Music is always a crucial part of programming. I can hardly imagine doing a stretch of coding without my playlist & my pair of Sennheisers.
I also happen to have a keen interest in headphones in general. So thought I will kick off a post to discuss what are the best headsets & how to choose them.
First, it's important to know the options you could pick from.
- Extremely comfortable
- Usually provide great sound quality at a lower price versus other options
- Bulky - Can feel heavy on your head if you're not used to it
- Usually leak sound (unless your headphones have active noise cancellation)
- Smaller and lighter compared to over-ear headphones
- Comparatively cheaper than over-ear headphones
- Leak more sound compared to over-ear headphones. Also, lesser isolation from surroundings.
- Aren't comfortable when used for longer hours of listening.
- Extremely light and compact
- Amazing isolation from your surroundings. If you have active noise cancellation on your in-ears, that's a bonus.
- Leak minimal sound
- Some might find them very intrusive. They go really deep in your ear canals.
- There's also the risk of ear damage if the IEMs aren't good quality and if you listen to music for long hours on high volume.
- If you are looking for excellent sound quality, you might have to pay a higher price (compared to headphones).
- Typically cheaper compared to all other options.
- Not as intrusive as IEMs and can easily be used for longer hours without worrying about damage to ears.
- Earbuds typically aren't so great in terms of sound quality.
- Leak sound easily and isolation from surrounding is poor.
- No microphone = No buy
- Type of headphone - largely a matter of personal choice
- Additional features - a) Wireless connectivity b) Active noise cancellation c) foldable design
- A Trusted brand is always better.
- Additional uses - gaming, sports, fitness, etc.
As a brand, you can trust Sennheiser without a doubt. You will never go wrong with any pair of Sennheiser headphones and I strongly recommend buying one if it's your first time investing in good quality, premium headphones.
Sennheiser Momentums are their premium range headphones with heavy focus on design and style. So these are a perfect fit if you are looking for a combination of high quality sound, premium feel & design and robustness.
There are multiple variants available including over-ear, on-ear and in-ear headphones along with the option of wireless connectivity. The newest ones are 3rd generation with the option of upgrading to active noise cancellation. I own the over-ear first generation pair which itself were amazing.
Given these are in the premium range of Sennheiser, the price is on the higher end. However, if you're looking for relatively cheaper options, Sennheiser HD 450BT and HD 400S are also great choices.
Ask anyone who's given quality sound and headphones a serious thought about their opinion on Audio Technica (ATH) and you will run out of luck finding a negative review. The brand is popular for making studio quality headphones.
ATH M50X are their most popular pair of headphones. Sound quality, design, compactness, robustness - this is as good as it gets. Audio Technica is known for its neutral sound signature and these headphones are perfect for office use.
The ATH M50X also has a wireless/ bluetooth variant. If you aren't looking to invest as much, the ATH 40X, 30X and 20X are good options as well.
RHA is a niche headphone brand with exclusive focus on in-ear earphones. Based in Scotland, RHA was the first company to launch in-ear planar magnetic headphones (for simplicity, fancy tech earlier only found in over-ear headphones). While you may not buy the RHA CL2 Planars (well, because they are damn expensive - $900), it surely gives you a signal of the quality of earphones the brand manufactures.
RHA earphones are known for their robust & sleek design and of course, quality sound. I have used almost all of them from MA 750 to MA 390 and all of them are worth your money. The MA 750s are of course the premium in-ears by RHA. But you can also choose to buy MA 390 or S500 and you would find them really good at their price point.
RHA also offers wireless variants and a special mention for the TrueConnect Earbuds, which are way better than Apple AirPods at half the price.
Apple AirPods make it to the list precisely for 2 reasons -
If you own an iPhone, the connectivity is seamless and the ease-of-use is phenomenal. For wireless earphones, I believe these have to be the topmost priority and AirPods deliver big time.
AirPods don't disappoint in terms of sound quality. It just does enough to not stop you from buying it.
So if you have already made up your mind to buy AirPods (or if you own a pair which came with your phone), you should be fine. However, if you are looking for alternative or if there's any scope of not buying AirPods, you would probably not end up buying them.
Shure is another brand that focuses on sound precision and quality. Just like Audio Technica, Shure SE215 has a flat sound signature which, as I mentioned, turns out great for use at work.
They aren't the best in terms of design and robustness. But they aren't that fragile to be damaged on a little mishandling.
Shure SE215 also have a wireless option in-built. So you can simple plug out the wire and connect them with your phone via Bluetooth.
This deserves a separate mention even though they are as pricey as AirPods Pro or Bose SoundSport. Because, well, they are that good.
These score on all aspects and are probably the best true wireless earphones you can buy.
A special mention for the Sennheiser CX series. You can safely pick up any pair and you won't regret your choice.
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