile HD800
The HD800s have one virtue: they’re the best-sounding headphones money can buy. They’re also a compromise in just about every other category—they’re expensive, bulky, and less than beautiful. Headphones are increasingly as much an accessory as a piece of audio equipment for many people. If you’re not one of those people (and you have money to burn) these are what you want.; $1,600

(Photo by Markian Lozowchuck)