Whether it's the base of a turntable or lining your speaker system, woodgrain is a great companion to high quality audio equipment. Which is why the Bushmills X Grado Headphones ($395) are eye catchers. The headphone earcups are made from wood sourced from old whiskey barrels from the Bushmills Distillery, feature a leather headband, and come in a limited edition wooden box and headphone pouch. Designed by celebrity audiophile Elijah Wood, these headphones are sure to turn heads and deliver high quality sound at the same time.
It seems like everywhere you look, someone is sporting some sort of Beats device — whether it's a pair of headphones, earbuds, or portable speakers — but none of them look quite like the Beats by Alexander Wang Collection ($150-$450). This very limited edition takes three of these devices and coats them in matte black with pale gold accents, making them truly stand out. They include the Beats Pill portable speakers, Ur Beats ear buds, and Beats Studio headphones, and each comes in an Alexander Wang embossed glossy stingray case with a zipper and clip. Each one is available in limited amounts in a pre-sale event, but won't be for long.
Great headphones are, well, great. What's not so great is the inability of many portable devices to drive cans with impedance of 32 or higher. The Firestone Fireye Mini Headphone Amp ($40) fixes this problem, by sitting in between your device's headphone jack and the headphones themselves, providing a healthy signal boost without adding much in the way of noise. Just charge it up via USB and you'll be ready to rock out for up to 24 hours before your next charge.
In the past Dre's Beats headphones have been derided for their somewhat juvenile appearance, and for being the sort best meant for music with a lot of bass — and perhaps fairly so. The Beats Studio Wireless Headphones ($380) are an answer to that criticism, ditching the childish aesthetic for a more subtle matte look, and balancing out the sound for a more discerning audience. While their professional sound carries a heftier price tag, it's the result of a re-engineered acoustic engine and improved software meant to recreate music as the artist intended. Noise-canceling technology, a battery that lasts up to twelve hours, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity with a 30-foot range are really just icing on the cake.
Music is meant to be shared — but that can be a problem when you're wanting to listen with a friend in a public space (like a bus, airplane, or very odd restroom). This Kikkerland Branch Headphone Splitter ($10) solves this problem by splitting a single headphone jack into three. In addition, it comes with a handy keychain attachment so you can keep it with you, and features a simple, nature-inspired plastic design that adds a touch of whimsy to the proceedings. Rock on.
Whether you're an aspiring club DJ, or a seasoned veteran who has been spinning records in crowded dance halls for years, the Nocs NS900 Headphones ($250) were made with you in mind. Enclosed, interchangeable ear cushions house specially-developed 40 millimeter titanium coated drivers to deliver dynamic, balanced sound, even in spaces filled with the loudest audiences. The durable construction features replaceable parts, a PVD-coated adjustable stainless steel headband with a comfortable inner band, and a range of available cables to connect to just about any device. So, no matter where you find your next gig, you'll have a set of headphones that fits perfectly, sounds great, and will never let you down.
When buying a pair of headphones from the company who invented them, you'd expect a certain level of quality — and that's exactly what you'd get with the Koss ESP950 Electrostatic Headphones ($1,000). Meant for perfectly reproducing any sound in the studio, these headphones feature electrostatic transducers for a flat recency response across the range for clean bass and perfect sound quality.
Even if you don't have your own professional-quality sound studio, it doesn't mean you don't need to listen to your music on a pair of professional-quality JBL Synchros S700 Headphones ($350). These headphones feature aluminum die cast construction with soft leather ear cushions for durability and comfort. The 50 millimeter drivers in each ear offer excellent range, while a powered mode boosts the bass response. A detachable three-button remote on the cord lets you control your iOS device, and includes a built-in microphone in case someone calls you while you're wearing them.
While we can't promise that they sound any better than the pair of earbuds you already have plugged in, we can promise that these Apple Solid Rose Gold Earpods ($25,000) won't leave anyone wondering about your position in life. These one-of-a-kind buds were collaboratively re-envisioned by famed industrial designers Jony Ive and Marc Newsom exclusively for the 2013 RED auction. They are completely coated in 18-karat rose gold (a blend of gold, copper, silver, and zinc), and presented in a custom display case. So whether you choose to display them on your head, or in their handsome case, everyone will know exactly what kind of man you are.
We don't need to convince you of the merits of a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. But, most of them have their drawbacks — namely, bulky design and a sometimes-undesirable isolation from your surroundings. The Bose QuietComfort 20 Noise Canceling Headphones ($300) fit inside your ear, taking up nearly no space at all, and an aware mode lets you tune into the world around you while still listening to music. The noise-canceling tech rivals most over-ear headphones, while the sound is everything you expect from Bose. A combination mic and remote in the cord lets you control your device or make a call.
We can't tell you whether they're the best sounding headphones out there — although our guess is they sound pretty damn good — but we can tell you that these Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Headphones (€400; roughly $525) will be some of the best looking cans you've ever seen. Made from anodized aluminum, they feel both lightweight and rugged, and are accented by solid cowhide leather on the earcups and headband. Thanks to the over-ear design, they'll block out unwanted noise, leaving you with clean, robust sound. Expect to see them in stores next month.
Normally when buying a pair of headphones, you need to find a set with a sound that matches your preferences. With Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Headphones ($210), it works the other way around. Thanks to a custom sound slider that regulates the bass reflex vents, you can take the sound from clinical to booming with a flick of a finger. Other features include newly-developed 16-ohm drivers for peak performance from your smartphone or mp3 player, detachable cables, an in-line headset, and an interchangeable headband, ear pads, and ear cups for further personalization.