Style and sound quality are usually mutually exclusive in the realm of cheap earphones, but not with the Sony MDR-570LP Headphones ($28-$35). Available in orange, green, or black, they sport a distinct round ear cup and seductively slim bands, as well as urethane cushions for comfort and 30mm drivers to provide ample sound even in noisy environments like buses, trains, and the inside of your local coffee shop.
Ever have the need to share the audio coming from your headphone port? This little Robot Headphone Splitter ($14) is here to help. With eyes made out of headphone ports and a plug for a neck, this robotic helper reattaches with his keychain-grabbing body when not in use, so he's always nearby when you need him.
If you like listening to tunes while you run, train, or play, you've probably had your 'buds fall out of your ears at least once or twice. Yurbuds Ironman Earphones ($50) are designed to eliminate this problem by using ultra-soft, medical-grade silicone tips that provide a snug fit, while other features like neodymium drivers and a water resistant design provide superior sound and toughness. Included in the package are a red Ironman nylon carrying case and some Ironman trading cards. Time to bust out that Beckett.
For those who wear headphones in more extreme environments than in a lounger next to their hi-fi, durability often trumps sound quality. These Philips O'Neill Stretch Headphones ($70) aim to offer both, featuring an impact- and crack-resistant stretchy headband, tangle-free cabling that separates from the headphones to prevent breakage, soft ear cushions for all-day comfort, and dynamic 40mm drivers for great sound.
Add a bit of style to your personal music routine with Nixon Socket Headphones ($30). While their 13.5mm dynamic drivers aren't going to blow anyone away, they'll likely sound better than a pair of stock 'buds, and feature moldable memory wire near the housing for wrapping around your ear and ensuring a secure fit, sweat-resistant rubber ear tips, and custom molded travel case — although odds are if you're traveling, you'll probably already be wearing them.
Have a hankering for some high-end headphone action? Grab a Schiit Lyr Headphone Amp ($450) to power your favorite set of cans. Featuring a a new Dynamically Adaptive output stage providing up to 6 watts into 32 ohms, the Lyr can handle virtually any headphone, while the user-replaceable JJ ECC88 tubes let you customize the sound to your preferences. No bullschiit.
Whether you're expecting to get an iGift or already grabbed one for yourself, you'd be wise to ditch the stock white earbuds for something more substantial. Like these Nocs NS800 Stainless Earphones ($200). Designed in Stockholm, these tiny 'buds feature a dual micro armature with a separate tweeter and woofer for increased range and fidelity, a stainless steel housing with noise isolating silicone sleeves, Kevlar reinforced cables, and an in-line three button remote and mic to let you take control of both music playback and telephone calls without reaching in your pocket.
Serious about your music? Then grab yourself a pair of equally serious cans, like the Grado RS1i Reference Series Headphones ($700). These high-end personal speakers features handcrafted Mahogany earpieces, upgraded dynamic transducers and a new 8 conductor cable design that offers more lively sound than the RS1, an open-backed cup configuration, and an astronomical price.
Having been spotted on countless stages and in myriad music videos, Marshall's iconic script logo has decided it wants some new real estate: your ears. These Marshall Major Headphones ($100) promise to offer up all the clean, heavy sound of the company's amps and speaker cabinets in a much smaller, over-the-ear headphone thanks to 15.4mm moving coil drivers, cushy black pads, a collapsable design, amp-matching cups, and a MP3 player-friendly 3.5mm plug. [Thanks, Justin & Pat]
If you've been searching for ridiculously overpriced headphones to match that $19,000 turntable you bought a while back, search no more. The Ultrasone Edition 10 Headphones ($2,750) come with eye-popping looks and sound to match their price, featuring open-back ear cups with galvanic Ruthenium plating and a Zebrano wood inlay, Ethiopian sheepskin leather ear cup pads, Titanium-plated 40mm drivers, silver-plated OFC 99.99% pure copper wires with Kevlar casing, S-Logic Pus technology, and a bunch of other high-end nonsense no one will ever notice because your ears will look like zebra. [via]
Sure, Beats are stylish, but if you're serious about sound, you'd be way better off with a pair of AKG by Harman K 701 Headphones ($450). These high-end, reference-quality cans feature a patented two-layer Varimotion diaphragm, a high-performance Neodym Magnet System, an oxygen-free high-performance cable, a 6.3mm professional jack plug — which means adapters for all you portable listeners out there — true bi-wiring, 3D-form comfort ear pads, and a white retro design that will turn nearly as many heads as physically strapping Dr. Dre to your noggin.
Getting ready to record or mix your own masterpiece? Make certain it sounds the way you want with Ultimate Ears In-Ear Reference Monitors ($1,000). Developed in collaboration with Capitol Studios, these insane in-ear cans feature three balanced armature speakers in each earpiece, which are enhanced by passive crossovers and up to -32 dB of noise isolation to deliver the most crisp, clear sound possible. They won't make your playing any better, but maybe they can help you hide those weird-sounding chords.