I love headphones. Some people think I’m crazy for spending so much money on headphones, but the truth is, when you want really good sound, headphones are cheap. Well, that is in comparison with speakers that is, if you want to achieve the same quality and performance.

So I’ve been into the somewhat more expensive headphones since a few years. And with more expensive I mean a few hundred dollars, not near a thousand! (because those do exists) I’m not really an audiophile, but do want value for my money, so I check out as much information as possible before buying a pair.

Unless I can get them for cheaper than usual of course!

Most people don’t know much about headphones – or even other audio equipment (that is including me). But before you buy something you of course want to know how it compares to other similar products and what the alternatives are. If you’don’t know what else there and what to watch out for is you will never able to criticize your purchases, making you content with even the worst purchase. Of course there might be other factors that make you judge differently (like price), but that’s not the discussion for today.

Here are some tips to start: first of all, glossary where they describe how they describe sound (if that makes sense). There’s also a thread with recommendations. Just read that through and once you get a feel for what brands there are and how they perform, search the forum or check out reviews on Internet.

Headphone reviews is a good source for headphone reviews and has a sort of wizard for recommendations. Just don’t follow the scores too much, the scores are given by people who buy headphones for over $1000, so they are used to better sound – instead, check the value (is it worth they money you’re spending on).

And of course, don’t forget that Google is always your friend – just make sure you put “-price -comparison -shop” and all that kind of terms in order to avoid the Kelkoo/Shopping.com-like sites (product comparison sites that have NO useful information on these kind of products whatsoever).

Here’s a small start on brands for open-air headphones: Sennheiser has a really good soundstage (as if the music surrounds you) and has the most comfortable headphones around, AKG is pretty neutral I think (not really sure though) and are pretty comfortable too and Grado has what they call a “Grado”-sound (either you like it or you don’t) and headphones that hurt like hell, but look really cool as they are “retro”-styled. For in-ear, Etymotics (or Altecs that use that kind of drivers) provide good value as they have a really clear sound. For more bass in in-ear headphones, check out Westone or Ultimate ears, as they use 2 or 3 drivers. Just go to your local hifi store, try them out (also watch the comfort!) and check out Head-fi’s secondhand forum. These are really trusty people in general. They’re the type of people who have enough money to try and buy headphones, just to discard them a month later if they don’t like them.

Have fun checking out headphones!

Doug